AP: Libertarians seek a place in the New Hampshire sun

Posted on July 25th, 2009 by bile
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By ADAM GELLER, AP National Writer Adam Geller, Ap National Writer – 1 hr 12 mins ago

LANCASTER, N.H. – He fled the “People’s Republic of Massachusetts” to escape tyranny. Now he strides the campground in a plaid kilt and mirror shades, an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle across his torso, an immense Scottish sword sheathed between his shoulders.

Out here, though, the only signs of danger are the ones warning drivers to watch out for moose. Could it be he senses a threat we’re not seeing?

“Not expecting,” says the swordsman, who calls himself Doobie, grinning broadly. “Just ready.”

There’s no escaping the long arm of big government — even here at the far edge of a state whose license plate decrees that without freedom from oppressive authority you might as well choose death. But for Doobie and 500 others, this tent colony on this particular weekend is about as close to Libertarian Nirvana as they’re likely to get.

They’ve come for the Porcupine Freedom Festival, four days of beer, burgers and bonfires. But more importantly, they are here to carve out an enclave of less government and more liberty to do as they wish.

They are here to show a lost nation the way back to its political roots.

It hasn’t been an easy message to sell these past few years. Their group, the Free State Project, has struggled to attract followers. But now, with Americans thinking anew about the reach and role of government, Free Staters see at least the hint of an opening.

So this weekend, they drink to the future. Between swigs of a custom brew called Overregulated Ale, they ridicule the Federal Reserve, applaud the defeat of a bill that would have required the wearing of seat belts, bemoan higher taxes and restrictions on gun rights.

“We said bad things are going to happen and they happen,” Jason Sorens, a political science professor, preaching to the crowd clustered around picnic tables. “We say, we told you so.”

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Man held for psychological evaluation after getting irate that SWAT team shows up for him yelling at videogame

Posted on July 20th, 2009 by bile
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Screams coming from inside a New Jersey house prompted a woman taking a stroll to call the cops. Police arrived on the scene and knocked on the door. That’s when things got bizarre.The resident said he was screaming because he was playing video games. According to MyCentralJersey.com, the man became “irrational” and more police back-up was called in.

After the additional officers arrived, the man refused to let police into his house, going as far as threatening them and slamming the door. The police were forced to communicate with the man through the house’s open windows. A SWAT team even arrived on the scene — the man eventually came out of his house incident free 4:41pm.

Since the investigation is still ongoing, the man’s identity has not yet been released. He has been taken to the Somerset Medical Center in Somerville, New Jersey for psychological evaluation. Why you ask? ‘Cause this shit is crazytown.

  1. Calling in the SWAT team was way way overdoing it and did nothing but escalate the situation.
  2. A psych eval? WTF is this? How far are we from Soviet Russia and tossing people the government doesn’t see as ‘normal’ in padded rooms. The man was rightly pissed that well armed and armored thugs showed up to his home for yelling at his own TV/videogame, in his own home.
  3. He’s lucky all he got was a psych eval and disturbing the peace. He could have been murdered. Looks like the police that showed up first were relatively level headed.

Star Telegram covers raising police state

Posted on May 31st, 2009 by bile
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A $226,000 armored vehicle for the North Richland Hills Police Department SWAT team arrived a few days ago to replace one the agency got in 1990.

To many people that vehicle — and others like it used by police departments across the country — will go unnoticed. The public seems to largely accept the use of military-type equipment, technology and tactics as not only appropriate but also necessary to fight crime and make communities more safe and secure.

Armored vehicles are used by law enforcement agencies in Fort Worth, Arlington and Bedford and at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, just to name a few. Some police departments have assault rifles, noise-flash devices and grenade launchers. Arlington even sought federal money for a drone aircraft.

But some criminal-justice experts are troubled by law enforcement agencies’ growing use of military-style equipment. Rather than employ such equipment only in extreme situations, the critics say, their use is becoming commonplace, leading police to use unnecessary force and intimidating residents. For example, some cite an episode last year in which police used a battering ram to raid a Duncanville swingers club when no one answered a knock.

