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Top-of-the-Week Links

Welcome new readers from Slog! Thanks for following me over here. Please keep coming back or just subscribe via RSS.

To the old guard, the last few weeks have been hectic with me facing the end of my internship. Apologies for the long layoff. But I’ve accumulated a good batch of links for you in the meantime. Note: I am saving the majority of my links about WikiLeaks for a separate, dedicated post.

  • Globe & Mail: Saeed Malekpour, a Canadian resident, has been sentenced to death in Iran for running a porn site. That is it–running a porn site. This case is just as bad as the wife-stoning last summer, but getting nowhere near the attention. Don’t forget this guy’s name, don’t let him die.
  • Via Brian Doherty, Chicago Breaking News: Aurora (Ill.) police have yet to return $190k confiscated from two drug suspects in a traffic stop. A judge has even ordered the money returned, only to have the city refuse. This is nothing new–the cops routinely confiscate money from suspects and then make it so hard to get back a lot of people just give up.
  • Via Andrew Sullivan, The Telegraph: Switzerland considers overturning their ban on incest between consenting adults. Do I think incest is disgusting and unfathomable? Yes. But could I agree more with this statement? “Incest is a difficult moral question, but not one that is answered by penal law.” No, I couldn’t. Freedom means defending even the rights of people with whom we do not agree.
  • Kevin Carson at Center for a Stateless Society: Covering every angle of the UK student riots in a way no other outlet has. Such a well-considered piece. Carson points out that it’s easy to blame the protesters for being thugs, but harder to see them as victims of a government education system that perversely subsidizes education and creates infinite new credentialing standards.
  • National Post: Oh my God–a woman is filing a lawsuit against McDonald’s for marketing food to her children and making it hard to say no. Oh my God. I am about to explode in flames just reading about this vile human trying to use force against a business for more or less existing. Burn in hell, Monet Parham.
  • Globe & Mail: This story fails in every way possible. What was once a private project to build a Canadian Museum of Human Rights is now a government-funded boondoggle (funded by the supposedly conservative Harper government, btw). Now, Ukrainian-Canadian groups are whining that the museum doesn’t do enough to cover the Ukrainian famine of the 1930s. There’s almost nothing more unseemly than this sort of genocide porn.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy: Dinging Drudge for linking to PrisonPlanet.com, the main Alex Jones site. Alex is too far out there, way too wrapped up in conspiracy theories for me to like him. But just because he is a conspiracy theorist doesn’t mean his (very popular) site is incapable of breaking stories.
  • Via Tyler Cowen, Bruce Schneier: Interesting argument that rather than arguing about security for the Washington Monument, it should be closed as a “monument to our fears.” I don’t think Schneier really wants to close it and neither do I, but his “this is why we can’t have nice things” point about America’s love of fear is pretty awesome.
  • Tim Cavanaugh at Reason: Did you know Wesley Snipes is sitting in jail now, even though he beat his tax charges, just because the judge brought him up on another misdemeanor? And that the sentence he got for the misdemeanor is longer than a lot of sentences issued to felons? The statists don’t like it when you mess with their revenue stream.
  • Der Spiegel: In a super-minor WikiLeak, American authorities got butthurt over Austria’s “limited” worldview. In this case, “limited” means “not interested in pursuing imperialism and global war.” Yet another reason for me to love Austria.
  • National Post: A trade war may be brewing in my native Ohio, where a Canadian contractor made the cheapest bid to provide chairs to a courthouse, only to be told the contract needed to be awarded to an American firm. First of all, color me disgusted that Franklin County (home to Columbus) “needs” a $100 million, 7-story courthouse. Sounds like too many laws. Second of all, the idea that this will “create” jobs when it just means government will have to spend more money stolen from working people on the stupid chairs is ludicrous.
