November 2008

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[Arg, the formatting of this got screwed up, and I have no idea what it originally said.]

I’ve got a few more bits of Obama Derangement Syndrome to report.

Phase One: The Obama Invasion

Something called the We The People Foundation (which is definitely going on the ODS watch list) is planning to run an ad in Monday’s Chicago Tribune (and again on Wednesday) that is an open letter to President-Elect Barack Obama, asking him to produce evidence that he is a natural born citizen. They describe it this way:

The Open Letter to Mr. Obama is a formal Petition for a Redress (Remedy) for the alleged violation of the “natural born citizen” clause of the Constitution of the United States of America. Mr. Obama is respectfully requested to direct the Hawaiian officials to provide access to his original birth certificate on December 5-7 by our team of forensic scientists, and to provide additional documentary evidence establishing his citizenship status prior to our Washington, D.C. press conference on December 8.

By way of background, the WPF site explains the legal implications of their letter:

As a formal “Notice of a Constitutional Violation,” the Petition naturally includes the People’s inherent Right to an official Response. As a time-sensitive, election related Petition involving the Office of the President, failure to Respond as requested would constitute an egregious breach of the public trust and confirm the certainty of a Constitutional crisis.

A First Amendment Petition to any official of the Government for Redress of a violation of the Constitution is substantially different from the garden-variety political petitions frequently received by government officials. This Petition demands it be given the highest priority for an expedited review and official Response by Mr. Obama.

I’ll bet this why all those crimlaw bloggers I read are always complaining about losing motions. They aren’t filing a formal Notice of a Constitional Violation! They’re probably using the informal Notice of Constitutional Violation, or not even filing one at all, the lazy bastards!

And oh-by-the-way,

The Obama Evasion

Yeah, but will they come when you do call for them?

Each member of the Electoral College, who is committed to casting a vote on December 15, 2008, has a constitutional duty to make certain you are a natural-born citizen. As of today, there is no evidence in the public record (nor have you provided any) that defeats the claim that you are barred by law from assuming the Office of President because you fail the Constitution’s eligibility requirements.

All state Electors are now on Notice that unless you provide documentary evidence before December 15, that conclusively establishes your eligibility, they cannot cast a vote for you without committing treason to the Constitution.

The author, Robert L. Schulz, clearly enjoys his imaginary power over Barack Obama as he calls Electors from the vasty deep:

You are under a moral, legal, and fiduciary duty to proffer such evidence. Should you assume the office as anyone but a bona fide natural born citizen of the United States who has not relinquished that citizenship, you would be inviting a national crisis that would undermine the domestic peace and stability of the Nation. For example:

  • You would always be viewed by many Americans as a poseur – a usurper.
  • As a usurper, you would be unable to take the required “Oath or Affirmation” on January 20 without committing the crime of perjury or false swearing, for being ineligible you cannot faithfully execute the Office of the President of the United States.
  • You would be entitled to no allegiance, obedience or support from the People.
  • The Armed Forces would be under no legal obligation to remain obedient to you.
  • No civilian in the Executive Branch would be required to obey any of your proclamations, Executive Orders or directives, as such orders would be legally void.
  • Your appointments of Judges to the Supreme Court would be void.
  • Congress would not be able to pass any needed legislation because it would not be able to acquire the signature of a bona fide President.
  • Congress would be unable to remove you, a usurper, from the Office of the President on Impeachment, inviting certain political chaos including a potential for armed conflicts within the General Government or among the States and the People to effect the removal of such a usurper.

I have no idea if that’s what Obama’s mother did, and I freely admit I’m not a lawyer, let alone an expert on the legalities of citizenship, but I’m pretty sure that no third party can revoke your U.S. citizenship on your behalf, not even your mother.

  • In 1965, your mother legally relinquished whatever Kenyan or U.S. citizenship she and you had by marrying an Indonesian and becoming a naturalized Indonesian citizen.

provided by the campaign was an original. It’s simply the the document the government of Hawii issues when you ask them for a birth certificate, and like everything else, it was printed by a computer.the documentThere’s something fascinating about the author’s decision to italicize “computer generated.” Nobody has ever claimed that

Representing thousands of responsible American citizens who have also taken an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America, I am duty bound to call on you to remedy an apparent violation of the Constitution.