“We have been witnesses to a little-noticed but nonetheless momentous historical change — the traditional distinctions between military/police, war/law and internal/external security are rapidly blurring,” said criminal justice professor Peter Kraska, of Eastern Kentucky University, in one on his studies on the militarization of police departments.

Local police officials note that growing populations, rising crime rates and more-lethal weapons available to criminals have forced officers to keep up. They also say they rely on training to make sure equipment is used appropriately.

“For years, there’s always been a parallel between law enforcement and the military,” said Bedford Police Chief David Flory, former director of training for the Texas Tactical Peace Officers Association. “Of course, the big difference is the rules of engagement. The military in Afghanistan or Iraq is dealing with warfare. We as officers have the U.S. Constitution and the Texas Penal Code that we must follow.”

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White House Czar Calls for End to ‘War on Drugs’

Posted on May 15th, 2009 by bile
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The Obama administration’s new drug czar says he wants to banish the idea that the U.S. is fighting “a war on drugs,” a move that would underscore a shift favoring treatment over incarceration in trying to reduce illicit drug use.

In his first interview since being confirmed to head the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske said Wednesday the bellicose analogy was a barrier to dealing with the nation’s drug issues.

“Regardless of how you try to explain to people it’s a ‘war on drugs’ or a ‘war on a product,’ people see a war as a war on them,” he said. “We’re not at war with people in this country.”

The Obama administration is likely to deal with drugs as a matter of public health rather than criminal justice alone, with treatment’s role growing relative to incarceration, Mr. Kerlikowske said.

The administration also said federal authorities would no longer raid medical-marijuana dispensaries in the 13 states where voters have made medical marijuana legal. Agents had previously done so under federal law, which doesn’t provide for any exceptions to its marijuana prohibition.

James Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, the nation’s largest law-enforcement labor organization, said that while he holds Mr. Kerlikowske in high regard, police officers are wary.

“While I don’t necessarily disagree with Gil’s focus on treatment and demand reduction, I don’t want to see it at the expense of law enforcement. People need to understand that when they violate the law there are consequences.”

  1. You can’t convince people it’s a ‘war on drugs’ or a ‘war on a product’ because that’s impossible and just as ridiculous as a ‘war on terror’ or ‘war on a tactic.’ They see it as a war on them because it is. Drug and products exist only because people desire them. You must go after the actor behind the drug or product. The user or seller or manufacturer. Whenever you prohibit something you will enveitably make that problem worse and cause negative side effects you didn’t account for. Whether that be drugs, guns, prostitution or fast food.
  2. While forced treatment is likely better than forced incarceration you will still have asset forfeiture happening. You’re still forcing people to do something against their will for what was likely a consensual, non-violent, voluntary ‘crime.’
  3. Treating it as a ‘health’ issue doesn’t make me feel any better. Health in general but specifically mental health has been a tool used by violent fascist governments throughout time to remove those who they disagreed with. Many states in the USA practiced eugenics before Hitler or anyone else. Many regimes would use vague mental ‘disorders’ to lock up political advisories in padded rooms and in most countries including the United States you can be held practically forever without the same well documented legal rights that a normally imprisoned individual has. Not that that always helps.
  4. Medical-marijuana dispensary raids? Oh yes because that promise was so well kept. I’m totally going to just ignore all of Obama’s lies and believe his drug ‘czar’ on this one.
  5. This has been said many times but… czar? Really? Must they be so blatantly power hungry? I’ve no doubt these guys think of themselves as little emperors. It’s sick.
  6. Even if treatment goes up will incarceration go down? Will he ask Obama to release/pardon all or some or even one of the non-violent federally held drug ‘criminals?’ The USA has the largest prison population both in total number of prisoners and per capita. The prison system is one of the fastest growing industries. To make room for non-violent drug offenders California last I heard was planning on releasing violent prisoners out early. Seems wrong on several levels.
  7. Oh… and what about obeying the actual laws of the land Mr. Kerlikowske? You know… the US Constitution? The 9th and 10th Amendments. Would you be so kind as to point out the section in Article 1 that gives congress the power to pass such prohibitions?
  8. Of course James Pasco is wary of the proposed changes. As he says: “I don’t want to see it as an expense of law enforcement.” What he really means is that he doesn’t want the war on drugs to shrink because then he may not get the funding or get to use his fun SWAT equipment as much. Can’t have a reduction in the police state. Gotta keep them boys employed. Can’t make it look like they aren’t enforcing the rule of law. Even though they are breaking their oath to be peace officers and to the Constitution regularly.

