Tuesday, November 29, 2011

That Word . . . I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

Police officer causes traffic accident. Higher up police officer gives him a ticket for breaking the law. Even higher up police officer voids the ticket. Why, you might ask?

"In the interest of justice," of course. When asked to explain his comment, he refused to answer.

Monday, October 31, 2011

4th Amendment Takes Another Hit

Every time I think they couldn't possibly weaken the 4th any more than they have already, something like this comes along.

So the cops have a suspect for a burglary and want DNA evidence, but they don't have enough to get a warrant, so what do they do? Well, they just stop him under the pretense of administering a DUI test, and then keep the saliva he leaves on the machine as "abandoned" property. Certainly, a court we see straight through this sham and reprimand the police who tried to pull the stunt, right?

So the police can't order you to give them a DNA sample directly, but they can order you to do something that gives them a sample indirectly, even if they order you to do it merely to get said sample. Make sense? Thought not.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Texas Makes It A Felony To Steal an Aluminum Can

Via the removal of a clause in a statute obviously meant to combat the theft of copper wiring and such, Texas has now made it a felony to steal an aluminum can . . . or a penny (pre-1982). That means no voting and no gun ownership, not to mention the fact that a felony record pretty much screws your chances at getting a job forever.

Now, some people will claim that a prosecutor would never interpret the statute in such a manner, but I think we've seen where prosecutors naturally drift to when confronted with someone they really, really want to put in jail for something.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It's Not About Safety, It's About Power

Washington D.C. cops are now arresting people who are caught driving with expired tags. Does forgetting to pay your yearly protection money "tag fee" constitute a threat to public safety, or merely to authority?

That's a rhetorical question.

Maybe next they can start seizing the cars through civil asset forfeiture too. You know, for more "safety".

Friday, September 23, 2011

Environmental Progress

So, apparently we now pay corporations and corrupt foreign governments to beat people and burn them alive in their homes, so that we can re-purpose the arable land they own towards trees and away from the food production they so desperately need.

But you know, global warming, so I guess that makes it all okay.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Funny How That Works

You know how we desperately needed the Patriot Act passed, so that law enforcement officers could act to protect us from the big, bad terrorists without bothering with little things like warrants ahead of time?

Via New York magazine, here's what they are using that new-found power for:
Funny how that works, isn't it?


Via Radley Balko comes this unbelievable story that can only be summarized as follows:

1. Cop has suspect for fraudulent charges on her husband's credit card.
2. Cop stages a takedown of the alleged perpetrator with fellow officers.
3. Cop uses police truck to push the suspect and his car into fellow officers.
4. Fellow officers respond with deadly force against the suspect.
5. Cop lies in sworn statement, claiming suspect tried to run over fellow officers.
6. Video surfaces showing the story to be bald-faced lie.
7. Attempted murder charges dropped. Man still charged with "eluding" the police.
8. Officer will receive no punishment. Police department sees nothing wrong.

I'm pretty sure that if I rammed a car through a line of police, the police then shot the driver of that vehicle, and then I lied about my actions under oath afterward, you'd never see me again. But for a police officer? Don't worry! Her friends have done a thorough investigation and decided she's squeaky clean.

Nothing to see here, move along!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Armed Federal Marshals Raid Gibson Guitars

Hostage situation? Employee gone postal? Nope, the government was concerned with the type of wood being used in Gibson's guitars, which Gibson claims are licensed and imported appropriately from India. Gibson was raided two years ago for the same reason, and had their wood confiscated then too. No charges have ever been filed.

I guess that's what you get for manufacturing something in the US instead of India in the first place. I'm sure any companies who haven't learned that lesson already are taking note now.

Gibson's CEO explains his frustration on camera with this continued harassment and lack of due process here.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

CBO Projections

I saw a chart of CBO-projected government spending/revenue to 2021 in a meeting the other day, and the numbers are so hilarious that I wonder if anyone actually buys this stuff. I've taken the liberty of adding some of my own commentary:

I particularly like the fact that even after all of their rosy predictions about revenue, they still show the US running a massive deficit for the next ten years. At least we agree on that much, I guess.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Public Education: Trying Desparately to Hold Children Back

Cato makes a stunning catch when reviewing a Wired piece about Khan academy:

Even if Khan is truly liberating students to advance at their own pace, it’s not clear that the schools will be able to cope. The very concept of grade levels implies groups of students moving along together at an even pace. So what happens when, using Khan Academy, you wind up with a kid in fifth grade who has mastered high school trigonometry and physics—but is still functioning like a regular 10-year-old when it comes to writing, history, and social studies? Khan’s programmer, Ben Kamens, has heard from teachers who’ve seen Khan Academy presentations and loved the idea but wondered whether they could modify it “to stop students from becoming this advanced.”