Compelling evidence supports the claim that you are barred from holding the Office of President by the “natural born citizen” clause of the U.S. Constitution. For instance:

  • You have posted on the Internet an unsigned, forged birth form created in 2007, a form that lacks vital information found on any original, hand signed Certificate of Live Birth, such as hospital address, signature of attending physician and age of mother.computer-generatedand thoroughly discredited,

The WPF’s open letter itself, available here, is a fascinating read, mostly because of the style:

Phase Two: The Obama Usurpation

, but they still need money for the trip?Chicago Tribune can afford two full-page ads in the WPFHuh. So

We are now in the process of selecting the forensic scientists who would travel to Hawaii to examine Mr. Obama’s original birth certificate (assuming he responds to the Petition for Redress by directing the Hawaiian officials to provide access to the birth certificate).  The budget for this task is currently estimated at $20,000. We need to raise the money quickly. Unfortunately, we are starting from zero and we have but one week before the scientists would need to be in Hawaii.

who asks:Illinois Review by Fran Eaton at postI heard about this goofy ad in a

What are your thoughts about this effort?  Is this whole thing just a hoax or is it a credible concern?

:savaged in a marvelous wayA commenter named Grover rightly ridicules Fran for this feeble evasion of responsibility, and is then

Grover, I take it you a left wing nut loon…

It’s the the law of the land and the Prophet O MUST produce “Competent evidence” … Proof or he’s not prez

http://www.nolo.com/definition.cfm/Term/FB8DF59E-8297-4662-9AA1FDD68151F0BE/alpha/C/

see Us Constitution
it reads as follows…

“Age and Citizenship requirements – US Constitution, Article II, Section 1

No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.
“(Article II., Section 1.,Clause 5.)

http://www.house.gov/house/Constitution/Constitution.html

To the liberal elite, have no respect for the law if the law stands in the way of their socialist agenda.

Well that’s totally convincing. Despite the “Prophet O”, the weird capitalization, and the random links, it’s clearly the other guy who’s the loon.

That first link, by the way, is just nolo.com’s definition of “competent evidence,” and the version of the constitution at the second link has different capitalization from the quote. Also, the real Constitution doesn’t have section labels.

One Chicago suburb has a plan to improve its budget next year:

The Village of Maywood increased the liquor license fee for liquor stores from $1,875 to $10,000 to pay for additional police presence around these establishments.

Village officials say the increase is needed “to offset police services and enforcement activities and other costs … associated with the stores,” according to a memo from Village Attorney Michael Jurusik to the mayor and board of trustees.

“We’ve gotten too many complaints,” Maywood Mayor Henderson Yarbrough said of the loitering, panhandling and other nuisances associated with liquor stores.

And apparently, nobody in Maywood ever noticed until now. I wonder what the Maywood police have been doing with their time.

Anyway, I found this story through the always-interesting Second City Cop blog, which has this to say:

Anyone want to take a bet that instead of Maywood reaping $70,000 in licensing fees, they lose the $13,125 they were getting in the first place? You’d have to weigh it against the alleged “extra” police presence at the liquor stores, but wouldn’t a better purpose have been served by requiring the liquor stores to have on-site security? You’d have the $13,125 in license fees, you’d have part-time jobs for 14 or more people providing security and you’d have a business being a more responsible entity to the village.

SCC‘s anonymous author is pretty bright, and he’s right that increasing the tax burden on the stores will encourage them to leave. Granted, the per-store increase of $8125 isn’t a whole lot of money, so I doubt they’ll leave immediately, but it does make it less likely they’ll stay, and it definitely disourages new stores from opening.

On the other hand, SCC doesn’t seem to realize that forcing the stores to hire additional employees will have the same effect. To the store owner, it doesn’t matter whether his extra costs go to village taxes or to unneeded employees. Either way, he doesn’t have to pay it if he moves his business out of town.

