Steve G.

Archive for the ‘Big Brother’ Category

The Two Lefts

In Austrian Economics, Big Brother, Guantanamo, Immigration, Iraq War, Libertarian, Nanny State, Politics, Torture, War on September 11, 2009 at 6:50 am

I have some running thoughts that I’d like to share on the nature of the left-wing.  This post shan’t be well-formulated, I must warn the reader.  It will not constitute good writing.  It won’t even be well-argued, since my intention is not to prove that I am right, but rather merely to quickly and effortlessly convey the thoughts swimming through my head at the moment.  Let us begin.

We learn from Rothbard in 1965 that libertarians and classical liberals are members of the true, radical left.  Richman, in 2007, makes the point that “[o]ne could say that the Left itself had left and right wings, with the laissez-fairists on the left-left and the state socialists on the right-left.”

McElroy, in 1982, points out that libertarianism has grown thanks to the introduction of Austrian economic thought, particularly the introduction of the subjective theory of value.  It’s essentially the same libertarianism that existed in the nineteenth century, and it’s just as individualistic today as it’s ever been, but it now has a better foundation in understanding the nature of value.

I often make the point, particularly when I’m speaking to conservatives, that there are two rights and two lefts, an anti-establishment right exemplified by the likes of Ron Paul and a pro-establishment right exemplified by the likes of G. W. Bush.  On the left, I would say there is an anti-establishment left exemplified by the likes of Mike Gravel and a pro-establishment left exemplified by the likes of Barack Obama.

But really I’m being disingenuous.  Ron Paul and Mike Gravel both occupy the same place on the spectrum: the left.  Neither are on the absolute left, where I am and where Rothbard, McElroy, and Richman more or less are, but they are both certainly on the left.  Likewise, both Bush and Obama occupy the same place on the spectrum: the right.  Neither are as far right as Mussolini or Mao, but both are certainly on the right.

So we find ourselves with two lefts, an anti-establishment left (the libertarians) and a pro-establishment “left” (the pseudo-“liberals”).

Enter John Markley, who recently wrote on his blog: “I expected most of the American Left to lose interest in the war issue once Obama was in office, and especially once Obama started to escalate American military efforts in Afghanistan.  Similarly, I expected them to start finding torture, attacks on civil liberties, and unrestrained executive power much less bothersome once they were wielding those weapons themselves.  Perhaps above all else, I expected their whole ‘dissent is patriotic’ shtick to fade away as well.  However, I really didn’t expect the change to be quite so abrupt.  It’s a demonstration of an important lesson libertarians need to keep in mind—neither liberals nor conservatives are actually very good on the issues they’re supposedly on the right side of.”

Liberals, with whom do you want to associate?  The establishment “left” that tells us we must “respect the office of the presidency”?  The pro-war “liberals”?  The so-called “left” that want you to believe it is unpatriotic to question the government or to yell at politicians (whether at townhall meetings or elsewhere)?  The so-called “liberals” who are only outraged at oppressive government when the red team is at the helm, not also when it is the blue team at the helm?

Or would you rather associate with us radicals, we who fail to see the difference between Obama’s statism and Bush’s statism, we who still believe that dissent is patriotic, we who mourn the deaths in Afghanistan, we who demand that Guantánamo be shut down this week instead of a year from now, we who refuse to support a man who voted in favour of illegal wiretapping and renewing the USA PATRIOT Act, we who believe that this administration doesn’t care about homosexuals?  Sure, by siding with us, you will be siding with people who reject Obamacare, but at least we don’t reject it for the same reasons as the right.  We don’t reject it out of some irrational fear of immigrants being treated as equals in our society, we oppose it because we reject the underlying tenets of imperialism and statism.  We reject it because we are consistent.

Liberals, you have every reason to join us libertarians on the radical left.  After all, unlike the establishment “left,” we’ll never ask you to pledge your loyalty and servitude to the president, regardless of to which party she belonged.  All we ask is that you never initiate force or fraud against your fellow human, that you never hire some gang to initiate force or fraud against your fellow human, and that you never ask a government to initiate force or fraud against your fellow human.

Hopefully you will join us because—that other “left”?—they are looking more and more like the right every day.

—Alexander S. Peak

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Too Dangerous for Canada!

In Big Brother, Censorship, First Amendment, People in the news on April 1, 2009 at 9:06 pm

It appears that the UK’s maverick anti-war MP George Galloway is too dangerous for Canada. Now if the ban were on the basis of Galloway’s appearance on Big Brother, I’d back the Canucks. The right to defend oneself against crappy reality TV is inalienable. But the stated reason is that Galloway is accused of giving money to the Palestinian radical group Hamas, which is banned in Canada and bombed in Gaza.

I can’t help but think that this ban is perhaps more motivated by Galloway’s outspoken views on the US invasion of Iraq, sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Whatever you think of Galloway, he seems to be in, well… company when it comes to being banned, censored, and punished for unorthodox views. Geert Wilders, the Dutch MP who has built a career on baiting radical Muslims, was banned from the UK where he was scheduled to show his film Fitna to the House of Lords. The UK Home Office said, “The government opposes extremism in all forms.” This may have been in reference to Wilders’ call to ban the Koran. The Lords had to make do with a double-bill of Django the Bastard and A Fistful of Dynamite.

Wilders and Galloway are just Euro-MPs, that’s practically banana-republic territory compared to the lofty eminence of the Imperial Presidency. But even here there is censorship. While President Obama will hardly be turned away from Beijing, the same can’t be said for his inauguration speech. China cut the part where Obama boasted of how the USA whupped Commie butt.

If you are a lowly professor like David Irving, countries that don’t like your speech might just decide they WANT you to stay. In Austria it is illegal to show such gross insensitivity to Jewish feelings as to deny or downplay the Holocaust. Not that there are many Jews left in Austria since they all got murdered without much of any Austrians lifting a finger back when it counted.  In 2006 David Irving got sentenced to three years in the Austrian calaboose for the crime of Holocaust Denial. For similar, but perhaps more effective activities, Kurt Waldheim got six years in the grim Hofburg Palace.

