Archive for the ‘Police State’ Category

No. Your Answers to The Census Aren’t Confidential

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

Mary Theroux explains why you shouldn’t believe government claims that Census answers are confidential:

I saw a huge new billboard in San Francisco the other day—part of the $350 million ad campaign supporting this year’s $14 billion Census—picturing an American Indian in full regalia against a black background, apparently in the process of worshiping the sky, with the stylized text “Tell your story.”

If he’s wise, he might want to think twice about thereby providing information that can be used against him.

As examples, 1940 Census data was released and used to locate and intern Americans of Japanese, Italian and German descent, as outlined in these stories from Scientific American, “Confirmed: The U.S. Census Bureau Gave Up Names of Japanese-Americans in WW II: Government documents show that the agency handed over names and addresses to the Secret Service,” and USA Today, “Papers show Census role in WWII camps.”

The Census Bureau played a role in the confinement of more than 100,000 Americans of Japanese descent who were rounded up and held in internment camps, many until the war ended in 1945. In 1942, the Census turned over general statistics about where Japanese-Americans lived to the War Department. It was acting legally under the Second War Powers Act, which allowed the sharing of information for national security.

The newly released documents [further] show that in 1943, the Census complied with a request by the Treasury Department to turn over names of individuals of Japanese ancestry in the Washington, D.C., area because of an unspecified threat against President Franklin Roosevelt. The list contained names, addresses and data on the age, sex, citizenship status and occupation of Japanese-Americans in the area. [emphasis added]

And more recently, in 2002,

the Census turned over information it had collected about Arab-Americans … to Homeland Security.

While the Census Bureau assures us that “your confidentiality is protected. Title 13 requires the Census Bureau to keep all information about you and all other respondents strictly confidential,” the exceptions above negate such assurances. And, of course, their release of the “strictly confidential” data was perfectly legal: during World War II, under the terms of the Second War Powers Act, and more recently under the terms of the still-in-effect USA PATRIOT Act.

And there’s more.

(Via David Beito)

TSA Mission Creep

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Because the TSA does such a good job arresting 5-year old “terrorists,” mistaking iPod Chargers for bombs and strip-searching soldiers returning to the U.S. with their dead comrades, Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-IL) wants TSA screeners (pardon me that’s “officers”) to take on a new task: checking the size of passengers’ carry-on luggage.

Sometimes the idiocy of our elected class surprises even me.

Sotomayor & The Police

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Given that Sotomayor was nominated by Barack Obama, I never had high hopes that she’d be good on federalism, guns, economic regulation, labor issues, property rights or the rest of the issues that I agree with the Court “conservatives” on. I did, however, hope that she’d be at least good on the things that “liberals” are supposed to be good on: civil liberties, torture, and police abuse.

This article doesn’t give me much hope that she’ll be at least good on those issues.  

As the article explains, in Jocks v. Tavernier Sotomayor convinced two skeptical judges to join her in throwing out a verdict where a jury found that Jocks had been wrongfully arrested by an off duty cop. The crux of the issue is that Sotomayor convinced her fellow judges to overrule the jury and believe the story of the off-duty cop, after the jury had effectively rejected his story by ruling for the plaintiff.

It seems Sotomayor’s “empathy” doesn’t include the victim of police abuse, who managed to convince a jury of his peers that that he was wrongfully arrested.

“Fear-Mongering” Driving Bailout… Martial Law Threats?

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA), as quoted in the Baltimore Sun:

“The one thing that’s been proven is the absolute fear-mongering that’s being used to drive us is false,” Sherman said. “I’ve seen members turn to each other and say if we don’t pass this bill, we’re going to have martial law in the United States.”

Government Mandates I Can (Almost) Get Behind

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

I’m not one for government-mandates, but I’ve always observed that if “liberal” jurists read the 2nd Amendment like they some did other parts of the Constitution, they’d probably want to mandate gun ownership.

Which is just what a small town of Kennesaw, GA did.  Despite the dire predictions by anti-gun rights activists, the city is now much safer:

n March 1982, 25 years ago, the small town of Kennesaw – responding to a handgun ban in Morton Grove, Ill. – unanimously passed an ordinance requiring each head of household to own and maintain a gun. Since then, despite dire predictions of “Wild West” showdowns and increased violence and accidents, not a single resident has been involved in a fatal shooting – as a victim, attacker or defender.