I’m not entirely surprised that SCC makes this mistake—he probably doesn’t see it as a problem. It’s exactly the kind of thinking I’d expect from someone who is both a government employee and a union member, two institutions which pay far too much importance to creating jobs. Also, I’m pretty sure that SCC is blinded by the expectation that the new security positions will be filled by police retirees or off-duty cops.

In other words, this is an argument between government employees over exactly how to pick the taxpayers’ pockets. This is why government sucks.

I just recently discovered a web site for the Law Offices of R. Scott Andringa in Clearwater Florida. His About Us page has an interesting bit of information (emphasis mine):

After beginning his career as a misdemeanor prosecutor in the State Attorneys Office in Clearwater, Florida he was promoted to Misdemeanor Lead Trial Attorney. He transferred to New Port Richey, Florida in 1995 when he was promoted to prosecuting felony cases. He remained in New Port Richey for nine years, prosecuting many high-profile cases including a landmark dance studio fraud case, death penalty cases and a drug trafficking case that was featured on 60 Minutes, Nightline and in the New York Times. He was also responsible for dozens of other successful prosecutions and was profiled in the St. Petersburg Times and Tampa Tribune.

I only know one Scott Andringa who was involved in a Florida drug trafficking case that was featured on 60 Minutes, and that’s this guy. I guess he still doesn’t get it.

I suppose he could be just the sort of aggressive lawyer some people need: One of those guys for whom winning is more important than anything else.

The only posts I’ve got in the pipeline are an announcement about a nasty little web site I’m building and a followup to my series on prositution. Somehow, neither of those feels right for Thanksgiving Day.

So today I’m posting about how thankful I am for the legal blogosphere (or, if we must, blawgosphere).

Windypundit‘s been around for over six years. Clearly, I’m not on the fast track to blogospheric superstardom. Really, I’m not on any track to superstardom. But somehow in the last year I seem to have found my place in the blogosphere, and it’s kind of a surprising experience.

For one thing, I’m a little surprised at where I fit in. When I started Windypundit, I wanted it to be about libertarian stuff: The war on drugs, free speech, the right to bear arms, and free markets. And more or less, it is. I write about those things a lot, and I get links from other libertarian bloggers now and then.

However, it turns out that those subjects have a common thread running through them, and this thread also runs through some of the newer subjects I write about, such as police misconduct and politics. Almost everything I write about eventually concerns the law and the legal system. I’ve become an honorary legal blogger.

I’m not a lawyer, and the law is a complicated and confusing subject, so it’s been surprising to me that the legal community has put up with me and my half-assed opinions. I didn’t expect that.

I didn’t expect the American Bar Association to include me in their list of blogs. I didn’t expect publishers to send me books to review. I didn’t expect to receive compliments from prickly New York criminal defense lawyers. It’s all very cool.

So, thank you Scott, Mark, and Gideon. Thank you Marc, Mike, and Jon (even though you seem to have trouble with that Thanksgiving Day spirit). Thank you Ken, wherever you are.

Thank you Tom and Serena for making the rest of these people necessary. Thank you David for taking the time to comment on my blog, even if you’ve gone Hollywood. Thank you Blondie for being our mystery woman, and don’t think I’ve forgotten about you, Jamie.

(Thanks to everyone I’ve missed. Sorry about that. Be sure to lambast me in the comments.)

Don’t expect to hear this ever again, but thank you all for your acceptance, your warm welcome, and of course for the vast amount of fascinating material you post every single day.

I guess you like me. You really like me.

Thank you.

I’ve been following the pi — discussion among various folks in the legal blogosphere that was kicked off by this, among other things.  You’ll find one part of it here.

