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>Frikkin’ State Supreme Court

14 May

>…Argument over the recent decision continues here at Roseholme. This is another reason Justice Steven David must be impeached, ‘cos I want to eat breakfast in peace and harmony.

The debate is not over what the ruling said or that it needs to be overturned ASAP; it’s over how much to read into it:

Justice Steven David writing for the court said if a police officer wants to enter a home for any reason or no reason at all, a homeowner cannot do anything to block the officer’s entry.

“‘We believe … a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence,’ David said. ‘We also find that allowing resistance unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the arrest.'”

Emphasis mine. Yes, please note that ancient, inescapable wisdom: if the police have to come for you, they’re bringin’ a whuppin’. And it’s not because they’re thugs — most aren’t — or that they like it — most don’t; it’s because their job is to get control of the situation and get the principals off to where things can be resolved without swapping fisticuffs or hot lead (etc.). In that statement, the judge is simply indulging in a bit of realpolitik.

What got under my skin like scabies was this: “David said a person arrested following an unlawful entry by police still can be released on bail and has plenty of opportunities to protest the illegal entry through the court system.” Which means while the judge recognizes some right to be free inside your own skull, your person may indeed be hauled off; and as for your property, why, Mr. Impeach Justice Steven David appears to be no less than a follower of Proudhon. And heavens forfend you should not be able to hire a sharp lawyer!

Professor Ivan Bodensteiner, Valparaiso University School of Law: “…[I]f the police act wrongfully in entering your house your remedy is under law, to bring a civil action against the officer.” Help me out here: “…your remedy…is to bring a civil action….” means it’s on your dime, doesn’t it? Or the ICLU/ACLU, if you smell interesting enough to them; and otherwise, well, tough, sucker, buy yourself a new door, a new dog, a new cat, and replacements for all the things folks removed while you were locked up and your house wasn’t, plus hire yourself a lawyer to sue the Local Police all the way up the appeals process — if you can. Pretty thin damn’ shield for your “right […] to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,” isn’t it?

(Though I do wonder if Mr. Impeach Justice Steven David doesn’t take the ellipsis “of the people” from my Fourth Amendment quote as meaning a collective rather than an individual right and thus reads it as protecting the “persons, houses, papers and effects” of the State from the like of you and me? That would be consistent with what I’ve seen of what the man fobs off as “legal thinking.”)

The good news is, I don’t think the ruling will ever be read this broadly until tested, if then; and the dissenting Justices didn’t disappoint, to wit: Justice Robert Rucker: “In my view the majority sweeps with far too broad a brush by essentially telling Indiana citizens that government agents may now enter their homes illegally — that is, without the necessity of a warrant, consent or exigent circumstances;” Justice Brent Dickson: “The wholesale abrogation of the historic right of a person to reasonably resist unlawful police entry into his dwelling is unwarranted and unnecessarily broad.” (See how kewl they are when they agree with me?)

But I do regret coming home irked and griping that the ruling spits in the face of the Fourth Amendment and that it is Time To Do Something. Tam’s point — and she’s right — is that it has been that time our whole lives and long before; and wottinhell had we been doing? Whatever it was, if it’ll push the culture out of this mudpit, do it even more.

And beg Tam to keep doing it, too, please:
Tam said…
Thanks for the legal advice.
You’re right. 1984 has come to Broad Ripple, and so this is the end of VFTP.
See ya.

8:24 PM, May 13, 2011
Dammit. I’m almost sure that’s hyperbole, but….

PS: Impeach Justice Steven David! And Justices Randall Shepard and Frank Sullivan, Jr. right beside him!

PPS: Relatedly, our Hoosier Supremes ruled police may do no-knock executions of warrants at their own discretion, no need to convince a judge. –And this is supposed to increase officer safety? Not likely! Criminals have little to lose and innocents at the wrong address have no way to tell. Please knock first at my house. Please.


>Pen vs. Sword

2 May

>Comments to my posting on the possibility that San Franciscans could find themselves voting on a measure to ban circumcising males has taken an interesting turn: at what point ought the State to intervene?

In broader terms, this is a question of persuasion versus compulsion, of the word and example as opposed to the courtroom and the force of arms. I found myself at an impasse for a useful example until I picked up a biography of automotive pioneer Elwood P. Haynes.

