Monthly Archives: September 2006

Police Precautions

As I wrote about on my personal blog, last weekend myself and a friend were stopped on a curfew violation; the officer then made a rather harassing “joke” about me being a statutory rapist. A “joke” about committing a felony. Anyway, you can read all about the incident here. It’s not really important other than serving as an inspiration for this post. What I want to talk about the unfortunate necessity of being prepared for an encounter with the police.

The police have increasingly become adversarial in any sort of encounter with civilians. You’ve witnessed this countless times before: the police use SWAT teams when serving warrants on non-violent offenders, even the smallest towns have military APCs that their SWAT teams use, police treat any traffic stop involving teenagers as a drug possession in progress (think about how ridiculous that sounds), etc. Things were not always like this, but since the “war” on drugs and the increased criminalization of teenagers, things have changed. And unfortunately, we need to be prepared. Based on several incidents, some involving my friends or relatives, I’ve come to regard any encounter with the police as adversarial. As a result, there are certain precautions that I’ve come to adopt and that I urge you to consider as well. I’m going to appear to focus primarily on teenagers, but that’s only because of my experience and the fact that they seem to get an unfair rap more often than other groups. What I’m talking about has an application for everyone.

First, know your rights. This site has a good roundup (h/t: tomWright). The bottom line is that you have the right to refuse a search, and that Constitutional rights still apply regardless of your age. However, police will do everything in their power (and maybe more) to get you to consent to a search/otherwise waive your rights. Which brings me to my next point. When you have an encounter with the police, they will be adversarial, and they will use threats and intimidation to try and get you to waive your rights. Even the most cool-headed among us can become upset. Because of this, it is important that you run through scenarios in your head before hand. This is good practice in dealing with your response to any sort of stressful situation, but for the purposes of this post we’ll stick to discussing responses to police.

First and most importantly, keep your cool. I know it’s redundant, but it’s important. If you get openly upset, you cede the moral high ground to the police. It sounds tougher than it is, so make sure you are always thinking cool. Next, consider what the police could do to you. What if they start verbally harassing you? What if they physically harass you? Ask to search your car? Threaten you with being arrested? You have to think through every possibility before hand, otherwise you won’t be able to handle them when they come at you in real-life, at real-time. In my particular incident, I was too busy thinking about what I was going to do if the officer asked to search my car that I completely neglected the decision matrix I would work through if the officer started harassing me. Finally, figure out what, if anything, you’re going to do when confronted with the various possibilities of police action. That’s another part of the decision matrix I was talking about. In fact, why don’t we run through a decision matrix right now: Pulled over–officer begins verbally harassing you–you keep your cool and ask for his name and badge number. You have to have all these matrices on hand ready to pull out and execute or modify at a moments notice.

Lastly, something to consider keeping on hand in your car is some sort of recording device. In a lot of cases, the dashboard video camera won’t pick up the audio from a conversation between you and an officer, especially if you remain in your car. In these cases, the complaint report will be your word against the officer’s. It will help to have some sort of hard copy on hand that will back up your side of the story. If you do have a recording device, make sure to tell the officer that you are recording the conversation. Be polite, but firm. Make it clear that you are completely within your rights to record the conversation.

Hopefully these suggestions will help in any future encounters with the police.

Cross-posted at the No Angst Zone

Vote Buying 101

NY Times:

I very rarely agree with Democrats, but as the saying goes: a broken clock is right twice a day.

“You don’t have to be a law enforcement or engineering expert to know that a 700-mile fence on a 2,000-mile border makes no sense,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democrat in

the Senate.

Who cares if it’s a massive waste of money, they’re trying to retain their position

of power by claiming to be “doing the will of the people”.

And while Congress wants 700 miles of fencing, it was appropriating only enough money to complete about 370 miles of it, Congressional aides acknowledged, leaving it unclear as to whether the entire structure will be built.

When the dust of the campaigns and election has settled, they can cheapest propecia in uk just order viagra online? quote Bill Clinton: “at least we tried”.

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Bad News!

