Audio Clips

01 July 2013

Plainsclothes Cops Frighten Sorority Girls Carrying Bottled Water, Arrest Them For Panicking

In the apt words of Brian Doherty who posted this story at Reason: "No amount of snarky irony can prepare you for this tale of police idiocy in the name of the most minor and absurd of laws."

Six Plainclothes Cops Attack and Arrest University of Virginia Sorority Woman After She Buys Water From Grocery Store

Modern policing! Public safety! No amount of snarky irony can prepare you for this tale of police idiocy in the name of the most minor and absurd of laws, reported in Daily Progress out of Virginia:
When a half-dozen men and a woman in street clothes closed in on University of Virginia student Elizabeth Daly, 20, she and two roommates panicked.
Photo credit: Fergal Mac Eoinin / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SAPhoto credit: Fergal Mac Eoinin / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA
That led to Daly spending a night and an afternoon in the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. Her initial offense? Walking to her car with bottled water, cookie dough and ice cream just purchased from the Harris Teeter in the Barracks Road Shopping Center for a sorority benefit fundraiser.
A group of state Alcoholic Beverage Control agents clad in plainclothes approached her, suspecting the blue carton of LaCroix sparkling water to be a 12-pack of beer. Police say one of the agents jumped on the hood of her car. She says one drew a gun. Unsure of who they were, Daly tried to flee the darkened parking lot.
"They were showing unidentifiable badges after they approached us, but we became frightened, as they were not in anything close to a uniform," she recalled Thursday in a written account of the April 11 incident.
"I couldn't put my windows down unless I started my car, and when I started my car they began yelling to not move the car, not to start the car. They began trying to break the windows. My roommates and I were ... terrified," Daly stated.
The authorities agree with her tale, but, you know, she had pissed the cops off by then.
Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman read Daly's account and said it was factually consistent.
Prosecutors say she apologized profusely when she realized who the agents were. But that wasn't good enough for ABC agents, who charged her with three felonies. Prosecutors withdrew those charges Thursday in Charlottesville General District Court, but Daly still can't understand why she sat in jail....
Agents charged Daly with two counts of assaulting a law enforcement officer and one count of eluding police, all Class 6 felonies carrying a maximum penalty of five years in prison and $2,500 in fines per offense....
Daly incurred the assault charges when she "grazed" two agents with her SUV, according to court records. She drove the SUV past the agents after her front-seat passenger, in a panic, yelled at Daly to "go, go, go" and climbed into the rear of the vehicle to gain space from the men on her side of the car, the records state...
Oh, the irony!
The women dialed 911 as they pulled out of the parking lot to report what was happening and ask whether the agents were police officers. Daly said she was planning to drive to a police station. She stopped the SUV nearby for an agent driving a vehicle with lights and sirens, Chapman said.

27 June 2013

Steady Encroachments Against Our Civil Liberties

Sheldon Richman recently wrote an article on why NSA spying is so dangerous to our freedoms.  The steady, continual encroachments by the federal government against our civil liberties puts future generations at greater risk of living under a totalitarian regime.  Not because they won't value freedom, but rather because they may not even understand what freedom used to mean.