  • NYT: Old news, but the judge tossed out the case against extrajudicial murders targeted killings filed by Anwar al-Awlaki’s dad. Apparently, this issue should be left up to the executive branch…because they are transparent, fair, and moral. God, this is sickening.
  • Globe & Mail: Ted Turner urged leaders at the Cancun conference to institute a worldwide one-child policy. Bye bye, Ted. Go back to your ranch and STFU. You are insane and you hate humans. Guess what? We hate you back, you old loon.
  • NYT: Telling the chilling story of Danroy Henry, another unarmed black man killed by a white cop in shady circumstances. It happened in October and we still haven’t heard much about the evidence. People need to stop trusting the police and start realizing they are bullies who kill people.
  • Matt Welch at Reason: L.A. extended a moratorium on fast food restaurants in low-income neighborhoods to become a full-on ban. I understand fast food is horrible for health and encourages bad decisions. But this isn’t the way to solve the problem, by denying people their access to it and telling companies where they can and can’t operate.
  • LewRockwell.com blog: Using Foreign Policy‘s list of the world’s top 15 imprisoned dissidents to ask when Julian Assange and the tortured Bradley Manning will make the list. These dissidents are worth learning and remembering, for sure. But the point about Assange and Manning is incredibly valid–we are doing things we associate with dictators.
  • NYT: The WTO ruled in favor of a U.S. tariff against Chinese tires. This is what passes for pro-trade in our world. No more WTO, no more NAFTA-style free trade agreements, no more tariffs. Just free people in different places trading freely with each other, please.
  • Globe & Mail: The idiotic son of Canada’s third-party leader, who is unfortunately on the Toronto council, is calling on the council to condemn MacLean’s for their now-infamous “Too Asian?” article. And just like all of the other kneejerkers complaining about this article, little Mike Layton seems to have failed to read past the title. Or maybe he did and he is just a cynical opportunist pol gunning for more votes. Whatever it is, shut up.
  • Globe & Mail: One of the articles in a series about religion in Canada was about unused church infrastructure closing down and falling into disrepair, especially in Quebec. I just really loved this quote: “It’s not because you stop believing in Amon-Ra that you destroy the Pyramids.” So well said!
  • NYT: Three New Orleans cops have been convicted in the post-Katrina murder of Henry Glover. Amen. Have fun in jail, you thugs. Would that more murderer cops were getting acquainted with the general population right alongside you.
  • Justin Raimondo: Remember all the big media fawning over Richard Holbrooke’s death last week? How the power-loving, arrogant old fool had said we should end the war in Afghanistan as his last words, even though he was too much of a coward to do it whilst he lived? Raimondo points out that that was only the tip of the crappy iceberg with Holbrooke.
  • The Economist: The judge hearing Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s case suddenly and inexplicably decided to postpone his ruling. In fact, just long enough for Vladimir Putin to make a tamper-tastic, completely unfair statement condemning Khodorkovsky on national tv. Khodorkovsky is no saint, but his punishment has already far exceeded his crimes.
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Chances are you don’t know much about Central Asia, the club of five ex-Soviet “stans” located just north of America’s bloodiest and most corrupt fiefdom, Afghanistan. Kazakhstan is probably the most famous, thanks to the infamous Borat Sagdiyev. Kyrgyzstan gets a decent amount of news play because of the Tulip Revolution they had in 2005 and then the unnamed revolution and ethnic violence they had last summer. Of the five–Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan–only Kyrgyzstan can lay any sort of claim to being a democracy, and the Kyrgyz democracy is rotten with corruption and heavily dependent upon foreign powers.

