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Archive for October, 2010

WikiLeaks has done it again, this time releasing over 400,000 pages of classified documents on the Iraq War. God bless you, Bradley Manning! Before I get into the new information, let me just say that I loved the Yahoo News headline today wondering why the Sunday morning talk shows essentially ignored the WikiLeaks documents. Is it really a mystery? Those spineless “journalists” are all tools of the American imperialist-security complex. Of course they are going to ignore these documents, they’ve got two wars to perpetuate!

The NYT and Der Spiegel both had preferential access to the documents. I liked the presentation employed by the Times more, sort of bundling big clumps of documents together into related portfolios. The two most interesting bundles were about the treatment of detainees and civilian casualty figures.

The documents on detainees are, unfortunately, almost all about their treatment by other Iraqis. The information is horrifying: torture, death, abuse, etc. The U.S. seems to have done a little wink-wink, nod-nod show most of the time and let the Iraqis “investigate” abuses for themselves. Oh, and the U.S. used the threat of Iraqi detention to intimidate detainees in our custody. This stuffy is horrifying, but it’s not surprising at all. It’s basically a carbon copy of the model the CIA has been employing around the world since whenever extraordinary rendition started. We don’t need to torture people ourselves when we can find all manner of thugs from failed authoritarian states who are unemployable in any career except for violence and who would love to torture fellow humans in places beyond U.S. jurisdiction. If the slaves back home get wind of it and try to do anything, just invoke state secrecy against them and let the courts take over!

The civilian casualties in the report add up to an additional 15,000 deaths. That pushes the Iraq Body Count to somewhere between 98-106,000 civilian deaths. That’s blood on our hands, guys. We didn’t have to fight this war. Saddam was no saint, but even his infamous gassing of the Kurds at Halabja amounted to something like 3000-5000 deaths. Keep our crimes in perspective.

Der Spiegel‘s best reporting was on unfair attacks conducted by Apache helicopters, of which the infamous Collateral Murder video was just the tip of the iceberg, it seems. It’s easy to point your joystick at people trying to surrender and click a button that will eliminate them. It feels just like a video game. Maybe you can even compare your kill stats with your buddies back at the base!

Don’t let the war-loving mainstream media fool you: the WikiLeaks Iraq documents reveal new and damning evidence about our awful war in Iraq. Don’t let the government fool you, either: these documents don’t put anyone in any more danger than our continued ignorance would. The Surge is unraveling. Chaos is returning. We broke Iraq, but sticking around indefinitely isn’t going to help anything. Don’t let the military fool you into thinking our conduct there is justified. End the war now, bring the troops home, and don’t forget to Free Bradley Manning and donate to WikiLeaks.

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Most of the awful things America does at least make sense. I understand why the securicrats make our airports feel like communist border checkpoints, why they want to read our emails, why they love to issue licenses and regulations–they love power. That makes sense, even if it repulses me. But then there are the things the hacks in charge of this country do that just make you scratch your head. Today’s example: our relationship with Pakistan.

The NYT reports that the U.S. is about to give the Pakistani Army an additional $2 billion in aid. This is the same army that was recently implicated in killing civilians and torturing detainees, not that our own forces don’t do those things as well. This is the same army that operates hand in glove with the infamous Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) that fears very deeply the idea of a stable Afghanistan paired with India ganging up on Pakistan and has worked for decades to keep Afghanistan unstable and chaotic. This the same army that seems pretty indifferent to actually catching Taliban and al-Qaeda people in Pakistan. This is the same army that probably helped get pro-negotiation Taliban Mullah Baradar captured last year, lest negotiations between Karzai and the Taliban move too swiftly.

Oh, and maybe best yet: the Guardian has just confirmed (H/T: Michael C. Moynihan) that Pakistan has been directly implicated in helping plan the horrific Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008. We suspected this all along, but now it’s official.

Now why in God’s name would this country that undermines America at every turn and upholds medievalist laws against its own people be worthy of more aid? Is it some sort of contest to reward the people who screw you over the most? I have heard of currying favor, but currying disfavor?

This is your tax dollars at work, guys. This is what we pay the serious and smart people in Washington good money to come up with. The wages of imperialism. God, I can’t wait to get off this sinking ship.

