What’s in a Name?

25 10 2011

How about … bullshit?

The doddering old geeps who currently infest the halls of government in the Logic-Free Zone (who are collectively unlikely to understand email, let alone anything complicated like the internet), have decided that we cannot be trusted with free and unfettered access to data online and are trying to pass a law called- ironically- the PROTECT IP Act. This name is ironic, because the actual wording of the legislation- as currently written- protects nothing more than the unearned income of the RIAA, MPAA, and similar parasitic organizations.

Remember the First Amendment to the US Constitution- the one preventing Congress from passing any laws abridging free speech? It seems that our bought-and-paid-for Congresstoadies have decided that it would be a better idea to legislatively turn that power over to a couple of corporations and bypass that pesky 1st Amendment thing. Under this law as written, any website can be held criminally and civilly liable for any copyright infringements committed by any user of the website. In short, corporations can censor and shut down any web site accused of copyright infringement. Note that I said, “accused”. Not convicted- merely accused. As currently written, an employee of RIAA (for example) could accuse me of using this blog to infringe on copyrighted materials. Without benefit of trial or even presenting a warrant, RIAA would be able to shut me down based solely on the say-so of any random stranger. Think about that for a moment and realize why I referred to the 1st Amendment in the past tense. RIAA and MPAA don’t have a history of malicious litigation against totally innocent people, after all. We can trust them, right?

In a pig’s eye. We, the People, don’t trust our elected representatives with this sort of power. Why should we trust another entity without even the tenuous level of control we currently hold over Congress?

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Bill of Rights and the protections it guarantees for individual liberties, let me put this another way. As written, Youtube, FaceBook, Twitter, and every news aggregator site in existence would be forced to shut down. That’s just for openers. Any site with user-generated content would be hostage to the tender mercies of whatever rapacious corporate entity was unhappy with their content.

Aside from giving faceless corporate drones total control over online content (and thereby destroying the internet) in the interest of nearly microscopic profit increases for their corporate masters, why would our trusted and honorable elected flunkies corporate whores representatives want to do such a thing? Why would those in power feel threatened by free and unfettered communications and information?

Perhaps the worthless cretins in our gummint have been paying attention to the so-called “Arab Spring”. Without exception, the uprisings and revolutions occurring throughout the middle east were fueled and organized by ordinary people with Twitter and FaceBook and YouTube accounts. By an odd coincidence, those are the very communication tools this bill seems to have been written to control or destroy. Whodathunkit?

Methinks it is time and past  time to remind our elected representatives who they are supposed to be working for. Any congressmoron who votes for this bill (and this has “broad, bi-partisan support”, so neither political party should escape our righteous wrath) should be drummed out of office- preferably immediately. These vermin-in-office are “public servants”, and we are the fucking public. The sponsors and co-sponsors of this bill should probably be indicted for treason, and- if convicted- shot.

Perhaps the “distinguished” members of the House and Senate haven’t thought their cunning plan all the way through. If this bill passes as written (or even in any vaguely similar form), the US Government will effectively- and immediately- piss off almost everyone in the country at the same time. Many businesses would be crippled by this bill, and millions of voters would be mightily wroth at the loss of their social media and porn. The only “people” (I include corporate drones and executives as an unearned courtesy) who will like this law are those who make their living shitting on the American people as a matter of habit. Revolutions have been started for less.

You “honorable” members of the House and Senate may wish to read the Declaration of Independence sometime. It’s obvious you incompetent shills have never done so before. Read the bits listing the sins of King George, and realize that those exact same crimes can be laid at your collective feet. Your current actions are in direct contravention of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights- which you paid buffoons swore an oath to protect and defend. If Congress cannot or will not uphold their oaths to the Constitution, they will have abrogated any authority they may currently hold and removed any possible justification for their continued pay and privileges. Congress serves the People of the United States, not various wealthy corporations at the expense of the People.

Let us go back to Ed Howdershelt’s Four Boxes: “There are four boxes to be used in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury and ammo. Please use in that order.”

We can use the First Box right now. Send an email, tweet, postcard, or phone call to your congresscritter and senator and make sure they know you oppose this malicious legislation. If they fail to listen to their constituents, we open that Second Box and vote the motherfuckers out of office. ALL OF THEM. If this fails to correct the problem, take the bastards to court. This sort of assault on our basic liberties should be easy to fight in court- assuming the federal courts are even remotely as independent as their documented status under the Constitution. If the courts uphold this law, we’d be forced to open that last box, and that would be the end of the United States. For those of you not certain about it, this would be a BAD THING. Every rational person in this country should do their utmost to avoid getting to that point. Evidently rational people are somewhat scarce on Capitol Hill. Who knew?