Haynes was a lifelong advocate of both Temperance and Prohibition. In the two, you have about as nice an example of the effects of convincing and those of coercing as anyone could want.

The Temperance movement in the ‘States dissuaded a great many persons from the drinking of alcoholic beverages, primarily by rallies, sermons and essays, but also by offering alternatives: Temperance fountains, for one; even healthy sport was put forward as a way to keep young people from drinking, By and large, it was a successful movement; while it didn’t run saloons out of existence or put an end to domestic abuse — it is from that time that stereotype of the drunken wife-beater emerged, not without some justification, and Temperance advocates were quick to take correlation for causation — it did bring about a general reduction in drinking (or at least the acceptability of drunkeness).

But as happens with many such a movement, it wasn’t enough for the group; alcohol was so vile in its effects, advocates argued, it ought to be banned by law. After a long, hard slog, it was banned, state by state at first and ultimately by Constitutional Amendment.

…And somehow, we failed to enter into a new era of peace and happiness; the drunk who might — might! — in an earlier time have stumbled to the fore at a Temperance meeting and renounced the bottle “forever” was now doing business with criminals and kept his silence along with his bottle. As time went on, criminality became widespread; by the Roaring Twenties, many a person who might otherwise have barely (if at all) consumed beer, wine or spirits found themselves in a rollicking underground; and if you were going to flout the law to the extent of one drink, why, in for a penny, in for a pound: might as well have six!

Prohibition in the United States was, among other ill effects, the single greatest boon organized crime ever received. A measure that was supposed to make civil society more civilized had precisely the opposite effect.

There’s my example; there’s what happens when you substitute men with guns for orators, inflexible laws for moral conviction. It’s what happens when you screw the valve shut on a pressure cooker: something’s going to go POW!

>Progressivism And The Aristocracy Of Incompetence

13 Feb

>I woke up from half-remembered dreams to the TV playing news and a realization that several things that annoy me are actually different aspects of the same thing.

(And I just published that first para. as a teaser.)

What I’m connecting is Progressivism, with its bureaucratization (administrative control bias), long-standing trait of meddling in people’s lives to produce so-called “social justice” through progressive taxation and draconian regulation, and that insane kind of “aristocracy” in which people who have only a few skills pride themselves on how little else they are capable of.

It results in a system in which achievement is punished, in which the best return on effort comes from finding the bracket or niche providing the greatest return with the least “bite” from taxation and regulation. It favors narrow specialization and utter incompetence outside it; the “winners” are those with the highest-paid specialties with the best tax breaks and and the fewest skills outside them — city managers, some attorneys, union officials, lobbyists and similar jobs. The most “progressive” cities have no shortage of meddling, publicly-funded “community activists,” winners of the Progressive game.

And those people — many of them quite innocent, creatures who have grown into the pre-existing niches they have found — are the natural foe of any libertarian or small-government conservative. And way too many of them are the same blithe boobs who proclaim, “I don’t know anything about changing a tire/basic plumbing/my computer,” and remark at work that if they do poorly enough at a task they dislike, eventually they won’t have to do it. They’ve found their spot in the ecosystem, their role in the hive; they’ve dug their rut and will only hate anyone who expects them step out of it.

There ya go: that’s what Progressivism encourages.

>Freedom Of Speech?

21 Jan

>We live in a world where a significant proportion of the population thinks speech that makes them uncomfortable is the same thing as shouting “fire” in a crowded theatre.

And no few of those people are public officials.

After a lunatic with no regard for human life opened fire on a meet-your-congresscritter event in Tucson, killing six people and injuring 14 including U. S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, reaction was mixed. The Left blamed “Tea Partiers” and Sarah Palin; once more was known about the shooter, advocates for the mentally ill reminded us that most crazy people aren’t a danger; magazine bans and “safe zones” were proposed and debated and though it all, Gabrielle Giffords lay in a hospital bed, shot through the head, clawing her way back to world. Most bloggers and other commentators deplored the shooting of an American politician, even if they didn’t share party affiliation or philosophy.

But not everyone agreed. In less emotionally-charged circumstances, I have used the hyperbolic “Congress. Tree. Rope. Some assembly required,” and I am far from the only one.

