Trulbert! Part VII: In Hoc Slogan Vinces

 - 9:59AM, October 14, 2015 – in front of Dripping With Irony Coffee Shop, East Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN

Paul Hendrickson pulled up to a parking spot on Lake Street.  He was running a little late today – it’d been a long night working on getting TransactionTech available for its rollout later today.  Coffee was not just a nicety.

He walked inside.

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Trulbert! Part VI: Currency Events

 - 9AM, October 7, 2015 – South Minneapolis, MN

Paul Hendrickson drove up to a gas station – formerly a “BP” station, across from a former “Superamerica” – and told the attendant (who ran out to offer his services) to fill ‘er up.

“Cash or In Kind?” said the smartly-uniformed attendant.

“Cash”, said Hendrickson, taking out two of the small steel squares whose production he’d overseen the previous week.

The attendant took one of the pieces of steel – about the size of a large postage stamp – and bit it, smiled, and started filling Hendrickson’s tank.

So much easier than last month, Hendrickson thought, when I had to negotiate a fill-up in casseroles, office supplies and bags of sugar.

The tank filled up with a “clunk”.  The attendant handed Hendrickson four pieces of cardboard – each worth a “dime”, or a tenth of a Cud – and said “Thank you, sir!”.

Henrickson pulled away from the pump, smiling at how much better his company’s idea – and in part, his idea – had made life in the Twin Cities in the past month or so.

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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.

Trulbert! Part V: Atlas Hocked

 -7AM, September 7, 2015:  The Arnie Quist residence, Corcoran, MN

The dew still hadn’t evaporated off the grass, as the squirrel warily scampered out from behind the tree.  He stood up on his hind legs…

…and bolted in fright a second later, as a crossbow bolt hissed through the air mere inchest from him.  He ran up a tree and hid among the branches; breakfast would wait. 

Arnie Quist shook his head in disgust.   He didn’t want to have to fall back on stored food this fast.  And sick as he was getting of rabbit and squirrel, this was in fact the moment he’d been waiting for all these years.   The Collapse!

He looked at the families next door and across the road from the 5 acre hobby farm he’d inherited from his grandfather.  They were busy trading goods and services and produce and other voluntary transactions.  The ones who had practical jobs – carpenters and mechanics and dentists – were busy trading their skills for compensation.  His other neighbors – well, it varied.

But none of it was gonna matter.  Because eventually it was all really gonna come crashing down on them. 

Soon, he thought.  Soon

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Our President Misses The Concept Of “Democratic” Government

The Lightworker, on his penchant for trampling the separation of powers:

“The American people don’t want me just standing around twiddling my thumbs and waiting for Congress to get something done,” Obama said.

Well, yes, Mr. President; if Congress doesn’t pass legislation, those of us who understand the Constitution, especially the bit about “separation of powers”, most certainly do want you to go golfing, rather than usurp the role of Congress.

Head for the golf course, Mr. Lightworker.

Leading By Example

A New Jersey cop responds to a citizen’s allegations about his First and Fourth Amendment rights being violated:

“I’ve made you objections (sic) about what’s going on at the shelter over there,” [an animal rights activist] told the cop. “My 1st and 4th Amendment rights were violated – my civil rights were violated…”
The Helmetta police officer replied, “Obama just decimated the freakin’ Constitution, so I don’t give a damn. If he doesn’t follow the Constitution, we don’t have to.”

Just a crabby cop having a bad day and picking a lame excuse?

Perhaps.

But our founding fathers understood better than our generation does that freedom only survives when “the authorities” respect the idea. 

And to too many of them, it’s just not there.  Continue reading

Trulbert! Part IV: A Brave New Whirl

- CNN, Noon, September 1, 2015

“As the world tries to unravel the shock of the sudden devaluation of the US Dollar and most other currencies to, in effect, zero, we are monitoring the complete closure of the entire United States Government”.

