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Posts Tagged ‘DHS’

I cross the U.S.-Canada border on I-5 or SR-543 in Blaine, WA at least once every two weeks. When I first started crossing in September, I was not used to the border guards’ interrogations and allowed them to intimidate me into nervous responses that led to two full searches going into Canada. But soon I figured out what they wanted to hear (yes/no answers, no headshakes, no mmmhmms, no long stories) and how they wanted me to act (calm as if I just downed a tranquilizer) and they stopped searching me. On the U.S. side, it was even less of an issue–they opened my trunk once or twice, but that was it.

Until this weekend.

Going to Canada was the same old thing. The border guard even recognized me and was friendly. But coming back to the U.S. just after midnight on Monday morning, the border crossing at I-5 Peace Arch was extremely dead. There was only one car in front of me. He got through quickly and I pulled up to the guard shack. The guard started into his usual questions, I started into my usual answers…and then he informed me that I’d been selected for a random screening. I stopped talking entirely and stared straight ahead. He gave me instructions for where to pull up and wait for a guard. Then he randomly said “You’re welcome,” either out of conditioning or because he wanted to piss on me a little bit more.

I pulled my car off to the left and parked. I waited. Five minutes passed. No guard emerged from the building. I looked around, wondering if maybe I was not in the right place. I turned the car on and began to inch it forward. Suddenly, two guards came out of the building and told me to stop and back up. They then instructed me to come inside.

The customs building is massive and sparkling. Ah, the wonderful things that 9/11 did for America’s police state bureaucrats! And on this night, it was also completely empty, save for three thugs at keyboards and one thug walking around behind them. I walked to the front of the “line” and then a surly red-haired thug who looked like he hadn’t seen a smile since the first Bush administration told me to come forward. Yes, told. He did not ask. I complied.

He started into the usual questions, too: “Why were you in Canada?” “How long were you there?” “Are you bringing anything back?” “What do you do for work?”

To this, I replied that I was a writer. He then followed up and said, “What kind of writing?” At last I had had enough. I said flatly, “I’m not going to answer that.”

“Why not,” he asked.

“It’s not relevant to my visit to Canada and I’m not going to answer it.”

“You are either going to answer it or you can go sit in the corner over there until you feel like answering it.”

I reemphasized that this question was not relevant and I would not answer it. Another guard yelled at me to go sit down. I continued to defend myself as a third guard then entered the fray. I asked him if he was familiar with “some guy v. Puerto Rico from the 1960s” (I could not remember the name of the decision, which is apparently U.S. v. Valentine), a ruling that stated that one of an American citizen’s rights is reentry into his own country. The guard said that he was aware of this right, but that I would need to answer some questions first.

With three of them telling me to sit down, I went and sat in “time out.” I haven’t felt more like a child since I was taking naps on towels and playing Transformers in kindergarten. I sat there and fumed, refusing to even look at them, planning what my next step would be, how long I would be willing to tolerate time out.

After five minutes, the red-haired thug told me to come back over. Again, told–he did not ask. So I complied.

“I need your keys so I can search your car.”

Now, first, let me point out that he did NOT re-ask me the same question about what kind of writing I do. That he did not re-ask this question necessarily proves my point that the question was irrelevant. Back to the dialogue.

“Ok, but I would like to be present for any search,” I said.

“That’s now allowed. Why do you care? Is there something I should know about?”

“No, I just want to see how my property is treated and would also like to make sure you do not plant anything.”

This suggestion made Mr. Thug angry, almost as if I had hurt him.

“Why would I plant something?”

“I have no reason to trust you,” I replied. Looking back on it, I should have said, “I am on this side of the desk and you are on that side. That’s reason enough.” But I was flustered.

So the dialogue continued. I offered to watch them search my car through a window, which, I pointed out, I have been allowed to do in Canada. No. I asked them if they had a warrant. Oh, ho-ho–the Supreme Court has ruled that the 4th Amendment does not apply at borders! So I continued to refuse the search and was ready to either ask for my passport back so I could just return to Canada (though I suspect this would not be allowed) or just go back to the corner.

Before I could act, the pacing thug walked over and asked what was going on. They explained the situation. He then looked at me and said, “Ok, so here is how this is going to work. You can either give them the keys and let them search your car, or I will put you in handcuffs, lock you in a cell, take your keys, and then search the car. Which one is it going to be?”