The weirdest one has to be Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan is a sandy place that used to be quite poor until they discovered they sat on top of an untold wealth of natural gas. When the Soviet empire fell, the Communist First Secretary Saparmurat Niyazov just stayed on for the next 15 years until his death. But given the absence of a communist cult and the addition of natural gas money, the next 15 years were a wild time for the country. Niyazov rechristened himself Turkmenbashi (father of the Turkmen), wrote an autobiography that became a “textbook” for proper living, renamed months of the calendar after himself and his mother, changed the alphabet, and built golden statues of himself. It was a cult of personality so stupid and so eccentric as to almost invite laughter, had it not been paid for and foisted upon his unwitting subjects.

He died suddenly in 2006 and was replaced by an obscure dentist, Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedov. Surely things would be better under him than the ghastly Turkmenbashi!

WikiLeaks says no. WikiLeaks documents show U.S. authorities calling Berdimuhammedov an extremely paranoid intellectual lightweight who built a $79 million presidential yacht that would have been larger if only the Caspian Sea canals were bigger. This as the Turkmen people continue to live in poverty. Of course, his wife and daughters live in Western Europe.

Elsewhere in the region, WikiLeaks shows General Petraeus being told to suck up to Tajik dictator Emomali Rakhmon, a vile old drunk who has a strange habit of seeing opponents die in jail. Cables also show the U.S. standing idly by as Kazakh dictator and U.S. ally Nursultan Nazarbayev fixes another election.

These are the sort of things desperate empires do as they cling to power whilst fighting disastrous wars at the farthest fringes of their realms. The American war machine needs Manas AFB in Kyrgyzstan in order to keep fighting in Afghanistan, so politicians will be lied to and cheated and ultimately throw money at bad, corrupt contracts in Kyrgyzstan, just to keep the body bags coming. They will suck up to Nazarbayev, just to keep overflight rights. They will add Uzbek Islamists to terrorist watchlists, just to curry some favor.

The Ottoman Empire was once called the Sick Man of Europe. America is now the Sick Man of the World–still represented across the globe, but increasingly stretched thin, increasingly devoid of ideas and money. I look forward to the end of this empire that has brought economic ruin at home and death and destruction abroad.

If you’re lucky, maybe you missed the media’s coverage of the FBI’s capture of a wannabe terrorist in Portland last week. 19-year-old Mohamed Osman Mohamud was trying to detonate a fake bomb the FBI gave him at  Christmas tree lighting in Portland. That’s right–the FBI provided the fake bomb. The FBI was stoking this guy all the way along, in yet another case of entrapment that should be all too familiar to people who remember the supposedly foiled terrorist attacks against Wrigley Field and the Washington Metro this fall.

The FBI and their pals in the media are quite good at using these “events” for propaganda. It usually goes like this–the FBI busts the schmuck, the media trumpets Our Brave Heroes and The Evil Muslim for a day, and then, just as the real journalists are starting to say “Hey, wait a minute…this was entrapment,” the case has a funny way of falling out of the headlines. The NYT did give entrapment a bit of coverage this time around, presumably since this is the third time it has happened in a few months and they love trend stories. Of course, if you are the average American who sees a promo for the 11 o’clock news during “Dancing with the Stars,” all you would ever know is that the FBI “foiled” a plot–exactly what they would want you to know.

This Mohamud case is especially crazy. For one thing, the FBI has nearly all of their interactions with him taped, EXCEPT for the one moment where they actually needed to establish intentionality. In fact, they have two tapes of most of their interactions. But at that one moment, boy howdy, wouldn’t you know it, that recorder up and failed! The second thing I find insane is that, according to Glenn Greenwald’s article that I first heard discussed on Free Talk Live, Mohamud had been scheduled to go to Alaska as a seasonal fishery worker this summer. And boy howdy, wouldn’t you know it, he was on the federal no-fly list, so he had no choice but to remain jobless in Portland where his FBI entrapment pals were happy to offer him a stipend.

Now, mind you, I’m not trying to defend Mohamud. He is a loser who wanted to kill a lot of innocent people. He sucks. But there is little evidence to indicate he would have been up to this without the FBI’s support, especially if he had flown off to Alaska this summer and hadn’t been tempted by their money.

The one good thing about this case was that it proved to be a big, fat pinata for Glenn Greenwald. Probably the best thing Greenwald points out is that even if Mohamud had been a real terrorist, the reason he gave the FBI informants (and it’s also worth mentioning that FBI informants like the convicted forger mentioned in this story can get paid $140k+ a year tax-free to be agents provocateurs in mosques) for wanting to blow up a bunch of innocent people was that he saw it as retaliation for what American troops and drones are doing in Afghanistan and Iraq right now. Oh, blowback. What a novel idea. Maybe it’s time America stopped behaving like the big, dumb imperialist bully that it is and brought the troops home.

