A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Shut Up Slave’ tag

Defending Against Propaganda

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Fake news and propaganda are still hot issues for a lot of people. Why? Most likely because they’re products of the public schooling government indoctrination system and are therefore unable to differentiate between facts and fiction when they’re being reported by a respected authority figure. When you can’t tell the difference between the two the fact that some of what you’re being told is factual while the other is fictional probably seems very scary.

But that’s OK because there are some solutions that will fix everything:

In a sense, social media audiences need basic “stranger danger” lessons. Every kid knows that the nice person offering candy and a ride might actually be trying to kidnap them. We need the same instincts in online public spaces, too. The friendly person tweeting at you from Georgia might actually be a bot under the control of Russian hackers. Don’t trust Internet people until you know them.

One of the most hopeful responses I’ve seen to these problems has come from an unlikely place: the Girl Scouts of America. The group has just created a cybersecurity badge that girls can earn alongside more traditional badges for skills like camping, first aid, and music (apparently the “whittling” badge I was so proud of as a kid is no longer offered).

It’s encouraging to see the Girl Scouts teaching cybersecurity to children, because this is the kind of basic skill that people will need more than ever in years to come.

Perhaps the next step will be encouraging teachers and librarians to teach kids defensive social-media skills. Lessons would start with the basics, like how to find the sources for an article and how to understand who has made edits on Wikipedia. More advanced students could be trained to recognize the kinds of bots that are used in propaganda campaigns. Eventually, students could learn to build tools that block known sources of malicious information, much the way Block Together works to prevent the spread of trolling and sockpuppet armies on Twitter.

While education about computer security is extremely beneficial, the flaw of the above proposals is that they rely too much on domain specific knowledge and dictation from authority.

The greatest defense against propaganda is an educated populace. A lot of people make the mistake of assuming that an educated populace is one where a large percentage hold college degrees of some sort. The fact that people often exclusively tie education and college together is a good example of how bad the government indoctrination system is in this country.

Whether a population is education or not has nothing to do with pieces of paper. The ultimate determining factor is whether or not the overwhelming majority of the populace is capable of independent thought. That is to say, an educated populace is one where critical thinking is in abundance and reliance on authority figures for knowledge is at a minimum. An uneducated individual is willing to accept any knowledge provided to them by an authority figure whereas an educated individual will be skeptical of any knowledge provided by an authority figure and attempt to verify it through personal investigation.

Propaganda becomes less effective when individuals default to a state of skepticism. Therefore the most effective tool for fighting against propaganda is teaching individuals how to think for themselves. Once they can do that they can seek out the knowledge they need to further guard themselves. Having authority figures dictate to individuals what is or isn’t propaganda and what they should or should not do to guard against it only exacerbates the problem because it keeps those individuals in a state of mind where they seek knowledge from authority, which is what propagandists rely on.

Unfortunately, the State relies on propaganda and therefore has a vested interest in teaching people to blindly accept knowledge from authority instead of seeking it out themselves. That being the case, the government indoctrination system will continue doing its damnedest to prevent students from thinking for themselves. Until parents stop sending their children to these indoctrination centers propaganda will continue being effective.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 28th, 2017 at 11:00 am

More Evidence that Secession is Necessary

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The United States of America doesn’t respect the rights of individuals. Even the constitutionally granted rights are ignored by it. That alone is a solid argument for secession. Another solid argument is the fact that many of the individual states don’t get along very well. California, for example, has implemented a travel ban against eight states for official state business:

SACRAMENTO — President Trump’s proposed “travel ban” from several Muslim-majority countries has consistently been blocked by the courts. But California has a ban of its own — barring official travel to a growing list of pariah states.

The new law took effect in January, outlawing state employees and officials from using tax money to go to states with laws California deems discriminatory in regards to LGBT issues.

The first states on the list were Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee. But late last week, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that the list has doubled and now includes Alabama, Kentucky, South Dakota and Texas, the second-largest state in the U.S.

I’m sure the eight listed states are jumping for joy. Likewise, they’re probably drawing up their own travel bans against California.

