Category Archives: Government Ethics

Quote Of The Day

The Sheriff whose deputies raided Berwyn Heights, MD mayor Cheye Calvo’s house predictably doesn’t think they did anything wrong. He said a lot of pretty despicable things in that article, but this one really bothers me:

“I’m sorry for the loss of their family pets,” Jackson said. “But this is the unfortunate result of the scourge of drugs in our community. Lost in this whole incident was the criminal element. . . . In the sense that we kept these drugs from reaching our streets, this operation was a success.”

What criminal element? The mayor? His wife? His elderly mother-in-law? The two labrador retrievers they shot?

Did they suspect Calvo was a drug-runner? Obviously not, because they ALREADY knew the drugs were intended (from an on-going investigation) for a false drop.

If there’s a criminal element, don’t you think it might be the guys, dressed in black, who busted down the door of a law-abiding citizen, terrorized his family, and shot his dogs? All without even a cursory investigation to see if they’d done anything wrong other than having their own address on a package that even the cops weren’t sure was intended for them?

This isn’t the result of the scourge of drugs or the criminal element. This is the result of shoddy police work. This Sheriff should be ashamed of his wanton disregard for logic and humanity.

It’s Time to Impeach Obama

It’s time to impeach Obama; indict him, and his entire administration, for fraud, coercion, extortion, influence peddling, and grand theft under the color of law, amongst hundreds of other charges.

It is not simply the auto issue; but that is currently the most visible.

This is no hyperbole. I am not simply spouting off. I believe, and will from this point forward, work to see, Barack Obama impeached, charged, indicted, tried, and imprisoned, for the crimes he and his cronies have committed against this nation, and its people.

Also, let me make this clear: This is NOT about politics, or at least not about political ideology. I believe that everyone, left, right, libertarian, or indifferent to ideology; should see what Obama and his administration are doing, and understand the damage it is doing, and will do, to this country.

We cannot allow our nation to become a nation of men. We MUST remain a nation of laws.

At this point, Obama, and his administration, aren’t even bothering to PRETEND to obey the law, or the constitution. They have embarked on a campaign of theft and fraud never seen before in the history of man kind; knowing that they had the full cover of the media protecting them, a friendly congress, and a co-operative judiciary.

They are in clear violation of the constitution, and hundreds if not thousands, of state and federal laws; blatantly and knowingly flouting them in fact, because, in Obamas words, “We won”.

Well, I’m sorry sir, for now at least, we are still a nation of laws; and you must be brought to account.

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

Agree Now, Or Your Regulator Will Make You Agree Later

Interesting notes that Judicial Watch has gotten hold of from Paulson/Bernanke’s offer they can’t refuse back in October. It’s the talking points from the meeting… “Strongarm” would be an understatement:

We plan to announce the program tomorrow–and–that your nine firms will be the initial participants….

This is a combined program (bank liability guarantee and capital purchase). Your firms need to agree to both.

  • We don’t believe it is tenable to opt out because doing so would leave you vulnerable and exposed.
  • If a capital infusion is not appealing, you should be aware that your regulator will require it in any circumstance.

I’m left wondering how it could have possibly been worse, but then I came up with a scenario.

Bush could have given the banks to the UAW. At least he didn’t do that!

Hat Tip: Reason

Bundling The Banks Into A TARP

Geithner's Treasury Grabs A Bank
Back in October, the banks appeared to be in very deep trouble. Such deep trouble that they were forced to enter a deal with the Devil decided to run to the government for assistance. But they were shocked — SHOCKED! — when the government starting attaching a whole bunch of regulations and conditions to the deal after the fact.

So they want to return the money. And the government won’t take it back without a fight:

The bottom line for the banks is that if they want out of TARP, they have to be able to withdraw from all the other sources of emergency public support that the government has given them. If they want the support, then they have to agree to the conditions and regulations that come with TARP. No subsidies without regulations. To put it into more common terms, banks can decide to break up with the government or they can decide to stay together. But they don’t get to be friends with benefits.

Imagine the outcry from utility regulators if you signed up for the sports package with your cable company because you wanted, say, SpeedTV. After a while, you grow tired of the programming and all the extra cost because you don’t think you need to pay for TVG and all the other channels, so you call the company and try to cancel the sports package. And they tell you that if you want to quit the sports package, you’ll have to cancel cable, internet, and phone service altogether — you can’t have just one!

I think Stuart Varney lays it out quite well (c/o Michael Wade @ QandO):

I must be naive. I really thought the administration would welcome the return of bank bailout money. Some $340 million in TARP cash flowed back this week from four small banks in Louisiana, New York, Indiana and California. This isn’t much when we routinely talk in trillions, but clearly that money has not been wasted or otherwise sunk down Wall Street’s black hole. So why no cheering as the cash comes back?