In Massachusetts, a state that boasts of its commitment to core principles of freedom, a blogger headed his post on the event, “1 down, 534 to go!” and allowed as how he wasn’t upset when a Congressbeing was shot.

Uncivil? Tacky? Harsh? –Sure it was. But it was his opinion. He wasn’t fomenting sedition; he was engaging in political speech. The sort of thing you might think would be covered by the First Amendment, not to mention the high traditions and constitution of the Commonwealth in which he resides. For example:

Article XVI. The liberty of the press is essential to the security of freedom in a state: it ought not, therefore, to be restrained in this commonwealth. The right of free speech shall not be abridged.

Reaction to his posting was swift; persons disagreeing with his notions organized a boycott of his online business and made critical posts and comments — as they had every right to do. It was all churning right along, the normal workings of a free society, when–

The police showed up and confiscated all his guns and ammunition. For uttering threats? Well, gee, they didn’t actually charge him with anything; they are, they averred, merely investigating the suitability of his having a firearms license. And in the meantime, hand ’em over! (And what does the oldest constitution still in use have to say about that?

Article XVII. The people have a right to keep and to bear arms for the common defence. And as, in time of peace, armies are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be maintained without the consent of the legislature; and the military power shall always be held in an exact subordination to the civil authority, and be governed by it.

H’mm. I’m not seeing any limitations on that right, which would leave only the Federal proscription of felons from bearing arms and the blogger in question has not even been charged with a crime.)

Welcome to Massachusetts. Where the exercise of your State and Federally-protected right to free speech can get your State and Federally-protected right to keep and bear arms removed. And heaven knows that couldn’t possibly have a chilling effect on one’s willingness to speak out.

I want to be very clear: I don’t agree with what he wrote. Oh, Congress is a bunch of power-mad ninnies, by and large; I don’t think a one of them would be much missed by anyone other than friends and family, but I’d sooner see them voted out, impeached, or rendered impotent by advancing technology. Shooting them sets a bad precedent; one day it’s politicians, by the end of the week it’d be dogcatchers and ordinary citizens would follow. It’s not a good plan. It’s rude.

But you don’t muzzle political speech, because that sets a bad precedent, too; it starts out with stepping on bloggers expressing harsh notions and by the end of the week, if your Mom’s mass e-mail gripes about the Mayor not getting the snow plowed, she’ll have cops at the door wanting to take her shovel away — and her computer. And government censors at every news outlet, making sure only the most inoffensive and positive news and opinion gets through. The five-year plan has been a glorious success, citizens!

I don’t think anyone wants that. Not even in Massachusetts. But maybe I’m wrong. In any event, count me in on the side of freedom:
Maybe you should be, too.

>Call Me Soft-Hearted

24 Dec

>…But accused axe murderers who behave themselves behind bars generally get better treatment than PFC Manning.

Look, even if you stipulate the kid set out with deliberate intent to release information that would get soldiers killed and otherwise committed acts for which he can be stood up against a wall and shot, that’s no excuse for being woke up through the night to confirm to the guards he hasn’t, what, bit through his tongue and escaped justice by drowning in his own blood? Howcome he’s sleeping in skivvies under genuine non-shreddable, abrasive blankets after the .mil’s own head-shrinkers have said he’s not a suicide risk? (He’s got to hand over all his other attire at bedtime). What’s with “exercise” consisting of an hour a day walking in circles, and no sit-ups or push-ups allowed in his cell?

Someone’s gonna come back with soldiers in the field operating under far harsher conditions (true, but generally required for their mission) or the fact that folks grabbed by Random Islamofascist Ijits are often treated far worse and run the risk of starring in a televised beheading to boot. True and irrelevant, unless you think we’re no better than a bunch of bloody-handed jumped-up goat-herders. This is the frikkin’ U.S. of A.; we can keep one secretary-in-uniform locked up and outta harm’s way (they’ve got ‘im in solitary, lest some other uniformed miscreant try to pick up brownie points by short-circuiting normal procedures) and still treat him no worse than, say, the rat-bastards awaiting trial at Nuremburg were treated. Bring him up before justice, present the evidence, make a determination of guilt or innocence and render sentence. Until then, he ought to receive the same tender consideration that all the other Maximum Detainees receive — no more, but no less, either. A sheet, a T-shirt, perhaps some good, healthy time outdoors maybe turning big rocks into littler ones; if he needs shot, there’s plenty of time to do that by the book. It’s not like there’s any need to find out who his co-conspirators or ringleader might be.

