All Others Pay Cash

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Good article on the War on Cash, but I suspect the most important motive is if Liberals can ban cash, they can control what you buy and when you buy it.  Want to buy bullets or donate to the Republicans?  Sorry, cash card not working.

Once the government gets that control, it never ends.  Trying to buy Twinkies at Cub?  Sorry, the items you scanned to purchase are not on the approved list maintained by your Health Care Provider and forwarded to the IRS to demonstrate compliance with Obamacare.  So we’ve automatically deducted $10 from your bank account as a surtax to off-set your Attempted Weight-Loss Sabotage.

Joe Doakes

Too bad we The People can’t give government a debit card.

No Problem Here. Move Along, Citizen.

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Grandma, what a big passport printer you have.  The better to vet you with, my dear.

I’m sure it’s no problem, the authorities will just  cross check any person coming in from those countries against the court records from there.  They (Syria, Libya, Pakistan, …) have computerized, up to date, accurate records of every criminal and suspected terrorist online and available to the TSA don’t they?

Joe Doakes

As the US gets more fussy about American citizens showing their papers on demand, it’s funny – funny weird, not funny ha ha – that they’re getting less so with foreigners.

A Slow, Languid Blow For Freedom

A Brief Bit Of Background:  Whenever I sit down in a large room with a bunch of co-workers to “meet” a new manager, and that manangers starts their presentation with “I’m a ‘process person'”, I tell my co-workers “Well, time to get our resumes polished up.  This department is screwed blue”.

And I’ve never been wrong.

Another Bit Of Personal Background:  Whenever I decry some miscarriage of justice, and some twerp – often a liberal, Ivy-League law-school grad – smugly intones “the process was met!”, I’m kept from strangling Ivyleaguer with his own intestines only with great difficulty, and sometimes only by other people.

Paging Petty Tyrants: There’s an old cliche; “state and local goverment are the laboratories of Democracy”.  Perhaps it’s true – but Pageville, Missouri is conducting an experiment in democracy’s extinction.

Faced with a court ruling that capped how much the city could earn in traffic fines, they decided to add fines for…

…well, pretty much everything, according to George Will:

Pagedale residents are subject to fines if they walk on the left side of a crosswalk; if they have a hedge more than three feet high, a weed more than seven inches high, or any dead vegetation on their property; or if they park a car at night more than 500 feet from a street lamp or other source of illumination; or if windows facing a street do not have drapes or blinds that are “neatly hung, in a presentable appearance, properly maintained and in a state of good repair”; or if their houses have unpainted foundations or chipped or aging layers of paint (even on gutters); or if there are cracks in their driveways; or if on a national holiday — the only time a barbeque may be conducted in a front yard — more than two people are gathered at the grill or there are alcoholic beverages visible within 150 feet of the grill.

Upshot; it’s pretty much impossible not to violate some sort of law or another in Pageville, MO.

But the city’s pecuniary interest in particular judicial outcomes, which creates an appearance of bias, is not the crux of the argument that the city is violating the 14th Amendment guarantee that Americans shall not be deprived of life, liberty, or property without “due process of law.” The entire nation should hope that this small city’s pettiness will be stopped by a court that says this: The Due Process Clause, properly construed, prohibits arbitrary government action, particularly that which unjustifiably restricts individuals’ liberties.

That is, the Due Process Clause is not purely about process.

And if this case were a step toward enshrining, Heller-like, the idea that government isn’t about sanctifying process, but upholding the freedom of the citizen, it would be a huge start.

Because the sooner the idea that government exists to protect process is rhetorically loaded into a train and sent to a camp in Idaho to smash metaphorical rocks for a few decades, the better this country will be.

Representative Norton’s MkKarthyistic Kangaroo Kourts

Yesterday, we noted that Rep. Kim Norton – the soon-to-be retired legislator from Rochester who’s going to be pushing the various gun-control bills that the DFL is copying and pasting from their benefactors at Bloomberg – accused people who oppose US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s “idea” of barring anyone on the government’s double-dog-secret “Terrorist Watch List” from buying guns, of “supporting allowing terrorists to have weapons”.