Check out the McCain-Feingold Iron Curtain Roundup. Remember

McCain-Feingold, aka the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002? It’s that lovely little law that once threatened to silence the political blogosphere 60

days prior to an

election and does prohibit “broadcast advertising that contains criticism of members of Congress seeking re-election in November.”

[h/t Coyote Blog]
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Good News!

Well, it looks as xenical uk buy though Radly Balko’s relentless coverage of a viagra super active horrible miscarriage of justice has finally paid off:

“Cory Maye will not sleep on

death row tonight. Nor, for that matter, any night for the foreseeable future.”

A while back,

I mentioned Maye’s story (here), with more links to others’ thoughts on the subject.

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The problem with moral arguments…

Moral arguments invoke a worldview. Consequently, most moral arguments attempt to demonstrate that the worldview is internally consistent and valid. This is deep philosophical territory, and so most moral arguments try to get mileage by being simple. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of simplification is that the arguer

is dismissed from questioning his worldview. Consequently, the argument's premises are often challenged by the opponent. [quote via BC Skeptics]

Scott Scheule proves the point above as he I et live Casino spiller du mot ekte dealere, og du kan chatte med dine likesinnede. attempts candian pharmacies viagra to debunk utilitarianism: the concept that maximizing the good for the most people is a moral priority. But I, like Scott, favor a natural rights-based moral philosophy.

Many people do indeed agree that some pleasure is good, but utilitarianism goes further than that: not only is pleasure good, but all pleasure is good, and it is to be maximized. And that view enjoys something far less than unanimity. I think most people would also agree that not only do women have a right not to be raped, but that that right exists no matter how much utility the rapist gets from the rape. And the idea that the pleasure from raping a woman is a good thing is quite controversial indeed. Mill appealed to commonly held intuitions…

but so did Nozick.

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Freedom Dies In My Hometown

I grew up in New Jersey in a bedroom community called Piscataway. It wasn’t (and isn’t) all that much different from any other Central New Jersey town, except, perhaps, for the fact, that it was one of the only towns north of Princeton that had an actual working farm. Cornell Farms was a little dairy farm that operated on one of the few undeveloped areas of the part of town where my family lived. I still remember passing by it every day on the school bus that I had to take when I started high school. Little did I know at the time that the powers-that-be were doing whatever they could to take Cornell Farms away from the family that owned it.

Matt Labash puts it this way in The Weekly Standard:

Piscataway (an Indian term meaning “it is getting dark”) was once a charming farm community. But like so much of America, it is now a charmless depot off the Turnpike, a 19-square-mile blur of box stores, strip malls, and high-density housing. In the middle of this, sprawled over 75 acres, sits the Halper farm, one of the last agricultural tracts in Piscataway.

The farm has been in the family since 1922 and until the city officially took ownership, in 2004, was co-owned by numerous Halper aunts and cousins, most of whom live elsewhere. Mark Halper still ran a mulch business on the land, and his cousin Gary oversaw a horse farm on another corner, making ends meet by giving pony rides to children. But Larry Halper (Mark’s twin brother) and his wife Clara still worked and lived on the land, though they owned only a one-twelfth interest in the total family acreage. Even though everyone was getting bounced, it was their plight and property that attracted Clements.

The township has made feints at taking the Halper property for decades. In 1975, it actually did force the Halpers to sell 25 acres, which Piscataway added to an adjoining park. But the current festivities got underway in earnest in 1998. Around that time, the city purportedly grew nervous that some of its last privately owned green space might fall into the hands of ghastly developers, the kind that are regularly found in bed with the local politicians, making New Jersey a notorious “pay to play” state. Take a ride around the perimeter of the Halper farm, and such concerns don’t seem to have plagued city planner consciences in the past, what with all the quaint mom ‘n’ pop operations like Wal-Mart, Starbucks, and Hollywood Tans that blanket the town like bad wall-to-wall carpeting.