Jordyn Mendez, a 5’10 former beauty pageant winner with tan skin down her long, elegant neck plunging into a low-for-TV neckline on a black business dress, framing her long black hair and eyes with a rare ability to simultaneously convey “flinty no-nonsense” and “come do me, baby”, who also had some local TV journalism background, looked into the teleprompter.

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Trulbert! Part III: Ten Thousand Holes In Blankford, Lancashire

 - 1AM, Monday, September 1, 2015: The Hendrickson Home, South Minneapolis

t was after midnight. Lynn was sprawled, asleep, under the covers. Hendrickson puffed an e-cig and smiled.

He thought about all the petty anxieties he usually felt on these insomniac evenings were whittled down.  Gone was the usual “what the hell is going on with this country”, or “is my job going to be here tomorrow”, or “is Charlie or is Charlie not on the right track academically”. 

No, there was only simple contentment, as Lynn lightly snored next to him – and that, mostly, kept his mind occupied and smiling as he faded off to sleep. 

Looks like tomorrow could be pretty decent, for a Monday.

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Trulbert!, Part II: Blink

 – 9PM, Saturday, August 30 – Somewhere in South Minneapolis, MN
It had been a long, brutal day – exactly enough to make Paul Hendrickson wish he’d gone to his sister-in-law’s baby shower with his wife instead. Ten hours in the office chasing bugs, another day’s worth coming up tomorrow, and no end in sight.

And nobody at home; Lynn had taken the kids to visit their cousins up in Bemidji, and nobody would be home until Sunday night.

He drove up Hiawatha Avenue, past the desultory light rail and spotty car traffic, and saw a joint he’d never seen before - the “Invisible Hand” Bar and Grill, on Hiawatha somewhere in the forties.  One of the girls in QA had told him they made a great burger.

But they had me at beer, Hendrickson thought, as he tried to remember the last time he’d been in a bar without either his wife or his co-workers.  Since the Clinton years, for sure, he mused as he pulled into the parking lot.  He hesitated – I could just nuke some leftover beef stew, he thought – before turning off the car and walking into the bar.  He yawned loudly as he walked into the bar.  A whiteboard sign pointed an arrow labeled “Seat Yourself” to the left, and “TRU LBRT, The Gathering!” to the right.

Defininitely want “Seat  Yourself“,Hendrickson thought, absent-mindedly turning to the right.

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Trulbert! Part I: State Of Affairs

– 7PM, Wednesday, August 29, 2014 – Longfellow Neighborhood, South Minneapolis

Myron Ilktost fumbled in his pocket for his keychain.

“Don’t forget to lock the door!” bellowed a disembodied female voice from at least two rooms away inside the house.

“I’ve got it,  honey”, Ilktost replied, straining to make his thin, reedy voice heard over the dishwasher that was clanking away in the kitchen.  As he shut the door, the woman – Iris, his wife of 32 years – bellowed “because you keep forgetting!”.

“Locking it now, honey”, he replied, shutting the door and turning the key.

He kept the keychain in his hand as he walked to his car – a green, ten year old Subaru Forester with a single “Don’t Park The Bus” sticker affixed to the back bumper.

A faint whiff of blue smoke puffed from the exhaust as Ilktost backed out of his prim driveway and out onto 42nd Avenue in South Minneapolis.  The perennials he’d labored over for so long were just starting to bloom after a hard, long winter.  Ilktost drove about six blocks, to a church building – Jehovah Methodist.  He picked the keychain up from his passenger seat, and lumbered up to the side door.

Slight, about 5’8, tidy, balding, mustachioed, gray-haired and 56 years old, wearing a gray alpaca sweater and khaki pants, Ilktost unlocked the door and turned on the lights inside the building.  He walked to the church office, sat down at a sixties-institutional desk, turned on an early-2000s vintage Gateway PC, and started rummaging through a small stack of flyers, handwritten notes and – eventually – emails.

After a few minutes, he was interrupted by a knock on the door.  He looked through the window.  It was the UPS man.  He opened the door.