My answer: The government wants to control the banks, just as it now controls GM and Chrysler, and will surely control the health industry in the not-too-distant future. Keeping them TARP-stuffed is the key to control. And for this intensely political president, mere influence is not enough. The White House wants to tell ‘em what to do. Control. Direct. Command.

I’ll have a more detailed post coming up when I get around to it, but I think I, too, was naive. I expected more from Obama. I honestly believed that he was actually trying to become President because he wanted to improve outcomes, not just drive the train. I was sure, of course, that Obama was going to be pointing us the wrong direction, but I thought he was at least going to try to do so carefully, efficiently, and taking input from all sides before doing so. In short, I knew I wasn’t going to like him, but I thought he was going to be reasonable.

Not so much. He wants to control the financial sector. He doesn’t just want to fix it, he wants to remake it according to his own ideology. He doesn’t want them to succeed without government; he wants them to be dependent on government. I thought Bush was an exceptionally authoritarian President, but it seems that he was just laying the groundwork for Barack Obama.

The Feds have the banks in the grasp of their talons and they’re squeezing. And by god they won’t let up until submission is complete.

The Obameter at the 100 Day Mark

Yeah I know, the “First 100 Days” of President Barack Obama is somewhat arbitrary. Still, a great deal has happened in these first 100 days so why not take another look at the Obameter shall we?

So far, President Obama has kept 27 campaign promises, compromised on 7, broken 6, stalled on 3, has 63 “in the works,” and no action on the remaining 408.

As a Libertarian, there are certain promises I would like to see kept but many more broken. Perhaps my biggest disappointment as far as his pro-liberty broken promises go would have to be his failure to follow through with his “sunlight before signing” promise. I am disappointed but I can’t say I am surprised that out of the 12 bills Obama signed into law, only once did he make good on this promise. It would be a major bastardization of the English language to suggest that The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, SCHIP, and the so-called stimulus bill are all “emergency” legislation which would be exempt from the 5 day waiting period*.

Overall, Barack Obama turned out to be exactly the president I thought he would be: a collectivist president hell bent on growing the size and scope of the federal government.

» Read more

I WILL NOT OBEY

As I have said here before, I am a senior technical executive at a large bank.

As it happens, a bank that was forced at gunpoint, by the secretary of the treasury and chairman of the federal reserve, to accept TARP funds (as all the top surviving banks in the U.S were).

Let me be clear: We did not want TARP funds, or need them; but we, and all the other major banks, were told in no uncertain terms that we WOULD take them.

As obscene as that is, it is irrelevant to what follows; excepting that we did take TARP funds.

The United States House of Representatives recently passed a blatantly unconstitutional bill, placing confiscatory tax burdens on anyone making more than $250,000 and working for an institution that received more than 5 billion of TARP funds.

The bill was in theory specifically addressed at the false outrage over retention bonuses paid to AIG executives; and is targeted only to their bonuses.

In theory.

Of course, this would be an unconstitutional bill of attainder, which wouldn’t pass even the most cursory constitutional challenge; so it was re-written to be broader.

Broader of course means more people would be affected, and congress would be given more power to steal more money.

In fact, if you read into the implications of the bill; it could be used to levy a 90% tax on any income over $250,000, earned by any family making more than $250,000 per year, where either spouse is employed by an institution that received federal “bailout” funds.

It appears that the Senate, and the Obama administration are cold on the bill and that it will not pass, or be signed into law if it did.

I do not earn that much money; nor do my wife and I earn that much together (though in the next few years it is entirely possible that we will).

However, I have something important to say.

If congress should pass any such bill, and the president sign any such law, I WILL NOT OBEY IT.

I will not allow congress to tell me how much I can earn. I will not allow them to take my income because of the actions of others. If they attempt to make me do so by force, I will resist with force.

I will most likely die in the process, which I regret; but at some point a line must be drawn. The constitution must be respected, or it is meaningless.

Congress can make no law that is unconstitutional on it’s face. If such a law be passed, it is the duty of the president to repudiate it; and it must not be signed. If such a law is signed, it is the duty of the agents of the government to refuse to enforce it. If the agents of the state attempt to enforce it, then they must be resisted with force, at all costs.

Anything less is submission to tyranny, and the diminution of citizens, to subjects; or worse.

I have made clear in the past that I would resist police abuse of the constitution. I will resist congresses abuses no less. I will resist the presidents abuses no less.

Agents of the state cannot exceed the legitimate authority of the state. When they do so, they are criminals, and they must be resisted as criminals.

Normally I do not advertise where my lines are; but congress is now in the midst of a tantrum of self indulgence, overconfidence, and hubris not seen since reconstruction.

Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama, are pushing our nation headlong into tyranny and ruin; and decrying those who resist as racists, or reactionaries; simply for not wanting to be serfs.

I would suggest that we petition for the impeachment and prosecution (for conspiracy to deprive every resident of the United States of their civil rights) of any congressman who voted for such a bill; but I know it would do no good.