No, I’m serious.  In an incredible display of the kind of logic that most adults were shamed out of using back in fourth grade, Norton accused Bryan Strawser of the MN Gun Owners Political Action Committee of supporting guns in the hands of terrorists:

IMG_4518.JPG

And this introduced an interesting question: what does it take to get on the list?

From that noted conservative tool, the HuffPo, we learn that this watch list is something of a roach hotel; easy to get in, impossible to get out.  I’m abridging the copy from the HuffPo, which you should read in its entirety:

1. You could raise “reasonable suspicion” that you’re involved in terrorism. “Irrefutable evidence or concrete facts” are not required.

In determining whether a suspicion about you is “reasonable,” a “nominator” must “rely upon articulable intelligence or information which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts,” can link you to possible terrorism. As Scahill and Devereaux noted, words like “reasonable,” “articulable” and “rational” are not expressly defined. While the document outlines the need for an “objective factual basis,” the next section clarifies that “irrefutable evidence or concrete facts are not necessary” to make a final determination as to whether a suspicion is “reasonable.” So how could intelligence officials be led to put you on the watch list?

Funny they mention that:

2. You could post something on Facebook or Twitter that raises “reasonable suspicion.”

 

According to the document, “postings on social media sites … should not be discounted merely because of the manner in which it was received.”

Someone who doesn’t like you reports you to a governnment bureaucrat, who thinks “what the heck, better safe than sorry!”, and will never be held accountable for it…

…and boom!  There you are!

(Whoops – can I say “boom” anymore?)

And if you think government wouldn’t do that?  Do you really think Lois Lerner was the only bureaucrat to abuse her authority for political ends?

3. Or somebody else could just think you’re a potential terror threat.

The guidelines also consider the use of “walk-in” or “write-in” information about potential candidates for the watch list. Nominators are encouraged not to dismiss such tips and, after evaluating “the credibility of the source,” could opt to nominate you to the watch list.

In other words, there are no checks and balances.

And these next two…:

4. You could be a little terrorist-ish, at least according to someone.

(Given the liberal fad of “Swatting” conservatives – calling the police to report a conservative is dealing drugs and child porn and guns out of their houses, to draw a swat team, it’s not an idle threat).  Or…

5. Or you could just know someone terrorist-y, maybe.

…should make your blood run cold, when you remember #6:

6. And if you’re in a “category” of people determined to be a threat, your threat status could be “upgraded” at the snap of a finger.

The watch-list guidelines explain a process by which the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism can move an entire “category of individuals” to an elevated threat status. It’s unclear exactly how these categories are defined, but according to the document, there must be “current and credible intelligence information” suggesting that the group is a particular threat to conduct a terrorist act.

And the Obama Administration has designated vast swathes of people who disagree with him as potential terrorists.

If you’re a pro-lifer?  Second Amendment activist?  Tax protester?  Land rights, Tenth Amendment, open-government, anti-war?  You name it – you could find yourself on the watch list for any reason.

Or…no reason at all:

7. Finally, you could just be unlucky.

The process of adding people to the terror watch lists is as imperfect as the intelligence officials tasked with doing so. There have been reports of “false positives,” or instances in which an innocent passenger has been subject to treatment under a no-fly or selectee list because his or her name was similar to that of another individual. In one highly publicized incident in 2005, a 4-year-old boy was nearly barred from boarding a plane to visit his grandmother.

And there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.  There’s no due process; there’s noplace to file an appeal.

You’re screwed. Your liberties can be held hostage by any petty bureaucrat, any ex-spouse, anyone who really, wants to mess you up in the most passive-aggressive yet damaging way possible.

So I’d like to ask Kim Norton (if she takes questions, which she does not) – how many of our civil liberties does she believe should be subject to a secret list with no due process or accountability?

Komissar Kim Norton, MkKarthyist

We’ve gone around and around with Representative Kim Norton of Rochester.  Norton, who is retiring from the Legislature after this coming session, is going to be carrying Michael Bloomberg’s water; she’ll be sponsoring, so we’re told, a number of gun control bills.