“Mister Liktost?” asked the deliveryman.

“That’s I-L-K-Tost”, Ilktost said, sounding mildly worried.

“Ah, OK.  My bad.  Please sign for this”.

Ilktost took the deliveryman’s clipboard.  “I have to get this sunday’s program together”, he muttered, as much for himself as the deliveryman’s benefit.

“Ah.  Well, I’ll get out of your way” said the UPS man, mission accomplished.

Ilktost locked the door and went back to work.  Programs don’t put themselves together.

– 5:20 PM, Thursday, August 29 – Downtown Minneapolis

“Programs don’t put themselves together”.

Joshua Nieman shook his head as he said it, as if Paul Hendrickson had never heard any of it before.

“Yeah, I know”, said Hendrickson, who at 45 was 20 years older than Nieman.  “I know the requirements were hosed.  We’re in catch-up mode.  Just trying to keep Tofte from crawling up both our asses”.

“Well, I’m not working this weekend”, said the younger man.  “I’ve got a Modern Warfare hackathon to do”.

“Yeah, keep your weekend.  We’re not curing cancer, here”, said Hendrickson.  “Just give me an estimate Monday morning, OK?”

Nieman grunted, and Hendrickson walked away down the aisle separating two of the forty rows of cubes at Claimtech.

It was 5:45 PM, he noticed as he checked his phone for messages.  There were several – mostly work-related.  A text message from Lynn telling him to bring cat food home.

And that’s just what I’m gonna do.

He picked up his jacket at his cube, walked out to the ramp, drove half an hour up 494, then Cedar, then Crosstown, over to 34th. Into the convenience store, back out with the cat food, then up 34th to 48th, then over a few blocks to the tidy little Cape Cod that’d been his family’s home since they bought it from Lynn’s parents ten years earlier.

Abby – ten years old – was playing with the dog in the back yard.   ”Hi, Daddy!” she said.  “I taught Buck to play dead!”.

She looks so much like my mom at that age, Hendrickson thought as the skinny, colt-legged blond girl put Buck, the family’s eight year old Springer Spaniel, through its paces.

“That’s awesome, honey!”, he said as Abby and Buck took a bow, both grinning from ear to ear.  “I”m gonna go in and see Mommy”.

“OK!”

Hendrickson walked in the back door, up the stairs into the kitchen.  Lynn – a pretty, auburn-haired 38 year old, Hendrickson’s wife of 16 years – was throwing cheese sandwiches onto the grill as a crock pot of stew simmered in the background.

Hendrickson tiptoed up the stairs and padded silently across the kitchen floor, wrapping his arms around Lynn from behind.  “Mmm – hello!”, she purred.  “That bean stew thing you have in the pot smells glorious”.

He kissed her on the neck.  “So where are Charlie and Dani?”

“Dani’s over at the Torstengardsens doing a science project with Vicky.  And Charlie’s at track practice.”

“Hmm.  So they’re pretty much occupied…?”

“I bought a bottle of wine for later…”

Hendrickson smiled.  “Nice.  Thank God it’s Thursday!”

His wife purred, leaning back to kiss his cheek.  “You sure you can’t come to Carrie’s for the shower?”

“Nah.  Stupid project deadline”

“And I know how much you love baby showers”.

“Half of one and six dozen of the other.  I’d much rather be there than working on this bug-stomp this weekend”, Hendrickson purred into his wife’s ear, nibbling the ear lobe ever so slightly…

“Ew”, shouted a crackly, adolescent male voice, as Charlie Hendrickson – a gangly, red-headed teen in track shorts and a school t-shirt – stomped up the back stairs three at a time.  “Gross, you two.  Stop it.  When’s dinner?”

“Ten minutes.  Take a shower first”, Lynn patiently responded as Paul slowly let go and walked to start setting the table.

“Yep.  Thank God it’s Thursday”.

