Archive for February, 2012
I have to say when it comes to strikes I have all of them against me. Being a gun owner makes me unpopular in many circles, being a voluntaryist ostracizes me from most political circles, and being a metalhead leads to shit like this being funny to me (warning, not approved for the religiously sensitive):
The fact that I’m allowed out in public at all is a small miracle.
The US House of Representatives voted 388-to-3 in favor of H.R. 347 late Monday, a bill which is being dubbed the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011. In the bill, Congress officially makes it illegal to trespass on the grounds of the White House, which, on the surface, seems not just harmless and necessary, but somewhat shocking that such a rule isn’t already on the books. The wording in the bill, however, extends to allow the government to go after much more than tourists that transverse the wrought iron White House fence.
Before I start on my little adventure of looking at the bill let me first give some major kudos to Russia Today. Not only did they give the bill number but they also tried to link to the bill itself (unfortunately they linked to temporary results from the Thomas Library of Congress, but they at least tried). Now let’s take a look at the bill’s text:
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ‘Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011’.
SEC. 2. RESTRICTED BUILDING OR GROUNDS.
Section 1752 of title 18, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
‘Sec. 1752. Restricted building or grounds
‘(1) knowingly enters or remains in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so;
‘(2) knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any restricted building or grounds when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions;
‘(3) knowingly, and with the intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, obstructs or impedes ingress or egress to or from any restricted building or grounds; or
‘(4) knowingly engages in any act of physical violence against any person or property in any restricted building or grounds;
or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).
‘(b) The punishment for a violation of subsection (a) is–
‘(1) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both, if–
‘(A) the person, during and in relation to the offense, uses or carries a deadly or dangerous weapon or firearm; or
‘(B) the offense results in significant bodily injury as defined by section 2118(e)(3); and
‘(2) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, in any other case.
‘(c) In this section–
‘(1) the term ‘restricted buildings or grounds’ means any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area–
‘(A) of the White House or its grounds, or the Vice President’s official residence or its grounds;
‘(B) of a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting; or
‘(C) of a building or grounds so restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance; and
‘(2) the term ‘other person protected by the Secret Service’ means any person whom the United States Secret Service is authorized to protect under section 3056 of this title or by Presidential memorandum, when such person has not declined such protection.’.
Beautiful huh? This bill is the exact thing I’ve been warning people about whenever a protest in Washington DC takes place. As I’ve said the king doesn’t like it when the peasants gather at the castle and this bill is a result of unruly peasants daring to take their message to the White House. Now going to the White House or any other location where somebody protected by the Secret Service is and “knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions” can face up to a year in prison. Our favorite Arizona protester with a gun would not face up to ten years in prison for his exercise of free speech.
I would echo the statement made in the Russia Today article and say that the First Amendment is dead but it died a long time ago. The Bush initiated “free speech zones” were bad but this is even more ridiculous, and it’s already passed the House and Senate so it merely requires a signature from Emperor Obama (who will absolutely love this bill since it will shield him from people with differing opinions to his own).
Everything is getting expensive today, even renouncing your citizenship:
Under new consular fees published Thursday in the Federal Register, the cost of processing a formal renunciation of U.S. citizenship skyrocketed from $0 to $450. The announcement locks in fee hikes that had been proposed in 2010 and instituted on an interim basis.
$450 to say you no longer want part of the so-called “social contract?” That’s a pretty nasty early termination fee, especially when you consider the supposed contract is for the entirely of your life and not the paltry two years cellular providers put you under.
Some may wonder why you wouldn’t just leave the country and “renounce” you citizenship by never coming back. The answer to that is simply: the government will charge you with the crime on not paying your taxes (which, according to them, you still owe since you’re a citizen) and attempt to have you extradited for trial. Until one has filled out the official paperwork the United States government believes they hold ownership over your physical person.
Besides renouncing your citizenship the cost of going to other countries in general has gone up:
It’s also getting more expensive if you want to keep your U.S. citizenship and need a passport to prove it. The application fee for a passport is jumping by 27 percent, from $55 to $70 with a 100 percent increase, from $20 to $40, in the passport security surcharge.
In addition to the increase in the application fee, the department will now charge $82 _ up from nothing _ to add new pages to a U.S. passport.
Perhaps only the wealthy will be allowed to leave the country some day, and only if they give the government some collateral to encourage their return. Preventing citizens from leaving is a common tactic used by tyrannical regimes and I wouldn’t be surprised, with the direction this country has been going, if such tactics are implemented here. Steps like increasing the cost of passports are baby steps in that direction.