If each state starts issuing official travel bans for its employees based on disagreements between laws things could get interesting. Several states could issue official travel bans on California and New York for their restrictive gun laws. Other states could issue official travel bans against California and Minnesota for their fiscally irresponsible socialist policies. As Internet privacy laws start getting passed states could issue travel bans based on those. The options are practically limitless. In the end there could effectively be a blanket travel ban for the employees of individual states traveling for official business to other states.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if these travel bans for state employees traveling on official business end up being used as a precedence for banning any individual within the state from traveling, at least directly, to verboten states. If things continue at this rate, the future is going to be very interesting.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 28th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Background Checks are Legalized Harassment

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Gun control advocates have been clamoring for universal background checks. In their fantasy world a background check is a simple and sensible tools to prevent prohibited individuals from obtaining a firearm. But background checks aren’t simple or sensible if you find yourself on the prohibited persons list.

Unlike the fantasy world gun control advocates live in, here in the real world the government can and do add people to the prohibited list without cause. Whether an incident is due to an honest clerical mistake or purposeful harassment will always remain unknown because the process is opaque. But if your name is wrongly added to the list the only recourse available to you is to sue the federal government, which can drag out the court case to increase your expenses and then finally take your name off of the list voluntarily so that you’re stuck with those expenses:

Recently, Stamboulieh Law, PLLC, posted up on one of their latest cases, Ledet v. USA, where their client Mr. Ledet was forced to sue the United States to get his NICS checks records corrected. Despite having NICS “roll over” and correct the records, Mr. Ledet is not the “prevailing party” in his own lawsuit, as no judgment was rendered as the point of the suit was moot – NICS corrected its records.

Basically, the Court did not issue a ruling as the claimant received “relief” through the successful resolution of the NICS check allowing him to purchase a firearm. Therefore, he was not a “prevailing party”. Per the Court’s judgement:

“[A] plaintiff does not prevail even though its action has caused the defendant to change is primary conduct, because the plaintiff does not thereby obtain a ‘judicially sanctioned change in the legal relationship of the parties.’”

So, in short, unless a court orders the FBI to change its records, the FBI and its NICS division can drag out a case and increase the costs of the plaintiff and so long as they change voluntarily without a court order, NICS is off the hook for costs.

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has create yet another avenue for the State to harass gun owners and people who are interested in becoming gun owners. People who have been wrongly placed on the prohibited persons list are looking at massive legal expenses if they want to exercise their so-called right to keep and bear arms.

If gun control advocates were sincere they would be working to fix glaring issues with NICS, such as this one, before demanding the system be made mandatory for all firearm transfers. However, their support of universal background checks doesn’t stem from a desire to keep weapons out of the hands of bad individuals, it stems from a desire to prohibit gun ownership. Under the current laws of the United States an outright ban is difficult to pass into law. But an de facto ban can be established by artificially raising the cost of buying a gun by introducing license and legal fees. Mr. Ledet just got to experience how NICS is a perfect tool for greatly increasing the cost of gun ownership.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 27th, 2017 at 11:00 am

The $3 Million “Justified” Shoot

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One of the more disgusting claims being made by cop apologists is that the jury’s ruling in the Yanez case proves that the officer’s killing of Castile was justified. The jury only ruled that Yanez wasn’t guilty of the crimes the prosecutor brought against him. That’s different from ruling that his actions were justified. Now we have evidence that even the municipal government of St. Anthony thought the actions of its office were in error. How much in error? Roughly $3 million in error:

The mother of Philando Castile, a black motorist killed by a Minnesota police officer last year, has reached a nearly $3 million settlement in his death, according to an announcement Monday by her attorneys and the Minneapolis suburb that employed the officer.

The settlement to be paid to Valerie Castile will avoid a federal wrongful death lawsuit stemming from Philando Castile’s death. The 32-year-old elementary school cafeteria worker was killed by St. Anthony officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop July 6 after Castile told the officer he was armed. Castile had a permit for his gun.

Valerie Castile was probably smart in taking this settlement after seeing how the court system works. Between the prosecution being able to select charges based on whether or not they want to win or lose a case; the jury selection process, which usually results in the jury box being stacked with people of low intelligence and high susceptibility to manipulation; the judge’s almost absolute authority in the courtroom; and various other little tricks the State has available to ensure a jury trial goes the way it wants, jury trials end up being a mechanism for the State to reinforce its own policies by claiming they were reviewed by an impartial body.