– 9:00PM, Friday, August 29, 2014 – On the “TRU LBRT NOW!” Facebook Page

A sultry breeze blew from the west, sweeping across the south end of Plymouth, MN, where Dave Os, a late-20-ish man in with a carefully-tended beard, a tweed blazer, jeans and a “Doors” T-shirt, sat at a table at an outdoor bar patio.  Idly waiting for some friends to show up, he noodled through his Facebook timeline.  An article caught his attention, about a planned light rail line that would connect the northwest suburbs of the Twin Cities with downtown.

Os shared the article to “TRU LBRT NOW”, a libertarian Facebook page of which he was a member, writing “Great.  More money suck from government”.  He clicked the “Post” button as his friends arrived.

The warm breeze swept east, crossing Saint Louis Park, where Ron Pallsacher, a mildly obese 35-year-old with an acne-pocked face and a scraggly blondish beard, sat on the balcony of his apartment, working on fixing some JQuery code for one of his clients.  He saw the “Incoming Message” popup, and saw Os’s posting.  He read it, typed “another installment payment in the progressive statist dream”, clicked “Post”, and went back to work.

The breeze rolled across Highway 100, briefly juddering a Ford Econoline van driven by Arnie Quist, a dark-haired, 30-ish man with a dense black beard,wearing a seed cap, as he drove southward carrying a load of mulch for his garden.  He read Os and Pallsacher’s posts as he drove, and – ignoring the safety rules about texting and driving – clicked his “voice to text” function on his phone: “Not just progressives.  Republicans equally worthless!”.  He clicked “Post”, just before narrowly missing a Toyota Corolla that had legally merged onto the road.

The puff of wind rolled up Lake Street in Minneapolis, ruffling the hair of Oz Streachan – a 6’6  tall 40-year-old man, with a Billy Gibbons beard, an awlward gait and a voice that sounded incongruously high and light for such a tall man, who was en route to one of the rooftop bars in Uptown for a friend’s bachelor party.  He saw the notification, read it, and typed “The only way to get good governmente is no goverment”, he typed raggedly as he stood next to the light pole, before the light turned green.

An eddy of the breeze – which was becoming less sweet and more humid as it rolled across the city – swept through an open window into the Powderhorn Park-area efficiency apartment of Frena Marquette – 5’6, 25 years old, with purple hair and overly-thick eyeliner, wearing a “Ron Paul Express 2012″ t-shirt, busy folding her laundry.  She saw the notification on her IPad, and typed “No Gummint?  Oh, Noes!  Who’ll build the roadz?”.  Satisfied, she chuckled, and went back to folding.

The breeze – smelling less like west-suburban gardens than auto exhaust, by now – rolled across the Marshall-Lake Bridge and across the front of Izzy’s Ice Cream Parlor, where sat Bill Durburgh – in a white dress shirt, a bow tie, a helmet of “televangellist” that he’d been cultivating as an “ironic statement” for three yers, and a perfectly-trimmed beard.  He looked at his Android, saw the list of comments, and typed “This is why all voting is a waste.  The best thing we can do is throw off the chains of all government”, hitting “post” and then angrily swearing as a drip of ice cream plopped onto his screen.

The breeze – another part of it, a mile south of Durburgh – swept through the yard of Myron Ilktost.  Ilktost was busily weeding the flower bed in front of his house, swatting at mosquitos.

“Are you STILL doing that?”, bellowed the disembodied voice of his wife.

“No, Dear”, Ilktost yelled.  Not for long, he muttered under his breath.

(See Part II)

Social Distortion

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Liberals don’t mind open borders because those immigrants won’t take their jobs, or their kids. And government spending doesn’t matter because government loans never have to be repaid. Half a million illegal immigrants have swarmed the border this year, all claiming to be refugees entitled to food, shelter, medical care, in-state tuition and public defenders. Oh, and interpreters, because although they don’t speak English they sure as Hell know their rights.
In completely unrelated news, .22 LR shells are still impossible to find on the shelves, as right-wing kook bitter clinging racist homophobes continue to snatch them up the instant they roll off the truck.
This cannot end well.
Joe Doakes

That which cannot be sustained, won’t be.

