A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Shut Up Slave’ tag

Living in the Freest Country on Earth

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A lot of people living here in the United States remain adamant that it is the freest country on Earth. Even those who don’t believe that it is the freest country on Earth are skittish about calling it a police state. However, I can’t think of any other term that describes the state of a nation where this kind of nonsense takes place:

Los Angeles will be the first US city to start equipping its subways with body scanners. But the Southern California metropolis isn’t using the bulky, slow-operating models that populate US airports: Instead, LA’s Metropolitan Transit Authority will deploy portable trunk-sized scanners that can survey people from 30 feet away at a rate of 2,000 individuals an hour.

This shouldn’t surprise anybody. When the Transportation Security Administration installed body scanners at airports, there was a short period where people expressed outrage at the idea. After that short period almost everybody rolled over and accepted it. Now that practice is coming to subways in Los Angeles and I predict a similar result. There will be a short period of outrage but everybody will roll over like the good little slaves they are in short order. Then this system will come to trains (including municipal light rail) and buses and eventually you won’t be able to go anywhere without being subjected to a full body scan.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 16th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Being Treated Like a Criminal

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I didn’t make it to DEF CON this year but I’m beginning to think that it was for the best. If there’s one thing I hate it’s being falsely accused of a crime, which is what many hotel staffs are now in the practice of doing in Las Vegas:

Caesars began rolling out a new security policy in February that mandated room searches when staff had not had access to rooms for over 24 hours. Caesars has been mostly tolerant of the idiosyncratic behavior of the DEF CON community, but it’s not clear that the company prepared security staff for dealing with the sorts of things they would find in the rooms of DEF CON attendees. Soldering irons and other gear were seized, and some attendees reported being intimidated by security staff.

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And since the searches came without any warning other than a knock, they led, in some cases, to frightening encounters for attendees who were in those rooms. Katie Moussouris—a bug bounty and vulnerability disclosure program pioneer at Microsoft, an advocate for security researchers, and now the founder and CEO of Luta Security—was confronted by two male members of hotel security as she returned to her room. When she went into the room to call the desk to verify who they were, they banged on the door and screamed at her to immediately open it.

Caesars wasn’t the only hotel reported to be doing this by DEF CON attendees. Hotels owned by MGM Resorts International were also searching rooms without cause.

I don’t do business with people who assume ill of me so I sure as the hell am not going to do business with Caesars or any hotel owned by MGM Resorts International unless this practice is stopped. Unfortunately, I don’t foresee this practice ceasing. Instead I see this practice becoming the norm for hotels. If we look at the recent history of the United States, this kind of behavior will, at most, cause a very minor and very temporary dip in business. After their initial outrage though, if even that much of a reaction occurs, the American people will roll over and accept this incursion into their private life just as they have accepted every other incursion. If you accuse an American of being a criminal without cause, they tend to get upset… unless you tell them that the reason you’re accusing them is because somebody else committed a crime, then they’ll totally understand that it’s for the “greater good” and roll over like the good dogs that they are.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 14th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Democracy Sure Is Fragile

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I’m sure Alex Jones is enjoying all of the free advertising that he has received from being banned from Facebook, Apple, and YouTube. Normally a marketing campaign with so much outreach would cost a small fortune. However, the real entertainment value in all of this is the pro-censorship crowd’s rhetoric. For example, take Senator Chris Murphy’s comment:

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., is calling on other tech companies to ban more sites like InfoWars, and says the survival of American democracy depends on it.

“Infowars is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies that uses sites like Facebook and YouTube to tear our nation apart. These companies must do more than take down one website. The survival of our democracy depends on it,” Murphy tweeted Monday.

The survival of our democracy depends on censorship! If Jones is allowed to express himself, democracy will fall!

Democracy must be very fragile indeed if a single man’s speech can take it down. But the festering pustule that is mob rule has survived for hundreds of years even though many countries under the system have traditionally been in favor of free speech. That being the case, I’m inclined to believe that democracy is, unfortunately, more resilient than Murphy says.

The most amusing thing about democracy to me is the fact that its most vocal advocates generally hate it. While their mouths are talking about the greatness of democracy their hands are working to stop anybody who votes the wrong way. When somebody says they love democracy, what they generally mean is that they love the idea of a system where only those who agrees with them are allowed to vote.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 9th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Without Government Who Would Artificially Increase the Cost of Healthcare

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Advocates of government monopolized healthcare (they usually call it “national” or “universal” healthcare) argue that their favored system is necessary because market actors have an incentive to constantly increase the cost of healthcare. The opposite is true. Market actors have an incentive to provide cheaper and more effective services because doing so will attract new customers by both attracting customers who formerly couldn’t afford their services and siphoning customers away from their competitors. However, government has an incentive to increase healthcare costs because doing so protects its favored providers:

Dr. Gajendra Singh walked out of his local hospital’s outpatient department last year, having been told an ultrasound for some vague abdominal pain he was feeling would cost $1,200 or so, and decided enough was enough. If he was balking at the price of a routine medical scan, what must people who weren’t well-paid medical professionals be thinking?