SWAT team raids family of food co-op

Posted on December 5th, 2008 by bile
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On Monday, December 1, a SWAT team with semi-automatic rifles entered the private home of the Stowers family in LaGrange, Ohio, herded the family onto the couches in the living room, and kept guns trained on parents, children, infants and toddlers, from approximately 11 AM to 8 PM. The team was aggressive and belligerent. The children were quite traumatized. At some point, the “bad cop” SWAT team was relieved by another team, a “good cop” team that tried to befriend the family. The Stowers family has run a very large, well-known food cooperative called Manna Storehouse on the western side of the greater Cleveland area for many years.There were agents from the Department of Agriculture present, one of them identified as Bill Lesho. The search warrant is reportedly supicious-looking. Agents began rifling through all of the family’s possessions, a task that lasted hours and resulted in a complete upheaval of every private area in the home. Many items were taken that were not listed on the search warrant. The family was not permitted a phone call, and they were not told what crime they were being charged with. They were not read their rights. Over ten thousand dollars worth of food was taken, including the family’s personal stock of food for the coming year. All of their computers, and all of their cell phones were taken, as well as phone and contact records. The food cooperative was virtually shut down. There was no rational explanation, nor justification, for this extreme violation of Constitutional rights.

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Not that we don’t already have McCain’s dream military style police state

Posted on August 2nd, 2008 by bile
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Just north of D.C., in the small suburb of Berwyn Heights, a county SWAT team raided a house last week after a shipping service delivered a large quantity of illegal drugs to the front door.

Good police work in the war on drugs? Probably not.

The house is home to Berwyn Heights mayor Cheye Calvo and his wife Trinity Tomsic, and their two black Labs (pictured left). Though the package containing more than 30 lbs. of marijuana was addressed to Tomsic, the couple may have had nothing to do with the drugs. In recent months there have been incidents in which large quantities of drugs were delivered to homes in the D.C. area, where they were then supposed to be intercepted by drug dealers — all without the package addressees’ knowledge or involvement. Calvo and Tomsic may have been caught up in just such a scheme.

This would make Calvo and Tomsic the unfortunate victims of an understandable error by the police SWAT team, except…

The police action was yet another guns-ablazin’, no-knock raid, in which the officers (in what seems like SOP) shot the couple’s dogs, even as one of the pups tried to run away. The cops then handcuffed Calvo and Tomsic’s mother-in-law and interrogated them for hours, while the dogs’ bodies laid in pools of blood nearby. The cops later found the package of drugs — unopened, as if it were an unexpected package. No arrests were made.

“My government blew through my doors and killed my dogs,” Calvo told the Washington Post. “They thought we were drug dealers, and we were treated as such. I don’t think they really ever considered that we weren’t.”

Of course, it may end up that Calvo and his wife are part of a drug distribution ring, and the police have gotten their man. But even if that’s true, was a no-knock, shoot-the-dogs raid an appropriate police action for a lousy shipment of pot?

And what if the current, emerging picture is correct, and this is yet another botched police raid and cops-gone-wild? If that’s the case (and I emphazie the “if”), the Prince George’s County SWAT team and its superiors need to be held accountable.

Law enforcement officers have a difficult and dangerous job, and I do not make light of that. But their sworn duty is to protect and serve the public, not blast their way into innocent people’s houses and shoot their dogs. If they cannot fulfill that duty, then they cannot be law enforcement officers.

All this over a plant people like to smoke.