A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

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

The Minneapolis Police Department’s Useless Body Cameras

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The City of Minneapolis spent $4 million to equip its law enforcers with body cameras. You might think that Minneapolis invested that money to hold its officers accountable but you would be wrong:

The Minneapolis Police Department is not tracking whether all officers are routinely activating body cameras and has not fully staffed the office tasked with reviewing body camera footage, despite the City Council’s directing it to do so last fall.

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Deputy Chief Henry Halvorson told the council last week that such a comprehensive report would be too labor-intensive. Someone has to check several databases and watch the video to decide whether each officer followed department policy, he said. Instead, Halvorson said, the police will analyze 2 percent of officers’ body camera usage for each quarterly audit starting in the second quarter.

Mr. Halvorson’s excuse is pathetic. There is no need to manually watch all of the footage collected by an officer’s body camera to know whether or not they used it. The camera should create a record every time it is turned on or off. If the records shows that an officer didn’t turn their body camera on or turned it off during their shift, inquiries should be made. The technical solution is dead simple and requires almost no additional manual labor.

But body cameras aren’t about holding law enforcers accountable. If that were the case, Bob Kroll and his police union buddies would stopped their adoption. What body cameras are about is collecting evidence that a law enforcer can use against you in court. Since nobody is reprimanding officers for failing to keep their body camera on, they can turn it off while they’re executing an unarmed black man then turn it back on when they’re arresting somebody for possession of pot.

Minneapolis’ body camera program demonstrates once again that any solution offered by a government body will only benefit that body.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 22nd, 2018 at 10:00 am

Another Day, Another Cop Escaping Punishment

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A couple of years ago there was some controversy in Minneapolis when a police officer responding to a brawl opened fire on a car full of innocent people. Fortunately, nobody was killed but one cannot let an entirely reckless act like that go without some amount of punishment, right? Apparently you can if the reckless shooter is a cop:

After a gray sedan collided with his Minneapolis police SUV amid the downtown chaos, officer Efrem Hamilton figured it was the same car used in an earlier shooting and went into defense mode.

What he didn’t realize was that the carful of late-night partyers was trying to get away from the scene he was racing toward. The BMW’s 23-year-old driver testified in court that she never even saw the officer’s flashing lights.

But because Hamilton, 43, was reacting to a perceived threat in the moment, a Hennepin County jury on Tuesday cleared him of any wrongdoing for firing the single shot at the vehicle during the melee two years ago.

Imagine if a citizen without a badge had done the same thing. They almost certainly would have had a list of charges brought against them including a charge for unlawfully discharging a firearm within city limits.

According to the founding mythology of the United States, everybody is supposed to be equal under the law. However, agents of the government tend to be more equal than others. Laws that apply to us nongovernmental individuals often don’t apply to them. Spending a few moments pondering this state of affairs will probably lead one to the realization that this environment attracts the power hungry. If I want the hold power over others without suffering consequences, I will seek a position that grants me power over others and doesn’t hold me accountable.

People often ask how modern law enforcement got to the point its at. I’m not entirely sure but I think the lack of accountability has played a significant role since it likely attracted power hungry individuals. While the officer in question in the story may not have been a power hungry individual, the fact that he avoided punishment for something most nongovernmental individuals would be punished for sets another precedence for law enforcers being above the law.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 21st, 2018 at 11:00 am

Buzzkills

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The Ministry of Culture in China must be similar to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives here in the United States in that it tries to identify and ban any kind of fun that individuals are having:

China has launched its latest crackdown against a phenomenon which just won’t seem to die in rural areas – funeral strippers.

The Ministry of Culture said last month that it was targeting “striptease” and other “obscene, pornographic, and vulgar performances” at funerals, weddings and traditional Chinese New Year public gatherings.

The war on strippers at funerals has been a long one for China. Authorities first began clamping down on “obscene” performances in 2006 and launched a second campaign in 2015.

What is even the point of a funeral without strippers?