Thats our public education system for you in a nutshell. Perhaps "No Child Left Behind" should be changed to "No Child Moves Ahead".

Sunday, July 3, 2011

How Speedy Is Speedy?

This being Independence Day weekend and all, it seems like the perfect time to talk about the sixth amendment to the constitution, including, among other things, your right to a speedy trial. The Mississippi Supreme Court recently came to the conclusion that being incarcerated for two years prior to the state allowing you to go to trial does not violate your right to a speedy trial.

It appears that, like the 4th amendment, the 6th amendment is just so much paper; a bothersome relic of the past with no real teeth in today's world. What makes a seizure "reasonable"? If the government says it is! What makes a trial "speedy"? If the government says it is!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Drinking in Indiana? Don't Use a Designated Driver!

The Indiana Supreme Court concludes that the passenger seat of a car is still a public place, and thus the very same police officer that just pulled your designated driver over for anything under the sun can also arrest you for public intoxication.

Way to go, Indiana! Your war on responsible drinkers will no doubt bear tremendous fruits!

Friday, July 1, 2011

We Live In Interesting Times

Inactivity is activity.
Equality is inequality.
Bombings are not hostilities

If you have the chance, make sure your children all attend law school. It's the only way to warp a person's brain enough to hold all the contradictory opinions they'll need to survive in this century.

Ohio Police Tase, Pepper Spray, and Beat Mentally Handicapped Kid

More heros:
Hooper "apparently took Jesse's speech impediment for disrespect ... [and] began yelling at Jesse after Jesse attempted to communicate with him[.] Jesse, being a minor and mentally challenged/handicapped, turned and rode his bike back to his home in an attempt to ask his mother, Ford, to help him communicate with defendant Cooper," according to the complaint in Montgomery County Court.

On the way, the mom says, "A neighbor attempted to communicate with Officer Hooper about Jesse's disabilities and was told to go back into his home, or he would be arrested."

As Ford opened her front door, she says, Hooper and co-defendant Officer John Howard, "fired their Tasers, striking Jesse in the back with both probes."

"Once inside the house, defendant Hooper and defendant Howard began to struggle with Jesse, who was standing against the back door with his hands up in front of his face, saying 'Please quit, please quit.'

"On numerous occasions, Ford and a family friend, Christopher Peyton, informed Officer Hooper that Jesse was mentally challenged/handicapped, and that Jesse did not understand what was happening," the complaint states.

But the mom says the cops continued their assault: "Officer Howard utilized his Cap-Stun pepper spray and sprayed Jesse ... [and] struck Jesse with a closed fist in the upper chest area.

"Officer Howard utilized his ASP and repeatedly struck Jesse in the upper left side of his left thigh.

"Back-up units were requested to Jesse's house, wherein upward of 20 police officers from different jurisdictions were present. "At no point, even after being advised of Jesse's mental challenge/handicap by Jesse's family and numerous bystanders, did defendant Hooper, defendant Howard, or any other police officer present, attempt to communicate with Jesse or explain in terms he could understand as to why Jesse was being chased.

"Jesse was handcuffed and hogtied before being placed in the back of a police cruiser. "Jesse was charged with assault on a peace officer, resisting arrest, and obstructing official business."

Good job Ohio; the founding fathers would be proud to know you are keeping America's streets safe from the peril of speech impediments.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

Remember when Bush trotted out the old "if you're not with us, you're against us" canard with respect to the Iraq war, that the Democrats rightly objected to because it was complete crap? Well, now that our president is engaged in illegal hostilities (yes, dropping bombs on a foreign country is a hostile act, despite what our esteemed president claims) with his own white-whale dictator, the shoe is on the other foot: Hillary Clinton Asks "Whose side are you on?"

Some of us are on the side of our constitutional republic and the rule of law. Whose side are you on, you opportunistic, hypocritical hack?

Friday, June 17, 2011

State Police and Feds Collude to Steal from Gamblers

This is insane. Every time I think the government couldn't sink any lower, I am amazed at the new scams they come up with.

Maryland Police teamed up with the feds to create a fake online poker payment business, and then simply kept any deposits made, totaling $30 million dollars. The trusting souls who desposited their money with the fraudulent agency won't get their cash back:

"The government is not going to give the money to gamblers."

Well there you have it. Setting up a fake business to scam customers is okay as long as you are the police, and they are merely "gamblers".

Thursday, June 16, 2011

They Aren't Even Pretending Anymore

Congress is moving to ban the sale of genetically modified salmon that grow twice as fast as regular salmon on one-tenth of the feed. The reason?

[Alaska Republican Rep. Don] Young argued that the modified fish would compete with wild salmon in his state.

What? Couldn't you at least have the decency to make up something about how genetically modified foods cause autism in children, or how drug smugglers prefer to store their illicit goods in bigger fish? That's your job, man! I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to just come out and say "because consumers would like their product over ours".

