Archive for October, 2014
The USA PATRIOT Act is one of the most blatant examples of police state legislation. When it was passed we were told it was necessary to protect us from the terrorists. Not surprisingly, since terrorism isn’t really a big threat to those of us living in the United States, it has been used far more to fight the war on unpatentable drugs:
Out of the 3,970 total requests from October 1, 2009 to September 30, 2010, 3,034 were for narcotics cases and only 37 for terrorism cases (about .9%). Since then, the numbers get worse. The 2011 report reveals a total of 6,775 requests. 5,093 were used for drugs, while only 31 (or .5%) were used for terrorism cases. The 2012 report follows a similar pattern: Only .6%, or 58 requests, dealt with terrorism cases. The 2013 report confirms the incredibly low numbers. Out of 11,129 reports only 51, or .5%, of requests were used for terrorism. The majority of requests were overwhelmingly for narcotics cases, which tapped out at 9,401 requests.
Advocates of legislation like the USA PATRIOT Act tell us that law enforcement needs some exceptions to the rules in order to fight whatever boogeyman is being used to justify those expanded powers. Then law enforcers turn around and use those powers indiscriminately to fight everything with the possible exceptions of that boogeyman.
I think the USA PATRIOT Act is the best example of what police should never be given additional powers.
You have to love some members of the “peace” movement. For example, gun control advocates. They constantly talk about wanting to restrict or outright ban guns to bring peace to our world. What they seldom address is the fact that they want the state to maintain a monopoly on guns so it can enforce gun bans. In other words gun control advocates are peace activists that want to use violence to achieve their goals. But it’s not very often that we can to see straight up violence like this from a peace activist:
WASHINGTON, Pa. (AP) — Two “Stop the Violence” organizers allegedly beat one of their colleagues so severely that he vomited blood and was left unconscious in critical condition.
Peace through superior firepower, or in this case vicious beatings.
In a few days people will be rushing, OK trickling, to their polling places to vote for the master whose boot they wish to be under. But selecting masters isn’t the only thing on the ballots. Denizens of Minneapolis will get to decide how much democracy is too much democracy:
It costs just $20 to put your name on the ballot for city races. The proposed charter amendment would raise that fee to $500 for mayoral candidates.
Other offices would see smaller increases, although candidates could avoid paying the fee altogether by collecting at least 500 signatures.
The change is designed to keep candidates like Jeff Wagner off the ballot. His quixotic run for mayor last year was built around a series of web videos showing him in varying states of undress. The videos were a hit. Blogs all over the country linked to them. But Wagner ended up with fewer than 200 votes.
Everybody loves democracy so long as there isn’t too much of it.
If you’re one of those people telling all of your friends to get out and vote and also supports measures like this please kindly shut the fuck up. What you’re telling people is that voting is important but only if the list of potential masters is carefully curated. In other words you don’t want people to use the voting process to express their opinions but to acknowledge the opinions of those who get to decide who can and cannot run.
As an aside the fact that the curation process is based on money, which puts a nice barrier between poor people and political office, is telling. I guess people want to be under the boot of a master but not the boot of a poor master.
For being the freest country on Earth the United States sure reflects a police state more and more every day. While the heavily armed nature of the police is an easy piece of evidence to point to in support of this claim another piece of evidence is the rapid disappearance of legal protections. The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Warrants, expressly mentioned in this amendment, have long been considered a legal protection against government searches. But warrants are becoming less relevant as law enforcers concoct new ways to bypass them. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) may have just pulled off one of the most blatant scams seen so far by a law enforcement agent to bypass the legal need of obtaining a warrant to perform a search:
When the FBI applied for warrants this summer to raid three $25,000-per-night villas at Caesar’s Palace Hotel and Casino, it omitted some key investigatory details that eventually resulted in the arrest of eight individuals, including an alleged leader of a well-known Chinese crime syndicate, defense lawyers maintained in Las Vegas federal court documents late Tuesday.
The authorities built, in part, a case for a search warrant (PDF) by turning off Internet access in three villas shared by the eight individuals arrested. At various points, an agent of the FBI and a Nevada gaming official posed as the cable guy, secretly filming while gathering evidence of what they allege was a bookmaking ring where “hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal bets” on World Cup soccer were taking place.
Cutting an establishment’s Internet connection and then posing as the repair guys is certainly one way to get yourself invited into a place you want to search to collect evidence in order to obtain a search warrant. If the charges are upheld it will also render warrants entirely irrelevant as a legal protection.
