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Oppression: apparently a laughing matter

Another example of how U.S. police departments not only form the vanguard of the terror state, but relish their job.


One less do-gooder in the U.S.

The University of Kentucky's Curry Stone Design prize is a $100,000 payment intended "to honor emerging design ideas that improved the human spirit, increased awareness of the environment or responded to areas of human need." It is a new prize, first awarded yesterday to the South African architectural firm MMA for their innovation in low-income housing projects. Unfortunately, MMA's principal architect Luyanda Mpahlwa, whose other work includes the South African embassy in Berlin, was unable to claim his prize in person. The U.S. government denied him a visa based on his criminal background—he was a political prisoner for his opposition to the apartheid government many years ago, the same government hit with sanctions by the U.S. congress, among many other entities.

You guys resting easier?

Via Archinect


McCain and his minions

Social Memory Complex has a great juxtaposition of Republican Party rhetoric and reality. The results are frightening.

Don't do what they do or what they say.


The terror state is built with many hands

Tyrants are not directly responsible for what goes in under their rule. Certainly they're to blame for setting the terror in motion, but it takes thousands or millions of underlings to really turn a regular country into a terror state. Adolf Hitler did not personally gas and starve millions in the early 1940s, nor did Stalin or Mao personally shoot, starve, and otherwise eradicate tens of millions of people whose interests they were allegedly representing.

Watching videos of police brutality and reading stories of dozens more every week is seriously depressing. U.S. presidents have encouraged the mindset that makes this possible, but the individual police officers who brutalize and kill people are just as much a part of the problem. Lately the blogosphere has been highlighting police brutality at the RNC protests, another fine example of how a great many individual decisions by state henchmen ruin a country. I am sure George Bush, Dick Cheney, Nancy Pelosi, and all the others of the state apparatus--as well as their "private" friends in other state-allied positions--are perfectly fine with what's happening; if they were in the riot gear, they'd be the ones pulling the triggers, tightening the cuffs, and swinging the truncheons. But they're not, and they leave these decisions up to a willing multitude of police departments.

This photo was from a private collection, and the owner labeled it "The Last Jew in Vinnitsa."

That murderer is not Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, or any of the other names you might have heard. That's a young man. As far as I know, he disappears from history after this photograph. Hitler is only indirectly responsible for the kneeling man's murder. That young man is the actual murderer.

We ought to be blaming Bush for the crimes that happen on his watch, just like we should have blamed Clinton, Nixon, and the others before them. But to let the actual agents of terror off the hook is a serious moral error.

It's a tragically flawed example, but it might help to remember that the Irish Revolution was successful largely because the population grew more and more sympathetic to the revolutionaries' aims. But as far as actual strategies, the boycott of the Royal Irish Constabulary was critical. The English-allied police eventually found themselves unable even to buy groceries from ordinary citizens. Enlistment in the RIC plunged to zero in just a few years.

This requires a radical reconsideration of the role of the police to work, I know, and here in the U.S. the police aren't seen as collaborationists with a hostile foreign occupation. But if we remember the Last Jew of Vinnitsa and his killer when we watch the news, the constant stream of police brutality, abuse, and consequence-free killing, we'll be halfway there.


Is around-the-clock election coverage every four years really better than presidents-for-life?

If there is a merciful god (I'm not holding my breath) it will end the Democratic Party convention early so that Reason can stop vomiting political nonsense in my rss reader when there are for more important and interesting things for them to be writing about.

I'm only saying this because Reason is my most beloved magazine (and companion website). Many other magazines/websites are always full of hot air, but Reason isn't; that's why this week has been painful.


Destroying communication, one word at a time

It makes me nuts to hear military contractors referred to as "private" contractors. If the Pentagon gives someone their orders and pays them, they can't be meaningfully considered private if that word is to communicate anything. Military induction or not, when you're an employee of the government, you're part of the public problem.

It's sloppy language like this that leads people to distrust the market entirely. When some parts of the free market--the voluntary part of society--leave it and start working for the government--the coercive part of society--it seems like there's little distinction. This is why self-described radical "capitalists" need to keep an ear out for self-described "anti-capitalists": they might really be on the same team after all.


McCain reverses entire career of extreme militarism?

"In the 21st century, nations don't invade other nations." Yes, John McCain said that.

Hat tip to guest Agitator Ed Brayton


Lying is an integral part of police work

Radley Balko points out another video of the New York Police Department assaulting people and then charging them with crimes, lying in their depositions. Not small discrepancies, understandable errors of recollection, but plain lies boldly contradicting the video footage. What the footage shows is cops assaulting people.

You can thank us "activist bikers" later for being in the vanguard of resistance to the police state. (Yes, I'm one of these types, though not in New York.) It's not often people expose the ugly center of police work.

One of my inner circle was once charged with a crime, and at the deposition that we attended we heard the officer testify under oath to things which we knew to be plainly false. We prodded the lawyer to object, and he said it wasn't even worth the time: police lie all the time, and they're going to be believed in court.

Well, that lying bastard was believed in court. I'm sure he was right back on the street, harassing people and lying about it later.