Knowing well the indefinite detention record of U.S. border guards, I decided the cell would not be in my best interest. Instead, I said, “I will give you the keys, but I want everyone’s name here so I can be sure to complain about you all.”

“Fine, I am the supervisor,” the pacing thug said.

So I gave them the keys. Two of them practically sprinted out of the building. They returned within a few minutes, much faster than the searches have taken in Canada. The reason, after all, is that they cared very little about searching my car but very much about making me kneel down and kiss Leviathan’s ring and acknowledge my own enslavement. They called me back over to the desk. The pacing thug returned and, wordlessly, wrote down his name (Rick Gattis, 360-332-5771) on a piece of paper and gave it to me.

The red-haired thug then started into some spiel about “thanking me for my cooperation.” I took the keys and didn’t even look at him, let alone respond. I couldn’t get away from those vile fascists fast enough.

Allow me to quickly say that it is incidents such at this one, an incident that proves that supposed Constitutionally-guaranteed “rights” we have are a sham, that make me look forward evermore to the day when I can walk into a U.S. embassy abroad and throw my passport in some shocked bureaucrat’s face. This country is a fraud. The only existential danger America faces is not some religious idiots hiding in a cave in Pakistan, but the ever-greater demands of empire. Terrorists cannot destroy this country. What can destroy it is the incredibly successful alliance of a credulous, stupid, and scared citizenry, ever happier to allow themselves to be enslaved by an army of bureaucrats, eager to get fat paychecks and pensions whilst searching the slaves and reading their emails.

And you know what? I look forward to the end of it all. Once America’s empire is gone (Ed. note: I am not advocating for America’s enemies, either, since they are mainly medieval religious fanatics), maybe it can be a decent country again or, better yet, many separate decent countries. I am not one to like the idea of a state at all, but several smaller, humbler Americas would be infinitely preferable to the present imperialistic behemoth that blows up Afghan weddings, holds people in cages indefinitely and without charge, and supports all manner of evil men, whether it be Somalis employing child soldiers or Netanyahu plowing under Palestinian homes, all in the name of freedom and democracy. Would that it could all be ended tomorrow. Would that the American people, no better or worse than any others, could be allowed to live peacefully and freely in small and humble communities, without the threat of coercion.

Whatever America’s future may be, I do not expect to be part of it. I would rather live in exile than continue to support this stupid empire any longer.