If Valerie pursued a federal lawsuit, it’s likely she would end up receiving nothing since the State’s courts have an unsurprising tendency to side with the State.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 27th, 2017 at 10:30 am

It’s Not Your Property, Serf

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Can you own property in the United States of America? Many people would make the mistake of answering yes to that question. But the United States itself as well as the individual states that make it up are democracies and democracies mean that individuals cannot own property. At best an individual can lease property from the government. If, for example, an individual fails to pay their rent property taxes the government will revoke their lease. And it’s not even a contractual lease because the rules can change whenever an empowered voting body votes to alter the terms:

Tom Erickson feels like someone is taking a bite out of his front yard.

A 12-foot-wide strip of lawn will become part of a multi-use path, which he says will reduce his front yard by about a third.

“It’s incredible to me that they can just grab your property,” said Erickson, who is fighting Woodbury city officials over the plan to create the path along Commonwealth Avenue.

Mr. Erickson paid a large buy in for the privilege to lease the property he currently lives on. He probably thought that his buy in entitled him to perpetual use of the same amount of property so long as he paid his rent on time. But the city officials voted to change the terms of his lease so now he’ll likely have to pay the same amount of rent (or more if the officials decide the trail increases his property value) for only two-thirds the amount of property.

What Mr. Erickson is experiencing isn’t unusual. City governments are constantly voting to change the terms of their denizens’ leases. Oftentimes they completely invalidate leases so they can be transferred to somebody else (this is usually referred to by the euphemism “eminent domain”). So Mr. Erickson should be grateful that he is being allowed to continue living on any of the property he’s currently paying rent for.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 23rd, 2017 at 11:00 am

Taxes Them Again

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Whenever you mention privatizing roads some statist inevitably says, “But then we’ll all have to pay tolls to use the roads!” This is an especially funny criticism because many states including Illinois, Florida, and Texas charge tolls. And now Minnesota is looking to do the same thing:

State lawmakers have given Minnesota transportation officials an assignment: Study the feasibility of toll roads here and report back by January.

Were this to turn into a law Minnesotans would not only have to continue paying property taxes for local roads and gas taxes for state roads but they would also have to pay a toll on various roads. That is where privatized and government roads differ. On privatized roads you may have to pay a toll. However, unlike tolled government roads, you aren’t required to pay a tax in addition to the toll.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 23rd, 2017 at 10:00 am

Lies and Damn Lies

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Since Diamond Reynolds livestreamed the aftermath of Castile’s death the cop apologists have been desperately trying to spin the preceding events in a way that justified what Officer Yanez did. Now that the jury has ruled that Yanez wasn’t guilty of manslaughter based on the explanation of the statute that was provided to them, they’re celebrating. Of course, their celebration involves making a great many false claims.

One of the worst dens of cop apologists that has popped up on the Internet in recent times is Blue Lives Matters. Whenever an officer is involved in a use of force case the writers of that site are quick to character assassinate the victim, anybody connected to the victim, and anybody who disagrees with their narrative. Not surprisingly, their spin requires a great deal of speculation or outright false claims.

On Monday the site posted this article to celebrate Yanez’s court victory. It’s not only a great example of the tendency for cop apologists to revel in death but also a great example of the speculation and false claims their narratives are often based on. For starters:

“Philando Castile responded, “I don’t have to reach for it,” while reaching in the area where his gun was located.”

This statement is entirely speculative. Many cop apologists have pointed out that the dashcam footage doesn’t show what was happening inside of the car, which is correct. However, usually immediately afterwards, they then say that Castile shouldn’t have been reaching. Since the dashcam video doesn’t show the inside of the car there’s no way to know whether Castile was reaching for anything, had both of his hands placed on his steering wheel, or was playing with a Rubik’s Cube while eating ramen with chopsticks.

It was later determined that Castile was high on marijuana at the time of the stop, which impaired his ability to listen to Officer Yanez when he was instructed not to reach for his gun. Officer Yanez shot Castile after he ignored orders and reached towards his gun.

This is speculative but bordering on lying. Toxicology noted that Castile had THC in his body. However, that doesn’t mean he was impaired (“high”). THC can remain in the body for months after using cannabis so the fact that it was in his system doesn’t indicate that he had recently used the it. Furthermore, different people react differently to THC. Some people are not impaired by even high levels of THC. There is no way to know whether or not Castile was impaired from the THC in his system.

