Speaking of Domestic Enemies

4 10 2009

I’ve written before on the subject of police abuses. More and more frequently, news stories appear which paint a picture of police organizations across the country treating the citizens they allegedly serve as criminals. Here is another horror story from Phoenix, Arizona.

It turns out that a homeowner was forced to react when a stranger crashed into his house through the front window and ran into his child’s bedroom. The homeowner grabbed his gun, held the bad guy at gunpoint, and called the police. The cops arrived while he was still on the phone with 911, so the homeowner’s wife went outside to tell the police that her husband had the bad guy at gunpoint. Somehow, this information didn’t sink in. The first officer through the door shot the homeowner in the back four times, then shot him twice more- in the back- while he lay on the ground.

Another officer came in and told the first cop that he had just shot the homeowner- the completely innocent party who was still on the phone with 911. The 911 recording picked up the police officers as they immediately began to try and cover up what had happened. The first officer was asked where the homeowner’s gun was. He replied, “I don’t know. I didn’t see a gun.” The other officers took the time to let the first officer know that they had his back. All of this was recorded by the 911 operator, as were the innocent victim’s pleas for his family to be spared seeing him like this.

In lieu of providing first aid or doing anything rational, the police dragged the innocent victim by his injured leg out onto the patio in front of the man’s wife and kids. He was then searched, handcuffed, and laid onto the hood of a patrol car- which then drove several houses down the street with the wounded man on the hood. When medical care finally arrived, the victim was transported to the hospital, but the police refused to allow his family to learn anything about his condition. To everyone’s surprise, the homeowner did survive, but will be in pain for the rest of his life as a result of his injuries. A lawsuit is pending.

Despite the evidence of the 911 recordings, the police involved in this fiasco swore that the first officer had been threatened by the homeowner’s gun and had fired in self-defense. I’m sure that explains the multiple gunshot wounds in his back, and the first cop saying that he hadn’t seen a gun. A police department shooting review board decided that the police did not violate department policy in this shooting.

I’ll let that one sink in for a moment.

The police department apparently thinks it is perfectly within department policy for officers to burst into a home and shoot the first black or brown person they see. In the back. The officers in question were not reprimanded or punished in any way. As far as I can tell, they are still working for the Phoenix Police Department.

I would love to say that this sort of behavior is atypical, and that police departments do not routinely cover up for their officers who act in such a fashion. Since I don’t feel like lying, I cannot say this. These abuses are becoming more and more commonplace across the country. The police- who work for us- are treating us like the enemy.

This police behavior worries me (and it should bother everyone) because I can see this sort of thing happening where  I live. The local police are not known for their professionalism, but they are known for circling the wagons at the first sign of civilian unhappiness with their actions. This is unacceptable. Police are hired by the public to enforce the laws. Period. Full stop. We, the People, have granted the police broad authority to accomplish this task. Far too many police agencies do not have any sense of responsibility to go along with their authority. It is therefore incumbent upon us- the people who hired them- to enforce responsibility.

I suggest setting up police review boards along the lines of jury duty. Members of the community can be called up to serve for a month on a police review board. This board will examine every complaint against the police during that month, and provide binding decisions. The police department will be required to enact the decisions of the board within 60 days. A criminal court judge would oversee police completion of Board decisions, and apply judicial penalties for noncompliance.

This brings me back to the Four Boxes. This proposed program requires the use of the first three boxes. Use a Soap Box to advocate for this sort of civilian oversight. Use the Ballot Box to vote for this sort of program and for politicians who support it. Use the Jury Box to enforce compliance with the program. If we do all of that, we might be able to avoid opening that Fourth Box.

If we keep on going the way things are going now, we get closer and closer to opening that Fourth Box. Nobody wants that.

Current status: Miffed

Current music: Lothlorien by Enya





Poor Impulse Control

10 04 2009

Last week, a couple of monumental ass-hats decided to drive around the neighborhood and shoot dogs. Not stray dogs, mind you. That would have been bad enough. These scumbags went around killing dogs in other peoples’ yards.

Here are the douchebags in question:

douchebag1

douchebag2

Obviously men of sterling personal qualities.

They had killed a total of five dogs by the time they pulled up to Marcus Luttrell’s house in Hunstville, Texas. They saw a yellow lab in the yard, so they got out of the car and called the dog, who ran over to the fence to greet them. Then they shot her to death. For kicks.