The Rights Bubble

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

My practice is real estate title law – what individual natural person owns this particular patch of land?

My job didn’t exist in olden times because The King owned all land (or “nobody owns the land” in aboriginal cultures).

My job still doesn’t exist in Cuba or North Korea, where the answer remains “the king, however he’s titled” or in places like Somalia where lack of a functional government to enforce a rule of law leaves the answer as “whoever can defend his occupation of the land at the moment.”

Even in many modern countries, most of the land is held by a few wealthy families (France, Germany, Russia) and everybody else lives in public housing (English council estates) or apartments (Hong Kong).

And in almost all the science fiction stories I can recall, the answer in the future is “the government” or sometimes “huge corporations.”

Mass individual home-ownership exists in Canada, Australia and the USA. It’s a uniquely Colonial thing and when these countries eventually fall (as all nations do), the concept may vanish with it.

We’re living in a bubble of rights not seen before, and not to be seen again. What an amazing privilege. What a shame that our leaders are risking it all.

Explaining to Americans “it doesn’t have to be like this” is like explaining to a spoiled teenager (or a liberal) where money comes from.  It’s a revelation to them that it could ever be different. 

(Bonus:  Explaining to self-styled “anarchists” that lack of government doesn’t mean freedom; it pretty much inevitably means a much worse form of authority will fill the gap)

Civics 090: Remedial American Civil Society For “Progressives”

This is for you progressives in the audience.  The conservatives and libertarians already know this, so you may skip down to the next post.

right is something that is endowed to you by your creator, whatever you believe that is, and can not (legitimately) be taken away by any person or government.   Life.  Liberty.  The pursuit of happiness.  Speech, religion, press, assembly, keeping and bearing arms, no illegitimate searches and seizures (ooops), and so on.  It’s a short list, but a pretty comprehensive one.

The Constitutional Convention. Are they debating whether people have a right to happy hour between 5 and 6 every weekday? I think not.

Rights have one thing in common;  they don’t infringe other peoples’ rights.  When I exercise my right to speak, it doesn’t take away your right to speak.  For that matter, when you talk about taking away my rights – like the Second Amendment – it doesn’t infringe my rights; I need to meet you with more, better speech, and convince more Americans that you’re a ninny.  And I do.

But I digress.

There is no right not to be offended – because if we tried to say you had a right not to be offended, then it’d take away someone else’s freedom of speech.   If person A makes a statue of the Virgin Mary out of cow dung, Catholic Person B isn’t getting any rights violated; they are fully entitled to show the world why Person A is a terrible artist, or make a statue of Person A out of goat dung, or whatever.

So since it’s been in the news for the past 24 hours, let’s talk about the “women’s right” to birth control.

You women (and men, ahem) have a right to your private life (NSA notwithstanding), and to live your life more or less as you want (yep, there are restrictions on snake-handling and marijuana and raw milk and machine guns and a bunch of other stuff, but work with me here).  So go ahead and buy and use birth control!

Sorry, children. Everything that displeases you isn’t bigotry. Even religion.

But you have no right to force other people to buy birth control for you if it violates their beliefs, which are a right and don’t interfere with your rights (as opposed to wants).

Idiot columnistette Jessica Valenti thinks women should have sex *in* Hobby Lobbies nationwide to protest the ruling. Which is great, with two exceptions; 1) five’ll getcha ten the “women” will look like Jessica Valenti 2) That’ll open the door to people splattering guts and gore all over Planned Parenthood clinics. Choose your pointless symbolic gestures wisely, whiny spoiled progressives!

