A Quick Example

I work in a small town, where the municipal building and the post office are connected. I ran to the post office today for the second time, and, just like the first time, it felt really strange.

This time, though, I figured it out: the number of signs. I quickly counted the number of signs in the parking lot, which was 17. Then I counted the number of parking spaces, which was 49. That’s right, there was a sign for every three parking spaces: yield signs, stop signs, no parking signs, handicapped parking signs, and street signs (in a fucking parking lot). Worse yet, I was there on the lunch hour, and there were maybe a dozen cars in the lot, three signs for every two cars.

They don’t trust that you can figure your way around a parking lot the size of a small backyard. Do you think they’re going to trust you with your life, citizen?

Reed on Statemanship

In Peeing on Hydrants, Fred Reed writes:

What we call statesmanship is, emotionally and morally, indistinguishable from gang war in South Chicago. The scale is more imposing and, under some administrations, the grammar better. Aggressive males rise to power in heavily armed countries of many millions. Then they push and shove, bark and bow-wow at others like themselves in other countries. The tribal trappings remain, particularly among the warriors: Baubles and medals and patches and different hats, talk of honor and duty and valor. Nah. Males dogs in an alley.

Senate Votes to Curb “Problem Gambling”

I voiced some disagreement with what seemed to be the notion that government controlled online gambling is a better bet than free market online gambling. After all, reputable online gambling operatons have, in the past, and will continue to thrive with or without government regulation because it’s good business to run an honest game.

So at Uncommon Sense Rich Nikoley explains that by pointing out that the online gambling industry is regulated in the UK, he means to dispel the notion that offshore gambling is largely run by rogue con-men that operate with impunity.

Of course, online gamblers themselves know the score, but they’re not the ones who’ll be supporting this sort of prohibition. It’ll be the church nannies who view gambling as the work of the devil. It’ll be the church nannies who view gambling as the work of the devil.

But Rich puts too much emphasis behind the role of what he calls the church nanny crowd. The argument that gambling is sin – a vice which ruins families – is pure BS and most of the people who make that argument know it. It’s window dressing.

Is there a state in the Union where no form of gambling is allowed? That should be a clear indicator that the Senate cares almost nothing about the vice aspect of online gambling. And they obviously don’t care about protecting consumers from rogues and con-men. If they did care, they would disband themselves and never return to Washington DC. It’s about preserving their own influence, protecting their contributors’ monopolies, and the attempt to keep a significant amount of surveillance on the flow of gambling revenue. That’s difficult to do with online gambling.

Legislators want to be the sole decision makers on who’ll run lucrative gambling operations. They can bestow that privilege on themselves via state run lotteries or they can dole it out to special interests, like Indian tribes and certain selected businesses. Their current preference here is to exclusively license brick and mortar operations. They want the owners of these operations to be beholden to government and it’s easier to apply the carrot and stick to these businesses if they exist in meatspace, within their reach.

It’s not about vice and church nannies. Online gambling makes it hard for lawmakers to get their cut. That’s what “problem gambling” really means to your government.

Torture for a Good Cause

“Is C-SPAN worthwhile?” asked a contributor to Wendy McElroy’s forum?.

Well, it’s not as messy as waterboarding and it doesn’t leave any marks.

And speaking of worthwhile efforts, Brad Spangler is looking for a few good dungeonmasters to help him “stand before the Balrog”. Kennedy, who identified the madness of sanctioning State torture three years ago, has volunteered to help.

Spangler:

I want to get waterboarded. In order to call attention to this heinous practice and make it the subject of broader public condemnation, I believe it needs to be shown to people. I’m volunteering in order for it to be so shown — online, as a video. These are the sort of dark times that demand a Gandalf to stand before the Balrog and shout “You shall not pass!“. That’s not me, but I can take my best shot at it.

Here’s the plan…

I’m asking for the following volunteers:

1) A lawyer to help us put together all of the appropriate waivers and confirm we can do this without government intervention.
2) A psychiatrist or other trained mental health professional to confirm for all interested parties that I am not acting on any self destructive impulse or urge to do myself harm. I’m not. This is a political statement.
3) A doctor or certified paramedic willing to stand by and administer treatment if it looks like things have gone to far.
4) A videographer to document it.
5) At least one trusted friend willing to help me — by torturing me.

Kennedy:

I volunteer for # 5.

Who says we’re not team players? Who says we’re not willing to get down in the trenches and put our shoulders to the wheel for liberty?

Who Knew We’d Still be Alive?

The protection racket gets a seal of approval over at BitsBlog.