All of the above makes these jackasses the scum of the Earth. What really puts them over the top in the Universal Douchebag rankings is their last victim. Marcus Luttrell is not an ordinary man. He is a decorated war hero. A Navy SEAL who survived a vicious firefight with the Taliban and saw his entire team get killed. He was severely wounded himself, and was awarded the Navy Cross for valor above and beyond the call of duty. Since returning from the war, he suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), an occasionally debilitating psychological injury made worse by survivor’s guilt. To help him deal with this problem, Marcus Luttrell was given a dog. This “therapy dog” was one of the few bright spots remaining in this hero’s life. He named her DASY- an acronym of the names of the men on his team (Danny, Axe, Southern Boy [Marcus] and Yankee).

dasy

When he heard the gunshots at around 2AM, Marcus Luttrell armed himself, then checked to make sure his mother was okay. Then he went outside to investigate. He saw our two shining examples of humanity getting into their car just before he stumbled across Dasy’s body.

He ran into the house, grabbed his cell phone and car keys, then took off in pursuit of the shooters. He called 9-1-1 and told the dispatcher what had happened, then kept up a running conversation with the dispatcher as he pursued Dasy’s killers through three counties at speeds sometimes exceeding 100 MPH. Listen to the 9-1-1 audio and marvel at Marcus Luttrell’s controlled voice as he kept the police informed about the killers’ flight. At one point, he calmly tells the dispatcher to get the police there in a hurry, because if he caught them, he’d kill them both.

Eventually, the police pulled the car over. Our two wonderful specimens of humanity spent the time during their arrest taunting Marcus Luttrell. Under similar circumstances, I doubt I would have had the self-control to stand there and let these vermin make jokes. It speaks volumes about Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell that he did not give in to his justifiable anger. Finding Dasy’s body must have felt like watching his team die all over again, but he kept his head and let the police handle it. He is a far, far better man than I for this fact alone. His heroism in combat puts him so far above Dasy’s killers that he might as well be another species. He is a credit to his uniform, his team-mates, and his country.

In the aftermath of the shooting, Petty Officer Luttrell has withdrawn from society. He has gone out to camp in an undisclosed location, far from what passes for humanity and civilization. He is one of our best and brightest, and has sacrificed more than most of us can even imagine, and his reward was to have the one good thing left in his life slaughtered by a couple of fuckwits for no reason.

Some of Marcus Luttrell’s friends and family are taking donations to get him another therapy dog, if he wants one. If he can’t bear the thought of replacing Dasy, the money they raise will go toward buying therapy dogs for other returning warriors. You can donate here.

In the meantime, let us do what we can to get some justice for Dasy and Petty Officer Luttrell. Let us make sure that Dasy’s killers do not get a slap on the wrist for their actions. Don’t let the story die. Killing Dasy was bad enough (I like most dogs more than I like most people), but the injury they have caused to an honest-to-god hero deserves severe repercussions. Worse still, if these wastes of sperm are released without significant punishment, I fear that some of Marcus Luttrell’s friends, relatives, or neighbors might end up in prison for some understandable but illegal actions.

Current status: Disgusted

Current music: High Water by Rush





Highway Robbery

14 03 2009

Literally.

It turns out that the police in Tenaha, TX are taking advantage of a loophole in a stupidly-conceived law and committing highway robbery. If you happen to be black or latino, and are passing through Tenaha, you find yourself at great risk of getting pulled over for some nonsensical reason (You were driving too close to the white line, amigo). If you are driving a fancy new car, you are very likely to be dispossessed of the vehicle unless you can prove it was not purchased with the profits from the drug trade. If you happen to have a lot of cash in the car (since Tenaha is on the main road to several casinos in nearby Louisiana, this is fairly likely), the cash will almost certainly be seized by the police. Objecting to these practices results in severe threats against the owners. People get threatened with arrest, long jail times before trial, and their children getting taken from them and given to foster homes.

None of these people seem to get charged with any crime. Ever. And this is all perfectly legal.

During the course of our stupid and long-since-lost War on Drugs, several states passed laws allowing police departments to seize the proceeds of the drug trade. These police organizations could then sell the seized properties to augment their budgets. Many of you reading this may be nodding and asking, “So?”