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  • Via Strike the Root, Wired: the NSA gets a new set of cartoon snow leopard mascots to recruit kids. Of course, the CIA, National Counterterrorism Center and FBI all already have games aimed at kids. So you can’t market cigarettes to kids, but you can try to get them to become human-hating tool-drones of the American imperialist security apparatus? What a sick country.
  • National Post: An “internationally acclaimed psychiatrist” says there is no evidence Omar Khadr, the boy-turned-man locked up at 15 in Guantanamo Bay in 2002 and held there ever since, is a ‘good kid.’ I. DON’T. CARE. Good kid or not, he has human rights, you bag of pus. And hey, guess what…maybe he would be a much nicer kid if he hadn’t been held without trial and maybe tortured for going on ten years. Burn in hell.
  • Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason: Regulations are Horrible, pt. 500,000–stiffer testing regulations passed on toymakers in the aftermath of a few Mattel recalls were quickly altered to exempt Mattel. Now those same onerous regulations are driving smaller toymakers to grovel before Leviathan and probably go out of business. My God, this is especially sick. Corporations write regulations, guys. Stop thinking they protect you, they only protect their share of the marketplace.
  • Via Liberale et Libertaire, CBS: Alaskan Senate nominee and Sarah Palin buddy Joe Miller makes a mistake and accidentally speaks the truth in saying he wants America’s border to look like East Germany‘s. An estimated 1,100 innocent people died at the Inner German Border, you freak. I hope you lay in bed tortured by their death groans.
  • NYT: From the department of Do You Really Think We are That Stupid, “Coalition Forces Routing Taliban in Key Afghan Region.” If you’re the NYT reporter doing this story, how do you even finish it? How do you keep a straight face listening to the military hacks feeding you this tripe? You’re driving the Taliban out of their caves in one region, whoopee! Guess what, guys…Afghanistan has three things in abundance, AK-47s, poppy seeds, and caves. “We” are not winning this game of whack-a-mole.
  • NYT: An American guard killed an Afghan detainee in a prison near Kandahar. Oh, wouldn’t you know it, he was trying to escape! If you believe that story, I have some primo real estate in Las Vegas to sell you, too.
  • Glenn Greenwald: This is such a classic Greenwald post, haha. Glenn wants us to remember the cruel and unusual prison policies of the Iranians…which happen to look an awful lot like our own at Guantanamo and the black sites worldwide. “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
  • Via Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason, Crispy on the Outside: Did you know Kokomo, Ind. was “saved” by the stimulus? A stimulus that made it possible for Our Father the State to unselfishly charge only $1,000 for a liquor license that normally costs $100,000? Oh Father, what would we do without you to make us lick your boots and pay exorbitant costs to exercise our fundamental rights?
  • Via Brian Doherty at Reason, NYT: Antonio “bile” Musumeci, the producer of the awesome podcast Thinking Liberty, won a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security thugs who arrested him and confiscated his memory card for videotaping a protest outside of a federal courthouse. This is great news for everyone who recognizes the newest front in the war against the state, photography and videotaping.
  • Via the New Humanist, WaPo: a Ugandan tabloid publishes photos of 100 suspected homosexuals and tells readers in their deeply homophobic country to “hang them.” Ideas have consequences, you American evangelicals who went to Uganda and helped draft their anti-gay bill. Four people on the list have already been attacked. All Western countries should offer these people immediate asylum.
  • Der Spiegel: We talk about the rhetorical awfulness of Godwin’s Law a lot, but you can’t understand how ridiculous and hurtful the argumentum ad Hitlerum is until you hear a German discuss it. Dear Glenn Beck, kids singing Obama praise songs and warnings about global warming might be annoying and gross, but they are not on par with the Hitler Youth and death camps. Stop embarrassing yourself.
  • Free Keene: Keene PD shut down (video included) Cub Scouts and homeless shelter volunteers for putting up tables at a festival without licenses. Even though the tables were on private property. If you are a cop who does stuff like this, who are you helping? What are you thinking? Are you thinking?
  • NYT: Know how the GOP keeps talking about deficits? Guess what, they have few specifics on how they want to cut the deficit. It’s hard to have much of a plan when you are running to the left of the Democrats on Medicare and have no intentions of cutting defense. If you vote for these clowns, you have your head on backwards.
  • NYT: So the military is allowing some gays to reenlist now. I hate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and I’m all about equality. My only question is, why do these guys even want to be in the military?
  • National Post: Pointing out the fallacy of people who don’t like Muhammad cartoons saying Islam should be treated “equally.” Hey guys, guess what? This is the West. We have the right to express ourselves. If it hurts your feelings, go back to a Muslim country. Oh, and please stop trying to kill cartoonists.
  • NYT: Headline–“Efforts to Prosecute Blackwater Are Collapsing.” But hey, the Department of Justice tried really hard! Just like they tried really hard to prosecute torturers.
  • Jacob Sullum at Reason: Yet another reason to support Prop 19–blacks are incarcerated for drug crimes at a rate up to twelve times that of whites, even though white use rates are the same or higher. And yet somehow Prop 19 looks less and less likely to pass. Come on, people!
  • Center for a Stateless Society: Lede–“Mexican authorities recently burned 134 tons of marijuana in a display of Drug War success. The flames of the burning goods were a visible statist spectacle casting marijuana and the people who use it as villains, while the smoke from state propaganda conceals the real villain, which is authority.” Amen!
  • NYT: Oh hey, nothing to see here, but Fannie and Freddie might need another $19 billion from taxpayers. $135 billion wasn’t quite enough. But hey, go watch your American Idol and we’ll get back to subsidizing some more mortgages for people who can’t afford them!
  • NYT: This is one of the dumbest pieces I’ve read in a long time–a morbidly obese man whines about the insults and difficulties of traveling whilst fat. He’s been doing it for over twenty years. Here’s an idea, bucko: if you find it so dehumanizing and sad, lose a few pounds. And no, you do not get to be 5’7 285 by being big-boned.
  • Brian Doherty at Reason: Thuggish celebucop Sheriff Lee Baca of L.A. County says he will continue to enforce marijuana laws even if Prop 19 passes. Of course, the L.A. Times is already using this as another reason to vote no on Prop 19 and “avoid controversy.”
  • Lew Rockwell: Engaging in a favorite Misesian past-time, tweaking the nose of the Mont Pelerin Society. I feel bad for the college kids who watch documentaries like Commanding Heights and come away thinking the MPS Friedmanite shills for conventional conservatism are really free marketers. Join Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s Property and Freedom Society instead, kids.
  • Kevin Williamson at Exchequer: Profiling a favorite statist tactic, campaigning against budget cuts by putting only the best and most essential programs on the chopping block. But what about the firefighters and the police? Think of the children! Meanwhile, we will think of our pensions, mua ha ha.
  • Radley Balko at Reason: Great article on the State’s cute little asset seizure programs that like to take all sorts of property from suspected criminals and then make it incredibly difficult to get back, even when you end up being innocent. We need it for the common good, slave! Now lick my boots!