The India-born surgeon decided he would open his own imaging center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and charge a lot less. Singh launched his business in August and decided to post his prices, as low as $500 for an MRI, on a banner outside the office building and on his website.

There was just one barrier to fully realizing his vision: a North Carolina law that he and his lawyers argue essentially gives hospitals a monopoly over MRI scans and other services.

In all fairness to the politicians of North Carolina, I’m sure the hospitals in the state paid them a tremendous amount of money to buy such a favor.

The reason healthcare in the United States is so costly is because the government has inserted itself more and more into the healthcare market. Medical products cannot be released without obtaining approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which demands a princely sum before one can receive approval. Drugs that used to be over-the-counter now require people to first pay a doctor to write a prescription before acquiring them. Government protected monopolies in the form of patents allow drug companies to charge whatever price they want because they have no fear of competitors offering a cheaper alternative. And stories like this, where new market actors are crushed by bureaucrats in order to protect their favored healthcare providers, are rampant.

When something is causing a problem, more of it isn’t going to alleviate that problem. Government is the reason healthcare in the United States is so expensive. Handing the government a complete monopoly over healthcare isn’t going to alleviate that problem.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 3rd, 2018 at 10:30 am

You Live in a Police State

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When people think of police states they get an image of jackbooted thugs performing nightly raids in every neighborhood for the purpose of disappearing seemingly random citizens. Because of that image most people fail to recognize a real police state when they’re living in one. A real police state is far more subtle. It is a state where the government reserves for itself the right to harass anybody for entirely arbitrary reasons:

If you fall asleep or use the bathroom during your next flight, those incriminating facts could be added to your federal dossier. Likewise, if you use your laptop or look at noisy children seated nearby with a “cold, penetrating stare,” that may be included on your permanent record. If you fidget, sweat or have “strong body odor” — BOOM! the feds are onto you.

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Anyone who has recently traveled to Turkey can apparently be put on the list — as well as people “possibly affiliated” with someone on a terrorist watchlist (which contains more than a million names). The program is so slipshod that it has targeted at least one airline flight attendant and a federal law enforcement agent.

After a person makes the Quiet Skies list, a TSA air marshal team is placed on his next flight. Marshals receive “a file containing a photo and basic information” and carefully note whether the suspect’s “appearance was different from information provided” — such as whether he has “gained weight,” is “balding” or “graying,” has a beard or “visible tattoos” (bad news for Juggalo fans of the Insane Clown Posse). Marshals record and report any “significant derogatory information” on suspects.

The key to a police state is that just because the government reserves for itself the right to harass anybody for entirely arbitrary reasons doesn’t mean it will choose to harass everybody or even a majority of people. Usually a police state will choose to harass only a small percentage of people, which allows the majority of people to believe that they don’t live in a police state because they’ve never been harassed.

The United States is a police state. The government has established a system of laws so complete that it is impossible not to be in violation of the law. Moreover, the government grants its agencies a great deal of free reign. The Transportation Security Agency (TSA) can surveil any air traveler for any arbitrary reason, including them somehow being associated with one of a million individuals on a secret list, and there is no way to know what the result of that surveillance is because the TSA has long had the power to add people to secret lists of people who it has the right to harass. But since most air travelers won’t suffer consequences from this practice, they will continue to be oblivious to the fact that they live in a police state.

Black Market Plastic Straws

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I always thought that entering the black market would require selling drugs or guns. It turns out that I can just sell plastic straws:

A California coastal city has become the latest municipality to ban plastic straws, enacting what is potentially the strictest plastic prohibition in the country.

Santa Barbara earlier this month passed the ordinance authorizing hefty fines and even a possible jail sentence for violators who dole out plastic straws at restaurants, bars and other food establishments.

That lowers my initial capital costs significantly!

Written by Christopher Burg

July 27th, 2018 at 10:00 am

This Is What Democracy Looks Like

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Californians were scheduled to vote on a measure to divide the state into three separate states but they won’t have that opportunity because a men in muumuus said so:

The California Supreme Court shot down the controversial initiative from appearing on the November ballot in a unanimous decision, writing that “significant questions have been raised regarding the proposition’s validity.”

