A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘1984 was a Warning not a Blueprint’ tag

Police Body Camera Footage Being Placed Under Lock and Key

without comments

Equipping police with body cameras was supposed to help the public hold law enforcers accountable but like any solution the State agrees to, body cameras turned out to be yet another weapon in the State’s arsenal to expropriate wealth from its subjects. State governments are placing body camera footage under lock and key so it can’t be used by the public:

North Carolina, for example, passed legislation last year excluding body camera video from the public record, so footage is not available through North Carolina’s Public Records Act. That means civilians have no right to view police recordings in the Tar Heel state unless their voice or image was captured in the video.

Louisiana also exempts body camera video from public records laws.

South Carolina will only release body camera footage to criminal defendants and the subjects of recordings.

Kansas classifies body camera video as “criminal investigation documents” available only when investigations are closed. The Topeka Police Department may have wanted positive public relations with the release of its pond rescue video, but if a news outlet had requested that video through Kansas’ Open Records Act, that request would’ve likely been denied.

I stated pretty early on in the body camera debate that the footage would be useless, at least as far as holding the police accountable goes, unless the video was streamed directly to a third-party server that wasn’t under the control of any government entity. However, most body cameras upload their data to services, such as Axon’s evidence.com, that are controlled by parties with a vested interest in pleasing police departments. Combine that setup with the state laws that put the footage outside of the public’s reach and you have another tool that was sold as being good for the people that was actually very bad for them.

I Don’t Think Theresa May Understand How Networks Work

without comments

Politicians never let a tragedy go to waste. After another attack in London Theresa May, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was quick to exploit the tragedy by using it to call for restricting the Internet:

The Prime Minister said introducing new rules for cyberspace would “deprive the extremists of their safe spaces online” and that technology firms were not currently doing enough.

[…]

London attack shows too much tolerance for extremism in UK, May says
“We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed – yet that is precisely what the internet, and the big companies that provide internet-based services provide,” Ms May said.

“We need to work with allied democratic governments to reach international agreements to regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremist and terrorism planning.”

She obviously doesn’t understand how networks works.

Networks are groups of interconnected people or computers. While the Internet is the largest network in the world it is not the only network, which is what Theresa’s proposal fails to address. She seems to think that restricting the Internet, a proposal which is absurd by itself, would silence the forces her government is at war with. It wouldn’t. Even if there was a way to effectively restrict what kind of content is posted on the Internet it would simply cause those being restricted to create a separate network.

What shape would such a network take? While predicting the future is impossible there are some precedences that could give us an idea. Guifi.net, for example, is a mesh network that spans most of Catalonia. Even if every Internet connection to Guifi.net was severed the nodes on the network would still be able to communicate with one another. Drug cartels also built their own large scale network in Mexico.

Humans are social creatures and therefore strive to build networks. Every attempt to interfere with this drive has failed. Even the mighty Roman Empire, despite its best efforts, was unable to stop early Christians from networking. Eventually they networked to such a scale that they Christianized the empire. Theresa May can make whatever proposal she desires but even if it is implemented it will fail because it’s attempting to interfere with one of humanity’s most basic drives.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 6th, 2017 at 10:30 am

The War is Not Meant to Be Won

with 2 comments

Who isn’t the United States at war with? It’s a difficult question to answer because the list of nations continues to grow. Although most of its actions have been focused on the Middle East, the United States is starting to expand further into Africa:

Six years ago, a deputy commanding general for U.S. Army Special Operations Command gave a conservative estimate of 116 missions being carried out at any one time by Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets, and other special operations forces across the globe.

Today, according to U.S. military documents obtained by VICE News, special operators are carrying out nearly 100 missions at any given time — in Africa alone. It’s the latest sign of the military’s quiet but ever-expanding presence on the continent, one that represents the most dramatic growth in the deployment of America’s elite troops to any region of the globe.

In 2006, just 1 percent of all U.S. commandos deployed overseas were in Africa. In 2010, it was 3 percent. By 2016, that number had jumped to more than 17 percent. In fact, according to data supplied by U.S. Special Operations Command, there are now more special operations personnel devoted to Africa than anywhere except the Middle East — 1,700 people spread out across 20 countries dedicated to assisting the U.S. military’s African partners in their fight against terrorism and extremism.

Contrary to what many people believe, Trump won’t be the downfall of the United States. Russia won’t be either. What will ultimate kill the United States is its obsession with policing the world.

To quote the movie 1984, “The war is not meant to be won. It is meant to be continuous. The essential act of modern warfare is the destruction of the produce of human labour. A hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance.” While the United States’ purpose in war may not be to directly destroy the production of human labor, it’s an unavoidable side effect. Every building that is destroyed will have to be rebuilt. Every automobile that is destroyed will have to be replaced. War destroys the product of human labor so that it must be produced again.

