Everyone Is One Signature Away From Being A Terrorist

The “gun safety” movement’s latest bright idea is “No Fly, No Buy”; people on one of the various government no-fly/terrorist watch lists would be disqualified from buying guns.

Second Amendment human rights activists oppose the idea, to the deep confusion of anti-gunners, who just don’t understand why it’s a bad idea.

The answer?  It’s a bad idea because government can’t be trusted with lists of people built without due process.  Ever!

I’ve added emphasis:

The Maryland State Police classified 53 nonviolent activists as terrorists and entered their names and personal information into state and federal databases that track terrorism suspects, the state police chief acknowledged yesterday.
Police Superintendent Terrence B. Sheridan revealed at a legislative hearing that the surveillance operation, which targeted opponents of the death penalty and the Iraq war, was far more extensive than was known when its existence was disclosed in July.

You gotta break eggs to make an omelet.

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:

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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?

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…

Smile

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

St. Paul wants to spend $1.2 million for body cameras, half of it a grant from the feds.

GoPro costs $500 each.  For the good ones.  Retail.

And there are chinese knockoffs for under $200 that, according to some sources, are even better.

But the political optics aren’t right for that…

What are we buying with the rest of the million dollars?

Joe Doakes

That would be so interesting to find out…

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.

 

Vicious Circle

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

It’s videos like the arrest of Sandra Bland, of cops who act like that, that make ordinary citizens lose respect for all police, which makes police feel more insular and more dependent on each other so they close ranks to protect all cops, even the crappy ones.  It’s a self-inflicted vicious cycle.

And the fact it’s a White cop abusing a Black woman on video isn’t just bad optics; in this Presidency, it’s automatically a racial incident.  The cops as a whole can’t seem to understand that each of these incidents not only inflames the Black community, it’s distasteful to the White community too and reduces our willingness to put up with it.

Look for some cops to get ambushed soon.  That’s how things are handled in the strata of society that can’t raise $500 bail to get their loved one out of a Texas jail – they have no meaningful access to the “justice” system so they utilize “alternative dispute resolution” which comes in 9mm parcels.

I took vacation days to stand the flag line with the Patriot Guard to honor fallen Marines returned from the war.  Armed citizens are taking vacation days to stand guard outside unarmed recruiting centers in Tennessee.  Nobody would volunteer to stand guard over cops having lunch so they aren’t ambushed.  There’s a deep and important lesson there, if only they would learn it.

Joe Doakes

Joe says “look for cops to get ambushed soon”; not sure if he’s counting the two New York cops killed late last year, in the wake of the Ferguson and Garner incidents.

In my 22 years in Saint Paul, I’ve met some good cops, and I’ve met some bad ones.  But it’s dawned on me in recent years that at the moment, “Law Enforcement” as an institution is perilously close to becoming the “Standing Army” that our forefathers warned us about; the arrogant mercenaries that care less about the people they’re defending than about the government that pays them.

I’m hoping some of the good cops figure this out sooner than later.

You’re Crazy To Dissent!

In the 1970s – during Leonid Brezhnev’s kinder, gentler version of the Soviet Union – the gulags of the Lenin and Stalin regimes were largely replaced by “psychiatric hospitals”.

Since disssent from government was considered a mental illness in the Soviet Union, naturally, dissidents needed “treatment”.

Author Dinesh D’Souza – one of the Obama administration’s most prolific and articulate dissidents – got caught up a few years ago in one of the web of speech rationing laws. These laws – commonly referred to as “campaign-finance laws” – are intended to, and eventually will, make all political speech and activity, including (I predict) this blog, potentially prosecutable.

Judges and bureaucrats referring to speech as “illegal” is nothing new; it’s the battle freedom will always have to fight.

But using the psychiatric profession to beat down dissent?  It’s baaaack; D’Souza’s judge has ordered him, for a third time, to seek psychiatric treatment:

D’Souza’s defense counsel Benjamin Brafman provided evidence to the court that the psychiatrist D’Souza was ordered to see found no indication of depression or reason for medication. In addition, the psychologist D’Souza subsequently consulted provided a written statement concluding there was no need to continue the consultation, because D’Souza was psychologically normal and well adjusted.
But Judge Berman, who was appointed by Bill Clinton, disagreed, effectively overruling the judgment of the two licensed psychological counselors the U.S. probation department had approved as part of D’Souza’s criminal sentence.
“I only insisted on psychological counseling as part of Mr. D’Souza’s sentence because I wanted to be helpful,” the judge explained. “I am requiring Mr. D’Souza to see a new psychological counselor and to continue the weekly psychological consultation not as part of his punishment or to be retributive.

