A Geek With Guns

Discount security adviser to the proles.

Archive for the ‘Superdickery’ tag

Why Police Hate Being Recorded

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Many police officers have negative reactions towards being filmed. Why is this? They obviously have something to hide since they always tell us people with nothing to hide shouldn’t oppose surveillance. But what are they hiding? Perhaps instances where they fabricate charges against protesters?

The ACLU of Connecticut is suing state police for fabricating retaliatory criminal charges against a protester after troopers were recorded discussing how to trump up charges against him. In what seems like an unlikely stroke of cosmic karma, the recording came about after a camera belonging to the protester, Michael Picard, was illegally seized by a trooper who didn’t know that it was recording and carried it back to his patrol car, where it then captured the troopers’ plotting.

“Let’s give him something,” one trooper declared. Another suggested, “we can hit him with creating a public disturbance.” “Gotta cover our ass,” remarked a third.

That’s embarrassing!

Notice how the recorded footage came from the protesters camera and not the dashcam in the police car or body cameras? Recently many police officers have expressed a willingness to wear body cameras. This change of heart seems to indicate that officers are willing to be monitored. In reality the officers know that the departments control that footage and can disappear it “accidentally” at any time. It’s public recordings that really body them because they can’t conveniently toss the footage down the memory hole. This is why I encourage everybody to film any police encounter they are either a party to or come across even if the officers are wearing body cameras. Don’t let shit like what these officers pulled go unnoticed.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 21st, 2016 at 10:30 am

First World Police Problems

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How much wealth has the New York City Police Department (NYPD) stolen through civil forfeiture? Nobody knows but it’s enough that if calculated it would apparently crash NYPD’s computers:

The New York City Police Department takes in millions of dollars in cash each year as evidence, often keeping the money through a procedure called civil forfeiture. But as New York City lawmakers pressed for greater transparency into how much was being seized and from whom, a department official claimed providing that information would be nearly impossible—because querying the 4-year old computer system that tracks evidence and property for the data would “lead to system crashes.”

I’m not sure if that means NYPD has a really shitty computer system, has stolen a mind boggling amount of stuff, or is lying to us. The worst part? All three possibilities are equally likely.

And can you imagine the public relations meeting where this excuse was considered acceptable enough to release? Who in their right mind thought admitting that their computer system cannot calculate the amount of stuff that has been stolen was a good idea? That just illustrates the sheer scope of the problem to the public, it doesn’t make NYPD look justified.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 20th, 2016 at 10:00 am

That’s a Good Racket

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Civil forfeiture is often used to rob large amounts of cash, cars, and other valuable items from the public. It’s a nice racket because the victim has to prove that their assets weren’t tied to a drug crime and since proving a negative is very difficult civil forfeiture rakes in a ton of cash for the State. But what about poorer people? Not everybody is cruising around with tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash or drives a nice car. Fortunately, for the State, civil forfeiture is a versatile theft mechanism and can be adapted to meet the needs of the thief:

After the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office sued New Jersey resident Jermaine Mitchell to keep $171 dollars seized from him during a drug arrest earlier this year, it sent him a notice in jail of his right to challenge the seizure. The catch? It would cost him $175 just to file the challenge.

Mitchell’s is one of 21 civil asset forfeiture cases that the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office combined together in a what the ACLU of New Jersey said in a court filing last week is an unlawful scheme that deprived Mitchell and the other defendants of their due process rights under the Constitution.

I know how Mitchell feels. I received a parking ticket in St. Paul a few years ago. Normally I’d be all gung ho about fighting such a ticket but the cost of fighting it was higher than the ticket itself. Had I fought the ticket I’d have actually lost money on the deal.

It must be nice to have a monopoly on the legal system. You can create the rules, set the fines, and set the amount it will cost the peasantry to get their day in court. If you just set the fines lower than the price of accessing the courts you can rake in a ton of cash without much worry of being challenged.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 16th, 2016 at 10:00 am

Everything is Permitted

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I do enjoy those rare glimpses into the unfiltered minds of our overlords. Usually they are careful with what they say and hide their depravities behind a veil of officialdom. But every now and then their facade cracks and they reveal their trust selves to the world. Rudolph Giuliani just did exactly that:

Giuliani said Trump does not necessarily want the United States to extract the oil itself but wants to “leave a force back there and take it and make sure it’s distributed in a proper way.”

“That’s not legal, is it?” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked, as the Geneva Conventions forbid seizing the natural resources of a sovereign nation after invading it.

“Of course it’s legal. It’s a war,” Giuliani said, laughing. “Until the war is over, anything’s legal.”