I find all this stuff fascinating, for a variety of reasons, but it is an acquired taste. For those who haven’t hung around, any, either in person or virtually:  criminal defense lawyers might, from the outside (and I’m outside) seem at times to not be bothered at all by the possibility that their efforts could end up with somebody who has done a terrible, horrible thing (Or, usually, something less than that) escaping an appropriate punishment.  And that’s largely because, far as I can tell, they’re unbothered at all by the possibility that their efforts could end up with somebody who has done a terrible, horrible thing escaping an appropriate punishment for the thing that they did.

Not their job.  And, for those who that bothers, a bit of free advice:  chill.  There’s a lot of reasons why that’s in your interest, but let me give you just one:  there is a possibility that you, or somebody you care about, could be accused of having done a terrible, horrible thing, and ou’d prefer that you or they not receive an appropriate punishment for something that they didn’t do; even if they (or you) did that terrible, horrible thing, you’d probably prefer that they (or you) not receive an excessive punishment.  Either way, you’d want a professional trying to do their best for you.  (Not the only reason to chill, but this is going to be long as it is.)

So let me tell you a story.  Since I write both fiction and nonfiction, I’m going to stick one fib in there — the rest may or may not be accurate, but I think it is. It’s certainly what I heard, but there was no reason I would have or should have been given access to the various documents, or in most of the relevant rooms, so I wasn’t.

I once watched, from the cheap seats, when a defendant screwed up a deal that, from my POV, was a sweetheart one for him.  I could be wrong; I’m an amateur at this stuff.  He was offered eighteen months on a fairly serious charge; Aggravated Robbery, in the First Degree. (There were other additional charges, originally, arising out of the same robbery.)  Between “good time” and time already served while waiting, he would have been out in about a year.  Which is to say that he’s still in prison — level 3, not exactly a fun place — and he would have been out, by now.

As far as I could tell, about the only things going for him were this: this was his first charge in this state (his family had only moved here a month or so before his arrest, and he didn’t make bail); he hadn’t used a weapon, and had some (perhaps good, I dunno; I’m not a brain surgeon or neurologist or, more to the point, his neurologist) argument about diminished capacity from a childhood car injury.  And he was not quite eighteen.

There was a lot going against him: he’d been certified to be tried as an adult, for one.  And then there was the strength of the ID, a victim who was a voluble and likable crusty little old lady who would have hobbled to the stand, due to the injuries that he and his codefendant/brother had visited upon her while beating her for twenty-three minutes (she could see the clock on the wall while they held her down and pounded on her), the physical evidence (the cops had gotten their haul, pursuant to a search warrant — they’d kept some of the jewelry); his codefendant/brother had already pleaded out, and talked [a lot], and his sister had managed to tick off a local homicide cop by shouting, in public, and in front of witnesses, that he’d get off as the victim wouldn’t be alive for the trial, as well as some other things which got the case more official and unofficial attention than perhaps it and he would otherwise have gotten, and which had led to the arrest in the first place — perhaps not quite for the reasons she told the press, the mother had turned them in. (The only local media not to cover it was the Strib.)  And then there was the fact that he and his brother were generally believed to have been the source of a two-man wave of strongarm robberies and muggings, largely (but not exclusively) of the elderly and infirm, over the previous month, in the same area, a string that came to an abrupt halt upon their arrest.

But he didn’t take the eighteen months.  Here’s the lie:  a casual conversation with a private attorney persuaded him that he could get half of that, and he rejected the deal. 

Well, it could have happened that way, which is why the story I linked to reminded me of it.  Not the only reason I was reminded of it, but, hey, that’s not what happened.

Here’s the truth:  his mother, furious at the “public pretender,” insisted that he shouldn’t go to prison now, as he hadn’t gone to prison on his previous offenses, in another state. He was still, barely, a minor, but was being tried as an adult; the previous offenses, in another state, were as a minor — and, so I was told, nobody hereabouts knew that he had priors until his Mom blurted it out; the reporting from the other state had fallen through the cracks.

Until then.  Oops.  It definitely influenced the effectiveness of the whole first offense, led astray by the big brother, he’d never been in trouble before and had learned his lesson pitch.

