A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Superdickery’ tag

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

Grandstanding Is Easier When You’re Shielded from Consequences

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Advocates for gun control are in a virtuousness competition. This competition has lead to some rather hilarious moments. For example, the Eden Prairie City Council here in Minnesota attempted to demonstration its virtuousness by proposing a resolution that would ask firearm sellers in the city to not sell ascetically offensive firearms. The entire debate was meaningless because of state preemption, which prevents municipalities from passing their own gun control laws, but it allowed the city council to broadcast to the world how virtuous they are.

Now the St. Louis Park City Council, also here in Minnesota, is considering stepping up the game by outright violating state preemption:

Some St. Louis Park City Council members have set their sights on a state law that limits cities from creating gun restrictions.

After discussing gun laws with students from St. Louis Park High School at a May 21 study session, Mayor Jake Spano said, “We’re openly discussing flouting state law and getting sued. I’m not interested in picking fights for no reason, but at the same time this has got to stop.”

They realize that doing so would get them sued so why would they even consider such action? Because if they go through with their plan and they are inevitably sued, they don’t have to suffer the consequences. The St. Louis Park City Council members won’t have to payout if they lose such a lawsuit, the tax payers in St. Louis Park will.

Grandstanding is easier when you’re shielded from consequences. When city council members do something that gets the city sued, they get to sit back and relax while the city pays for lawyers and, if the city loses the court case, pays out the fine. The icing on the cake is that while the city is paying out for the members’ grandstanding, it is also still paying their salaries.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 17th, 2018 at 11:00 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

Body Cameras Are for the Benefit of Prosecutors, Not You

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For decades there has been an continuously increasing number of reports of law enforcers abusing their power. Unfortunately, many of these reports boiled down to he said, she said because of the lack of evidence. Moreover, when he said, she said reports involving law enforcers crop up, the courts that are tasked with overseeing them (but also happen to work for the same employer), tend to side with them. This tendency spurred a call by many for police body cameras. While there was some push back from the law enforcement community regarding body cameras, most departments seemed to roll over with comparatively little resistance, which should have been a red flag that they knew something that we didn’t.

Now that body cameras have been widely deployed for some time, we finally have enough evidence to establish a theory about why so many law enforcement departments rolled over so easily. They recognized that body cameras were valuable assets when prosecutors needed evidence and malfunctioning junk when law enforcers might be shown in a bad light:

Techdirt has the goods on a pretty crazy story out of Albuquerque. Five police officers were at the scene of a fatal shooting. All five were wearing body cameras. And miraculously, none of the five captured usable footage from the shooting on their body cameras.

A sergeant on the scene claimed to have turned his camera on, but the camera didn’t record. He’d later say his camera had never malfunctioned like that before. Ditto for another officer whose camera weirdly captured footage so pixelated that it was unusable — again, no one had ever seen that problem before. A third officer says his camera malfunctioned just before the shooting. Mysteriously, the camera has not had a problem since. A fourth said his camera mistakenly became unplugged. Analysis showed it had been turned on eight minutes before the shooting, then turned off just moments before the fatal encounter. A fifth officer’s camera captured 10 seconds of vague footage. It should have captured at least 30, given the camera’s buffer function. He had failed to turn it on.

Regular readers of The Watch may recall that this isn’t even the first time five police cameras all conveniently malfunctioned at a critical time.

Five officers experiencing body camera malfunctions during an incident involving a fatal shooting is pretty much unbelievable in of itself but if you read the rest of the story, you’ll learn that this sort of thing has happened on numerous occasions. Strangely enough I haven’t seen any reports where multiple body cameras have malfunctioned during incidents that reflect well on the officers involved. If the reports of malfunctioning body cameras are to be believed, then the malfunction must be caused by law enforcers performing questionable actions.

Realistically body cameras were never meant to be tools to hold law enforcers accountable. They were sold as such so community members would support their adoption but they were really meant to collect additional evidence to assist prosecutors. And this scam works because the body tasked with holding law enforcers accountable just happens to be the same body for which the law enforcers generate revenue. Did you really think that government bodies were interested in potentially hurting their revenue by pissing off their revenue generators?

Written by Christopher Burg

July 11th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Taking Children to Court

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The immigration laws in the United States are asinine but you can’t fully appreciate the absurdity of the entire immigration system until you look at the court system that deals with immigration issues:

As the White House faces court orders to reunite families separated at the border, immigrant children as young as 3 are being ordered into court for their own deportation proceedings, according to attorneys in Texas, California and Washington, D.C.

Requiring unaccompanied minors to go through deportation alone is not a new practice. But in the wake of the Trump administration’s controversial family separation policy, more young children — including toddlers — are being affected than in the past.

[…]

The children being detained under the new “zero tolerance” policy, though, are facing immigration proceedings without mom or dad by their side.

“The parent might be the only one who knows why they fled from the home country, and the child is in a disadvantageous position to defend themselves,” Toczylowski said.

This is a perfect example of bureaucracy run amuck. There is no logical reason to have a three-year-old child appear in a courtroom. They likely have no idea why they were dragged into this country. Mom and dad probably just told them one morning that they were moving. But the letter of the law says that that child has to appear in court so they are dutifully dragged into court by the government goons who are just following orders.