Government must be made to understand, WE WILL NOT TOLERATE SUCH ABUSE.

We will resist.

We will revolt.

We will not be made subjects, serfs, or slaves.

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

The Dastardly Bonuses: AIG, Fannie, and Freddie

Those eeevvviiilll capitalists at AIG have been taking quite a beating. Now it’s time to spread the “wealth”:

Fannie Mae plans to pay retention bonuses of at least $1 million to four key executives as part of a plan to keep hundreds of employees from leaving the government-controlled company.

Rival mortgage finance company Freddie Mac is planning similar awards, but has not yet reported on which executives will benefit.

The two companies, which together own or back more than half of the home mortgages in the country, have been hobbled by skyrocketing loan defaults. Fannie recently requested $15 billion in federal aid, while Freddie has sought a total of almost $45 billion.

Fannie Mae disclosed its “broad-based” retention program in a recent regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company was only required to disclose the amounts for the top-paid executives, who will pocket at least $470,000 on top of their base salaries.

The bonuses are more than double last year’s, which ranged from $200,000 to $260,000. Another round of bonuses ranging from $330,000 to $429,000 are planned for next February.

Hubris.

What’s the over/under on how soon Barney Frank calls for the heads of the top folks at Fannie and Freddie?

Hat Tip: Cafe Hayek

New Jersey To Ban Being Bare “Down There”

New Jersey, already a state even less free than my home of CA (PDF), has decided to tread where others don’t dare, to see if the ladies are bare down there:

Things could get hairy in New Jersey this summer for women who sport revealing bikinis or a little bit less.

The painful Brazilian wax and its intimate derivatives are in danger of being stripped from salon and spa menus if a recent proposal to ban genital waxing is passed by the state’s Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling.

Cherry Hill salon owner Linda Orsuto said that women would “go ballistic” if the proposal passed. She said that some women would resort to waxing themselves, visiting unlicensed salons or traveling to other states, including Pennsylvania, in a quest to remain bare down there.

“The clients are going to freak,” said Orsuto, who owns 800 West Salon & Spa, on Route 70. “It’s a hot issue, and we’re going to have to do something.”

New Jersey statutes allow waxing of the face, neck, arms, legs and abdomen, but officials say that genital waxing has always been illegal, although not spelled out.

Regardless, almost every salon in South Jersey, from Atlantic City casinos to suburban strip malls, has been breaking the law for years by ridding women, and some men, of their pubic hair for $50 to $60 a session.

Don’t the emanations of penumbras that apply to nearby portion of a woman’s body also apply here? I’ve never figured out where those emanations and penumbras lie, especially when the 9th Amendment would have sufficed to cover that other decision, but I have to think this is similar enough to get a hearing before a very titillated Clarence Thomas.

Does this mean that all those douchebags wearing their “FBI – Female Body Inspector” t-shirts will now start applying for exactly that job with the state?

I do feel sorry for the husbands and boyfriends of women who are doing it only to be courteous — you’re out of luck. Get ready to hear “sorry, hon, it’s illegal.”

So why the uproar over this? Well, it comes from a likely source:

Orsuto said that the proposal may be the state’s way of diverting a long-established salon procedure “perfected by aestheticians” to the medical community, where hair can be removed via laser treatment by dermatologists.

Follow the lobbying money.

Hat Tip: MichaelW @ QandO

The Hubris of the National Tactical Officers Association

In my report following the live chat @ The Agitator with Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo last week, I made mention of some very modest reforms he was pushing in Maryland. The bill would require all police departments with SWAT teams to provide monthly reports to the state’s Attorney General, local officials and the general public.

Who would have a problem with just a little public oversight over law enforcement? Apparently, the National Tactical Officers Association’s executive director John Gnagey does:

[John Gnagey] says reporting requirements for SWAT teams should emanate from the law enforcement community, not legislators.

“Our data shows that when SWAT teams are deployed, the violence goes down,” said John Gnagey, who was a SWAT team member for 26 years in the Champaign, Ill., police department.

One question for Mr. Gnagey: That slogan that you have on your squad car that says “to serve and protect,” who exactly are you trying to serve and protect? Based on the tone from the article, it appears that you are only interested in serving and protecting law enforcement. Silly me, I was under the impression that the purpose of law enforcement was to serve and protect the general public! If you have some data that shows SWAT deployments bring the level of violence down, why are you so afraid of putting this data to the test?

The hubris of Mr. Gnagey illustrates exactly why more oversight of law enforcement is necessary. The article also points out that nationally the number of SWAT deployments rose from 2,500 annually in the 1980’s to between 50,000 and 60,000 in 2005; the War on (Some) Drugs is largely responsible for this dramatic increase. Not everyone agrees that these SWAT deployments have reduced violence.