Update: Howling snakes! –I guess I cannot get across that this isn’t about how cushy he’s got it compared to Nathan Hale or John Andres or even poor grunts on the front lines; it’s about the government’s treatment of a citizen accused of a (very serious) crime while awaiting trial. Punishment phase starts after the official determination or guilt or innocence, remember? And if they’ll do it to him with our tacit approval, they’ll find it all the easier to do it to you after your impassioned posting on the duty of citizens to resist UN gun-grabbers steps on the wrong toes and you’re cooling your heels in the hoosegow waiting for your turn before a court. We have standards for the treatment of prisoners, especially of those who have not yet had their day in court, and we risk much when we bend them.

>Thankful For…

25 Nov

>What’m’I thankful for?

I’m thankful I was born when I was; any earlier and it would’ve been a lot more difficult to get where I am.

I’m thankful for my family, even when we don’t get along. I haven’t helped it, having recently complained to a mass e-mail list about a semi-fake, mass e-mailed “virus alert,” with the usual warning about “don’t open attachments to any e-mail with the subject line [BLANK]” and years out of date. Hey, here’s an idea, don’t open e-mail attachments, period. There are usually alternatives for things like e-cards. Why is it the same people who send you these things also send out e-mail with huge attachments and subject lines like TOO CUTE!! or IT MAKES ME PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN, the latter as if the accomplishments of the last 234 years pale in comparision to a staged photo of fighter jets over the Statue of Liberty? But never mind; gripe about lousy netiquette and you, too can be considered an unfeeling brute. –All that aside, having a family still beats growing up in the gutters and alleyways and I believe mine managed to greatly exceed the minimum recommended daily amount of Family Goodness. Bless and keep ’em all.

I am thankful for the cats that stuck with me for nearly 20 and 21 years. I still miss them.

I’m thankful to have a job. I complain about it sometimes; I’m always on call, we work regular overtime and there aren’t a lot of holidays, but it sure beats not working. In over twenty years, I have never had a paycheck bounce and the few times my hours were questioned, it was because I was suspected of under-reporting them.

I’m thankful to have friends. I am a difficult person, emotionally distant and not much of a conversationalist. I’m happy — and, really, amazed — that some folks will tolerate it.

I’m thankful for blogging. It’s a good creative outlet.

–And I’m thankful for readers. I’d probably still be blogging if I didn’t have any (I used to joke that my blog was for me and the search-engine ‘bots) but having folks read and comment is a huge plus! The quality of commenters here is a source of delight; the overwhelming majority of you are clever and well-informed. (The other 1% are, of course, spam-bots; and they don’t count).

Have a good Thanksgiving!

>Tubes Within Tubes: Oz Censors Internet Ciggie Ads?

18 Nov

>They’re going to try. Australia, already with tough restrictions on cigarette advertising in meatspace, has decided Teh Internets are making young’ns smoke. And censorship will fix that! Oh, my yes, it will. Riiiiiight.

Just how old are these vulnerable youngsters, such easy prey for the merchants of death, the demographic with the greatest proportion of smokers? A mere 24 to 29 years of age. You know, what most people throughout history and across the globe know as “adults.” Yeah, they still do think they’ll live forever at that age, but they outgrow it — and, funny thing, the smokers start to quit as the realization dawns.

Most of the Western nations have gone from having a majority of smokers to a shrinking minority and it’s getting down to a hard core who like the short-term effects* and either don’t care about the long-term ones or are willing to accept the trade-off. Keeping them from seeing ads and putting Scary Pictures on cigarette packs isn’t going to change their behavior, no matter how virtuous it makes Nanny feel.
* Inhaled nicotine does wonderful things for my ability to concentrate, YMMV; I was also coughing up yeeech every morning and getting winded on a flight of stairs. So I quit, a long time ago. It wasn’t easy. But I don’t go around feeling superior because I quit or insisting everyone else ought to.