In fact, Officer Yanez asked for Philando Castile’s license and insurance near the beginning of the stop and Castile had already handed over paperwork before informing Officer Yanez about his gun.

I’m highlight this except because of what comes afterwards. From the court documents here are the contents of Castile’s wallet after he was killed. Specifically note his drivers licensed (middle card on the right side).

Philando Castile didn’t have a driver’s license to turn over to turn over because his license was suspended.

As you can see, this is entirely false. Castile clearly had a drivers license to hand Yanez and since it was in his wallet after he was killed he hadn’t handed it over yet. Officer Yanez clearly asked for Castile’s license and registration. Castile hand’t completely complied with his order before being shot. Even if Castile was reaching for his wallet, which we don’t know he was, he was doing so under orders from Yanez.

St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez had stopped Castile’s vehicle on July 6, 2016, because he believed Castile might have been involved in a convenience store robbery a few days earlier.

If you’ve watched the dashcam footage you know this is false. The footage makes it very clear that Yanez pulled Castile over for a broken taillight (the taillight was actually broken). While the article claims that pulling Castile over for a broken taillight was really just a clever ruse, there is no evidence whatsoever supporting that claim.

After making speculative and outright false statements the article moves on to character assassination.

Castile’s long previous criminal history does not show a tendency toward violence, although he had been stopped 52 times in the past few years for traffic-related issues.

Long criminal history is hyperbole at best. Castile was stopped 46 (six of the 52 noted incidents were for parking violations, not traffic violations) times but it was always for minor traffic-related incidents:

Castile had been stopped before, when officers spotted him not wearing a seat belt, or when an officer ran his plate number and found his license had been revoked for not paying an earlier fine. Numerous stops came after he didn’t use a turn signal. A few came after he was speeding. He was stopped for rolling through a right turn on a red light, having window tints that were too dark, and at least twice for not having a rear license plate light. He was rarely ticketed for the reason he was stopped. His interactions with police eventually slowed. Although he was continuing to receive licensing and insurance violations, there were only seven incidents involving police contact from 2011 to when he was killed.

About half of Castile’s charges were ultimately dismissed after he paid fines, made plea bargains, took driving courses, and in one case paid $275 to not have two violations show up on his record. (Previous media reports said he had been stopped 52 times; however six of those incidents were for parking violations.) He represented himself in most of the cases. At least three times the court granted him a public defender, which is provided to defendants who cannot afford a private attorney.

Hardly a long previous criminal history. After attempting to assassinate Castile’s character the article moves on to assassinating his girlfriend’s character.

After the Philando Castile shooting, Diamond Reynolds lied after Castile was shot and said that he didn’t have any criminal history. Reynolds also lied by claiming that she was Castile’s fiance, when she wasn’t. She claimed that she was held overnight by the police, when she was only interviewed for two hours before an officer bought her groceries and took her home. And Reynolds claimed that police didn’t provide first aid to Castile, when they did.

We now know that Reynolds’s account of the shooting did not reflect what happened.

Diamond Reynolds was later arrested in an unrelated case for being involved in an attack, using a hammer to attack other women.

This is a great example of the tactic I mention early on in this post. The writer wasn’t only content with assassinating Castile’s character but he felt the need to assassinate the characters of those connected to him. What Reynolds did or did not say after Yanez killed Castile has no relevancy on whether or not Yanez’s actions were justified or not. Likewise, her previous arrest is entirely irrelevant to the case. The only reason to bring it up is to establish guilt by association.

I hope this analysis was educational and illustrated some of the common tactics used by cop apologists when an officer is involved in a seemingly unjustified use of force.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 22nd, 2017 at 11:00 am

Dashcam Footage from Yanez Case Released

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Now that the jury has acquitted Officer Yanez of wrongdoing the dashcam footage from his cruiser has been publicly released:

The video is pretty damning. Officer Yanez pulled Castle over for a broken taillight. After handing the officer his papers Castile calmly informed Yanez that he was currently carrying a firearm. At first Yanez appears to be calm and tells Castlie not to reach for it. Almost immediately afterwards Yanez is drawing his firearm and screaming at Castile not to reach for it while he and his girlfriend scream that he’s not reaching for it. Then Yanez shoots Castile without any apparent regard for the child and girlfriend who were also in the car.