Well, I’m not even going to start on cartoons or magical-realist writers. Down at this level, you don’t ask no questions, you just run for your life!

Now some may argue that Galloway, Wilders, Obama, and Irving are all to one degree or another, opponents of free speech in others, supporters of state violence, or reality TV contestants. In short, they are united in being jerks. I won’t even argue the point. Rather I take my stand with Voltaire, I disagree with the jerk stuff you say, but I defend to the death your right to say it!

–Dave Hardy

Anthony Gregory on Peaceful Dissent and Government Crackdowns

In Activism, Big Brother, Censorship, Constitutional Rights, First Amendment, History, Libertarian, Police State, US Government on March 19, 2009 at 7:57 pm

Over at Campaign for Liberty yesterday, Anthony Gregory released an article detailing various historical examples of the U.S. federal government targeting peaceful dissenters.

This article comes after a recent release of a memo to the state of Missouri, a memo conflating belligerent, right-wing extremist groups—some of whom are racist or anti-Semitic, some of whom are violently opposed to open immigration, some of whom want to impose upon the American people a system of national socialism—with others who, like many of us, simply want to get big government off of our backs.

Thus, tax protesters, second amendment advocates, anti-war activists, goldbugs, Ron Paul enthusiasts, and “sovereign citizens” (who sound like agorists and other natural-law libertarians from the description given)—all my kind of people—are lumped together with the sort of terrorist scum that would burn crosses on other people’s property, blow up abortion clinics, harass undocumented migrant workers, or—like Timothy McVeigh—blow up buildings with innocent people, including children, inside.

On the surface, one might assume Gregory’s article is nothing more than an explanation to people interested that these are two very different camps, and that the sort of people who frequent Campaign for Liberty have no connection to the violent, aggressive goals of various right-wing extremist groups in operation.  But Mr. Gregory’s article goes much further than that.

Gregory’s article takes an in-depth look at the tendency of the government, over the course of U.S. history, to overreact to criticism and suppress dissent, even those most peaceful of dissenters, the Quakers.  Starting from the horrendous Alien and Sedition Acts of Adams and his Federalist Party, the U.S. government has cracked down on free speech and peaceful dissent of Americans from all angles of the political spectrum—left, right, and centre.

There is a lot of history here, and although Gregory handles the material with breathtaking clarity, I’m left wanting to read more.  No doubt, a book could be written on the subject, detailing these various episodes, the various uses of counter-intelligence and infiltration by U.S. officials.  If Gregory were to tackle such a subject in book form, I would surely order a copy.

In any event, this article is worth the read.

—Alexander S. Peak

Kooky pro-government conspiracy theories

In Activism, Big Brother, Censorship, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Cops Gone Wild, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, First Amendment, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Law Enforcement, Local Politics, Police State, Politics, Protest, Republican, Terrorism, US Government on September 30, 2008 at 2:02 pm

A Letter from the RNC 8

Dear Friends, Family, and Comrades:

We are the RNC 8: individuals targeted because of our political beliefs and work organizing for protests at the 2008 Republican National Convention, in what appears to be the first use of Minnesota’s version of the US Patriot Act. The 8 of us are currently charged with Conspiracy to Commit Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism, a 2nd degree felony that carries the possibility of several years in prison. We are writing to let you know about our situation, to ask for support, and to offer words of hope.

A little background: the RNC Welcoming Committee was a group formed in late 2006 upon hearing that the 2008 Republican National Convention would be descending on Minneapolis-St. Paul where we live, work, and build community. The Welcoming Committee’s purpose was to serve as an anarchist/anti-authoritarian organizing body, creating an informational and logistical framework for radical resistance to the RNC. We spent more than a year and a half doing outreach, facilitating meetings throughout the country, and networking folks of all political persuasions who shared a common interest in voicing dissent in the streets of St. Paul while the GOP’s machine chugged away inside the convention.

In mid-August the Welcoming Committee opened a “Convergence Center,” a space for protesters to gather, eat, share resources, and build networks of solidarity. On Friday, August 29th, 2008, as folks were finishing dinner and sitting down to a movie the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department stormed in, guns drawn, ordering everyone to the ground. This evening raid resulted in seized property (mostly literature), and after being cuffed, searched, and IDed, the 60+ individual inside were released.

The next morning, on Saturday, August 30th, the Sheriff’s department executed search warrants on three houses, seizing personal and common household items and arresting the first 5 of us- Monica Bicking, Garrett Fitzgerald, Erik Oseland, Nathanael Secor, and Eryn Trimmer. Later that day Luce Guillen-Givins was arrested leaving a public meeting at a park. Rob Czernik and Max Specktor were arrested on Monday, September 1, bringing the number to its present 8. All were held on probable cause and released on $10,000 bail on Thursday, September 4, the last day of the RNC.

These arrests were preemptive, targeting known organizers in an attempt to derail anti-RNC protests before the convention had even begun. Conspiracy charges expand upon the traditional notion of crime. Instead of condemning action, the very concept of conspiracy criminalizes thought and camaraderie, the development of relationships, the willingness to hope that our world might change and the realization that we can be agents of that change.

Conspiracy charges serve a very particular purpose- to criminalize dissent. They create a convenient method for incapacitating activists, with the potential for diverting limited resources towards protracted legal battles and terrorizing entire communities into silence and inaction. Though not the first conspiracy case against organizers- not even the first in recent memory- our case may be precedent-setting. Minnesota’s terrorism statutes have never been enacted in this way before, and if they win their case against us, they will only be strengthened as they continue their crusade on ever more widespread fronts. We view our case as an opportunity to demonstrate community solidarity in the face of repression, to establish a precedent of successful resistance to the government’s attempts to destroy our movements.

