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Observations and commentary from a Christian libertarian perspective, written by a freedom-obsessed father of six children and husband to one exquisitely lovely wife.
Updated: 1 hour 32 min ago

Meet the New "Specially Protected Class"

Mon, 02/13/2017 - 19:19





Adams Lin literally fainted as he read a court order authorizing federal marshals to confiscate his property. The officers seizedhis car, his designer clothes, a flat-screen television, golf clubs, computer, and even his treasured Samurai sword.

Unlike countless other Americans who have been pillaged by federal law enforcement officials, Lin was not a victim of the officially sanctioned plunder called civil asset forfeiture. His property was confiscated after Lin’s boss failed to make a $200,000 payment toward the $22.4 million civil damage award granted to a man who was left paralyzed through Lin’s occupational misconduct.

Lin’s boss is Palm Beach County, Florida Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, and he has adamantly refused to make payments to Dontrell Stephens, who was shot by Lin after the panicking deputy mistook the 19-year-old’s cell phone for a gun.

“There’s nothing in the rules of engagement that says we have to put our lives in jeopardy to wait and find out what this is and get killed,” whined Sheriff Bradshaw on the day of the shooting. His department quickly exonerated Lin and promoted him – before the public release of video that proved that the victim had never posed a threat to the deputy.

Rather than complying with the court order, Bradshaw filed an appeal. After the award was upheld last May, Bradshaw appealed again – which triggered an injunction leading to the seizure of property from the deputy who was directly responsible for the unlawful shooting of an innocent teenager. Owing to his service as an asset of the state’s punitive apparatus, Lin was able to get his confiscated property back. His victim, of course, remains paralyzed.
Lin continues to be held in high regard by Bradshaw, which is why the sheriff selected him to be one of seven sergeants from his department assignedto the presidential security detail at the Palm Beach Airport during the president’s recent visit.


This obviously wasn’t a reward for Lin’s exceptional valor. The deputy’s pants-wetting meltdown that led to the near-murder of Stephens, and his fainting spell triggered by enforcement of the court order, demonstrate that he’s hardly Horatiusat the bridge in dealing with adversity. It was a gesture of calculated contempt toward those who believe that police officers should be held accountable for personal misconduct, and an assertion of the institutional sense of entitlement that characterizes law enforcement – and that has been reinvigorated by the current occupant of the Oval Office.

Donald Trump has repeatedly describedthe privileged personalities who constitute the state’s punitive caste as “the most mistreated people” in society. In a recent exercise in self-pity publishedby the cyber-journal Law Officer, Major Travis Yates of the Tulsa Police Department embellishes Trump’s claim, complaining that law enforcement officers are the victims of what he calls “The New Discrimination in America.”

“We see police officers being assaulted,” insisted Yates. “We see police officers being murdered. And much of it, is just because they wear a uniform.”

Police officers are occasionally assaulted, and on austerely rare occasions murdered on-duty – much less frequently, as it happens, than they were under the reign of the last self-described law-and-order president, Ronald Reagan. Those who lend credence to Yates’s jeremiad, however, would believe that the desecrated bodies of police officers can be found dangling from hanging trees throughout the length and breadth of this hate-intoxicated, ungrateful land.

“From slavery to the KKK to Jim Crow laws, nothing much has changed in this country,” he intones. “We continue to hate and we continue to kill and the only difference now is we are doing it to those in uniform.”

This ambient violence sometimes leads people to shun police officers in restaurants, or call them “vile and hateful names.” A similarly grievous illustration of what he invites the reader to pretend is unconscionable anti-cop bigotry was an executive order by Barack Obama placing modest limits on the transfer of war-fighting materiel from the Pentagon to local police agencies.

Like many others in the self-described Blue Lives Matter movement, Major Yates confuses a chosen occupation – one involving the state-sanctioned exercise of aggressive violence -- with an innate characteristic. He also ignores the critical distinctions between hateful and spiteful verbal abuse -- on one hand -- and the forceful criticism of officials who are, or at least should be, accountable to the public they claim to serve.

Yates does understand the essential nature of the occupation he has chosen. In a previous essay, he complained that citizens who are urging police to rediscover the lost skill of de-escalation in encounters with citizens are demanding that “police stop being police.”

Yeah, they're just like victims of Jim Crow.
“Follow the commands of a police officer, or risk dying,” Yates snarled, expressing the discretionary power to kill that was not enjoyed or exercised by slaves or those subject to Jim Crow laws.  From his perspective, only aberrant bigotry could motivate those who take issue with the fact that police consider themselves invested with that power, or criticize them when its exercise is manifestly indefensible.

Once clad in the habiliments of the state’s punitive priesthood, police expect and demand deference from Mundanes. Recent studies conducted by a team of cognitive neuroscientists at McMaster University suggest that the mere act of donning the official costume alters the way those thus attired – in this case, students, rather than police officers – view people who are regarded as socially marginal or otherwise “problematic.”

It is incontestable that once an individual swaddles himself in police attire he begins to assess everyone who surrounds him in terms of potential threats to “officer safety.” It is likewise clear that the relatively modest occupational risks of police officers are amplified by the requirement that they enforce measures that are innately illegitimate.

Missouri State Trooper Beau Ryun, to cite a perfectly suitable recent example, was “assaulted” by 22-year-old Jonathan Timmons during a recent traffic stop, and was rescued by the intervention of a motorist named Charles Barney and a 74-year-old woman identified only as “Sandra.” That’s as far as the story will be recounted in most re-tellings: A heroic paladin of public order was viciously attacked, and was rescued by two “civilians,” who have been nominated for “honorary trooper awards.”

Little if any attention will be paid to the prelude of this altercation.

Timmons, a resident of New York State, was not suspected of an actual crime against person or property. He was stopped by Trooper Ryun because of a “lane violation.” If the vehicle had not displayed out-of-state license plates, it’s quite possible that Ryun would have ignored this trivial transgression. Owing to the perverted priorities of prohibition, however, traffic infractions of this kind are coveted, because they provide opportunities for drug arrests and asset forfeiture.

Timmons, unfortunately, was far too cooperative following Ryun’s pretext stop, agreeing to sit in the patrol vehicle while the trooper conducted a consent search. When Ryun reached for the handcuffs, Timmons decided to fight back. His offense was morally indistinguishable from that of an escaped slave who “assaulted” an officer enforcing the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law – Deputy U.S. Marshal James Batchelder, to cite one example.

Batchelder was killed by an abolitionist posse seeking to liberate a man named Anthony Burns, who had been “lawfully” arrested by the marshal for rendition to the Virginia man who claimed to “own” him. Yes, Burns violated the “law” by escaping from involuntary servitude. In similar fashion, Timmons broke the “law” by being in possession of marijuana, and by resisting state-sanctioned abduction by an armed stranger.

Deputy Marshal Batchelder’s name is inscribed on the honor roll of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. Those who compile such rosters do not inquire into the legitimacy of the statutes whose enforcement led to the deaths thus tabulated, or consider whether killing or dying to enforce them is justifiable.

Timmons faces six criminal charges, including felonious assault on a “special victim.” Yes, Missouri is among the SSRswithin the American soyuz that formally designate police as a “specially protected class.” Over the past two years, law and order conservatives who otherwise abhor the concept of “hate crimes” have proposed, and sometimes enacted, hate crimes statutes that enhance penalties for crimes against police officers.

In Louisiana, for example, citizens can now be charged with a “hate crime” under that state’s Blue Lives Matter statute, which was signed into law last year. Two bills being reconciled in the Mississippi State Legislature would have the same impact.

House Bill 645, titled the “Back the Badge Act of 2017,” would triple the penalties for committing an act of violence against law enforcement officers or other first responders (who are included in the bill in order to expand its constituency, not because of an outbreak of violence against firefighters or EMTs). A similar measure, Senate Bill 2469, the “Blue, Red, and Med Lives Matter Act,” has passed that chamber of the state Legislature. That bill designates police and other first responders as a specially protected class for the purpose of hate crimes prosecution. Mississippi state law currently doubles penalties for crimes targeting people belonging to specially protected classes.
 Caesar keeps the Praetorians happy.
The Fraternal Order of Police and other police unions have been agitating for federal “hate crimes” legislation for the benefit of law enforcement, and Donald Trump is eager to oblige them. His recent executive order instructs newly installed Procurator General Jeff Sessions to “pursue appropriate legislation … that will define new Federal crimes, and increase penalties for existing Federal crimes, in order to prevent violence against Federal, State, tribal and local law enforcement officers.”

With three exceptions – piracy, counterfeiting, and treason – “federal crimes” do not exist under the constitutional framework, which likewise does not authorize the federal government to investigate and punish violations of state laws. Self-described constitutionalists once regarded such considerations as important.

Just months ago, the “law and order” constituency was denouncing the President of the United States for seeking to “federalize” law enforcement. Now that same cohort is offering full-throated approval of the president’s eagerness to expand federal involvement in local law enforcement – and to federalize prosecution of people accused of criminal offenses resulting from encounters like the one involving Jonathan Timmons and Trooper Ryun.

After spending Barack Obama’s reign denouncing his regime as the distillate of despotism, right-collectivists are eagerly applauding the enhancement of state power under a president with whom they can identify.

Statists of all varieties remain committed to Lenin’s formula, under which the fundamental political question is “who does what to whom.” The “what” in that equation – the exercise of essentially illimitable state power – remains intact; the “who” and “whom” have simply exchanged places. Somewhere in hell, Lenin is kvelling.


The same Regime that promises border security has been known to vet refugees for the purpose of recruiting terrorists -- but what should we expect from a system based on demographic central planning? This week's Freedom Zealot Podcast:



Please be sure to check out the Libertarian Institute.







Dum spiro, pugno!





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Strangle the Bastard Child of Prohibition: Abolish the ATF!

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 01:25

Whatever would we do without helpful people like this goon?

Acting on its unerring instinct for expanding its own power while exacerbating the suffering of its subjects, the federal government, at the request of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and with the approval of President Trump, is planningto deploy a contingent from the entityknown as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (commonly called the ATF) to Chicago.  

This will do nothing to abate the problem of violent crime in the Second City, but will provide the agency with continued rationale for its misbegotten existence – which, as it happens, began in that same city decades ago.

The ATF was born as the Bureau of Prohibition – a brief experiment in federal behavior control that was made possible by the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution. Chicago native Elliot Ness, an inveterate self-promoter, headedmuch-celebrated bootlegging task force that spent six months raiding Al Capone’s breweries, which was in effect a price-support program for one of the gangster’s few morally sound enterprises.

Self-mythologizing fraud Elliot Ness.
Ness and his underlings eventually compiled a 5,000-count bootlegging indictment against Capone, which the US Attorney politely ignored as he filed tax-evasion charges that eventually brought about the gangster’s imprisonment – and enhanced the power of the immeasurably deadlier criminal syndicate called the IRS. 

When the 18th Amendment was repealed, the Prohibition Bureau lost any rationale for its lawful existence – yet rather than being abolished, it was rechristened and given an even more expansive mandate.

Over the past 25 years, the ATF has been consistently mired in misconduct, often of a murderous nature. The April 1993 slaughter of the Branch Davidians in their sanctuary outside Waco, Texas began with an unnecessary ATF armed raid called “Operation Showtime” – which was staged to deflect attention from an internal corruption scandal. More recently the agency was involved in the “Operation Fast and Furious” imbroglio, in which it pressured federally licensed gun dealers to sell weapons to agents of Mexican cartels in a supposed sting operation.

In ways both grand and petty, the ATF has plagued and persecuted its betters. In one telling but long-forgotten episodemore than a decade ago, a college student in Georgia found himself surrounded by a thugscrum of ATF chair-moisteners – one of whom planted his knee upon the victim’s neck, placing the full measure of his tax-enhanced girth behind it – because he was seen wearing a ninja costume as part of a campus event. Unfortunately for the victim, that campus was temporarily infested by ATF hirelings who – no doubt between visits to the local brothels – were undergoing “Safe Streets Training.”


The ATF is an appendage of the Leviathan that exists without so much of an echo of a whisper of a hint of constitutional legitimacy, for the sole purpose of providing secure, albeit socially useless, employment for reprobates, criminals, and degenerates. No provision of the US Constitution authorizes any agency of the federal government to regulate alcohol, tobacco, or explosives, and the Second Amendment explicitly forecloses federal infringement of the right to own and carry firearms. This means that the ATF is literally a bastard agency carrying out an illegitimate mission.

The only useful activity for federal legislators consists of repealing existing statutes and abolishing federal agencies. Wisconsin Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, in defiance of all rational expectations for denizens of the political class, has made himself modestly useful by proposinga bill called the ATF Elimination Act that would impose an immediate hiring freeze at the agency and order its administrators to prepare a report on transferring its existing functions to the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and other departments.

“The ATF is a scandal-ridden, largely duplicative agency that has been branded by failure and lacks a clear mission,” declares Representative Sensenbrenner. Abolishing the ATF would be “a logical place to begin draining the swamp and acting in the best interest of the American Taxpayer.”

Regrettably, Sensenbrenner’s bill would merely channel the institutional feculence of the ATF into two other federal agencies that are badly in need of abolition. Agencies of that kind will endure while there are lives to ruin and liberties to infringe -- and those on the receiving end of its malign attention are willing to countenance their continued existence.

This week's Freedom Zealot Podcast: There are two varieties of "Trump Derangement Syndrome" -- and both of them are inimical to individual liberty --




Please visit the Libertarian Institute -- and share it with your friends!






Dum spiro, pugno!
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Don't Trigger Sheriff Snowflake -- Or He May Have You Killed

Sat, 01/28/2017 - 12:01




Sheriff David Clarke of Wisconsin’s Milwaukee County is the most fragile of precious snowflakes, and one of the most self-enraptured petty tyrants in recent American history. 
While settling in for a January 15 flight from Dallas to Milwaukee, Clarke – attired in Dallas Cowboys fan regalia – was asked by fellow passenger Dan Black if he was, indeed, the sheriff. When Clarke grunted in the affirmative, Black shook his head in well-earned disgust and proceeded to his seat. From behind, Black heard the truculent tax-feeder ask if he had a “problem,” to which the puzzled man shook his head in reply.
When Black disembarked at Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport, he was surrounded by a thugscrum of Clarke’s deputies, who detained and questioned him regarding his views of their boss. Black remained in custody until he was escorted from the airport. 
After Black filed a complaint with the county commission, Clarke published the document on his department’s Facebook page – supplementing it with a threat to assault any other Mundane who gives him a dirty look. 
“Next time he or anyone else pulls this stunt on a plane they may get knocked out,” advised the sheriff’s office. “The sheriff said he does not have to wait for some goof to assault him. He reserves the reasonable right to pre-empt a possible assault.”
A non-verbal gesture of disapproval is sufficient to trigger Sheriff Snowflake, who will summon his armed employees to enforce his safe space. 