Suddenly the perpetual state of war makes more sense. So long as the war continues the State believes it can excuse any of its depravities.

What Giuliani has expressed isn’t unique to him, he was just dumb enough to say it publicly. But if you look at the extensive list of atrocities that have been committed by the United States in this never ending war such as bombing wedding parities, killing children, and raping prisoners and you see that punishments are never doled out you realize that the political class believes everything done is legal. What makes matters worse is that there is no relief for the civilians living in the areas the United States is bombing. Since the war on terror has no concrete set of parameters that constitute winning the war has no defined end. It can be waged perpetually and the State has no motivation to end it since it believes war gives it an avenue to do anything without consequences.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 15th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Without Government Who Would Slaughter the Horses

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Without government who would round up wild horses and slaughter them?

Last Friday, the Bureau of Land Management‘s (BLM) National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board made the decision to use euthanasia to kill 45,000 wild horses currently captive in government holding facilities throughout the US. The decision has come under great scrutiny by organizations who argue for using birth control to minimize population growth, instead.

This is a nice racket the ranchers have going for them. Instead of having to foot the expense of dealing with competition for their cattle herds the ranchers can just use their political clout to get the BLM to round up the competing wildlife at tax payer expense. Now the BLM is tired of storing the horses and wants to slaughter them at tax payer expense, which means the ranchers will have to compete against a glut of cheap horse meat, right?. Wrong. The cattle ranchers need not worry because the United States government protects ranchers from that form of competition as well.

If you have enough political clout you can socialize the expenses of doing business. Ranchers have a lot of clout in many regions of the United States and they use that clout to make the rest of us pay the expenses they would face otherwise.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 14th, 2016 at 10:30 am

United States Presidential Politics in a Nutshell

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Have you used a private e-mail server for public business? Did you make most of your e-mails disappear when the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) started to investigate? Did you purposely remove classification headings so you could continue using your private e-mail server? Have you been directly involved in the perpetration of war crimes during your stint at the State Department? No problem, you won’t be arrested.

Did you spray paint some graffiti on a bulldozer blade? Well you’re going to be arrested you dastardly mother fucker:

CANNON BALL, N.D. — A North Dakota county has issued a warrant for the arrest of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, who is accused of spray-painting construction equipment during a protest against the Dakota Access pipeline.

Hillary Clinton and Jill Stein may both be running for president but only the former is in the Big Club.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 9th, 2016 at 10:00 am

Rigging the Trial

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The trial of Ammon Bundy and six of his cohorts is ramping up. Their crime, for those unfamiliar with the case, occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. But it’s already obvious that the trail is a formality and the verdict is predetermined as the judge is rigging the trail:

The judge also said she intends to question each juror on whether they were handed a flier outside court about jury nullification, and to instruct them that they must follow the law even if they disagree with it. Judge Brown said deputy U.S. marshals indicated there may be people outside court distributing such fliers.

Regardless of what you think about the occupation itself, the fact that the judge is telling jurors that they can’t exercise their rights should be concerning. It goes against the very purpose of having jury trials and all but guarantees a guilty verdict for Bundy and his buddies.

If you research how juries work you will learn that they don’t have to rule based on the written law. A jury isn’t punished regardless of its ruling or the reason behind that ruling. If a jury rules against the written law that’s entirely acceptable. The lack of punishment for juries was deliberate and was meant to act as a check against erroneous laws. But more and more courts are applying pressure to juries to rule in the “right” way. As this pressure increases jury trials will shift away from being a mechanism of determining actual fault and towards being mere legal formalities. As that shift continues one of the last avenues of saving people from the depravities of the State will be lost.

I won’t be surprised if we see a day where juries that rule the “wrong” way are punished. Perhaps in the near future jurors will be told what the “right” verdict is by the judge and any jurors who rule otherwise will be held in contempt of court.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 8th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Ka-Ching

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Scott Adams may have described civil forfeiture better than anybody:

ka-ching

Just change out the text slightly. In the first panel Dogbert could say, “I’ve declared a law that allows cops to steal property if they can claim it might be tied to a drug crime.” In the second panel he could say, “When the cops seize the property we’ll put the burden of proving it wasn’t tied to a drug crime on the owner.” The third panel can be left unchanged.

The Wyoming Supreme Court recently refused to hear an appeal of a man who had $470,000 stolen from him under civil forfeiture laws without even being charged with a crime:

CHEYENNE — The Wyoming Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal from a man who contends it was unconstitutional for the state to seize $470,000 in cash from him and then seek to forfeit it on the grounds that it was drug money, all without charging him with a crime.