Bad Journalism

I’m still a peon in the world of journalism, interning at a paper and running this blog. That doesn’t mean I haven’t read enough in my lifetime to know good journalism from bad, and the Mark Ames-Yasha Levine “Kochtopus conspiracy” hit piece against the Opt Out movement was unquestionably the latter. Mind you, I like Mark Ames–I love reading old stuff from The eXile paper he infamously founded with Matt Taibbi in Moscow in the 1990s. This article, though, was a horror show.

The main problem with it is hardly a unique one. It’s one that I have noticed in plenty of left-wing journalism: the idea that you can always crack a story just by “following the money.” Perhaps it should not be surprising that people with socialist leanings would have a materialist approach to investigative journalism, too. Anyways, I’ve critiqued this approach before in my criticism of The New Yorker‘s anti-Koch hit piece this summer, but it applies again here. And what made it even worse in the Ames-Levine story is that they didn’t even bother to follow the money, instead resorting to even lazier associative BS that I saw one site describe as “Six Degrees of Separation for the libertarian movement.” “Oh, this person is a Free Stater? They must know the Koch brothers.” That makes about as much sense as saying that just because someone lives in Omaha, they must know Warren Buffett.

Furthermore, Ames and Levine seem to want us to believe there is something creepy or wrong about libertarians fighting back against the TSA’s revolting new procedures. Yes, libertarians are recording their encounters and intentionally pushing the envelope. It’s called civil disobedience. Was what Rosa Parks did creepy because she was an anti-segregationist with some support from the NAACP? Was what John Scopes did creepy because he was an evolutionist with some support from the ACLU? No. People with a strong ideological opposition to some distasteful piece of legislation are the ones most likely to risk the most to see it defeated.

My favorite response to the article came from Glenn Greenwald, one of America’s preeminent civil libertarians but also a political progressive to the left of most of the Democratic Party, just like Ames and Levine. Of course, this did not stop Ames and Levine from essentially calling him a CATO Institute shill, as pointed out by Brian Doherty at Reason. Greenwald’s piece is a real and thorough fisking that debunks nearly every paragraph of the Ames-Levine article.

Returning to my introduction, I may be only a fledgling journalist, but the time I have spent working on stories makes me realize how lame of an attempt Ames and Levine made at doing research and how lax the editors at The Nation must be. They apparently made no attempt to contact the people they smeared in their story, something that would not have been hard to do with all the talk shows John  Tyner and Meg McLain have done. Heck, Meg is even a weekly cohost on Free Talk Live. Now that I’ve used Facebook to track down long-forgotten high school classmates of murder victims and visited creepy old homes just to get a phone number for an interview, I feel safe in saying that the effort Ames and Levine needed to put into this story to achieve a baseline level of good research was minimal. That didn’t stop them from failing to do it.

End-of-the-week links

No, I didn’t forget about WikiLeaks, the TSA, and the FBI’s entrapment scam in Portland…there are just so many relevant links for each of those subjects that they deserve their own posts. So here’s the rest of the news.