Threats of violence like the one made on Clarke’s behalf by his department have been prosecuted under 18 USC 875[c], which makes it a federal felony to threaten to injure someone if that threat is transmitted in “interstate commerce.” 
Since Black is a witness in an active investigation that could lead to criminal charges, threatening him could also be construed as witness intimidation. (Idaho resident Matthew Townsend faced a patently spurious witness intimidation charge for publishing a Facebook post urging a police officer who had arrested him without justification to testify truthfully in a pre-trial hearing.)
Surrendering himself unconditionally to his irrepressible adolescent impulses, the sexagenarian sheriff compounded his felonious behavior with an overt threat to murder his victim. Clarke instructed his subordinates to create a meme of Black containing the caption: “Cheer up, snowflake – if Sheriff Clarke were to really harass you, you wouldn’t be around to whine about it.” 
The Milwaukee County Commission’s ethics board is investigating Black’s complaint – and Clarke, behaving like a generalissimo in a third world junta, has ordered his deputies to obstruct the investigation, claiming that the commission doesn’t have the authority to investigate his office. 
“In an act of political grandstanding, the political witch hunt continues by Democrat politicians and operatives,” pouted Clarke. “This is nothing more than an attempt to harass and bully Sheriff Clarke. This is fake news.” 
Like too many others in his disreputable occupation, Clarke has mastered the art of simultaneously swaggering and simpering. He displays a similarly contradictory nature regarding his concept of “authority” – whence it came, and in whom it resides. 
In chapter nine of his forthcoming ghostwritten book “Cop Under Fire,” Clarke answers a question nobody of consequence ever asked: “Why do I salute the audience when I speak?”“I’m old school,” Clarke’s ghostwriter says on his behalf. “In our representative democracy, elected officials are not sovereign. You the people are sovereign. In keeping with military custom, it is incumbent on the subordinate officer to salute and render that salute first, to the superior officer. I consider myself the subordinate officer. That’s why I salute my audience, because they are in charge” – at least when that gesture serves the purpose of political stagecraft. 
In every other context, Clarke clearly regards “civilians” as subordinate to the supposed authority of the state’s enforcement caste. 
On page 241 of his book, the sheriff protests that elected officials “who have not been a cop one day in their life” have no right to demand reforms of internal disciplinary procedures. Police officers accused of abusing citizens – even when such abuse results in the clearly unlawful death of a Mundane – can only be sanctioned by superiors within their caste, Clarke insists. As for Mundanes themselves, in any encounter with a member of the state’s punitive priesthood, they are to consider themselves the property of the officer until and unless he condescends to release them.
“When a law enforcement officer gives you a lawful command, obey it even if you disagree,” Clarke lectures his readers without explaining how a “subordinate” can “lawfully” give commands to a “superior.” “Though cops don’t have the final say, they have the final say in the moment within the law.” 
Those who challenge that arrangement face potentially fatal consequences, he advises, referring to several cases illustrating that point, such as the murder of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehmann, an individual whose timorousness and ineptitude made him unsuitable for any occupation involving the use of firearms. 
Rice, who was carrying a pellet gun in a state where open carry of actual firearms is legal, was slaughtered by Loehmann two seconds after the officer and his partner pulled up to him in a public park. 
Clarke insists that Rice – who, unlike Loehmann, was “within the law” -- was to blame for his own death because he “didn’t think he had to obey the cops when they yelled, `Put your hands up.’” He ignores the fact that Rice didn’t have time to comply, because he simply cannot concede that an officer can ever be at fault in a deadly force incident. 

Clarke is among the most shameless of Donald Trump’s jock-riders, and he blatantly campaigned to be appointed Commissar for Homeland Security prior to the selection of General John Kelly for the post. 

Like Trump, Clarke – who styles himself “The People’s Sheriff” -- appears to embrace an idiot child’s version of Rousseau’s “social contract” concept: He sees himself as the embodiment of the “will of the people,” empowered to act in the name of the collective and accountable only to his own infallible insights regarding the collective will. Thus when it appeared last fall that Trump might lose the election, Clarke overtly called for insurrectionary violence – and after his god-emperor prevailed, Clarke has repeatedly called to crush all who oppose his reign – as well as indefinitely detaining up to one million people in Gitmo as suspected terrorists.
In both intellect and temperament, Clarke differs little from millions of other men of a certain age who enjoy juvenile dick-measuring displays and find partisan political conflict more effective than Viagra. What distinguishes him from the wretched likes of Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity (who is busily working his crayons to scribble out a foreword to Clarke’s book) is that Clarke has acknowledged his willingness to murder someone who offends him – and he has the means to make good on such threats.

Listen to this week's Freedom Zealot Podcast for more on the misadventures of Sheriff Snowflake:



Please check out the Libertarian Institute -- and be sure to tell your friends.




Dum Spiro, pugno!


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The Slow-Motion State Murder of Michael Whiteley

Sat, 01/21/2017 - 00:43


 The "Black Widow of Bonneville County": Silvia Canido, seen here in Bolivia.

Facing the prospect of life in prison – and the plausible threat of execution – Idaho Falls resident Michael Whiteley had every conceivable reason to plead guilty to a charge of second-degree kidnapping, save one: He didn’t commit the crime. 
“I have to plead not guilty, Your Honor,” Whiteley toldBonneville County District Judge Marvin Smith just minutes after being offered a plea bargainthrough which he would have avoided prison altogether. “I had originally intended to plead the other way, but now that I sit here and run it through my heart and my mind, I don’t feel, your honor, that it is right to lie.”
A few weeks earlier, Whiteley had been charged with first-degree kidnapping and rape, and heard a Bonneville County deputy prosecutor inform the judge that “although we are not seeking the death penalty in this case, kidnapping is also punishable by death – first degree kidnapping.” Judge Smith himself had agreed that “This is potentially a death penalty case,” owing to the allegation that Whiteley had committed serious harm to the supposed victim – his ex-wife, known at the time as Silvia Canido.

In the lead-up to Michael's May 1991 trial, the Bonneville County Prosecutor's Office was disqualified from the case because of the misconduct of the assigned prosecutor, John Stosich. Deputy Idaho Attorney General Jack Haycock, who was given the case, offered Michael a deal in which he would plead guilty to one count of second-degree kidnapping, and the court would retain jurisdiction while he spent four months undergoing rehabilitation at the Cottonwood drug and alcohol treatment facility. 
 Composite portrait of Silvia and Michael.
If Whiteley had been burdened with the guilty knowledge that he had committed the hideous crimes of which he stood accused, he would have eagerly accepted that deal. The most urgent priority for a guilty man in such circumstances, after all, is to avoid punishment – which he could have done by accepting the plea bargain. For a wrongfully accused man in the same situation, the most urgent task is to clear his name. 

In a case that depended entirely on an assessment of the relative credibility of the accuser and the defendant, Whiteley’s choice to confront the charges, rather than avoid them on absurdly generous terms, should have been dispositive evidence of his innocence. Similarly compelling corroboration is offered by the fact that the Idaho AG’s office was willing to offer that deal: If Deputy AG Haycock sincerely believed that Whiteley had kidnapped and raped a woman, and that he had the evidence to prove those accusations, he acted with culpable irresponsibility in making that offer. 

The only direct “evidence” against Whiteley consisted of the uncorroborated, and self-contradictory, story told by the accuser. Canido refused to submit to a medical examination, which means that no physical evidence of rape was ever produced. 

Where is the evidence?
The report filed by Idaho Falls Police Officer who interviewed Canido following Whiteley’s January 16, 1991 arrest, did not contain any mention of a rape accusation: “Don’t ask me,” the officer exclaimed when queried about that astonishing oversight during cross-examination. The officer also claimed to have seen a large bruise on Canido’s inner thigh, but did not photograph the alleged wound – and when asked about it by defense counsel Stevan Thompson could not recall which thigh displayed the alleged lesion. 

At the time of Whiteley’s arrest, he was visiting Canido’s home after returning with her from a trip to southern Utah. He had just endured a severe beating at the hands of Raquel Gonzalez, Canido’s mother, who had attacked him with a baseball bat. When the police arrived, Whiteley was arrested for supposedly violating a protective order that Canido had obtained the previous November – and had asked to be rescinded shortly thereafter.

As a result of either simple incompetence or a very peculiar sense of humor, that protective order specified that it would expire on February 6, 1990– nearly a year before Whiteley was arrested for violating it. Thus the arrest was invalid. 

Once he had Whiteley in custody, the arresting officer – using the familiar tactics of his disreputable trade – tried to elicit Whiteley’s “cooperation” to “clear up” the matter, without telling him that he was trying to build a case to send him to prison. The officer parried Whiteley’s demand for an attorney by saying that it was “too early” to get one, and that if the hostage (meaning Whiteley, not Silvia) were cooperate things would work out much better. He extracted Whiteley’s signature on a Miranda waiver form, and then produced what was called a “voluntary” statement from Whiteley.

Whiteley refused to sign that statement. So the officer forged the signature of his hostage – and then lied about the matter in a pre-trial hearing. Despite being caught in an act of deliberate perjury, and changing his insistent initial testimony after he was confronted with the original document, the officer’s version of events was accepted by Judge Smith, who commended him for his “demeanor” and “credibility.”

The officer who headed the Whiteley investigation was the now-notorious IFPD Sergeant Jared Fuhriman, who used the case to test many of the same tactics that he would later use to engineer the false confession, and wrongful murder conviction, of Christopher Tapp. 

A bizarre relationship




Whiteley and Canido had met the previous August when the vivacious 33-year-old Bolivian immigrant answered his ad for help in cleaning a house. Whiteley had moved to Idaho Falls from Las Vegas amid the break-up of his marriage to his wife of 17 years, Dineen. 

Canido claimed to have fled an abusive husband named Carlos Almanza, to whom she was still legally married. That fact didn’t prevent her from initiating a relationship with Whiteley, talking her way into accompanying him on a trip to visit his foster parents in Salmon, Idaho. 

Her overt displays of physical affection toward Whiteley made his hosts uncomfortable. At one point during the return trip to Idaho Falls, Candido – who was driving – reached over to kiss Whiteley, and while doing so caused a nearly fatal accident. 


Although Canido appeared besotted with Whiteley (“Te amo, Te amo, Te amo, Te amo, Te amo, Te amo, Te amo,  Te amo, Te amo, Te amo, Te amo, Te amo, Te amo, Te amo mucho!” she wrote in a birthday card shortly after the accident), her mother despised him and repeatedly threatened Canido with deportation and the loss of her children unless she broke off the relationship. Under pressure from both her mother and members of the local Mormon congregation she was attending, Canido filed several protective orders against Whiteley – which she violated by persistently calling him and driving past his home. 

On October 20, 1990, Whiteley and Canido were married in Elko, Nevada by Justice of the Peace Jack B. Ames. Canido had filed for dissolution of her marriage from Carlos Almanza, but was still legally married to him. When they returned to Idaho Falls, Michael and Silvia began attending the Idaho Falls Calvary Baptist Church. Given that he had just ended a long marriage, and she had committed what Idaho considered a felony by contracting a bigamous marriage, they were in need of spiritual advice, which Pastor Herb Stoneman was anxious to provide. 

During the course of several conversations, Stoneman testified, Canido “told me … that she was under pressure from her mother and her [Mormon] Bishop to end her relationship with Mike Whiteley…. [She] told me that she was personally beginning to move away from her mother and the LDS Church which had been [dominating] her life…. [S]he was having difficulty handling the pressure from her mother and her Bishop.” 

“Sundown Bail”
The marriage of Michael Whiteley and Silvia Canido lasted twenty-six days. Two days after the November 15 dissolution decree, Canido filed a complaint claiming that she was receiving harassing phone calls from Whiteley’s 14-year-old son, Jay. 

At the time, Whiteley was out of town on a truck driving gig, so he wasn’t around when Canido, in the company of Idaho Falls Police Officer Rick Hansen, visited Jay, pulled a knife, and threatened to attack him. Despite witnessing a violent felony, Officer Hansen didn’t arrest the assailant. Instead he blithely suggested that Whiteley and his mother could take up the matter with the prosecutor’s office. 

Officer Hansen, Canido would later claim, exploited the leverage he gained by declining to file charges against her by manipulating her into having sex with him – which would constitute both kidnapping and rape. 

That Hansen was less that zealous in protecting citizens from violent crime is documented in his own report. The fact that Canido became pregnant sometime in mid-November suggests that her claim to have had sex with him is plausible, but there was at least one other candidate – Keith McCabe, a younger man with whom she had already begun a relationship while she was still married to Whiteley. 

The only evidence that Hansen extorted sex from Canido is the accusation she made in a September 1999 letter in which she also recanted her accusations against Whiteley – who by that time had been in prison for more than eight years. If her unsubstantiated accusations against Whiteley were sufficient to win a conviction – and, if the prosecution had sought it, the death penalty – wouldn’t the same be true of now-retired Idaho Falls Police Officer Rick Hansen? 

When Whiteley returned to Idaho Falls in November 1990, he soon found himself in jail for violating protective orders filed on Canido’s behalf. He was also charged with aggravated assault after Canido – who had just threatened his son with a knife in the presence of a police officer – filed a criminal complaint claiming that she had been the victim in an identical alleged incident to which there were no witnesses. 
 Ex-prosecutor, and ex-con, Mason.
Shortly before Christmas, he was summoned to the office of Bonneville County Prosecutor Kimball Mason (who would later serve a prison term for trafficking in stolen firearms) and presented with an ultimatum: He could avoid criminal prosecution only if he left Idaho forever. 

This arrangement, which Kimball called “sundown bail,” was never the subject of a court order; it was an extra-judicial act of prosecutorial presumption. Nonetheless, after Whiteley was arrested in January, deputy prosecutor John Stosich lied during a bail hearing by describing it as a court order, trying to get Whiteley to admit to violating a previous court order in an effort to deny him bail. 

When Whiteley’s defense attorney pointed out the deception to the judge, Stosich – displaying high-viscosity dishonesty remarkable even for a prosecutor – claimed that because he and his boss had deceived Whiteley into thinking “sundown bail” was granted by a judge he should be punished for violating a non-existent court order. Judge Smith was receptive to that argument. He also dismissed defense protests that Whiteley’s January 16, 1991 arrest was unlawful because the protective order had expired: What mattered in that case, Smith insisted, was that Officer Furhiman believed that the order was valid, or at least that he claimed to. 

Whiteley was strongly motivated to leave Idaho Falls, and he made arrangements to move back to Nevada. This included a job offer from a bail enforcement firm that had previously employed him. (This is why he was in possession of an inoperable stun gun, which would eventually play an important role in the fanciful narrative concocted by the prosecution during his subsequent trial.) Knowing that it was risky to do so, he returned to Idaho Falls to begin preparations to move his children back to Nevada. This meant that he once again came in contact with Canido – who announced that she was pregnant and demanded that he take her to Salt Lake City for an abortion.

Three trips and a criminal charge
Canido’s initial story was that Whiteley was the child’s father, a claim that doesn’t match up with the timeline. Whiteley would later say that she confided to him that Officer Hansen had impregnated her. Acting in a way that defies rational explanation, Whiteley consented to take her to Utah. 