We all know getting cold medications with the active ingredient pseudoephedrine, like Sudafed, is a huge pain in the ass today but fortune has shined upon us as it is actually an easy to synthesize from N-methylamphetamine [PDF]:
A quick search of several neighborhoods of the United States revealed that while pseudoephedrine is difficult to obtain, N-methylamphetamine can be procured at almost any time on short notice and in quantities sufficient for synthesis of useful amounts of the desired material. Moreover, according to government maintained statistics, Nmethylmphetamine is becoming an increasingly attractive starting material for pseudoephedrine, as the availability of Nmethylmphetamine has remained high while prices have dropped and purity has increased . We present here a convenient series of transformations using reagents which can be found in most well stocked organic chemistry laboratories to produce psuedoephedrine from N-methylamphetamine.
I love irony. A hat tip goes to Uncle for this handy guide.
Last year SF 1308 was passed. What this bill did was put up to voter consideration whether or not gay marriage should be allowed within the state of Minnesota. The text is as follows:
Section 1. CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT PROPOSED.
An amendment to the Minnesota Constitution is proposed to the people. If the amendment is adopted, a section shall be added to article XIII, to read:
Sec. 13. Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota.
Sec. 2. SUBMISSION TO VOTERS.
(a) The proposed amendment must be submitted to the people at the 2012 general election. The question submitted must be:”Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?
(b) The title required under Minnesota Statutes, section 204D.15, subdivision 1, for the question submitted to the people under paragraph (a) shall be “Recognition of Marriage Solely Between One Man and One Woman.”
So far I’ve made no real comment regarding this bill as I’ve been busy analyzing and discussing the numerous other horrible pieces of legislation moving their way through both Minnesota’s and the federal legislature. The arguments regarding this seem to fall on either the supporter, who believe this amendment is necessary because of their religious beliefs, and the opposition, who believe marriage is about love and separation of church and state should prevent this amendment. Obviously both sides have numerous ancillary arguments that demonstrate this amendment as necessary or unjust but few seem to be brining up the real issue: voluntary association.
Marriage, as recognized in our society, has two components: religious and contractual. The state shouldn’t be meddling in the affairs of religion as it is a private institution. If the Catholic Church doesn’t want to recognize a marriage between two men or two women that’s their business. The aspect of marriage I wish to focus on is the contractual side, the side the state truly meddle in.
When one marries another they make numerous agreements including joint ownership of property and power over life and death matters when one of the two is incapacitated (for instance one spouse can legally decide whether or not to pull the plug on life support for their comatose spouse). As the state maintains a monopoly on the courts they also get to say what is and isn’t recognized as a contractual agreement, a situation that is flat out disgusting in my eyes.
I’m a voluntaryist and therefore believe in voluntary association. If two men wish to make a contractual agreement to share ownership or property or grant each power of attorney over the other that’s their business. It is nobody’s business who you choose to association with nor how you choose to associate with that person so long as both parties are associating voluntarily. I’ve presented this fact to my friends who oppose the marriage amendment only to hear statements like, “You’re probably right but that’s just not practical because of taxes and stuff.” My statement regarding legal matters using legal arguments is impractical so they’re basicing their argument around an arbitrary idea like love… and that is why they face a real chance of losing this debate.
Of course I’m not going to simply pretent the tax angle doesn’t exist, it does and it’s a huge problem. Why? Because not only is taxation theft but it’s also a form of social engineering. The state wishes to promote marriage so they grant tax benefits to those who are married. Likewise the state wishes to stop people from smoking cigarettes so they place a high tax on tobacco. You can guess what agents of the state want you to do based on how they tax that activity; if they add a tax they don’t want you to do it and if they allow you to deduct the activity on your taxes they want you to do it. This becomes messy when the state’s attempt as social engineering collide with unforeseen circumstances. At this point more state agents with new agendas move in with new legislation to deal with the new circumstances that are making things difficult (often they’ll call the existence of the circumstance a loophole as a way to justify more legislation to correct the problem in a way they find favorable).
The general social acceptance of homosexuality has created on of those circumstances. When state agents first punched up the tax codes giving those who are married breaks they did so to promote state recognized marriages but never took homosexual marriage into account because, at the time, homosexuality was severely ostracized (just ask Alan Turing). Now that the social stigma is gone the state agents who use their religious beliefs to dictate legislation are scurrying to make another form of voluntary association illegal.
Unfortunately what many people don’t see is the real statement being made by those supporting this legislation, which is that they’re willing to use the state’s capacity for violence to interfere with the free and voluntary association of individuals. By making same sex marriage illegal the state is also refusing to recognize the contractual aspect, an important matter as the state also has a monopoly on the courts. It’s not just the tax breaks but other issues like joint property ownership and power of attorney. By trying to prohibit any form of marriage between those able to make contractual agreements the state is attempting to interfere with the right of individuals to associate with who and how they want. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the real issue, not any debate regarding arbitrary (as far as the law is concerned) concepts like morality or love.