From the look of things, plenty of people are making hefty profits selling Piscataway real estate off to the highest bidder. But to the city’s thinking, the Halpers shouldn’t be among them. They only worked the farm for nearly a century, why should they make money off it? Never mind that they’d received unsolicited offers for their land for decades and managed not to sell. Piscataway officials were coming after their property anyway, vowing to maintain it as “open space.” An incredulous Clements sks what could be “more ‘open space’ than a farm?”

I’m not sure whether it’s because this is my hometown we’re talking about here, but this latest example of Kelo inspired insanity gone wild has me particularly enraged. It was an open secret in town that the Halper farm was a target of the powers-that-be for some time.

How dare they operate a farm and offer horse riding lessons in the middile of our nice, peaceful NIMBY/preppie/DINK community !

How dare they provide some fun for kids !

I’ve seen alot of changes to my hometown since I moved to Virginia sixteen years ago. Many (most) of them have been improvements. But when I drive past what used to be Cornell Dairy Farm in the future, and see a Super Target (or whatever it might be) that ended up there only because the City Council decided to steal land from the Halper family, I can only mourn the fact that liberty means nothing in one town in Central New Jersey.

What The Government Makes Easy

When I got out of college, I made the trek west to Silicon Valley. It was January 2001, and to be an electrical engineer in Silicon Valley is pretty sweet. But trouble was brewing, as a few months later I saw my company go through round 1 of layoffs. I made it through unscathed, but the next February, I found myself a part of the 17 people in my 50-person department who got the axe.

I found myself collecting unemployment as I searched for a new job. Which isn’t a very good place, emotionally, for a libertarian. There are some strange things you realize when you’re on unemployment. When you’re a single apartment-dweller, and you’re told you get a free $1500/month, it really barely even cramps your lifestyle. I found myself with a few hours a day spent looking for jobs, a few hours spent riding my motorcycle, and a few hours spending time with my wife (then still my girlfriend). I’m far too restless to be unemployed, but for the lazier folks in our world, it must be a lot of fun…

But I was thinking about one part of it today. Looking back on it, I can’t believe how EASY it was. We’re talking $1500 a month, which is probably equivalent to a $24K/year pre-tax salary. At the time, it seemed like it would likely extend forever. And when I found out I was going to be forced to go to the office and show what I’d been doing all that time, I thought they actually wanted me to justify the weekly mailers in which I claimed I was looking for jobs. So I printed out a bunch of data off monster.com showing exactly which jobs I had applied to. But they required no such thing. Instead of showing them that I was actively trying to find a job, I just had to put my data into the State’s computer job database.

It seemed like the normal rule I’ve attributed to government, that it’s slow, complicated, and hard to deal with, went out the window. It was like they were eager to give me money. Heck, if I wasn’t bored not having a job, I might have tried to take more advantage of the situation! Now, I don’t have any experience with things like welfare, foodstamps, etc, but I would guess that my experience with unemployment would be similar. I’m sure that there’s no difficulty in receiving free money from the government.

But you know what’s hard? Giving them money. Paying taxes is one of the most complicated, horrendous, and painful experiences you can possibly have. It takes a law degree to understand a mere fraction of the tax code, which is so complicated even the IRS can barely figure it out. And if you don’t know how to do it properly, you face big-time fines or even jail time.

What’s the difference? People want free money, they don’t want to give away money. The government wants control, and if you’re on their dole, they control you. If you’re not on their dole, and in fact, you’re their revenue source, they can also control you by taking lobbying dollars to appease your desire not to pay them.

The result is a process that is streamlined to make you dependent on them for your daily income, if you’re on the bottom end of the ladder. And if you’re on the top end of the ladder, for a few campaign contributions you can ensure that your financial burden for government is greatly reduced. If, like most of us, you’re in the middle of the ladder, you get screwed. You’re too rich to get benefits from the government, but poor enough that if you screw up on your ridiculously complex tax return, you can barely afford a lawyer to make sure the IRS doesn’t bend you over.

In all honesty, none of this is surprising. Government is a system whose function is dependent on political incentives. When you look at how the external levers work, it makes it clear why politicians are the way they are. Their desire is to get reelected, which means legislating the wishes of the rich, making the poor dependent on them, all the while convincing the middle class that they’re doing so for “the common good”.

