A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Your Government Doesn’t Love You’ tag

The Difference Between Criminal Gangs and the State

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What’s the difference between a criminal gang and the State? Scope:

The Drug Enforcement Administration seized more than $4 billion in cash from people suspected of drug activity over the last decade, but $3.2 billion of those seizures were never connected to any criminal charges.

A report by the Justice Department Inspector General released Wednesday found that the DEA’s gargantuan amount of cash seizures often didn’t relate to any ongoing criminal investigations, and 82 percent of seizures it reviewed ended up being settled administratively—that is, without any judicial review—raising civil liberties concerns.

In total, the Inspector General reports the DEA seized $4.15 billion in cash since 2007, accounting for 80 percent of all Justice Department cash seizures. Those figures do not include other property, such as cars and electronics, which are favorite targets for seizure by law enforcement.

All of this is possible through civil asset forfeiture, which allows law enforcement to seize property if they suspect it’s connected to criminal activity, without having to file criminal charges against the owner. While law enforcement groups say civil asset forfeiture is a vital tool to disrupt drug traffickers and organized crime, the Inspector General’s findings echo the concerns of many civil liberties groups, which say asset forfeiture creates perverse incentives for law enforcement to seize property.

Civil forfeiture is a euphemism for armed robbery. With the exception of a few states, assets stolen via civil forfeiture don’t have to be tied to a crime in order to remain in the State’s possession. This is because civil forfeiture is based on the concept of being guilty until proven innocent. Unless you can prove that the stolen property wasn’t tied to a drug crime, an impossible feat, the State will keep it.

In eight years the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) stole $4.15 billion in cash and that figure doesn’t even include all of the other property stolen by the agency. All without having to find anybody guilty of a crime.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 30th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Incompetency Will Solve Everything

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Computer security has become a hot topic, which I appreciate since it was almost completely ignored for such a long time. Unfortunately, as with any hot topic, politicians are forcing themselves into the conversation. Two members of Congress have come up with the wonderful idea of putting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in charge of regulating computer security:

Two Democrats in Congress are imploring FCC head Ajit Pai to address cybersecurity issues in the United States, arguing vulnerabilities in cellular networks infringe on citizens’ liberties and pose a “serious threat” to national security. Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Ted Lieu penned a letter to Pai laying out known issues in modern communications systems and asking the FCC to step in. However, that’s unlikely to happen.

Putting an agency of one of the single most incompetent organizations, one with networks that are supposedly too old to secure, on Earth in charge of computer security? What could go wrong!

This is the problem with letting people who are clueless about a subject talk seriously about regulating it. I’ll at least give Mr. Lieu some credit for having a degree that involves computers. But a computer science degree alone doesn’t make one an expert in computer security and, as far as I know, Mr. Lieu didn’t work in the industry so his knowledge on the subject, if he has any, is likely entirely theoretical.

But we live in a democracy, which means that whatever the plurality of voters, in this case members of Congress, say is literally law. It doesn’t matter how unqualified the voters are. It doesn’t matter how idiotic the idea being voted on is. The only thing that matters is whether the majority of voters say yay or nay.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 29th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Political Solutions Don’t Work

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A lot of people here in the United States are flipping out because the rulers are voting to allow Internet Service Providers (ISP) to sell customer usage data:

A US House committee is set to vote today on whether to kill privacy rules that would prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from selling users’ web browsing histories and app usage histories to advertisers. Planned protections, proposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that would have forced ISPs to get people’s consent before hawking their data – are now at risk. Here’s why it matters.

It amazes me that more people seem to be upset about private companies selling their usage information for profit than providing their usage data to law enforcers so the wrath of the State’s judicial system can be brought upon them. Personally, I’m far more concerned about the latter than the former. But I digress.

This vote demonstrates the futility of political solutions. At one point the privacy laws were put into place by the State. The process of getting those laws put into place probably involved a lot of begging and kowtowing from the serfs. But Congress and the presidency have been shuffled around and the new masters disagree with what the former masters did so all of that begging and kowtowing was for nothing.

The problem with political solutions is that they’re temporary. Even if you can get the current Congress and president to pass laws that will solve your particular problems, it’s only a matter of time until Congress and the presidency changes hands and undoes the laws you begged so hard to have passed.