Mayor Cheye Calvo was also interviewed in the article:

“It’s pretty clear to me that police are using SWAT teams for duties that used to be performed by ordinary police officers,” says Calvo, whose Berwyn Heights house was raided July 29 when police mistakenly thought his wife was involved in drug trafficking. “No question, there are times when SWAT teams are appropriate. What strikes me about this is that police are using SWAT teams as an initial response rather than a last resort.”

What we need is more transparency and it’s never going to happen if we depend on those who have something to hide to change the reporting requirements.

Congress Transparently Shilling For Unions

The desire of the NEA to kill the DC Voucher program is well-covered, including by my co-contributor Doug here.

Now it seems that Congress has snuck in a provision for the Teamsters, to restrict Mexican truckers:

Buried in the $410 billion catch-all appropriations bill now before the U.S. Senate is a provision that would end a program that has allowed Mexican truck drivers to deliver goods to destinations inside the United States.

A provision in the original North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994 was supposed to allow U.S. and Mexican trucking companies to deliver goods in each other’s country. But opposition from the Teamsters union and old-fashioned prejudice against Mexicans has derailed implementation of the provision.

Under current restrictions, goods coming into the United States from Mexico by truck must be unloaded inside the “commercial zone” within 20 miles or so of either side of the border and transferred to U.S.-owned trucks for final delivery. U.S. goods going to Mexico face the same inefficient and unnecessary restrictions.

The Bush administration established a pilot program that allows certain Mexican trucking companies that meet U.S. safety and other standards to deliver goods directly to U.S. destinations, while the Mexican government has agreed to allow reciprocal access to its market. But the Democratic Congress and the new Democratic president have vowed to finally kill the program, and the provision inside the appropriations bill will probably deliver the final blow.

As I argued in an article in 2007, the Mexican trucks that have been allowed to operate in the United States under the pilot program have actually had a better safety record than U.S. trucks.

It’s not about safety, and the added inefficiency of transferring everything from one truck to another 20 miles inside the border shows that it’s not about reducing prices for consumers. So this is nothing but bald-faced protectionism to reward unions.

I guess someone in Congress didn’t read that Hope and Change memo, eh?

Indianapolis Councilman Punished for Being Libertarian

A couple of weeks ago, Indianapolis City-County Councilman Ed Coleman jumped from the Republican Party to the Libertarian Party.  From the Chicago Tribune:

Councilman Ed Coleman says he has become disillusioned by what he called the abuse of power by GOP leaders. Coleman was elected in 2007 to his first term as an at-large council member.

He’ll be the sole Libertarian on the council, which Republicans will continue to control with a 15-13 majority over the Democrats.

Coleman said Republican and Democratic leaders on the council wanted obedient followers.

I met Coleman last weekend at the LP’s State Chairs Conference in South Carolina, where we had hastily inserted him as a last minute speaker.  He reiterated the same claim: both political parties demand blind obedience from their elected officials.  It appears that he’s correct.  Here’s a cut-and-paste of a press release just distributed by the Libertarian Party of Indiana:

Out of the political need for retribution, and to send a message that stepping outside the old ‘two party system’ monopoly will have consequences, the City County Council’s Democrat and Republican leadership decided Monday to remove Ed Coleman from all committees. With numerous supporters of Councilor Coleman present, the decision was made in an “executive session” that prevented public comment.

Coleman was appointed to the Rules and Public Policy Committee and the Economic Development Committee at the beginning of the year.  Now that he has publicly changed his affiliation to the Libertarian Party, a move that represented a clear warning shot to the old two-party power structure, they are using Councilor Coleman to send a warning to others.

Coleman was disappointed in the lack of imagination and statesmanship shown by Council leaders.  “They can pretend we don’t exist, but the Libertarian Party is on the ballot in Indiana,” said Coleman. “The voters deserve to have my voice heard.  If the rules are not clear enough for the Council leadership, then maybe we need to change the rules. Shutting us out of the process only proves that ‘open and honest dialogue’ is not really welcomed. I left the Republican Party because they have consistently put the Republican Party above the Indianapolis taxpayer.”

LPMC Chairman Timothy Maguire also expressed his disappointment at the decision. “Clearly, Councilor Coleman was deemed fit to serve on these committees a few weeks ago but this isn’t the first time political gamesmanship has overtaken common sense,” said Maguire. “The Libertarian Party is here to stay, and Ed Coleman is guaranteed to be on this body for three more years.  It would have made more sense for the Council to work on being inclusive rather than fretting about how to dissuade anyone else who might stand up against entrenched political machinery. In 2007, the Republicans promised a more fair and open City government, and this is certainly the opposite of that promise to Indianapolis taxpayers.”

“I am also disappointed that Council President Cockrum wasn’t willing to take any public comment on the matter by putting the meeting into Executive Session,” continued Maguire. “I find it troubling that the Council leadership wasn’t interested in hearing public opinion. Councilor Coleman was only allowed to defend his position after significant arm twisting. The Marion County Republican Party is showing the same hubris the Democrats exhibited in 2007, and easily explains why a two-party system is broken. The Parties and their friends win, and the taxpayer loses.”