On Monday he offered,

The right to life itself, simply to live, has been upheld to a greater extent than anyone thought possible five years ago this morning… Think back to your thoughts and feelings on the middle of September, 2001. How did you envision your immediate future? Did you even dare to conjecture a long-term future?

I dared, Bithead.

On the morning of 9/11/01, I was a passenger on American Airlines flying from Connecticut to Los Angeles. My travel plans were disrupted at the halfway point, but I was not in the least bit pessimistic about my future on that day or in the weeks that followed. My biggest concern was – and is – that the Government’s reaction to 9-11, and the inevitable hysteria about it, would amplify the State’s invasion into my life. I was right.

Government seeks to disarm me, confiscates my property, and invades my privacy. The Terrorists represent less a threat to me than the DEA, ATF, or FBI. That was so five years ago and it’s doubly so now.

The Secret Airline/TSA/Homeless Shelter Conspiracy

Maybe:

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Airport discards in the response to a terror plot have turned into balm for the homeless in Eugene.

The St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County has started picking up some of the things people have jettisoned for security reasons as they board flights at the Eugene Airport.

Charley Harvey, assistant executive director of the charity, dug through trash bags Tuesday and took every bottle of shampoo and shaving cream he could find. The items will be distributed at the organization’s First Place Family Center.

After investigators said they uncovered a plot in Britain to blow up aircraft, travelers tossed the items into trash bins in compliance with new rules prohibiting most liquids, lotions and gels in carry-on luggage.

Liquids are banned from aircraft because they supposedly might be disguised explosives. Yet, rather than the bomb squad trucking the confiscated hair gel, toothpaste, and Preparation H off to an abandoned quarry and detonating it, Homeland Security is dumping the items en masse into trash cans and allowing the local homeless shelter to harvest what they want.

One explanation for this apparent contradiction is that this is a secret plot to get rid of poor people being perpetrated by the TSA, charity organizations, and the airlines:


“Go ahead and take that ‘toothpaste’, homeless guy. Heh, heh, heh!”


TSA screeners are so dedicated to this plot that they willingly risk their lives by handling potentially explosive liquids as roughly as if they were nothing more than harmless toiletries. Or maybe they’ve all been brainwashed by the KGB. Or aliens! It might be true, you know.

After all, what other explanation could there be? That all those things really are harmless, that the government’s just trying to put on a big show? That’s crazy talk.

George W. Bush Saves Property Rights

For real:

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and to strengthen the rights of the American people against the taking of their private property, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy. It is the policy of the United States to protect the rights of Americans to their private property, including by limiting the taking of private property by the Federal Government to situations in which the taking is for public use, with just compensation, and for the purpose of benefiting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties to be given ownership or use of the property taken.

So now the government is only allowed to steal your property when they think they should, and if they do steal it then they have to pay you whatever they think they ought to. In fact they’ve gone so far as to write themselves a note saying that they have to do those things. And that note will remain in effect until someone writes another note.

Don’t you feel better, now?

It Begins

Wonderful, “liberal” Washington State has begun to bring the whip down on illegal recreation. Or anything that links to illegal recreation. Or has advice on illegal recreation. Or something. It’s hard to tell:

The first casualty in the state’s war on Internet gambling is a local Web site where nobody was actually doing any gambling.

What a Bellingham man did on his site was write about online gambling. He reviewed Internet casinos. He had links to them, and ran ads by them. He fancied himself a guide to an uncharted frontier, even compiling a list of “rogue casinos” that had bilked gamblers.

All that, says the state — the ads, the linking, even the discussing — violates a new state law barring online wagering or using the Internet to transmit “gambling information.”

Is it against the law to question the rather un-juicy odds printed on the back of the Evergreen State’s nice, legal scratch tickets? (“Grand prize [usually ten grand or less] may have already been won. Overall odds of winning are 1 in [several times 1]”) Is that implicitly transmitting “gambling information”? Maybe so, that’s why I’m not questioning those odds here. In fact I encourage our readership to remember that lottery proceeds go to “education“. Be a smart player, as the lottery commercials say.

On the other hand, is it against the law for the Washington State Lottery to provide “gambling information” (and let’s be candid: they are doing just that) via the internet? No, probably not, because the intent of this law isn’t to impose any sort of hurdles on revenue collection, the intent of this law is to prevent competition for gambling dollars. Even if the state’s lawmakers weren’t smart enough to write a nice exclusion for themselves, every cop-bot out there knows that the state’s lottery website isn’t to be touched.

The petty thievery and rank protectionism of the hick leglislature in question here is so common as to be almost not worth noticing. What will really be worth paying attention to is when it’s “discovered” that preventing people from gambling online is impossible without immense amounts of intrusion. Then it’ll be your privacy versus Washington State’s need for money. Yeah.