The couple wound up making three trips in January 1991. The first two were made to procure the death of Canido’s unborn child; she balked the first time, then went through with the procedure on the second. By this time, Canido had convinced Whiteley to take her to Las Vegas in the hope of meeting friends of his who could lend her money. That trip ended in Cedar City, Utah, because of inclement weather. Both of them were seen by several people, including a former high school principal who had known Whiteley several years earlier. Several other witnesses saw an unaccompanied Canido while Whiteley was getting gas or tending to other matters, was seen. None of them saw any evidence that she was his prisoner, or that she was desperate to escape a depraved rapist. 

In the couple’s absence, Canido’s mother and several members of the Mormon ward she had attended contacted the police – which led to the arrest on January 16. At some point while Whiteley was in custody for allegedly violating the expired civil protection order, Officer Fuhriman and the Bonneville County Prosecutor’s Office decided to charge him with rape and kidnapping. 

While Whiteley was in jail, Canido made several attempts to contact him. On the morning following his arrest, Whiteley called Canido – unaware that deputy prosecutor Stositch was in her living room with a tape recorder, and was prompting her to ask questions intended to solicit self-incriminating responses. 
 Judge Smith.
All Whiteley heard on his end were repeated demands for an apology – which he was willing to give if Canido dropped the charges and left him alone. What he didn’t hear was Stosich whispering to her, “Ask him if he apologizes for the rape.”

By this time, Stosich and his boss had been notified that Whiteley was represented by a public defender, which meant that they were breaking the law by using Canido as an interrogator. Despite his habitual deference to the prosecution, Judge Smith ruled that Sotisch had recruited Canido as a “state agent” through his ventriloquist routine, and excluded the tape recording containing the fabricated pseudo-confession. He also disqualified the Bonneville County Prosecutor’s Office for its misconduct. 

Without corroborating testimony from eyewitnesses, physical evidence from a rape kit, or a confession from Whiteley, the prosecution’s case rested entirely on Canido’s accusations – which she expanded and redefined with practically every sentence she uttered. At one point she startled the prosecutor, Idaho deputy Attorney General Haycock, by claiming that Whiteley had “forced” her to marry him, and had raped her several times between August and December of the previous year.

A verdict without deliberation
The jury was sent out on a Friday evening after being instructed by Judge Smith that reasonable doubt could be overcome if what he called “an inner feeling that directs your understanding” indicated the defendant’s guilt. That facially unreasonable jury instruction was tailored to fit the prejudices of a Mormon jury dealing with a non-Mormon defendant: In the Mormon faith, key truth claims are confirmed through an “inner feeling” that is described as the workings of the Holy Spirit. 

Hungry, tired, and eager to dispose of the unpleasant business before it ruined their weekend, the jury “deliberated” for less than two hours before convicting Whiteley. When contacted later by private investigator Mel Daniels, several jurors explained that they weren’t fully persuaded by the prosecution’s case, but that they thought Whiteley looked “mean.” 

“It didn’t help his cause any by looking so mean and staring at the jury,” complained Gwynn Miller, who was appointed as foreperson despite the fact that she attended the same Mormon ward as the supposed victim – a fact that was made known to Judge Smith during the trial. “I felt that we were all intimidated by him.” 

What Miller and the other jurors saw was not malice, but the righteous fury of an innocent man. Despite the fact that they were unconvinced of his guilt, the jury apparently believed a brief prison term would be suitable punishment for his visible lack of docility. They were astonished when Smith, insisting that Whiteley was incorrigible, imposed what amounted to a life sentence. 

Bear in mind that just three days earlier Smith had been willing to accept a plea bargain that would have kept Whiteley out of prison entirely. As is so often the case, Smith’s sentence reflected the “trial tax” inflicted by such functionaries on citizens who insist on defending themselves in court. 

Five years after being sent to prison, Whiteley persuaded Seventh District Judge Brent Moss to convene a post-conviction hearing in which he and appellate counsel John Radin presented much of the evidence that had been neglected during the trial. This included Pastor Stoneman and other witnesses who had seen a happy, apparently loving couple during several incidents in which Canido was supposedly Whiteley’s hostage. Moss also accepted into evidence the translated transcription of a tape recorded October 1990 phone call in which Canido defiantly told her mother that she intended to marry Whiteley. The mother responded by accusing Whiteley of being a rapist, and threated to arrange the seizure of Canido’s children and her deportation to Bolivia. 
Called to testify in the post-conviction hearing, Canido was asked simply to repeat her original trial testimony. Rather than doing so, she invoked the Fifth Amendment seventy times. She did so at the explicit urging of her attorney, who was concerned about a potential perjury charge.  Judge Moss On January 7, 1997, Judge Moss issued an ordersetting aside Whiteley’s conviction and ordering a new trial. Asked about that development, Sergeant Jared Furhiman paused from his effort to frame Christopher Tapp to express outrage that one of his previous victims would be given an opportunity for exoneration. Fuhriman was doubtless consoled – and relieved – by the Idaho Supreme Court ruling that overturned Judge Moss’s order. 
The decision to grant a new trial, Moss explained in a letter to the Idaho State Judicial Council, was made necessary by “Ms. Canido’s evasiveness in answering questions during the post-conviction hearing. Although Ms. Canido did not recant her trial testimony I was left with the uneasy feeling that justice was not served by the original verdict and that a new trial was appropriate. I am still of that same opinion.”
Yes, she recanted
Moss wrote that letter nearly six years ago. Since that time, new evidence has emerged verifying that Canido did recant her accusations in two letters she wrote in September 1999 – the same letters in which she accused former IFPD Officer Rick Hansen of abducting and raping her. 
Canido, who had committed bigamy by marrying Michael Whiteley in October 1990, married Keith McCabe after Whiteley was arrested. She remained married to McCabe until 2005, when she met a wealthy, elderly widower named John Commander, whom she married in 2006. That marriage was annulled within weeks after Commander’s adult children showed him that Canido was leeching him dry. Still on the make: Canido in Bolivia. During a May 8, 2007 deposition in the annulment proceedings, Canido was asked about the September 1999 letters of recantation. She adamantly refused to answer any questions about those letters, or the Whiteley conviction – until just before the deposition ended at about five o’clock that evening. 
“Did you sign them?” asked Commander’s attorney, Jeffrey W. Banks.
“The guy made me sign and I am not going to answer any more,” Canido angrily replied, thereby authenticating the recantation letters even as she pretended that the long-imprisoned Whiteley had somehow “made” her sign them. A few months later, she fled back to Bolivia, where she remains. 
Michael Whiteley is scheduled for a parole hearing on January 25. Even if he were granted parole – which will not happen unless he ratifies his wrongful conviction by acknowledging guilt – he cannot recover the decades that were stolen from him.
In 1991, the State of Idaho threatened to murder Whiteley unless he confessed to a crime he didn’t commit. Twenty-six years later, it is making good on that threat, albeit in sadistically incremental fashion.                                                        This week's Freedom Zealot Podcast

If Kenneth Lee Drew had been a cop enforcing state edicts, rather than a repo man defending property rights, he would have gotten a commendation following a pursuit in which a thief killed herself. Not protected by "Blue Privilege," he is going to prison, instead:


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When A Fugitive Dies, "Blue Privilege" Makes All the Difference

Sun, 01/15/2017 - 11:48




Pleasant Grove, Utah resident Ashleigh Holloway Best killed herself in the early hours of May 17, 2016 when she lost control of the stolen 2002 Lincoln Navigator she was driving and plowed it into a tree. The man who was pursuing the thief, Kenneth Lee Drew, was the authorized representative of the vehicle’s lawful owner. On January 11, Drew was sentenced to prisonbecause the thief foolishly killed herself. 
If Drew had been a government-employed law enforcement officer, rather than a private repossession agent, he would likely have received a hazardous duty commendation following Best’s admittedly tragic death. After all, police officers in Utah and elsewhere routinely use lethal force in dealing with citizens who seek to avoid being physically “repossessed” by agents of the state that supposedly owns them. Most of those cases don’t involve people being pursued for actual crimes, such as automobile theft. 
Like too many families, the Bests had been overwhelmed by financial reverses and had fallen behind in their car payments. They reportedly were helping care for ailing relatives, and had only one family vehicle. The desperation that gave rise to Ashleigh’s self-destructive decision is as understandable as her actions were inexcusable. 
By giving pursuit once Best fled with a car she no longer lawfully owned, Drew acted imprudently. It has never been proven that he deliberately forced Best off the road at the end of the chase, which would have been both criminally irresponsible and self-defeating. In addition to the fact that it is perverse to risk killing someone to recover a stolen car, ramming a vehicle one is seeking to repossess makes no economic sense. It’s likely that Drew’s regrettable decision was a product of frustration, rather than malice.
Foolish choice, tragic death: Ashleigh Best. If he had called the police to report an auto theft, the outcome for Best might well have been identical – but the state operative whose actions led to the fatal crash would be protected by the pernicious legal fiction called “qualified immunity.” That privilege enjoyed by state-licensed plunderers is not extended to private property recovery agents, whose jobs are both unpleasant and frequently dangerous
“There was [sic] lots of mistakes made that night,” insisted Brennan Best, Ashleigh’s widower, after Drew was sentenced. “I don’t think what was done [to Ashleigh] was done on purpose. But I do believe we all need to be accountable for our own actions.”
Drew made a horrible, perhaps unforgivable, mistake. Brennan and Ashleigh Best conspired to commit a crime – theft through fraud.
According to the investigative summary in Drew’s indictment, when he arrived at about midnight to reclaim property for which the Bests were no longer making contractually required payments, Brennan interfered with the repossession and demanded an opportunity to make a new arrangement with the creditor. Drew agreed with that proposal, and began processing the necessary forms. While the repo agent was thus preoccupied, Best covertly instructed his wife to take the automobile to a relative’s home. 
At that point, Mr. Best became an accomplice in grand larceny: At that point, pending completion of a new payment plan, the automobile was the property of the creditor. If Best had been sincere in his offer to Drew, there was no need to abscond with the vehicle. (In fact, if the couple had filed for Chapter 7bankruptcy, they could have avoided repossession of the Navigator.) 
After Ashleigh climbed into the car and sped off, Brennan, abetted the theft by “trying to place himself in front” of Drew’s tow truck “to prevent it from following the Navigator,” according to the police account. Ashleigh’s conduct suggests that her husband had instructed her to “drive it like you stole it” – which, in fact, was precisely what she had done. 
If her excursion had been innocent, the guilty-minded driver would not have endangered the lives of others by careening through residential streets at speeds of up to seventy miles an hour. Drew acted with culpable recklessness as well – but Brennan Best is criminallyliable in the death of his wife, whether or not state functionaries will admit as much. 
Unlike police officers in similar situations, Drew – a private peace officer enforcing a legitimate property rights claim – was not offered “Garrity” protections, which would have meant that his initial statement to police could only be used for disciplinary action, rather than criminal prosecution. Nor was he allowed the luxury of reviewing video records of the incident prior to speaking with investigators, another perk extended to police in Utah and elsewhere. 
Because of this, Drew’s grief-stricken, guilt-ridden disclosures were critically scrutinized by police eager to build a criminal case. If he had been a fellow member of the Punitive Priesthood, Drew’s equivocations and self-contradictions would have been seen as evidence of trauma, rather than proof of criminal intent. 
“I’ve never seen a repo agent be this aggressive,” insistedPleasant Grove Police Lt. Britt Smith shortly after Drew’s arrest. This is only true to the extent that Smith fails to perceive his costumed comrades as “repo agents” of a sort – because lethally aggressive tactics of the kind Drew allegedly used are quite commonplace. 

Investigators claimed, but have not proved, that Drew forced Best off the road using a variation of a PIT (Precision Immobilization Technique) maneuver. A PIT maneuver is to be used only in situations where deadly force is justified. Yet hyper-aggressive police in Utah employ that tactic frequently; one recentincident of that kind involved a driver suspected of driving while intoxicated. Another episode, interestingly, involved recovery of a stolen car.
Almost six years to the day before the avoidable, largely self-inflicted death of Ashleigh Best, South Jordan Police Officer Jared Nichols used a PIT maneuver in an effort to trap an SUV driven by Wade Pennington in a cul-de-sac. Pennington, who was on probation and had a court hearing scheduled a few days later, was being pursued without cause by Officers Nichols and Brett Lopez. The official story was that they suspected him of theft, but their supervisor, Sgt. Allen Crist, found no evidence to support that suspicion. 
Crist explicitly ordered Nichols not to pursue Pennington, but that order was ignored. “I’m going to take him out,” Nichols saidjust a few minutes before trapping Pennington. He and Lopez went “gun-up” to make a felony stop, despite the fact that their target was not suspected of a felony. 
After Nichols t-boned Pennington’s SUV, Lopez emerged with a drawn gun and screamed at the driver to “get on the ground – stay where I can see you.” At roughly the same time, Nichols unloaded on Pennington at point-blank range. Immediately after shooting the victim, Nichols snarled, “Freeze, Wade! I’m going to shoot you. Get down on the f***ing ground!”
Pennington was murdered – no other word is adequate – because he was trying to comply with Lopez’s demands. The officer who murdered him spat out two contradictory commands afterfiring the deadly shots. 
The last words Pennington heard were a sadistic taunt hurled at him by Lopez: “You’re dead, mother****r!”


Nichols and Lopez were cleared by their department within 72 hours. Despite having the opportunity to refresh their memories by watching dashcam video of the chase and subsequent killing, the officers told stories that were self-contradictory, and contradicted each other. 
Lopez was eventually fired for violating the department’s high-speed chase policy, but never faced criminal prosecution. As a matter of equity, the same punishment would have been appropriate for Kenneth Drew, who violated his company’s policy by pursuing a vehicle he had been sent to repossess. The only other morally suitable option would have been for Lopez and Nichols to serve the same sentence imposed on Drew. 

Officer Nichols not only avoided prosecution, he was promoted. The murder of Wade Pennington was the second time Nichols had slaughtered an unarmed man after immobilizing his vehicle in a parking lot: He had followed almost exactly the same procedure in executing Darren Neil Greuber, who like Pennington was a parolee, in 2007. The investigating officer who had cleared Nichols in the Greuber killing, West Jordan PD Sergeant Michael S. Leary, performed the same right of absolution after Nicholas gunned down Pennington two years later.
As someone not invested with Blue Privilege and buoyed by the financial support of a police union, Drew was maneuvered into pleading guilty to manslaughter as part of a plea bargain in which prosecutors asked for a suspended prison sentence. 
Utah Fourth District Judge Robert Lunnen, a callow, vindictive jurist who had been on the bench for less than a month, discarded that plea agreement, imposing a sentence of one to fifteen years in prison. The obscenely severe sentence, I suspect, reflects the hostility of tax-fattened functionaries toward those who challenge the State’s monopoly on “justice.”

This week's Freedom Zealot Podcast examines the death of Ashleigh Best, the murder of Wade Pennington, and other examples official privilege:



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The Perverse Ingenuity, and Routine Lawlessness, of Law Enforcers

Wed, 01/11/2017 - 09:42




Enforcers of drug prohibition can be perversely ingenious in devising methods to subvert due process guarantees. One tactic widely employed by police officers looking for a way to circumvent the Fourth Amendment is to intimidate a subject into giving the officers permission to invade the rights of others – such as residents of an apartment building, or passengers in an automobile. That ruse has been rebuffed in two recent state Supreme Court rulings.

