Archive for the ‘Corruption Corner’ Category
Most people seem to have little objection to the way drones are being used by the United States military. I believe this is because most of the people who have been killed by drones have been brown people not from around here. However the body country of American citizens isn’t zero. Until today it was believed that three American citizens were executed by drones but now we know there have been at least four American citizens executed by drones:
Four American citizens have been killed in counter-terrorism drone strikes since 2009, the Obama administration acknowledged for the first time Wednesday.
Attorney General Eric Holder disclosed the previously classified information in a letter to a top senator that also included the names of those killed and the revelation that only one was directly targeted in the strikes that began in 2009. He did not specifically call them drone strikes – rather, he referred to “counterterrorism operations” – but most of the individuals he mentioned are known to have died in drone strikes.
Even if you’re OK with brown people not from around here being killed without due process the knowledge of people from your country being executed in such a manner should make you consider how few protections you have from your government. So long as somebody within the state can claim you’re a terrorist your name can be added to kill list. From there you can be executed without a trail.
Welcome to the land of the free.
If there was ever a story that demonstrates the fact that the primary job of the police is to expropriate wealth from the general populace it is this one:
The city of Keene has filed a lawsuit (copy here) against me and several other people regarding robin hooding (Respondents). Basically, the city wants the court to issue a “preliminary” and “permanent” injunction “restraining Respondents, or anyone under their direction, supervision, employment, or control, from coming within a safety zone of fifty (50) feet of any PEO [Parking Enforcement Officer] while that PEO is on duty.” Additionally, the city wants to stop us “from video recording, within a safety zone of fifty (50) feet,” and “from communicating with any PEO.”
The city alleges that “Respondents have repeatedly video recorded, interfered with, taunted, and intimidated PEOs during the performance of their employment duties,” which is ridiculous for several reasons, most importantly, according to the job description for a city of Keene parking enforcer, “This position requires a person” to “relate with the general public” and “Endure verbal and mental abuse when confronted with the hostile views and opinions of the public and other individuals often encountered in an antagonistic environment.”
For those of you unfamiliar with robin hooding, it’s a practice partaken by some residents of Keene that involves inserting quarters into expired parking meters so the unsuspecting owners of the car don’t come back to a parking ticket. The police don’t like the practice because it eats into their parking ticket revenue, which is why they’re filing a lawsuit.
Under statism no good deed goes unpunished.
For the longest time news agencies have enjoyed privileges above and beyond what us mere serfs enjoy. When you look at the very biased news that pretends to be unbiased it’s not hard to see why these agencies have enjoyed special privileges, they were toting the statist line. Now things are beginning to change. The current administration, who many news agencies shilled for, is finally targeting journalists:
The Associated Press has described the US government’s secret seizure of its journalists’ telephone records as a “massive and unprecedented intrusion”.
Chief executive Gary Pruitt said AP was told on Friday the justice department had gathered records of outgoing calls from more than 20 phone lines.
The press are finally experiencing what the rest of us have been experiencing for decades, a complete loss of privacy and liberty. I hope the press responds but airing out the state’s dirty laundry but I doubt that will happen. In all likelihood the Associated Press will roll over after a little complaining because that’s what people in this world do today.
The wonderful thing about government regulations is that they’re so versatile. Most people think of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as merely a government agency that collects taxes. However to an extremely devious, and somewhat creative, fellow the IRS can become a club to wield against your political opponent, which is what the so-called progressives did:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Internal Revenue Service inappropriately flagged conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status, a top IRS official said Friday.
Organizations were singled out because they included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their applications for tax-exempt status, said Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups.
In some cases, groups were asked for their list of donors, which violates IRS policy in most cases, she said.
I don’t have a horse in this race beyond explaining how the IRS can be used as a political tool beyond tax collecting. My beliefs generally oppose the beliefs shared by organizations with the word “patriot” or phrase “tea party” in their title. However it is worth noting, regardless of your political orientation, how the state can prevent certain messages from spreading without resorting to direct censorship. By using tax laws the IRS was able to harass specific political organizations. Such harassment sends a very clear message: if you don’t subscribe to the dominate state-held political beliefs you can either keep your mouth shut or your life will be made miserable.
What’s even more interesting is that the IRS claims the harassment was initiated by a low-level employee:
Lerner said the practice was initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati and was not motivated by political bias. After her talk, she told The AP that no high level IRS officials knew about the practice. She did not say when they found out.
