I’ve got my wifi back. Actually, I’m off wifi altogether and instead Ethernet-wired into the Internet. Very definitely an improvement. (For two days we were at my 100 year-old mother’s house in northern Michigan, and, needless to say, her house has no Internet connectivity. So I was stealing bandwidth from a nearby coffee shop, but the signal was weak, and even then I could only get it by sitting on the steps outside my mother’s door. Hell of a situation!)
So now I’m at my mother-in-law’s in downstate Michigan, where my sister-in-law is also living temporarily, and she has had broadband installed, into which I connected with the Ethernet cable I always carry these days.
Staying here even temporarily is always a slightly surreal experience. Last night, for example, I slept with an image of Jesus staring down from above my head, another of Mary on the wall to my right, and a crucifix hanging over the foot of the bed. I’m amazed I didn’t burst into flames.
But enough of that. There’s been a wealth of idiocy and of notable activity or commentary the past few days, of which the following is a sample:
- From The NY Times, an article entitled “For Bachmann, Gay Rights Stand Reflects Mix of Issues and Faith,” which ably sets out a few of the reasons I find her and her politics abhorrent.
Also in this regard and from The Times, a video recording a discussion with the reporter who did the foregoing piece.
- A NY Times Op-Ed regarding the increased use of solitary confinement for years on end as a routine form of incarceration in so-called “super-max” facilities, something that the courts (including the Supreme Court) increasingly permit as within a prison warden’s “discretion, but which should offend peoples’ sense of justice and humanity. But then, as to prisoners, most of us view them as ‘out of sight, out of mind.’”
- The D.C. Circuit has upheld TSA’s right to use the porno scanners, and while the court chastised the agency for not adhering to proper administrative procedures when they instituted the scanners’ use, they did not require cessation. And, with regard to claims the scanners violate the Fourth Amendment, it explicitly
said the government must weigh “the degree to which (the search) intrudes upon an individual’s privacy and… the degree to which it is needed for the promotion of legitimate governmental interests.” “The balance clearly favors the government here,” the court said.
This may not be the final word, but it’s not good, and it looks like I won’t be flying for a long time, at least within the continental U.S.
- Radley Balko extends his remarks and opposition to efforts to pass so-called “Cayley’s Laws,” with a real-life example of a woman prosecuted after the death of her child, on the theory that he was killed because she was jaywalking at the time he was struck by a drunk driver. How stupid must a prosecutor be before people start calling him “stupid”?
More from another Reason.com writer, Steve Chapman. He refers to a book I’ve read and recommended before:
From the push for Caylee’s Law, you might assume the problem with American justice is that there are not enough criminal laws on the books. In fact, there are some 4,400 such statutes at the federal level alone, on top of thousands more enacted by the states.
So pervasive are the prohibitions that journalist and lawyer Harvey Silverglate titled a book Three Felonies a Day to suggest how often an ordinary person may unwittingly risk imprisonment. If there is anything prosecutors lack, it’s not grounds on which to investigate or indict citizens.
Targeting parents who fail to report missing kids on a government-approved schedule will probably accomplish nothing useful. Conscientious adults with grounds for concern already call the cops. But the change would burden police with trivial cases that would soon resolve themselves.
- And then there’s another case of a newborn removed from a woman because she ate Salad Supreme dressing with poppy seeds just before giving birth, on the ground she was using opiates.
- In a case of legal turnabout is fair play, we are hearing reports of the extensive CCTV cameras employed in San Francisco providing or proving crime suspects’ alibis. I still think those cameras are emblematic of Big Brother when they are so pervasive, but at least they sometimes can be used for good.
- I’ve made disparaging comments about the state of intelligence in the State of Tennessee. Exhibit A this time: a legislator’s “cyber bullying law,” which goes into effect on Friday and makes it a crime to post any image online that causes “emotional distress” to any individual. Needless to say, the ACLU says the law violates the guarantee of freedom of speech and expression under the First Amendment.
“This new law creates a chilling effect on expressive political, artistic, and otherwise lawful speech and also turns political activists, artists and others into criminals,” said Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN executive director, in the release. “In addition, anyone with an online presence, such as social media users, becomes vulnerable.”
Why is it unconstitutional? Read brief legal analysis by Eugene Volokh.
And, while we’re at it, let’s add Arkansas to the list of states having genetically and mentally challenged public officials. The Gould city council has somehow concluded it has the authority disallow an organization from existing and forbidding new organizations from being formed without council approval. They apparently never got far enough into the First Amendment to come across the “freedom of assembly” clause.
- More on efforts by the Feds to force defendants (or, presumably, anyone) to provide passwords and decryption keys for encrypted material or password-protected hard drives and files. Good stuff there, and very important to any of us who use encryption to protect materials. For example, I would not want my financial information to become public inadvertently — for example, if one of my external hard drives were stolen. So I encrypt such material within WinZip files, or password-protected in Quicken, thus protecting it. If the government were to have its way, if that hard drive were obtained by the government under subpoena, I presume I could be forced to give up the encryption key to such material.
- I’m usually pretty positive about San Francisco, liking the city not only for its beauty but for its (relatively) liberal politics. It seems to have fallen off the wagon, however, in current efforts to outlaw circumcision for anyone under the age of 18, even if done under a religious requirement. Really, really stupid, and the kind of thing that drives people to Libertarianism.
- From “Dildos for Justice,” a Facebook group:
When Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Team raided several businesses and homes in August they confiscated guns, cash, a computer, business records from the safe and filing cabinet, and at least one vibrating dildo out of the one of the victims bedrooms.
Cannabis Attorney Matt Abel relayed a similar situation with one of his clients, victims of a drug raid who had personal item…s taken by the SWAT team. Matt’s take on it is that the Narcotics Officers hope the victims won’t go to trial for fear their highly private devises will be publicly displayed.
“What do they think?” he asks, “that the vibrators were used in a crime? Used to transport drugs? Bought with drug money?’
Well folks, I figure it’s likely that those fellas at Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement just need a little more love in their life. Perhaps a cup of hot tea, a good friend that listens unconditionally, and more dildos might assist in elevating their compassion level.
That’s why we’re starting the Dildo’s For Justice Campaign.
If you have any dildos you’d like to donate to Oakland County Sheriff, please send them to:
Oakland County Sheriffs Narcotics Enforcement Team
1200 North Telegraph Road
East Pontiac, Michigan
And if you or anyone you know has had sexual devices photographs or videos taken by SWAT, please send us a message. We’re here to help. God Bless.
Andrea entangled in a net.