There are already peaceful mass protests going on in most of our major cities. These protests have largely been marginalized by the government and media- despite their numbers and endurance. Add in a populace growing increasingly frantic financially and feeling betrayed by those in power, and season with sweeping legislation from Congress which demonstrates in no uncertain terms that our government has become the legislative arm of the extremely wealthy. Cook quickly by- effectively-  shutting down the internet, and voila! Revolution.

The really sad bit is that the scenario I’m painting here is easily avoidable. All it would take to avoid this whole mess is for our politicians to realize that blatantly fucking over 300 million armed and increasingly desperate people is incomprehensibly stupid. We, the People, have been very forgiving of Congressional misdeeds so long as the basic social contract between governed and government is maintained, but our patience and tolerance has limits. Brazenly and openly treating the People like serfs will neither be forgiven nor forgotten. Under those circumstances, those who see themselves as our rulers would be considered fortunate to only get turned out of office.

It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress. -Mark Twain

Current status: Enraged

Current music: Touch of Grey by the Grateful Dead

So much for the 4th Amendment

13 12 2010

Most Americans are probably not particularly familiar with the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution, but it’s just a little bit important.

Amendment IV- 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.

In plain language, this Amendment states that the government cannot search you or your property without a valid warrant, which must specifically identify what is to be searched and/or seized. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Sadly, this particular enumerated right has been getting whittled away for decades.

Here’s a new way the government can get around the requirement for a warrant. Let us say you happen to be minding your own business at a grocery store. When you enter the store, you will likely see a bunch of permits on the wall- either at the entry or behind the customer service counter. All of a sudden, a SWAT team bursts into the store and rounds everybody up. Everyone is searched and checked for any warrants or unpaid parking tickets, and one or two people will likely be arrested and hauled away in handcuffs. Let us say you are one of those people- either because you have a warrant or perhaps you got a little “uppity” with the cops (police routinely assume that anyone who stands on their rights is hiding something). Where did the police get a warrant for this raid? It turns out that they don’t need one, if they are “assisting” the government agency which issued the permits for the grocery store. Several police agencies have begun accompanying liquor-enforcement agents and similar government employees for the purpose of rousting everyone at a business they would like to search but have been unable to get a warrant.

Some courts- including at least one Federal Circuit Court- have ruled that this is perfectly acceptable. Nothing to see here, citizen. Move along- after you show me your papers. Anyone who works for or patronizes an establishment which receives a license or permit from the government can be searched and possibly arrested without benefit of probable cause, so long as the police can claim they were enforcing the license or permit requirements.

Say goodbye to your freedoms, citizen. This is for your own good. Mama- in the form of your local, state, and federal government- is going to do what’s best for you, whether you like it or not. The government is going to bend, stretch, and break the limits against such governmental over-reach found in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights by any means necessary to enforce the increasingly byzantine web of laws which surround us.

In a complex society (ours certainly qualifies), laws are necessary to avoid a complete breakdown of that society. Most laws were originally intended to protect the weak from those who would prey upon them. Sadly, such good intentions rarely last. Once a segment of society learns how to use the laws to their advantage, they begin crafting increasingly complicated laws covering almost every aspect of daily life for the purpose of gaining control over society as a whole. That old saw about absolute power corrupting absolutely is true. Any government with the power to give you what you want has the power to take it from you.

Our Constitution was designed to provide limits on the power of government. “Congress shall make no law” is one of the common phrases in the Bill of Rights. People in government do not like these restrictions. No matter their political affiliation, these members of the self-identified political ruling class want to make decision on your behalf whether you like it or not. These political leaders tend to get very snippy when any of the rabble they try to rule start to demand accountability for those rulers and their actions.

Worse, the courts have been allowing our ruling classes to get away with violating the rules. Ever been stopped at a DUI checkpoint? Perfectly legal, despite the 4th Amendment’s requirement for a warrant for such searches. Get frisked by a cop on the street? According to the Supreme Court, that’s legal too. Buy a ticket on an airline? You just volunteered to give up your protection against unreasonable search.

Little by little, we, the People, have allowed our political ruling class to steal away our rights. Far too many people even applaud as our precious liberties are taken away.

So, how do we, the People, reverse this downward spiral into a police state? The first method is to pay attention. We return to Ed Howdershelt’ s Four Boxes. “There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please us in that order”.

