Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Fourth Amendment is Dead. Now Let's Kill The Thirteenth!

The state of Mississippi has been the butt of jokes this week, after discovering that, due to a clerical error, it never did get around to ratifying the constitution's 13th amendment, which abolished slavery. But don't be too hard on Mississippi; the US House of Representatives thinks the 13th amendment is silly anyway. Behold House Resolution 748, a proposal "To require all persons in the United States between the ages of 18 and 25 to perform national service, either as a member of the uniformed services or as civilian service in a Federal, State, or local government program or with a community-based agency or community-based entity."

The US constitution is now equivalent to the constitution of the old Soviet Union: on paper it promised many pretty freedoms, but only a suicidal fool would behave as though those freedoms actually applied. Here in the US, we barely even bother paying lip service to the notion of being a free country anymore, so why not mandate seven years of forced labor for everybody? (At least everybody too young and poor to possess the legal resources necessary to fight it.) We can raise American children to believe it's a milestone on their road to adulthood, like getting their first driver's license, or first strip-search at the hands of the TSA.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The State Of The Union Is Rotten

It's no surprise the Christopher Dorner saga ended as it did; given the LAPD's proven tendency to shoot first and ask questions later (if at all), it was obvious from the beginning that the cops had no intention of taking him alive.

Just to clarify: Dorner was no hero. But neither were the cops who thoughtlessly endangered every person they encountered in their reckless quest to find them. "I shot multiple bullets into that pickup truck because I'm such a terrified, trigger-happy pussy that even in broad daylight, I can't discern between two tiny Hispanic grandmothers and a great big scary black guy. That said, since I shot the grandmas while wearing a badge, I won't face any legal consequences for my reckless behavior. Consequences are only for the little people."

I paid no attention to the State of the Union address last night, except to accurately predict that Obama wouldn't say a word about the steady destruction of American civil liberties. He and predecessor Bush between them have already suspended the constitution in any place of mass transit; after Dorner, it appears obvious that the constitution ALSO is suspended anytime a fugitive is in your neighborhood.

I am reduced to hoping that perhaps the innocent people who were marched out of their homes at gunpoint or imprisoned in a home-improvement warehouse will at least sue the cops, and win. But even if they do it won't matter; these payouts won't come from the pockets of the police who violated people's rights. Instead, they'll be paid for by the same taxpayers whose rights were violated.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Chris Dorner Constitutional Trivia

I wish some constitutional scholar would tell me where, exactly, it says "None of the rights listed therein apply, when cops suspect there's a fugitive in the area."

Monday, February 11, 2013

Police Continue Terrifying Californians

Quote from a crime blotter today:
The manhunt for suspected cop-killer Christopher Dorner enveloped a San Bernardino apartment building before dawn because of a report that the ex-LAPD officer was hiding there — though it wasn’t true.

A SWAT team along with officers from San Bernardino, Riverside and Irvine swarmed the area about 1:30 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, at 1525 East Eureka Street, just west of Del Rosa Avenue.

“There was a false report that Christopher Dorner had been spotted at a residence at that location,” said Lt. Michael Madden, the watch commander at San Bernardino Police Department. “We didn’t evacuate anybody. People were just ordered to remain indoors.”

The occupants of one apartment unit were required to come out so that officers could make sure Dorner wasn’t inside. Then the police left.
No big deal, right? At least that's what cops and their apologists think: you're either forbidden to leave your apartment, or possibly ordered to leave your apartment, depending on the cops' whim, but ... well, hey, at least they didn't shoot any innocent people this time, merely inconvenienced the hell out of them.

Elsewhere in the Golden State, innocent shoppers at a home-improvement store faced similar demands from the cops:
A Northridge, Calif., home improvement store was evacuated tonight because of a possible sighting of suspected cop-killer Christopher Dorner, just hours after police announced a $1 million reward for information leading to his arrest.

As helicopters hovered overhead and a command center was established, police searched the Lowe's store and eventually told shoppers they could leave, but could not take their cars out of the parking lot.
Again, the cops' complete contempt for constitutional rights is utterly breathtaking: everybody in the store is now our prisoner. Okay, we'll finally allow you to leave the store, but don't even think of leaving the property until we search your car. Warrant? What warrant? We don't need any stinking warrants; just be grateful we didn't decide to shoot your worthless non-badge-having asses this time, or ram your car off the road.

This is what police and their apologists actually believe. And bear in mind: this is how the cops behave when they know the whole world is watching them. Just imagine what they do when they think nobody's looking.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Hunt For Christopher Dorner

Correction to my first post about Christopher Dorner: I said he’d been dismissed from the LAPD for making “false” accusations against a colleague, though it’s looking more and more as though his claims were actually “true, but quickly hidden behind the blue wall of silence.”

A friend of mine who lives in California says he’s “heard reports” that cops forced some of the people in Big Bear Lake out of their houses at gunpoint. Which sounds depressingly plausible to me—moreso than the idea all 400 households meekly submitted to letting cops tear through their homes without a warrant.

Given how indiscriminately the police are lashing out at innocent people—shooting two Hispanic women in one truck, ramming another truck off the road while firing at the driver—it appears pretty obvious they have no intention of catching Dorner alive. Fortunately, cops tend to be lousy shots, which is why their three victims are merely injured rather than dead right now. Police are officially searching for Dorner with drones now, the first (though surely not the last) American to have that dubious honor. Presumably, this drone is among the 30,000 the government looks to put in American skies by the end of the decade.