  • Globe & Mail: I’m a non-violent person, but if a politician who runs a community of 87 people told me they deserved their $243k tax-free salary, I would be tempted to head-butt them in their obscene little mouth. And that’s precisely what a First Nations chief in Nova Scotia has just done. The only salary you deserve is the $0.50/hour you get for working in a prison laundry, you criminal.
  • Globe & Mail: One of the most interesting WikiLeaks cables was one showing the U.S. talking about how Canadian TV shows encourage “insidious” anti-American stereotypes. Seems the criminals running the U.S. don’t like the Canadians protesting against our border policies. Aww, poor little babies–our neighbors document exactly the way in which you humiliate and dehumanize innocent people every day and you don’t like it. Here’s an idea: stop doing it.
  • Globe & Mail: B.C. courts have essentially rewritten a man’s will because he wrote out his four daughters and made his son the sole beneficiary. The judge said that he was a “racist” (bad, but completely irrelevant here) and demeaned his daughters. Shouldn’t they just be glad he is dead, then? The idea that courts can play ex post facto referee on solemn contracts is deeply upsetting and creates a horribly slippery slope.
  • Globe & Mail: A wonderfully biting slam of American imperialism and the Harper government’s cooperation with it. This piece is a must-read. Sometimes, it takes a foreigner to make us see just how much of an incessantly war-mongering tyrant-state ours is. This is the Canada we need to be our neighbor.
  • NYT: Meet the chengguan, China’s unthinking, skullcracking, government-issue thugs who keep urban order. These people are sick. They beat a man to death for videotaping them. And now they are recruiting attractive young women to put a prettier face on it. Even if you put make-up and lipstick on police power, it’s still a giant “boot stamping on a human face forever.”
  • LewRockwell.com: Stupid fascist DHS secretary Janet Napolitano is now apparently forbidding all packages from Japan that “weigh more than .9 pounds, are not sent by a commercial enterprise, and do not have the receiver’s SS# written on the package.” All because a couple of explosive print cartridges got mailed once. Do you really think this will keep us safe, Napolitano? Of course not. You just want more power in your grubby little hands. Burn in hell.
  • Der Spiegel: Europe freaks out over Switzerland’s newest referendum, which authorizes authorities to automatically expel criminal foreigners. I like open borders, but I also like people who respect the culture and way of life that goes on inside those borders. If you are lucky enough to get into Switzerland and you can’t behave yourself, I don’t see any problem in them getting rid of you….even better if they replace you with me.
  • NYT: The Russian government has agreed to hand a ton of confiscated property back to the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), an organization that suffered tremendously under the Soviets. But even this seemingly good news can still be bad as we are treated to the vile spectacle of the ROC happily taking over the deeds to confiscated Catholic and Lutheran churches in Kaliningrad, aka Koenigsberg, the former royal seat of Prussia that is only Russian today because Russia needed an ice-free Baltic port. Looks like Tolstoy was right about the ROC.
  • Vienna Review: meditations on Western tech companies and their cozy relationships with authoritarian dictators and censors. I wasn’t even familiar with the lead example–Russian police breaking up an opposition NGO because their server computers might have used pirated Windows software. Microsoft said nothing. They had intellectual property to look after, you know!
  • NYT: The yearly protests at the School of the Americas (now called WHISC) at Ft. Benning are dwindling in attendance. If you don’t know, SOA/WHISC is a friendly little place where American soldiers train Central American thugs how to crack skulls and disappear people. I remember my high school used to send protesters every year, and me, being the bien pensant nationalist that I was, was appalled. Now I’m sad to see the protests shrinking in yet another sign of the left rolling over now that Obama is in control.
  • NYT: The EU is proposing to deny visas to 60 Russian officials implicated in the jailhouse death of the the lawyer Sergei Magnitsky…and the officials are all butthurt about it. Awww, poor little babies, you won’t get to go blow stolen money in London anymore! Maybe you should have thought about that before you participated in what very much looks like a murder.
  • Via Andrew Sullivan, the Daily Beast: Meet Steve King, the Iowa Republican who will likely become the House’s top man on immigration. This guy is a real sickie: “He has dubbed illegal immigration not just a ‘slow-motion terrorist attack’ but a ‘slow-motion holocaust.'” All this from a jerk who lives in Iowa, eons away from the people in places like El Paso who should actually have a say in border policy.
  • Via Andrew Sullivan, Gawker: Meet a girl who has nearly $200k in student loan debt…just from undergrad. People worried about student loans don’t spend a year abroad, missy. Oh, and the $200k that bought you a diploma at a pretty average liberal arts school like Northeastern could have bought you a better diploma at a state school and left you probably $120-140k to play around with. It’s hard to feel bad for people this stupid.
  • Moscow Times: The artist who headed up the Voina (“War”) group that did so much to mock state power in Russia has been forced to escape into exile in Estonia. His name is Alexei Plutser-Sarno. I wish him well in continuing to mock the state.
  • Globe & Mail: Canadian courts are currently wrestling with the issue of polygamy. If the polygamists win, Canada could become the only Western country to permit polygamy. Predictably, people are saying how awful this would be and what it might do to attract polygamist immigrants. First thing–there is nothing especially bad about polygamy. It’s not something I would do, but it works for some people. If women are being forced into it, that’s something worth fighting. But if everyone is ok, let it go. Second thing–the idea that polygamists will suddenly just descend upon Canada is laughable. How will they get in? I would crawl to Vancouver on my knees to get a Canadian work permit and I’m a graduate degree-holding, English-speaking, non-criminal. It’s not like these people can just start showing up on airplanes and building polygamist colonies.