How can the State claim the money is related to a drug crime if it doesn’t even have enough evidence to charge him? That’s a trick question. Civil forfeiture laws have nothing to do with fighting verboten drugs. The laws are about one thing: giving the State yet another legal justification for stealing your wealth.

What about your constitutional rights? The government can’t just steal your money, right? That’s unreasonable search and seizure, is it not? George Carlin probably illustrated constitutional rights the best:

Now, if you think you do have rights, I have one last assignment for ya. Next time you’re at the computer get on the Internet, go to Wikipedia. When you get to Wikipedia, in the search field for Wikipedia, i want to type in, “Japanese-Americans 1942” and you’ll find out all about your precious fucking rights. Alright. You know about it.

In 1942 there were 110,000 Japanese-American citizens, in good standing, law abiding people, who were thrown into internment camps simply because their parents were born in the wrong country. That’s all they did wrong. They had no right to a lawyer, no right to a fair trial, no right to a jury of their peers, no right to due process of any kind. The only right they had was…right this way! Into the internment camps.

The Bill of Rights sounds like a wonderful idea on paper but that’s the only place it exists, on paper. Unfortunately the very Constitution that supposedly guarantees you your rights also gives a monopoly on law to the State. So the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, means whatever the fuck the State says it means. If you don’t agree you can take it up with the law enforcers who will tell you that they’re “only doing their jobs” as they beat your with a truncheon for refusing to surrender your cash on constitutional grounds.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 7th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Proof that the Islamic State is a Government

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People continue to refer to the Islamic State (IS) as a terrorist group but it really should be referred to as a state at this point. Granted, there is precious little that separate a terrorist group from a state. The only appreciable differences a state manages to hold a near monopoly on violence within a controlled territory for an extended period of time. That monopoly gives the state the power to issue arbitrary and conflicting decrees. IS is now to the point where it can do exactly that:

The Islamic State group has reportedly banned women from wearing a burka, a veil that covers the entire face, as a security precaution in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The alleged new rule is striking in part because the militant group also known as ISIS has beaten and killed women in the past for refusing to wear the conservative garment.

I wonder if the French government and Gary “Ban the Burqa” Johnson will express support for IS now.

Islamophobes of all sorts but neocons especially have been jumping for joy because of this decree. In their minds it proves that the practices of Islam are so dangerous that even IS can’t live with them. In reality IS has about as much to do with Islam as most Christian kingdoms of Europe had to do with Christianity. Religion is just the justification for seizing power just as the struggle of the proletariat was the justification used by the Bolsheviks. But the justification a government uses for existing is never the actual goal. Now that power has been seized IS is acting like any other government that has obtained power by tossing aside its justification for existing and focusing on maintaining its power instead. Maintaining that power comes in the form of issuing decrees that are contradictory to is original mission statement. Anybody who believes this particular arbitrary decree invalidates IS as an organization should take a close look at their own government because it does exactly the same thing for exactly the same reason.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 7th, 2016 at 10:00 am

Simultaneously an Adult and a Minor

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The legal system we suffer under in the United States is nothing more than a long list of arbitrary decrees written by men in suits in marble buildings. There is no logic to it and it often contradicts itself. Take this case for example:

A North Carolina 17-year-old caught in a sexting scandal faces charges of sexually exploiting a minor that could land him in jail for up to 10 years, since the law considers him an adult. But one of the minors he supposedly exploited is himself­—which raises an obvious question: how can a teen be old enough to face adult felony charges, but not old enough to keep a nude picture of himself on his phone?

Unfortunately, that’s the Kafka-esque nightmare in which Fayetteville-area high schooler Cormega Copening finds himself after exchanging private nude photos with his girlfriend—with whom he is legally allowed to have sex, but not to sext.

He’s 17-years-old, which puts him in an odd gray area in regards to his status. On the one hand he’s legally considered a minor and therefore cannot possess pictures of his naked self because that’s legally child pornography. He can have sex with another minor though without it being considered statutory rape. Unfortunately for him he was in possession of pictures of his naked self and the girl he was legally having sex with and is close enough to being an adult that he can be tried as one. If you can find any logic in this paragraph please feel free to explain it to me because I can’t wrap my brain around this.

This is yet another demonstration of the fact that we don’t have a justice system, we have a legal system. Justice can only be delivered if somebody has been wronged. Possessing naked pictures of yourself wrongs nobody just as consensually exchanging naked pictures harms nobody. There is no justice to be delivered in this case because there is no victim. But the law states what he is doing is wrong and the law doesn’t give a damn if victims exist or not. The only thing that matters under a system such as ours are the words written by the politicians.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 6th, 2016 at 10:30 am