I saw a headline quoting LA’s mayor as saying that the city “will not tolerate this reign of terror.” Well then, Mr. Mayor, tell the cops to knock it off. Mass checkpoints of all vehicles on a road, mass searches of all houses in a town, all in search of a single man—that behavior’s lifted straight from every police-state dystopia movie I’ve ever seen.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

In SoCal? Then Stay The Truck Home.

Police in or near southern California still have not found Christopher Dorner, and frustration has made the cops even more dangerous than usual. As a longtime fan of journalist Radley Balko, who covers the increasing abusiveness of American police, I've known for years that, where ordinary average American citizens like me are concerned, the police are a greater threat than official outside-the-law criminals. After all: if an official criminal attacks me, I have the legal right to either fight back or run away, but when a criminal with a badge attacks me I have no rights at all.

So anyway, the LAPD has already attacked three innocent people in their attempt to find Dorner. Dorner is a large black man last seen driving a gray Nissan truck; the LAPD shot two small Hispanic women driving a bright aqua-blue Toyota. (Ordinary citizens who fire bullets into a moving vehicle and then say "Whoops, mistaken identity" are, quite rightfully, labeled a menace to society and charged with all sorts of crimes. Cops who fire bullets into a moving vehicle on the same shoddy excuse are showered with sympathy. And when people like me say "Anyone who can't grok the difference between a large black man and a tiny Hispanic grandmother is too emotional to be a cop," we're accused of being heartless.)

I'm seeing reports that LAPD rammed another truck and shot its inhabitants, though I haven't yet found confirmation of this.

Even under the best of circumstances, cops are wont to shoot first and ask questions later, and it's perfectly legal for them to do so; that's why none of the cops who killed Amadou Diallo on his own doorstep faced any legal consequences. Legally, a cop is allowed to kill anybody so long as he says "Oops, thought it was a criminal" or "Whoopsie, thought I was in danger." And right now, in southern California, anybody driving a truck of any color falls into that category.

EDIT: also, even pedestrians would be well-advised to stay home and not leave their house at all, if they're black. A bail bondsman offers this useful advice to black male Californians who don't want police to kill them this weekend: "Make sure you have your identification make sure you cooperate with the police; now is not the right time to wear a hoodie." Remember: cops shoot first and ask questions later, and a cop who feels afraid has the de facto -- even de jure -- right to shoot anybody he sees (except, arguably, another uniformed cop). So for Zod's sake, black guys, don't let any cops see you today.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Fourth Amendment: Not Even Pretending Anymore

Here is a mostly unremarkable news update out of California, where ex-cop Christopher Dorner is still on the lam. The story indicates that the current cops looking for him aren't so much as paying lip service to the constitution. Two quotes I found most chilling (italics mine): "The search for Dorner shifted to Big Bear Lake after an officer found the ex-officer's burned Nissan Titan pickup. Cindy Bachman, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, said up to 400 homes were searched" and "California Highway Patrol officers set up check points at all 3 exits from the Big Bear area on highways 18, 38 and 330 to check all vehicles that could possibly hide Christopher Jordan Dorner." Which is basically synonymous with "all vehicles that are not motorcycles."

I don't know what bothers me most: that the fourth amendment is so blithely ignored, or that the media is so blithely accepting of this. 

Incidentally: why did Dorner switch from "cop" to "ex-cop"? According to the news:  "Dorner was fired from the LAPD in 2008 for making false statements related to a 2007 complaint he filed against his training sergeant. He claimed she kicked a suspect who is mentally ill in the shoulder area and the face during an arrest at a hotel in San Pedro."

So when a cop tells a lie, falsely accusing an innocent person of committing a crime, that's a firing offense.... IF that innocent party is another cop. Police lie in courtrooms and on the witness stand all the time, of course--incarcerating innocent people is safer, easier and more lucrative than incarcerating actual danger-to-society criminals--and Christopher Dorner would still have his badge today, had he been smart enough to limit his false accusations to ordinary American citizens. But lying about his fellow cops was clearly beyond the pale.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

This Can't Possibly Be Healthy

My former neighborhood in Connecticut is forecast to get up to three feet of snow, plus possible power outages, in the monster blizzard scheduled to clobber it this weekend... and a small, obviously unhealthy part of me is wistfully thinking "Damn, I'll be missing a great storm." What the hell? It's like I have Stockholm syndrome, only with snow.

Friday, February 01, 2013

At Least It's An Ethos

I've said before that the Democrats aren't going to improve until the Republicans do; the GOP won't be able to win more votes than the Democrats until Republicans get it through their thick skulls that women, gays, non-whites and believers in the scientific method are voters to be courted, rather than threats to campaign against.

Unfortunately, a large chunk of America's political right wing has come down with a powerful case of Obama Derangement Syndrome. I hate Obama because he's a center-right politico who trashes the constitution and broke all the campaign promises I voted for in 2008, which is entirely different from hating Obama because he's a secret Muslim Manchurian candidate illegal immigrant Antichrist plotting to make Sharia law and promiscuous homosexuality mandatory for all Americans.

For those who have difficulty grokking the difference between "legitimate criticism of our craptastic president" and full-fledged "Obama Derangement Syndrome," behold: the staff of the National Review feels an uncontrollable compulsion to disagree with everything Obama says, solely because Obama says it. Thus, when Obama gave a speech about the Holocaust and called it "senseless," NRO was quick to take umbrage and point out that hey, dudes, at least it's an ethos.

The mouthpiece of America's right wing would rather defend literal Nazis than agree with any word coming out of Obama's mouth. And these fools honestly, sincerely cannot understand why America rejected them in the last election cycle.
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