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  • MacLean’s: Shocking article about NATO compensation schemes for civilian deaths in Afghanistan. It’s a business. Compensation for one tragedy was $20,000 and a new car, whereas for another death, it was just $210. That NATO forces are able to put a dollar value on human life through bargaining is proof of the devastating and dehumanizing effects this war is having. End it now before any more blood ends up on our hands.
  • Via Andrew Sullivan, HuffPo: Visualizing what America’s armies hath wrought in Iraq: 100-150k dead civilians, 2 million refugees abroad, 2 million displaced persons domestically.  If you had any illusions about this empire being a liberal or ennobling one (contradiction in terms), they must be shredded by now.
  • The Globe & Mail: In news that should shock no one, a Kelowna (B.C.) Mountie kicked the hell out of a suspect. You can watch the video yourself. Eyewitnesses report that the suspect, Buddy Tavares, was complying with the officer. Cops are not your friend.
  • Juan Cole: We already knew about Jawaher Abu Rahmah, the Palestinian woman killed by Israeli tear gas recently. Add to the list of Israel’s victims the names of Anas Salih (died in Gaza after being denied the exit visa he needed to get medical treatment) and Omar al-Qawasmeh (innocent man murdered in his home in a case of mistaken identity). The occupation must end.
  • Glenn Greenwald: Writing about the “climate of fear” the American government has created in the minds of its citizens. I used to study totalitarian regimes. Many scholars agreed that the worst kind of censorship they exercised was the self-censorship that went on in the fear-wracked minds of their citizens. This self-censorship is now here in America. Progress!
  • Radley Balko at Reason: Guess what–stupid anti-meth laws had the unintended consequences of making the meth trade far more profitable and seeing a boost in meth use. But hey, at least those kneejerk laws that make you feel like a criminal when you go to buy cough medicine kept some old lady without an ID from getting the Nyquil she wanted.
  • NYT: Do not forget the name “Nasrin Sotoudeh.” She is a human rights lawyer in Iran who has been sentenced to 11 years in jail, disbarred, and (my favorite) banned from leaving Iran for 20 years. “You are such an awful criminal that…we cannot bear to have you leave us!” What a vile place. Sotoudeh’s “crime” was talking to the foreign media.
  • National Post: In this time of governmental austerity, the Canadian government has somehow found additional money to expand their prison capacity. To be fair, Canada’s incarceration rate is much lower than America’s. This move still repulses me. At best, it is a cynical way to “create jobs,” never mind the fact that building more jail cells creates a powerful incentive to fill them. At worst, it is a declaration of faith in the untruth that locking more people in cages makes a better society. It doesn’t.
  • Ilya Somin at the Volokh Conspiracy: Post on the Illinois budget crisis, where income taxes may be jacked up to cover a deficit. I don’t have a strong position on the budget crisis. What I do have a strong position on is oft-quoted beltway “libertarian” Megan McArdle, who wrote, “Whether or not you think these programs should exist, they do now, and you can’t simply throw people off who planned their lives around them.” Time to write that loser out of the libertarian movement.
  • Via Thomas DiLorenzo, Anne Applebaum: It’s not often a mag like Foreign Policy prints an article titled “Homeland Security Hasn’t Made Us Safer,” so relish it for now. After unmasking the fact that DHS is a porkbarrel subsidy program, Applebaum writes, “As for the TSA, I am not aware of a single bomber or bomb plot stopped by its time-wasting procedures.” Amen.
  • Via Liberale et Libertaire: “Serious” and “respected” pundit Matt Yglesias recently called for the U.S. to institute a gendarmerie system (as he put it, “a quasi-military federal organization specialized in police/security functions rather than finding and killing bad guys per se.”) Sweet Jesus! As if the thing that this horrid little police state needs to get it going again is more cops with more power.
  • MacLean’s: This article about drunk driving nearly made me cry. In each case discussed, a drunk driver killed a beloved passenger. In each case, the family of the dead victim asked for clemency for the drunk driver, a friend of their lost loved one. In each case, Leviathan said, “Down, slave! I know what is best for this society,” and promptly threw the book at the offenders. No respect for the dead.
  • Cienna Madrid at The Stranger: Blogging from day two of the inquest into the murder death of half-deaf woodcarver John T. Williams at the hands of SPD Ofc. Ian Birk. A homicide investigator apparently tried to claim that the legal-sized whittling knife Birk claimed Williams had open but was found closed at the crime scene somehow magically closed itself when Williams dropped it. Mmmm-hmm. Then Birk took the stand to admit that he never called for back-up in 10-second confrontation that ended with Williams dead on the pavement. Birk has the gall to claim Williams looked at him threateningly, even though dashcam footage shows the perpetually drunk Williams shuffling across the street in a pitiful and harmless enough way that other pedestrians continued to walk towards him. It can’t happen in this inquest, but I look forward to the day Birk faces murder charges.
  • NYT: Israeli bloggers question their government’s use of tear gas following the tragic death of Jawaher Abu Rahmah. Awesome work, bloggers. It is a powerful and important thing for the world to understand that not all Israelis support the brutal thuggery and murder carried out in their name.
  • NYT: The Russian opposition thought they had a way around the country’s absurd permit process for protests–sending out protesters willing to stand an approved distance away from each other. Now pro-Kremlin groups are counter-picketing the solo protesters by standing near them, just to get them arrested. Of course, the cops are not arresting the pro-Kremlin folks. Vile.
  • Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason: In case you still thought NAFTA was really a free trade agreement, did you know Mexican truckers have been banned from driving in the U.S. since 2009? This then led to punitive tariffs from Mexico. Sounding like free trade, right? Well, Obama might be about to address the situation, but not without the noxious Teamsters warning us how awful that would be for America.
  • NYT: My, my, the Israelis are bloodthirsty lately–the latest allegation is that they killed a 65-year-old Gazan man on his farm…for getting too close to the security fence. Of course, Palestinians responded with violence of their own.
  • NYT: The post-election crackdown in Belarus is getting worse. Lukashenko’s rotten state is now trying to place Danil Sannikov, the 3-year-old son of (arrested) opposition leader Andrei Sannikov and his (arrested) journalist wife Irina Khalip, in an orphanage. Never mind that his grandmother has been appointed to care for him! How dare Lukashenko bring innocent children into his bloodsport.
  • Daily Anarchist: Another “ugh” moment from this (formerly good) blog–author Seth King says that it is right to milk the state for benefits. Why? “Only then will the productive class begin to realize that paying taxes is for chumps.” Also, “you are not responsible for its theft because you never condone forced wealth redistribution.” Whatever helps you sleep at night after you’ve spent your ill-gained food stamps, Seth. Shameful.
  • Brendan Kiley at The Stranger: The fourth (and last) installment in an awesome investigative series on the drug war. Kiley comes to the conclusion that the best thing to do is legalize all drugs. This is very good. The only problem is this statement: “The only way out is to legalize—and regulate—everything.” Regulate it? Why? Just let people put what they want into their bodies and face the consequences. If they don’t like the risk, then don’t ingest the drug or create a private testing organization to give them the safety they want. Even if I disagree with regulating, it’s a great and invaluable piece of writing.