Frankly, you should have no more “right” for you to force anyone else to buy you contraception than I should to force you to buy me ammunition, not because of my religious beliefs (which say nothing about contraception) but because it takes my money.  But that brings up an argument about taxation and government that goes way beyond this, and that we should actually have in our society (government should pay for nothing but the court system, defense, and arresting and prosecuting people who materially harm other people), but is a huge tangent from the discussion we’re actually having.

You have a right to use contraception.  You have, currently, the legal means to force most people who work for most companies, and all publicly-held companies, to pay for them.  You don’t have the right to violate the rights of privately-owned companies’ freedom of religion.

It’s pretty simple, which is of course why you all get it wrong.

Hobby Lobbyist

Hobby Lobby won its case - to not be forced to provide contraception – 5-4:

The justices’ 5-4 decision Monday is the first time that the high court has ruled that profit-seeking businesses can hold religious views under federal law. And it means the Obama administration must search for a different way of providing free contraception to women who are covered under objecting companies’ health insurance plans.

Look for an escalation of “War on Women” rhetoric in 3…2…1…

The ACLU Gets One Right

The American Civil Liberties Union is a ”civil liberties” group – defending the liberties that the political class east of the Hudson and West of the Sierra Madre value, first and foremost. 

Don’t get me wrong – in the great scheme of things, someone has to defend the First Amendment rights of Nazis to march in Skokie, or for artists to create statues of the Virgin Mary made of cow dung.  And it’s not going to be me – not beyond the intellectual plane with any great vigor, anyway. 

Of course, the ACLU has always believed the Second Amendment was a collective right – incomprehensibly believing that while rights “of the People” in the First Amendment refer to individuals, in the Second they attach to the National Guard. 

But once in a while they get one right – as in the report earlier this week on the excessive militarization of the Police.

Straw

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Naturally, I favor the dissent in the Abramski straw-buyer gun case.  This section caught my eye:

That Abramski’s reading does not render the Act’s requirements “meaningless” is further evidenced by the fact that, for decades, even ATF itself did not read the statute to criminalize conduct like Abramski’s. After Congress passed the Act in 1968, ATF’s initial position was that the Act did not prohibit the sale of a gun to an eligible buyer acting on behalf of a third party (even an ineligible one). See Hearings Before the Subcommittee To Investigate Juvenile Delinquency of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, 94th Cong., 1st Sess., pt. 1, 118 (1975).A few years later, ATF modified its position and asserted that the Act did not “prohibit a dealer from making a sale to a person who is actually purchasing the firearm for another person” unless the other person was “prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm,” in which case the dealer could be guilty of “unlawfully aiding the prohibited person’s own violation.” ATF, Industry Circular 79–10(1979), in (Your Guide To) Federal Firearms Regulation1988–89 (1988), p. 78. The agency appears not to have adopted its current position until the early 1990’s. See United States v. Polk, 118 F. 3d 286, 295, n. 7 (CA5 1997).

The majority deems this enforcement history “not relevant” because the Government’s reading of a criminal statute is not entitled to deference. Ante, at 22. But the fact that the agency charged with enforcing the Act read it, over a period of roughly 25 years, not to apply to the type of conduct at issue here is powerful evidence that interpreting the Act in that way is natural and reasonable and does not make its requirements “meaningless.”

“Even if the statute were wrongly thought to be ambigu­ous on this point, the rule of lenity would defeat the Gov­ernment’s construction. It is a “familiar principle” that “‘ambiguity concerning the ambit of criminal statutes should be resolved in favor of lenity.’” Skilling v. United States, 561 U. S. 358, 410 (2010). That principle prevents us from giving the words of a criminal statute “a meaning that is different from [their] ordinary, accepted meaning, and that disfavors the defendant.” Burrage v.United States, 571 U. S. ___, ___ (2014) (slip op., at 12). And it means that when a criminal statute has two possible readings, we do not “‘choose the harsher alternative’” unless Congress has “‘spoken in language that is clear and definite.’” United States v. Bass, 404 U. S. 336, 347–349 (1971). For the reasons given above, it cannot be said that the statute unambiguously commands the Government’s current reading. It is especially contrary to sound practice to give this criminal statute a meaning that the Govern­ment itself rejected for years.”

