Tag Archives: Jack-Booted Thuggery

Dallas police use of robot-deployed bomb is troubling

The media has rightly focused in recent days on the decision by the Dallas police to use a robot to blow up the black-power activist who murdered five police officers.  Although the sniper, Micah Johnson, ultimately got what he deserved, we are troubled by this use of technology.

Even if we shed no tears for the shooter in this case, it is not hard to envision a scenario where such a dystopian killing machine is abused (or, given the competence we generally expect from the government, malfunctions) in the future.  We are reminded of the exploding collars affixed to prisoners in the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic Running Man.

Steve Sailer makes the point that use of the robot was not much different than the typical police tactic of using a sniper to take out an active shooter, but, as other commenters point out—aside from the precedent and optics—the robot didn’t appear necessary in this circumstance.  The shooter was boxed in and not an immediate further threat to anyone.  Given the potential for collateral damage from a robot, it seems a bit draconian.

Even a sniper who has admitted guilt, as Johnson did in his “negotiations” with the police, is entitled to due process (though the Dallas police chief’s and media’s repeated description of Johnson as a “suspect” in recounting the events seems inaccurate—how about “perpetrator”?).  Police generally are charged with subduing and arresting a perpetrator unless killing him is necessary to prevent further loss of life.

Why couldn’t a robot be affixed with tear gas, a taser, or some other non-lethal disabling agent?

Incidentally, a Salon writer called this use of force a “frightening precedent.”  In a first, we agree with every word of the article (except for the reference to “the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” which we had never heard of and, given that it was brought to us by the United Nations, probably means the opposite of its title suggests).

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Big Government, Uncategorized

Lovers of liberty should hope for more Kim Davises when they come for our guns

There’s a thoughtful debate on the right about whether Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who, citing her conscience, defied the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges discovering that the Constitution grants the right of marriage to gay couples.  Davis refused to issue marriage licenses in her jurisdiction and was briefly jailed.

A core tenet of conservatism  is the rule of law.  The Obergefell ruling, absurd as it is, is the law of the land.  Not only was resistance on Davis’s part futile, but arguably inappropriate as a public official.  When one takes a job as a public servant one must uphold the law.  Civil disobedience is only the right of civilians.  The proper action from a public servant would be to resign; perhaps mass resignations would be an effective tool in persuading legislators to change the law.

On the other hand, Americans are rightly proud of their traditions of defying oppression that comes under the color of law.  And such defiance—by government agents—would likely be the only recourse in what this blogger fears will eventually be an attempted government usurpation of our right to bear arms.

It is within the realm of possibility that, one day, Congress w ill pass a law banning and confiscating handguns and the Supreme Court will uphold it under whatever imaginary constitutional logic it can muster.  Fortunately the legislative element remains a formidable hurdle at this point in time, but that is not always certain to be so.  And once Congress passes a law, all it will take is for five liberal Supreme Court justices to overturn centuries of precedent.

At that point, it would be up to the executive branch to implement the law.  Eventually, this would require a door-to-door effort, such as Australia completed for certain types of guns in the late 1990s, much to President Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s admiration.

Noble “from my cold, dead hands” rhetoric notwithstanding, it’s not likely that many Americans would respond to a federal agent’s knock at the door with an armed standoff in which the government would certainly win.  Thus the only barrier to confiscation would be if ATF and FBI agents, and maybe members of the military, that the federal government would send a-knocking were to refuse to follow orders.

Is such a scenario likely?  It would get ugly, leading to calls for martial law by some and secession or outright revolution by others.  We can all hope our last hope is not to rely on government functionaries disobeying their elected leaders, but it might come to that.

1 Comment

Filed under Big Government

(Small) moments in the use of passive voice, to obscure government workers’ incompetence

Sort of a non sequitur in an article about firefighter overtime from the Washington Post (emphasis ours):  “District revenue from traffic cameras fell off precipitously during the second half of the last budget year because of failures by city workers to keep the systems running.  Amid an effort to transfer more maintenance duties from contractors to city crews, some red-light and speed cameras and other traffic-control devices stopped working.  In some cases, batteries in the systems went dead, [D.C. City Council Chairman Phil] Mendelson said.”