As far as I could tell, it was not a private lawyer making him dissatisfied with the representation he was getting — it was his mother — but it did come down to him being persuaded, by somebody who was not the guest of honor or participant in the proceedings, and who had some serious lacunae in their knowledge (in this case, about the law, rather than the specifics of the case) that a better deal should be available.

His PD was, of course, willing to go to trial, if he’d wanted to.  But the deal didn’t get better as the trial date approached; future offers kept getting worse.  Not a lot had broken his way — the victim was still alive, for instance.  He kept saying no, Mom kept getting angrier, and for various reasons, his sister started giving the victim a wide berth, and while lots of victims can be scared into changing their story or refusing to testify, she didn’t scare.

With the trial just about to start, he ended up taking a deal that got him a sentence that will, when he gets out in 2010, amount to 58 months.

Now, there’s a lot that’s different in this than in the case that the Minneapolis PD points to.  The person who talked him out of the eighteen-month deal wasn’t an attorney, but — like the attorney in the HennCo PD’s story — was sure that there was a better deal out there for him, and who queered the pitch for the PD who was, I’d guess, doing his professional best to get him to unwrap the birthday present. 

So, he’s away in prison; the little old lady is mostly recovered — some reconstructive surgery. I need to stop by; haven’t seen her for a couple of months.  And she is a friend of mine.

She’s gotten some extra time to not worry if either of the brothers are going to come after her.  They were kind of angry that she didn’t shut up and forget about it, the sister said.

That freedom from worry ends in 2010?  Nah.  That’s over.

His brother, who had been around the block more, and who was quicker to plead out, got out last week.

Step one: Walk into any gun shop, and take a look at the empty spaces on the shelves where EBRs/Evil Black Rifles/Semiauto Assault Weapons/Scary-looking long guns used to be.  Watch the remaining ones fly off the shelves, and people place backorders.  Or just read reports by folks who have done just that.  There’s plenty; here’s one.

Step two:  browse over the the Joyce-funded “the gun guys” antigun website to see the latest reprint of an editorial by another Joyce-funded astroturf antigun group telling you that there’s no boom in gun sales going on in the wake of the Obamalection.

Step three:  browse over the the Joyce-funded “the gun guys” antigun website to see the previous reprint of a remarakably similar editorial by yet another Joyce-funded astroturf antigun group telling you that there’s no boom in gun sales going on in the wake of the Obamalection.

Step three:  decide for yourself — who are you going to believe?  The Joyce Foundation, or your lying eyes?

Step four:  Nothing to see; move along now.

People are sometimes shocked that I’m wary of laws requiring sex offenders to register. How could I possibly object to alerting communities about rapists and child molesters?

Because the laws are written by grandstanding legislators, and grandstanding legislators are often stupid and callous, and stupid, callous legislators are a much greater threat than some sex offenders.

I’ve been avoiding commenting on Obama’s rumored picks for his administration. I figure there’s no point speculating how bad they might be when in a few months we’ll know for sure how bad they are. However, I really have to say something about the rumors he wants to put Jim Ramstad in as Drug Czar.

Actually, I’ll let Maia Szalavitz say it:

There is one issue that has consistently separated those who put science and saving lives in front of politics. That is needle exchange programs for addicts to prevent the spread of HIV and other blood borne illnesses.

Needle exchanges have been shown repeatedly to reduce HIV and contrary to the claims of opponents, they help addicts get into treatment.

But Bill Clinton had a drug czar — Barry McCaffrey — who said that needle exchange “sent the wrong message,” and would make him seem soft on drugs. McCaffrey fought against it and Clinton now says he “regrets” caving in to drug war politics.

While Obama has said that he favors federal funding, the last thing we need is another drug czar to talk him out of it.

Ramstad looks like that person…In 1992, he said, “Federal funds should be used to get people off drugs not facilitate drug abuse…let’s support programs that save lives, not destroy lives.” By then, dozens of studies from around the world already suggested that clean needle programs not only reduce HIV, but attract addicts into recovery.

In 1999 — with the data now overwhelming — Ramstad voted to prevent Washington DC from using its own money to fund syringe exchange.