What then? Who d’you think’s gonna fucking walk away from that one, Wu? Huh?” — Al Swearengen, Deadwood.

Hey, we do the hazing ’round here

A young acquaintance of mine in the Marines just got busted down a rank, forfeited pay, and got punished in several other ways for suggesting, perhaps drunkenly, to a subordinate that he beat up one of his subordinates as a way of initiating him into a group. The Marines say that this was “hazing,” which is against the rules, and therefore dishonorable.

Of course, the Marines, and in fact all the branches of the armed forces, are not against hazing per se, at all. Rather, they just want to make sure that all the hazing is official and approved. They call it “boot camp.”

Ask anyone in the military what they went through at boot camp, and ask yourself, if a college Fraternity did the same thing to them, would it be considered “hazing?”

The Marines gave this young man a model of hazing when he first joined, and now they’re surprised he copied it.

On the upside, he was going to re-up his commission soon, and there is now “no way in hell” he’s doing that.

Warren Jeffs And Bin Laden

Warren Jeffs has joined Usama Bi Laden on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List. Everyone knows Bin Laden is considered responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks but what exactly is Warren Jeffs accused of? Stories about Jeffs are all over the news but the details of the charges are hard to come by. The FBI notice says:

WARREN STEED JEFFS, THE LEADER OF A POLYGAMOUS SECT, IS WANTED FOR THE ALLEGED SEXUAL ASSAULT ON A MINOR IN 2002. HE IS ALSO WANTED FOR ONE COUNT OF CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT SEXUAL CONDUCT WITH A MINOR IN 2002. THE ALLEGED OFFENSES TOOK PLACE IN THE VICINITY OF COLORADO CITY, ARIZONA. ADDITIONALLY, JEFFS IS WANTED FOR RAPE AS AN ACCOMPLICE IN UTAH.

Jeffs may be a child molester as his nephew Brent Jeffs claims. But I find the criminal charges against Warren Jeffs to be very suspicious.

He’s charged with conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor and conspiracy to rape. This story is all over the news networks and print media but you have to look surprisingly hard to discover the substance of these charges. You’ll hear that he married an underage girl to an older man, but it sounds a lot less dramatic when you learn we’re talking about marrying a 16 year old woman to a 28 year old man:

In a chilling account laid out in court papers released Thursday, a woman identified as “Jane Doe” said Jeffs demanded she marry and have “husband-wife” relations with an older man despite her protests and pleas that she be released from the union.

Jane said she followed the instructions because she considered Jeffs, president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, to be a prophet of God.

Utah authorities praised Jane’s courage in sharing her account with Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Shauna Jones earlier this year and said they hope it will lead other victims to come forward.

As for Jeffs, he is “not exempt from the law despite his position or beliefs,” said Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap. “To those who may be considering coming forward with information but fear repercussions, to yourself or your family, I want you to know that we will do all in our power to respect your concerns, preserve your privacy and provide assistance.” Jeffs, 50, is a federal fugitive wanted on Arizona charges of facilitating sexual conduct with a minor. He has not been seen publicly in more than a year. Brock had asked a 5th District judge to issue a no-bail warrant, but the judge set a cash-only bail of $500,000.

Belnap would not divulge the woman’s age but said she was between ages 14 and 18 and the events occurred within the past four years. Jane’s account is backed up by photos documenting her marriage and other events she said took place.

Utah law allows a person who facilitates a rape to be charged as an accomplice, with a possible penalty of life in prison. Jeffs did not commit any sexual act with the victim and was not present when it occurred, Belnap said.

“This case is about a violation of the law by someone in a position of power and authority over a vulnerable, young girl,” Belnap said.

According to an affidavit, Jane said she met with Jeffs, who told her God had revealed she was to be joined in a “spiritual marriage” to a man identified as “John Doe.” Jane, who grew up in Hildale, told Jeffs she felt she was too young to marry. Jeffs’ reply: It was her spiritual duty to submit to the arrangement, which was “from God.” Jane said she and John were then taken to Nevada, where Jeffs performed a marriage ceremony and told them to “multiply and replenish the earth and raise children in the priesthood.” They returned to Utah and a month later John approached Jane and reminded her of Jeffs’ instructions, telling her “now was the time.” He then forced Jane to have sexual intercourse, she said.

Once again, Jane went to Jeffs and told him she did not want to stay in the marriage because she hated having “husband-wife” relations with John.

During that conversation, neither she nor Jeffs used the words “sex” or “sexual intercourse,” Jane said, because such language is not culturally permitted. But, Jane said, there was no question Jeffs understood what they were talking about.