Pay attention to what your elected officials are doing, and pay even closer attention to what the people appointed by those elected officials are doing. If you find something you do not like (if you have truly been paying attention, this is almost a given), speak up. Go to your local government meetings and make your displeasure known. If that doesn’t fix the problem, vote the bastards out of office at the first opportunity. Vote against increases in taxes to pay for stripping liberties from citizens. If people are still losing their innate freedoms, take the bastards to court. If someone is unjustly accused, stand up for them in court. If you are called upon for jury duty, you have the right and the duty to vote your conscience. If you feel the law is not being applied properly, use your vote in the jury to express your displeasure.

Once the courts have failed to protect our freedoms, we, the People will have no choice but to open that Fourth Box. Politicians, bureaucrats, police, judges, and all other government agents take note: We, the People, do not want to open that Fourth Box … but it’s still an option. Do not make us resort to it. If you leave us no other means of protect our liberties, we will. I’m still enough of an optimist to think that would be a Bad Thing, so please- stop convincing me that I’m wrong.


Current status: Grim

Current music: Beds are Burning by Midnight Oil

What Judicial Activism REALLY Looks Like

23 11 2010

For the past couple of years, we’ve been hearing lots of imbeciles ranting about “judicial activism”. This charge is most often raised when one political cesspool or another is upset with some court ruling. A lot of this comes from what passes for conservatives, but liberals do it as well. Not as much or as loudly anymore, but neither group has clean hands when it comes to leveling this particular nonsense charge in order to get votes. There have been a few cases of what might be considered “judicial activism” by more than one side of our political duopoly, but they’re usually few and far between and rarely as utterly brazen as the tale I will now unfold.

It seems that the town of Clarksville, TX is still living in the stone age, complete with good ol’ boy politics … and justice. I could have sworn Jim Crow had been relegated to the depths of our barbaric past where it belongs, but the “law enforcement” folks in Clarksville seem to be doing their best to keep the bad old traditions alive.

After a black man (Kevin Conway) sold some marijuana to a Sheriff’s informant, a raid was staged on the house where the Conway lived. The raid consisted of just about everybody involved in law enforcement in town- including the prosecutor, for some bewildering reason. They waited until 10:30 PM, when the house was full of relatives for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, then they burst in without warning-or knocking. Everyone in the house was arrested, as was another family member who’d been sitting in his car outside with his girlfriend. When the homeowner- Virgil Richardson, a respected high school coach with no criminal record- asked to see the search warrant, the Sheriff told him several times that he would show it to him, then eventually got around to pulling what looked like a cash register receipt from his pocket and waving it in the air briefly in front of Virgil’s face before returning it to his pocket. Apparently, these small-town hayseed cops had never heard of Mapp v Ohio from 1961, where a similar paper-waving incident took place.

It eventually turned out that the Sheriff didn’t actually have a warrant at the time, although one was quickly requested and signed- about 20 minutes after the raid started. I’m pretty sure the Supreme Court ruled that this sort of thing was illegal in Mapp v Ohio, but I’m not a lawyer- or even a lawn-care professional. During this illegal search, marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamines were discovered in a shed behind the house. The shed was locked, there was only one key, and that key had been found in the pocket of Kevin Conway.

After a brief interrogation, it came to light that the primary suspect, Kevin Conway, had been allowed to stay at the normally empty house while Virgil Richardson was out of town working. Conway confessed that the drugs were his, but claimed that the rest of the family did not know that he was dealing. Despite the lack of evidence that anyone else knew or had access to the drugs, the entire family was charged with manufacturing and possessing drugs with intent to distribute- which carried a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Enter the lawyers. Virgil Richardson had some money, and so did his family, so they hired a top-notch defense attorney. This attorney kept hammering away at the town’s case- first getting the prosecutor replaced by one from the state, and then eventually getting the Sheriff to admit that the warrant hadn’t even been signed until well after the raid was already over. The state prosecutor looked at the evidence and filed a motion for dismissal of charges against everyone except Kevin Conway (who had confessed), “in the interests of justice”.

The story should have ended there, except for the local judge. He refused to sign the dismissal order because the Richardson family had filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the town, the prosecutor, and the entire police force. This judge offered the defense attorneys a “quid pro quo“- drop the lawsuit and he’d sign the dismissal. After he got told to pound sand, he upped the ante: drop the lawsuit and testify against the rest of the family in exchange for the judge signing the dismissal order.