Not that you can get a straight answer out of her; although she went into great detail in the Rochester Post-Bulletin in which she called for a “conversation about guns”, she also told anyone who wanted to engage in dialog (as opposed to echo-chamber monologue) that she really had no idea what she was going to put into any bill, and had nothing to talk about.

Which is kind of hilarious, if you think about it.

Of course, on Twitter over the holiday weekend, she found a specific proposal to support – from Bloomberg’s chief streetwalker in the Senate, Kirsten Gillibrand.

And her response (below) to MNGOPAC leader Bryan Strawser is one for the record books, and one that every Rochester voter should take up with Ms. Norton:  That’s right – for opposing denying civil rights to people who wind up on a non-transparent, easily-abused, unsupervised grab bag of names collected so willy-nilly it’s become the stuff of folk legends, for which the Feds don’t have to tell why, or even whether, you’re on it, Rep. Norton, one of the DFL’s inner circle thought leaders, equates you with a terrorist.

Remember when Democrats were opposed to mysterious starchambers handing down secret lists of enemies, with no transparency or accountability?  I’ll bet Rep. Nortdon does.

This is today’s DFL.

Question:  Do you suppose anyone in the media will question Rep. Norton on this?

Giving Up Freedom For Security…

France’s “state of emergency” is trampling whatever civil liberties the French may have actually thought they had.

Which, on the one hand, highlights what a different place the US is – where fundamental human rights are endowed by our creator, not an allowance from a benificent state (although big government has been leaching that away for decades, too).

And on the other, shows how fragile the freedoms are that we take for granted.

It also shows why the most important piece of gun legislation signed by Governor Dayton this past session was the law barring the State from confiscating legal guns during a “state of emergency”.

The Wrong Target

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Liberals want to repeal the Second Amendment to stop gun violence. Seems to me the better solution is to repeal the Fourth Amendment.

If cops can stop-and-frisk anybody at any time for any reason or no reason, then there is no worry about racial profiling so cops can take guns away from the 8% of the population that commits 50% of the murders: young Black men in dangerous neighborhoods.

If cops can kick down any door at any time for any reason, they can disarm drug dealers who use firearms as tools of the trade, to defend their profits and kill poachers on their turf.

And if cops get a report about 20-something losers with a grudge, they can swoop in to take firearms before the next school shooting begins.

Why should anything about you be private from the government?  If you’re not doing anything wrong, you’ve got nothing to hide, right?

Joe Doakes

Heather? Jane?  Joan?

Rep. Norton?

I’d love to get their response…

The Improper Wiring That Dare Not Speak It’s Name

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Guy who’s nuts shoots up his own apartment and sets fire to it.

Another guy who can legally own guns because he wasn’t committed.  The judge let him go.

The problem isn’t guns.  The problem is nuts.  The civil commitment laws make it nearly impossible to put away nuts where they’re unable to obtain guns.  If it were easier to obtain civil commitment, there’d be fewer of these incidents and less work for ACLU lawyers . . . a win-win!

Joe doakes

True.

Which is why it’ll never happen.

 

Community Hygiene

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Never let a crisis go to waste.

Sen. Harry Reid wants expanded background checks:  “Is that asking too much? Couldn’t we at least do this little thing to stop people who are mentally ill . . . from purchasing guns?” Reid said on the Senate floor.

Den. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) specifically mentioned an effort aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of people diagnosed with mental illness.

President Obama noted last week that once again, someone got a gun who shouldn’t have had access to it.

The South Carolina church shooter sparked the talk but he wasn’t mentally ill, not according to existing law.  So Democrats are using bait-and-switch tactics to argue for restrictions on people who have Not been diagnosed with mental illness but who act strangely, hold unpopular opinions or have few friends.  After all, we must Do Something, before those lone-wolf weirdos snap and kill people.  Sounds perfectly reasonable, right?

One small problem:  it’s unconstitutional.