Right now we are in the very early stages of a legal battle that will require large sums of money and enormous personal resources. We have already been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support locally and throughout the country, and are grateful for everything that people have done for us. We now have a Twin Cities-based support committee and are developing a national support network that we feel confident will help us through the coming months. For more information on the case and how to support us, or to donate, go to http://RNC8.org

We have been humbled by such an immense initial show of solidarity and are inspired to turn our attention back to the very issues that motivated us to organize against the RNC in the first place. What’s happening to us is part of a much broader and very serious problem. The fact is that we live in a police state- some people first realized this in the streets of St. Paul during the convention, but many others live with that reality their whole lives. People of color, poor and working class people, immigrants, are targeted and criminalized on a daily basis, and we understand what that context suggests about the repression the 8 of us face now. Because we are political organizers who have built solid relationships through our work, because we have various forms of privilege- some of us through our skin, some through our class, some through our education- and because we have the resources to invoke a national network of support, we are lucky, even as we are being targeted.

And so, while we ask for support in whatever form you are able to offer it, and while we need that support to stay free, we also ask that you think of our case as a late indicator of the oppressive climate in which we live. The best solidarity is to keep the struggle going, and we hope that supporting us can be a small part of broader movements for social change.

For better times and with love,

the RNC 8: Luce Guillen-Givins, Max Spector, Nathanael Secor, Eryn Timmer, Monica Bicking, Erik Oseland, Robert Czernik, Garrett Fitzgerald

Press Release: LEAP becomes latest victim of government censorship

In Activism, Big Brother, Censorship, Corruption, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Drug War, First Amendment, Law, Law Enforcement, Nanny State, Politics, Press Release on August 29, 2008 at 9:21 pm

LEAP Becomes Latest Victim of Government Censorship

DATELINE: 8.26.2008

Arlington: Virginia – Retired police detective, Howard Wooldridge, representing Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) was ousted from the National Asian Peace Officers Association (NAPOA) Conference in Crystal City because he was representing a view contrary U.S. government policy.

LEAP is a 10,000-member organization of police, judges, prosecutors, DEA & FBI agents, and others who know ending drug prohibition will reduce death, disease, crime, and addiction, while saving billions of our tax dollars each year.

On Tuesday (8.26.2008) acting under pressure from unnamed federal officials, Reagan Fong, President of the NAPOA, insisted on the immediate removal of LEAP from the conference vendor roster. It appears that some of the event’s other exhibitors took exception to the LEAP message and put pressure on the event organizer to expel LEAP from the event. While the incident was civil and took place prior to the second day’s session it represents a serious violation of Constitutional rights as cited within the First Amendment.

Federal agency representatives manning booths at the conference included DEA, Federal Air Marshals, NCIS, and Coast Guard. The prior day LEAP’s spokesperson had visited the DEA booth and described the agent as “decidedly unhappy” with an opposing viewpoint. In sharp contrast at 37 national and international law enforcement Conferences where LEAP has been allowed to exhibit, 80% of booth visitors agreed with LEAP’s stance for ending this failed drug war.

As for the Crystal City NAPOA incident, the appearance of impropriety is almost as bad as the real thing. LEAP has attempted to establish contact with Mr. Fong, NAPOA President, to confirm the details of the incident but we have received no response so we can only conclude it is blatant censorship originating from a judgmental “Big Brother” mentality. LEAP believes that this group owes us an apology. We ask that Mr. Fong identify the individual, agency or group that lobbied for our eviction from the event.

If this was an independent effort then he or she was acting outside the scope of authority and should receive administrative punishment for unprofessional actions. If this action was sanctioned by upper level management then the managers need to explain their behavior in an open forum. If this was sanctioned official action by the U.S. Government it is a serious matter which requires serious and immediate attention.

Terry L. Nelson 817-573-6927
Jack A. Cole 617-792-3877
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

If you get an unexpected package in the mail, be prepared to be raided and have your dogs killed by the cops

In Big Brother, Constitutional Rights, Cops Gone Wild, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, Crazy Claims, Crime, Drug War, Fraud, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Law Enforcement, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Media, People in the news, Police Brutality, Police State, Terrorism on August 8, 2008 at 1:27 pm

A package of marijuana was sent to an unsuspecting mayor’s wife, in a scheme in which drugs are mailed to people who are not in any way involved, then intercepted by those in the smuggling ring.   She hadn’t even seen the package, and it had not even been opened, when a SWAT team burst in without knocking, killed their dogs immediately, and terrorized the mayor, his elderly mother-in-law, and his innocent wife.  The cops refused to show a warrant when asked, and furthermore, no-knock warrants aren’t even legal in the state of Maryland.  Not at all surprisingly, the cops claim they did nothing wrong.

Why did they raid these people at all?  Had they done even a little bit of background, they’d know it was the mayor’s home, and that they could have just knocked on the door and asked for the package, and it would undoubtedly have been turned over without question.

From CNN:

(CNN) — A Maryland mayor is asking the federal government to investigate why SWAT team members burst into his home without knocking and shot his two dogs to death in an investigation into a drug smuggling scheme.

“This has been a difficult week and a half for us,” Cheye Calvo, mayor of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, said Thursday. “We lost our family dogs. We did it at the hands of sheriff’s deputies who burst through our front door, rifles blazing.”

The raid last week was led by the Prince George’s County Police Department, with the sheriff’s special operations team assisting, after a package of marijuana was sent to Calvo’s home.

Authorities say the package was part of a scheme in which drugs are mailed to unknowing recipients and then intercepted.

Calvo said he had just returned home from walking his two Labrador retrievers, Chase and Payton, when his mother-in-law told him a package had arrived for his wife, Trinity Tomsic.

Moments later, Calvo was in his room changing for a meeting when he heard commotion downstairs.

“The door flew open,” he said. “I heard gunfire shoot off. There was a brief pause and more gunfire.”

Calvo said he was brought downstairs at gunpoint in his boxer shorts, handcuffed and forced onto the floor with his mother-in-law near the carcass of one of dead dogs.

“I noticed my two dead dogs lying in pools of their own blood,” Calvo said.

Calvo said his mother-in-law is still recovering from the incident.

“She got the worst of it,” Calvo said. “She was literally in the kitchen, cooking a lovely pasta dish, and they brought down the door and shot our dogs.”

While he was being held, Calvo said, he told police he is the town’s mayor, but they didn’t believe him.