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Even Police Dogs Have More Rights Than You

Based on the increasing number of police stories I'm beginning to accumulate here, it may seem obvious to most that police officers are entitled to (or at least believe they are entitled to) many more rights than your average citizen. It may surprise some people to learn, however, that even police dogs are members of that elite and privileged class.

If you so much as make a noise the dog doesn't like, you might be facing up to 60 days in jail:

Stephens, 25, faces up to 60 days in jail if convicted of a charge of teasing a police dog when he allegedly got the dog riled up early April 3 when police were investigating a car crash outside the Mason Pub on Reading Road. [...]

"The defendant's words and actions created 'a clear and present danger' to the well being of the police dog as the dog violently attempted to exit the car, (and was) a danger to anyone who entered the car and a danger to anyone outside the car if the door or window had been opened," she wrote in a motion opposing Stephens' request to dismiss the charge.

You'd think a question of your free speech rights vs. the rights of a dog (whatever they are) would be an open and shut case, but then again, this is a police dog we're talking about. Normal rules need not apply (Presumably "teasing" a non-police dog is not a crime; non-police dogs being the proles of the canine kingdom).

And as for your dogs? Well, let's just say they are in mortal danger if they are on the scene in any way when the police show up.

Life Imitates Art Imitates Life

Via this story about a police officer who feels he was retaliated against by his department when he arrested a DA for drunk driving comes this gem:

Zinstein was later told in a visit from a Personnel Bureau lieutenant "that the department wanted to do right by him," sources said.

"He was told to figure out where he wants to work," one source said. "The lieutenant said he would make it happen for him."

As a fan of The Wire, my first reaction was "For God's sake, tell him you really, really want a job in the harbor patrol!"

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Debt Collectors Haul Father Out of House at Gunpoint

Heavily armed debt collectors break down a man's door, haul him outside in his underwear, throw him to the ground, plant a knee in his back, and in front of his three kids, demand to know the whereabouts of his estranged wife, who owes them money. Call the police, you say?

They were the police; a SWAT team run by the Department of Education, in fact. The man's wife had defaulted on her student loans. Even after they determined that she was not present at the location, the man and his three children spent six hours handcuffed in the back a police cruiser.

If this is how the DoE treats the innocent, woe to the person who gets on the wrong side of the Department of Fish and Wildlife's SWAT team.


The DoE has responded to the story and insisted that the SWAT raid was not performed because of a loan in default, but instead because of loan fraud (you know, because that makes sending in a SWAT team and holding an innocent man and his children in a squad car for six hours so much more rational).

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Marine Survives War in Iraq, Killed in War on Drugs

Jose Guerena, a 26-year-old marine who had completed two tours of duty in Iraq, was gunned down by a SWAT team in Arizona. His wife had told him she had seen someone lurking outside his home, and after he told her to hide in the closet with his child, he grabbed his rifle and went to to investigate. Outside, an officer with an itchy finger and poor trigger discipline accidentally fired a round into a door frame, which caused the rest of the team to rain gunfire down on the man to the tune of 71 bullets. Out of safety concerns, the police waited for an hour before they let the paramedics in. He had already bled to death by that time, his rifle having never having been switched off its safety.

The sheriff refuses to say if they found any contraband in Guerena's house, but does that really matter? Sure, sometimes you leave a soldier who served his country bleeding to death on his kitchen floor, and maybe his kid grows up without a father now, but at least we can breathe a sigh of relief that (possibly) less people are getting high in Arizona tonight. And isn't that worth it? Doesn't that make you feel safe?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"You Have No Right to Challenge Me"

This video says it all. A Philadelphia officer draws his gun on a man walking down the street merely because the guy has a pistol holstered on his waist (which is not illegal in Philly if you have a permit, which he does). The guy puts up his hands, speaks in a respectful tone, attempts to engage the officer in conversation to let him know he's wrong on the facts, and in return is verbally abused and detained by police officers while they verify that they are ignorant of their own rules.

The justification given by the police officer for this treatment?

"You have no right to challenge me."

As a bonus, after posting the audio to YouTube, the DA came back and charged the guy with "reckless endangerment" and "disorderly conduct", which is only an "interfering with a police officer" charge away from the "Contempt of Cop" trifecta.

I guess that's where our "Land of the Free" is these days. Obey or else.

4th Amendment Takes Two More Hits

Police are supposed to need a warrant to search your house, but the courts have previously carved out an exception for "exigent circumstances", where (for example) the police think that a person inside may be destroying evidence (as immortalized in the 4th amendment text, which reads "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, unless the police really want in."). That gap was widened quite a bit this week when the supreme court decided that the police can use exigent circumstance to search a home, even if they're the ones that created the exigent circumstances in the first place. Police in the case claimed they "heard movement" behind the door after they had knocked and shouted "Police!", and therefore feared the occupants were destroying evidence. Apparently, the appropriate thing to do to preserve your rights when the police knock on your door is to stay perfectly still, make absolutely no noise whatsoever, and hope to God your neighbor in the next apartment doesn't flush his toilet.