The Second Amendment was adopted to ensure Congress would not regulate firearms, because the Founders feared an arbitrary and powerful central government like the one they’d just thrown off.  In the Founders’ time, it was universally understood that children, felons and the mentally ill shouldn’t have firearms and those limitations continue, under District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 US 570 (2008).  But who are “the mentally ill?”

Federal law prohibits ownership by a “mental defective.”  There are court cases discussing whether “mental defective” is different from “mentally ill” for gun control purposes (mental defective might mean “retarded but not dangerous” and thus not be a disqualifying condition).  Leaving aside that hair-splitting, Federal law defines “mentally defective” as having been adjudicated such or committed to a mental institution. 18 USC 922(g)(4).  The Code of Federal Regulations, 22 CFR 478.11, further clarifies that “adjudicated” means a determination made by a court.

Yes, but so what?  Federal law, federal regulations, Congress can simply change them, right?  That’s where it gets tricky.  There are a long line of Supreme Court decisions holding that when the government acts to deprive a person of a fundamental Constitutional right, that person is entitled to Due Process consisting of, at a minimum, notice of the charges and a meaningful opportunity to be heard before a neutral decider.  That means a court must make the decision, after hearing, at which the burden is on the government and the accused has a chance to rebut the state’s case.

You’ve heard it’s nearly impossible to get a person committed these days, no matter how much they need it?  Clayton Cramer’s book “My Brother Ron” is a heartbreakingly frank, scrupulously researched account of how civil liberties lawyers created the case-law that now controls.  And the case-law is not limited to civil commitments: Due Process extends to mental illness for purposes of gun control, which means the government cannot deny guns to people merely because they are weirdos, act strangely, hold unpopular opinions or have few friends.

What the President and Democrat Congressional leaders propose to do is precisely what the Founders explicitly designed the Constitution to prevent.  The plan is unconstitutional on its face.  Of course, that’s never stopped Democrats before.

Joe Doakes

As we saw last week, the left isn’t above writing new law from the bench to suit “community” demands.

Expectations

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The newest racial incident involving police:

I had to laugh early in the tape when I heard a girl with a Black accent yell at a cop “I’m calling my mother on you.”

Honey, if you had a Mother worthy of the title, you wouldn’t be threatening to call her on the cops; you’d be praying to God the cops didn’t call her on YOU.

If I went home and said: “Mom, the cops were mean to me at the race riot,” I’m dead certain her response would NOT be: “Those dirty sons of guns, oppressing your First Amendment Rights, we’ll sue them.”

I’m dead certain her response would be: “You went to a race riot?  What the Hell is wrong with you?  Wait till your Father gets home.”

Of course, I had a Mother who gave a damn and a Father who came home.  I guess I need to check my privilege.

Joe Doakes

The “Texas pool party” incident has been interesting on a couple of levels.

Counting Those Chickens:  The burgeoning “Cops are guilty until proven innocent, because Video!” crowd that is so in vogue on the left and among some Libertarians should get some pause with this case, as it seems – if you believe the pushback from the police union, anyway – that there was a big ugly incident before the video starts, with trespassing and fighting and assaults, which the local, mostly black, residents called in to the police.

I said “Should”.  They won’t, of course.   Dogma means never having to say you’re sorry.

Pathology Verging On A Berg’s Law:  As we’ve learned after every high-profile mass-shooting, as well as after every controversial, racially-tinged event in recent years; the mainstream media will get all the basic facts wrong for the first 2-3 weeks.  Any impression of any ambiguous event will be colored by the fact that the mainstream media – everyone from CNN to MPR – will, without exception, be simultaneously be playing the story for sensationalist ratings, and have coverage that is entirely at the mercy of sources who are in the bag for one side of the story or another (and that side is usually the “progressive” one).

The media won’t give honest coverage to a story like this, or Ferguson, or Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown, until it’s not a “sexy” headline-grabber anymore.

Hobby Horses:  Don’t get me wrong.  I have a serious beef with bad cops – and lazy, entitled and incompetent ones, too.  I’ve encountered some of each in my time in Saint Paul – along with good, even excellent, ones who came through when my family and I really needed it.