Ramstad is also on the record opposing medical marijuana programs.

In both cases, Obama has indicated he opposes Ramstad’s former positions. He’s talked about lifting the needle ban and about stopping federal raids of medical marijuana providers. I suppose it’s possible that Ramstad changed his mind or is willing to implement policies for Obama that he doesn’t agree with.

But then what are we to make of Obama’s choice of Eric Holder for Attorney General? Jacob Sullum tells us that

Barack Obama’s selection of Eric Holder as his attorney general is a very discouraging sign for anyone who hoped the new administration would de-escalate the war on drugs. …Holder pushed for stiffer marijuana penalties when he was the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, and the details are strikingly at odds not only with Obama’s signals regarding marijuana but with his opposition to long sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. According to a December 1996 report in The Washington Times…Holder wanted “minimum sentences of 18 months for first-time convicted drug dealers, 36 months for the second time and 72 months for every conviction thereafter.” He also wanted to “make the penalty for distribution and possession with intent to distribute marijuana a felony, punishable with up to a five-year sentence.” The D.C. Council made the latter Holder-endorsed change in 2000. Holder thought New York City’s irrational, unjust crackdown on pot smokers was a fine idea and worth emulating, saying “we have too long taken the view that what we would term to be minor crimes are not important.”

(Joel, if you’re reading, Holder’s also awful on guns.)

I suppose it’s possible he’s changed his mind or is willing to implement alternative policies, but can we really believe that two stern drug warriors—Holder and now Ramstad—have both had changes of heart? Are we to hope that Obama will stick to his stated plans to scale back drug war excesses despite these two picks and despite the drug-warrior credentials of runningmate Joe Biden and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel?

That’s a lot to hope for.

Update: While I’m at it, Eric Holder’s not so good on the First Amendment either.

This is hard to watch, as there’s stupidity all around, but I do think it’s instructive.

I’m not a big fan of open carry, mind you, but I know that some folks are. While, on balance, I prefer to be discreet, as I think there’s real disadvantages to open carry, most times, most places, there are some arguments in favor of it.

1. Bad people — well, bad people without badges — tend to avoid hassling people with guns visible. When was the last time you heard about a cop with a gun visible on his hip getting mugged or being picked out for a carjacking?

2. A right not seen to be exercised tends to go away, whether it’s protesting at city hall or keeping and bearing arms. In MN and PA — and many, many other states — we don’t have a concealment requirement.

tccarry2.jpg

3. It’s a good thing, on balance, for folks who aren’t into the whole carrying guns in public thing to see, say, an African American educator, like the woman at right, or a web designer in his mid-thirties out grocery shopping with his cute little kids while carrying; helps to dispel the notion that it’s just soft, middle-aged lonely guys who get carry permits.

Not my thing, mind you, but there are folks who are into it. Like, say, Meleanie Hain.

She’s a thirtyish Soccer Mom in Lebanon PA who, at her young kid’s soccer games — and everywhere she goes — she openly carries a Glock in a good security holster on her hip.

Other folks freak. But there’s nothing much they can — or, for that matter, should — do about it, as she has a carry permit, which in PA allows her to carry either openly or concealed; without it, she’d have to carry openly.

The sheriff, deciding that her carrying openly shows that she’s dangerous, yanks her carry permit, which prohibits her from carrying discreetly, which she doesn’t want to, anyway; she can carry openly without the permit.

Yup. To punish her for carrying her gun openly, he took away the permit that allows her to carry it discreetly, forcing her to carry openly, if she chooses to carry.

I don’t make this stuff up, you know.

She heads to court; judge gives her the permit back, along with a lecture about how what she’s doing is legal, it’s also wrong, wrong, wrong; she can now carry openly, or concealed.

Much hysteria continues to ensue.

Hence the show, where a whole variety of people with strong opinions and little information on the issues around this assemble to argue about them. I’m glad it locks up with nine minutes to go; I don’t think I could have taken any more.