Even in Texas, you don’t try to bluff with a six-high hand when the other guy has three aces showing. It took a while for the defense attorneys to get the judge replaced by the state, but they did. The new judge didn’t even bother with a dismissal order- he immediately exonerated the Richardsons. It was three years later, of course, and  too late for Virgil’s career. He’d been fired as soon as the news of his arrest reached the school board where he worked. He’s also worried that the utterly bogus arrest and the charges filed against him will result in a lot of additional attention from law enforcement. He is scared (justifiably, in my opinion) that every cop who runs his plates will use the arrest as an excuse to pull him over and harass him. The two million dollar lawsuit probably makes this scenario even more likely.

So here we have a family getting raked over the coals of the so-called “justice system” for three years by a real-life activist judge, despite the total lack of any evidence that they had committed any crimes. Some variation of this particular event is probably happening in several other small towns across this country even as you read this, but the victims aren’t wealthy enough to afford legal counsel good enough to fight city hall and win. How many innocent lives are being destroyed in this country every year by over-zealous police, prosecutors, and judges?

Too many. Even one is several thousand too many. It is better that a thousand guilty men go free than one innocent be wrongly convicted. The law is supposed to protect those without power against the abuses of those who do. The law is supposed to protect the people from the injustices of government.  There is no excuse for allowing this in our country.

And now, we return to Ed Howdershelt‘s Four Boxes. “There are Four Boxes to be used in defense of liberty: Soap, Ballot, Jury, and Ammo. Please use in that order.” It is our duty as citizens to stand up to this sort of abuse of power. Speak up- loudly and frequently. Do not allow abuses of power to go unnoticed and therefore unchallenged. Vote- every time. Your vote is the most potent weapon you have. Run for office, too. Make sure you speak up about why you voted as you did. Take the bastards to court. Serve as a juror.

We, the People, must use those first three boxes to the utmost to fight injustices such as what happened to Virgil Richardson and his family. If we do not, then sooner or later those injustices will sweep away all of our liberties. Then we would be forced to open that last box, which would spell the end of this country.

Current status: disgusted

Current music: Closer to the Edge by 30 Seconds to Mars

Color Bar

7 06 2010

Not too long ago in this country, there were two sets of laws in this country- one for whites and one for everyone else. This was (and is) utterly stupid and a violation of everything this country stands for. There are still vestiges of this unpleasantness lingering furtively in many neighborhoods in the country (not just the deep south), but it has largely been forced underground- for the most part. This is a good thing- it means that society (in general terms) is unwilling to accept this sort of inequality and injustice any more, and it will gradually wither and die out. Hopefully sooner than later.

Then we started paying more attention to another separate and unequal set of laws based on color. This time, the color was green. Court cases have been widely publicized wherein wealthy people- regardless of skin color- were allowed to treat the laws as suggestions. Acts which would land Joe Citizen in the pokey only resulted in verbal warnings or “personal recognizance” bonds for those with money. In court, the wealthy very rarely were forced to suffer the consequences of their actions until those actions grew into atrocities- and sometimes, even that wasn’t enough to put a really wealthy person behind bars. We’re still dealing with this as a culture, but the American people are growing less willing to put up with this sort of inequality as well. Call it schadenfreude if you will, but we like it when the wealthy get more than a slap on the wrist for breaking the laws. The trend for many years was toward fewer repercussions for those with money, and this, too, is un-American. It needs to become extinct.

Lately, however, a much more sinister color bar has raised its ugly head. There are increasing stories in the media about a new double-standard for laws based on color, only this time, the color is blue.

Let me start by conceding that police in this country have a tough job. This does not give them the right to treat the citizens who employ them as enemies, however. Unfortunately, this is increasingly the case.

The latest outrage concerns an off-duty police officer in Baltimore who shot an unarmed man to death in an alley behind a bar. This officer fired off all thirteen rounds at his target- who was about ten feet away- and only hit him six times. When the on-duty cops arrived, the shooter refused a breathalyzer test and was not arrested. But wait- there’s more! He was also involved in a drunken shooting in 2005, wherein he had shot someone in the foot during an altercation outside a bar. Sound familiar? Worse still, it turns out that this same officer had shot another unarmed man to death in 1995- this time shooting his victim in the back as he was running away.

After the first two incidents, why was this imbecile permitted to carry a firearm, much less remain a police officer? We (the People) grant police authority over us to enforce the laws, but the police don’t seem to enforce those laws fairly or equitably when a police officer is involved. When was the last time a police “internal investigation” returned a verdict that even implied that a police officer had broken the law- or even “departmental policy”? The police brass in the Baltimore incident privately said that they were “troubled” by the officer’s actions. Troubled? WTF are these idiots smoking? Why isn’t this officer behind bars right now? Oh, right. Two sets of rules- one for cops, and one for everyone else.