If you want a problem solved you have to solve it yourself. In the case of Internet privacy, the best defense against snoopy ISPs is to utilize a foreign Virtual Private Network (VPN) provider that respects your privacy and is in a country that is difficult for domestic law enforcement to coerce. Using a VPN will deprive your ISP, and by extent domestic law enforcement, of your usage data.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 28th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Facebook Wants You to Be Part of the Problem

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Anybody who was using Facebook during the presidential election probably remembers being encouraged to go to the polls so they could force their will upon their fellow human beings. Facebook wasn’t content with encouraging bad behavior for just the presidential election though. Now it’s planning to harass you about local elections:

Facebook isn’t limiting its get-out-the-vote initiatives to federal elections. The social network is now offering reminders to vote in local US elections, whether they’re at the county, municipal or state level. You’ll see these notices as long as you’re in an area with over 10,000 people, and they’ll include primaries in addition to general elections. It could be crucial to spurring interest in frequently neglected regional elections, especially in tandemn with Facebook’s officially launched Town Hall feature.

Facebook wants you to be part of the problem and that problem is forcing your will upon other people.

Voting is sacred in this country. If you speak ill of it the State’s true believers will descend upon you like starving hyenas. They’ll spout bullshit about voting being the peaceful way to implement change but it’s not peaceful. Voting is very violent. When you vote you are telling the State that you would greatly appreciate it if it used its capacity for violence to enforce your desires. It’s like hiring a thug to beat the shit out of people who aren’t doing what you want them to do except you’re making everybody pay for your thug.

This chunk of land called the United States of America probably wouldn’t be half bad if people weren’t so busy threatening each other with votes. But they are and it has turned this chunk of land into a festering shithole. If you really want to implement change, stop being part of the problem.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 28th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Living Under a Criminal Enterprise

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Will you look at that, it’s a day ending in “y.” You know what that means, right? It means another Internet scam is afoot! This time the scam involves a flaw in Mobile Safari that was just patched yesterday:

The flaw involved the way that Safari displayed JavaScript pop-up windows. In a blog post published Monday afternoon, researchers from mobile-security provider Lookout described how exploit code surreptitiously planted on multiple websites caused an endless loop of windows to be displayed in a way that prevented the browser from being used. The attacker websites posed as law-enforcement actions and falsely claimed that the only way users could regain use of their browser was to pay a fine in the form of an iTunes gift card code to be delivered by text message. In fact, recovering from the pop-up loop was as easy as going into the device settings and clearing the browser cache. This simple fix was possibly lost on some uninformed targets who were too uncomfortable to ask for outside help.

Patch your shit, folks.

I had a friend comment that he couldn’t believe that anybody would be stupid enough to fall for this since law enforcement would never highjack a phone and demand payment in iTunes gift cards. Although demanding payment in iTunes gift cards would be unusual for law enforcement, the actions being taken by the scammers aren’t that different than many actions taken by law enforcement. The scammers used a threat in order to extort wealth from their victim just as law enforcement agents do. When people have lived their entire life worrying about being pulled over and threatened with violence if they don’t pay a fine for driving too fast or, worse yet, having their vehicle and cash confiscated under civil forfeiture laws, the idea that police officers would highjack your browser and demand payment probably doesn’t seem that odd.

We all live under a massive criminal enterprise known as the State. It has taught us that being extorted is just a way of life. With that in mind, it’s not too surprising to me that there are people who fall for these kinds of scams.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 28th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Getting What You Want Good and Hard

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Stories of genies often involve a poor sap coming across a genie’s lantern, being granted three wishes, and receiving exactly what they wished for. The twist is that their wishes are usually poorly thought out and therefore the fulfillment of their wishes brings despair instead of joy. This is why when somebody expresses a poorly thought out desire I often tell them that I hope that they get everything wish for and that they get it good and hard.

