Gone To Since 1984

And now, they're coming for your Social Security money - they want your fucking retirement money - they want it back - so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all from you sooner or later. Because they own this fucking place. It's a Big Club: and you're not in it.

George Carlin

  • July 10, 2012 5:54 pm

    VanRy’s Express

    Turns out Lemkin|5 came a few days too soon; here we have a bit of follow up that reaches all the way back to dickity-nine. You no doubt fondly recall the sad tale of Kimber VanRy, the man who received a $25 summons for just sitting there, drinking his own beer, on his own stoop, all safely enclosed behind his own gate there in Brooklyn.

    Well, they’re at it again. The New York Times (again) reports that this time it’s Andrew Rausa and a few friends that were sitting on a similarly figured stoop behind bars; each received a summons. Even one friend who “was holding a red plastic cup filled with soda” received a $25 summons. This is hardly surprising, in that they made the cardinal mistake of pointing out the inherent foolishness and likely illegality of this sort of enforcement. Gentlemen, to the iPhone:

    Holding his phone, Mr. Rausa approached the officer and said that because he was sitting on a private stoop behind a gate, he was not breaking the law.

    “I don’t care what the law says, you’re getting a summons,” the officer said before rolling up his window, according to Mr. Rausa.

    Frankly, he’s lucky he didn’t get his face used as a door opener for a few hours while the cops made their rounds. At the very least, a savage in situ beat-down would have ensued in various parts of town. Even in the absence of all that, a simmering rage gradually built over the $25 fines:

    “We had an ‘I am Spartacus’ moment,” he recalled. “They were like, ‘No way, we’re going to fight this. This is injustice.’”


    “My issue is not some yuppie, I-think-I’m-above-the-law-issue, it’s the fact that I brought to the attention of the police officer that he was not in the right and he was not receptive at all,” Mr. Rausa said.

    File that last sentence under “least surprising thing ever reported by The Times of New York.” I’m not even entirely sure Mr. Rausa is still speaking English at that moment. But he’s right about the legality part. And that’s something, isn’t it? Rest assured we’ll be watching for the outcome of this one. If CourtTV hadn’t long ago switched its programming to only Bahrani hard-R independent films, we could all expect extensive coverage. But we can’t. So it goes.

    Regarding the mechanics of the piece itself: what beers were they drinking? How many? Crown tops or twist? Where did you learn your trade, Vivian Yee? Clearly not from Clyde Haberman, who I trust is still with us. But, in partial recompense, Vivian does offer up some spicy VanRy where-are-they-now:

    Since contesting his summons [and having it dismissed on a technicality], Mr. VanRy has moved from Prospect Heights to a brownstone in Windsor Terrace, but he hasn’t stopped enjoying his beers outside

    Thank FSM for that. And godspeed to you, Andrew Rausa. A parched nation looks to you as you defend our freedom to drink a beer quietly whilst safely ensconced on our own property.

  • April 3, 2012 8:43 am

    "Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the roar of its many waters."

    Frederick Douglass

  • February 3, 2012 10:06 am

    Annals of the (Completely) Free Market

    May God bless Our completely Free, Uninhibited, and Unbiased market economy that, for some reason likely tied to his un-Americanism, noted socialist Obama hates so very much:

    By granting exemptions to laws and regulations that act as a deterrent to securities fraud, the S.E.C. has let financial giants like JPMorganChase, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America continue to have advantages reserved for the most dependable companies, making it easier for them to raise money from investors, for example, and to avoid liability from lawsuits if their financial forecasts turn out to be wrong.

    Freedom! If we can just keep on keeping Big Guvmint off the backs of these little Mom and Pop operators, just think of all the jobs that will be created when, again, their “financial forecasts turn out to be wrong.” Going to be a big day for us all.

  • June 9, 2011 2:42 pm

    "If a bondholder misses a payment for a day or two or three or four — what is more important is you are putting the government in a materially better position to better pay its bills going forward."

    Paul Ryan being serious and courageous and, yet again, showing just how absolutely determined the GOP is at all levels, extreme far right or merely far right, to have a default on the debt of the United States. Why, we’ll barely notice it’s even happened.
    It’s the only way they see getting the White House in 2012. It’s been the plan all along. They assume Obama will get the “egg on his face” and they’re probably right. Once in control it’s goodbye filibuster (assuming the Democrats lose the Senate), goodbye social safety net, and hello freedom is just as free as what of it you can afford to buy. After that, when the money’s gone: kindly go die in the streets.
    But hey, taxes will be pretty low. On the already rich, anyway.

  • June 1, 2011 10:24 am

    "I’m not for profiling people on the color of their skin, or on their religion, but I would take into account where they’ve been traveling and perhaps, you might have to indirectly take into account whether or not they’ve been going to radical political speeches by religious leaders. It wouldn’t be that they are Islamic. But if someone is attending speeches from someone who is promoting the violent overthrow of our government, that’s really an offense that we should be going after — they should be deported or put in prison."