In some jurisdictions, it is now a felony to videotape the police in public during the performance of their duties. I’m having trouble finding any rational thinking behind that decision. The Supreme Court has ruled that no one has any inherent right to privacy in public, but that apparently doesn’t apply to police officers in Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland. Other states haven’t made filming cops illegal, but some deliberately target citizens who do so with bizarre interpretations of anti-wiretapping laws. It’s almost as though the police are trying to antagonize the public they supposedly serve, and then deliberately remove any possibility of legal redress for those wronged by the police. Are they trying to force us to open that Fourth Box?

This crap is unacceptable, especially in light of the growing trend toward militarization of police agencies across the country. The police in this country are increasingly treating their own citizens worse than our military treats foreign civilians in the war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq. What happened to “protect and serve”?

When police officers break the law, kill or injure innocents, or engage in corrupt activities, it is the duty of other police officers to turn them in. Even if only a small percentage of police officers do these things, the fact that their brother officers refuse to allow them to suffer the consequences of their actions tars all police with the same rotten odor of corruption. If the police wish to behave as if the public the are supposed to serve is their enemy, they run the risk of the public returning the sentiment. I am naive enough to believe that would be a bad thing for everyone involved, so I’m having a hard time understanding the headlong rush toward just such a catastrophe.

Science fiction author Ed Howdershelt once gave a speech which included a phrase I find appropriate: “There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order.” The actions being taken by separate police agencies across the country are working to remove public access to these remedies. Police routinely cut other police officers a break for transgressions all the way up to felonies, while citizens who commit the same offenses are immediately arrested and jailed. Citizens who complain are subject to reprisals- some quite overt- and harassment from the police. Citizens who record the police in action are harassed, intimidated, and arrested for doing so, with little or no legal recourse. The public perception of widespread corruption among police is frankly more dangerous to successful police work than anything else. Here’s a clue chit for the police in this country: When you remove the legal means of redress- those first three boxes- you push the people closer and closer to opening that Fourth Box.

So what is the solution? How about acting according to your public mandate? Police are paid to enforce the law. Period. Full stop. There are no exceptions in the law for brother officers or the blue wall of silence. When a police officer breaks the law, treat him or her exactly as you would any other suspect. Better still, treat every suspect the same as you would a fellow officer. It’s a concept called “sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander“, which is just a fancy way of describing “equal justice under law“. If you’re a police officer, that is your only task- enforcing the laws equally. Anything less leads inexorably toward that Fourth Box. No one wants that.

I hope no one wants that.

Current status: Irate

Current music: Plush by Stone Temple Pilots

Last Chance

4 11 2009

Argh! The stupid, it burns!

I’ve spoken at length about the Four Boxes to be used in defense of Liberty. Those are Soap, Ballot, Jury, and Ammo, and should be used in that order. The purpose of that saying is to discourage people from resorting to violence when peaceful methods are available- and more likely to produce positive results without a lot of unnecessary collateral damage to society. Implicit in that description is the idea that, at some point, the destruction of liberty becomes so onerous that nothing less than a total write-off and re-build is in order. If the justice system (Box #3) in this country stops actually providing justice, there will be little recourse but to wipe the slate clean and start over.

There is a case being heard before the Nine Worthies right now that has the potential to push the country over that particular precipice. Here is the story from NPR– just take care your blood pressure does not reach dangerous levels while reading it.

Worse than the initial criminal actions by the prosecutors and police in the original case is a single quote from the prosecutors- backed up by the Attorney General of the United States, no less: “There is no free-standing Constitutional right not to be framed

Pop quiz time: Can anyone point to any part of the US Constitution which might give lie to this assertion by trained legal professionals? Anyone? Buehler?

Let us take a look at the Fifth Amendment, shall we?

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

That seems to pretty definitively send the prosecutors’ argument into the shitcan where it belongs. The two men in question did not receive due process. They were maliciously framed by the police and prosecutor. Due process of law wasn’t even allowed in the courtroom.

The main issue seems to be Prosecutorial Immunity. Long-standing legal precedent holds that prosecutors cannot be held civilly liable when a case goes south on them. This is largely in place to protect prosecutors from civil penalty if they inadvertently convict the innocent. The prosecutors (who still claim that Terry Harrison and Curtis McGhee committed the crime in the face of really impressive evidence to the contrary) are trying to convince the Supreme Court that the Public Interest would be harmed by allowing any variation from the doctrine of Prosecutorial Immunity.