The folks who wrote those laws neglected to account for the perfidies of human beings. These asset seizures are officially described as civil actions- not criminal. In criminal court, the burden of proof is on the prosecution, and that burden is beyond a reasonable doubt. In civil court, the burden of proof is on the person filing the suit, and that burden is a preponderance of evidence. If the police take a few thousand dollars in cash from you, you have to prove it wasn’t part of the drug trade in order to get it back. Worse, you have to prove it to a judge and jury in the police department’s jurisdiction.

We already have p0lice paramilitary units shooting up innocent citizens in the name of the War on Drugs. Now they can legally steal your money or property and you have a very slim chance of ever getting it back.

Let’s take a look at the IVth Amendment to the US Constitution, shall we?

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Maybe it’s just me, but the text of this Amendment seems to make this sort of behavior strictly illegal.

I keep coming back to the Four Boxes. We can deal with this stupidity using the first three Boxes.

SOAPBOX: Talk about it. Write to your Congressweasel and Senator. Write to your state legislators and the Governor. Write to the newspapers and TV stations. If you think the forfeiture isn’t an inherently bad idea, get your legislature to modify it so the seizure can’t take place until after conviction and with a separate legal procedure.

BALLOT BOX: Start petition drives to get the law repealed or amended. Vote against legislators who refuse to change or repeal it. Run for office yourself and campaign against it.

JURY BOX: Sue the motherfuckers! If you know someone this has happened to, support them in suing the police. Don’t just sue to get the property back, sue for punitive damages. If we (the People) make it more expensive to engage in this behavior, perhaps the police will stop seeing the citizens they allegedly serve as sources of funding for next year’s budget.

This stupidity is made possible because people refuse to let go of their puritan ideals. I must prevent someone else from enjoying himself, even if it means giving up my own liberty, property, and life! I am not willing to surrender my liberty, property, or life to prevent Joe Stoner from blazing a doob.

The police have no incentive to stop these seizures themselves. We have put them in the position where they look upon the public they allegedly serve only as a source of funding. We (the People) need to use those first three Boxes to put a stop to this before we are forced to resort to the Fourth Box.

Current status: Disgusted

Current music: In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel





Successful Evil

22 02 2009

All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing to oppose it.

Roughly paraphrased from an unknown source. What brought that particular quote to mind is the actions of an insurance company in the matter of a McDonald’s employee claim for Workman’s Compensation.

It turns out that this young man working at a McD’s in Arkansas saw a customer beating the crap out of a female customer inside the restaurant. Being what his manager described as a good man, he immediately intervened on behalf of the female victim and muscled the attacker outside … where he ended up getting shot three times.

Several surgeries and hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses later, his application for Workman’s Compensation was denied by the company managing the McDonald’s insurance plan. Here’s the story.

By any rational standard, the young man in question exhibited courage and good character. His manager went out of his way to praise Nigel for his work habits and general attitude, suggesting that Nigel Haskitt is the sort of man you would want to work for you or to watch your six in a firefight. He saw something wrong and knew he had the power to stop it, and did so without any thought for himself. He got shot helping out a total stranger, because it was the right thing to do.

And yet, the attorneys and insurance companies in this country indulge in histrionic shudders of revulsion at the mere idea of this sort of action. Ordinarily, this would be just one more reason to justifiably refer to those creatures as vampires, leeches, and similar vermin. Sadly, the attorneys and insurance companies are gradually destroying the American will to do the right thing.

Their method for this conversion is slow and subtle, but nonethless certain. Every business must carry liability insurance or be rent asunder at the hands of lawyers for a host of plaintiffs with real or imagined grievances against the business. Insurance companies are in the business of making money for their shareholders, so they are understandably reluctant to part with any money for such ephemera as justifiable claims. Those insurers will therefore force their clients to adopt rules and business practices which should reduce the number of claims, or suffer from increasingly high insurance premiums. Attorneys then heavily punish (through scads of lawsuits for real or imagined grievances) those businesses which fail to adhere to the insurance companies’ will.

The end result is generations of Americans who are more and more inclined to worry about potential lawsuits when faced with danger. In lieu of dealing with the immediate threat, Americans are more and more inclined to gauge the possible legal penalties to be as great (or greater) a threat than the immediate hazard.

Don’t get involved. None of my business. It’s not my problem. This is the language of serfs.

Guess what? If you see it happen, you are involved. If it happens in your neighborhood, city, state, or country, it is your fucking business, and it is your problem. If you let this sort of rot fester and grow through inattention or indifference, you will inevitably become a victim of the behavior you fail to act against.