The situation isn’t all that unique.  As one example, Congressman Jeff Flake was punished by party leadership for opposing pork and he didn’t even switch parties.

Kids’ Nutrition Choices Made By Lobbyists, Not Doctors

Kevin Drum tells us “the reality is, this is how things get done”. In the below exchange, Kevin is MJ (Mother Jones), and Michael Pollan (Berkeley journalism prof & food author) is MP:

MJ: Does WIC [the Women, Infants, and Children program] still specify that you buy dairy?

MP: Yes. We had a huge fight to get a little more produce in the WIC basket, which is heavy on cheese and milk because the dairy lobby is very powerful. So they fought and they fought and they fought, and they got a bunch of carrots in there. [Laughs.]

MJ: Specifically? Who knew: the carrot lobby?

MP: Specifically carrots. The next big lobby. But there is also money in this farm bill for fresh produce in school lunch. The price of getting the subsidies was getting the California delegation on board, and their price was $2 billon for what are called specialty crops — fresh fruit and produce grown largely in California.

I would point out to Kevin that this not “how things get done” in my family. In my family, I [more accurately my wife] decides what the children eat, and we do so out of true and sincere care for their well-being. I’m not going to say that our decisions are always right, but they always incorporate the best knowledge we can find. I have no lobbyists showing up at my door paying me to feed my kids carrots instead of broccoli, and thus nothing to cloud my judgement.

Sadly, this is how things get done in government — a fact which I think would point more people towards libertarianism than many others.

Americans idealize government. We act as if it’s populated by well-meaning experts, who want nothing more than to provide humanity with their expertise and are looking out for us. We view them as able to integrate the demands of a wide-ranging polity into optimum policy, using their judgement and experience to improve life for all. Even more, we think they care about us.

The reality, on the other hand, is that government is a job. You do your job to satisfy your customers, which in politics is more often lobbyists than the general public. Why is dairy such a high component of WIC? Because the dairy lobby is enormous. Why did carrots — rather than broccoli, or asparagus, or cauliflower — get such favor? Because the carrot lobby, as strange as it may seem, is powerful. Seriously… CARROT LOBBY! If those two words placed in that order don’t disgust people about the arbitrary and capricious nature of government decision-making, you need to wake up.

The first step to mentally breaking with the government is to understand that government bureaucrats have their own interests — not yours — at heart. This isn’t a revelation. It occurs in business — workers often have goals that serve themselves more than their employer (such as a drive to earn a raise even if business conditions are down), and businesses often have goals that are counter to the best wishes of their customers (i.e. to earn the largest profit the market will bear to keep the doors open and please their shareholders). We understand in most commercial situations that we need to look out for ourselves, but then assume that the government is “looking out for us” in all others. When you assume the best about government bureaucrats, it blinds you to the fact that you’re giving these people coercive power and you can’t be sure that they’re going to use it in your interests.

As George Washington said:

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.

Government doesn’t have the best methods for making decisions. That’s why libertarians don’t want government making many decisions.

Hubris

Maybe he should have driven there in a hybrid car:

The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration spent more than $123,000 to charter a private jet to fly to Bogota, Colombia, last fall instead of taking one of the agency’s 106 planes.

The DEA paid a contractor an additional $5,380 to arrange Acting Administrator Michele Leonhart’s trip last Oct. 28-30 with an outside company.

The DEA scheduled the trip as the nation was reeling from the worst economic crisis in decades and the national debt was climbing toward $10 trillion. Three weeks later, lawmakers slammed chief executive officers from three automakers for flying to Washington in private jets as Congress debated whether to bail out the auto industry.

William Brown, the special agent in charge of the DEA’s aviation division, said he’d asked DEA contractor L-3 Communications to arrange the flight because the plane that ordinarily would’ve flown the administrator was grounded for scheduled maintenance. He said he didn’t question the cost at the time.

“Was it excessive? I guess you could look at it that way, but I don’t think so,” he said.

The failures of the US automakers pale in comparison to the failure of the DEA to accomplish their mission. Yet we’re not supposed to believe this is excessive when he spends 100x more than a commercial flight to get to Colombia.

Mencken had the right idea.

Dr Michael West Filmed Committing Attempted Murder

Over at Reason, Radley Balko has published a damning article and video of Dr Michael West attempting to murder a man named Jimmie Duncan.

In 1993,  [Dr Michael West and Dr Steven Hayne]  conducted an examination on a 23-month-old girl named Haley Oliveaux of West Monroe, Louisiana, who had drowned in her bathtub. The video shows bite marks mysteriously appearing on the toddler’s face during the time she was in the custody of Hayne and West. It then shows West repeatedly and methodically pressing and scraping a dental mold of a man’s teeth on the dead girl’s skin. Forensic scientists who have viewed the footage say the video reveals not only medical malpractice, but criminal evidence tampering.