Largely, it’s folks arguing about hypotheticals. In terms of what’s actually happened, well, not much; there’s not all that much to discuss. She hasn’t taken the gun out in public, because, well, she hasn’t had to; she also hasn’t rested her hand on the butt of the gun while asking a ref to reconsider a call, or the coach to put her kid in more, or anything like that, either, which isn’t surprising. Some local soccer moms apparently feel that they’ll be safe if they insist she stand across the field from them; they think she’ll shoot them, but don’t know that bullets can easily travel a couple of dozen feet.

But the best stupid hypothetical is put forward by one Sean Burke, a Massachusetts cop, Steve Rogers, a New Jersey cop. (Yes, there’s a correction there; I copied the name from the web page, not the video. I’m very sad; I was always a great admirer of Captain America…)

Now, since Massachusetts has one of the most restrictive carry permit laws in the country — only IL and WI are worse; NJ and NY are just about as bad — naturally, Burke Rogers knows everything to know there is about how things work in states, like PA, which have modern, mainstream, commonsense shall issue carry permit laws.

Not because he has any experience with it, or has thought much or read anything about it, but because, well, he’s got a badge and good hair.

He explains the problem: in a situation where, say, she’d taken her gun out to stop from being murdered or something, she runs a great danger of being shot by twelve — he’s sure it’s twelve — well-armed SWAT cops, who won’t know who the bad guy is, but will blast away at the soccer Mom.

Yup. Let’s explore that. It’s not likely that she’ll need to take her handgun out at her kid’s soccer game, of course; it it was likely, she’d just not take the kid to the soccer game.

But let’s create a hypothetical, and think it through: some machete-wielding ax murderer shows up, and after quickly chopping up another soccer mom and kid or two, starts to move toward her. He’s running faster than she can, so out comes the Glock, and instead of her having to shoot him — honest; I’m stacking the cards against her; trust me — he puts the machete down and lies down at the ground, where she covers him with her Glock while waiting for the local SWAT team to arrive.

Now, I don’t know much about the Lebanon PA SWAT team, but let’s make them a hell-for-leather bunch, who manage to get there in ten, fifteen minutes. And when they see the vaguely chubby soccer mom holding a gun on the guy lying on the ground near the machete — perhaps fairly close to the chopped up parts of his previous victims — they’ll shoot her.

That’s Officer Burke’s worry. I don’t make this stuff up, you know. Yes, that’s his objection. In a situation where she’s used her gun to prevent being killed, she might get shot by a bunch of cops.

He’s just looking out for her.

Marc Randazza lives an interesting life:

They open the bag, and see that I’m traveling with exactly one t-shirt, one toothbrush, one pair of socks, a pair of underwear, and 50 porn movies, which they lay out on the table one by one.

Whole story here.

A few days ago the Washington Times had an editorial about the new random bag search policy their police are using on the Metro subways. It was mentioned in Flex Your Rights email message I just received, and while I normally don’t jump at stories this old, the cluelessness is so astonishing I had to say something.

The group Flex Your Rights is not only opposed to the searches, but is encouraging the riding public to exercise its 4th Amendment right against “unreasonable search” by refusing to be searched.

We, too, have concerns about Big Brother’s overreach…but this doesn’t qualify as over-reaching.

I guess the Times editorial board thinks that searching someone’s bags without any reason for suspicion is reasonable?

We understand reasonable requirements must be enacted at times to preserve public safety. Random search programs have become necessary since Sept. 11. We’ve become accustomed to searches at airports, and public rail systems seem to be a next logical step.

That’s kind of the problem. Government can encroach on our liberties one “logical step” at at time until there aren’t any liberties left. This is why I have a Creeping Totalitarianism department at Windypundit.

Such programs have already been instituted – with limited disruption – in New York, New Jersey and Boston. To take an extra 10 seconds to open your bag when asked is not unreasonable.

It’s not really about the time that it takes, it’s about the invasion of privacy.

Metro, which has jurisdiction and arrest powers throughout the 1,500-square-mile transit zone, is not only well within its right to conduct the operation but insists each search takes no more than 8-15 seconds to conduct – posing minimal impact on riders who have nothing to hide and want to easily get on to their destination.