Berwyn Heights has its own police force, he said, but Prince George’s County police did not notify the municipal authorities of their interest in his home or the package.

“They didn’t know my name. All they knew was my wife’s name. They matched that to the registration of the car,” Calvo said. “It was that lack of communication that really led to what has really been the most traumatic experience of our lives.”

After the raid, arrests were made in the package interception scheme.

The incident has prompted the couple to call for a federal investigation because, they say, they don’t believe police are capable of conducting an internal investigation.

“They’ve said they’ve done nothing wrong,” Calvo said. “I didn’t sign up for this fight, but I think what we have to do now is make changes to how Prince George’s County police and Prince George’s County sheriff’s department operate.”

Calvo said authorities entered his home without knocking and refused to show him a warrant when he requested one.

But Prince George’s County Police Department spokeswoman Sharon Taylor said legal counsel had informed her that “no-knock” warrants do not exist in Maryland.

Taylor said authorities were acting on a warrant issued based on information available to them at the time.

“This warrant was for permission to search the premises,” she said. “The special operations team that supported us made a decision about the necessity of entry at the point of being on the scene.”

“No-knock” warrants have drawn criticism before. In Atlanta, Georgia, Kathryn Johnston, 92, was shot to death by police in a botched drug raid involving such a warrant in November.

Taylor, a self-described dog lover, expressed sympathy for the loss of Calvo’s dogs, but stopped short of apologizing for the incident.

“We’ve done these similar kinds of operations over and over again, to the tune of removing billions of dollars of drugs from the community and without people or animals being harmed,” she said. “We don’t want any of our operations to result in the injury or loss of anybody, and certainly not animals.”

The deputies have said they killed the two animals because they felt threatened.

“I would say that the dogs presented a threat, I would imagine, to the special operations situation,” Taylor said.

Meanwhile, Calvo and his wife said members of the community have expressed sympathy and concern about the incident.

At a news conference Thursday, Tomsic tearfully recalled a recent encounter with a neighbor who used to wave at the couple as they walked Payton and Chase.

“She gave me a big hug,” Tomsic said. “She said, ‘If the police shot your dogs dead and did this to you, how can I trust them?’ “

Rep Barney Frank (D-Mass) wants marijuana possession legalized

In Activism, Big Brother, Congress, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Democrats, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Drug War, Law, Media, Medical Marijuana, Nanny State, People in the news, Politics, US Government on July 31, 2008 at 1:06 pm

From CNN:

(CNN) — The U.S. should stop arresting responsible marijuana users, Rep. Barney Frank said Wednesday, announcing a proposal to end federal penalties for Americans carrying fewer than 100 grams, almost a quarter-pound, of the substance.

Current laws targeting marijuana users place undue burdens on law enforcement resources, punish ill Americans whose doctors have prescribed the substance and unfairly affect African-Americans, said Frank, flanked by legislators and representatives from advocacy groups.

“The vast amount of human activity ought to be none of the government’s business,” Frank said on Capitol Hill. “I don’t think it is the government’s business to tell you how to spend your leisure time.”

The Massachusetts Democrat and his supporters emphasized that only the use — and not the abuse — of marijuana would be decriminalized if the resolution resulted in legislation.

The Drug Enforcement Administration says people charged with simple possession are rarely incarcerated. The agency and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy have long opposed marijuana legalization, for medical purposes or otherwise.

Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, according to the drug control office.

“Smoked marijuana has not withstood the rigors of science — it is not medicine and it is not safe,” the DEA states on its Web site. “Legalization of marijuana, no matter how it begins, will come at the expense of our children and public safety. It will create dependency and treatment issues, and open the door to use of other drugs, impaired health, delinquent behavior, and drugged drivers.”

Allen St. Pierre, spokesman for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, likened Frank’s proposal — co-sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas — to current laws dealing with alcohol consumption. Alcohol use is permitted, and the government focuses its law enforcement efforts on those who abuse alcohol or drive under its influence, he said.

“We do not arrest and jail responsible alcohol drinkers,” he said.

St. Pierre said there are tens of millions of marijuana smokers in the United States, including himself, and hundreds of thousands are arrested each year for medical or personal use. iReport.com: Is it time to legalize pot?

There have been 20 million marijuana-related arrests since 1965, he said, and 11 million since 1990, and “every 38 seconds, a marijuana smoker is arrested.”

Rob Kampia, director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said marijuana arrests outnumber arrests for “all violent crimes combined,” meaning police are spending inordinate amounts of time chasing nonviolent criminals.

“Ending arrests is the key to marijuana policy reform,” he said.

If HR 5843 were passed, the House would support marijuana smokers possessing up to 100 grams — about 3½ ounces — of cannabis without being arrested. It would also give its blessing to the “nonprofit transfer” of up to an ounce of marijuana.

The resolution would not address laws forbidding growing, importing or exporting marijuana, or selling it for profit. The resolution also would not speak to state laws regarding marijuana use.

Read the entire article on CNN.

Bob Barr recants position on Wiccans in the military

In Big Brother, Censorship, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, First Amendment, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Military, Minorities, Nanny State, Politics on July 30, 2008 at 1:41 am

From Nate Uncensored (excerpt):

Apparently someone did get around to asking Bob Barr some substantive questions when he made an appearance at Netroots Nation. Ed Brayton (Dispatches from the Culture Wars) asked Barr if he would now, as Libertarian candidate, repudiate his 1999 attempt to prohibit the practice of Wicca, a neo-Pagan religion, on military bases. Barr said that he has changed his mind, citing “reports” that the practice of Wicca was causing problems that are apparently not an issue now. Brayton writes:

I did ask him for any specific problems that were reported to him back in 1999 by these military leaders, but he said he didn’t want to get into specifics. I’m sure that’s because there are no specific incidents and those military leaders who complained to him did so out of bigotry, or because the problems it caused were really caused by bigotry against Wiccans. He likened it to his stance on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell for gays, which he previously supported but now that it’s clear that allowing gays to serve doesn’t really cause any problems with unit cohesion and good order, he thinks it should be repealed and they should be allowed to serve openly.