And what does war return? Nothing. Some will claim that war stimulates the economy because the production of war materials and replacement of destroyed materials creates jobs. However, as Bastiat pointed out, we’re not seeing the unseen. The labor and resources that are involved in the war effort could have been used for productive things instead. Steel for tanks could have been used to build skyscrapers, automobiles, computers, or any number of wealth generating tools. Likewise, the labor could have been put towards building those skyscrapers, automobiles, computers, etc. Instead those resources are put into wealth destroying devices that must be replaced every time they are destroyed by an enemy.

So long as the United States continues to see itself as the police of the world it will continue to involve itself in more wars, which will just accelerate its demise.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 19th, 2017 at 11:00 am

The Wonders of Late Stage Socialism

without comments

Maduro has disarmed Venezuelans, armed his loyalists, and is now in the process of rounding up dissidents and trying them in secretive military courts:

Hundreds of Venezuelans arrested in the past week have been tried in secretive military courts, a new maneuver by the government of President Nicolas Maduro as he fights to retain his grip on power in the face of escalating political opposition and massive street protests.

Those taken into custody were charged with crimes including “rebellion” and “insulting authorities,” and some were sentenced within hours, according to civil-rights groups. Thousands of people have been detained across the country in recent months, with authorities rounding up politicians, activists, student leaders, even shoppers waiting in queues to buy food who made complaints police officers decided were out of line.

Yet more proof that Venezuela is experiencing late stage socialism.

Military courts usually come into play after a government has either fully cemented its power or see its power slipping away. In either case the government is motivated to eliminate all dissenters, which is difficult with drawn out public trials. It’s far more convenient to declare dissenters war criminals, whisk them away to a secret military court, and perform a quick show trail to get all of the paperwork in order (because governments are hopelessly addicted to paperwork), and either toss them in a labor camp for the rest of what will be their very short lives or simply execute them.

What Venezuela is experiencing is nothing new. It’s the way pretty much every socialist government has played out. Yet believers in socialism will be quick to claim that Venezuela isn’t real socialism because it didn’t lead to their mythical utopia.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 11th, 2017 at 10:30 am

DHS is Banning Laptops in the Cabins of All Flights Coming from Europe

without comments

Are you flying from Europe to the United States? If so, you might be required to place your laptop in your checked baggage:

The Department of Homeland Security plans to ban laptops in the cabins of all flights from Europe to the United States, European security officials told The Daily Beast. The announcement is expected Thursday.

Initially a ban on laptops and tablets was applied only to U.S.-bound flights from 10 airports in North Africa and the Middle East. The ban was based on U.S. fears that terrorists have found a way to convert laptops into bombs capable of bringing down an airplane. It is unclear if the European ban will also apply to tablets.

Why would the Department of Fatherland Motherland Homeland Security (DHS) do this? It’s not for security reasons. Laptops that are carried onto planes go through an x-ray machine so screeners can see if anything looks amiss inside of them. As the article points out, putting laptops in the storage area of the plane is also more dangerous on average since detecting igniting lithium-ion batteries is more difficult. If this ban was for security reasons it would make no sense. However, if the ban is for creating a general state of anxiety, then it makes perfect sense.

Governments rule through fear. If a people believe there is a threat that only the government can defend them against, they’re much more likely to role over and take whatever abuse the government is inflicting upon it. The United States government exploits this fear but constantly reminding its people that there might be terrorists hiding under any bed and in any closet. This constant fear mongering reminds people that there are people out there who might try to kill them and the government hopes that will convince them that they need it.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 11th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Continuing to Debate Insanity

without comments

This article sums up my attitude towards Marxism succinctly:

Every Marxist government in history has been a repressive nightmare. Marxists — aside from the ones who defend the remaining Marxist regimes — consider this a strange coincidence that has no bearing on Marxist ideology. I recently pointed this out, in light of the resurgence of Marxist thought among some left-wing intellectual circles. In an essay in In These Times, Tyler Zimmer writes what he purports to be a response, but that in fact confirms my point for me.

The problem with Marxism, I argue, lies in its class-based model of economic rights. Liberalism believes in political rights for everybody, regardless of the content of their ideas. Marxists believe political rights belong only to those arguing on behalf of the oppressed — i.e., people who agree with Marxists.

There are still advocates for Nazism so I’m not at all surprised that there are still advocates for Marxism. Of course the advocates for Nazism are far more likely to own what they’re advocating. Seldom do I hear a Nazism advocate claim that Nazi Germany wasn’t real Nazism. Marxism advocates, on the other hand, seem to have a strong tendency to wash their hands of the terrible things Marxism has wrought upon people by claiming Marxist regimes weren’t real Marxism.