I wasn’t aware the government had reversed its interpretation of the statute and I never heard of a rule of lenity.  But the dissent makes sense to me.

Joe Doakes

Further proof that:

  • We have too many laws
  • The fact that our laws are enforced, not enforced, or overeenforced at the discretion of government according to political priorities is a sign that your government is becoming more lawless, and merely turning into the gang with the coolest guns.

Time to fix both.

Outsourced

Georgia town privatizes just about everything that’s not elected; the experiment has been a raving success.

Sandy Springs, Georgia has, for the past nine years, privatized just about every facet of government:

To grasp how unusual this is, consider what Sandy Springs does not have. It does not have a fleet of vehicles for road repair, or a yard where the fleet is parked. It does not have long-term debt. It has no pension obligations. It does not have a city hall, for that matter, if your idea of a city hall is a building owned by the city. Sandy Springs rents.

The town does have a conventional police force and fire department, in part because the insurance premiums for a private company providing those services were deemed prohibitively high. But its 911 dispatch center is operated by a private company, iXP, with headquarters in Cranbury, N.J.

“When it comes to public safety, outsourcing has always been viewed with a kind of suspicion,” says Joseph Estey, who manages the Sandy Springs 911 service in a hushed gray room a few miles from city hall. “What I think really tipped the balance here is that they were outsourcing just about everything else.”

Critics’ response, summarized?  ”Yeah, but Sandy Springs is wealthy!  And white!  And privatizing government leads to gated communities!”

Responses?

  • Sure, it’s wealthy! (And 30% minority).  And they get to keep a lot more of that wealth than if they were in a city where government was the biggest for-profit enterprise.
  • Flint and Detroit were wealthy, too, before successive waves of government and big-union rent-seeking gutted them like deer.
  • If people decide to vote with their feet and hard-earned money for “gated communities”, that’s more a verdict on government than on them.  But it’s irrelevant; Sandy Springs is not a “gated community”; it’s a city that privatized every government function that could be put into a contract.

Mention this in the Twin Cities, of course, and people will recall the Saint Paul suburb that tried to contract out its snow-plowing.  According to accounts (written by government union members), it didn’t work well.  Of course, the contract – written by those same government workers – didn’t spell out performance standards, or at least spelled them out in a form that befitted a group of unionized city workers, if you catch my drift and I think you do.

You can predict the panic in response:

The prospect of more Sandy Springs-style incorporations concerns people like Evan McKenzie, author of “Privatopia: Homeowner Associations and the Rise of Residential Private Government.” He worries that rich enclaves may decide to become gated communities writ large, walling themselves off from areas that are economically distressed.

“You could get into a ‘two Americas’ scenario here,” he says. “If we allow the more affluent to institutionally isolate themselves, then the poor are supposed to do — what? They’re supposed to have all the poverty and all the social problems and deal with them?”

Evan.  Bubbie.  Listen up.

In Chicago, the places were Rahm Emanuel and the Obama family live are as safe as a pediatric ICU.  Mere blocks away, the streets are shooting galleries.  This, in one of the most over-governed, over-bureaucratized cities in the country.

We don’t have “two Americas” now?

The S Word – Redux

Why keep political divisions, just for the sake of tradition?

Here’s a video about the proposed “State of Jefferson” – the move by rural Northern California to secede from the rest of the state:

This, and the secession movement in Colorado – and the fallout either or both could bring – could be the best thing to happen to this nation in decades.

A Libertarian Is A Conservative Who’s Been Audited

Minnesota’s property forfeiture laws – which allowed law enforcement to confiscate property they believed was involved in crimes even before anyone was convicted – started out under the Carlson Administration – during America’s last major round of drug hysteria, in the early-mid ’90s, when the national murder rate spiked over the crack trade and Minnesota was reeling from the early-decade carnage in Minneapolis where, driven by gangs, the murder rate briefly spiked to some fairly astronomical levels.