The newspaper stories coming out of Canada in the past couple of weeks have not been kind to freedom. They could have just as easily come from the U.S. or any other Western country, but they happened to come out of Canada this time, so I’m going to do a mini-link roundup, just for Canada.

  • Headline: “Why do we still subsidize care for the well-to-do?” It is every bit as stupid as it sounds. This dough-faced old socialist wants to make sure that the people who pay the highest taxes don’t get the same healthcare as everyone else by means-testing them. Look, I don’t like government healthcare one bit. But if you made me pay a damn fine chunk of change into the system and then told me I wouldn’t get to enjoy the benefits of it because I was rich, I would surely burst into flames of rage. You already soaked the rich once to get your system, soaking them again to prop it up just makes the crime worse.
  • Welcome to Kelowna, B.C., a beautiful city in the heart of the Okanagan…and now home to a waste collection policy even more draconian than the one infamously employed in Cleveland. They have installed cameras and scanners on their garbage trucks to make sure everyone is being an obedient little serf and sorting his or her garbage properly. See if this sentence scares you: “And while miscreant residents won’t face fines, they can expect a visit from the garbage police, who will offer friendly guidance on separating paper and plastic.” Or how about this one: ‘The on-board cameras’ image resolution “isn’t high enough to look at detailed information,’ he said.” Oh, sort of like how the nude scanners can’t save images? Not only is Kelowna’s program a horrifying little exercise in the slippery slope of personal liberties, but also it completely fails to make sense in the midst of a recession.
  • Headline says it all: “Sorry if progress is hurting the bottom line.” The “progress” they are talking about is the yet-more draconian DUI laws adopted in B.C. In addition to the full DUI awarded at a BAC of .08, cops in B.C. can now give you a mini-DUI at .05, such that you receive a warning point, a 24-hour suspension, and a bill for towing your car. Naturally, people are scared of getting in trouble, such that bar sales may be down as much as 25%. There is nothing that low-margin businesses like more than losing business in a recession! But hey, you silly business owners, you need to shut your damn mouths and salute the flag so we can have some progress around here! I mean, the politicians need to look tough on crime. Screw you for wanting to eat, you obstructionists!!
  • Meet Michael Schmidt, Canada’s leading raw milk advocate and the founder of Cow Share Canada. Fresh off a victory in Ontario, Schmidt is expanding his efforts across the country. The thing I love about this story is that he goes to help some raw milk farmers in Alberta, but leaves as soon as he decides their cleanliness isn’t up to his standards. Huh, what do you know, maybe individual actors can responsibly regulate themselves without the coercive intervention of the state and its cartel buddies!
  • Some idiot who used to work at a vegetarian fashion house in Montreal called Matt & Nat is complaining that the company violated her rights by not allowing employees to eat meat on site. You violent little fool, no one made you work there! If your bacon sandwich is so damn important, find another job! Or just leave the office and eat at a restaurant or in a park, geez! I can’t believe people really think they are important enough to potentially ruin the livelihood of someone else just because they had their feelings hurt. What a doltish thug.
  • Headline: “Canada’s culture can still make its mark on the internet.” Ah, and what intrepid ideas does this editorial offer? Why, by using the Canadian Media Fund to subsidize internet content providers and helping them establish intellectual property rights! Or by using money stolen from taxpayers to achieve the logistically impossible goal of supplying universal broadband access in the second-largest country on earth! It pains me to think that multiple people were paid to come up with this drivel. Do they honestly think the internet needs state support to succeed? Even though it has succeeded in spite of it for the past 20 years? The blind faith in the state baffles me.