Bureaucracies may be the worst invention humanity ever developed. Through the system of bureaucracy personal accountability is disposed of entirely. Whenever you’re tasked with doing something stupid or illogical in a bureaucracy you just need to respond with, “Those are the rules. I’m just doing my job.” If you find yourself questioning the morality of what you’ve been tasked with doing in a bureaucracy, you can just tell yourself that the rules were written by really smart people who know better than you. The invention of bureaucracies enabled far too many people to act as mindless automatons.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 29th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Ihre Papiere, Bitte

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What can you expect when driving down a highway in the freest country on Earth? Checkpoints where government goons demand to see your papers:

(CNN) — Far from ground zero in the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration along the southern border, US Customs and Border Protection checkpoints on highways in Maine and New Hampshire are catching the eye of civil liberties groups.

On Interstate 95 near the remote northern Maine town of Lincoln last week, the Border Patrol said it made nine drug seizures and two arrests for immigration violations during an 11-hour checkpoint operation in which agents asked motorists about their place of birth and citizenship status.

You could usually tell who the bad guys in old World War II and Cold War movies were by their bad Eastern European imitation accent and the fact that the guards were asking random people on the street for their papers. Somehow that went from an easy way to differentiate the evil Nazi and communist nations from the freest country on Earth to the status quo in the “freest country on Earth.”

Written by Christopher Burg

June 28th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Propaganda 101

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What makes for good propaganda? Ideally good propaganda appeals to emotion. The goal is to manipulate the emotions of individuals to win them over to your cause. However, better propaganda is also based on some amount of truth. If your propaganda is entirely fictitious, it will likely be discovered at some future point and the people you won over may not to happy with you. The best propaganda is not only based on some amount of truth but the lies, when discovered, can be waved away with deniability.

The girl on the cover of Time Magazine’s latest issue is an example of excellent propaganda:

The widely shared photo of the little girl crying as a U.S. Border Patrol agent patted down her mother became a symbol of the families pulled apart by the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy at the border, even landing on the new cover of Time magazine.

But the girl’s father told The Washington Post on Thursday night that his child and her mother were not separated, and a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman confirmed that the family was not separated while in the agency’s custody. In an interview with CBS News, Border Patrol agent Carlos Ruiz, who was among the first to encounter the mother and her daughter at the border in Texas, said the image had been used to symbolize a policy but “that was not the case in this picture.”

A crying girl is always a good way to manipulate emotions. Moreover, the current administration provided its detractors with a great deal of ammunition by separating immigrant children from their parents. These two factors already made the crying girl on Time’s cover a good piece of propaganda. But the icing on the cake is that the lie can be easily denied. The person who created the cover could easily claim that they were told that the girl that was to be included on the cover was an immigrant child separated from her parents. The editor could easily make the same claim. Even the photographer could claim that they were later informed that the girl was separated from her parents. It’s difficult to claim that Time Magazine knowingly lied in this case, which helps protect the magazine’s reputation even though it was caught lying.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 26th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Justice in America

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I have an aversion to the death penalty because far too many people seem to be sentenced to death for questionable reasons. Case in point, a South Dakota jury sentenced a man to death. The man was found guilty of murder, so he isn’t exactly an angle. However, the jury’s reasoning for issuing the death sentence calls its impartiality into question:

On Monday, the Supreme Court announced it would not stop South Dakota from killing a man who may have been sentenced to death because he is gay.

Some of the jurors who imposed the death penalty on Charles Rhines, who was convicted of murder, have said they thought the alternative — a life sentence served in a men’s prison — was something he would enjoy as a gay man.

During deliberations, the jury had often discussed the fact that Mr. Rhines was gay and there was “a lot of disgust” about it, one juror recalled in an interview, according to the court petition. Another said that jurors knew he was gay and “thought that he shouldn’t be able to spend his life with men in prison.” A third recounted hearing that if the jury did not sentence Mr. Rhines to death, “if he’s gay, we’d be sending him where he wants to go.”

I would say that the jury’s impartiality is certainly in question. There is some obvious discrimination displayed since the justification given, that a gay man would enjoy being incarcerated in a men’s prison, is absurd (if that were the case, why aren’t gay men constantly committing crimes that will result in them being sent to prison). This discriminatory attitude calls into question whether the jurors were impartial during the case or allowed their discriminatory views of gay men to color their judgement.

None of this is to say that Charles Rhines is an innocent man who would be set free. However, the jury’s apparent lack of impartiality along with the fact that it sentenced Rhines to death for an absurd reasons does, in my opinion, indicate a need to review the trial and especially the sentence. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court was uninterested in doing so, which means that a further review is unlikely.

Voting Other People’s Money to Yourself Must Be Nice

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Affordable housing is a hot topic here in the Twin Cities. Most people believe that there isn’t enough and that the solution is to bulldoze a bunch of existing infrastructure so it can be replaced with luxury high-density residential buildings. However, the politicians in Washington DC perceive a similar problem in their area but are coming up with a different solution:

Democratic members of Congress want taxpayers to subsidize their housing, signing onto legislation that would allow them to deduct living expenses for members of the House of Representatives.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D., Miss.) introduced a bill that would ban members of Congress from sleeping in their offices and would change the tax code to allow House members to deduct their spending on housing in D.C. up to $3,000. The deduction would not apply to senators.

Thompson has also proposed turning a vacant building near Capitol Hill into apartments for House members at the expensive of taxpayers, which critics have dubbed a “Congressional Animal House.”

Being able to vote other people’s money to yourself must be nice. You can’t find a place to live in a price range you desire? Just vote to force the taxpayers to build you an apartment complex. While you’re at it, you might as well vote yourself a special tax deduction for housing that doens’t apply to anybody else. After all, you’re far more important than the little people from whom you’re stealing so it’s not only OK, it’s the moral to do!

Written by Christopher Burg

June 26th, 2018 at 10:00 am