That’s it. That’s the sum of government. Why is it so easy to feed at the trough? Because you don’t bite the hand that feeds you, and politicians are eager to be that hand. It’s a wonderful system if you’re a politician, but it’s a disgusting, inefficient, and counterproductive system when it comes to results and making the world better. Looking back a few years later, I am ashamed that I took part in it at all.

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If The Government Won’t, Who Will?

I was talking with a coworker from Boston this morning, who recently got a new roommate. Everyone in Boston is a Democrat, except him, as he is a Republican with a strong Libertarian streak. So his roommate told him she was going to vote straight Democrat in the upcoming election, with the reasoning being that “they support gay marriage”. Now, I can think of plenty of arguments against that, the easiest being that while I support the idea of gay marriage, and think it will happen within the next decade or two on its own, I’m not going to vote for folks who are going to steal more of my money and take away some of my other freedoms just to speed up that process.

But my coworker has obviously been listening to me jabber on for a while, because he fired the standard libertarian response to his roommate. “I don’t see why government should recognize marriage at all. Why shouldn’t it simply be a completely private matter? If a church wants to recognize them, that’s fine. If the individuals simply want to consider themselves married, that’s fine. But why should the state be involved?”

Here is where he hit the brick wall. Of course, she wanted to know, if the State of Massachussetts won’t recognize marriage, who will? My coworker told her nobody needed to. She then thought maybe if my coworker didn’t think it was a State matter, perhaps he thought it should be Federal? Nope, he replied, “no level of government needs to ‘recognize’ a marriage.” Sure, that brings up some interesting issues, because there are certain segments of our society that have piggybacked onto the government’s recognition of marriage. But society is a flexible thing, and markets will adjust. So right now your health insurance is provided to your “spouse”? Well, I’d say it wouldn’t take long for demand to change that to “1 member of your household” instead. Maybe that’s your spouse, maybe it’s your “domestic partner”, maybe it’s the elderly father you’re caring for because you don’t want him to be in a nursing home. Markets adjust.

But his roommate just simply could not see it. She could not understand that a marriage could be a marriage without a license from the government. She could not understand that society doesn’t require government to stick its grubby fingers into every one of our institutions to give them some sort of legitimacy. This sort of blindness is one of the major barriers to people moving towards small government. They’ve lived with government intrusion deep into their personal affairs for so long that they can’t even imagine life without it.

The intrusion of government has perverted the entire issue. If the government weren’t involved, gay marriage would be a personal issue between people. If you think it’s sinful, don’t be part of a church that sanctions it. Your rights aren’t violated, and neither are theirs. The government, though, stuck their meddling hands into marriage, and then excluded a bunch of people from the legal benefits government attached to the relationship. That doesn’t fly. Ideally, government would get their hands out of the picture entirely. Barring that unlikely prospect, the next best thing is if they’re going to get involved, they try to make the benefits as universally-available as possible. But instead, they’ve created a benefit and used it to discriminate. Let’s make sure that we understand that a debate over gay marriage is the symptom of a problem, not a problem itself. The problem is government.

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Hi Everybody!

First things first, time for introductions. My name’s Mike. I’m a 19 year old who currently attends Iowa State University, located in lovely Ames, IA, but I’m originally from Omaha, NE. I’m studying to be an Aerospace Engineer, which could explain part of the reason why I blog about politics: it gives me something to do that a) has absolutely nothing to do with calculus, b)I actually enjoy, and c) doesn’t make me want to tear my hair out. Anyway, I’m also in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) and I plan on commissioning as an officer in the USAF and making a career out of it, if they’ll let me. I’m an Eagle Scout, which hopefully tells you quite a bit about me right there. I used to enjoy camping and still do somewhat, but I’m a much bigger fan of climbing, especially 14’ers in Colorado. Better views, and I get to eat real food for dinner and sleep in a bed. I also enjoy hunting upland game birds, although in Nebraska the activity should properly be titled “morning stroll through field with shotgun,” because there never seems to be too many birds.