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By the time you read this post, it will probably already be October 22. I didn’t know it until just a few days ago, but October 22 is a special day–it’s a national day of action and protest against police brutality. Protests and rallies are being staged in almost every major North American city, so you should see if your city is on the list. Mine is, and I will even have the privilege of covering the event for my newspaper.

If you go out for the protest, remember to stay peaceful. Violence is what the police want. They would love nothing more than to wade into a sea of peaceful protesters and crack some skulls open with batons. Don’t give them the excuse. Better yet, attend the protest with a video camera and keep them honest.

Some of you might be on the fence. Let me share two horrible stories of police brutality with you, then.

In the first case (H/T: Radley Balko), Cook County, Ill. sheriff’s deputies burst into an apartment on a no-knock drug raid. They were looking for a mid-twenties Hispanic male. Inside they found an 80+-year-old Ukrainian refugee couple, one of them stricken with Alzheimer’s and cancer. This did not stop the thugs from causing $3000 worth of damage; “Everything was violently opened. Cabinets were ripped open, clothes and sheets were everywhere, and pieces of wood where the doors were rammed were all over the place,” their son testified.

Even if you can get past the extreme irony of police using Soviet-style tactics against completely innocent people who came here to escape the Soviet Union, you should be gobsmacked as soon as you remember that this whole raid was over a drug possession charge. 20 goons with guns knocking down doors to catch consenting adults who put controlled substances in their bodies.

The next case might be even more disturbing simpler because there’s video evidence. Via Lew Rockwell, watch a DC Metro cop beat an innocent girl and hold her, crying, in a very compromising position for no good reason. Seriously, this is a must-watch.

Now imagine that girl is your daughter or your sister or your wife. What would you want to do to this cockroach of a man?