And I understand why young (and not-so-young) black males and their supporters are concerned about prejudice and the dangers it brings.  I say this while remembering that young black males do commit a disproportionate amount of crime.

And, most interestingly, while the “Cops are guilty until proven innocent” crowd has a thin veneer of urban activists, that veneer is wrapped around a lot of white liberals – and, increasingly, libertarians, who, God bless ’em, are as white as it gets.

More interesting still?  I’ve seen research that shows black inner-city residents support aggressive, strong policing.  Not every aspect of it, and not everything aggressive cops do, of course – but they, the people who live daily with the worst that urban culture provides, tend to want the cops to have a solid, aggressive (and fair, and just, and even-handed) presence in the neighborhood.

As with most such stories? I’m pretty much sick and tired of everyone.

Force Protection

It seems the St. Paul Police Department and/or the Ramsey County Sheriff office (the article is a little unclear on which) has gotten itself involved in a First Amendment case.

Now, to me, the case itself, involving a police dustup with of those “First Amendment activists” who seems to have all the time in the world to prowl the streets with a video camera trolling for the faintest whiff of police misconduct – is less interesting than this quote from an officer of the St. Paul police union (Emphasis added):

“I don’t know of a time in our profession where we as cops have needed to be any more vigilant about our personal safety and the security of our facilities, than the present,” said Mark Ross, treasurer of the St. Paul police union.

Blame it on cable TV; cops aren’t the only ones who think it’s the most dangerous time in history.

It’s not:

Even with the uptick in the past year or two, it’s less dangerous than it was five years ago.  Or ten years ago.  There are are 1/4 fewer cop killings than there were 20 years ago.  And less than half as many as a little over forty years ago; 1973-74 were more dangerous than 9/11.

I added emphasis to this part:

“There are safety considerations too numerous to list as to why a person making videos of police officers and police facilities creates enough reasonable suspicion to stop, detain and identify somebody engaged in that type of activity.”

Too numerous to list?  No, I think it’s worth a little time and discussion.

Go ahead and list the “safety considerations” of people videotaping cops, officer.

Every last one of them.

I get it; the “video activist” involved was one of those pains in the ass who’s constantly sniffing around looking for something to wave around; he’s sort of like an assistant county attorney, if you think about it.

But let’s hear the “safety considerations” that a guy with a camera offers you that every other person out there, no matter what they’re doing, doesn’t also present every police officer, everywhere.

I’m serious.

There But For The Grace Of Christie Go Ye

I’ve written in the past about the case of Shaneen Allen, the Philadelphia mother and Pennsylvania carry permit holder who accidentally strayed across the Delaware River into New Jersey, got pulled over on a routine traffic stop, told the cop that she was carrying her firearm (which was legal mere miles up that very road), and was arrested for what was in Jersey a felony.

Her prosecutor, John McLain, opted to make an example of the black single mother, rejecting her for a diversion program (on his way to legal notoriety for letting NFL star Ray Rice skate on charges of especially brutal domestic abuse).

Yesterday, after nearly two years of back-and-forth, Governor Christie – never known as a friend of the Second Amendment – pardoned Allen:

I, Chris Christie, governor of the State of New Jersey, by virtue of the authority conferred upon me by the Constitution of the State of New Jersey and the statutes of the state, do hereby grant Shaneen Denise Allen, a full and free pardon for all criminal charges and indictments arising from the arrest occurring October 1, 2013 to include the aforesaid crimes, and this order is applicable solely to said criminal charges and indictments, and to no other.

On the one hand, this is good news.  Christie did the right thing.

On the other, it shows the perilous state that the various states’ paternalistic approach to carry laws leaves the citizen in.  If you’re a Minnesotan with a carry permit, and you forget to stop at a gas station on the Minnesota side of the Wisconsin, Iowa, or either Dakota border, you could have precisely the same problem.