After that Yanez just stands there aiming his gun at the surviving occupants of the vehicle while screaming a few profanities. After a few minutes pass another squad car arrives. Unlike Yanez, those officers were decent enough to attempt to provide medical aid to Castile. Meanwhile Yanez was panicking or continuing to panic. He wasn’t even able to get his gun back into his holster.

The absolute best case scenario here is that Yanez panicked and gunned Castile down without cause. It really makes me wonder if the nine pages of instructions the jury received concluded with, “As you can see the law is written in such a way that an office who panics is not legally responsible for their actions and that’s why you must acquit Officer Yanez.”

Your Vote Really Doesn’t Matter

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I often pointed out that statistically your vote doesn’t matter. Moreover, your vote literally doesn’t matter:

Watching the ongoing clown show in Washington, Americans can be forgiven for asking themselves, “Why did we give this bunch of clowns so very much power over our nation and our lives?”

Well, don’t feel so bad, voters. Because you didn’t actually give them that much power. They just took it. That’s the thesis of Columbia Law Professor Philip Hamburger’s new book, The Administrative Threat, a short, punchy followup to his magisterial Is Administrative Law Unlawful? Both deal with the extraordinary — and illegitimate — power that administrative agencies have assumed in American life.

[…]

But today, the laws that actually affect people and businesses are seldom written by Congress; instead they are created by administrative agencies through a process of “informal rulemaking,” a process whose chief virtue is that it’s easy for the rulers to engage in, and hard for the ruled to observe or influence. Non-judicial administrative courts decide cases, and impose penalties, without a jury or an actual judge. And the protections in the Constitution and Bill of Rights (like the requirement for a judge-issued search warrant before a search) are often inapplicable.

If you received a public school education, your civics teacher probably taught you that laws are written by Congress and signed or vetoed by the president. That’s a gross simplification of the actual process. While laws must be written by Congress and signed by the president, rules can be made by any government agency. Those agencies aren’t headed by elected officials yet they have the power to create rules that directly impact your life.

Gun owners are intimately aware of this since the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has the power to make rules based on its interpretation of the law. What is an Any Other Weapon (AOW)? According to the ATF you can turn your regular pistol into an AOW by attaching a vertical foregrip to its front rail. Likewise, according to the ATF an arm brace on an AR-15 pistol isn’t a short-barreled rifle… unless you hold it incorrectly. While the National Firearms Act (NFA) created these categories of weapons the ATF was given the power to decide exactly what those categories entail.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 21st, 2017 at 10:30 am

Without Government Who Would Tear Up All of the Roads

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Statists claim that roads are a technology so complex that only a government can build and maintain them. However, if you live in the Twin Cities you know that the government is far more interested in tearing up roads than letting you actually used them. Most of the major arteries in the Twin Cities are currently under some amount of construction. There is an entire bridge missing from 169, 394 is under construction, 35W will be under construction later this year, 94 is under construction, and soon the Lowry tunnel will be torn up:

The Lowry Hill Tunnel is congestion central in the Twin Cities on most days. A tie-up in the tube can bring traffic to a crawl and have far-reaching effects, choking things on Interstate 35W and Interstate 394, routes that feed lots of vehicles into the tunnel on the west end of downtown Minneapolis.

Now construction there is slated to begin and it won’t be pretty, with the potential to cripple traffic at all hours of the day for the next three months. Motorists will share one side of the Lowry Hill Tunnel with only two lanes 10 feet wide in each direction and a lower speed limit. Drivers on I-394 and I-35W will feel the pinch, too, as ramps to and from those arteries will shut down at times.

And here’s the real kick in the teeth:

“This is a significant project and will be a challenge for drivers,” said Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesman David Aeikens. His warning also comes with a plea: “Give yourself plenty of time, plan alternate routes and don’t drive through neighborhoods.”

According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation motorists need to plan alternate routes but they should not use the only alternate routes that are still available, roads going through neighborhoods.

Only government could be incompetent enough to tear up all of the major traffic arteries at the same time. Were the roads privatized the owners would have a financial interest in keeping traffic flowing so they would likely perform maintenance in a staged fashion to minimize the disruption to their customers. But government doesn’t suffer when it inconveniences its subjects. They have to pay their taxes for the roads whether they can drive on them or not.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 21st, 2017 at 10:00 am