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  • LewRockwell.com: Three videos of police brutality. Take your pick, they are all horrible: an elderly disabled woman thrown to the ground, a cop pointing a gun at a woman’s head for getting in a car accident, a girl tased through her skull. Never forget: these thugs are not your friends.
  • National Post: Two Canadians are facing charges for desecrating an American flag as part of a bet over last year’s gold medal hockey game in Vancouver. The flag is just a stupid piece of fabric. It is only the false religion of nationalism that makes it anything more. I would encourage everyone to go out and burn five flags tomorrow just to knock the nationalists down.
  • Justin Raimondo at Antiwar.com: Best and worst of 2010. I am obviously going to love that Glenn Greenwald is one of his best, but I’m really more excited about seeing the repulsive Michael C. Moynihan of Reason as one of his worst. That a hateful little statist apologist like Moynihan works at Reason is appalling. The rot he has been churning out against WikiLeaks is awful, thus making me quite glad to see LRN.fm drop Reason.tv from their lineup.
  • Radley Balko at Reason: The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the decision to list a teen on the sex offender registry for forcing another teen to accompany him in collecting a debt. Wh-what? How is that a sex crime? Quiet, slave–do not question the wisdom of Leviathan!
  • Glenn Greenwald: What Glenn learned from his campaign of pro-WikiLeaks media appearances. Money quote: “From the start of the WikiLeaks controversy, the most striking aspect for me has been that the ones who are leading the crusade against the transparency brought about by WikiLeaks — the ones most enraged about the leaks and the subversion of government secrecy — have been . . . America’s intrepid Watchdog journalists.”
  • Via Conor Friedersdorf at Sullivan, USA Today: Railways are apparently the next target for the DHS/TSA fascists. The airport racket wasn’t a big enough employment program for fat skinhead knuckle-draggers, so they are going to need to start up unconstitutional and utterly pointless searches at subway stations to create some more jobs for their brethren.
  • NYT: Have you heard of Jamie and Gladys Scott? They had spent 16 years behind bars for an $11 armed robbery. Well, luckily for them, Miss. Governor (and GOP presidential hopeful) Haley Barbour went and said some vaguely racist crap a few weeks ago. Looking to prove he didn’t hate blacks after all, Barbour suspended their sentences, contingent upon one sister giving the other a kidney. I am glad these women have been released from their ridiculous sentences, but that Barbour did this for opportunistic reasons and that there is some sort of caveat attached pisses me off.
  • Western Standard: Highlighting the inspiring story of an incidence of de facto jury nullification in a Montana marijuana possession case. During jury selection, the drug warriors couldn’t find enough potential jurors in the pool willing to even consider locking someone up for having a sixteenth of an ounce. Not like the quantity should really matter, but still awesome.
  • Eugene Volokh: Phillip Greaves, the sick dude who wrote the infamously-banned-on-Amazon book The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure, was recently extradited to Florida to face felony obscenity charges. Undercover cops baited him into sending them a copy of the book. Is Greaves  a sick puppy who should be ostracized by other adults? Probably. But is writing a book reason enough to entrap someone and then lock them up? Hell no.
  • Via Jacob Sullum at Reason, Michael Siegel: the top 10 anti-tobacco lies of the year. Why just talk about the realities of lung cancer when you can make up much worse lies? That seems to be the motto of the anti-smoking zealots. It’s mostly BS about secondhand smoke.
  • The American Conservative: A great parody poster, ridiculing America’s support of all manner of reprehensible regimes.
  • The Cincinnati Enquirer: Meet John Harmon, a diabetic who was repeatedly tased and beaten by Hamilton County cops during a groundless DUI stop. Cops suspected Harmon was drunk when really his blood sugar was low. It probably didn’t help that Harmon is black. Now he is suing. Good–punch the cop-bullies in the nose.
  • NYT: Headline: “Abuses Cited in Enforcing China Policy of One Child.” Oh gee whiz, do you think? I don’t really know how you differentiate when the one-child policy is itself just one great instance of abuse. There is a story in this report about a woman carried off to a hospital and sterilized against her will. To the criminals perpetrating these crimes–I don’t often wish violence upon people, but may you end up first against the wall come the revolution.