Police officers in Berlin, Connecticut who conducted a warrantless search of an apartment complex using a drug-detecting dog violated the Fourth Amendment, acknowledged a December 22ndruling from that state’s highest appellate court.

...but they can murder our dogs with impunity, natch. In May 2012, acting on an anonymous tip, police obtained permission from the owners and managers of an apartment complex to carry out what was called a “canine examination of the common areas of the building.” A drug-detecting dog named Zeusz was deployed in the hallway of each floor of the complex, and allowed to sniff at the bottom of each door. Zeusz displayed what is called a “passive alert” at unit 204, which prompted the officers to obtain a search warrant. This led to the discovery of several marijuana plants.

The Fourth Amendment’s definition of a reasonable search refers to a particular description of “the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”; this language was designed to forbid the kind of general warrants that were commonly used by British military and customs officials in the years immediately prior to the colonial rebellion. By getting the owners of the apartment complex to authorize a warrantless search – waiving the rights of dozens of people to be secure in their individual domiciles -- the Berlin Police behaved less like their British forebears than their antecedents in Communist East Germany.

The trial court threw out the evidence seized in that search as the product of a Fourth Amendment violation. The State of Connecticut appealed the case to the state Supreme Court, which upheld the trial court’s decision. The ruling cited a long string of federal judicial precedents – including a recent ruling in a very similar case from Florida – describing the use of warrantless “canine sniffs” as a violation of common law property rights and the un-enumerated right to personal privacy.

Given that dozens or scores of SWAT raids occur, on average, every day in the American Soyuz, it’s clear that Americans cannot look upon their homes as a refuge from government abuse. They are at even greater risk when exercising their freedom of movement, given the predatory conduct of opportunistic police agencies empowered to seize cash and other property in the name of drug prohibition.

Gerald Cleverly was a passenger in a pickup truck driven by his friend Chris Jones when El Dorado, Kansas Police officer Brent Michael Buckley stopped them for not wearing seat belts. Buckley would later admit that he had executed a pretext stop for the purpose of arranging a “consensual” search of the vehicle and its occupants. Both Jones and Cleverly submitted to a pat-down search – which they were not legally required to do – and nothing was found.

Buckley issued the citation, and then – employing a deceptive tactic taught by police training programs such as Desert Snow– he told the motorist that although he was free to go, the officer wanted to ask “a few more questions” and requested permission to search the truck.

The purpose of what Desert Snow operatives call the “Roadside Conversation” tactic is to elicit potentially incriminating details from drivers who are ignorant of the fact that they have no legal responsibility to tell the officer anything. This also extends the traffic stop beyond its constitutionally permissible limit, allowing the officer to devise an “articulable suspicion” of criminal activity that will supposedly justify a “drug sweep” by a conveniently available K-9 handler. This charade inevitably ends with the dog “alerting” on something “suspicious,” which provides an excuse for a hands-on search of the vehicle.

This script was followed by El Dorado PD officers Buckley and Sam Huming, with the minor adaptation that a K-9 unit wasn’t necessary.

A search of the interior of Jones’s vehicle turned up no evidence of contraband. Since the driver had “consented” on behalf of his passenger, Cleverly was ordered out of the car and subjected to a second pat-down search. He was told that he was not free to leave and forbidden to use his cell phone, which means that he was in police custody, despite the officers’ subsequent claims to the contrary. A search of a cigarette package found a small amount of methamphetamine.

Idaho State Police Road Pirate Justin Klitch in action. Cleverly was arrested and later found guilty of drug possession and sentenced to eighteen months of probation. The court dismissed a motion to suppress the drug evidence on the grounds that it was produced through a consensual search. The Kansas Supreme Court has now reversed Cleverly’s conviction.

The rights protected by the Fourth Amendment and its state equivalent, wrote the court’s majority, belong to the individual and are “not merely inconvenient technicalities designed to irritate government agents.” Furthermore, “A driver of a vehicle subjected to a traffic stop does not have the authority, as a matter of law, to waive the Fourth Amendment rights of passengers in the stopped vehicle.”

Judicial rulings of this kind, while welcome, have little practical impact on the conduct of police and the prosecutors who eagerly exploit routine police lawlessness. In her June, 2011 UC-Davis Law Review essay “The Police Gamesmanship Dilemma in Criminal Procedure,” Professor Mary D. Fan of the University of Washington School of Law points out that police departments are adept at finding ways to “slide around the rules” and can always develop “tactics that undermine the purpose of rules” established by the judiciary.

It is for this reason that most of the criminal misconduct that occurs on America’s thoroughfares is committed by people engaged in what Fan calls the “competitive enterprise of ferreting out crime” – where “crime” is described as violations of government edicts that have nothing to do with the protection of persons and property.

This week's Freedom Zealot Podcast: Debtor's prisons are illegal, yet ubiquitous in the American soyuz --



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Sheriffs as Slavemasters: Will Inmate Labor Be Used to Build Trump's Wall?

Fri, 01/06/2017 - 20:54




“Liberty, if I understand it at all, is a general principle, and the clear right of the subjects within the realm, or of none,” declaredBritish statesman Edmund Burke in an April 3, 1777 message to the Sheriffs of Bristol. “Partial freedom seems to me a most invidious mode of slavery. But, unfortunately, it is the kind of slavery the most easily admitted in times of civil discord: for parties are but too apt to forget their own future safety in their desire of sacrificing their enemies.”

The tyrannical measures that had provoked the American rebellion, wrote Burke, threatened liberty throughout Britain’s dominions. Once imposed in a time of crisis, he explained, they “may be advanced further and further at pleasure, on the same argument of mere expediency.”
Thomas Hodgson is a sheriff of Bristol -- in this case, Bristol County, Massachusetts -- and a very different kind of "public servant" from those to whom Burke sent his message. Indeed, he seems to embody the preference for authoritarian expediency that Burke condemned, as demonstrated by his suggestionthat the federal government should conscript prison labor to build Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.

Punitive poseur: Sheriff Hodgson“I can think of no other project that would have such a positive impact on our inmates and our country than building this wall,” insisted Hodgsonduring the swearing-in ceremony for his fourth term. “Aside from learning and perfecting construction skills, the symbolism of these inmates building a wall to prevent crime in their communities around the country, and to preserve jobs and work opportunities for them and other Americans upon release, can be very powerful.”

Hodgson usedhis inaugural speech to announce an initiative he calls Project N.I.C.E. – National Inmates’ Community Endeavors – through which prison convicts and inmates of county jails would provide what he calls “volunteer” labor for disaster relief and other government public works projects.

“We need to turn this country around and put law and order back in place,” insisted Hodgson. “That’s why today, I am making a formal offer to President-elect Trump that inmates from Bristol County and others from across the nation through Project N.I.C.E. will help build the wall.”

Hodgson’s call for a nation-wide levee en masseof prison labor assumes a steady supply of convicts – and the State excelsat making innocent people into criminal offenders.
Contrary to what Trump and his most eager acolytes would have us believe, there is no paucity of “law and order” in American society. The level of violent crime remains at or near an historic low, even as the prison population continues to expand.

Analyzing the available data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, New York Daily News reporter David J. Krajicek contrastednational crime statistics from 2014 – the last year for which they are available – and 1987. His survey found that the overall crime rate at that point in Reagan’s presidency was 612 instances of violence for every 100,000 people; in 2014; it was 365 per 100,000, a 40 percent decline. There were roughly 320,000 fewer violent crimes in 2014 than in 1987; one notable comparison is offered by the fact that there were 20,096 murder cases in 1987, and 14,249 in 2014.

Adjusted for our larger population, there was a fifty percent decline in robbery during the same period, and an overall 48 percent decline in property crime generally.
Similar trends are seen in the number of on-duty police officer deaths: During the Reagan era, the average annual rate of officer fatalities was 189, compared to 135 during the Obama presidency.  Last year, there were 140 on-duty fatalities, a little more than half of which (77) were homicides.

He beat the Clintons, but he won't rein in the police state. With the decline in crimes against both property and person, the State has turned to prohibition as a way of feeding its carceral apparatus. In 2015, arrests for marijuana possession outnumberedarrests for all violent crimes. This may be seen as either the final throes of a dying institution – or the beginning of its revival, under anti-marijuana obscurantist Jeff Sessions.

The population from which Hodgson would collect his slave labor force would be – overwhelmingly, if not exclusively -- non-violent offenders. Most of those conscripted from county jails would be hapless, economically marginal people incarcerated for petty violations of useless municipal ordinances, including those whose “offense” consisted of such things as failing to manicuretheir yards to the satisfaction of code enforcement officers.

Indeed, the reason such statutes were enacted to begin with was to provide a steady stream of fine-generated revenue, and a self-sustaining supply of inmate labor. This is documented in Douglas A. Blackmon's bookSlavery by Another Name. Blackmon's research led him to conclude that municipal ordinances in the post-Emancipation South were designed and enforced with the purpose of producing large pools of inmate labor to be leased to large corporate interests. Other versions of this analysis had been advanced earlier in criminologist Thorsten Sellin's studySlavery and the Penal System, and David Oshinsky's bookWorse Than Slavery.

Blackmon's account begins with the story of 22-year-old Green Cottenham, who was arrested for "vagrancy" by the sheriff of Shelby County, Alabama. "Vagrancy" was the stickiest of catch-all charges used to round up anyone unable "to prove at a given moment that he or she [was] employed."

At the time and place of Cottenham's arrest, the charge was most frequently used to justify the arrest of young black men, many of whom were itinerant workers seeking gainful employment. Cottenham was quickly convicted following a burlesque of a trial and sentenced to thirty days of hard labor.

In a fashion instantly familiarto most people incarcerated today, Cottenham was unable to pay an array of "fees" that accompanied his spurious incarceration. So the thirty-day sentence was quickly expanded to a full year. Immediately thereafter, Cottenham was "leased" -- or, as his parents, both of whom former slaves, would put it, sold -- to the Tennessee Coal, Iron, and Railroad Company, a subsidiary of U.S. Steel.
Another tragic case of SYLP syndrome. One of thousands of black men vended by sheriffs across Alabama, Cottenham was dispatched to work in Slope No. 12, a coal shaft that formed part of the Pratt Mines near Birmingham.

"Imprisoned in what was then the most advanced city of the South, guarded by whipping bosses employed by the most iconic example of the modern corporation emerging in the gilded North, [Cottenham and his co-workers] were slaves in all but name," observes Blackmon.

Thousands perished from disease, overwork, and accidents, their mortal remains interred in shallow graves not far from where they expired. All of this is seen as an indictment of a barbarous past we have supposedly transcended. But the system described by Blackmon -- opportunistic law enforcement feeding non-violent offenders into a penal system hard-welded to government-favored corporations – still exists.

Like Communist China, the American Soyuz has a Laogai (“reform through labor) prisonmanufacturing system. Working through Unicor, a public-private partnership created during the Great Depression to create "factories with fences," corporations employ prisoners to manufacture products from designer jeans to computer circuit boards.

The entities that profit from the American Laogai would be eager to participate in Donald Trump’s border wall project, which would be among the largest corporatist undertakings since the New Deal. Law and Order Leninists would be thrilled by the spectacle envisioned by Sheriff Hodgson – until they learn, in the most unpleasant way imaginable, how easily the State can turn harmless people into slaves.

This week's Freedom Zealot Podcast: Debtor's prisons are illegal -- and ubiquitous in the American Soyuz --




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Inside the Tiny, Uncluttered Mind of a Cop

Fri, 12/30/2016 - 14:38





A retired member of the exalted Brotherhood of State-Sanctified Coercion recently rebuked a heretic:


I take umbrage with your article for Lew Rockwell. While certainly I agree with your premise that one should not give to police charities and thereby expect special privileges, you cubby-hole police officers with your example in Idaho.  How utterly disgusting that you berate this officer and his wife for exercising their Constitutional Right to file bankruptcy!  You DO NOT KNOW their circumstances—they may have had extreme medical expenses with themselves or one of their children.
I, Sir, served four years in the incomparable Marine Corps, six years in the active reserve and 20+ years as a police officer in two+ major metropolitan arenas, and, I became disabled while ‘on-duty’.  Contrary to your woeful disrespect for the police and your efforts to transport those ideas to the public, I would like you to know that we do not hate the public, we do not sit in donut shops and often, as you are well aware, we give our lives (Dallas, George, California, New York, Pennsylvania, et al) for the safety of our community just as a soldier in Iraq.  Are you going to write to the wives, mothers, fathers and children of these police officers who gave their ultimate gift of life and berate their husbands, sons and fathers for being a member of the thin blue line? Greater love has no man than he lay down his life for his friends.
 We care about people’s lives, we care about the safety of the citizens of our nation and we love our country; and Sir, we don’t become, by and large, police officers and deputy sheriffs to bully the public and to make life miserable just because we are able.  Police die early deaths from suicide, cancer, strokes and heart attacks because of the stress of being a law enforcement officer.  The mean life expectancy of a retired law enforcement officer is 18 months. Because I was serving the citizens of my community, I am 100% permanently and totally disabled and suffer a lifetime of various levels of pain; and here, I have a miscreant (you) with disgusting disrespect narrative condemning the police and one in particular for filing bankruptcy.  You Sir, are disgusting human and miscreant.  The next time someone breaks into your home or assaults you, call your friends and whine to them, I am sure they will reimburse your losses and they will become a posse and hunt for the scum who violated you and your home/family, and don’t use the facilities that were there to protect you and catch the culprits who violated your home and/or body.
May your wife have 10 more children—all different nationalities.  I don’t, generally forget a face or missive, but in your case I’ll make an acceptation. 

With disdain and contempt,

Seán Mac an Airchinnigh Retired Deputy Sheriff and Police Officer
Proud to be an American, God Bless the USA!!

The impenitent blasphemer replied:
I'm not surprised by the reminder that reading comprehension isn't among the skills tested through POST certification. Law enforcement is an occupation that selects for people who tend to communicate through non-verbal means, after all.

Nowhere in my essay did I suggest that people donate to police charities in the hope of receiving "special privileges"; my point is that the people who administer those funds are protected by the legal fiction called "qualified immunity," which gives them an unearned sense of privilege and makes them untrustworthy. This is abundantly demonstrated by the pervasive pilferage from FOP coffers. The recent case in Idaho is merely one of hundreds that have happened nation-wide. You would be wise to call for a forensic audit of your own union kitty; alas, your note suggests that you are a stranger in the house of wisdom.

Mark and Sara Furniss aren't liable to criticism for seeking to discharge their debts through bankruptcy. If you had paid attention to the details -- or had them explained to you by someone who can understand them -- you would have noticed that they tried to use bankruptcy to consummate their embezzlement by listing their victims at the FOP as "creditors" and then heading north to Alaska to escape apprehension. This is attempted bankruptcy fraud.

Were I to credit official claims regarding the abilities of law enforcement officers, I would express disappointed surprise at your inability to recognize the elements of that offense. Since I've studied law enforcement for more than a quarter-century, your performance is precisely what I expected.