You shouldn’t be on the fence any longer. October 22 is a great chance for you to stand in solidarity with the rest of us slaves as we rebuke our “legitimate,” “they’re-just-doing-their-jobs” overseers. Even if you can’t go to a rally, just bring up police brutality in a conversation. Remind people that these barbarians are not our friends.

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The Blue Wall of Silence is the fancy name for the code of silence cops employ in protecting their own. It takes all sorts of forms. There’s cops lying under oath and hiding behind the sanctified images of their badges. There’s cops destroying evidence. There’s cops planting illegal items on people to justify absurd behavior. They think they owe it to each other because we are oh-so-tough on them.

The biggest problem with the code of silence might just be the moral graying it introduces into police morality. As Radley Balko puts it in an article I’m about to link to, “When we hear stories about police misconduct, the standard response from police groups and their supporters is that such behavior is rare, the fault of ‘a few bad apples.’ While that may be true, the ‘good’ officers tend to cover up for them.”

Don’t think this is about Hollywood. It’s happening across this country, every day. Balko runs down some of the most egregious cases in a great column this week. The thing that’s incredible about Balko’s column is that he doesn’t just pick code of silence cases–there’s too many of those. He picks cases in which the only officers punished were the officers who did the right thing.

Like the infamous DEA case in Kansas City, Kan. DEA thug Timothy McCue beats the piss out of a guy for no reason, cooks up some false charges…only to have good cop Max Seifert tell the truth and see the charges fall apart. Of course, this led to the good cop being forced into retirement with a reduced pension, whilst the DEA goon and nearly all of the cops who helped him cover up the brutality are still in law enforcement. As a little extra eff-you to all of the anti-brutality people out there, one of the conspirators, Steven Culp, is even executive director of the Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training.

Shoot me now. Actually, don’t ever say that around a cop. Plenty of them would be glad to take you up on the offer, especially if you are a half-deaf whittler walking away from them in Seattle.

New York City comes out looking especially bad. Adrian Schoolcraft, a young cop who tried to be a modern-day Serpico and bust the department for misconduct, was not only brushed off by all manner of “leaders” within the department, but eventually was unfairly sent to the psych ward. In another case, a bunch of rookie cops beat cabbie LeVelle Ming for no reason. Good cop Anthony Acosta broke up the fight…yet it was Acosta who was sentenced to desk duty whilst the leader of the rookies was actually promoted.

It’s this Ming-Acosta case that William Grigg zeroes in on at LewRockwell.com. According to Grigg:

After Ming finally managed to exit the vehicle, the beating began in earnest. More than a dozen of [one of the cops’] comrades swarmed Ming, punching and kicking the outnumbered and helpless cabbie while witnesses looked on in horror.

As the assault grew uglier, a Park Avenue doorman frantically dialed 911. “You got to get the cops over,” he pleaded. “They’re beating the sh*t out of a cab driver. About 15 guys. They’re f*****g jumping him…. They’re getting a two-by-four. I’m witnessing a big two-by-four being picked up.”

Who will guard the guards themselves? Anthony Acosta tried to stop this raging mob of our “guardians” from beating an innocent man. Grigg continues with Acosta’s story:

After uniformed officers arrived on the scene, Acosta identified himself as both a policeman and an eyewitness. He was immediately assaulted and handcuffed, and then put in a police vehicle. He was taken to a nearby station house and detained for most of the night in the roll call room. He was eventually approached by Inspector Michael Harrington, who insisted that Acosta follow a carefully written script: He was to sign a statement claiming that he had broken up the fight but had not identified himself as a police officer when he was arrested.

“Listen, this is an unfortunate incident,” the Inspector told Acosta. “This is what you’re going to say.”

After Acosta refused to perjure himself, he was forced to turn in his badge and gun, and placed on a “modified assignment” for the “good order of the department.” He was eventually hit with five spurious administrative charges: “Conduct unbecoming,” failing to identify himself, interfering with an off-duty police officer, improperly filling out line-of-duty injury paperwork, and improperly preparing witness statements. Predictably, his police union, the Sergeants Benevolent Association, did nothing to help him.

Meanwhile, none of the assailants was punished at all.