Jeffs told her to stay in the marriage, Jane said, and do whatever John demanded because he was her priesthood leader.

“Go back and repent,” Jane said Jeffs told her. “You go give yourself mind, body and soul to your husband like you’re supposed to. He will take you into the heavenly kingdom. Go back and do what he tells you to do.” Jane said she did as instructed by Jeffs and continued to have sexual relations with John despite her objections. In a later meeting, Jeffs told Jane that in time she would grow to love John and that having a baby by him would change everything.

In another meeting, Jeffs told Jane that, “No matter what happens you cannot fight with the priesthood because if you do you’ll lose your salvation.” Those remarks frightened her enough that she stayed in the marriage, Jane said.

Her decision to speak out against the crime now brought praise from Utah officials.

“The great thing is that this young woman has demonstrated she is going to trust government,” said Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. “I hope she is an example to others, who will follow suit.” Jane’s story parallels that of woman who testified before a Mohave County grand jury last summer about her own forced marriage. The woman said she was 16 when Jeffs assigned her as a plural wife to Randolph Barlow, then 28, in 2002.

Like Jane, she was taken to a motel in Caliente, Nev., where Jeffs performed their marriage ceremony. He also gave the girl and Barlow instructions to “multiply and replenish the earth.” She protested that she was too young to have children; despite that, the girl said Barlow forced her to have sexual intercourse.

Barlow now faces two assault charges and a June trial.

In Washington County on Thursday, Belnap said he has not yet decided whether to file rape charges against John. “I’m not ruling anything in or out,” Belnap said. “It is still under investigation.” Arizona has charged Jeffs with sexual conduct with a minor and conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor for his role in arranging the Barlow marriage. Last June, the FBI issued a warrant for Jeffs’ arrest for fleeing prosecution on those charges. There is a $60,000 reward for information leading to his capture.

It appears that it is the Barlow case in which Jeffs is chared with rape. Oddly enough the alleged rapist does not appear to be charged with rape. So what did Jeffs actually do? He married a 16 year old to a 28 year old. That may be illegal in some states but it’s hardly a shocking event in the historical context of marriage in America. There are states in which to this day a 16 year old woman can marry entirely at her own discretion. And Jeffs also preached to the woman. And this amounts to conspiracy to rape? This appears to be a novel and imaginative charge. But it sure sounds a lot worse if you omit all details.

I suspect that the other criminal charges facing Jeffs all involve marriages of fertile young women who are legally underage, but who would have been accepted to be of marriageable age though much of U.S. history. I don’t think it’s at all fair to characterize Jeffs as a child abuser on the basis of such acts. In fact I don’t see that the criminal charges relate to moral crimes at all.

His followers better watch out though, because the talking heads are speculating that they may be involved in the next Waco or Jonestown.

Bush Calls for Biometric ID

As predicted Bush just opened the door for national biometric ID:

Third, we need to hold employers to account for the workers they hire. It is against the law to hire someone who is in this country illegally. Yet businesses often cannot verify the legal status of their employees, because of the widespread problem of document fraud. Therefore, comprehensive immigration reform must include a better system for verifying documents and work eligibility. A key part of that system should be a new identification card for every legal foreign worker. This card should use biometric technology, such as digital fingerprints, to make it tamper-proof. A tamper-proof card would help us enforce the law and leave employers with no excuse for violating it. And by making it harder for illegal immigrants to find work in our country, we would discourage people from crossing the border illegally in the first place.

Of course the fraudulent documents currently being used often represent the immigrant as a legal citizen, so Bush’s proposed card won’t do much at all until all citizens are required to have them.

Coffee, Tea, Or A Bullet In The Head?

Bovard:

Brian Doyle, the #2 spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, has done yeoman work in helping Americans understand how the Transportation Security Administration is protecting them. After TSA air marshals gunned down Rigoberto Alipizar outside of a plane in Miami last December, Doyle justified the killing to the media: “He threatened that he had a bomb in his backpack.” Other TSA spokesmen claimed that Alipizar had shouted that he had a bomb as he ran up and down the plane aisle.

None of the passengers on the plane heard Alpizar say anything about a bomb.

But false statements by federal spokesmen are public service, not a federal crime.

Doyle is getting more press coverage today than ever before.

Like Bovard I’m far more concerned about the fact that Doyle appears to have been part of a conspiracy to cover up a government homicide than the fact that he was caught chatting up a 14 year old girl online.

The government has has still failed to produce a single witness who will support their story that Alpizar said he had a bomb. Quite the contrary.

This isn’t a case of the word of multiple eyewitnesses against the word of Federal Air Marshals – it’s multiple eyewitnesses against nobody but flacks like Doyle.