Why aren't you incandescent with rage over crimes committed by police, againstpolice -- and the public at large -- when they steal from funds supposedly dedicated to providing for wounded officers, and the families of officers who have died on-duty? I am mortally disgusted by such behavior, and that reaction ripens into rage when I see how "blue privilege" continues to protectsuch offenders, who are routinely given lenient sentences and sometimes allowed to keep their subsidized pensions. It's odd that this is apparent to a purported miscreant like myself, while being ignored by an upstanding paragon of civic righteousness such as yourself.

You are doubtless aware....

No, strike that; going on the evidence [above] I would be unwise to entertain a generous estimate of your awareness.

A long line of judicial precedents documents that police officers have no enforceable duty to protect any individual citizen from criminal violence. This is even true when one is literally being hacked to death just a few feet away while apprehending an armed psychopath who had eluded the police. Take a second and Google "Joe Lozito" for the details of that case. Lozito subdued a knife-wielding serial killer while a member of your bold fraternity of badge-wearing badasses cowered behind a subway door just a few feet away. While Lozito was recuperating in the hospital, the cowardly officer was being feted as a "hero" -- and the city dismissed Lozito's legal claim by invoking the well-settled doctrine that the police have no particularized duty to protect the public.

Slogans about the selfless service of law enforcement don't find traction among people who have studied the issue to any depth.

Since police and rapists are the only violent predators who expect their victims to submit without resistance, it is appropriate that the coda of your puerile note obliquely expresses the hope that my wife will become the victim of serial rape. I am constrained to point out, however, that the word "acceptation" is not a synonym for the word you must have intended to use, which is "exception."

Have a nice Christmas, if possible.

Will Grigg




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We Don't Need Costumed Overlords and Tax Farmers

Wed, 12/28/2016 - 18:01

Gone, but not missed: The former Bunker Hill, Indiana Police Department.


Bunker Hill
, Indiana, is a village of 900 people. It has not been consumed by the maelstrom of criminal violence that – we are told – would descend on any community even briefly deprived of the divine protection offered by a police department. The village obviously didn’t need the department it had until December 12, when the Town Marshal and his four reserve deputies walked off the job to protestdecisions by the town board. 
“We have had issues with the town board, and there are some activities there where I felt like they were serving their own agenda,” former Marshal Michael Thomison explained. Most of his complaints had to do with proposed budget cut-backs, and a refusal on the part of the council to purchase body armor for all five members of the department. 
“I did not want to send someone out there with bad body armor,” grouses Thomison. “I told them we have to provide this…. They were just not receptive to having a police department.”
It’s just no fun to play dress-up and swagger around the village unless the kids get the full costume and all of the accessories. The historical resonance of the village’s name notwithstanding, Thomison and his buddies were not under siege by heavily armed adversaries, nor was there any realistic expectation that they ever would be.
Crime is practically non-existent in Bunker Hill – the most recent report lists one violent and ten property crimes – and the village is fifteen minutes away from the Miami County Sheriff’s Office in the county seat of Peru (a deranged cartographer was apparently responsible for assigning city and county names). It’s therefore reasonable to consider the police department as an unnecessary expense, and a potential source of avoidable trouble. That latter consideration, ironically, was underscored by the disgruntled officers themselves, who have accused town councilors of asking them to conduct unlawful background checks on each other.  The municipal officials stoutly denyever making such requests. 
What is the purpose of inflicting a police department on a minuscule settlement where crimes against persons and property are practically unknown? The obvious answer is that while such towns might be welcome havens from private criminal violence, there can be no sanctuary from revenue collection – and this is the core function of government law enforcement agencies, as Sheriff Eddie Soileau of Louisiana’s Evangeline Parish has recently reminded us.
"I swear to be a diligent tax collector": Sheriff Soileau takes the oath. Soileau’s office is dealing with budget cuts, layoffs, and a Justice Department civil rights investigation, and is thus determined to pare operations down to the basics. To that end, he asked for, and received, an advisory opinion from the state’s Attorney General regarding the following question: Can he legally operate “without having law enforcement duties,” and simply carrying out the role of a tax collector?
The Louisiana State Constitution, replied the Attorney General’s office, specifies that he is to be “the collector of state and parish ad valorem taxes and such other taxes and license fees as provided by law.” Where law enforcement is concerned, the sheriff’s duties are a matter of discretion. He is required to “keep the peace and make arrests,” but is not required to appoint a specific number of deputies to carry out that function. “Should a sheriff choose not to appoint deputies to assist in his law enforcement role, we could cite no statute that would forbid such a choice,” concluded the AG’s opinion. 
Odd as this might seem to people who were suckled on resilient myths about sheriffs and police officers as valiant defenders of the public and protectors of private property, Sheriff Soileau’s arrangement actually restores his office to its primordial purpose.

Following the Norman conquest of England, the existing kinship-based system for defense of property and settlement of disputes was supplanted by a feudal order enforced through royal appointees called shire-reeves or shire-riffs – antecedents of the modern sheriff. Their duty was to maintain the “king’s peace” by collecting taxes and preventing private efforts at restitution for injuries. It was impermissible for subjects to settle disputes among themselves, since this would deprive the royal treasury of the fees imposed through the embryonic state’s “justice” system.
This is the disreputable origin of the venerable office of the local sheriff, the only lawman whose occupation is even remotely compatible with the American constitutional tradition. A spare handful of contemporary sheriffs, at most, see their role as protecting property rights, rather than serving the privileged elite that preys on the public, and they can expect to be harassed and driven from office. 
Everything the State says is a lie, everything it claims to own it has stolen, and every act undertaken to enforce state edicts is a crime. The disappearance of a law enforcement agency enhances the personal security of those residing in any community where such a blessed development occurs.
This week's Freedom Zealot Podcast examines the wrongful rape and kidnapping conviction of Idaho Falls resident Michael Whiteley:



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Get Your Kids Out of the "School-to-Prison Pipeline"

Wed, 12/28/2016 - 01:20




Ever and always alert to new and inventive ways to turn innocent people into fodder for the State’s carceral apparatus, the Missouri state legislature enacted a measure that will treat teenage altercations as felonies if they occur either on school grounds or between public school inmates in transit to or from their local mind laundry.
The Hazelwood School District, in a dispatchto the parents who surrender their children into their daily custody, explained that “if two students are fighting and one child is injured, the student who caused the injury may be charged with a felony. Student(s) who are caught fighting in school, bus, or on school grounds may be charged with a felony (no matter what the age or grade level).”  (Emphasis added.)
Yes, even grade school students or kindergartners will face the prospect of being detained, handcuffed, and charged with an offense that could lead to a prison term of up to seven years. Rational people would never inflict such grotesque punishments, of course, but as Springfield resident Gavin Devic can attest, rational people are not at the helm of the Show-Me State’s educational soviet.

Devic wasn't shunted through the school-to-prison pipeline, but the local drug prohibition apparat will probably succeed in derailing the disciplined, accomplished young man's academic and athletic goals. Just as some people claim that it is possible to experience a "contact high" through exposure to marijuana smoke, adherents of the prohibition cult believe that it is possible for people to experience "contact culpability" in similar circumstances.
Gavin has maintained a GPA very close to 4.0 while working two part-time jobs and compiling an enviable record of 75 wins in wrestling, an achievement that had earned him multiple scholarship offers. On December 2, faced with the unfamiliar prospect of some free time, Devic allowed himself the indulgence of a short nap that was interrupted when a friend showed up to invite him to go to a dance at Parkview High. As Devic got into his friend's car it became clear that the other young man had been consuming the Satanic Communist Demon Weed Marijuana.
Since Gavin had not partaken of the substance that makes incoming Attorney General Jeff Sessions lose bladder control, he assumed that he wouldn't get into trouble. Like too many other people he underestimated the sadistic resourcefulness of those who act on behalf of the evil fiction called the "State."
Shortly after he arrived at the dance, Gavin was pulled aside by one of the "resource officers" who prowl the school's hallways in search of young lives to ruin. In compliance with his training and professional expectations, the officer lied to Gavin by claiming that he displayed all of the indicia of marijuana use, including the fact that his "eyes were low" -- something that could be explained by the student's half-Asian ancestry.
As search of the friend's car turned up a small quantity of the prohibited plant and related accessories. Under questioning, and doubtless seeking to mitigate his own punishment, the friend initially said that the pot and paraphernalia were jointly owned (as it were) by the two of them. This was an obviously self-serving claim on his part, but it was sufficient to "prove" Gavin's guilt in the eyes of people predisposed to punish, rather than investigate.

The perfidious friend later recanted his story and provided a statement exculpating Gavin. At his own expense, Gavin obtained a drug test proving that there was no THC in his system. An incident report filed by the school resource officers grudgingly admitted that “nothing illegal or prohibited” was found on Devic’s person. All of this mattered not to the local prohibitionist priesthood, which cannot look upon pot use with even the least degree of allowance, and will sternly punish even the appearance of "evil."
Gavin was suspended from school for ten days, barred from athletic competition for a month, and lost his A+ scholarship eligibility, which would have covered the first two years of in-state tuition at numerous colleges. The "citizenship" component of that scholarship was ruined by the suspension.
"I am losing all the options I was setting up for myself," Gavin laments. This is entirely in harmony with the purpose of the state-run school system, which is to indoctrinate inmates in the idea that their lives belong to the state, not to themselves -- and that those lives can be ruined, in an instant, at the whim of those who presume to rule the rest of us.


This week's Freedom Zealot Podcast examines the bizarre and infuriating case of Idaho Falls resident Michael Whiteley, wrongfully convicted of kidnapping and raping his ex-wife -- a woman who twice recanted her accusations, and provided evidence that Whiteley was framed to cover up a rape committed by a police officer:




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Snouts in the Trough, Hooves in the Till: Why You Shouldn't Donate to a Police Charity

Sun, 12/11/2016 - 23:34

Tax-subsidized embezzlers: Mark and Sara Furniss

To understand why the public cannot confide in government-employed police to protect private property, it is useful to consider how frequently police steal from each other – and members of the public who ingenuously donate to police-operated charities. This isn’t because police officers are under-paid; it is because their occupation cultivates a sense of privilege and contempt for other people’s property. 
The median annual household income in Idaho is roughly $49,000. Mark Furniss, 46, was making almost $20,000 a year in excess of that figure when he resigned from his job as a Boise Police Officer on October 20, the same day that he and his wife Sara filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. At the time, Sara was employed as a “safe schools assistant” in the recently created West Ada School District. 
Together, Mark and Sara Furniss easily cleared $100,000 a year in salary and benefits, which is more than enough for their family of four to enjoy a very comfortable lifestyle in Boise. Yet Mark and Sara allegedly used their positions as president and office manager, respectively, with Treasure Valley Lodge #11 of the Fraternal Order of Police to embezzle$73,000 over a five-year period.   
The couple’s pilferage from the FOP’s accounts was noticed no later than February, which is when he was confronted by the organization’s president over his use of a union credit card to buy tickets to a Pittsburgh Pirates game and make more than $500 in personal purchases at a department store. A forensic audit was conducted, which quickly discovered that Mrs. Furniss had been systematically overpaying herself (she drew a salary from the FOP), misusing a lodge credit card, and had caused hundreds of dollars in overdraft fees. She later disclosed to investigators that she had set up an automatic withdrawal from an FOP account to pay the family’s cable television bill.
Detective Gary Marang of the Nampa Police Department, which has investigated the matter to avoid a conflict of interest, recalled in an affidavit that the couple also used FOP funds to make a $2,700 down payment on a travel trailer. They most likely intended to make use of that trailer to flee the jurisdiction: After filing for bankruptcy on October 20 (listing the FOP as among the “creditors” who would be stiffed by them), Mr. and Mrs. Furniss reportedly planned to head north to Alaska in search of a “fresh start.” 
Like countless others, the Mark and Sara rode the housing bubble and fell hard in 2008 when it burst. Their financial disclosure form lists a total of $572,992 in assets, including a Meridian home valued at $230,000. Their estimated liabilities are $384,095, which includes “more than a dozen credit cards and five charge accounts,” observes the Idaho Statesman. They had also purchased two expensive late-model SUVs. Despite the fact that they both drew very generous tax-subsidized salaries, they listed their monthly income at $869, with $5,742 in monthly expenses. Perhaps the most shocking line item in the form was the disclosure that the total value of the family’s checking accounts was $864. 
In the two weeks prior to the couple’s November 25 arrest, their FOP chapter had collected more than $73,000 through a GoFundMe account to raise money for three officers – two humans and a “K9 officer” – who were wounded in a shootout with a fugitive. It would have been useful for the public to know that the people in charge of the lodge’s finances had embezzled nearly an identical amount. Nice tie, Mike. Mark and Sara have two very young children, a fact that will be taken into account when they are given the customary Blue Privilege discount at sentencing time. Former Richfield, Ohio police officer Michael Simmons benefited from official leniency when his own longstanding embezzlement from the local FOP was discovered. 
Simmons has confessed to stealing more than $26,000 the FOP’s “Shop with a Cop” program, which is used to buy Christmas gifts for poor children. 
One might expect to see exemplary punishment imposed on someone who committed a Dickensian offense of that kind. One would be wrong to do so, when the offender is a member of the state’s enforcement caste. 
As was the case with Mark and Sara Furniss, Simmons squandered  money raised for charitable purposes on personal expenses and luxuries, including electronics, clothing, tools, and tickets to sporting events. Rather than being sent to prison for felony theft, the 42-year-old Simmons was given an 18-month suspended jail sentence, two years of probation, and 500 hours of community service. He will also be required to pay back only $15,000 of the money he stole, so full restitution – which is the only legitimate punishment for a crime against property – will not be required. According to Richfield, Ohio Police Chief Keith Morgan, one reason Simmons won’t be required to pay back the full amount is because “the program’s lax bookkeeping made it difficult to pin down exactly how much was stolen and how much went to legitimate purchases,” reportsthe Akron Beacon Journal. 
Simmons’s attorney, Mark Guidetti, says that the judge’s very generous terms will allow Simmons to move on with his life and get another job. Now that he is tagged with a fourth-degree felony, it’s likely that he won’t find another gig involving a gun, badge, and qualified immunity. 

Embezzlement from FOP lodges is stunningly commonplace. One would expect that law enforcement officers, zealous for the honor of their coercive fraternity, would inflict exemplary punishment on those within their ranks who steal from their comrades in the brotherhood. As with so many other offenses, however, “professional courtesy” applies even to those who can’t keep their snouts out of the FOP’s trough. 
Former Hernando County, Florida Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Glatfelter was given five years’ probation after siphoning away $14,000 from the local FOP lodge – and more than $1,000 from a special fund established to benefit the family of a colleague who had died in an on-duty traffic accident. Struthers, Ohio Patrolman Thomas Granchie was allowed to resign without facing administrative charges after he admitted to stealing nearly $5,000 from his FOP lodge in 2007.  Judge William Kobelak spoke sympathetically of  Granchie as he sentenced the thirty-year veteran officer to 90 days house arrest for what should – and would – have been felony theft if committed by a Mundane.
“I want to look at him as a person with both good and bad things in his life;” Judge Kobelak said, apparently treating Granchie’s decades of service to the murderous abstraction called the “State” as extenuation for his self-serving felonious conduct. “This black cloud hanging over his head is always going to be there.”
Actually, that black cloud dissipated very rapidly. It was Granchie’s tax victim-provided police pension that proved to be permanent; this was made possible when the court dismissed the felony count and allowed the thief to plead guilty to a single charge of misdemeanor theft. Such conduct is to be expected wherever large pools of money are entrusted to people who are clothed in “qualified immunity.”
The state-allied pharmaceutical industry, it is partners in the prison-industrial complex, constitute the real "drug cartel" -- this week's Freedom Zealot Podcast:



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"Qualified Immunity": What Cops and Slave Overseers Have in Common

Sun, 12/04/2016 - 12:31


The late Kelly Thomas, following his fatal encounter with the slave overseers of the Fullerton PD.