Proposition 9 would’ve asked voters whether California should separate into three states: California, Northern California and Southern California. It would’ve been subject to approval by US Congress. The initiative had gained enough signatures in June to qualify for the ballot on November 6.

“We conclude that the potential harm in permitting the measure to remain on the ballot outweighs the potential harm in delaying the proposition to a future election,” the justices wrote.

Proponents of Democracy believe that it gives the people an opportunity to voice their opinion to their government. That’s true only if their opinion isn’t radical. Democratic systems have a lot of safeguards in place to protect the status quo. If, for example, you are able to get enough signatures to get a radical measure placed on a statewide ballot, the safeguard of the courts kicks in to toss that measure out.

Whenever I say that real change cannot be realized through political means, somebody lists off all of the changes that have occurred through political means. What all of those changes end up having in common is that they’re minor, not radical. You cannot, for example, vote to abolish a political office, you can only vote on who occupies that office. So you may managed to get a slightly less terrible candidate to occupy an office but that isn’t real change, that’s a minor change. If you did try to get a measure on a ballot to abolish a political office, one of the state’s safeguards would kick in to prevent you from realizing your goal. That is democracy in a nutshell, the plebes can do no more than vote on some minor details.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 20th, 2018 at 10:30 am

What What, In the Butt

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Law enforcers offer a lot of free services. If you see a black family grilling in a park, you can call a law enforcer and they’ll come and hassle them for you. If a member of your family is threatening to commit suicide, you can call a law enforcer and they’ll come and kill your family member before they have a chance to kill themselves. If you can’t afford a visit to the doctor’s office, you can call a law enforcer and they’ll come and give you a free prostate exam:

WASHINGTON (WJLA) — The cell phone video shows a ‘Stop and Frisk’ encounter last September between an MPD officer and M.B. Cottingham, a D.C. resident.

“Come on man! Stop fingering me, bruh!” the 39-year-old cries out.

“Stop moving,” replies Officer Sean Lojacono.

Now, 10 months after that pat-down, the ACLU of DC has filed a federal lawsuit against Lojacono, calling it an illegal and invasive body search.

“The officer, instead of frisking him for weapons, just jams his finger and his hand between Mr. Cottingham’s legs,” said ACLU attorney Scott Michelman.

Not surprisingly, there were several officers involved:

The suit says several officers, including Lojacono, “got out of their cars and asked the men if they had any guns. They responded they did not.”

It’s not just that there are bad apples but that there are also a lot of indifferent apples willing to standby and let the bad apples do whatever they want.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 20th, 2018 at 10:00 am

It’s Good to Be the King

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It’s good to be the king. When you’re the king, you don’t have to put up with insults from your subjects:

When body-camera footage of an aggressive or abusive police officer goes viral, the response from law enforcement groups is often to caution that we shouldn’t judge the entire system based on actions of a few bad apples. That’s fair enough. But what does it say about the system when the cops gets away with their bad behavior? What if, despite video footage clearly showing that the cops are in the wrong, sheriffs and police chiefs cover for them, anyway? What if local prosecutors do, too? What if even mayors and city attorneys get into the act?

Adam Finley had such an interaction with a bad cop. He was roughed up, sworn at and handcuffed. When he tried to file a complaint, he was hit with criminal charges. The local police chief turned Finley’s wife against him, which (according to both Finley and her) eventually ended their marriage. The fact that video of the incident should have vindicated him didn’t seem to matter.

This is a really good story to read because it illustrates a lot of facts about modern law enforcement, the power of authority, and local government. Even though body camera footage clearly showed the officer was abusing his authority, Finley had his life ruined because the people tasked with overseeing the law enforcer covered for him. This shouldn’t be surprisingly since all of the people tasked with overseeing the law enforcer work for the same government as the law enforcer. But many people still make the mistake of believing that government oversight of law enforcement is an effective check against abuse when, in fact, government oversight of law enforcement is merely the government overseeing itself. Whenever you give an entity the power to oversee itself, it has a strong tendency to find that it did nothing wrong.

Federal Court Tells Slaves to Shut Up

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What recourse do you have when you’re assaulted by a Transportation Security Agency (TSA) goon? A federal appeals court has decided that you have no recourse:

In a 2-1 vote, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia said Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners were not “investigative or law enforcement officers,” and were therefore shielded from liability under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).

Badges, even when they’re not on the shirt of a law enforcer, are magical things. So long as your uniform has one, you enjoy significant privileges that allow you to get away with actions that would be considered criminal if performed by somebody without a badge.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 12th, 2018 at 10:30 am