The angle the FBI seems to be working here is the fact that a warrant is unnecessary if an officer is invited into the place they wish to search. By posting as cable repairmen the FBI agents were able to get invited in and thus avoid the need for a warrant. Of course it first required disrupting the target’s Internet access, which leads one to question whether or not the FBI has a right to purposely damage infrastructure in order to create a scenario its agents can exploit. And if that’s legal one has to wonder how much further the FBI could go in pursuit of gaining entry without a warrant.
Could an FBI agent cut off a home’s Internet access and use a fake cellular tower to intercept the homeowner’s call to his or her Internet Service Provider (ISP) and act as a representative of the ISP? That would allow the agent to arrange a time to arrive at the home, search it, and head back to the courthouse to submit that evidence as probably cause for a search warrant.
y personal story didn’t end with the movie, or with my retirement from the force in 1972. It continues right up to this day. And the reason I’m speaking out now is that, tragically, too little has really changed since the Knapp Commission, the outside investigative panel formed by then-Mayor John Lindsay after I failed at repeated internal efforts to get the police and district attorney to investigate rampant corruption in the force. Lindsay had acted only because finally, in desperation, I went to the New York Times, which put my story on the front page. Led by Whitman Knapp, a tenacious federal judge, the commission for at least a brief moment in time supplied what has always been needed in policing: outside accountability. As a result many officers were prosecuted and many more lost their jobs. But the commission disbanded in 1972 even though I had hoped (and had so testified) that it would be made permanent.
And today the Blue Wall of Silence endures in towns and cities across America. Whistleblowers in police departments — or as I like to call them, “lamp lighters,” after Paul Revere — are still turned into permanent pariahs. The complaint I continue to hear is that when they try to bring injustice to light they are told by government officials: “We can’t afford a scandal; it would undermine public confidence in our police.” That confidence, I dare say, is already seriously undermined.
But an even more serious problem — police violence — has probably grown worse, and it’s out of control for the same reason that graft once was: a lack of accountability.
Today the combination of an excess of deadly force and near-total lack of accountability is more dangerous than ever: Most cops today can pull out their weapons and fire without fear that anything will happen to them, even if they shoot someone wrongfully. All a police officer has to say is that he believes his life was in danger, and he’s typically absolved.
Serpico was one of those rare officers who tried to do the right thing and hold his profession accountable to the public. For his sins against the thin blue line he was basically made persona non grata at the New York Police Department where he worked and other departments throughout the country. And when you become persona non grata amongst police it often results in your being killed when you fellow officers refuse to render you assistance when it’s needed most (Serpico, fortunately, survived when his fellows decided not to act as backup when his life was in peril).
Many people are quick to dismiss any advocacy of private policing. Critics say that private policing would guarantee that the wealth enjoy police protection while the poor would end up under their boots. Truth be told we already live in the distopia that those critics warn us about. It’s the inevitable outcome of hierarchy. The police, who are the state’s weapon of choice when wielding its monopoly on coercion, ensure that the people live under the boot of the politicians and their corporate partners. Because of their monopoly we the people have no real recourse. If we take issue with the actions of police officers we are free to bring them up to the police officers and they will choose whether or not to investigate themselves. Usually these self performed investigations lead to the accused officer(s) receiving a paid vacation before they are found innocent of all wrongdoing. They can stomp on us and there’s nothing we can realistically do to stop them (at least within the system).
What Serpico’s story shows us is that the lack of accountability exists internally as well. People, especially when referring to politics, talk about changing the system within. In the case of policing the internal system guards against such attempts. So policing is entirely unaccountable. Externally we the people can’t do anything because the police have been granted a legal monopoly on coercion and we have no. Internally genuinely good officers can’t do anything because the wicked police officers will ostracize the good and even put their lives in jeopardy.
Usually when I talk about the state’s war against the homeless I’m speaking figuratively. But from time to time the state’s figurative war becomes a very real one:
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has released a disturbing video of a police shooting. It shows eight officers of the Saginaw, Michigan Police Department lined up against Milton Hall, a mentally ill homeless man. There’s a brief stand-off in a vacant parking lot, in which Hall pulls out a pocketknife, then the law enforcement agents fire 45 bullets at Hall, hitting him 14 times, even as he drops to the pavement, but it doesn’t end there.
“One policeman, after [Hall] was on the ground, turned him over, handcuffed him, and put his foot on his back,” says Jewel Hall, the mother of the 45-year-old homeless man. “And his blood is running down the street like water.”