Michael Slager
, the former North Charleston, South Carolina police officer killed an unarmed man and then attempted to frame the victim, will not be convictedof murder. Nor is he likely to be convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter. Slager’s jury deadlocked because a single member of the panel insisted that he could not “in good conscience” vote to convict Slager of criminal homicide. This is not because the facts of the case are in dispute. Slager was captured on video fatally shooting unarmed, 50-year-old Walter Scott in the back as he fled a traffic stop, and then placing a Taser next to his fatally traumatized body.The critical issue for that juror, apparently, was whether Slager’s state of mind as he committed these acts transmuted them from criminal homicide and obstruction of justice into an exercise of state-conferred authority protected by “qualified immunity.” Specifically: Was the officer acting out of “total fear,” as he claimed, following what he said was a struggle in which Scott attempted to grab his Taser? Or was Slager acting out of “passion” – in this case, anger and outrage over Scott’s refusal to submit?If Slager weren’t a member of the state’s punitive priesthood, these questions wouldn’t matter.  As a police officer, however, Slager enjoys precisely the same privileged status in the exercise of discretionary violence that was once afforded to slave owners and overseers in the antebellum South. Under what we are required to pretend is the “law,” Slager – like any other police officer – is authorized to detain any citizen who provokes his suspicion, and to obtain that citizen’s submission using whatever increment of force he deems reasonable. From the point of such a seizure, the officer exercises a proprietary claim over the detainee until or unless he decides to release him – and any assertion of self-ownership on the part of the detainee can potentially be punished through summary execution. In “The Constitution of Police Violence,” a soon-to-be published article for the UCLA Law Review, Dr. Alice Ristroph of the Seton Hall Law School describes case law regarding law enforcement encounters with citizens as “a blueprint for police violence. It invites officers to interrupt civilians, sometimes with minimal suspicion and sometimes with no suspicion at all. Once interrupted, the citizen must comply with the officer’s requests [which are more accurately described as `demands’] or risk expanding the officer’s authority. Actual or perceived non-compliance rapidly ratchets up the officer’s authorization to use force, and any non-compliance perceived to be dangerous empowers the officer to kill.” (Emphasis added.)
Every police agency in the country teaches its officers a “use of force continuum” that “sets the expectation of escalation,” continues Dr. Ristroph; “after the first resistance, force will escalate until the suspect is subdued or dead.” The resistance in question can be a purely verbal assertion of self-ownership – as in Eric Garner’s exasperated protest about the unwarranted harassment he had experienced, coupled with the declaration, “It stops today!”
As Ristroph observes, defiance of this variety constitutes “the uncodified but very real offense called `contempt of cop.’” A Mundane who refuses to acknowledge the proprietary claim made by the officer who detains him can expect summary punishment of the same kind once visited on slaves by their overseers, and for exactly the same reason. It was exceedingly uncommon for abusive slave “owners” or overseers to be punished. In similar fashion, only in exceptionally egregious cases will a police officer face prosecution for brutalizing a citizen.
One useful illustration of the scope of permissible police violence is seen in the fact that none of the eight Fullerton, California police officers who beat to death an unarmed, helpless, mentally ill man named Kelly Thomas five years ago was ever convicted of a criminal offense. That case also usefully underscores the fact that the slave overseer mindset of police is not a function of racial bias.
Only two of the assailants – Officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cincinelli – were prosecuted, and they were acquitted. Dr. Steven Karch, an “expert witness” routinely deployed to defend criminal behavior by police, gave a credulous jury an excuse to pretend that the 160-pound Thomas somehow posed a threat to eight police officers, and that rather than being killed by the officers who beat, kicked, tasered, and suffocated him, Kelly just happened to die from the long-deferred consequences of methamphetamine use several years earlier.
As an overture to the beating, Officer Ramos theatrically snapped on latex gloves while taunting the victim: “See these fists? There’re getting ready to f*ck you up.” Cincinelli, who repeatedly clubbed the victim’s face with the butt of his Taser, later gloated that he had “just smashed his face to hell.”
Photographs taken of Kelly while he was in an irreversible coma attest to the thoroughness with which Cincinelli and his comrades carried out their mandate to obtain submission through criminal violence. I suspect that if photography had been available in 1839, similar pictures would exist of a slave woman named Mira who was beaten and scourged to death by a North Carolina resident named Hoover who presumed to claim her as his property.

So grotesque was the disfigurement of Mira’s mortal remains that Hoover was indicted for murder and then convicted of that offense by a jury culled from a population that was inured to the routine barbarism typical of chattel slavery.
In the ruling State v. John Mann ten years earlier, North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Thomas Ruffin wrote that “The power of the master must be absolute, to render the submission of the slave perfect.”
A slave is “one doomed in his own person, and his posterity, to live without knowledge, and without the capacity to make anything his own, and to toil that another may reap the fruits,” Ruffin explained, and the slave would accept this only if the master exercised “uncontrolled authority over his body” – without that authority being subject to judicial review. In that 1829 case, a man who had leased a slave named Lydia had shot and wounded her when she tried to escape. The only salient issue for Ruffin was whether someone who had leased the labor of a human claimed as the property of another enjoyed the same legal immunities as the “owner” himself.
Ruffin dealt with similar questions a decade later in North Carolina v. Hoover. The appellant insisted that he had been required to exercise the “rights” explained by Ruffin’s earlier decision with great severity, because Mira “had attempted to burn his barn, and was disobedient and impudent to her mistress.” Hoover also claimed that Mira had attempted to poison his family. The “evidence” for those accusations was a confession extracted from the helpless woman through torture. At the time she was killed, Mira had just delivered a child and was too weak to work.
The trial judge had explained to the jury that they could acquit Hoover, or find him guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter, if they determined that the victim’s conduct provided “legal provocation” to the killer – which would have included disobeying “the orders of her master.” They could likewise find extenuation on Hoover’s behalf if the killing followed such a provocation so quickly that “his passion had not a reasonable time to cool and subside”; in those circumstances the offense would be manslaughter, rather than murder.
Slave “owners” and overseers, like contemporary cops, were expected to follow a “use of force continuum” in the exercise of power no human being can rightfully wield against another – and on those vanishingly rare occasions that resulted in prosecution, the courts were expected to prioritize leniency.
Ruffin’s ruling in North Carolina v Hoover was unalloyed barbarism lacquered with genteel language. He offered an extravagant apology to the killer as he explained that he could not find sufficient grounds for overturning the conviction – and not for want of effort.“A master may lawfully punish his slave,” Ruffin declared, “and the degree must, in general, be left to his own judgment and humanity, and cannot be judicially questioned. But the master’s authority is not altogether unlimited. He must not kill. There is, at the least, this restriction upon his power; he must stop short of taking a life.”
The slave’s is a lesser life than that of the person claiming to own him, to be sure, and wherever possible, means will be found to justify the lethal exercise of a slave master’s discretion: “If death unhappily ensue from the master’s chastisement of the slave, inflicted apparently with a good intent, for reformation or example, and with no purpose to take a life, or to put in in jeopardy, the law would doubtless tenderly regard every circumstances, which, judging from the conduct generally of masters toward slaves, might reasonably be supposed to have hurried the party into excess.”
Buried beneath that avalanche of adverbs is a principle now known as “qualified immunity,” which is now invoked to justify the criminal violence of police officers like Michael Slager.

"You can't fight City Hall!" we are told. Guess what? I'm fighting City Hall -- and I explain why in this week's Freedom Zealot Podcast:  

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"Justice Has No Expiration Date": The Continued Wrongful Imprisonment of Chris Tapp

Mon, 11/28/2016 - 12:57


Scenes from the Tapp hearing: Bonneville County DA Clark (left), ADA Dewey, Public Defender Thomas.


There were about twenty people gathered in an Idaho Falls courtroom on November 22 for a hearing about Christopher Tapp’s appeal for post-conviction relief. That Tapp is serving a life sentence for a murder he didn’t commit was known by everyone in that room. Two of them, Bonneville County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Clark and deputy Prosecutor John Dewey, were there in an attempt to convince Judge Alan Stephens that the truth didn’t matter, and that justice must be subordinated to “process.”
Judge Stephens’s proper role, Dewey argued, was to act as a “gatekeeper,” rather than to permit a critical examination of a conviction that an official report commissioned by the prosecutor’s officehas now acknowledged is entirely the product of a spurious confession. Nationally accredited experts on police interrogation have likewise concluded that Tapp’s confession was achieved through tactics that were tantamount to psychological torture.  A few weeks ago, Judge Stephens ruled that Tapp’s appeal could proceed because of evidence that the prosecution had withheld videotaped polygraph examinations in which IFPD Detective Stephen Finn manipulated Tapp into a false confession. Finn had convinced Tapp that the polygraph machine was something akin to a comprehensive archive of objective facts about the July 1996 murder of 18-year-old Angie Dodge. Those “facts” comported with whatever theory of the case was in favor with the IFPD at any given time. 
The initial theory was that a friend of Tapp’s, a young man named Ben Hobbs who had been arrested in Ely, Nevada for rape, was the murderer. Tapp and another friend named Jeremy Sargis were identified as potential witnesses. Along with Hobbs, each of them gave DNA samples to the police. Sargis was the son of a wealthy and influential family who could afford competent legal representation – which is why he resolutely refused to speak with the police after his DNA sample cleared him as a suspect. Chris and Verna Tapp. Tapp, a high school dropout, was more pliant. He was interrogated by former IFPD Sergeant Jared Fuhriman, who had become acquainted with Tapp while serving as a school resource officer and DARE instructor. With the calculated, sociopathic opportunism of a child molester, Fuhriman groomed Tapp and relentlessly exploited him, playing on the 20-year-old’s ingenuous trust and assuring him that all the police really wanted was his cooperation in identifying the man who had killed one of his friends. 
The original IFPD plan was to set the three friends off against each other. That scheme collapsed after Sargis and Hobbs were both ruled out as suspects by the genetic evidence. Tapp was also cleared. However, because he was willing to talk to the police – a mistake nobody should ever make – he was the one left without a chair when the music stopped. 
Because he had regurgitated lies told to him by his police captors, Tapp lost his immunity agreement. His mother, Verna, became alarmed over what was happening and told Chris that he was not to submit to any further interrogation without an attorney being present. When it became known to Fuhriman that the victim of his mental molestation was seeking help from a trusted adult, he arrested Chris on a contrived charge of “harboring a fugitive” – a charge that presumes the existence of a murderer other than Chris. 
Tapp was not the suspect that Angie Dodge or her traumatized family deserved, but he was the one the IFPD and the Bonneville Prosecutor’s Office needed. Rather than trying to solve the case by finding the murderer, the police and then-County Attorney Kip Manwaring decided to clear the case with the suspect that they had in custody. Fuhriman and his comrades fed Tapp critical details about the crime, at one point taking him to the crime scene in a visit that was not recorded or memorialized in any way. Then they used the details they had fed to their victim to incriminate him in a crime of which he had no independent knowledge. 
The role played by polygraph specialist Finn was critical. Tapp was told that his denials registered deception – which was a lie – and that his self-incriminating statements were truthful – another deliberate lie. Over the course of several coercive polygraph “examinations,” Finn told Tapp that even if he had participated in the assault on Dodge, he could avoid the death penalty if he made a confession. Acting purely out of fear for his life, Tapp provided the IFPD with that confession. In doing so he presented a story that still didn’t comport with the evidence: He didn’t accurately describe the clothing worn by the victim, or the nature of her wounds. 
“The appellate public defender had the files of Tapp’s trial attorney, Robert Booker,” Tapp’s current attorney John Thomas recalls in a motion presented on November 22.  “In those files were found two video cassette boxes that contained four (4) Tapp polygraph videos. These four polygraph videos had not been previously identified as being produced.”
Three of the videos documented sessions that were clearly “coercive” in nature. One of them, according to Finn’s sworn testimony, did not exist. 
While the videotapes were in the trial attorney’s files, “they had not been `disclosed’” by the prosecution, Thomas contends. “In effect, they were hidden. By negligence or design, their existence was kept secret from the defense.” One of the most damaging of the coercive interrogations, as Thomas demonstrated to me from records he shared during a brief interview in his office, had been artfully mislabeled in order to minimize its importance. 

It was after Judge Stephens’s recent ruling in September that Tapp’s appellate attorney, John Thomas, found that videotape in the discovery file. He immediately alerted deputy prosecutor John Dewey regarding what he had found, and cleared time in his schedule so that the two of them could watch it together. 
If Thomas had acted with the same ethical indifference that has been displayed by the Bonneville Prosecutor’s Office, he would have concealed his discovery from the prosecution, rather than making a full disclosure of what he had found. In keeping with the abysmal standards of the office that employs him, Dewey capitalized on Thomas’s good faith by accusing him, during the November 22 hearing, of seeking to perpetrate a “fraud on the court” and demanding that Tapp’s appeal be dismissed.
Thomas allowed carefully modulated yet well-earned outrage to color his presentation to Judge Stephens. Addressing the prosecution’s claim that Tapp’s appeal was barred by time limitations, Thomas declared that “Justice does not have an expiration date.”
“An innocent man is sitting in prison,” while the prosecution continues its relentless obstructionism. If the Bonneville County justice system – such as it is – forecloses the possibility that Tapp will receive long-deferred due process, “That will be the day I turn my bar card in, because this court would not deserve my representation,” Thomas defiantly declared. 
Sitting next to me during Thomas’s argument was Carol Dodge, the victim’s mother, who has spent the last twenty years diligently investigating that crime. She has become Christopher Tapp’s most effective and impassioned advocate, and a close friend of his long-suffering mother, Verna. In the hallway outside the courtroom prior to the November 22 hearing, Carol and Verna embraced each other as if they were sisters, which, in a sense, they have become: They belong to sorority of mothers whose children have been taken from them through criminal violence – Angie through murder, Christopher through state-licensed kidnapping. 

“The prosecution has all the advantages,” Carol whispered to me during Thomas’s presentation, her voice heavy with bitter frustration. “If they have the power to hold an innocent man in prison, do they have the power to breathe life back into my daughter?” she continued, sobbing the final syllables of that anguished inquiry. 
Judge Stephens announced that he would be submitting a written ruling at some unspecified time in the future. Meanwhile, Tapp remains a prisoner of the Bonneville County Prosecutor’s arrogant intransigence.
As County Prosecutor Clark departed the courtroom, I noticed that his right arm was in a sling. Gesturing to his injured appendage, I asked Clark if “this happened while you were wrestling with your conscience – and winning.” 
Clark’s shoulders slumped, and after an awkward moment he replied that he had hurt himself in a dirt bike accident. That explanation struck me as plausible: I had foolishly assumed that Clark’s conscience would be strong enough to put up much of a fight.