    Rand Paul, detailing the long-held libertarian philosophy of arbitrarily limiting speech by jailing those who might have paid attention to such forbidden speech or otherwise come into contact with any kind of inconvenient political speech.

    (Source: thinkprogress.org)

  • December 1, 2010 1:27 pm

    "Right now we have a retirement system that has the great virtue of not being intrusive: Social Security doesn’t demand that you prove you need it, doesn’t ask about your personal life, doesn’t make you feel like a beggar. And now we’re going to replace that with a system in which large numbers of Americans have to plead for special dispensation, on the grounds that they’re too feeble to work for a living. Freedom!"

    Paul Krugman, shrill as always, and threatening George Carlin

  • November 29, 2010 9:55 am

    "If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation […] want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. […] Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."

    Frederick Douglass, 1857.
    Maximum yep.

  • November 18, 2010 11:11 am

    In which Ron Paul and I Agree

    Imagine if the political elites in our country were forced to endure the same conditions at the airport as business travelers, families, senior citizens, and the rest of us. Perhaps this problem could be quickly resolved if every cabinet secretary, every member of Congress, and every department head in the Obama administration were forced to submit to the same degrading screening process as the people who pay their salaries.

    The American Traveler Dignity Act. Good on you, Ron.
    But: more to the point, it would be nice to see the conversation moved from being specifically about the scanners to a more general “the scanners are an entirely pointless invasion of deeply personal rights” realm. These scanners are a multi-million dollar boondoggle entirely aimed at stopping the underpants bomber of last year. They will do nothing whatever to stop the cecum bomber of 2011 or the vagina explosions of 2013. That we refuse to have this conversation, ever, is precisely why the next attack will succeed. Better to mark such a memo “classified” and hope nobody goes looking for it. Same with the memo on how these porno-scans are in fact saved and will inevitably get out; I’m surprised we don’t already have an airport scan of some celebrity. Likewise classify any health-related studies. And classify anything about the impact on pilots forced to go through this entirely needless screen daily for the rest of their careers. In the next fabulous version, your junk will be super-imposed on a stick figure! Won’t that be better for everyone? Left unasked, of course, is is this thing likely to stop any attack ever mounted, planned or attempted, past or present? Because it’s not clear it would have detected the very attack they point to when demanding the scans occur. It certainly wouldn’t have prevented 9/11; that fact is absolutely clear. I’m quite sure that any systematic testing of the assertion that these scanners offer no measurable improvement, if it’s been tested at all, is classified. File next to “what we deem as incredibly dangerous liquids in volumes greater than 3oz shall be stored in trash barrels directly adjacent to large concentration of passengers waiting in line.”

    Listening to the tone of the recent hearings, I was unsurprised and yet still deeply troubled to hear that, mostly, the top concern was that this approach (apart from any particular utility or drawback) at least makes observant Muslims uncomfortable. I especially loved the back-slappy interchange between TSA chief John Pistole and John Ensign (R-Nev) who apparently agree that the most important part of any security technology or invasion of privacy is that it irritate Muslims. Does extending this underlying theory mean that if I agree to shave while in line I can thus skip the porno-scans?

    Just as troubling, though, was the easy acceptance of the entirely false equivalency of “screened” airplane (using millimeter wave) and “unscreened” airplane (not using) and the relative preference a theoretical passenger would assert. Yes, we know a lot about everyone’s junk as they get on that “screened” plane, but it’s not actually any safer. And so far as I can tell from the transcripts I’ve found, not one Senator raised the issue of actual security improvement through this technology. In fact, they’ve only added a particularly demeaning bit of security theater to the already frothy mix of half-assed fixes to yesterday’s problems. And I guess that’s all we’re after anymore: The terrorists are coming; look busy!

    It’s facile but still telling to point out that around 400,000 people have died in car accidents since 9/10/2001. About 3500 have died in domestic terror attacks since 9/10/2001. Feel free to compare and contrast national auto safety policy to national airline security policy.

  • October 8, 2010 9:55 am

    "Consider the rationale driving these who object to real trials: it’s vital that the Government be able to use information that it obtained by torturing people. It’s equally vital that the Government be absolutely assured that it will obtain a conviction against anyone it accuses of being a Terrorist. Because this is a “war,” we can waive our usual rules of justice. Any proceeding which imposes limits on the Government’s ability to profit from its torture, or which introduces any uncertainty as to the verdict, is proven to be both inappropriate and dangerous. We can and should simply imprison whomever we want in the War on Terror without the need for any charges, but if we do charge and try them, it should only be in newly invented tribunals (i.e., military commissions) where traditional due process is severely reduced and the rules are designed to ensure a guilty verdict, even it means allowing torture-obtained evidence.