A knife is a deadly weapon, there’s no denying that. But us tax payers are forced to pay for a lot of less-likely-to-be-lethal weaponry for police officers so you would think they would humor us by attempting to use it from time to time on somebody other than small children. Especially when there are eight officers so if something like a Taser fails to be effective you still have seven sets of hands free to either bring in another Taser or a firearm.
As a side note we should also take a moment to look at the hit ratio. 14 out of 45 rounds is approximately a 31 percent hit ratio, which is pretty terrible. Criticizing their poor marksmanship isn’t just my attempt at taking a cheap shot at the officers. Having that poor of marksmanship in a town is dangerous since it means 31 rounds went who knows where. That’s a sizable risk to the people the police are supposedly there to protect.
November 4th is almost here (and almost over, thank the gods; I can’t wait until people are being nicer to one another again), which means the political rhetoric is in high gear and most people deeply involved in politics are being insufferable dicks to anybody who isn’t going to vote their way.
Since this isn’t a presidential election few people really give a damn. But there is one group of people who care very much, the small group of presidential hopefuls. These scumbag politicians are spewing some of the dumbest rhetoric out there in the hopes of drumming up a base of gullible suckers who will work furiously, for free, on their campaigns. Elizabeth Warren already beat on the rhetoric drum when she claimed that the Republicans are responsible for everything bad in this country. So it’s time for a Republicans to claim that the Democrats are responsible for all of this country’s ills. Who better to spew such rhetoric than Rand Paul:
Our Founder’s would be ashamed at what our government has become. Micromanaging the daily lives of citizens is not the duty of government. But the GOP is taking a stand—we are saying enough is enough.
It is the Republican party that is trying to limit government power and this is an ideal that all libertarians firmly believe in and support. If we want to protect our civil liberties, we must come together. And it’s no secret that the Republican party desperately need libertarian support.
This is what Rand has reduced himself to, being a mindless party shill in the hopes he will be given a chance at the presidency (he won’t). But it’s amazing how much cognitive dissonance this man maintains. The Republican Party, according to his article, will protect our civil liberties. I must have missed the asterisk that indicates your civil liberties won’t be protected if they involve wanting to marry somebody of the same gender, transition genders, smoke cannabis, avoid being spied on by the government, keep your assets from being randomly seized by police officers, stop this “tough on crime” bullshit this has made this country a total police state, freely cross the imaginary line between the United States and Mexico, go through the airport without being sexually molested, or practice the Muslim faith without being labeled at terrorist. Basically if the civil liberties you want to enjoy fall without a very small subset then the Republican Party may throw you bone if you beg really hard.
You’re not going to vote yourself a limited government. In fact a limited government is a pipe dream. Once a group of individuals has the power to declare what is legal and illegal and has the capacity for violence to beat down or kill anybody who disagrees the idea of limited control is thrown out the window. The only limitation you may enjoy are the ones approved by the state. As we have seen in this country every politicians is interested in curtailing your liberties. Some of them want to curtail one subset while others want to curtail another subset. In the end both subsets get restricted because both groups of politicians manage to wield some of the state’s power.
If you want limited government voting Republican isn’t going to get it. In fact it won’t even slow down the state’s grabbing for power. Republicans want to restrict your liberties just as much as Democrats. That’s why voting isn’t going to deliver the goods. The only candidates that have a shot of winning (because the Republican and Democrats used their duopoly to lockout other parties for all intents and purposes) want to expand the state’s powers.
Anyways I will try to avoid wasting your time with too many political articles between now and November 4th and focus on things that actually matter.
The biggest problem I have with law enforcers is that they enjoy a level of privileges above the rest of us. Whereas it’s illegal for you or I to lie to a law enforcement agent they can lie to us with impunity. Heck, it’s considered part of their job. But that differences in legally permissible actions doesn’t stop there. Let’s consider the act of phishing, which is an attempt to acquire personal information from a target using a fake version of a legitimate website. It’s illegal in the United States. Unless, of course, if you have a badge:
The FBI in Seattle created a fake news story on a bogus Seattle Times web page to plant software in the computer of a suspect in a series of bomb threats to Lacey’s Timberline High School in 2007, according to documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in San Francisco.
The EFF documents reveal that the FBI dummied up a story with an Associated Press byline about the Thurston County bomb threats with an email link “in the style of The Seattle Times,” including details about subscriber and advertiser information.
The link was sent to the suspect’s MySpace account. When the suspect clicked on the link, the hidden FBI software sent his location and Internet Protocol information to the agents. A juvenile suspect was identified and arrested June 14.