At one point in time the United States government had virtually no involvement in marriage. The lack of government involvement meant practices such as polygamy were legal. This didn’t sit well with many Christians of the time. Relying on the fact that most of the people in the government were also Christians, they made a wish for the government to get involved in the institute of marriage and that wish was granted:

The idea that the Constitution protects only what happens between a person’s ears isn’t novel. It has roots in a series of laws, and the Supreme Court decisions that upheld them, from 1862 through 1890. The goal at the time was to rein in a new and dangerous-seeming religious movement called Mormonism by criminalizing its most eccentric practice: polygamy. But by claiming the right to regulate the behavior of people of faith, mainstream believers set the stage for the modern political left to step in and regulate them—and to have 150 years’ worth of precedents on their side when they did it.

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In 1852, the LDS Church began openly defending plural marriage. This is what elevated the “Mormon problem” to the national stage. Beginning in the 1850s, Eastern newspapers were rife with references to polygamy as “evil,” “licentious,” a “brutalizing practice,” “repugnant to our sentiments of morality and social order,” and “shocking to the moral sense of the world.” The New York Times editorialized repeatedly for taking direct action against the Latter-day Saints. “The fact, if it be a fact, that the women are willing to live in polygamy, is no reason for our allowing them to do so,” the editors of the paper wrote in March 1860. What had begun as rival groups skirmishing over frontier resources came to be seen as an existential conflict: The soul of the whole country seemed to be at stake if the federal government allowed such behavior to continue.

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In December 1881, Sen. George F. Edmunds of Vermont introduced a law to make anyone who accepted the Church’s teachings on polygamy ineligible to vote, hold public office, or serve on a jury. Again, the editors of the Times endorsed the act’s passage: “It must be admitted that the Edmunds bill is a harsh remedy for polygamy. But then the disease in Utah has gone beyond remedies that are not more or less heroic.”

It passed, as did another law five years later disincorporating the Church and declaring that all Church property and assets above $50,000 would be confiscated by the government.

The Christians of the day got what they wanted but they didn’t think their wish through very well. When you grant government power over something that power is almost always permanent. What happens when your group is no longer the primary influencer of the government? You suddenly find those powers you granted it being used against your wishes.

Today hardcore Christians find themselves at odds with the government when it comes to marriage. The government has become more liberal and has begun allowing same-sex marriages. This hasn’t sat well with many Christians who not only believe that marriage can only be between one man and one woman but also believe the governments should enforce their belief.

Marriage isn’t unique in this regard. Whenever a government gets involved in something the advocates of it doing so cheer… until that government no longer sides with their beliefs. Suddenly they find the power they granted to the government being used against their beliefs but are powerless to do anything about it.

Always keep in mind that granting government more power will turn out poorly in the long run.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 27th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Money Won’t Save Government Indoctrination Centers

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How many times have you heard a statist claims that government indoctrination centers, or public education to use their euphemism, don’t receive enough money? If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that I’d have enough money to fund a government indoctrination center for 15 to 20 minutes!

Statists are predictable creatures. Whenever a government programs fails to deliver expected results they resort to claiming that the program simply didn’t receive enough funding. To them government programs are furnaces. If the program isn’t delivering expected results then you need to shovel more coal into it. But how much money is needed to make the furnace of government indoctrination centers produce some heat? Apparently a lot:

There’s also lots of waste and inefficiency when Uncle Sam gets involved. With great fanfare, President Obama spent buckets of money to supposedly boost government schools. The results were predictably bad.

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The administration funneled $7 billion into the program between 2010 and 2015… Arne Duncan, Obama’s education secretary from 2009 to 2016, said his aim was to turn around 1,000 schools every year for five years. ..The school turnaround effort, he told The Washington Post days before he left office in 2016, was arguably the administration’s “biggest bet.”

It was a “bet,” but he used our money. And he lost. Or, to be more accurate, taxpayers lost. And children lost.

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Indeed, I’ve seen this movie before. Many times. Bush’s no-bureaucrat-left-behind initiative flopped. Obama’s latest initiative flopped. Common Core also failed. Various schemes at the state level to dump more money into government schools also lead to failure. Local initiatives to spend more don’t lead to good results, either.

Throwing more money into government indoctrination centers is an exercise in doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If shoveling money into the program was capable of fixing it then we’d have see at least some marginal improvement over the decades. But student performance continues to dwindle, the nation is becoming dumber.