                                              This week's Freedom Zealot Podcast
The privileges enjoyed by a police officer in a confrontation with a citizen are exactly the same as those afforded to slave owners in the antebellum South:



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War Crimes Advocate Seeks A Job in the Trump Administration

Mon, 11/21/2016 - 01:53


The eyes of a fictional psychopath....


President-elect Donald Trump has thousands of executive branch positions to fill, including the spot in the Office of Legal Counsel once occupied by the detestable war criminal John C. Yoo. William C. Bradford, an obscure, disgraced ex-West Point instructor and unabashed advocate of genocide and military rule, might assume Yoo’s station as chief legal apologist for presidential war crimes.


The OLC’s stated function is to advise the president regarding the constraints imposed upon his powers by the Constitution and laws made pursuant to it. Yoo specialized in devising intricate rationales for presidential lawlessness. His most famous work is the so-called Bybee Memorandum, one of several documentsin which Yoo defended the claim that the president can essentially order the abuse, torture, and mutilationof detainees, and the military or intelligence operatives who carry out such orders are legally unaccountable. Yoo has publicly stated that the president has the legal authority to order the sexual torture and mutilation of a child if he can contrive a “national security” rationale for such an atrocity.

Translating that claim into pop culture terms, Yoo would see nothing wrong in a President Negan torturing Carl in order to break Rick’s spirit – if this is done in the name of “national security.”

After promoting an American version of fuhrerprinzip as an advisor to George W. Bush, Yoo found Donald Trump unsuitable to the task of exercising the power to imprison, torture, and assassinate people of his choosing. This isn’t because Yoo takes issue with Trump’s authoritarian disposition, but rather because he is concerned that Trump is not ideologically reliable. Thus it’s doubtful that Yoo will be asked to rejoin the executive branch under Trump. The transition team is looking to re-cast the role Yoo had played as legal enabler to the worst presidential impulses – and disgraced former West Point instructor William C. Bradford is all but wetting his pants in his incontinent eagerness to fill the post.

Over the past year, Bradford, an attorney and quondam law professor, has promoted the idea that academic dissenters from the “Global War on Terrorism,” and attorneys who represent terrorism suspects, should be treated as enemy combatants. Thus branded, attorneys and scholars would be eligible for the full menu of punitive options, including extra-judicial arrest and indefinite detention, trial by military tribunals, torture, and even summary execution.

....the eyes of a real-life psychopath: Bradford. “The West must shatter Islamists' political will and eradicate those who do not renounce Islamism,” insists Bradford in a 185-page diatribe entitled “Trahsion des Professeurs: The Critical Law of Armed Conflict Academy as an Islamist Fifth Column,” which was published in the Spring/Summer 2015 issue of the George Mason University National Security Law Journal. “All instruments of national power – including conventional and nuclear force and PSYOPs [psychological warfare operations] – must be harnessed … to capture the hearts and minds of Islamic peoples, break their will to fight for Islamism, and leave them prepared to coexist with the West or be utterly eradicated....”

In confronting an existential crisis, Bradford asserts, “survival is its own justification.” There is no room for “legal fetishists” who are skeptical of decisions by the executive or military leadership: “Americans are entitled not only to political leaders who employ and all necessary measures but to the strong presumption such measures are legal, and to the salutary effects of this presumption upon their belief in the virtue of their cause and their will to fight for it.”

Jefferson pointedly taught that patriots are to be irrepressibly suspicious of the exercise of government power. Bradford, who would find Jefferson’s wisdom lacking and his patriotism questionable, treats such skepticism as sedition, rather than civic virtue.

To wage “total war” against a tenacious and all-but-omnipresent enemy, all restrictions on government power must be supplanted by what he calls the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC). In this way, the executive is emancipated from checks and balances, and the constitutional subordination of the military to civilian control is reversed: “[I]t is the military upon whom the constitutional duty to defend Americans is incumbent, and in whom Americans repose trust.”

No, "Brute," you resigned after getting busted for lying about your credentials. Madison, another Founder whom Bradford would consign to a detention camp, warned that armies – rather than being worthy of public trust – are, along with public debts and taxes, “the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.”

Bradford refers to scholarly critics of Washington's open-ended war against Islamism as the Critical Law of Armed Conflict Academy, an artlessly contrived expression intended to justify the pungently dismissive acronym CLOACA. While admitting that “no membership roll exists” of that intellectual cohort, and declining to name specific examples (most likely out of a desire to avoid civil liability), Bradford insists that scholars who fit within that amorphous category constitute an “Islamist Fifth Column,” even when no evidence of conscious collaboration exists.

Scholarship that challenges the “autonomy” of the Pentagon, or “dismiss[es] military wisdom” by questioning the legality, constitutionality, or morality of foreign wars, indefinite detention of terrorism suspects, or the use of torture as an interrogation technique are not mere academic exercises, according to Bradford. Instead, they are a form of advocacy that “attenuates U.S. arms and undermines American will, [and] are PSYOPs. Which are combatant acts,” Bradford maintains.

As “propaganda inciting others to war crimes, such acts are prosecutable.... CLOACA members are thus combatants who, like all other combatants, can be targeted at any time and place and captured and detained until termination of hostilities” – without judicial recourse. Assuming that “CLOACA members” would be treated in the same fashion as their supposed Islamist comrades, they would be subject to “judicial execution post-interrogation” if this were considered justifiable as a matter of military necessity.

The threshold for such treatment is astonishingly low. Academic dissenters who publicly describe the U.S. government as “an `aggressor' or employer of illegal methods and means, or [cast] aspersions on U.S. motives” for carrying out military operations display “an intent to betray the United States” or to give aid and comfort to the enemy, Bradford contends. Those thus identified would be subject to what Bradford calls a “counterattack” involving a range of options drawn from a continuum of “increasing coercion” – including mandatory loyalty oaths, termination from employment, formal criminal charges for “material support of terrorism” or even “treason” – a capital offense.

Ominously, in the wake of the summary execution, via drone strikes, of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki and his American-born, 16-year-old son Abdulrahman, Bradford asserts that scholarly critics of Washington's terror war who “commit treason, or otherwise engage in unlawful combatancy … must answer for their delicts just as any others do. The perversity inherent in countenancing intellectual elitism as a basis for a defense against prosecution and a grant of immunity from targeting in war is astonishing.” (Emphasis added.)

Elsewhere in the essay, Bradford observes that “enemy combatants may be targeted and killed wherever and whenever they can be found” and that “UAVs [that is, missile-bearing drones], as with other weapons systems, do not require that targets of targeting killing be afforded a warning or judicial process before use.”

The coercive “counterattack” against so-called “CLOACA members” would not be limited to lawyers or scholars who express critical views:

“[The] infrastructure used to create and disseminate CLOACA propaganda – law school facilities, scholars' home offices, and media outlets where they give interviews – are also lawful targets given the causal connection between the content disseminated and the Islamist crimes incited. Shocking and extreme as this option might seem, CLOACA scholars, and the law schools that employ them, are – at least in theory – targetable so long as attacks are proportional, distinguish noncombatants from combatants, employ non-prohibited weapons, and contribute to the defeat of Islamism.”

Bradford would not confine the potential targets to supposedly treasonous professors and lawyers. Private citizens who are insufficiently submissive to the military junta would likewise be regarded as fair game.

“Fighting total war demands a mental reconfiguration” on the part of the public by resolving “arguments over how to balance security and liberty in favor of security,” Bradford insists, and “acculturating the necessary fighting spirit” in the population through mass propaganda and, where possible, conspicuous punishment of dissidents.

“Spartanization of the West will require the deepening of the concept of citizenship to include duties as well as rights,” writes Bradford, regurgitating a well-chewed collectivist nostrum “Rights are attended by corresponding duties, and the state may obligate citizens – even academics – to contribute to to the struggle in those ways they are able.”

Refusal “to acknowledge the Islamist threat as an existential challenge to Western Civilization, and to … unite to defeat that threat, would be the greatest dereliction of duty in history,” he declares.

Anticipating responses from critics, Bradford acknowledges that some might complain that his overwrought essay “incites authoritarianism insofar as it counsels militarization, withdraws debates over the enemy from the political arena, vilifies those who fail to acknowledge a grave threat, punishes disloyalty, and takes up law as sword and shield to defend and destroy political will.” Rather than explaining how that critique is inaccurate, Bradford parries such objections by insisting that “mobilization on all fronts is as necessary as a response to the current threat condition as it was during World War II.”
Actually, they embody privileged violence, not the rule of law.
Bradford's disdain for dissent, due process, and the rule of law do summon comparisons to a World War II-era legal revolution. In his study Hitler's Justice: The Courts of the Third Reich, Ingo Mueller describes how the Nazified German legal system was founded on the assumption that “the `national aim'” was the central organizing principle of society, and all guarantees of rights and limitations of state power yielded before the doctrine of “national emergency.”

Citing the rulings of the German Supreme Court and the writings of influential Party-aligned jurists, Mueller writes that the Nazi-era equivalent of Bradford's Law of Armed Conflict dictated that “objectivity finds its limits … when the national security is placed in doubt.” Every judge and lawyer was required to be “a son of his country” who would “place the vital interests of the nation unconditionally above what is formally the law.”

Bradford spent several years teaching law to West Point cadets before being forced to resign in August 2015. Significantly, he wasn't terminated for his advocacy of a genocidal foreign policy or a totalitarian campaign to suppress domestic dissent, but rather chose to resign rather than manning up and facing disciplinary action forinflating his military resume and falsely claiming to have received a Silver Star for combat duty in Desert Storm. In defiance of West Point’s honor code (“A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do”), Bradford routinely lies about the circumstances of his ouster, claiming that Barack Obama had him cashiered for being politically incorrect.

There is a very good chance that the Trump administration will find a place for Bradford. Had the election turned out differently, it’s quite likely Bradford would now be quietly networking with like-minded militarists to overthrow a Hillary Clinton administration.

After publishing his blueprint for “Spartanizing” the United States, Bradford privately circulated a draft of an unpublished law review article entitled “Alea Iacta Est: The U.S. Coup of 2017.” An abstract of that essay posted to Bradford's LinkedIn page adumbrated a scenario in which a U.S. president becomes an undisguised “tyrant” who must be replaced by a military junta. A “tyrant,” by Bradford’s definition, would be one who wields unaccountable power in a way he and others who share his prejudices would find unacceptable.

“What if the American people were to elect a president who want[s] to destroy the nation and works to create division among the people, encourage a culture of ridicule for basic morality and the principles that made and sustained the country, undermine the financial stability of the nation, and weaken and destroy the military?” Bradford writes. “What remedies, if any, did the Framers commend to us in the event a tyrant should ever assume the presidency? Do the people have the right to resist a tyrant, and does that really hold any prospect of success without the support of the military? Does the U.S. military have the right or even the duty to intervene in the domestic politics of the United States as constitutional and political savior when the times require it, and who makes that determination?... Is such a duty incumbent upon the U.S. Armed Forces at present?”(Emphasis added.)

The title of Bradford's essay might be an allusion to a previous treatment of a similar theme:
Brig. Gen. Charles J. Dunlap's essay "The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012," which was published in the Winter 1992—93 issue of the U.S. Army War College journal Parameters. Where Bradford appears to believe that a coup might be a “duty” incumbent on the military, Gen. Dunlap – writing from a constitutionalist, rather than praetorian, perspective – was clearly alarmed by what he saw as an entirely plausible scenario.

Dunlap used the literary device of a smuggled prison letter composed by "Prisoner 222305759," condemned to death for "treason" by military ruler Gen. E.T. Brutus. Following a series of military disasters overseas and domestic crises at home, Brutus, acting on concerns very similar to those spelled out by Bradford (or, for that matter, described in Robert Heinlein's premonitory novel Starship Troopers), staged a coup in the name of protecting "public order" from the corruption of the political class.

In the decades leading up to the putsch, the unnamed Prisoner recalled, "The one institution of government in which people retained faith was the military." Even as the public lamented the corruption and profligacy of Big Government, they had nothing but bottomless respect for the Regime's chief instrument of death and property destruction. The military retained its prestige in spite of the fact that its structural defects -- made painfully visible by a long, bloody, and futile war in the Gulf -- left it "unfit to engage an authentic military opponent."

While the military was no longer well-suited to fight and win wars, its subtle integration into every element of domestic life made it perfectly suited to carry out a coup:

"Eventually, people became acclimated to seeing uniformed military personnel patrolling their neighborhood. Now [meaning 2012 in the essay's timeline] troops are an adjunct to almost all police forces in the country. In many of the areas where much of our burgeoning population of elderly Americans live — Brutus calls them 'National Security Zones' — the military is often the only law enforcement agency. Consequently, the military was ideally positioned in thousands of communities to support the coup."


Although 2012 passed without an overt military takeover, Dunlap's projection of trends – especially the disastrous long-term military entanglement in the Middle East, the expanding role of the Pentagon in routine domestic law enforcement, and the pervasive cultural presence of the military in everyday American life -- has proven to be uncannily prescient. The same is true of the apparently inexhaustible respect and public deference enjoyed by the military, despite widespread and deepening disillusionment with nearly every other branch of government.

For most of this year, Bradford has been updating his recommendations, loudly defending Donald Trump’s proposal to target civilian families of suspected terrorists and demanding a return to conscription. His proprietary blend of militancy and sycophancy may be rewarded with a plunder-funded position in which he could help devise legal justifications for military rule. Stephen Bannon, chosen to be Trump’s chief White House strategist, is an unabashed proponent of the view that the United States is involved in a global war against radical Islam. Bradford would find suitable company among the bellicose officials with whom Trump is stocking the national security apparatus.


Is the citizen property of the state that claims him? This week's Freedom Zealot Podcast:



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Why Would Anyone Want a President?

Mon, 11/14/2016 - 10:46

No, he isn't -- unless you consent to be ruled. I don't know why anyone would.