That’s as may be, and I could not care less. Two completely innocent men were framed by a Prosecutor and the police, and spent twenty-five years in prison as a result. I submit that the Public Interest is harmed far more by allowing prosecutors to withhold evidence and suborn perjury. The evidence for this assertion is simple and clear: If prosecutors can commit felonies with impunity against the very public they allegedly serve, our justice system (and the Republic on which it is based) is no more. The Supreme Court is the last resort for those who have worked their way through the first three Boxes. If the final appeal from the Third Box rules against the innocent victims, what choice do we (the People) have left?

The Supremes will probably issue a ruling on this early next year. I hope that they will rule in the interests of Justice over the interests of the rules and procedures. Reading past rulings lends a certain degree of hope that they will, but another chilling quote from a sitting Justice makes me fear the worst (“Mere factual innocence is no reason not to carry out a death sentence properly reached.” – Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia). If the Court rules in favor of the prosecutors, that’s it- game over. Such a ruling would mean that we are no longer free citizens, but serfs. Slaves to the Government, to be imprisoned at the whim of Government functionaries. If the Government fails to “establish Justice”, and “secure the blessings of Liberty”, it will be time to vote from the rooftops.

And that would be the end of the United States of America.

Current status: Disturbed

Current music: Play the Game by Queen

American Taliban

31 05 2009

The stupid among us have resorted to violent acts in defense of their irrationality for decades. In the name of their nonexistent god, they have set off bombs among innocents; set fire to homes, businesses, and other property; assaulted people at work, home, and church; and have even killed.

They have killed again.

George Tiller, a doctor in Wichita, Kansas, was shot to death this morning while he was serving as an usher at his church. Doctor Tiller has been attacked- both verbally and physically- several times in the past by religious fundamentalists and right-wing pundits because he performs abortions. His home and church are frequent targets of religious protests, and his business has been repeatedly vandalized, the latest iteration of which occurred last week.

True to form, his murderer failed to live up to the precepts of his religious views and fled the scene. He was arrested a few hours later. Like most US religious zealots, he doesn’t really believe his actions were justified. He ran away, where a true believer would have turned himself in or at least have waited for the police. This sort of internal denial of faith is very common among the religiously stupid in this country. Their religious views are so out of touch with reality and even their own chosen religious text that they lash out at “unbelievers” whenever they get forced to confront their misconceptions and poor reasoning.

Doctor Tiller was one of the few physicians who would perform so-called “late-term” abortions. The right-wing and religious screeds to the contrary notwithstanding, these operations are not available on demand. These procedures are only permitted after two separate physicians have deemed that the pregnancy or birth cause a significant risk to the mother’s life, or that the fetus would not likely survive birth due to some defect. One of the few doctors willing to keep young women from being killed in childbirth was murdered for doing so.

Worse still, he is not the first doctor murdered for performing abortions.

Almost as bad as the murder of Doctor Tiller are the comments among the religious zealots online. Far too many of them applaud the murder, or use flimsy rationalizations to indicate approval thereof. Here is a sample:

badhatharry: It is not murder to protect the life of another.

badhatharry: Sometimes you have to kill one guilty person to save hundreds of innocent people.

lawrnk: Religion aside, This made my farking day! HAHAHAHAHAHAH BASTARD! Murdering fetuses transcends most religions

McManus_brothers: I think it would’ve been more appropriate if the killer had sucked his brains out with a giant needle.

bookman: i really don’t see a problem here.

BrassArt: But whackos get all up in arms about an old guy being offed.

cabbyman: Don’t worry, it’s still like 1,000,000:1 ratio of babies to abortionists so you guys are still winning!

cabbyman: HA HA!!! One of your guys died!

DempseySR26: This is just a late term abortion

Those were actual comments from a message forum I frequent, not from some right-wing source. In response, I have a couple of much better quotes from people with more integrity and intellect than those shown by the religious nutbars in response to this murder.

Pro-life… these people aren’t pro-life, they’re killing doctors! What kind of pro-life is that? They’ll do anything they can to save a fetus, but if it grows up to be a doctor they just might have to kill it? They’re not pro-life. You know what they are? They’re anti-woman. Simple as it gets, anti-woman — they don’t like them. They don’t like women. They believe a woman’s primary role is to function as a broodmare for the state. Pro-life… you don’t see many of these anti-abortion women volunteering to have any black fetuses transplanted into their uteruses, do you? No, you don’t see them adopting a whole lot of crack babies, do you? No, that might be something Christ would do!“- George Carlin

Pro-lifers…killing people? It’s irony on a base level, but you can get a hoot.” – Bill Hicks

I am not even close to being in the same league as George Carlin or Bill Hicks, so I won’t bother trying to come up with better comments on the subject. I do, however, have a questions for the religious twatwaffles out there: If you believe abortion should be a crime, what should the punishment be for women who get abortions?