Some are also apt to bring up that this is being done the “right” way as a constitutional amendment. These people often believe that amending something to a constitution makes it clear and legal, a belief I do not share. Constitutionalists generally believe that returning to a society that is regulated strictly by the Constitution will made all good again. I fully admit that returning to a society that adheres to the Constitution would be a great start, I don’t believe it would be the best possible society. As a libertarian I believe in the inalienable right to self-ownership and the non-aggression principle. Whether a constitution grants the state authority to initiate violence against the populace or not is irrelevant to me. Nothing can justify the initiation of violence (which any act, outside of non-violent persuasion, that attempts to prohibition voluntary association is) in my book. Were the Minnesota or federal Constitution amended to make the act of beating a homosexuals legal I wouldn’t care, I would still find the act entirely illegal and would work to ensure homosexuals had a means of defending themselves against those acting upon the new amendment.
It’s probably obvious that I oppose the marriage amendment, and I do so based on the fact that it interferes with voluntary association. Whether that interference be authorized by the state constitution, federal constitution, or any other document isn’t relevant in my opinion.
I’ve been informed that my sense of humor is a bit… obscure:
Without looking it up I’m guess, at most, two people reading this post will get the joke. The image can also be found here.
It looks like North Korea is getting into competition with the Federal Reserve:
U.S. negotiators are heading into a second day of what have been dubbed “serious and substantial” talks with North Korean officials. Yet amidst all the discussion of how the U.S. will attempt to work with Kim Jon-un, there has been little (open) speculation as to whether Dear Leader Junior might crank up production of $100 and $50 bills. No, not North Korean 100- or 50-won banknotes, worth about as much as old tissues. I’m talking about fake greenbacks — or, as the U.S. Secret Service has dubbed them, “superdollars.”
No matter how good North Korea gets at counterfeiting United States dollars they’ll never be as good as the Federal Reserve. While North Korea runs off physical $50 and $100 bills the Federal Reserve need only reduce the amount of reserve banks need to lend out nonexistent money. I must say I’ll give more credit to North Korea in this case than the Federal Reserve, at least North Korea has the common decency to actually print up physical notes.
Poor Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), they were forced to turn off all of the Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking devices they attached to peoples’ cars without so much as a warrant:
The Supreme Court’s recent ruling overturning the warrantless use of GPS tracking devices has caused a “sea change” inside the U.S. Justice Department, according to FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann.
Mr. Weissmann, speaking at a University of San Francisco conference called “Big Brother in the 21st Century” on Friday, said that the court ruling prompted the FBI to turn off about 3,000 GPS tracking devices that were in use.
That’s not even the best part though:
After the ruling, the FBI had a problem collecting the devices that it had turned off, Mr. Weissmann said. In some cases, he said, the FBI sought court orders to obtain permission to turn the devices on briefly – only in order to locate and retrieve them.
First they stick these devices on the cars of unsuspecting individuals, then they are forced to turn them off, and now they’re having a hard time recovering them because they can’t track them anymore. Irony is sweet. Since they can’t track these devices anymore I’d say it’s finders keepers.
We’re all aware of so-called gun free zones, places in the United States where it is verboten for law abiding people to carry firearms. Most readers of this blog are likely aware of the so-called Constitution free zones, the areas of the country within 100 miles of the border that the government have claimed fall outside of Constitutional protections. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has put together a rather frightening map that displays the areas of America where the Constitution apparently doesn’t apply:
Using data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, the ACLU has determined that nearly 2/3 of the entire US population (197.4 million people) live within 100 miles of the US land and coastal borders.
The government is assuming extraordinary powers to stop and search individuals within this zone. This is not just about the border: This ” Constitution-Free Zone” includes most of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas.
Ever wonder why they only made it 100 miles? Because that covers a majority of the population and as far as the state is concerned that’s good enough for now. Personally I don’t buy the bullshit idea of a Constitution free zone, nowhere in the document does it state that it ceases to apply within 100 miles of the borders and I’m pretty sure the founders would have put something that important somewhere in writing.
America: land of the free so long as you live 100 miles or more inland.
If you live in the state of Ohio you’ll want to look over the next used car you buy with great care, not doing so may get you nailed with a felony charge this plan goes through:
A hidden compartment in your vehicle, with or without drugs, could mean big trouble as Ohio officials get serious about slowing down drug-smuggling.
A proposed state law, advocated by Gov. John Kasich, would make it a fourth-degree felony to own a vehicle equipped with secret compartments. A conviction would mean up to 18 months in jail and a potential $5,000 fine.
The insanity of this drug war keeps reaching new heights. Just the idea of having a secret compartment in a vehicle being a felony is ridiculous. What’s next? Having a concealed pocket in your jacket being a felony? You know I probably shouldn’t be giving the state any ideas.