Socialists of most varieties tend to consider themselves progressives. However, oftentimes when socialists obtain power they act very conservative. China’s Ministry of Culture is a good example of this. The agency, from what I can find, seems to focus on preserving many traditional Chinese values. The Soviet Union also had a Ministry of Culture that often tried to enforce many traditional Russian values. I don’t begrudge individuals who hold traditional values and wish to see others voluntarily adopt those values but I do have a problem when government agencies try to enforce traditional values at the point of a gun, which is what self-proclaimed progressive socialist governments often do.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 21st, 2018 at 10:30 am

Never Trust a Popularis

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If somebody asked me to describe Trump’s politics, I would label him a popularis. By that I don’t mean he favors the poor but favors the masses specifically because he believes doing so will grant him political power. The problem with populares is that you can never been sure which direction they’re going to go on any given issue at any point in time. Take the issue of gun control. A principled individual, whether they favor gun control or gun rights, will take a predictable stance on the issue. A popularis, on the other hand, will change their stance depending on the direction of the wind. One moment they might be attending a National Rifle Association (NRA) meeting to garner support from gun owners, the next they might be pushing gun control:

In the wake of last week’s shooting Parkland Florida—which left 17 people dead—President Donald Trump announced his intention to ban bump stocks.

“Just a few moments ago I signed a memo directing the attorney general to propose regulations that ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns,” said Trump in a public address Tuesday afternoon, “I expect these regulations to be finalized, Jeff, very soon” addressing Attorney General Jeff Sessions directly.

The President’s memo demands that the Department of Justice complete an ongoing review of whether bump stocks—a device which greatly increases the rate of fire of a semi-automatic weapon—are currently prohibited by current federal laws restricting machine guns.

I think my favorite claim about this announcement is that Trump is playing four dimensional chess. Such claims give Trump far too much credit. He knows that gun control is being demanded by a lot of people as it always is after a mass shooting. As a popularis, he wants to please those individuals so he’s giving them some gun control. However, he also doesn’t want to upset gun owners so he’s trying to give gun control advocates just enough to take the edge off of their hunger without angering gun owners too much.

Whether he’s playing four dimensional chess or being a popularis I will take this moment to mention that I pointed out that Trump wasn’t a staunch believer in gun rights when so many others, including the NRA, claimed he was.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 21st, 2018 at 10:00 am

Investigating Potential Mass Murderers Isn’t Profitable

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One of the thing we learned about the shooter in Florida is that he was brought to the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ (FBI) attention but the agency did nothing:

The F.B.I. received a tip last month from someone close to Nikolas Cruz that he owned a gun and had talked of committing a school shooting, the bureau revealed Friday, but it acknowledged that it had failed to investigate.

The tipster, who called an F.B.I. hotline on Jan. 5, told the bureau that Mr. Cruz had a “desire to kill people, erratic behavior and disturbing social media posts,” the F.B.I. said.

The information should have been assessed and forwarded to the Miami F.B.I. field office, the bureau said. But that never happened. On Wednesday, Mr. Cruz, 19, killed 17 students and teachers at his former high school in Parkland, Fla., law enforcement officials said.

Several theories to explain the FBI’s lack of followup have been put forward. Most of the theories, in my opinion, give the FBI too much credit by either coloring the agency as a bumbling fool or the perpetrator of a sinister conspiracy. I’m guessing the FBI’s failure to followup was about money. Murder isn’t a crime that allows an agency to rake in cash through civil forfeiture. If somebody had called in a tip claiming that the shooter was in possession of a great deal of heroine, the FBI would have probably been kicking the guys door in at oh dark thirty and executed any pets in the household. Why? Because drug crimes are profitable to enforce since they allow an agency to seize property without even having to prove the suspect guilty in court.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 20th, 2018 at 10:30 am

The States has Decided to Keep Its Political Prisoner

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Anybody who paid attention to the trial of Ross Ulbricht knows that he was railroaded. The judge ruled his defense inadmissible. Then when several officers involved with hunting down Ulbricht were found to have been corrupt, thus bringing the validity of any claims they made during the trial into question, but new trial was called. Ulbricht’s lawyer has continued to push for a new trial despite these setbacks. Unfortunately, it looks like the State will keep its political prisoner:

The federal judge overseeing the trial of Ross Ulbricht, the man convicted of creating the underground Silk Road drug website, has denied the Ulbricht legal team’s attempt to extend the normal three-year window for “post-conviction relief.” In essence, the move stifles Ulbricht’s new attorney’s extraordinary effort to re-open the case with new exculpatory evidence, on the off-chance that it exists.

Don’t forget that all of this was done because of a fucking website. Ulbricht was never charged with manufacturing, selling, or distributing any illegal substances. The only thing he was guilty of was running a website. But the State needed to make an example out of somebody and Ulbricht was the person it could get.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 20th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Take That, Chronic Pain Sufferers!