Will statists listen to reason on this matter? Of course not. In their world all problems can only be solved by the State. If the State’s current initiatives aren’t working then it’s the fault of a hated political party, the free market, or a lack of funding. But the fault never lies with statism itself!

Written by Christopher Burg

March 23rd, 2017 at 11:00 am

The Most Fragile Economy On Earth

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Venezuela is in late stage communism. The economy is in shambles, people are starving, and the government is looking for somebody, anybody, to blame besides itself. At this point in communism most of the former baddies; such as bourgeois, speculators, and price fixers; have either been “reeducated” or wiped out so the only people left to blame are regular folk like farmers and bakers:

In a press release, the National Superintendent for the Defense of Socioeconomic Rights said it had charged four people and temporarily seized two bakeries as the socialist administration accused bakers of being part of a broad “economic war” aimed at destabilizing the country.

In a statement, the government said the bakers had been selling underweight bread and were using price-regulated flour to illegally make specialty items, like sweet rolls and croissants.

The government said bakeries are only allowed to produce French bread and white loaves, or pan canilla, with government-imported flour. However, in a tweet on Thursday, price control czar William Contreras said only 90 percent of baked goods had to be price-controlled products.

If your economy is so fragile that bakers making sweet rolls and croissants can destabilize it then your country is far beyond the point of no return. It is literally game over. Also, I really found Mr. Contreras’ comment hilarious. Only 90 percent of baked goods have to be price-controlled products.

The more the Venezuelan government pushes the closer the nation will be to revolution. It’s only a matter of time until the people of Venezuela decide that they’ve had enough abuse and rise up against their tormenters. I look forward to that day.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 23rd, 2017 at 10:30 am

Never Listen to the Government

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First the government told everybody to get electric cars. It even went so far as to offer subsidies to both electric car manufacturers and buyers. Why? Because it claimed electric cars were better for the environment. Now that enough people have followed to the government’s suggestion it’s proposing to tax electric cars more heavily:

State lawmakers may take back some of the money that Minnesota electric vehicle owners are saving by not having to pay a gasoline tax.

Bills in the House and Senate would impose an annual surcharge of $75 to $85 on vehicles that are all-electric and plug-in hybrids based on electric motors. Gasoline-electric hybrids would be exempt.

The move would bring Minnesota in line with state governments across the country that are increasingly seeking to slap fees on electric vehicles, some exceeding $150 per year.

Today’s lesson is never listen to the government.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 23rd, 2017 at 10:00 am

An Entire System of Bad Apples

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When it comes to police are there just a few bad apples or is the entire system rotten to the core? According to people who make excuses for any officer misdeed there are just a few bad apples. But if you look at how the system deals with those bad apples you quickly realize that their claim is false:

Almost five years ago, Darren Rainey, a mentally ill black man serving a two-year prison sentence for drug possession, was locked in a shower by prison guards at Dade Correctional Institution in Florida after they said he defecated on himself in his cell. The water was allegedly turned up to a scalding 180 degrees and he was left in there for hours. He entered the shower at around 7:30 p.m. and was pronounced dead two hours later.

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We could debate and wonder about all of this, but one horrific detail is not debatable. When Darren Rainey was removed from that shower, his skin was falling off of his body. This is not normal — particularly in light of the fact that “confinement in a shower” was ruled as one of the primary causes of his death.

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That Darren Rainey died on their watch, in a shower that they put him in for hours on end, with skin falling off of his body, and they didn’t even lose their jobs or law enforcement certification, and that many of these staff members are still working in law enforcement is incomprehensible. What worse could happen on a staff member’s watch in Florida than this?

Here we have a few bad apples who locked a mentally ill man in a shower, with water far hotter than the legally allowed hottest temperature of 120 degrees, until he died. At the absolute minimum that’s a negligence-related death that would probably get most people charged with manslaughter. Yet those few bad apples were protected by another bad apple, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle, who didn’t prosecute the officers after seeing the evidence. Those bad apples were also protected by the bad apples who are charged with personnel matters who should have fired the officers on the spot.

Perhaps there were only a few bad apples at first but it’s obvious that the entire system is rotten at this point.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 22nd, 2017 at 11:00 am