The dental mold came from the teeth of the man babysitting the girl at the time of her death.  The manufactured bite-mark evidence put the man, Jimmie Duncan on death row.  I am convinced that Mr Duncan, who was described by witnesses as being very remorseful and in hysterics with shame, was guilty of negligent manslaughter.  Nowhere in the United States are people executed for manslaughter through negligence.  In his attempt to make him look more depraved than he actually is, by attempting to send him to the death chamber without justification, Dr West was attempting to murder Jimmie Duncan, as surely as if he had booby-trapped Duncan’s car with a bomb connected to the ignition system.

This might seem like an isolated incident, except for the fact that Dr Hayne has conducted nearly every autopsy of crime victims performed in the state of Mississippi in the past 20 years.  In cases where Dr Hayne could not find evidence to help convict criminals, he frequently sent the bodies to Dr West, who had a special test for bite-marks that has never been reproduced by any other forensic specialist.  And, like any monopoly, the monopoly criminal apprehension organization operated by the Mississippi state government refuses to revisit all the cases affected by these men’s testimony.

Given the thousands of people that Hayne and West helped put behind bars, there is a near certainty that many innocent people have been sent to jail for crimes committed by others.  One could argue that that amounts merely to malpractice.  However, the last time I checked, when one person tampers with a crime scene for the purpose of framing an innocent man with a crime while obsucring the actual guilty party’s role, it is called being “An accessory to murder after the fact”

I strongly encourage our readers in Mississipi to question the news media and government officials regarding the destructive trail of injustice left by Dr’s West and Hayne.  Their victims cry out for justice.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

A Few Thoughts About the Ryan Fredrick Case

The long and short of the case is that three days after his home was broken into, Fredrick fatally shot an intruder who turned out to be a police officer. Fredrick promptly surrendered to the police once he realized the intruders were in-fact a SWAT team serving a warrant (a very small amount of marijuana was found in Fredrick’s home). The jury considered several charges including capital murder but ultimately decided Fredrick’s actions amounted to voluntary manslaughter and recommended a 10 year sentence.

Rather than rehashing the Ryan Fredrick case here, I would encourage readers to read the coverage by Hamptonroads.com , Tidewater Liberty and Radley Balko .

The police department did not believe the sentence to be harsh enough:

For the Shivers family and the Police Department, the verdict did not provide closure.

“Closure?” said Jack Crimmins, president of the Chesapeake Coalition of Police. “There’s no closure.”

“Their verdict today has jeopardized the lives of police officers,” Crimmins said. “I think the jury failed. They failed the community. You’ve got a man involved in an illegal enterprise, the police come to his house, and he takes the matter into his own hands.”

Funny that Crimmins chose the term “illegal enterprise.” This description is more appropriate for the way this police department chose to circumvent the Fourth Amendment by allowing a known criminal to break into Fredrick’s home to obtain probable cause to search the home in the first place! Most of the case made against Fredrick was from testimony of jailhouse snitches and informants of very questionable character.

And this notion about a homeowner who “takes the matter into his own hands” when someone breaks into his home is especially infuriating. Mr. Crimmins, it’s called the castle doctrine , perhaps you’ve heard of this concept? It’s not exactly new.

When a civilian makes a mistake and kills a police officer, it’s almost always assumed that s/he must “pay the price” but what happens when the shoe is on the other foot? When a police officer makes a mistake and kills a civilian, the badge worshipers and law enforcement boot lickers come up with a statement like this:

A jury verdict that cleared a police officer in the drug-raid shooting death of an unarmed woman will allow other officers to do their job without hesitation, police union officials said.

Officers throughout the state closely watched the trial, fearing that a guilty judgment would have changed how they react in the line of fire.

[…]

During the trial, a Columbus SWAT officer and a retired FBI agent both testified that Chavalia had no choice but to shoot because he thought his life was in danger. They also said Chavalia should have fired sooner.

So when a civilian believes his or her life is in danger, he or she must be certain of who s/he is targeting but when a police officer believes s/he is in danger, s/he can “shoot now and ask questions later”? What’s particularly galling about this is that in statements in both cases, the lives of law enforcement are of paramount concern as the lives of civilians is of little or no concern.

This is but another illustration of how the government has the one power the rest of us don’t: the monopoly of the use of force to accomplish its goals. The War on (Some) Drugs is a means to an (impossible) end (eradication of banned drugs). If non-violent individuals are killed in the process, its considered collateral damage. The War on (Some) Drugs must be won at all costs!