Failure to act is itself an action. Actions have consequences. The consequence of allowing social predators to act freely in our society is the destruction of that society. Just take a look at what happened to Nigel Haskitt. He stood up for what was right and helped a total stranger. At some point in time, you will be that total stranger who needs help. If the insurance companies and lawyers have their way, you will be looking for your own Nigel Haskitt, but he will be worrying about possible lawsuits. No one will stand up and do the right thing, because the cost is growing prohibitively high.

That sound you hear? It’s our civilization circling the drain. You have three choices on what to do about it. You can do nothing at all, you can try to save our society, or you can help push it into the toilet. Unfortunately, choosing to do nothing is exactly the same as actively working to destroy our civilization (such as it is).

Current status: Vexed

Current music: Bard Dance by Enya





Shell Game

25 09 2008

Wake up, America.

Your elected Representatives are trying to pull a fast one- literally. In great haste, with little or no debate, our Gummint is trying to cram a particularly unpalatable piece of pork down our throats.

The pork in question is the so-called “Bail-out” bill soon to appear for voting in the House and Senate. Most legislation takes weeks or months to get that far. But the Gummint is basically saying, “The big, bad, economy monster is going to destroy the country and rape your children! Boogabooga!” We are also being told that the only way to prevent this calamity is to pour hundreds of billions of dollars from the Public Treasury into the hands of one or two unelected officials, who will magically make the bad things not happen. To really cap the condescension, our Representatives and these unelected bureaucrats are saying that we can’t be trusted with the details of this gimmick. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

We, the People, are being conned.  I fail to see any compelling reason why the legislative process is being short-circuited for this alleged crisis. If the crisis is real, then our Gummint had better explain the problem in no uncertain words to us- the People. Then we, the People, will decide whether or not we believe the story.

Take the time to tell your Senators and Congresscritters how you feel about this particular boondoggle- whether or not you agree with me. I would actually prefer that those who do not agree with me contact their representatives and make their feelings known. Debate helps reveal the truth, and it is hard to debate when everyone agrees on something.

For those of you who don’t know, you can reach your Congresscritter here.  You can reach your senator here. You will need to know your zip+4. Write them, call them, or email them. Make sure your spelling and grammar are acceptable. Do not swear, insult, or threaten. All that will do is alienate the person you’re trying to convince and probably earn you a visit from the Secret Service. Calmly and politely lay out your arguments, then ask him/her to do the right thing.

Do it now. If you don’t let your elected representatives know how you feel on this issue, then you are part of the problem. Remember who votes for and against this monstrosity, and punish those people with your votes in November accordingly.

Here’s a sample, for illustrative purposes. Please do not use this as your own:

Sir,

As a constituent and a taxpayer, I urge you to vote against the so-called economic bailout bill reportedly coming to the Floor soon.

Unless there is an urgent, compelling need to do so, the Government should refrain from using Public funds to rescue private firms from the consequences of their own stupidities. Despite the recent furor in the press, no such compelling reason has yet been presented to the Public. In the absence of a clear explanation delivered to the Public, we the People are unwilling to pay hundreds of billions of dollars to prevent economic evolution from taking its toll on private companies who have mismanaged their assets.

I have heard many people say that this legislation is necessary to prevent a total collapse of the nation’s economy, yet no one has described why this is so, except those with an apparent vested interest in getting uncontrolled access to nearly a trillion dollars in Public funds. The primary questions any rational person must ask when presented with dire warnings of impending doom should be: “ Who says so?” “Why?”, and “Are the people who say so the primary beneficiaries of the proposed actions?” Instead, Congress seems to have swallowed the prophecies of economic ruin with no questions whatsoever. Furthermore, this is all happening with dizzying haste, again without benefit of cogent explanation. It is wisely said that actions taken in haste are repented at leisure. If you are privy to a good reason why it is necessary to spend the equivalent of the GDP of Pakistan twice over to bail out a few private companies, it is your duty as our Representative to carefully, clearly, and completely explain that reason to your constituents.

Until and unless the need for this extravagance is properly explained, the only sane vote regarding the legislation at issue is “ NO”. Please do what you can to convince your fellow Representatives to refrain from creating generations of debt for the American people in the interest of saving a privileged few.

Thank you for your attention,

Archvillain

Current status: Seething with rage

Current music: Midgets with Guns by Pain