“How small, of all that human hearts endure, that part which laws or kings can cause or cure.”
When Samuel Johnson wrote those measured words of welcome consolation, kings generally behaved with more restraint than presidents do now. The essential wisdom of his observation remains intact even our era of world-bestriding chief executives who have access to power not imagined by sages such as Johnson, the Framers who created the office, or even, for that matter, unalloyed despots like Lenin and Hitler, each of whom murdered millions but couldn’t vaporize people on a whim. 
Though he presides over a vast apparatus of coercion and punitive violence, the U.S. president falls well short of the divine status often imputed to him. Most importantly, he has no constitutional authority to “rule” anybody, and is the “leader” only of those who choose to follow him. And, may God be praised for it, the president does not “run” the country. 
It is difficult for me to comprehend a life so sterile that it becomes meaningless unless it finds validation through the election of a presidential candidate, yet lives of that kind are quite commonplace. This is proven by the flood-tide of pathos resulting from the nation-wide meltdown of campus-dwelling leftist snowflakes – and by the triumphalist gloating from collectivists of a different flavor who believe that the “greatness” of the United States is defined by the identity of the federal government’s executive figurehead. Their continent-spanning conniption fit demonstrates that at a level below sentience they understand the essential function of the state they worship – destruction of property, disruption of productive lives, and violence against the innocent. 
Frank Herbert’s literary masterpiece was an elaboration on the following insight: “Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible.” For all of its substantial flaws the U.S. Constitution does embody, however imperfectly, the insight that corruptible human beings cannot be entrusted with power, especially in an executive capacity.  How Trump's Alt-Right adherents see him....The presidency, as originally conceived, was custom-designed to be occupied by Washington, who was seen by many Americans as worthy of becoming a hereditary monarch. The Framers, acting on John Locke’sinsight that “the reigns of good princes have been always the most dangerous to the liberties of the people,” deprived that office of most of the attributes that would entice those who lusted for power. The president, once again, was to be a servant, not a ruler. 
Many believed that Washington was well-suited to the exercise of power, but the Framers understood that there is no such thing as a genuinely benevolent ruler. As Locke warned, the acts of such men become inimical to liberty “when their successors, managing the government with different thoughts, would draw the actions of those good rulers into precedent and make them the standard of their prerogative – as if what had been done only for the good of the people was a right in them to do for the harm of the people, if they so pleased….”
This point was made more recently by commentator Jimmy Dore of the progressive news site The Young Turks. During the Democratic primary, Dore – like many of his colleagues -- was an outspoken critic of Hillary Clinton. After the nominees were selected, Dore consistently warned that Clinton was not going to prevail against the populist tide that was propelling Trump’s campaign. As a more doctrinaire progressive, Dore preferred Bernie Sanders – but as someone who remembered, and took seriously, his High School civics classes, Dore was more concerned about the dangerously distended powers of the presidency itself. 
Speaking in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s victory, Dore emphasized that a Trump administration would inherit from Barack Obama a fully operational police state, with all-encompassing warrantless surveillance and a legal mechanism allowing the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens who are suspected of being “unlawful combatants.” 
“We’ve allowed our government to get rid of habeas corpus,” Dore lamented. “We’ve allowed our government to have a complete 24-hour surveillance system. That’s the opposite of liberty. That’s the opposite of freedom.”
“People were warned when they did this,” he continues, but liberals and progressives insisted that “it’s OK, because everybody likes Barack Obama right now. But what happens if there’s a next president – and nobody predicted Trump then, but now here we are.”
Dore and his fellow panelists also noted that by declining to seek the prosecution of officials who committed acts of torture during the Bush administration, Obama effectively decriminalized the practice – which his successor has promised to implement and expand. Of course, the same lamentation would be offered by conservatives in the election aftermath had Obama’s police state been inherited by Hillary Clinton. In a political environment increasingly defined by Lenin’s maxim that the only relevant question is “Who does what to whom?” neither of those factions is terribly concerned about the “what” in that equation – and the Bill of Rights is supposed to define the “what” in terms of things the government cannot do to the individual, no matter who presides over the executive branch. 
The greatness of America is inversely proportionate to the role government plays in the daily lives of its citizens. Hillary Clinton embodied the conceit that no facet of life anywhere on the planet should be a refuge from the totalitarian impulse to “improve” human conduct through the application of state-licensed violence.
...but he's just a bit more complicated. Donald Trump’s ambitions aren’t as vast, and he acts out of impulse rather than ideology – specifically, the impulse to punish others. His campaign was devoted to recovering “greatness,” rather than restoring “liberty.”

One of his most persistent refrains was “We have no choice” – a phrase that would serve as a coda to a proposal involving torture, or mass deportation, or invasive surveillance of a religious minority, or some other expansion of state power at the expense of the individual. His consistent critique of Obama – who currently presides over a half-dozen foreign military conflicts and has ordered the summary execution of US citizens by drone strikes – is that he is too “weak” in exercising the powers of his office, when he has actually been far from diffident in that regard. 
A constitutionalist would describe Obama’s weakness as an inability to restrain himself in the exercise of power. Those who understand the state to be a malignant fiction recognize that the exercise of power is itself an unqualified evil. No honest observer will discern in Donald Trump, an individual whose life has been a constant hymn of self-celebration, the smallest hint of a capacity for self-restraint. 
Since the Republicans control both houses of Congress, Trump won’t face the external restraints afforded by partisan gridlock. His ignorance of the Constitution being comprehensive, Trump doesn’t understand the legal restraints on the office he will hold. The insouciant disregard for contractual commitments he routinely displayed in his business career indicates that he wouldn’t consider himself bound by those restraints if he did understand them.  He's not mine, either. Trump’s victory on November 8 shocked people who take opinion polls seriously, but it didn’t surprise those who followed the political prediction markets. Given the superior predictive ability of investment markets, there is ominous significance in the fact that Trump’s victory sent prison stocks skyward in anticipation of a dramatic expansion of what is already the world’s largest carceral system. 
The throngs who gleefully chanted “Lock her up!” at Trump rallies are the kind of people who think our country is under-policed and our prisons are under-populated. Hopefully, their fever will eventually break, and they will recover their capacity for reflection. At that point they should consider a parable found in Armando Valladares’s memoir Against All Hope, which describes his decades of captivity in Fidel Castro’s gulag.
For most of his 22 years of incarceration as a political prisoner, Valladares was confined in the “Model Prison” on the Isla de Pinos. It was constructed under the reign of Cuban military dictator Gerardo Machado in the 1930s, and at the time it was regarded as ridiculously outsized, given that Cuba wasn’t overrun by violent criminals.
When his advisors asked why he would order construction of such an unnecessarily large prison, General Machado blithely replied: “Don’t you worry. Somebody will come along who’ll manage to fill it up.”
“That somebody,” Valladares grimly wrote, “was Fidel Castro.”
It has been said that every ruler builds a house another will inherit. A better way of expressing that insight is that every ruler expands the architecture of oppression, thereby fortifying the prison in which his subjects – and their children – will live. This is true even – no, especially -- of rulers who supposedly have a democratic mandate to exercise violence on behalf of the collective. 
Seven years ago, at the beginning of Obama’s reign, attendants at Tea Party rallies often displayed signs advertising that the occupant of the White House was “Not My President.” Obama’s partisans denounced that sentiment as seditious. The same slogan has now been adopted by participants in anti-Trump tantrums – and the underlying sentiment is now being denounced by people who had once seen that phrase as a form of patriotic poetry.
Apart from employees of the executive branch, or active-duty members of the military who have been called into service by Congress, no American really has a “president.” The office was intended to be peripheral to the daily concerns of Americans, rather than the central focus of their existence. What a wonderful thing it would be if Americans of all persuasions adopted the motto “Not My President” – and then learned to regard the state itself with the proper mixture of hostility and contempt.
 This week's Freedom Zealot Podcast: What Obama built, Donald Trump now inherits --


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(Not) Keeping Up with the Cardassians: The Regime's Failed Show Trial in Portland

Sat, 11/05/2016 - 11:35

"A salutary experience": Residents of Cardassia give audience to a show trial.


Cardassia is a fictional planet in the Star Trek universe ruled by a totalitarian state with a court system quite similar to our own. Trials on Cardassia do not to examine the charges against the accused, since a guilty verdict is foreordained. The defendant is assigned an attorney called a “public conservator” whose role is not to represent the interests of his client, but rather to assure “the productive functioning of our courts.”

“I’m here to help you concede the wisdom of the state, to prepare you to accept the inevitable with equanimity,” one conservator explained to a bemused client unfamiliar with the system. “Whatever you’ve done, whatever the charges against you, none of that really matters in the long run…. This trial is to demonstrate the futility of behavior contrary to good order. Everyone will find it most uplifting.”

The federal conspiracy trial of Ammon and Ryan Bundy and five of their associates was supposed to follow the Cardassian script – but the prosecutors lost the plot when they encountered defendants they couldn’t bluff or bully, defense attorneys who conscientiously represented their clients, and a jury that demanded actual proof of the charges being considered. 
 Wallow in your failure, you smug loser.
After spending $12 million plundered from tax victims, US Attorney for Oregon Billy Williams had to wallow in his own failure when the jury acquitted the defendants of all charges but one (it deadlocked on a theft of government property charge against Ryan Bundy). This was not jury nullification – the act of refusing to apply an unjust law, or setting aside a legitimate law because of exceptional circumstances. 

Had the prosecution sought a conviction on trespassing charges, it would have won – but Williams and his minions arrogantly assumed that it wouldn’t be necessary to prove every element of its case. They mistakenly believed that they were putting on a show trial, but the jury wasn’t on the same page. 

In search of consolation the armored geldings from the US Marshals Service assaulted and briefly detained defense attorney Marcus Mumford when he impudently reminded trial Judge Anna Brown that in the absence of the proper warrant all of the defendants were free to leave. 

“I said `if the marshals have something to say about it let’s see what orders they have, let’s see what papers they have to take [them] into custody again,’” Mumford told the media following the assault. “Next thing I know they took a hold of me and [were] talking about how I was resisting arrest. They were twisting my legs and put me to the ground and then they tased me.”One of Mumford’s putative colleagues in the criminal defense bar apparently believes that he deserved a beating.

“It’s a good result from the defense lawyer viewpoint,” sneered attorney Bob Reid in an email to Mumford and his colleagues following the not-guilty verdicts. “You all stood up to the overly arrogant prosecution and outplayed them, which is your job, and you did that very well.”
“But don’t drink the Kool-Aid which the defendants have been drinking,” Reid continued. These defendants “are not `good guys’…. Take your victory and feel great – you deserve it – but remember what it is, and what it isn’t.”

It is profoundly doubtful that Reid has ever written a snotty note of that kind to a defense attorney who obtained an acquittal for a defendant accused of an actual crime of violence – such as robbery, rape, or murder. The source of Reid’s revulsion is not the idea that a tangible crime against an individual victim remains unavenged, but rather that political offenders escaped punishment for “behavior contrary to good order.”

Mumford after being assaulted by marshals.
The protest occupation of vacant administrative buildings in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was a political act, not a crime of violence. It was a gesture defying the supposed authority of the federal government to put certain questions off-limits, such as this: By what supposed right does Washington claim to own most of the land in the western states, and to regulate most of the productive land that remains?

Mumford’s demand to see a warrant before surrendering his acquitted clients into federal custody was a manifestation of exactly the same commendable defiance, which is why he was on the receiving end of an immediate reprisal by tax-fed purveyors of officially sanctioned criminal violence. 

For reasons that should be obvious to the unprejudiced mind, the jurors who dared to subject the federal case to critical scrutiny are also concerned about potential reprisals. Their not-guilty verdicts place the jurors in incredibly rarefied company. By becoming a prosecution-driven enterprise, the federal criminal “justice” system has effectively abolished trial by jury. More than ninety percent of federal cases end with a plea bargain, and of the remainder a comparable percentage end in conviction – not because of the strength of the federal case, but because of the Regime’s insuperable material advantages. 
 
Decades ago, at the depth of Stalin-era tyranny, Soviet procurators were admonished to pursue a one hundred percent conviction rate. Despite the advantages attendant to a one-party state, that goal evaded those who operated the Soviet “justice” system. Given that roughly one in 212 defendants in federal trials wins acquittal, it’s clear that the contemporary US system has come much closer to achieving Stalin’s ambition that its Soviet antecedent ever did. 

In his Seattle University Law Review essay “Reflections on Russia’s Revival of Trial by Jury,” John C. Coughenour, the Chief United States District Judge for the Western District of Washington, describes how Russia embraced the western model of trial by jury in the late 19thCentury, witnessed its destruction by the Soviets in 1917, and then saw its revival – however unlikely this may seem – under the rule of Vladimir Putin, who in December 2001 signed legislation mandating jury trials in all of Russia’s eighty-nine regions. 


Immediately after seizing power in 1917, the Soviets “abolished the professional bar and trial by jury,” Coughenour recalls. Just sixteen years earlier, Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin praised the jury system as the “court of the street.” That was when he and his faction were the “whom,” rather than the “who.” When those roles reversed, Lenin had no compunction about disposing of the jury. 

In its place the Soviets imposed an inquisitorial system of “people’s courts” consisting of one judge and six “assessors” who were locally elected after being screened by the Party apparatus. Although supposedly analogous to a jury, the assessors “became known as `nodders’ for simply nodding in agreement with the judge,” who “answered to telephonic instructions from Party officials,” Coughenour observes. 

Where evidence was insufficient to achieve a conviction even under those circumstances, a judge “would usually return the case for `supplemental investigation,’ thus providing the prosecutor multiple bites at the apple,” continues Coughenour’s account. In our quasi-totalitarian system, this advantage is built into nearly every federal criminal case, in which US Attorneys front-load multiple charges, each containing draconian prison sentences, in the indictment. 

Eleven of the original defendants in the Portland case succumbed to this familiar form of prosecutorial intimidation – but one of them, Ryan Payne, was emboldened by disclosures in the trial to file a motion to withdraw his guilty plea. Payne, who like Ammon and Ryan Bundy faces a separate trial in Nevada on charges arising from the April 2014 standoff in Bunkerville, entered a guilty plea as part of what is called a “global offer” dealing with both prosecutions. His federal public defender, Rich Federico, points out that the Feds did not fulfill their part of the bargain by making a plea offer on the Oregon charges.

When Payne signed the Oregon plea agreement, the Nevada plea offer was still “only in a draft format,” the motion recalls. “Notably, the entire `statement of facts’ section of the Nevada plea offer had been left blank.” It wasn’t until after Payne had signed the deal that he was told the stipulated facts to which he would be agreeing – and then given only a day to accept the deal or face a possible mandatory minimum seven-year sentence.

Political dissidents celebrate court victory over the Regime.
This arrangement, once again, brings to mind the unctuous assurances of the Cardassian “conservator” as he explains the rules of a show trial to his doomed defendant: “Whatever you’ve done, whatever the charges against you, none of that really matters in the long run.” All that mattered in that fictional dystopia was the need to vindicate the “authority” of the state. The same is true in the police states, both historic and contemporary, that inspired that science fiction allegory. 

Unlike the Anglo-American adversarial system, “the Soviet inquisitorial criminal justice system neither prioritized nor emphasized the rights of individual defendants, but instead paid homage to the interests of the state,” concludes Judge Coughenour. 

The same can, and should, be said of the system that routinely coughs up viscous specimens of statist arrogance like Billy Williams. To them, the most troubling aspect of the Portland acquittals is not merely the missed opportunity to demonstrate “the futility of behavior contrary to good order,” but the possibility that the “nodders” have awakened and are starting to think for themselves. 

                                                 This week's Freedom Zealot Podcast
The FBI are the Regime's political police -- yet some self-described patriots see the Bureau as an ally because a faction within it seeks to bring down Hillary Clinton. They're forgetting that we should focus on the tyranny, not on an individual tyrant:


Please join me -- as well as Scott Horton, Sheldon Richman, and many other liberty-obsessed people -- at the new homepage of the Libertarian Institute.







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