If you happen to know some zealous god-botherer, ask him/her this question. Sadly, their heads will not explode, depriving everyone else of a good laugh and the gene pool of some needed cleansing. You could probably harness the energy from their spinning to light up a small city, however.

As Carlin said in his rant I quoted above, the real impetus behind the anti-abortion movement is a twisted need among the god-deluded to keep women subservient to men. Why this is necessary for these religious fuckwits is beyond me. I am not a psychologist, nor do I play one on TV. Worse still, these bastards want to force everyone else to comply with their delusions. Right-wing religious fuckwits have publicly stated their policy of making the bible the supreme law of the United States. Check out the statements of George Grant, of the Coral Ridge Ministries and Gary North, a “Christian reconstruction strategist” for the Chalcedon Foundation. Watch the movie, Jesus Camp. Read the words of Randall Terry:

“The Bible is the supreme law that all governments must obey.” – Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue

“Our goal is a Christian Nation…. We have a Biblical duty; we are called by God to conquer this country. We don’t want equal time. We don’t want Pluralism. We want theocracy. Theocracy means God rules. I’ve got a hot flash. God rules.” – Randall Terry, April 15, 1993

Mr. Terry, you might notice, was the founder of “Operation Rescue”- one of the largest anti-abortion organizations in the US.

Notice also that they are all male. Note that I did not say men. By brief visual examination of their photos, they have all the typical outwardly masculine characteristics and appear to be mature males, but they do not qualify as men. Men are not afraid of women. Men are not frightened of the possibility of change, equality, or differences of opinion.

These feral and superstitious morons are bent on attacking the very foundations of our Republic. If they want to change the way this country is run, there are avenues available to them. They can rant and rave to their heart’s content. They can petition the Government for redress of grievances. They are free- even encouraged to use the first three of the Four Boxes- just like everybody else. But once they open that Fourth Box, they will have openly rejected participation in our society. They will be our enemies at least as much as the Taliban.

These creatures are my enemy. They are the enemies of liberty, equality, freedom, and everything else that makes this country such a great place to live. They, and their deluded followers, feel free to lie, cheat, steal, and kill in order to bring about their dream of a theocratic United States. How, exactly, are these monsters different from the Taliban?

Current status: Enraged

Current music: The Story in Your Eyes by the Moody Blues

Liberty Wept

6 04 2009


I’ve written at length about how our country seems to be turning into a police state. Police departments around the country are apparently regarding the citizens by whom they are employed as the enemy. In the name of the “War on Terror” or the “War on Drugs”, more and more of our precious liberties are getting filched away- nibbled to death by ducks. Merely understanding and standing up for one’s Constitutional rights is increasingly viewed with suspicion by almost every police department- or at least the ones which make the news. The most innocuous of behaviors is increasingly falling afoul of some Government regulation or another, which are frequently misapplied by law-enforcement personnel to the detriment of individual liberty in this country.

For example, a photographer standing on a public sidewalk in Phoenix, Arizona, was told by a police officer that he wasnot permitted to take a picture of one the Federal building. When the photographer asked what legal authority forbade taking pictures of a public building from a public sidewalk, he was brusquely told to “Google it”. There have been numerous reports of citizens getting harassed and even arrested for the “crime” of taking pictures or video of police in the performance of their duties on public thoroughfares. A group of police in Philadelphia have taken to raiding local grocery and convenience stores for the crime of selling small ziploc bags. Worse still, these Phillie cops go out of their way to disable all security cameras in the establishments they raid.

In the course of my job, I am frequently required to undergo periodic security training. The last annual training refresher I took instructed me to beware of suspicious activities such as owning firearms and practicing marksmanship. After hearing this little security tip, I immediately went to the Security manager for my building and reported myself for meeting several of the criteria which my training indicated were possible terrorist behaviors. He was less than amused, the more so since he would have to report himself under those same guidelines.

In yet another case, a self-described libertarian was at an airport to catch a flight when the Transportation Security Authority agents became suspicious of the cash he was carrying. When they asked him how much he was carrying, why he was carrying it, and what he did for a living, he replied by asking if he was legally required to answer those questions. This was deemed suspicious behavior, and the police and FBI were called. The FBI disgustedly told the TSA to let the man board his plane. In defense of the TSA, my few experiences with them have been uniformly professional and courteous.

When police perform traffic stops, they often ask if they can search the vehicle. If they are not granted permission to search, their frequent reply is the statement, “If you haven’t done anything wrong, you shouldn’t object to a search.” I have no problem with the police saying this in an attempt to induce cooperation, but I do have a serious problem when refusing to permit a warrantless search becomes probable cause for issuance of a search warrant.