Point of basic logic to Judge Berman:  if you’re “requiring” the treatment, you’re not doing it to be helpful.

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.

Open Letter To Governor Scott Walker

To:  Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconson and current #1 on my short list for President in 2016
From:  Mitch Berg, Irate Peasant
Re:  The Evil In Your State

Governor Walker,

As you are aware – since it’s been used against you – your state has a cranny in its law that allows prosecutors (inevitably “progressives”) to use the police to simultaneously harass and gag the subjects of their politically-motivated “investigations” (inevitably conservatives and tea-partiers).

For the family of “Rachel” (not her real name), the ordeal began before dawn — with the same loud, insistent knocking. Still in her pajamas, Rachel answered the door and saw uniformed police, poised to enter her home. When Rachel asked to wake her children herself, the officer insisted on walking into their rooms. The kids woke to an armed officer, standing near their beds. TOP STORY: Ted Cruz Defends His Defense of the Second Amendment The entire family was herded into one room, and there they watched as the police carried off their personal possessions, including items that had nothing to do with the subject of the search warrant — even her daughter’s computer.

And for a  nice, Stalinist tinge to the whole thing?

And, yes, there were the warnings. Don’t call your lawyer. Don’t talk to anyone about this. Don’t tell your friends. The kids watched — alarmed — as the school bus drove by, with the students inside watching the spectacle of uniformed police surrounding the house, carrying out the family’s belongings. Yet they were told they couldn’t tell anyone at school. They, too, had to remain silent.

Governor Walker – if you want to seize the “liberty” high ground from Rand Paul, I urge you to use the full weight of your office against the public officials responsible for these Stalinist atrocities.

Your state’s “progressive” thugs in suits are doing Orwell proud:

  For dozens of conservatives, the years since Scott Walker’s first election as governor of Wisconsin transformed the state — known for pro-football championships, good cheese, and a population with a reputation for being unfailingly polite — into a place where conservatives have faced early-morning raids, multi-year secretive criminal investigations, slanderous and selective leaks to sympathetic media, and intrusive electronic snooping. Yes, Wisconsin…was giving birth to a new progressive idea, the use of law enforcement as a political instrument, as a weapon to attempt to undo election results, shame opponents, and ruin lives.

Oh, the court system is wending its leisurely way toward a decision, surely enough:

The first ruling, from the Wisconsin supreme court, could halt the investigations for good, in part by declaring that the “misconduct” being investigated isn’t misconduct at all but the simple exercise of First Amendment rights. The second ruling, from the United States Supreme Court, could grant review on a federal lawsuit brought by Wisconsin political activist Eric O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth, the first conservatives to challenge the investigations head-on. If the Court grants review, it could not only halt the investigations but also begin the process of holding accountable those public officials who have so abused their powers. 

I’m going to hope and pray – and maybe find something more tangible to do – that the courts involved haven’t given in to complete madness, and that this whole criminal enterprise is exposed, humiliated and obliterated.

And so, Governor Walker, I’ll ask you this:  if the courts rule against the scumbag prosecutors (and if they don’t, I truly despair for the Republic), I’d like to urge you to make examples of these pieces of human garbage.  Arrest them in no-knock raids early in the morning; haul them out of their houses, in their underwear, in front of news cameras (and if Wisconsin’s chickensh*t liberal major media won’t cover it, give the conservative alt-media a call).  Have the trials on camera.   If they’re found guilty – and they’d best be – then stick them in the most maximum of maximum security.

Because if there’s anything worse than breaking the law, it’s perverting it.  And the sooner America’s Brahmins, the Prosecutor class in “progressive” cities, get the message – and the more brutally it’s rammed home until they do – the sooner this country can maybe start achieving some of that “Freedom” and “Liberty” mumbo jumbo.

That is all.

Restraint

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I must be getting old.  I hear lies and remember hearing them before.

Bill Clinton wanted to ban “cop-killer” bullets in the 90’s.   Barack Obama wants to ban cop-killer bullets now.