I’ve said it many times before: it’s their country, we just live in it. They don’t even make a pretense about this crap. Open your eyes. The cops are not your friends. The majority of them are power-tripping thugs who love to aggress against people. They love the thrill of it–the perverse thrill of being the only guy with a gun in the fight, the only guy with legitimacy behind any and all of his violence. Forgetting this might cost you your life.

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Remember when China lost their heads over dissident Liu Xiaobo winning the Nobel Peace Prize? The mess remains in progress. His wife, supposedly given the chance to visit him and give him the news of his win, is now under arrest, too.

Then there’s nice, friendly People’s Daily Online, the cute little English-language mouthpiece of the regime. Look at how liberal China is being, they are even letting them write about Liu winning the Prize! Oh wait, they are just writing propaganda pieces that recycle vile commentary from the same bunch of Western useful idiots and reactionary Muslims. One of these useful idiots is especially worthy of our opprobrium:

Meanwhile, Morits Skaugen, chief executive officer of the Norwegian marine transportation service company I.M. Skaugen SE, published an article in the Norwegian-language newspaper Aftenposten on Tuesday, saying that it is China that should get the Nobel Peace Prize.

“Development in China is probably the greatest economic experiment we have seen ever,” Skaugen wrote.

My nostrils are flaring. How do you sleep at night, Morits Skaugen? Do you hear the screams of the 65 million innocents Mao butchered? Do you feel the blood of the Tibetans and the Uyghurs and Falun Gong and the Christians and the dissidents and everyone else brutalized by this regime on your hands? Maybe you would like to try a taste of the Cultural Revolution or the Great Leap Forward. How much I would love to see you live happily ever after in peaceful old late communist China. How much I would like to see you locked up without any rights in a black jail. Some day you will look back on this statement and wish you could have sewn your own mouth shut. You are an awful human.

Do your part to spit in the face of the murderous Chinese regime–read the Charter 08 document (H/T: Tyler Cowen) that put Liu Xiaobo in jail. For people used to living in freedom, it might not read as very interesting. There’s even some rather wishy-washy junk about social democracy that I have no use for. But the point is, people were willing to risk their lives and freedom for this document. It deserves to be read. It deserves to be shared. This regime deserves to be brought to its knees and the murderers who run it Ceausescu’d.

Your time is coming, Wen Jiabao and Hu Jintao. Enjoy crushing the people for now. They will crush you in due time.

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It might seem like a silly thing to get worked up about, but I am steaming mad about food licensing. The NYT has covered the issue twice recently, both times making my blood boil. The first story was this one about “food court” in New York City. Technically called something like the health department tribunal, there are “a dozen administrative law judges” waiting there for supplicant-restaurant owners to kneel down and lick their boots. That’s a dozen salaries being paid to people who make our lives worse. Don’t even bother thinking about the army of power-tripping health inspectors in the field and administrative vegetables in the office making all of this possible, all of them drawing fat salaries and benefits.

At least the people interviewed for the story understand what is up. They’re small business owners, the engine of any good economy. They know they are jumping through hoops. One of them says, “You’ve got to get here really early — this place has turned into a circus, a moneymaking circus.” Ding ding ding, money for licenses into the coffers, money for an army of bureaucrats out of the coffers.

The next story starts out in LA and then jumps around to a few other cities. The common thread is how cities are dealing with the MENACE of food trucks. Some of these trucks got to escape draconian licensing laws at first and actually made their customers happy, so a bunch of greedy bureaucrats now have them squarely targeted. There is some idiotic soccer mom type quoted in the story saying that she eats from food trucks now, but that in the future, if they are graded, she would not want to eat from any C-grade trucks. You vicious little fool, you’re eating from them right now and you don’t even know it! You just know you like the food. Do you even know what makes a C from an A? Probably a bigger bribe to the health inspector.

Government licensing does not keep us safe. Government licensing is always and everywhere a phenomenon of cartel-member businesses who want to lock out competition and power-and-money-hungry politicians only too eager to help them. Write this down as fact.

So what can we do? Stop encouraging government. Utilize consumer feedback options like Yelp. Come up with your own private licensing schemes. Open an underground food business without seeking government’s approval.

We have got to get these power-tripping scumbags out of our lives. If the soccer moms want to start Soccermomistan and bow down to an army of bureaucrats like this, fine, don’t let me stop them. But just don’t make me part of it. I know good food when I taste it. I know a meaningful license when I see it. I don’t need government bashing my head in to make me understand.

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