With respect to Ryan Fredrick, his fate is in the hands of a judge (the judge will decide whether or not to impose the jury’s recommended sentence), but what now? How can we prevent these tragedies from happening? Tide Water Libertarian Party has offered some excellent suggestions:

In the months since the tragic death of Det. Jarrod Shivers in the course of serving a search warrant at the home of Ryan Frederick, many questions have arisen regarding procedures of the Chesapeake Police Department. These questions have gone unanswered by the department. The Tidewater Libertarian Party asserts that because all powers granted government to use force on the behalf of the people reside ultimately with the people, it is unacceptable for the agents of government force, the police, to deny the people explanations for their actions when there are legitimate questions as to whether that force has been used with due caution and within the powers granted by the people through our Constitution and law.

• The tragic and avoidable death of a law enforcement officer.

• The use of Confidential Informants is an unfortunate necessity in criminal investigations, and particularly so in drug cases, but we question whether it is good public policy to request or issue search warrants based on the unsupported and unsworn allegations of Confidential Informants without some corroboration through independent investigation.

• Forcible entries in serving search warrants are acceptable police practice only when there is evidence subject to rapid destruction, hostages are in peril, or known, armed, and dangerous criminals are judged to be most safely taken by surprise. The recent trial of Chesapeake resident Ryan Frederick has revealed such forced entries to be the standard practice in serving all drug search warrants in Chesapeake. The Chesapeake Police Department has provided no acceptable explanation for choosing an exceptionally dangerous method of serving a warrant on a citizen with no criminal record over numerous safer and more Constitutionally acceptable methods.

• We are further concerned by the lack of transparency and consistency on the part of the Chesapeake Police leadership regarding what policy changes might be made to avoid future tragedy. Because we believe the police have taken the position that they need not explain their actions to the public, we hold this that is unacceptable in a free society.

This is the City of Chesapeake, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States of America. The police are answerable to the people, not only to themselves. Our military and our police are subject to civilian control and review. Citizens are owed the truth. The proper first level of that oversight is through our local elected representatives on city council.

We understand that it may be necessary to withhold some tactical policy from the public at large for the protection of police officers, but what information can and cannot be made public is properly the choice of civilian authority, with expert guidance, and not that of those being overseen.

The Tidewater Libertarian Party therefore requests the City of Chesapeake establish a citizen review board consisting of trustworthy citizens chosen by council, but with no connection to the Police Department or city government, to investigate this matter. This citizen review board should have full access to all evidence, record, reviews, and testimony, and report to the City Council, and ultimately, with council approval of sensitive content, to the public, in order to restore the lost trust of the citizens in our police department and to ensure that our police officers and citizens are no longer placed in unnecessary danger.

I would also like to offer at least one other suggestion: cameras. Each SWAT team member should have a camera attached to his/her helmet. This would provide invaluable insight to a sequence of events and would help ensure that the police follow procedures properly. Police vehicles have cameras installed on dashboards, there is no good reason why cameras should not be used for knock and no knock raids.

Unfortunately, I fully expect to learn of many more of these tragedies before any such reforms are made.

Blagojevich Gets the Boot

Fox News Reports:

Illinois senators stripped Gov. Rod Blagojevich of power Thursday in the final act of a political drama that handed the reins of state government to his estranged lieutenant governor, Pat Quinn, and likely will end Blagojevich’s career in politics.

Senators voted unanimously to convict Blagojevich and bar him from holding political office in the state again. Shortly after the vote, Quinn was sworn in as Illinois’ new governor.

The outcome was never in doubt. In fact, Quinn went to the state Capitol earlier in the day to prepare to be sworn in.

I haven’t been following this story as closely as others but the fact that only one person in either house of the Illinois Legislature voted in support of the Governor tells me that they really had the goods on the guy. It’s not often that legislators agree on anything particularly in matters of impeachment which are usually decided along party lines.

Render Unto Caesar Whatever The Hell He Wants

Commit a crime? No? Have a reason to carry a lot of cash? Yes? Don’t expect to hang onto it:

Over at the poker forum Two Plus Two, pro poker player David Peat writes that he was essentially mugged by DEA agents at an airport in Toledo, Ohio.

According to Peat, he and his girlfriend had originally planned to fly back to Las Vegas together after visiting her family. But after purchasing their tickets, Peat decided to fly to L.A. to play in a poker game. He bought a last minute, first-class ticket, and paid in cash. That apparently was enough to set off red flags.

Peat says he was accosted by several DEA agents, who asked him questions about who he was and where he was going. He told them he was a poker player, and had $15,000 in cash in his pocket. They first let him go, but then chased him down, and told him he’d need to come with them for questioning. Peat says the agents then confiscated all of his money, as well as his $50,000 Rolex watch. He says they gave him a receipt, and told him to expect more information in the mail.

There’s no corroboration of the story as of yet, but I see no reason why he would make it up… Further, it doesn’t seem entirely out of character for the Federalis.