    People who think this way, by definition, simply do not believe in the rule of law. A system that guarantees guilty verdicts is not one that operates under the rule of law. Those are called “show trials” — at least they used to be when other countries did that. And the demand that torture-obtained evidence be admissible not only removes one from adherence to the rule of law, but from the civilized world as well. The whole point of a “justice system” is that there are rules that are well-established and which apply equally to everyone. Although the requirement that the Government adhere to those rules will inevitably mean that some very, very bad people are acquitted — including mass murderers, child rapists, and even Terrorists — that’s the price we’ve always been willing to pay to live under what we call “the rule of law” and a “justice system.” Those pointing to Judge Kaplan’s ruling as proof that Terrorists should not be tried in a real court — all because he applied centuries-old legal principles to the Government — believe in none of that, by definition."

    Greenwald (via jonathan-cunningham)

    Agree completely, but would add that the key part here that always seems to slide by in this discussion is that the rules are set out in advance and we, as a society, agree to live by them (or, alternatively, agitate through similarly agreed upon channels to change the rules instead of merely ignoring them when it suits us and summarily declaring that incident a state secret). It is only through this unspoken covenant that the governors and the governed can coexist. As soon as it becomes allowable (and even expected in “serious” circles) that the rules can be changed by fiat, or for the convenience of one or the other of these two parties, or because of the relative wealth or perceived “importance” of one party, or by a President (or other high official) who is inexplicably deemed intrinsically incapable of breaking any laws, then a democratic society collapses. Thus is the first link of the chains forged.
    And I’d say we’re already several links in. But nobody seems to care. Thus dies our Republic while the Tea Klan hollers about whether or not we should all have to pay for fire departments even if our own house is not actively on fire. I mean, that sort of socialistic fire extinguishing arrangement inevitably helps a lot of immigrants who burn their houses down all the time to cover up the rampant decapitations going on in there in accordance with sharia law. Am I right?

  • September 29, 2010 10:03 am

    Obama's secret assassination program against US citizens


    At this point, I didn’t believe it was possible, but the Obama administration has just reached an all-new low in its abysmal civil liberties record.  In response to the lawsuit filed by Anwar Awlaki’s father asking a court to enjoin the President from assassinating his son, a U.S. citizen, without any due process, the administration late last night, according to The Washington Post, filed a brief asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit without hearing the merits of the claims.  That’s not surprising:  both the Bush and Obama administrations have repeatedly insisted that their secret conduct is legal but nonetheless urge courts not to even rule on its legality.  But what’s most notable here is that one of the arguments the Obama DOJ raises to demand dismissal of this lawsuit is “state secrets”:  in other words, not only does the President have the right to sentence Americans to death with no due process or charges of any kind, but his decisions as to who will be killed and why he wants them dead are “state secrets,” and thus no court may adjudicate their legality.

    I never thought I could seriously type the title above.  It sounds crazy right?  The President running an assassination program where he can, without judicial or legislative oversight, kill any US citizen.  If Greenwald didn’t link to the legal document above, I wouldn’t have believed it.  Nothing can be done so long as the court sees it as a “state secret” so the only recourse is to elect another President in 2012.

    Except that “electing another President” won’t help either. Implicit in the election of Obama (or any Democrat who ran in 2008, for that matter) was the notion that, leaving aside every other possible policy decision that might come up in their term, said Democrat would be working to reverse the worst excesses of the Bush/Cheney “Security State.” That this has not happened is an understatement. From what I can see, the Obama administration has largely embraced and extended the Bush/Cheney security state.
    Electing “another President” won’t help either. Your choices come 2012 are going to be a) Obama (again, forgetting everything else that has happened by 2012: on the essential freedoms that were formerly implicit to citizenship he is a failure thus far and shows no sign of changing) or b) Palin/Romney/Pawlenty/whoever. Do you really think anyone the GOP runs is going to be to the left of Obama on basic freedoms and the rights of a citizen? I, for one, do not. Because, honestly, there is no way they let any Democrat seize the security state thing from them. It won’t even come up if they think they can’t get sufficiently far to the right of him.

    One can only conclude that these policies are then, for all intents and purposes, permanent. You get one chance to roll them back: when the next person comes in. And Obama’s administration has decided they like them just fine. It would be one thing to charge and try Awlaki in absentia, and then issue the orders as something along the lines of “look, he’s a convicted criminal in a war zone; we’re bringing him to justice; he may well die in that effort, but we hope to bring him to face his sentence.” There are very few people who would argue with such a truly conservative approach. Instead: no charges, no trial, everything made a “state secret,” and not even a passing effort made at even implying that there’s a real, legal case that even can be made against this guy. He’s delivered some strident sermons. That’s the full case against him in five words. On those grounds, the future GOP-in-charge could choose to round up Jeremiah Wright. Is that a country we want to live in?

    And yet the Tea Klan screams tyranny because they are still going to buy their health insurance from a private company come 2014 and the top marginal rates might rise slightly. Indeed they have their fingers on the pulse of The Founders’ deepest wishes.