Technically legal signs for libraries

In Activism, Big Brother, Censorship, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, First Amendment, Human Rights Abuses, Law Enforcement, Police State, Protest, Terrorism on July 27, 2008 at 1:57 am

From librarian.net

Animal in Man

In Activism, Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Congress, Constitutional Rights, Corruption, Economics, Entertainment, First Amendment, Fraud, George Bush, History, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Libertarian Politics 2008, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Music, Personal Responsibility, Police State, Politics, Protest, Republican, Second Amendment, Terrorism, US Government, War on July 25, 2008 at 1:42 pm

By Dead Prez

No, seriously, I could swear the water in this pot is getting a little hotter…

In Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Cops Gone Wild, Corruption, Drug War, Law Enforcement, Police Brutality, Police State, Terrorism, War on July 24, 2008 at 11:24 pm

Posted at Rad Geek

These are scenes from a SWAT team training exercise in Floyd County, Georgia, in which a squad of heavily armed paramilitaries practice storming, sweeping, and occupying a house, while dressed in military-style fatigues and heavily armed with assault rifles, body armor, gas grenades, etc. The training exercise is part of a recruitment video that the Floyd County Public Safety department is preparing, in order to show potential [job] applicants what Floyd County Public Safety is all about, apparently because Floyd County cops want to hire on even more of the kind of people who would be attracted to the prospect of doing things like this all day, and who believe that this sort of thing is what policing is all about:

And here’s the reality

Repent sinners!

In Activism, Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Entertainment, First Amendment, Protest on July 24, 2008 at 3:01 am

From Liv Films, an editorial about gay marriage, fat marriage, eating lobsters, and more. Mona of Liv Films was the “Ron Paul Girl,” but most of their recent work has been non-political. LMFAO (laughing my fat ass off)….

Starchild instrumental in putting prostitution decriminalization on the ballot

In Activism, Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Economics, Entertainment, First Amendment, Law, Law Enforcement, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Local Politics, Nanny State, People in the news, Personal Responsibility, Police State, Politics on July 19, 2008 at 4:11 pm

Press release posted on the LP Radicals yahoo group. Starchild has had various offices in the San Francisco and California LP, and is one of the spokespeople for this initiative.

The San Francisco Department of Elections announced today that the measure prohibiting city officials from spending money arresting and prosecuting people for prostitution, and mandating equal legal protection for sex workers, has qualified for the November ballot. Of 500 signatures randomly sampled and checked by department personnel, 80 percent were found to be valid. “This is a happy day for San Franciscans who want government to focus on fighting real crimes like homicides and robberies, and are tired of seeing resources wasted in a futile effort to police consensual sex between adults,” said Starchild, a sex worker activist and spokesperson for the campaign. “We’ve cleared the first hurdle.” By the Elections Department’s tally, supporters had turned in 12,745 signatures of registered San Francisco voters on July 7.

The campaign to decriminalize prostitution will hold a kickoff rally and press conference to formally announce the results on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. in front of the Polk Street entrance of City Hall, with
speakers to likely include Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who was a signer of the petition to put the measure on the ballot along with two of his board colleagues. “It is way past time that the
recommendations of the Board of Supervisors 1996 Prostitution Task Force were implemented,” said the measure’s proponent, Maxine Doogan. “Criminalizing sex workers has been putting workers at risk of violence and discrimination for far too long.”

The prostitution reform measure joins two other voter-submitted measures on the local Nov. 4 ballot, along with eight measures put on the ballot by the mayor or members of the Board of Supervisors, with many others expected to be added in the next several weeks.

Starchild – (415) 621-7932 / (415) 368-8657 / RealReform@…
Maxine Doogan – (415) 265-3302 / MistressMax@…

FLDS finally getting their children back today

In Big Brother, Children, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, First Amendment, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Libertarian, Media, Minorities, Nanny State, People in the news, Police State on June 2, 2008 at 7:15 pm

Two months after their children were taken by state social service agencies, the parents of the Yearning For Zion polygamist sect have been granted permission by the court to pick up their children from foster care starting at 10:00 am CDT today.  This latest development comes after the Texas Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the state lacked probable cause to remove their children from their families, because they could not show that any of the children were in immediate danger.

The order does have some serious restrictions, however.  The families have been ordered to cooperate with state officials, including unannounced home visits and physical and psychiatric testing; they are also not permitted to leave the state of Texas, and the parents must take parenting classes.  The families are also not allowed to travel more than 100 miles without notifying Child Protective Services.

The return of the children is being hailed as a victory by civil libertarians, who viewed the raid as a violation of the sect’s constitutional rights.  However, many still question the restrictions placed upon the families by the court.

Yearning For Zion is a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sect.  FLDS members believe in the original teachings of Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, who taught that polygamy is the way to glorification in heaven.  The mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints banned polygamy over a hundred years ago.

The state of Texas had taken over 400 children into custody, following a hoax call from a woman falsely claiming to be a pregnant FLDS teenager being beaten by her much older husband.  That woman, Rozita Swinson of Colorado, has been arrested; and it has come to light that this is not the first time she has perpetrated a hoax of this type.

It is expected that the YFZ families whose children were removed, as well as the young women who were taken against their will and assumed to be underage even though they are legal adults (at least one is in her mid-twenties), will sue the state of Texas and the state’s Child Protective Services agency.  If that occurs, due to the number of people involved, the damages could be in the billions.

Previous LFV entries on this subject (listed in chronological order):

“Sickos: What’s a free market solution?” by Nigel Watt, 4/22/08

“Another viewpoint on FLDS case” by ElfNinosMom, 4/22/08

“Texas Supreme Court orders polygamist children returned to parents” by ElfNinosMom, 05/29/08

LP/Green ballot access lawsuit in NC goes to trial

In Activism, Big Brother, Courts and Justice System, Democrats, Green Party, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Local Politics, Media, Politics, Republican on May 6, 2008 at 3:25 am
By JOEDY McCREARY
Associated Press Writer
Monday, May. 5, 2008 6:44 pm

RALEIGH (AP)- A Libertarian candidate for governor testified Monday that state law makes it “effectively impossible” to conduct a grassroots campaign in North Carolina.