  • Radley Balko at Reason: A how-to on recording the cops. Not exactly a thriller, but excellent for logistics. The recording front is one of the primary ones on which we are fighting right now.
  • Kevin Carson at Center for a Stateless Society: Headline: “Statism: An Unfalsifiable Religion.” Pointing out the endlessly self-perpetuating loop of statism. I liked this quote: “Market failures are taken as evidence that we need a regulatory state, but regulatory failures are used as a pretext for even more government.”
  • William Grigg at LewRockwell.com: Pausing to remember the horrific story of Derek Hale, executed by cops in 2006. Hale’s widow recently received a settlement from the City of Wilmington, Delaware, but that can scarcely bring back her tased-into-a-stupor, then-shot husband Derek.
  • Daily Anarchist: Ugh…a guy writes about how he no longer hangs out with his non-anarchist friends. I hate this crap. Saying that you don’t want to hang out with non-anarchists is just as collectivist as being a collectivist. People must be treated as individuals.
  • Juan Cole: Top ten myths about Afghanistan. Must-read. Cole just demolishes every one of the plot lines you hear articulated in White House briefings and mainstream reporting. It is an unwinnable war.
  • NYT: Remember the name Qian Yunhui. He began as no hero–a Communist Party apparatchik. But he later fought for his neighbors’ property rights, and this is why he may well have been killed by the regime.
  • NYT: Estonia joins the Euro. Poor Estonians. We’ve covered this story before. At a time when the euro is facing an existential crisis, let there be no doubt that this decision had nothing to do with the good of average Estonians and everything to do with bureaucrats and politicians seeking more goodies from the European Union.
  • Jacob Sullum at Reason: Covering the federal court ruling that NYC can’t force cigarette merchants to put up anti-smoking posters. This is one small victory for private business, but it comes in the midst of a losing war.
  • Via Conor Friedersdorf at Sullivan, The Washington Examiner: When it comes to for-profit colleges, no one wins. You have the colleges themselves fighting to keep their meal-ticket, the 87% of revenue they get from taxpayers. Then you have guys shorting the stocks of for-profit colleges fighting for more onerous regulation of them in Congress, just to make sure they make money on their short. Yuck.
  • The War Nerd Gary Brecher at The eXile: Lessons from the Pashtun. I don’t always love Brecher’s column, but this one was hilarious. Good example: “They still remember Timur in Herat, but they won’t remember us. Not even all the money we spent, because Afghans are not future software billionaires. They’ll spend it on guns or pretty little dancing boys, and it’ll all end up in the form of Muhajir merchant families, or the 32-foot Bayliners sitting in the driveway of some merc’s house in Tracy.”
  • NYT: Those who petition the Russian Orthodox Church to rescind Tolstoy’s excommunication either totally misunderstand his philosophy or just want to make a name for themselves. My guess is the latter. If Tolstoy knew that his great-grandson was campaigning for Putin and begging for the Patriarch to restore Tolstoy to good graces, he would implode.
  • John McWhorter at The New Republic: Fantastic essay on how ending the drug war–and not just on marijuana–would be a tremendous thing for black America. My only concern with McWhorter’s essay is that it’s a bit too pragmatic. The war on drugs should be ended because it is morally wrong, not because it leads to a lot of innocent black men going to jail. If fewer black men go to jail once this great wrong is eliminated from our society, then so much the better.
  • Daniel Larison: Pointing out the uncomfortable truth that Liu Xiaobo is a pretty lame stooge of Western imperialism (read: supported the war in Iraq). This news disappoints me, but like Larison, it does not diminish my belief that Liu Xiaobo should be freed immediately.
  • Radley Balko at Reason: Cornelius Dupree Jr. became the 21st man to be exonerated by DNA evidence…in just one county. He had been in prison since 1980. What a tragedy, 30 years stolen.

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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.

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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.

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