And in a second blow, the Indiana Supreme Court decided that you don't have the right to resist police when they illegally enter your home, under the argument that even if it's an illegal entry, you can always sue them later rather than resist them now (lawsuits against police misconduct being so easy to win, of course).

So there you have it. The police can easily manufacturer themselves a reason to enter your house without a warrant, but even if they don't bother, there's nothing you can do to stop them anyway. What's does the 4th Amendment actually guard against anymore?

Friday, April 15, 2011

TSA Decides to Look for Dissenters Instead of Terrorists

CNN has an article up about the various signs that the TSA uses to determine if a person might be dangerous and require heightened "screening". Among them, the following: "Very arrogant and expresses contempt against airport passenger procedures."

Does it seem to you like a terrorist trying to blend in with a crowd is likely to be calling attention to themselves by decrying the security practices of the TSA while standing in line at the airport? If not, you might ask yourself why they would bother to screen such people more thoroughly. The answer becomes clear immediately: It's not about safety, and it was never about safety. It's about authority. Dare to question the government, and an agent will be around shortly to humiliate you in any way possible, and maybe next time you'll think twice and shut up in line like the good little obedient citizen they want you to be.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

You'll Eat What the Government Gives You Or You Won't Eat

"At Little Village, most students must take the meals served in the cafeteria or go hungry"


At his public school, Little Village Academy on Chicago's West Side, students are not allowed to pack lunches from home. Unless they have a medical excuse, they must eat the food served in the cafeteria.

Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.

What she means is, it's their intention to protect students from the food choices of their parents. I sometimes wonder why the government doesn't just cut out parents entirely and go straight to government care facilities for children 0-18. If you can't trust parents to even feed their children, how can you entrust them with the responsibility of finishing at night the indoctrination you've spent all day cramming into their heads? Seems a bit inconsistent to me.

I'm also sure this had nothing to do with it either:

Any school that bans homemade lunches also puts more money in the pockets of the district's food provider, Chartwells-Thompson. The federal government pays the district for each free or reduced-price lunch taken, and the caterer receives a set fee from the district per lunch.

Shifting more power from parents to the government and conveniently lining the pockets of a local corporation? In statist terms, that's what they'd call a "win-win" situation.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Face of Our Benevolent FDA

The brilliant minds in the FDA have decided to grant a monopoly to Ther-Rx on the production of Makena, a drug to prevent premature births, that was previously produced by non-FDA-approved compounding facilities for about $10 an injection. The new, FDA-approved, "under monopoly" price?

$1,500 per injection.

Did I mention that an at-risk mother may need up to 20 injections throughout her pregnancy? Must be part of the government's push to "lower health care costs" by cutting out that greedy "free market".

I think this sentence says it all:

"The cost is justified to avoid the mental and physical disabilities that can come with very premature births, said KV Pharmaceutical chief executive Gregory J. Divis Jr."

For anyone who needs it, the translation to that sentence is: "We know parents will pay anything to save their child, and now that we have government guns backing up our cease-and-desist letters to the cheap producers, we'll get a chance to see just exactly how much that is."

Monday, February 21, 2011

Wisconsin: Just Like Nazi Germany

You couldn't make this stuff up, folks:

Apparently, the logical process goes something like this:

1. Ask you to contribute a small percentage to your own retirement and healthcare instead of dumping it all on the taxpayers.
2. ???
3. Round up all the Jews!

Torture-Lite Yields No Confession from Manning

U.S. Can't Link Accused Army Private to Assange

U.S. military officials tell NBC News that investigators have been unable to make any direct connection between a jailed army private suspected with leaking secret documents and Julian Assange, founder of the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

The officials say that while investigators have determined that Manning had allegedly unlawfully downloaded tens of thousands of documents onto his own computer and passed them to an unauthorized person, there is apparently no evidence he passed the files directly to Assange, or had any direct contact with the controversial WikiLeaks figure.

Maybe now they'll put bamboo shoots under his nails until he "confesses".

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Government Admits to Lying About Wikileaks Repercussions

Reuters: U.S. Officials Privately Say WikiLeaks Damage Limited

A congressional official briefed on the reviews said the administration felt compelled to say publicly that the revelations had seriously damaged American interests in order to bolster legal efforts to shut down the WikiLeaks website and bring charges against the leakers. [..] "We were told (the impact of WikiLeaks revelations) was embarrassing but not damaging," said the official

In other words, they lied to the public to bolster their legal case against someone who had publicly embarrassed them. Well, color me surprised.