This happens all the time. This happens everywhere.


Balko vs. Hayne, and the good guy wins

Radley Balko is my freakin' hero. Just when I was beginning to lose hope that his continued coverage of Steven Hayne and his cronies in the Mississippi court and police system would actually get things changed around there, "this afternoon Mississippi barred embattled medical examiner Dr. Steven Hayne from doing any more autopsies in the state."

The synopsis: Hayne is contracted by prosecutors all over Mississippi to deliver the results they want from autopsies, however medically implausible, and despite the fact that he is not medically qualified to do so in the first place under Mississippi state legislation. The implications of Radley Balko's journalism are staggering: a huge number of people involved in the system willingly collaborated with Hayne to send innocent people to jail. The magnitude of crime that's been perpetrated by the court system in Mississippi is hard to comprehend. And of course, Balko notes that the severing was not quite as stern as it should be.

But holy Christ, Balko was such a thorn in their side that they threw one of the main villains out!


The strongest gang in the country

This story has been all over the bicycle-oriented parts of the blogosphere for days, but you'll notice it will fit on this blog as well. Note: of the two main characters in the video, guess which one was first charged with assaulting the other?

To serve and protect!


Disarming victims and the predictably bad consequences

The monopoly on the provision of law and order that the state assumes would be immoral and ineffective even if they were serious about doing it. Legally, they're not, though they are serious about stopping you from trying to do it yourself:

Can a woman facing danger of "separation assault" by a former partner depend on police protection? In one landmark California case, a woman separated from her husband and he retaliated with threats and violence. Over a period of one year, Ruth Bunnell had called the San Jose police at least twenty times to report that her estranged husband Mack had violently assaulted her and her two daughters. Mack had even been arrested once for an assault.

One day Mack called Ruth to say that he was coming to her house to kill her. Ruth called the police for immediate help. The police department "refused to come to her aid at that time, and asked that she call the department again when Mack Bunnell had arrived." Forty-five minutes later Mack arrived and stabbed Ruth to death. Responding to a neighbor's call, the police eventually came to Ruth's house...after she was dead.

Ruth's estate suid the city police for negligently failing to protect her. The California appeals court held that the City of San Jose was shielded from the negligence suit because of a state statute and because there was no "special relationship" between the police and Ruth—the police had not started to help her, and she had not relied on any promise that the police would help. Case dismissed.

...

The Supreme Court has held that neither the U.S. Constitution nor the federal civil rights laws rquire states to protect citizens from crime. As one federal appeals court observed, ordinary citizens have:

no constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered by criminals or madmen. It is monstrous if the state fails to protect its residents against such predators but it does not violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment or, we suppose, any other provision of the Constitution. The Constitution ... does not require the federal government or the state to provide services, even so elementary a service as maintaining law and order.

When a woman relies solely upon a telephone and the expectation of immediate police help, she is placing her trust in a system that legally owes her nothing. That understood, it only makes sense for women and other potential victims to protect and defend themselves and their families from violent criminals.

from Richard W. Stevens, Hugo Teufel III, and Matthew Y. Biscan, "Disarming Women: Comparing 'Gun Control' to Self-Defense" in Liberty for Women


The Dark Knight

...is amazing. Heath Ledger steals the show, and would even if he weren't dead. I just wanted to be on record saying this.


The Counter-revolutionary Left

If you read Bryan Caplan's book The Myth of the Rational Voter, you probably remember the discussion about democratic fundamentalism. If you haven't, you are missing a serious piece of the puzzle when it comes to understanding the world. You're like a pre-Copernican pondering the cosmos.

Here's some democratic fundamentalism to blow your hair back: Deliberation Day. The attempt to patch the massive holes in democratic fundamentalism is almost to painful to watch, but they keep going.

I haven't said it too explicitly before, so I'll say it now: the radical Left, the revolutionary Left, the anti-state Left, these people, though we are occasionally at odds, are valuable allies. The NPR Left, the comfortable Left, the democratic fundamentalist Left, these people are an obstacle to the increase of human freedom and flourishing. Their attempts to change very little while expecting the world couldn't stifle real fresh air in the world of ideas more even if they were meant to.

Deliberation Day link via Richard Chappell


How do you tell if a politician is blowing hot air?

Political speaking is all about lying, either through outright falsehoods or through manipulating words such that, technically, what you said was true even if you knew the audience would not examine it like that. Granted, they ought to be a little more clever, but listen to this winner right here:

A recent statement by Mr. Chertoff summed up his general stance: “Criminal activity at the border does not stop for endless debate or protracted litigation.”

Well, yes, technically speaking immigration not approved by the Immigration Commissars is illegal, but someone going a long distance that happens to cross this imaginary line to work is not morally different from my moving the same distance inside this vast country to do same.


Wow, that's carelessness

Over at Productivity Shock, Jeremy Horpedahl has a wicked takedown of the Associated Press and CBS News on the pathetic state of their science reporting. They've published a piece about global warming causing more earthquakes, and how some New Age 'scientist' proved this, but without really bothering to think about what they were saying. Nice work.