Mike Munger, a Duke University professor, testified during a civil trial that could determine whether state laws are too stringent and unfairly limit the ability of third parties to get on the ballot.

The Libertarian and Green parties filed a lawsuit that claims state laws that define a political party are onerous and violate party members’ rights to free speech and association. The law also affects how party candidates can be included on ballots.

State attorneys defend the law, saying legislators approved rules that maintain the integrity of elections by requiring a political party to demonstrate it has adequate support from voters.

Under the law, a party must collect nearly 70,000 voter signatures to receive official party status. Party leaders said that’s one of the highest thresholds in the country. If the party’s candidate doesn’t get 2 percent of the vote for president or governor, the party must start over. The requirement had been 10 percent until the rules were changed in 2006.

The Libertarian Party has surpassed the signature requirement for all but one presidential election since 1976, state attorneys argued in court filings. The Green Party has never met the petition standard.

Special Deputy Attorney General Karen Long cross-examined Munger, who acknowledged only four Libertarian candidates have been chosen for the state House, which has 120 seats, and three Libertarians ran for Senate, which has 50 seats, for this year’s election. The party would be able to offer more candidates if it qualifies for the ballot by this year’s petition deadline.

Munger also admitted that since 1992, Libertarian candidates had enough signatures to get on the ballot but did not win any state elections. A party spokesman said later Monday the party has won nonpartisan elections.

But the lawsuit, filed in September 2005, said the Libertarian Party has paid more than $100,000 to hire solicitors to collect signatures along with volunteers for a successful petition. The process and money drain favors the state Republican and Democratic parties.

The signature deadline for this year’s general election is June 2.

Another viewpoint on FLDS case

In Activism, Big Brother, Children, Constitutional Rights, Courts and Justice System, Crime, First Amendment, Fraud, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Law Enforcement, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Media, Nanny State, People in the news, Police State on April 22, 2008 at 7:04 pm

Polygamists outside courtThe judge hearing the case of 400+ children removed from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), Judge Barbara Walther, has ordered DNA tests of the children from the Yearning For Zion (YFZ) compound. The tests began yesterday via cheek swab, and it is taking an extraordinarily long time to do each one (about 30 minutes) due to the convoluted relationships between the adherents, which brings with it fear of contamination of the samples. Many polygamist children living in a sect of this type have no idea which woman is their biological mother, or which man is their biological father. Prosecutors have also requested psychiatric examinations of the children, while the attorneys for the children objected vehemently to both.

In polygamist relationships, the women assigned to a particular man refer to one another as “sister wives”, and they are all viewed as mothers to all of their husband’s children. There is a pecking order among the wives, though, with each subsequent wife bearing less power within the overall relationship. Furthermore, women and children can be taken from the fathers, and “reassigned” to another man. For this reason, it is not at all unusual for a child to not know the identity of their biological parents.

However, there is reason to fear that the DNA tests will be used for other purposes. For example, if it is proven that a child was born to an underage mother, or that the mother and father are closely related, criminal charges could ensue, and the state will already have proof of the illegal relationship. More chillingly, under the guise of scientific knowledge, the test results could be used for other purposes, since in established polygamist sects everyone is related by blood to everyone else, and incest is common. Frankly, I fear that these children will become guinea pigs.

The judge stated the reason for the testing is that the mothers have regularly changed their names, possibly lied about their ages, and have difficulty naming their relatives.

In the meantime, the children are being held as a group, inside a coliseum.

In an interview with CBS’s “The Early Show” one of the men from the polygamist sect, known only as “Rulan”, stated that the men would cooperate with DNA testing if it will help them get their children back. He also stated that the sect would reconsider allowing sex with girls under 18.

Many of us perhaps were not even aware of such a law. And we do reconsider, yes. We teach our children to abide the law.

Prosecutors claim that simply living in the compound exposes the girls to sexual abuse, or the imminent risk of abuse, due to the practice of forcing girls as young as 13 to marry men sometimes old enough to be their grandfathers or great-grandfathers. There is a pecking order among the men, just as there is among the women, and even elderly men can request that a young girl be “assigned” to them as an additional wife. The purpose of this, insofar as their religious belief, is so that the man can produce as many “superior souls” as possible. Once that man dies – or if he no longer wants the wife, or if a man higher in the patriarchy decides he wants that man’s wife – his wives and children are assigned to other men; the women have no say with regard to which man they are assigned as a wife.

Once the DNA sampling is completed, which is expected to take several days, the children will be placed in foster care, and the children younger than four – who up to this point have stayed with their mothers – will be taken away as well.

Psychologists, however, warn that placing the children in conventional foster homes can cause severe psychological damage due to overexposure; these children have lived in such a strict community that even being allowed to play with mainstream children could cause serious problems. State workers have said that they will try to keep siblings together, and keep the children in groups. For the sake of the children, they will also need to create an environment with little to no contact with the outside world, which means no television, computers, or other media. It is unclear how the children will be educated, given that sending them to public school could prove to cause lifelong emotional and psychological scars.

Furthermore, another barrier stands in the way, which is that FLDS children have been taught from the earliest age that even mere disobedience to one’s parents leads to eternal damnation, and that the world outside the compound is evil. Obviously, these children are suffering both emotionally and psychologically, not just from being separated from their parents and community, but because they fear damnation for merely being taken by the state into the outside world.

I know some foster families, but I cannot imagine changing their entire household to accommodate restrictions that severe. I fear most foster parents will not even try, thinking it is best for the children to be exposed to the outside world. I therefore fear for those children, because I honestly think the psychologists’ warnings are to be taken seriously. We’re living in the 21st Century, while those children for all intents and purposes have never known anything beyond the 19th Century, since most have never even been off the compound before now. Experiencing a typical home today would be something akin to a time machine for them, and could even alter the religious beliefs they have been taught. The state, however, has absolutely no right whatsoever to expose those children to anything which might alter the beliefs their parents hold as truth; and to do otherwise is a violation of the First Amendment.