Since when did refusal to permit a search become probable cause? I’m pretty sure the 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution are reasonably clear on this subject, but I’ll let you be the judge:

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.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The supreme law of the land is the Constitution of the United States. Why, then, are we (the People) permitting our public servants to trample the liberties enshrined and guaranteed therein?

We (the People) have been sold a bill of goods by our elected officials. We are being told that these infringements upon our liberties are necessary to keep us safe from drugs, child molesters, terrorists, commies, albigensians, heretics, martians, or fill-in-your-boogieman-of-choice. And we (the People) have swallowed this line of bullshit with nary a twinge of remorse.

It has become easier to just go along with whatever new byzantine abuse of Government power comes down the pike than to stand up for our inherent liberties. The Rights guaranteed (not granted) by the Constitution are worthless if we (the People) do not stand up and demand that those rights be acknowledged. All rights come with concurrent responsibilities, foremost among them the responsibility to ensure the continuation of those rights.

Please note that I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. Anything you may have seen on TV may bear little or no relationship to the real world of police and courts. If you want legal advice, hire an attorney. Since I am neither licensed nor qualified to give legal opinions, the following is not intended to be legal advice. This is only my personal opinion and stated intent for my own actions when detained or arrested. Your mileage may vary. Follow this course of action at your own risk.

If the police want to search your house, car, office, or person, demand that they first get a warrant. When detained or delayed by the police for any reason, be courteous- but refuse to speak without an attorney. Ask if you are under arrest. If you are not under arrest, ask if you are free to go. If you are not free to go, demand to speak with an attorney. Do not raise your voice, swear, or argue. Simply refuse to speak without an attorney present.

Be warned, following this course of action will very likely result in increased police attention and possible arrest. The police will be extremely annoyed with you, and will use a wide variety of tricks to try and get you to talk to them. Even if you answer some of their questions, you are under no obligation to continue to do so. Here is the Wikipedia entry on the subject:

In the US, the Miranda warning is a warning given by police to criminal suspects in police custody, or in a custodial situation, before they are asked guilt-seeking questions relating to the commission of a crime. A custodial situation is one in which the suspect’s freedom of movement is restrained although he or she is not under arrest. An incriminating statement by a suspect will not constitute admissible evidence unless the suspect was advised of his or her “Miranda rights” and made a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary waiver of those rights (the term “Miranda rights” is somewhat misleading, as the mandated Miranda warning simply clarifies preexisting Constitutional rights). However, a 2004 Supreme Court Ruling upheld state “Stop and Identify” laws, allowing police to require biographical information such as name, date of birth, and address, without arresting suspects or providing them Miranda warnings.

The Miranda warnings were mandated by the 1966 US Supreme Court decision in the case of Miranda v. Arizona as a means of protecting a criminal suspect’s 5th Amendment right to avoid coercive self-incrimination.

The wording of the so-called Miranda Warning varies from state to state, but the general meaning is fairly unambiguous. The police can stop you and demand that you identify yourself without necessarily placing you in a “custodial situation”. This does not necessarily mean that you have to provide some identification, only that you must give the police your name, date of birth, and address when requested. You are not legally required to answer any other questions, and you are within your rights to refuse to answer any further questions.

Given the increasingly hostile attitude of far too many police toward the citizens they allegedly serve, and the deliberate and methodical diminution of our precious liberties by both police and our elected officials, it is my opinion that everyone should do their utmost to protect the tattered remnants of our Constitutional rights while we still can. Furthermore, I call upon everyone to contact their elected representatives in both state and federal governments and remind them that they are public servants and we (the People) are the public. If those public servants wish to retain their cushy jobs and exorbitant paychecks, they had better start paying attention to the proper historical relationship between the US government and the citizens it is supposed to serve.

Here is a quote from Benjamin Franklin that needs to be more often on the public lips:

Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.

There are Four Boxes to be used in defense of liberty, in the following order: Soap, Ballot, Jury, and Ammo. On this page, I am calling for all Americans to use the first three. The precipice of tyranny is creeping up on us with cat-like tread. If we do not act now, we may soon be forced to resort to that fourth box. Like Pandora’s box, opening the Fourth Box will unleash horrors and chaos upon the world. Let us all work together to forestall its use. Write your representatives and senators. Stand up for your rights. Our liberties are under attack from within. Failure to use those first three boxes now leads inexorably to the opening of that Fourth Box, and nobody sane wants that.

Current status: Concerned

Current music: Man in the Box by Alice in Chains