The crime rate initially plummeted for several years after the passage of the ordinance, with the 2005 per capita crime rate actually significantly lower than it was in 1981, the year before passage of the law.

Prior to enactment of the law, Kennesaw had a population of just 5,242 but a crime rate significantly higher (4,332 per 100,000) than the national average (3,899 per 100,000). The latest statistics available – for the year 2005 – show the rate at 2,027 per 100,000. Meanwhile, the population has skyrocketed to 28,189.

By comparison, the population of Morton Grove, the first city in Illinois to adopt a gun ban for anyone other than police officers, has actually dropped slightly and stands at 22,202, according to 2005 statistics. More significantly, perhaps, the city’s crime rate increased by 15.7 percent immediately after the gun ban, even though the overall crime rate in Cook County rose only 3 percent. Today, by comparison, the township’s crime rate stands at 2,268 per 100,000.

This was not what some predicted.

In a column titled “Gun Town USA,” Art Buchwald suggested Kennesaw would soon become a place where routine disagreements between neighbors would be settled in shootouts. The Washington Post mocked Kennesaw as “the brave little city … soon to be pistol-packing capital of the world.” Phil Donahue invited the mayor on his show.

Reuters, the European news service, today revisited the Kennesaw controversy following the Virginia Tech Massacre.

Police Lt. Craig Graydon said: “When the Kennesaw law was passed in 1982 there was a substantial drop in crime … and we have maintained a really low crime rate since then. We are sure it is one of the lowest (crime) towns in the metro area.” Kennesaw is just north of Atlanta.

As for the mandate, it strikes me as unnecessary.  Fortunately it also, according the Wikepedia article, is completely unenforced and full of exemptions that would prevent anyone who objects from owning a firearm:

Kennesaw’s law was amended in 1983 to exempt those who conscientiously object to owning a firearm, convicted felons, those who cannot afford a firearm, and those with a mental or physical disability that would prevent them from owning a firearm. It mentions no penalty for its violation. According to the Kennesaw Historical Society, no one has ever been charged under the ordinance.


Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Ok, so you can have a handgun in D.C. now, but only in your home and only if it’s unloaded and locked away. At least, that’s the law the DC government is attempting to pass in the wake of Heller. (Unfortunately, the Supreme Court left plenty of leeway by saying that “reasonable” restrictions on gun rights are acceptable. Leave it to the government to define “reasonable,” right? Hardly.)

Declaration of Independence

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

On Friday, most Americans “celebrated” America’s Indepence by taking the day off wor, BBQ-ing and watching fireworks.  What was missed is that so much of the Declaration of independence seems to have been voided in the over two hundred years since it was signed.

Most obvious is that the Declaration of Independence makes it clear that succession (or political separation) is perfectly legitimate - in fact is a duty - when rights are sufficiently abused:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Next look at the some of the abuses sighted by the signers of the Declaration.  There can be no doubt that many are abused by the current government, and particularly the current Administration:

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

McCain’s Constitution-Free World

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

This week in a 5-4 decision the U.S.Supreme Court ruled that the detainees, some of whom have been held for six years, had rights under habeas corpus, a long-standing legal principle by which people can challenge their imprisonment.

While criticizing the decision John McCain made the following remarks

The United States Supreme Court yesterday rendered a decision which I think is one of the worst decisions in the history of this country.  Our first obligation is the safety and security of this nation and the men and women who defend it.  This decision will harm our ability to do that.

Umm, no…  the first obligation of the President (and members of Congress), and particularly the Supreme Court is to uphold the Constitution.

Indeed, the decision may “harm” the ability of the government to keep us safe and secure, but so would many things (although I’m generally of the mind that you don’t need to sacrifice liberty for security).

For example, let’s suppose that the permanent institution of martial law might make us less likely to be killed in a terrorist attack.  Then a Supreme Court ruling saying that permanent martial law is unconstitutional would “harm our ability to” keep Americans safe and secure.  That surely doesn’t make such a decision wrong… except perhaps to John McCain.