This is a very serious problem in this situation, and personally, I think this is such an extreme case – since the state has essentially denied their religious rights as well as the right to be secure in their homes – that the Supreme Court needs to step in and make sure the constitutional rights of the children and their parents are protected, before irreparable damage is done. It may already be too late.

Rozita SwinsonIn the meantime, police have identified a 33-year-old Colorado Springs woman, Rozita Swinton, as a “person of interest” and the possible source of the phone calls which caused this situation. Swinton is currently in police custody, charged with false reporting to authorities in another, unrelated case. There has been no explanation regarding why she would make phone calls of that nature regarding this particular religious sect, as it appears that she has no ties to the group.

We should all watch this case very, very closely. What the state is doing in the YFZ case could happen to any of us, based upon a hoax call. Child Protective Services nationwide is renowned for removing children from homes on the flimsiest of evidence, while leaving children actually at risk (and sometimes obviously being abused) in the home with their abusers. The truth of the matter is that religions such as the Primitive Baptists are equally strict with their children, and the women are completely subservient to their husbands (in fact, Primitive Baptist women look very much like the FLDS women), both of which could also be misinterpreted as abuse by overzealous social workers. One attorney stated that none of the parents had ever even received a copy of the original petition for removal of the children, yet were expected to appear in court 14 days later in order to present their case to have their children returned; one mother said that removing the children from their home and community was the worst abuse the children had ever experienced, and she may very well be correct.

On the other hand, you have the question of indoctrination into a patriarchal society, where young girls are taught from a very early age to be completely subservient to men. They are then married off as young as 13 years old, with no choice in who they marry and possibly even without warning. Many boys are driven off the compound at a very young age, to eliminate competition for the young girls’ affection. It is a strange society by our standards, to be sure, and we as a society do have a responsibility to help those children.

The question is, how do we help them, while ensuring the protection of their constitutional rights, as well as the constitutional rights of the parents? Is government intervention the best decision? I’m not altogether sure that it is, unless abuse can be proven. However, abuse is defined based upon the norms of society – for example, spanking is legally defined as abuse in some countries, but here parents can spank their children and a spanking in and of itself is not considered abusive – and it is indisputable that such sects have their own society, quite apart from our own; what is defined as abuse in our society is obviously not viewed as abuse in theirs, and is instead the norm. We are also not on a moral high ground with regard to pregnant teenagers, since we see that all the time in our own society, and many teen mothers in our society were impregnated at an even younger age.

This is an extremely complex question, with no easy answers to be found. However, one thing is clear, and that is that the FLDS sects have the same constitutional rights as you or I, and those rights must be protected above anything else. At this point, I do not believe the state had any cause whatsoever to remove the young children, and I fear that doing so has violated their constitutional rights, as well as the constitutional rights of the parents. If the state’s concern is sexual abuse of teen girls as stated, they may have probable cause to remove the teens for their own protection, but not to remove the younger children. I have seen and heard nothing which would suggest that children under the age of ten are in imminent danger of abuse, except the state’s assertion that, according to their religion, they may be “spiritually married” at any age. I therefore suspect the state is trying to enforce its own standards and morality upon a religion which has existed and been practiced the same way for hundreds of years.

My biggest concern is that this is nothing more or less than religious persecution. Religious persecution absolutely cannot be tolerated in our country, so there needs to be oversight at the federal level, to ensure the rights of all the sect members are protected.

Bush sings “Sunday Bloody Sunday”

In Activism, Big Brother, Courts and Justice System, Crime, George Bush, Law, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Protest, War on April 5, 2008 at 9:00 pm

I bet the drug warriors are proud of themselves ….

In Big Brother, Children, Congress, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Drug War, Health, Law, Media, People in the news, US Government on April 1, 2008 at 10:39 pm

Girl dies of cancer after dying wish of seeing incarcerated fatherA man serving his final year of a five-year sentence for drugs fought for months to see his dying 10-year-old daughter. Yet it took public outcry and overwhelming media attention – plus contact from his Congressman – before he was allowed to see her, and even then for only for 20 minutes.

People are given early release from prison all the time, long before they have served 80% of their sentence. Yes, he was in the federal system where there is no parole, but there is still no reason why this man could not have been given compassionate early release.  Failing that, he could have been released until his daughter died, then returned to finish his sentence. His little girl was dying of brain cancer, for cripe’s sake, and all she wanted was her daddy. Her father was not in prison for a violent crime, and he poses no threat to society if released. He is in a minimum-security facility, after all.

Anyone who thinks this situation did not call for compassionate early release is truly an evil person. I’m not advocating that he should have been released for his own reasons; I’m advocating that he should have been released early for his daughter’s sake. Now this completely innocent little girl is yet another victim of the war on drugs, because she suffered and died without her beloved daddy by her side.

A 10-year-old girl died of brain cancer early this morning, shortly after receiving what her family said was her dying wish — a visit from her incarcerated father.

“She was holding on to see her father,” Ed Yaeger said of his niece Jayci Yaeger.

Jayci’s father, Jason Charles Yaeger, is serving the final year of a five-year sentence for a drug conviction in a minimum security prison camp in South Dakota, a 3½-hour drive from his daughter who was in hospice care in Lincoln, Neb.

Officials, however, had denied Jason Charles Yaeger’s repeated requests for a furlough so he could spend more time with his daughter, who suffered from terminal brain cancer.

Under the supervision of prison officials, Jason Yaeger visited Jayci Wednesday for about 20 minutes — just days before she died.

“It’s just unfortunate that the visit was cut so short,” Ed Yaeger told ABC News.

The Yaegers are upset with prison officials because Jason Yaeger was not able to be with his daughter when she died.

“He was denied the proper good-bye,” Lori Yaeger, Jayci’s aunt, wrote in an e-mail Thursday.

Jason Charles Yaeger had pleaded repeatedly with prison officials to honor the bureau’s apparent policy of allowing furloughs and transfers under “extraordinary” circumstances, but was rebuffed time and again, he told ABC News in a telephone interview from prison last week.