In all likelihood the low-level employee received orders from higher up and is now being used as a scapegoat. If that isn’t the case then the IRS just admitted that they have no real oversight and that even low-level employees can wield the agency’s power against specific targets. The implications of this are frightening. Imagine a low-level IRS employee sending the agency to harass an ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend because the breakup wasn’t amicable. Suddenly vicious revenge is as simple as getting a job at the IRS.
Tax codes are just as useful for dealing with political opponents as outright censorship or passing laws for the specific purpose of targeting those opponents. Al Capone was taken down by wielding tax code because the state didn’t have enough evidence to charge him with anything else.
The power to tax is the power to suppress.
One of the things that sets me apart from many members of the gun rights community is my opposition to prisons. You won’t hear me demand violators of current gun laws be prosecuted more harshly or that we need to stop releasing prisoners early due to the high recidivism rate. Beyond the fact that prisons are a form of collective punishment (society gets to pay to house, feed, clothe, and guard prisoners) they are also sources of slave labor for the state and private corporations. The fact that prisons serve as a source of slave labor make stories like this unsurprising:
An American judge known for his harsh and autocratic courtroom manner was jailed for 28 years for conspiring with private prisons to hand young offenders maximum sentences in return for kickbacks amounting to millions of dollars.
Mark Ciavarella Jnr was ordered to pay $1.2m (£770,000) in restitution after he was found to be a “figurehead” in the conspiracy that saw thousands of children unjustly punished in the name of profit in the case that became known as “kids for cash”.
Private organizations such as Corrections Corporation of America and their public equivalents like UNICOR and MINNCOR [PDF] use prisoners as a source of extremely cheap slave labor. Because of their access to slave labor these companies are able to undercut other market producers who have to rely on free laborers. By issuing stricter sentences the judges are able to get a kickback from the prison-industrial complex and the prison-industrial complex is able to keep their manufacturing floors stocked with laborers. It’s a win-win situation… at least for everybody but the prisoners.
The idea of incarceration leads itself to this type of problem. Eventually tax victims tire of paying for the food, shelter, clothing, and guarding of prisoners and demand alternatives. The state and its cronies, knowing they can make a nice profit by using prison labor, happily provide an alternative. Tax victims happily agree to the idea because it relives them (at least they belief it relieves them) of footing the bill to maintain prisons and the new scheme is put into motion. Of course the population that is actually affected, the prisoners, are unable to voice their opinion but nobody seems to care about them.
Most people who travel in libertarian circles are quick to point out the dangers of government spying. Many of those same people are unconcerned with spying performed by private entities. After all private entities are good, right? If we lived in a black and white world where public and private entities were clearly divided that would be true but we live in a world where private corporations are married to the state in such a way that it’s almost impossible to tell the two apart. Do libertarians who oppose state spying but condone spying done by private corporations oppose or support private corporations that spy on users and sell that data to the state? It’s an important question to ask because we live in a world where that happens with increasing frequency:
It’s no secret that we’re monitored continuously on the Internet. Some of the company names you know, such as Google and Facebook. Others hide in the background as you move about the Internet. There are browser plugins that show you who is tracking you. One Atlantic editor found 105 companies tracking him during one 36-hour period. Add data from your cell phone (who you talk to, your location), your credit cards (what you buy, from whom you buy it), and the dozens of other times you interact with a computer daily, we live in a surveillance state beyond the dreams of Orwell.
It’s all corporate data, compiled and correlated, bought and sold. And increasingly, the government is doing the buying. Some of this is collected using National Security Letters (NSLs). These give the government the ability to demand an enormous amount of personal data about people for very speculative reasons, with neither probable cause nor judicial oversight. Data on these secretive orders is obviously scant, but we know that the FBI has issued hundreds of thousands of them in the past decade — for reasons that go far beyond terrorism.
NSLs aren’t the only way the government can get at corporate data. Sometimes they simply purchase it, just as any other company might. Sometimes they can get it for free, from corporations that want to stay on the government’s good side.
Scenarios such as this moved me away from my original libertarian roots that believed private entities had a right to do as they please so long as they didn’t harm anybody to viewing many of those private entities are mere extensions of the state. These scenarios also jump-started with interest in crypto-anarchy, specifically the need for anonymity and strong encryption of communications. In our world we must assume that everybody is spying on you and take appropriate measures.