It’s why the Commissioner of Public Safety need to do the job he was charged to do in 2004, and make Minnesota’s carry permits reciprocal with every state that (according to the law) has a permitting process substantially similar to ours (e.g. – a background check, the basic assurance that the applicant knows the laws).

Ron Latz: Big Brother

Last week, Senator Ron “I went to Harvard – I bet you didn’t go to Harvard, did you?” Latz tabled Senator Petersen’s digital privacy bill, likely killing it for the rest of the session.

And yesterday?

For the third consecutive session, lawmakers have sparred over whether LPR “hits” on innocent people should be deleted immediately—what privacy advocates want, or kept for 90 days– what law enforcement wants.

This session, a 90-day retention bill sponsored by Sen Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, over protests from Sen. Branden Petersen, R-Andover, who authored a competing bill arguing for zero retention. While the committee opted not to move forward with Petersen’s bill, Latz’s bill headed to the Senate floor for a vote.

In other words, Sen. Ron “we are all created equal, but some of us are more equal than others” Latz, who also led last sessions push to create a paper trail on all firearms purchases, wants to keep a 90 day record of everywhere everyone has been in a car.

Let’s let that sink in for a little bit; the DFL jammed down legislation that puts the state in charge of all of your personal and health data; they tried their darndest to register the movement of every firearm in the state; they successfully defended one was electronic surveillance; and now, thanks to Sen. Latz, they will have a 90 day record of your travels.

NOD TO POLITICAL REALITY:  It’s entirely possible that Latz has submitted the “90 day retention” bill as  a sop to his police and prosecutor organization benefactors; that he referred it to the Transportation committee to so it gets tabled without Latz’s fingerprints on it; that he’s playing both sides.

I don’t care.

If Senator X submitted a bill calling for the sterilization of black males to fight crime, even at the behest of a big contributor, even knowing that his political maneuvering was going to see that it went nowhere, it’d still be a loathsome bill.

And so is this one.

Juxtaposition

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Technology to track citizens is a Good Thing because cops can find suspects (and also make some nice coin selling license plate data).

Technology to track cops is a Bad Thing because ordinary citizens can find speed traps (and thereby save some nice coin on speeding tickets).

Cops want dash-board cameras to film encounters with citizens, but don’t want citizens to film encounters with cops.

Cops should be allowed to use guns for self-defense, but citizens shouldn’t.

Cops are Government Agents; Government Agents analyze every problem as a power-struggle between Us and Them; and Government Agents always come to the same conclusion: heads they win, tails we lose. That’s one reason the Founders insisted on the right to keep and bear arms – so ordinary citizens could resist the enemies of freedom, foreign AND domestic.

Joe Doakes

And if our founding fathers had known about ubiquitous video and open source cryptography, then put those in the constitution, as well.

A Limit Too Far

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Paul Mirengoff, writing at Powerline, says we need the government to spy on us now, more than ever.

He echoes Speaker of the House John Boehner’s reasoning that people don’t need to be secure in their persons, papers and effects: if they’re innocent, they have nothing to hide.

That whole Fourth Amendment thing was just a big mistake.

You can trust the government to spy on you responsibly.

Totally.

Joe Doakes

Thats something some conservatives get terribly, terribly wrong.

Open Letter To The New GOP Majorities

To:  New GOP Majorities in the MN House and US Congress
From: Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re:  Agenda

All,

Want something to show you’re serious about getting the boot of government off of innocent citizens’ necks? 

Reform civil-forfeiture laws.  Now. 

Including, preferably, eradicating laws that allow corrupt pettifoggers to run rackets with the blessing of “the law”. 

Do it now, so we can see who the real enemies are. 

That is all.

“The Most Dictatorial President We’ve Ever Had”

Watch this video starring Ted Nugent, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage, in which President Obama is called…well, exactly that.

UPDATE:  I lied.  It’s not Nugent, Hannity and Savage.  It’s Nat Hentoff, liberal civil libertarian and godfather of the ACLU.  He’s a liberal – but he has been committed enough to actual civil liberty over the decades that he’s even pissed liberals off at him…