Let’s get some things straight.

1. If you go to an airport, there is a good chance you will be asked to told to go through a new full body scanner. There is an equally good chance that you will not be told the machine you are being asked to enter is a full body scanner.

2. The new full body scanners shoot a somewhat-obscured vision of your nude body, which is then transmitted to a TSA goon in a remote room who determines if you are a terrorist or not.

3. The radiation load these scanners hit your body with is a subject of discussion, but some respected scientists are saying it simply isn’t safe (PDF).

4. You always have the right to opt of a scan. Just say that you want to opt out. Presumably the TSA will try to embarrass you by screaming “Opt out!” and then subjecting you to a public patdown.

5. The patdown will be disgusting. They have been instructed to grope your body up to and including your groin. But this momentary humiliation and violation of your rights is far preferable to taking a shot of radiation and/or giving them a naked shot of your body that may not be deleted, as they claim.

Tl;dr–ALWAYS opt out of the scanner and take the patdown.

Ok, now let’s elaborate the case a bit. The first incident to really gain infamy under the new regime involved Free Stater Meg McLain, who was allegedly handcuffed and had her ticket destroyed at a Florida airport just for asking questions about the process. Though some details of her story were later discovered to be less serious than they first appeared, her case is illustrative of one potential danger of the system. McLain is an attractive woman who was in part upset because she thought she was singled out for scanning because of her attractiveness. Even if she was not, it is easy to see how, in the airports still selecting passengers randomly for backscatter screening, the TSA could “randomly” select attractive people for their own perverse thrills.

Then there was the sad, sad, sad case of a 3-year-old girl reduced to screaming and tears by one of the new-style patdowns. Yes, a 3-year-old potential “terrorist.” I have seen a bunch of people on a bunch of blogs say it, but imagine how hard it must be for a parent to explain to their kids that it is never ok for a stranger to touch you, unless they are a costume-wearing bully with a badge at an airport. Then they can touch your private parts all they want, kids! Just sickening.

Now, one of the most famous claims made by the naked scanner advocates is that the nude images are immediately deleted upon the TSA screener deciding you are not a terrorist. As with so many government claims, Gizmodo discovered this is just not true (H/T: LewRockwell.com). It seems that the thugs operating the millimeter wave naked scanners at a federal courthouse in Orlando managed to save 35,000 images. If they were doing it there, they will do it elsewhere if they haven’t already. And once they start saving the images, it doesn’t really matter whether some pervy TSA goon is adding them to his porn collection or the government is constructing a database of biometric images, the reality is that your rights will be violated.

But people are already fighting back. Ron Paul has introduced the American Traveler Dignity Act to Congress (H/T: Jesse Walker at Reason). This bill would basically classify the new TSA screenings as sexual misconduct. I normally have no use for Congress,  but this sort of defensive legislation is potentially nice, though it surely won’t pass. Matt Kernan, an average guy from my hometown of Cincinnati, refused to submit to the completely ludicrous idea of a backscatter scanning on his way out of the airport after an international flight and, after 2.5 hours, beat the TSA and got to leave without one.

And most importantly, tomorrow–or what may already  be “today” for some of you–will be Wednesday, November 24: National Opt-Out Day. Fliers and non-fliers alike will congregate at airports to protest against the new measures by opting out of the scans en masse and taking patdowns. Hopefully it will both snarl the TSA apparatus and show to the uninformed members of the public that you actually do have a right to opt out. I’m going to be part of the protest here in Seattle. Both tomorrow and beyond, be sure to check out WeWontFly.com, a clearinghouse for information about the scanners and how to resist.

So, whatever you do, do not go through the scanners. Take your patdown for the moment, ask the screener how it feels to be a fascist who sexually assaults children, and then continue to speak out against the TSA every chance you get. They may have pushed too far on this one. We won’t be able to get the feds to unspend the billions they spent on former DHS secretary Michael Chertoff’s nude scanners, but at least we can get them out of our airports and away from our bodies.