Motives Aside, the NSA Should Not Spy on Us

You need not suspect the motives of those responsible for NSA surveillance to detest what they are doing. In fact, we may have more to fear from spies acting out of patriotic zeal than those acting out of power lust or economic interest: Zealots are more likely to eschew restraints that might compromise their righteous cause.
For the sake of argument, we may assume that from President Obama on down, government officials sincerely believe that gathering Americans’ telephone and Internet data is vital to the people’s security. Does that make government spying okay?
No, it doesn’t.
“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force. Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.” Although often attributed to George Washington, that famous quotation was probably was not uttered by him. Nevertheless, its value lies in what it says, not in who said it.
At best, government represents a risk to the people it rules. Even under a tightly written constitution and popular vigilance — both of which are easier to imagine than to achieve — government officials will always have the incentive and opportunity to push the limits and loosen the constraints.
But if their purpose is to protect us, why worry?
It doesn’t take much imagination to answer to this question. A purported cure can be worse than the disease. Who would accept the placement of a surveillance camera in every home as a way of preventing crime? By the same token, gathering data on everyone without probable cause in order to locate possible terrorists should be abhorrent to people who prize their freedom and privacy.
Since we’re assuming pure motives, we’ll ignore the specter of deliberate abuse. In our hypothetical case, no one would use the information in a way not intended to promote the general welfare. Pure motives, however, do not rule out error. So the danger remains that innocent people could have their lives seriously disrupted — or worse — by a zealous agent of government who sees an ominous pattern in someone’s data where none in fact exists. Author Nassim Nicholas Taleb points out that human beings are more likely to see order in randomness than vice versa. As a result, a blameless individual could have his life turned upside down by a bureaucrat who goes the extra mile to ensure that no terrorist act occurs on his watch. Think of the turmoil created for those falsely accused of the bombing at the Atlanta Olympic games and of sending anthrax letters after the 9/11 attacks.
The odds of such an error for any particular individual may be slight, but they are big enough if you put yourself into the picture.
However, that is not the only reason to reject even a well-intentioned surveillance state.
Julian Sanchez, who specializes in technology and civil liberties, points out that a person who has nothing to hide from government officials — if such a person actually exists — would still not have a good reason to tolerate NSA surveillance, because the general awareness that government routinely spies on us has an insidious effect on society:
Even when it isn’t abused … the very presence of that spy machine affects us and poisons us.… It’s slow and subtle, but surveillance societies inexorably train us for helplessness, anxiety and compliance. Maybe they’ll never look at your call logs, read your emails or listen in on your intimate conversations. You’ll just live with the knowledge that they always could — and if you ever had anything worth hiding, there would be nowhere left to hide it.
Is that the kind of society we want, one in which we assume a government official is looking over our shoulders?
Because government is force — “a dangerous servant and a fearful master” — it must be watched closely, even — especially — when it does something you like. But eternal vigilance is hard to achieve. People outside the system are busy with their lives, and politicians generally can’t be expected to play watchdog to other politicians. Therefore, at the least, we need institutional constraints and transparency: No secret warrants. No secret courts. No secret expansive interpretations of laws and constitutional prohibitions.
This article originally appeared in the Future of Freedom Foundation. 

06 June 2013

Because So Few People Know About Christmas Trees...

The Obama Administration has decided to tax every Christmas tree in America with a $.15 tax that will rise to $.20 per tree eventually.  While this sounds like very little money, when you multiply it across tens of millions of households who buy Christmas trees it's just another revenue grab.  Plus, if you get enough of these "little" money grabs it all adds up to a significant drain on American families.  We are being taxed to the point that it has become obvious that the federal government thinks of all money as theirs and they just decide how much you get to keep.

The justification behind the tax is to create a Christmas Tree promotion program.  You know, because almost no one knows about Christmas trees.  They're such a new development in American life and we really want to make sure that they catch on.  According to a Heritage Foundation post, "Some in the Christmas tree industry sought to develop a promotional program to assist its industry. After three failed attempts to set up a voluntary system, they turned to the federal government to do what it couldn’t: Force Christmas tree producers and importers to pay for a Christmas tree promotion program."

So really, like most legislation in today's America, this is just a bunch of industry whiners using the government to enforce their will on the others in their industry who don't like listening to them.  Cronies really are the lowest form of life.  They're also the kind of people that we used to tar and feather and ride out of town on a rail.  Ahh, those were the days.

04 June 2013

Independence Hall: First Amendment-Free Zone

This video is about 13 minutes but it is incredibly enlightening about the capacity of government employees to infringe on the Constitutional rights of citizens and feel absolutely no compunction about it.  It is a vivid reminder of why the Founding Fathers counseled us to "eternal vigilance".  There are a significant number of simple-minded, unthinking order-followers among the ranks of federal employees.  They are a threat to your freedom and, let's be honest, they're a much more likely threat to you and me on a daily basis than the terrorists that our government would have us constantly fear.  The last 3 minutes in particular are enlightening and disturbing.  Please share with your friends.

30 May 2013

Freedom For Me, But Not For Thee

This is classic hypocrisy, this time coming from lunatics who claim to "fight to the death to have everybody be able to say their opinions!"  You know, unless we don't like you.  That means you, Koch brothers, you filthy animals!

23 May 2013

Social Security: Really Our Best Retirement Option?

Learn Liberty and Antony Davies put together a great 4 minute illustration of how poorly your Social Security "investment" is serving you.