Double standards are fun! The problem with allowing law enforcers to perform illegal actions without repercussions is that it sets a bad precedence. We’re witnessing these repercussions today as police officers use levels of force far and above what any sane person could justify, confiscate property of people who haven’t even been convicted of a crime, and hack into computers in order to obtain evidence, often against suspected hackers. Allowing law enforcers to act illegally also attracts people who want to perform illegal acts to the job, which is part of my theory of why we have so many violent individuals staffing many modern police departments.
Gun control loons always seem to make an exception for their hatred of guns when it comes to police. As far as many of them are concerned the police are paragons of all that is good and wholesome. You and I? We’re scum that can’t be trusted with a firearm. If allowed to carry a firearm we would pull it on whoever made us even slight perturbed. Meanwhile police officers, because of their advanced training and upstanding moral character, would never act irresponsibly with a firearm. Well except maybe this guy:
(KUTV) The passenger, who allegedly pointed a gun at the head of an Uber driver, is a federal police officer with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).
Brothers said he picked up McDonald and three other people from a downtown Salt Lake bar that night, after they called for a lift. He says he dropped off three passengers first, then drove McDonald to his hotel as he had a disagreement with one of the other passengers. Right after he pulled into the hotel entrance, Brothers said McDonald looked at him and said, “Do you want to live or die?” At first, Brothers said he thought it was a joke because McDonald appeared drunk. Then his passenger asked him the question again and pulled out a gun and pointed it at his head. Brothers said he tried to run but McDonald grabbed him by the collar and pulled him so hard he ripped his shirt and jacket and left scratch marks. Brothers pulled away, ran out of the car and called 911.
The District Attorney said surveillance video from the hotel supports Brothers’ story. McDonald was arrested in the hotel.
But that’s just one exception. The rest are all super upstanding. In fact they’re so upstanding that they are the only ones we could trust to be in possession of firearms. That will ensure incidents like this one will never happen again… who am I kidding? I can’t even keep up this level of sarcasm. Seriously though, be cautions of who you give a ride to.
How many self-defense instructors brag bout their military of police credentials? Based on what I’ve seen the number is pretty high. And for good reason. A lot of regular old jerk offs seem to view military and police credentials as the thing to look for when deciding on a self-defense course. The more research I do in the field of self-defense the more I’m convinced the military and police credentials are pretty useless from a civilian standpoint.
On the surface seeking military and police credentials makes sense. When it comes to violence those are the two professions that are most likely to be familiar with it. But those professions also exist in a realm that is entirely separate from what use regular jerk offs exist in.
First, let’s consider tactics. Many regular jerk offs seem to believe that military and police tactics are the most effective tactics when it comes to self-defense. What they never stop to consider is that military tactics especially and police tactics to a lesser degree assuming personnel are working in teams. A lot of military and police tactics for individual personnel rely on variations of waiting for backup. As a regular jerk off we’re unlikely to have backup coming our way so that tosses out a lot of military and police tactics.
Second, liability. Military and police tactics have been developed in a realm where liability is far more limited. Both military and police personnel can get away with things that would land us regular jerk offs in a cage or, at the very least, on the receiving end of a nasty lawsuit. When a solider screws up he usually has the military ready to stand by his side, so long as he was following order. Police often receive little more than a slap on the wrist and a paid vacation when they do something egregious. Therefore their tactics have much more leeway than our own. Shock and awe work well when you’re raiding an enemy stronghold or a drug house but it’s a completely unacceptable tactic when you’re a civilian.
Third, military and personnel tactics often make assumptions about available equipment that us regular jerk offs don’t have. Consider the equipment a solider often has on his person. They usually have a rifle and a good number of space magazines, sometimes have a side arm and body armor, and often have access to greater firepower in the form of grenades and airstrikes. Police usually have a handgun, baton, pepper spray, and a Taser on their person. Oftentimes police officers will be wearing body armor and either have a rifle on hand or one very nearby. What does the average jerk off have? If they’re fortunate they live somewhere where they can legally carry a firearm, which will usually give them access to a handgun. Should have have a handgun on their person they would be smart to have at least some spare ammunition on hand. Beyond a handgun the equipment an average jerk off will have available is scant and may include pepper spray and a folding knife but will most often consist of a wallet and car keys.
There are many other reasons why I don’t see military and police credentials as important when looking for a self-defense instructor. But those are the three biggest. With all of that said, military and police credentials don’t imply an instructor is bad. It just doesn’t mean that the instructor is good.