This throw-away passage refers to another budget challenge in the local Washington, D.C. government that is not the subject of the article.  We can suppose that the inference is clear, though it’s an odd use of a semi-passive construction to suggest that the cameras “stopped working” and batteries “went dead.”  To co-opt James Taranto, why do bad things always happen to the city government workers?

The Post has extensively covered the roll-out of traffic cameras in the city, but seems to have never previously reported on the in-sourcing of maintenance.  A September 2014 article reported that revenue from this boondoggle was lower than projected, according to a spokeswoman for the mayor, “for a variety of reasons, including delays in deploying some new devices, higher speed limits on some streets and more motorists obeying the law.” The spokeswoman went on, “And we don’t view any of this as a bad thing.  As we’ve said all along:  the purpose of automated traffic enforcement is to improve public safety and save lives, not to raise money.”  Naturally, the Post agreed in an editorial, “Automated Cameras Mean Safer Streets in the District,” despite many studies in different jurisdictions showing that cameras do not even improve, and may even harm, safety.

Any big-government skeptic assumes that the main purpose of the cameras is to further tax citizens. So it’s not surprising that the Post would tread lightly in questioning the cameras’ effectiveness or government workers’ competence.  Not surprisingly, the D.C. inspector general found that the abuse of the system runs through the entire traffic-ticket value chain (i.e., racket). Perhaps the scandal of city workers’ dereliction in maintenance is worth some coverage in its own right?

Leave a comment

Filed under Big Government

Another convenient “whistleblower” laments how starved his agency is for money

The Washington Post doesn’t much care when whistleblowers expose politically-motivated corruption, but one type of exposure they can get behind is when a bureaucrat heroically leaks the grievous shortage of budget from which his agency suffers, putting the organization’s crucial mission at risk.

The Federal Air Marshal program is yet another post-09/11 white elephant, in which beefy guys get to ride in first class on flights carrying guns.  These guys have probably watched too many Steven Segal movies, and figured they’d be hanging off of moving planes, defusing bombs at the last second, engaging in shootouts with terrorists (Chinese or Russian, of course, not Muslim) to save the day and return the tattered stuffed animal to the little girl in 24D.  Shockingly, the work is more mundane than this.

One Robert J. MacLean leaked to MSNBC that a “budget shortfall” had led to a reduction of air marshal trips.  Naturally, this “endangers fellow citizens”—no mention, mind you, of whether perhaps DHS thought that these resources could be better applied elsewhere based on its analysis of risk.  (Ha-ha, we know, as if the agency actually had the ability or will to do so—impossible given the fragmentation of its agencies, each with its own constituency.)  Cue the Congressional and media outrage.

DHS fired MacLean, but one can’t help but wonder if this isn’t all yet another carefully engineered “scandal” from the agency to plead for more money via a possibly sympathetic figure.  After all, increased budget is one matter that agency managers, employees, and most of their Congressional sugar daddies can always agree on.  This is one reason why unionization shouldn’t be allowed in public-sector workforces.

Leave a comment

Filed under Big Government

Never pass up the chance to be a victim

Another example of comical TSA incompetence.  Nothing new there, though this story seems to have had a happy ending, or should have.  A couple was initially told that their 18-month-old baby was on the “no fly list.”  After a mix-up and, no doubt, some less-than-cordial treatment, “Eventually, the couple were given their boarding passes back.”

Any normal traveler would leave in a huff, get on the plane, and resume her planned vacation.  No harm, no foul.  But, in this case, “The family decided to leave the airport rather than return to the flight.”  That’s the end of the article.

Might there be more going on here?  The family, including a mother in a hijab, will no doubt sic both the “civil rights” police and their tort lawyer on the airline, airport, and TSA.  The fact that this story was in the newspaper in the first place is the first clue.  Heaven forbid someone should just get on with her life if she has the opportunity to play the victim.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture

I only have one question

Didn’t we create the Department of Homeland Security to protect against terrorism?

From the Baltimore SunFederal agents raid Patapsco Flea Market

“Vendors at the Patapsco Flea Market have a history of allegedly selling counterfeit and pirated merchandise, according to an affidavit, which outlined the latest accusation that resulted in a raid Sunday by federal Homeland Security Investigations special agents.”

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Big Government