There’s every privacy thief’s favorite phrase, “nothing to hide.”

I could point out, as usual, that it’s not about whether or not I have anything to hide, it’s about my Constitutionally guaranteed rights as a United States citizen. But the fact is, also, that I do have something to hide: I want to hide my private stuff from people I don’t know. This is why we have—or at least should have—a right to privacy.

But what Flex is encouraging has the potential to create major disruptions for commuters (imagine if, say, every 10th person decided he or she wasn’t going to be searched).

That’s such a police-state view of the problem. Until about three weeks ago, 100% of the people weren’t being searched, and that didn’t cause any disruptions, did it? But once the Metro police enact their intrusive search policy, the bootlickers at the Washington Times start complaining about those annoying people who want to keep their rights.

Their tactics also could pose undue health and safety risks to passengers and transit police.

It’s hard to see how. We’re talking about people turning around and leaving the station. People entering and leaving a train station is not a dangerous activity. Or if it is, then Metro has a lot more important things to worry about than the contents of people’s bags.

If Flex Your Rights members don’t want to be searched, they should ride Metrobus instead of Metrorail.

And I guess that in the 50’s the Washington Times advised black people who didn’t want to ride in the back of the bus to take a walk? (Come to think of it, that worked out pretty well, but you know what I mean.)

Metrorail is a public service paid for by public money, and it should be operated with respect for the rights of the public.

The folks behind the Typealyzer web site claim to be able to analyze the text of a blog and determine things about the personality of the author, and presumably the readers as well.

I ran it on Windypundit and here’s how it describes us:

ISTP – The Mechanics

The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generelly prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.

I like it.

I’m a software developer by trade, and that’s a pretty good description of the personality traits it takes to be a good software guy. Even the name “Mechanics” is right: Software geeks are mechanics whose tools are all other pieces of software.

People who know me might think otherwise, but yes, even that final sentence about how we “enjoy adventure and risk” is dead-on. I spend all day every day sitting on my ass in front of the computer and eating fatty foods. Is that risky or what?

A couple of posts ago, I asked why the navies of the world aren’t trying harder to stop the Somali pirates. Yesterday, I had dinner with a friend of mine who follows world events more than I do (and who I’m trying to talk into co-blogging) and he had an answer that explains a lot.

First of all, with all the shipping in the area, it’s very difficult to spot the pirates in action until the moment they start their attack. Even if a warship spots a likely pirate ship, they can’t legally take action until they witness an act of piracy.

Second, the pirates treat the crews of the captured ships very well, at least by pirate standards. My friend hadn’t heard of any captured crewmembers being killed. The pirates clearly regard ransoming the crews as an important source of income.

Thus, once a ship is captured at sea, any attempt to take it back places the hostages at higher risk than simply ransoming them later. It’s all about the money, and since only a small fraction of the enormous shipping volume is actually pirated, it’s not even a lot of money.

(That’s also why merchants don’t arm the ships, I think. The security teams would add to the cost of every single ship that sails, but only benefit the handful that are attacked by pirates.)

Third, the pirates are operating out of an unstable region of Somalia, and they effectively control that region. The embattled Somali government might just collapse under the additional internal conflict that would result if they allowed foreign-flagged ships to come in and raid the pirate port. And the current Somali government is better than anything that might replace it—at least in the opinions of nations operating navies in the region.

Finally, a lot of 5th Fleet’s surveillance assets are tied up supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What it comes down to is that the pirates just haven’t caused enough trouble yet to be worth the effort to shut them down.

Except maybe for India. Their navy seems to be taking a more aggressive approach.

This whole Interweb thing continues to amaze me. Last night I get home and there’s a Facebook friendship invitation from a guy I knew in grade school. That was thirty years ago.

My first thought, I swear, was that I must have really made an impression on him because he still knew how to spell my name for the search.

Update: Yeah, I know he probably had a yearbook or something. It’s still nice to be thought of after all this time.