Still not one cop killed by those bullets, yet the lie is recycled as if nobody ever heard it told, or heard it refuted.  Does the entire country have Alzheimer’s?  Can’t anybody remember we went through this once before, and why it was dumb then so it’s just as dumb now?

Interestingly, public reaction to the lie has changed.  In Bill Clinton’s day, everybody was on board with supporting local law enforcement.  Nowadays, a lot more people seem to think “Politicians and the media promise me cops are racists who delight in shooting Gentle Giants holding their hands up, so why should cops get special protection?”  Lot more push-back and ATF was much quicker to pull the ban proposal “for further study.”

It boils down to a difference in philosophy:

Liberals believe that if you tear down enough of the institutions that brought order out of chaos, the result will be utopia.

I suspect that’s too optimistic – I suspect Heinlein and Burke were right, the result will be a reversion to chaos.

Joe Doakes

Part of it – the liberal part – is as Joe describes.

There’s also a more libertarian streak to the GOP that didn’t exist 20 years ago.  While the GOP still has all sorts of law-enforcement fanboys who figure if the cops say, do, or arrest it, they must be right, there are a few more who believe restraint is in order.

The American Gulag

So according to the UK Guardian, the City of Chicago runs its own private Lyubyanka:

The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:

  • Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
  • Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
  • Shackling for prolonged periods.
  • Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
  • Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.

At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.

If it’s confirmed that the Chicago Police have been pelting the Fourth Amendment with rocks and offal – then :

  • It’s time to send US troops to liberate Chicago, and
  • it makes perfect sense that it’s in a Democrat-controlled city.

Much as I love Chicago, I won’t spend another tourist dollar there until those responsible for Homan Square are frog-walked out of their offices and put into Federal custody.

And it’ll be interesting to see what other such places pop up around the country.

Continue reading

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.

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.

Because I’m Here To Solve Problems

Police departments – at least, some that Mother Jones talked with – are ostensibly trying to get rid of surplus military gear:

Even before police militarization made the news, hundreds of police departments were finding that grenade launchers, military firearms, and armored vehicles aren’t very useful to community policing. When Chelan County police officers requested one armored car in 2000—the request that landed them three tanks—they pictured a vehicle that could withstand bullets, not land mines. Law enforcement agencies across the country have quietly returned more than 6,000 unwanted or unusable items to the Pentagon in the last 10 years, according to Defense Department data provided to Mother Jones by a spokeswoman for Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who has spearheaded a Senate investigation of the Pentagon program that is arming local police. Thousands more unwanted items have been transferred to other police departments.

The catch?  The Pentagon doesn’t really want it all back.  It’s cheaper to let local cops maintain it than to keep it in Federal storage.

Which is vexing some cops:

In reality, however, police departments may find the returns process slow, mystifying, or nonfunctional. Online law enforcement message boards brim with complaints that the Pentagon refuses to take back unwanted guns and vehicles—like this one, about a pair of M14 rifles that have survived attempts by two sheriffs to get rid of them.

I’ve got an obvious answer – one that’ll make cops, the Pentagon and citizens (the right ones, anyway) happy: sell it to private citizens.  Or at least the private citizens that pass the same background check that qualifies them for a state carry permit.  It’ll save government money, and make the country safer by making Real Americans better-armed.

Facetious?   Halfway.  A fair chunk of this equipment could, and should by all rights, be going into the “Civilian Marksmanship Program”.  But Barack Obama has been sandbagging the CMP for the past six years – which is why the price of surplus M-1 Garand rifles (from WW2 and the Korean War) is so very high these days.

But I digress.

And I’m about to digress some more; it’d seem we have some real powderpuffs in uniform (empasis added):

[Hillsborough NC police lieutenant Davis] Trimmer has twice requested permission to return three M14 rifles that are too heavy for practical use.

“Too heavy for practical use?”  They weight eight pounds.  Our troops lugged them all over Vietnam, for crying out loud.

Maybe the lieutenant was referring to carrying all three of them together?

Turn them over to me, if that’d help…

Standing

When the founding fathers created our Constitution, one of their biggest fears was that of the standing army.  In Europe at the time (and in most dictatorships today), the Army was a professional, full-time force, frequently composed of mercenaries whose loyalty to the local king was purchased; in larger kingdoms, it was composed of units from different parts of the kingdom, who had no loyalty or affection to the people of the local province.

The Army, in short, was an agent of oppression.