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Opioids are fantastic painkillers but have the unfortunately side effect of also being highly addictive. This has may opioids an attractive crisis of the moment. Since politicians never let a crisis go to waste, a lot of them have been wasting a lot of our time decrying opioids and explaining their plan to do something. Some politicians want to restrict opioids even harder (because doing the same thing that hasn’t been working even harder is a recipe for success). Other politicians, such as Mark Dayton, realize that crises can be lucrative:

ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) – Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is proposing a “penny-a-pill” paid for by drug companies to fund an opioid stewardship program for addiction prevention, treatment and recovery efforts in Minnesota. The governor estimates the program would raise $20 million each year.

It should be noted that paid by drug companies is a euphemism for paid by consumers since all expenses incurred by producers are reflected in the prices consumers pay. However, telling the public that chronic pain sufferers will be footing the bill probably won’t be as well received as telling them that multibillion dollar corporations will be footing the bill.

Dayton’s proposal isn’t surprising in the least. The government loves to punish people who are following the current law. Who buys opioids from the legal drug manufacturers who will be paying this proposed tax? People who have received prescriptions from licensed medical professionals. Who buys opioids from black market actors who won’t have to pay Day’s proposed tax? Everybody else. So the moral of the story is that following the law is foolish because you’ll likely get fucked over at some point in the future.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 15th, 2018 at 10:00 am

The Government Giveth and the Government Taketh Away

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Anybody who has waited for-fucking-ever in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles so some grumpy goon could take their money and stamp a card has already experienced one of the best arguments against government healthcare. However, inefficiency isn’t the only argument against government healthcare. Another argument against the stupidity that is government healthcare is the fact that governments like to change the rules on a whim:

WASHINGTON — After allowing states to impose work requirements for Medicaid enrollees, the Trump administration is now pondering lifetime limits on adults’ access to coverage.

The government giveth… OK, the government never gives, it only takes. It would be far more accurate for me to say that the government taketh and then taketh some more. My point is the same either way. Government may decide to appear benevolent by providing services like Medicaid but it might then take it away or restrict it in some manner. And if you don’t like it? Tough shit. You’re not allowed to disassociate yourself with the government.

Private enterprises may come and go. They may also disappear. But you can bind them into a contract, which limits their ability to change the rules on you. Moreover, if they do something that you disagree with, you can disassociate with them and find another to do business with.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 13th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Jeff Sessions Is a Saturday Morning Cartoon Villain

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What should you do if you suffer from chronic pain? According to Jess Sessions, you should just toughen the fuck up:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week said that the solution for many people who suffer from chronic pain should be to “take aspirin and tough it out.”

Jeff Sessions reminds me of a villain from an old Saturday morning cartoon. If you remember such shows, the villains are often pure evil. Since they have no redeeming characteristics, the concept of moral grey area can be safely avoided by the show runners.

Jeff Sessions has no redeeming characteristics. He seems to be evil just for the sake of being evil. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wipes his ass with a puppy after taking a dump just because doing so would be evil. On the upside, since he reflects a Saturday morning cartoon villain, there’s a good chance that his evil schemes will be continuously thwarted by a group of mutated turtles with martial arts skills or giant robots that can transform into trucks.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 13th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Playing with Other People’s Money

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Is government deficit spending good? If you ask the party in power, yes. If you ask the party out of power, no. The Republican Party likes to advertise itself as being fiscally conservative, which is a label that implies an opposition to deficit spending. And the Republicans did decry deficit spending… during the reign of Barack Obama. But now their party is in power so deficit spending is a good thing:

On Wednesday, Congressional leadership seemed united behind a budget deal that looks truly awful — at least if you care about the country’s financial future. The bipartisan deal blasts through budget caps and could return the U.S. to trillion-dollar deficits in short order. Right after getting historic tax reform passed, politicians apparently seem content to toss a huge future tax hike onto the next generation. After all, the bills will eventually come due.

And they are serious bills indeed. The proposed deal would include a one-year debt limit suspension, while raising defense spending by $80 billion and non-defense expense by $63 billion. The budget for 2019 would see similar increases, and over the 10-year window, this Chuck Schumer-Mitch McConnell budget could result in $1.5 trillion more added to the national debt.

The poles have flipped. Now the Democratic Party is suddenly concerned about deficit spending.

The United States government is like a teenager who has racked up thousands in credit card debt. It is so far in debt at this point that it cannot hope to pay it off. Hell, it can barely pay the interest on the debt. And if it’s already so far in the hole that it can’t possibly pay off its debt, why should it care if it goes further into debt?

The national debt can’t be repaid and is therefore no longer a financial point of interest. It’s purely a political point of interest that is brought up by the party not in power to criticize the party in power.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 9th, 2018 at 11:00 am