Unfortunately, the Marxists had better public relations people than the Nazis so we’re still left having to deal with widespread debates about their tried and failed philosophy.

Marxism advocates like to claim that Marxism is about establishing equality for everybody but they seem to believe that doing so can only be achieved by first making people unequal. Marxism, like Nazism (yes, I’m going to continue to compare the two since they only differ in minor details), divides people into groups. An individual’s group membership, which is arbitrarily decided by an all-powerful government, determines what privileges they enjoy. If an individual is lucky, they’re categorized into a group with significant privileges. If an individual is unlucky, they’re categorized into a group that gets hauled off to death camps.

The idea that some animals are more equal than others is the foundation upon which tyranny is built. Statism in any form creates at least two classes of animals: the rulers and the ruled. Classical liberalism at least attempts (although it always fails) to limit the inevitable damage by saying that the same privileges must be granted to every member of the ruled class. If, for example, free speech is granted to one member of the ruled class then it is granted to every other member. Marxism and Nazism are different in that they divide the ruled class into a bunch of subclasses. Members of the Communist or Nazi parties respectively may enjoy the privilege of free speech while members of the other subclasses may not.

This means that it’s far easier under Marxism and Nazism for the rulers to cement their power. If a group of individuals are criticizing the ruler’s actions they can be labeled counterrevolutionaries and effectively stripped of all privileges (including the privilege of living). Through this process the rulers can easily eliminate almost all challenges to their power. Without any challenges to their power the rulers can begin doing what every ruler ultimately does: expropriate wealth from the ruled.

Classical liberalism at least recognizes that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. By making it more difficult for the rulers to eliminate their opponents, classical liberalism adds speed bumps between rulers and absolute corruption. Marxism and Nazism, on the other hand, build a multilane highway between the two and the results are predictable.

Logical deduction shows that Marxism is unworkable if the end goal is anything other than establishing a tyrannical regime. History has shown that the deductive logic plays out in reality. Yet we’re still debating this insanity.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 10th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Information Disparity

without comments

Critics of capitalism often bring up information disparity. They claim that the consumer is at a significant disadvantage because they possess less information than the capitalists. I would give more validity to their point if their proposed solutions didn’t generally involve increasing information disparity. But these critics have a tendency of offering more government power, usually under the euphemism of oversight, as the solution to the information disparity problem. The fault with that solution is that there is an even greater amount of information disparity between governments and their subjects:

The growing covert culture is evident across the country. The New York Police Department has fought in court to hide the details of its fleet of unmarked X-ray vans that can see through buildings and cars. The FBI amassed a facial identification database that now includes 117 million individuals and used it for years without publishing a privacy assessment required by law, the U.S. House Oversight Committee reported in March.

“The transparency is still radically insufficient,” said Rachel Levinson-Waldman, senior counsel at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, who has studied police technology.

Levinson-Waldman said much of the change is driven by influential private companies that develop and market ever-more-powerful technology.

In Burnsville, Police Chief Eric Gieseke presides over a department that was among the first in the nation to deploy body cameras. The department’s servers now hold more than 93,000 videos. Almost of them are off-limits to the public, because of a separate 2016 state law that determined that the threat to personal privacy outweighed the benefits of seeing everything a police officer sees.

The State exists on information disparity. It wants to know everything about you while telling you nothing about itself. This is why information about new government surveillance technology and programs generally come to light through leaks, not through disclosure by the government. It is also why the government fights any attempt to reveal further information after knowledge of what it’s doing becomes public.

Body cameras are an excellent illustration of this point. More people have been demanding that police wear body cameras because they believe body cameras will keep both the police and the people they interact with more honest. However, the laws surrounding how body camera footage is handled is trending towards allowing the footage to be used to prosecute people but not being available to the public. In this way body cameras have become yet another source of information disparity. Law enforcers can use the data to prosecute the people but the people cannot use the data to hold enforcers accountable.

Information disparity cannot be solved by increasing it. Any solution to the problem of information disparity that involves government will only exacerbate the problem.

The Problem with Pragmatism

without comments

Fascists have been trying to make inroads into libertarian circles. That has lead a lot of libertarians to state that libertarianism is anti-fascist. I’m beginning to think that fascism isn’t the real problem for libertarianism, pragmatism is.

As I touched on yesterday, pragmatism has been leading some libertarians to side with fascists because they’re offering a “lighter” alternative to communists “full” socialism. I’ve also seen a few libertarians passing around this article, which is basically saying that libertarians should support universal basic income because it’s better than the current system of welfare. And, of course, I’ve seen some libertarians passing around this article, which argues that supporting universal healthcare is fiscally responsible.