The first municipal police department (in London in the 1820’s) on the other hand was an attempt to distance itself from the idea of the military.

Kevin Williamson at NRO goes through the squandered legacy of Sir John Peel, the inventor of the modern police force.   Peel’s nine guidelines to the then-new Metro Police are – or were – a standard for cops for well over a century:

The first order of police work is, according to Peel, “to prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.” The second principle is “to recognize always that the power of the police to fulfill their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions, and behavior, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.” He called this “policing by consent.” The policeman, in Peel’s view, was a citizen: “The police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”

And the importance of the uniform.  The bright colors and towering headdresses of the uniforms of post-medieval Europe (still worn by the Guards at Buckingham Palace) were intended to try to intimidate the opposition, especially an opposition of peasants and rabble that didn’t have uniforms:

In that context, the function of the police uniform is simply that of an imprimatur — of the municipal government of London or of New York or Mayberry. It tells little Peter Pat whom he can trust.

We seem to have lost that idea:

Our contemporary and increasingly militarized police uniforms are designed for a different purpose: the projection of force. Peel organized the Metropolitan Police as an alternative to “military repression,” but we, in turn, have turned our police into quasi-military organizations: Armored vehicles roam the mean streets of Pulaski County, Ind. Why? “It’s more intimidating,” the sheriff says.

Cops will note in response that there are times when they do need to assert control – to “intimidate”.  That’s true.  But that “time” is not “when in contact with a general public that is exercising its right to protest”, among quite a few others.

The more I think about it, the more it seems modern law enforcement has become the standing army our founding fathers were worried about.

Ferguson

What do I think about what’s going on in Ferguson, Missouri?

Re the Brown shooting:  On the one hand, American police do a lot more shooting than any other police force in the world.  More shots were fired in that single incident in Ferguson than were fired by the entire German police force in six whole weeks. 

On the other hand, African-Americans do get a disparately-harsh response from law-enforcement.   It causes some to prejudge all cases involving black shooting victimes.

On the third hand – that cuts both ways.  We don’t know the facts – not all of them – about the Brown shooting, but we’ve seen the media whitewash the likes of Darren Evanovich, trying to create a racial incident out of what turned out to be a perfectly clean self-defense shooting. 

On the fourth hand, if Brown was going for the officer’s gun, that’s a legitimate cause for self-defense.  Even for a regular citizen.  If someone grabs your gun, the law doesn’t require you to read his mind as to what he intends to do with it. 

On the fourth, we may not ever really know why the scuffle happened, or exactly what happened. 

And that, in fact, is the only real response I have to add.  Remember the media’s reports in the first hours, days, even weeks after Columbine?  Virginia Tech? The Giffords and Aurora Theater and Newtown shootings?  Remember how close to the actual facts of the stories they got?

Not at all.

So I’ll wait for the facts to shake out, assuming they ever do.

Regarding the Police Response:  I’ve written before about how I oppose the militarization of the police.  And the first couple of days of the Ferguson PD’s response was the Keystone Kops led by Major Frank Burns.  Oh, don’t get me wrong; I have no problem with the DoD selling military firearms and armored vehicles to police departments – provided they sell them to law-abiding citizens, as well.

And yet when the Ferguson Fusiliers were withdrawn and replaced by the kinder, gentler, New-Ageier Missouri State Police?   The violence ebbed ,then came back as bad as ever, prompting local, black residents to wonder to the media why the cops weren’t shooting looters.  And now the National Guard is involved. 

The Charlatan Caucus:  Of course, where there are grievances, there will be grievance vultures.  And sure enough, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are on the scene – which in and of itself devalues much of the local community’s complaints. 

As bad, in their own way?  The media – which continue lead with inaccurate info, when they’re not making the story about themselves.

On Your Own

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

This legal analysis is interesting because it starts from the basic assumption that the police have NO obligation to protect citizens from crime. The police create an obligation to protect you only if they go out of their way to make the situation worse than it was before they intervened.
The obvious implication of this “no obligation” ruling – coupled with the Supreme Court’s holding that individuals have a Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms for self-defense – is that the fundamental legal principle of public security in American law is . . . you’re on your own.
Which Conservatives have known all along, but it’s nice to see the Courts spell it out so clearly for us. Now, Liberals, do you have any questions?
Joe Doakes

I’m gonna guess “no”.