I have some good news, the United States economy is going to show some improvement soon. I also have some bad news, the only reason the economy is going to show some improvement is because the state is going to manipulate the gross domestic produce (GDP) numbers again:
The U.S. government is about to tweak the way it measures the economy, and some of the biggest changes will affect the entertainment industry.
Under the current system, Sichel told me, Lady Gaga’s sales of concert tickets, online songs and CDs all count toward gross domestic product. But the value of the time she spends in the studio working on new songs isn’t counted. That’s about to change.
This is why one cannot rely on numbers put out by the state. When the numbers begin to look bad the state just cooks the books to make things appear better than they are. That’s why reported unemployment is around 7 to 8 percent but real unemployment is around 22 to 23 percent.
You have to admire how the state can steal money from you and use it to steal more money:
At least seven U.S. communities that received stimulus money as part of a $373 million government program to educate Americans about obesity and tobacco use potentially violated federal law by using the funds to lobby for higher taxes and new local laws, according to a report by the nonpartisan group Cause of Action.
The findings are part of a 19-month investigation by the nonprofit group on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Communities Putting Prevention to Work Program.”
First the state stole our money through taxation so it could give it to its cronies. After redistributing wealth from the general populace to the politically well-connected the politically well-connected used that money to push for the state to steal more money because they knew a portion of that money could go back to their coffers. Effectively, through stimulus money, the state created a continuous cycle that can only end when the general populace no longer has any money to take.
Keeping records can be dangerous, especially if those records may be of interest to the state. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is being accused of stealing the medial records of some 10 million Americans:
The Internal Revenue Service is now facing a class action lawsuit over allegations that it improperly accessed and stole the health records of some 10 million Americans, including medical records of all California state judges.
According to a report by Courthousenews.com, an unnamed HIPAA-covered entity in California is suing the IRS, alleging that some 60 million medical records from 10 million patients were stolen by 15 IRS agents. The personal health information seized on March 11, 2011, included psychological counseling, gynecological counseling, sexual/drug treatment and other medical treatment data.
I doubt this news surprised anybody since the primary job of the IRS is to steal from Americans. Usually they steal wealth but I can see the reason the state would be interested in medical records now that it has further put itself into a position to foot medical bills. What this case does demonstrate is the danger of holding records that the state may find of interest. If the state can’t access records legally it can do it illegally since it both makes the laws and enforces them. One of the state’s favorite laws is making its agents immune from legal repercussions of illegal acts performed on the job. If the plaintiff wins this lawsuit the IRS agents who were responsible for the theft will go unpunished. Instead the IRS will merely take some of the money it has stolen from the general population and give it to the plaintiffs. Even when the state rules that is has done something illegal the people are the ones who end up paying.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has a long, proud history of creating terrorists and “stopping” them. Somebody in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) must have been paying attention during some inter-agency meeting because they are now emulating the FBI’s tactics:
ATF agents running an undercover storefront in Milwaukee used a brain-damaged man with a low IQ to set up gun and drug deals, paying him in cigarettes, merchandise and money, according to federal documents obtained by the Journal Sentinel.
For more than six months, federal agents relied on Chauncey Wright to promote “Fearless Distributing” by handing out fliers as he rode his bike around town recommending the store to friends, family and strangers, according to federal prosecutors and family members.
Wright, unaware that the store was an undercover operation being run by agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, also stocked shelves with shoes, clothing, drug paraphernalia and auto parts, according to his family.
Once authorities shut down the operation, they charged the 28-year-old man with federal gun and drug counts.
Wright’s IQ measures in the 50s, about half of a normal IQ, according to those familiar with him. Wright’s score is classified as mildly or moderately disabled, depending on the IQ scale used.
Congratulations go to the brave agents of the ATF who managed to capture this most dastardly of criminals! If it wasn’t for the ATF this man would… likely have done nothing illegal. This tactic of creating criminals works well because there are a lot of people out there who make easy prey for smooth talkers. When you look at the history of the FBI’s creation of terrorists you find that the people they recruited, armed, and “stopped” are usually dull witted. In this case the ATF recruited a man who’s IQ measures around 50 (the average IQ is 100).
Were I a tasked with capturing criminals to obtain funding for my agency, suffering a lack of criminals or an inability to capture them, and a complete psychopath I would likely use the same tactic as well. When agency funding is tied to the number of criminals they capture higher ups are eventually going to opt to create criminals in order to justify their demands for more funding.