In a letter to Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska — dated Feb. 20 and obtained by ABC News — a regional director from the Department of Justice wrote that “although Mr. Yaeger believes his daughter’s severe medical condition constitutes ‘extraordinary justification,’ a review of his case reveals this specific request was … reviewed … and denied … because his circumstances were not deemed to rise to the level of extraordinary.”

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The congressman had requested information about the denials of the furlough or transfer.

Last week, after ABCNEWS.com published a story on Jayci, the Bureau of Prisons released a statement saying that officials there “have reviewed inmate Yaeger’s request for a compassionate release and have determined his situation does not meet the criteria.”

Jayci, named for her father’s initials, had been fighting for her life since she was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 3, seven years ago. But in the last six months, she had taken a severe turn downward.

Doctors declared her condition terminal in October. Last month, they found they couldn’t transfer her to a children’s hospital closer to her Lincoln, Neb., home because they said she wouldn’t survive the trip, Lori Yaeger said.

You can read the rest of this infuriating article here.

Comcast experimenting with Big Brother technology for your cable box

In Big Brother, Constitutional Rights, Entertainment, Media on March 29, 2008 at 2:11 am

Excerpted from NewTeeVee:

If you have some tinfoil handy, now might be a good time to fashion a hat. At the Digital Living Room conference today, Gerard Kunkel, Comcast’s senior VP of user experience, told me the cable company is experimenting with different camera technologies built into devices so it can know who’s in your living room.

The idea being that if you turn on your cable box, it recognizes you and pulls up shows already in your profile or makes recommendations. If parents are watching TV with their children, for example, parental controls could appear to block certain content from appearing on the screen. Kunkel also said this type of monitoring is the “holy grail” because it could help serve up specifically tailored ads. Yikes.

Kunkel said the system wouldn’t be based on facial recognition, so there wouldn’t be a picture of you on file (we hope). Instead, it would distinguish between different members of your household by recognizing body forms. He stressed that the system is still in the experimental phase, that there hasn’t been consumer testing, and that any rollout “must add value” to the viewing experience beyond serving ads.

Wow. That’s just plain creepy. If you follow the link, Comcast made a statement in response, then the reporter responded back. It sounds like Comcast is trying to get away with something. Either way, I don’t trust this at all. Even the thought that the cable company might have the ability to spy on me in my own home, or would even think about spying on me in my own home, is cause for great concern.

Why on earth would they think this is a good idea, when they could just equip the remote with multiple user buttons, if they want to customize the viewing experience and advertising? How does the user know that they’re not selling information about our private lives? How do we know that they aren’t ratting people out to the government?

Long story short, we don’t know. And therein lies the problem.

______________________________

Hat tip The Dee Zone

Eugenics being promoted to prevent child abuse

In Big Brother, Children, Communism, Constitutional Rights, Crazy Claims, Health, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Libertarian, Minorities, Nanny State, Personal Responsibility, US Government on March 24, 2008 at 6:24 pm

EugenicsI ran across the following comment on a newspaper’s reader comments section:

ARRRG!… I’ve said it before and I will stand by it. Some people do not deserve to have children. It should be mandatory that when a girl get her period they go on birth control and when they are ready to have a kid someone has to come and check out the living conditions and a mental exam has to be administered to both parents and they have to pass and then they grant you permission to have a child. I personally think it would save a lot of children. Being a woman myself and seeing this type of stuff I am all for it. IGNORANCE IS PREVENTABLE!!!

Why on earth would anyone living in the United States harbor the belief that the government should have total control over everyone’s life, including their most basic right, to reproduce?

While I do understand that child abuse is a very serious problem in this country, the solution is the exact opposite of what she proposes. If everyone took responsibility for their own lives, there would be no child abuse or neglect. Obviously, total personal responsibility is merely a philosophical ideal, since there will always be those who refuse to step up and take responsibility. Nevertheless, the failure of the few to take responsibility for their lives does not negate the right of the many to do so, without government interference.

The same people who harbor such beliefs would likely scream to high heaven if the mother in question – who abused her infant after losing her temper when the baby cried for days on end – had undergone an abortion rather than giving birth to a child she likely did not want, and definitely could not handle. Regardless of what the uninformed among us believe, giving a child up for adoption carries a stigma as well. Many times a pregnant woman finds herself in the position that she’s damned if she does have the child, and she’s damned if she doesn’t have the child, due to social pressures.

I don’t have the answer to this dilemma, but I do know that government control over reproduction is not the answer. After all, many otherwise completely normal mothers lose their tempers with crying infants, socioeconomic status notwithstanding, so governmental control would not stop the problem. That does not excuse the behavior, but it does prove that the suggestion made above is rather ignorant; though strangely, she attributes ignorance to those who dare disagree with her.

If denying the government the ability to grant or deny such a basic human right as reproduction is her definition of ignorance, I will gladly bear the title.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not excusing the mother for abusing her child; far from it, in fact, since I find the abuse of the helpless to be the most heinous crime of all. However, there is an undercurrent in this country, with its basis in extremist religious beliefs and the far right, which uses child abuse cases as an excuse to advocate that the government take total control over the reproductive lives of its citizens. These extremists do not understand that government must be controlled, and never given carte blanche to do whatever it wants. Yet they would grant the government the right to decide who can reproduce, and when they can reproduce; and as history has proven, in no time the government would turn that power into a eugenics program wherein the poor – which by necessity would include many minorities – would not be permitted to reproduce at all. That’s absolutely insane.

I fear for the future of this country, when I read such comments. Perhaps it is easier for some if they don’t have to take any responsibility whatsoever for their lives; but when they are openly and actively advocating total government control over others’ lives, they have gone too far. As libertarians we have a responsibility to speak out, loudly and clearly, against anyone who would openly advocate such bizarre government programs. We have a responsibility to educate others about the very real dangers of giving the government too much control over our lives, whether we run across the statist mindset online, or in our personal lives. As libertarians, we must spread the word of liberty, even if only to one person at a time.