These are just a few cases where I’ve seen libertarians argue for pragmatism. And they make me understand how Ludwig von Mises felt when he was attending a meeting of classical liberals and called them all a bunch of socialists as he stormed after they started talking about pragmatism:

When I hear libertarians siding with fascists, supporting universal basic income, and supporting universal healthcare I can’t help but call them a bunch of socialists because they are expressing pragmatism, which is a socialist ideology.

The problem with pragmatism is that it always requires compromising principles. While some libertarians might think that compromising their principles, at least if it’s only a little bit, is fine so long as it moves some libertarian ideas ahead, doing so actually forwards the goals of socialists in two ways. First, the compromise means at least some of their agenda was also moved ahead. Second, the compromise means that they were able to get some libertarians to bend on one thing, which gives them the knowledge to get them to bend on other things. The first is obvious, the second is sinister.

Getting people to compromise on their principles requires finding the right button to push. Usually the button is fear. If you can find something that somebody is so afraid of that they’re willing to set aside their principles to make themselves feel safer, you’ve won. In fact, that was the whole point of the Room 101 scene in Nineteen Eighty-Four. If, for example, somebody fears communism so greatly that they’re willing to side with fascists, the communists know that they can manipulate the actions of that person by exploiting that fear.

If you’re willing to compromise your principles then you’re susceptible to manipulation. If you’re susceptible to manipulation then your opponents manipulate you.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 25th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Government is Necessary for Mass Murder

without comments

Who will protect the people from murderers without a government, is a common question asked by statists. Who will protect the people from the State, is a common question asked by anarchists.

Of the two dangers, individual murders or the State, which is more concerning? The State because it is capable of mass murder:

Government use of force against ethnic groups is far more effective than private use of force against these same groups. I remember that when I first heard about Hitler at about age eight, and asked my mother who he was, I was told that 15 years earlier he had used tanks and other weapons to try to take over the world. I pictured a nut with some tanks he had bought coming down our highway and invading our small town in rural Canada. I didn’t understand at the time why Hitler was such a threat; I had been raised to believe that the police would protect us. Imagine the shock and sudden surge of overwhelming fear I had when, years later, I learned that Hitler employed the police and, indeed, ran a whole government. That was scary. Even as a child I knew that the government, any government, had more power than anyone who was not in the government, and that when the government passed and enforced a law, you couldn’t legally fight back. That’s when the true terror of Hitler dawned on me.

In the 20th century alone Democide, the act of a government murdering its own people, killed more people than war. A lot more people. But combat deaths should be included as well for the purpose of this post since almost every war in the 20th and 21st centuries has been started and fought by governments.

Nongovernmental murderers aren’t even a blip on the radar when compared to governments. If protection is something you’re truly concerned about then the elimination of government should be your primary mission.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 25th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Everybody is a Terrorist

with 2 comments

Denying people listed on government terrorist watch lists the ability to own firearms has been a pursuit of gun control zealots in recent years. They’re not fans of due process and foolishly believe that the government had good cause to add people to those lists. But we keep finding examples of people being added to those lists who have no business appearing on them. Take this three-month old baby for example:

A three-month old baby was summoned to the US embassy in London for an interview after his grandfather mistakenly identified him as a terrorist.

Harvey Kenyon-Cairns had been due to fly to Orlando in Florida for his first overseas holiday, until his grandfather Paul Kenyon made the error on a visa waiver form.

On the part of the Esta form which reads “Do you seek to engage in or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage, or genocide?” Kenyon ticked yes instead of no.

He only learned of his error when his grandson’s travel was refused. “I couldn’t believe that they couldn’t see it was a genuine mistake and that a three-month-old baby would be no harm to anyone,” said the 62-year-old.

I’m not expert but I can’t imagine a three-month old child having the ability to engage in terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage, or genocide. A quick look at the applicant’s date of birth would have lead any sensible person to realize that the checkbox was obviously checked in error. But governments don’t care about common sense, it’s all about the process to them.

Furthermore, having that question is just plain stupid. Anybody with intent of engaging in those activities isn’t going to alert authorities to their intentions on a government form. After all, people who are willing to break more serious laws probably won’t be dissuaded by charges of lying on a government form. The only purpose such a question on a visa application serves is to add a field where an innocent person can make a stupid mistake.

Government lists are horribly unreliable because there are so many ways to get on them and almost no oversight when it comes to adding names to them. That’s why relying on government lists for any form of punishment is stupid. Something as simple as checking the wrong box on a form might get you added to some watch list.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 18th, 2017 at 11:00 am