If the police grab your property – car, house, whatever – you have to file suit to get it back, proving that your property didn’t in fact commit a crime or some such other legalistic buncombe.

And for all of Jesse Ventura’s libertarian palaver, his administration never addressed the issue.  And if anyone pulled Jesse Ventura’s strings, it was Dean Barkley, moderate-DFLer turned “Independence Party” guru and Jesse Ventura’s main advisor and for two  months, US Senator after Paul Wellstone died (and Ventura passive-aggressively refused to appoint election winner Norm Coleman to fill the period between the election and the swearing-in).

So maybe events have conspired to create another small-l libertarian?

Barkley’s ordeal started in April, he told me. He had lent the vehicle for a day to a relative to haul some tires. That relative was driving the GMC SUV when he got pulled over on Interstate 394, and Golden Valley police charged him with DWI and drug possession. They also seized the vehicle.

When Barkley went down to police headquarters, he was informed that they intended to keep the vehicle permanently under forfeiture laws. Barkley, who’s an attorney, was appalled.

Barkley has one distinct advantage: lawyer friends who will take his case on pro bono. Normally, it would cost about $5,000 to hire a lawyer to fight a forfeiture, making it pointless to do so if your property is worth less than that.

One of his attorneys, Philip Villaume, said the Golden Valley police have not violated any policies by refusing to give up the car so far, but he said he expects that as an innocent owner, Barkley will win it back in court – eventually. How long will that take? About three months, he said.

What’s the old saying?  ”A Republican is a Democrat that’s been mugged; a Libertarian is a Republican who’s been audited”?

Barkley said he did not think much about forfeiture law in his political days, but he’s thinking about it now. “It goes against every constitutional concept that I studied in law school. If somebody is guilty of something, fine. This way they presume you’re guilty… I think it’s screwy. I think it’s completely backwards.”

Yes, it certainly is.

Memorial Day

As I discussed on the show on Saturday, there are really two sides to Memorial Day, to me.

The first part is the obvious part; remembering those who’ve died to keep this country free.

There are many of them; well over a million men and women have died in the service of this country, in wars big – the Civil War, World War 2 – and small (the Philippine Insurrection, Desert Storm).

And their memory – and the ones that lived, and are with us – deserve a world of thanks.

———-

A friend of this blog – a Navy veteran, as it happens – posted this on Facebook late last week:

Good morning all! It’s Memorial day weekend again.

Instead of exhorting patriotism and thankfulness from folks who don’t want to hear it I’d like to remind you that our government is keeping tabs on all of us. They are flying drones over our homes and collecting our communications. There are cameras *everywhere* taking our pictures, recording our movements. Our local police are now a military force, equipped with heavy weapons and armor. If you have made any firearm related purchases, or frequent arms related websites, your name is on a list. If you happen to belong to a conservative political group, the IRS has your number, but don’t feel left out Lefties, sooner or later they’ll get around to you too. If this situation is not OK with you, what have you done about it? Written anyone? Called anyone? Shown up in person anywhere to get in your legislators grill?

If you don’t care enough to protect the freedoms so many have died for, please don’t post a bunch of smarmy pictures & canned slogans; I don’t want to hear it.

There’s a place for the simple and the sentimental, of course…

…but the writer is correct; the real challenge facing those of us who haven’t died in the service of this country is to make sure that this country is worthy of their sacrifice.  To make sure that those who died to preserve freedom didn’t die in vain.

Those who founded this country knew perfectly well that the greatest threats to this nation’s freedom weren’t from overseas.

The writer wrote the piece in honor of a comrade…:

CWO3 Mike Sheerin; missing you today brother. Not many left around to pick up the slack you left; nobody at all to fill the shoes.

We’ve been blessed with just the right people to pick up the slack when they’ve been needed.

And these days, we all have slack to pick up.