Now, I’ll admit that someone traveling with $15K in cash is a bit suspicious. That doesn’t make him a drug dealer, though. It seems to me that he had a pretty simple explanation for carrying so much cash — in his job as a high-stakes poker player, he needs it. And the link Radley Balko found suggests that he could support his story rather easily. Notwithstanding whether the IRS might have an issue with him, the DEA has no reason to. Yet all that didn’t matter. His cash is now in their hands, and he’s likely going to have to prove — beyond a reasonable doubt — that it’s not drug related. Considering that his poker opponents probably didn’t give him receipts for their losses, that might not be easy to do.

For David Peat, I wish him luck recovering his assets from the DEA. For the agents, I wish upon them a punishment far worse than living in Toledo. Something about losing an extremity in a freak x-ray machine accident sounds about right.

Treasury Bars Lobbyists From TARP II

Not sure how they intend to accomplish this, and the WaPo story suggests they’re not sure either:

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner issued new guidelines yesterday aimed at eliminating the influence of lobbyists on the $700 billion financial bailout program by restricting their contact with officials who are reviewing applications for money and deciding how to disburse it.

Treasury officials also will seek to limit political influence over the funds, saying they will use similar restrictions that forbid such influence in tax matters as a model. The department’s Office of Financial Stability will be required to certify to Congress that each government investment is based solely on objective criteria. As part of that effort, only banks recommended by their primary regulator will be eligible for capital investments.

Great, so lobbyists won’t have any more influence over TARP II than they will over our tax code. I feel better.

UPDATE 1/28 2 PM PST: Geithner follows this up by announcing an ex-Goldman Sachs lobbyist as his chief of staff. Hat Tip – Cafe Hayek.

County Governments Across the Country to Target Citizens…

…with their own tax dollars.

It seems the “taxpayer-funded National Association of Counties (NACO) is currently seeking an applicant among whose duties will be to ‘combating anti-government/anti-tax efforts.'”

That would be sort of like stealing money from a friend in order to use that money to seduce his wife. Except I don’t know too many people who consider any level of government their friend.

Here’s the text of their craigslist advertisement:

http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/doc/npo/1002884345.html
Public Affairs Special Projects Coordinator (Washington, DC)
Reply to: resumes@naco.org [?]
Date: 2009-01-22, 9:53AM EST

A national association representing county governments is seeking a Public Affairs Special Projects Coordinator to work on two projects. One project seeks to reestablish a partnership between the federal government and America’s counties. The second will focus on developing a national strategy for combating anti-government/anti-tax efforts. The ideal candidate should have knowledge of county, state and federal governmental structure and interrelationships; experience at the federal or congressional level; experience running issue or public service campaigns; and excellent oral and written communication skills.
Send cover letter, resume and salary history to resumes@naco.org.
PostingID: 1002884345

Grover Norquist’s commentary regarding the latest incident of government power grabbers getting caught with their pants down:

“County-level elected officials who agree with taxpayers that it is wrong to use taxpayer money to fight against taxpayers should insist that NACO end this effort … Those county officials who do not want to be associated with using tax dollars this way should withdraw from NACO and have their dues refunded to taxpayers.”

Back to the premise I’ve been maintaining for years: the true political battle line is government vs. the people.

H/T to my old drinkin’ bud Robert Stacy McCain

Change Libertarians Can Believe In?

There’s no secret that most of the Obama Administration agenda is at odds with the Lockean rights of life, liberty, and property at almost every turn. Obama’s views on freedom are more along the lines of FDR’s so-called “Four Freedoms”. As disturbing as this agenda is, I thought it would be important to identify policies which actually do promote liberty based on the more traditional Lockean model.

These agenda items are the only ones I can at this point say I am comfortable with. There are probably more items I could support but without knowing the details of many of Obama’s policies, I’m hesitant to do so (mostly due to his reliance on doublespeak, i.e. redefining welfare as tax cuts). The two most promising policies I have found so far are in the areas of civil rights and ethics.

Civil Rights:

Eliminate Sentencing Disparities Between Crack and Powder-Based Cocaine

Expand the use of drug courts for first-time non-violent drug offenders

Equal Rights for LGBT couples

Repeal the Defense of Marriage Act

Repeal “Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell”

Ethics:

A More Open and Transparent Federal Government (complete with searchable internet databases)

“Sunlight Before Signing” – Five days for the general public to review “non-emergency”* legislation before bills are signed into law.

The Transparency and Integrity in Earmarks Act – A law which would name names of legislators and the earmarks they request, require written justification for the earmark, and require 72 hours for the full senate to review and approve the earmark.

Make all White House Regulatory Communications Public and Release Presidential Records

Protect Whistleblowers

Eliminate Inefficient Government Programs and Slash Earmarks**

Libertarians, myself included, may be disappointed that these libertarian friendly policies do not go nearly far enough. Having said that, I do believe we should encourage these changes even if they are mere baby steps in the right direction.
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