As you might have guessed, I’m a pretty big geek. I love airplanes and anything to do with them. I’ve gotten laughed at numerous times for referring to an airplane as “sexy.” I also love to read. I used to be real big into military techno-thrillers along the lines of Clancy’s work, but I’ve kind of gotten away from that in recent years, primarily because I unfortunately only have a limited amount of time to read, and so much important stuff to read it in. I have gotten back into reading fiction with some Heinlein, and fully intend on reading everything he’s written sometime in the future, but for now I’ve been focusing on military strategy documents, papers, and books, primarily on fighting counter-insurgency.

But that’s the kind of stuff that belongs over at my home blog, the No Angst Zone (shameless plug #1). What you’re interested in is the libertarian side of things. My early political views were shaped by my Dad who would best be described as a Reagan Republican. While I would whole-heartedly back the GOP if they were to return to the Reagan days, I’m much more to the libertarian side of things than a typical Reagan Republican. A lot of that change happened when I started reading libertarian blogs; Eric’s, Brad’s, Robert’s, T.F.’s, and Perry’s are all some I started reading 2 or so years ago. Since that time I’ve become closely acquainted with Jefferson, Madison, Locke, Smith, Bastiat, and several others, in part thanks to those guys. Sadly, I feel quite alone when it comes to being able to discuss these people and their ideas. I’ve become known as the “crazy libertarian” in my group of friends; I even had one come up to me and ask me to explain to her what exactly libertarianism is.

So. Now that you know about me, what do I believe in? I feel that the Founding Fathers knew what the hell they were doing, so perhaps we should stop trying to interpret what they “really” meant and simply take the Constitution for what it is. I think that the most important Amendment to the Constitution was the 10th. I believe in unalienable rights to life, liberty, and property. I believe in the right of people to act aggressively and if necessary violently to protect their unalienable rights, whether from intrusion by other citizens or by the government. I believe in a strong foreign policy. I think such a foreign policy is necessary because we’re currently engaged in a war that has been going on for 30 odd years and that will be going on for another hundred. Finally, I think having a federal drinking age of 21 is one of the stupidest things this government has done in the past 25 years. (Come on, you know that last one was coming; I am a college student, after all.)

Most importantly, I believe in me. And in every other individual out there. The individual is what always has and always will make this country great. It is the right and idea of the individual that must be protected above all else.

Like I said above, my personal blog is the No Angst Zone. It’s a mix of libertarian and military/foreign policy themed material, with some humor thrown in every now and again. Feel free to check it out if you’re interested.

Finally, I’d just like to say thanks to Brad for inviting me to contribute over here. I’m definitely excited to be given the opportunity.

(In case you didn’t get the reference in the title, head on over to wikipedia. I’m a HUGE Simpsons fan.)

One Thousand Eight Hundred Twenty Six

September 11, 2001, 8:46am Eastern Daylight Time:
1826 days, 5634 dead,
and we will continue
until the mission is complete

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. This much we pledge—and more. — John F. Kennedy

We Will Never forgive

We Will Never Forget

We Will Never Stop

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

What Amendment Would You Repeal?

One of those questions that I think can give a clue into how people view government is to ask which Constitutional Amendment they would repeal, if given the chance. To most people, the first step would be the 16th Amendment, allowing an income tax. That’s a fair answer, but since it’s such a common answer, I tend to usually phrase the question as which amendment other than the 16th someone would choose to repeal.

For me, the answer is clear. The 17th Amendment, providing for the direct election of Senators, would be the first to go. There are a lot of problems with governments in general growing power, but the 17th Amendment eliminated one of the crucial constraints on the federal government’s growth. As we can see now, with the federal government being the primary governmental entity in our lives, rather than the state governments, it has completely destroyed the intent of “federalism” our government was built on.

All the ins and outs were well explained by Dale Franks over at QandO, to the extent that I wish I had written it myself. Head over and check it out.

How about you, readers? What amendment would you repeal, and why?

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