Morning Links

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011
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29 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  Frank Hummel | 

    “Local governments are using license plate scanners to monitor citizens’ movement.”

    Actually they monitor the license plate movements.

  2. #2 |  Mike T | 

    I’m fine with limiting the US military’s active components primarily to a self-defense force. However, the way to get to that point is only through a constitutional amendment assigning all power to determine where and how the President can deploy US forces to Congress. The President shouldn’t necessarily be prohibited from sending Delta or Seal Team 6 to assassinate a future bin Laden without a declaration of war, but the President’s power should exist at the sufferance of Congress.

    I think Friedman is naive about the difference between a force that can credibly defend US soil and project our strength. Our military **right now** can only “project strength” against third world countries. Our active duty military, without the reserves fully activated could never go into a prolonged conventional war with Russia or China because their armies alone are larger than our entire active duty military. The key to ending the misuse of our military is constitutional, not budgetary. The budget side will follow from a constitutional change.

    In general, the way the only way to reform the acquisitions bloat is to change the civil service. Contractors are hired often because they’re simply government employees that can be fired like private sector employees. Fix that and you’ll see a significant chunk of the military-industrial complex melt away and return to its traditional role of providing only those products and services which are military-specific like weapon systems.

  3. #3 |  Jim Collins | 

    Mike T.

    Unless we decide to invade Russia or China, the strength of their armies doesn’t come into play. Neither country has much in the way of force projection. China is moving in that direction, but, it will take time.

  4. #4 |  Mike T | 

    #3,

    The strength of any country’s army is irrelevant until such time as we decide to invade them. My point, which still stands, is that we already have a self-defense force. It looks like it can project raw power primarily because of who we target.

    One of the advantages we have, that Friedman only lightly touched on, is our geography. That means we can conduct most of our national security preventative measures via immigration controls, not military operations. It’s highly cost-effective to simply deport all Saudi nationals studying or immigrating to the US. As they’re not citizens, it’s irrelevant to the civil liberties of our people for the federal government to simply deport all citizens of states with active terrorism and intelligence problems.

  5. #5 |  Juice | 

    “Why is the Pentagon spending tens of millions of U.S. tax dollars to whitewash the image of Central Asian dictatorships?”

    Read Pepe Escobar.

    http://www.alternet.org/world/139983/pipeline-istan:_everything_you_need_to_know_about_oil,_gas,_russia,_china,_iran,_afghanistan_and_obama/

    Here’s a recent interview where he gets into more detail.

    http://www.corbettreport.com/mp3/2011-11-18%20Pepe%20Escobar.mp3

  6. #6 |  Rick H. | 

    How about a moratorium on the term “we,” “us,” etc. when discussing US foreign policy? I don’t recall my opinion ever being considered when war-horny politicians get the urge to “project” their turgid, erect, throbbing military strength against the rest of the world.

  7. #7 |  Mike T | 

    I don’t recall my opinion ever being considered

    And it never will because you are only 1 of over 300m voices. Either get used to it or move to a country with lower population density. Either way, you’ll have to suffer the use of collective pronouns because most people assume that membership in a nation implies something at least moderately collective.

  8. #8 |  Tim P | 

    There is something about this site that bothers me and today I am able to pinpoint exactly what it is. The author approaches every problem with a blame America first stance. A perfect example would be blaming the USA for the barbaric actions of Muslims in Afghanistan. You might not like the war, but are we to blame for what this woman going through? It’s the same with the drug war. Don’t like the drug laws? Fine, work on changing them, but don’t forget every other civilized, and uncivilized for that matter, country on earth has a prohibition on drugs. To hear the “libertarians” here and at Reason talk, you’d think only the backwards, unenlightened Americans have drug laws. No they have SWAT raids in Australia, NZ, Canada, Europe, South Africa, Russia, China, and Japan. It’s become cool to hate on America I guess, especially when losing an argument.

  9. #9 |  BamBam | 

    @2, it’s called Article 1 Section 8. Using any amount of military for any purpose is an act of war. For anyone to say otherwise is dishonest.

  10. #10 |  Erik | 

    #8, Tim P, I don’t think he’s blaming the USA. I read it as “We put in ten years of effort for what, again?” and complaining about the *effectiveness* of warring to fix other countries.

  11. #11 |  StrangeOne | 

    Tim, at one point in history salvery and despotism were the norm. Would you have chastized American abolitionists because of their “blame America first stance” on slavery?

    This may be a revolutionary concept to you, but people are generally more concerned with the goings on of their own countries than they are with others. Especially when they view their own countries policies as unjust. If you honestly establish your ethics on some international lowest common denominator, then I think that would make you a pretty terrible person.

    The sad thing is its not even a blame American first thing. The primary blame goes to the actual people in Afgahnistan commiting these injustices against women. The secondary blame goes to America for putting into place a repressive regime of religious fundamentilsts decades ago. Another degree of blame goes to America, who after occupying and “liberating” the country has placed virtually no pressure on the new Afghan government to protect the rights of women and religous minorities in the county.

    If we are to go galavanting around the world playing at nation building we have an ethical obligation to build just nations. That or leave we’ll enough alone.

  12. #12 |  Highway | 

    Tim P, I think you’re projecting your own biases. What you see as ‘Blame America’ I see as ‘blame government’. You might conflate the two, but that confers much more acceptability to the government than others (like me) would. Is it ‘blaming America’ to point out that the War on Drugs causes a ton of hardship here and abroad? One can point to that hardship, and point to its direct cause, and say “This is why this happens.” And if “America” is doing something bad, then why should it be excused because we’re Americans?

    Another point: The existence of something just as bad or worse somewhere else doesn’t excuse something that is bad. Just because other countries have crappy drug prohibitions doesn’t make US drug prohibitions good or right. It just means that other places have F-d up laws as well. Why should anyone be proud of that? “Hey, we might have F-d up laws that contribute to the pain and suffering of thousands, if not millions of people here, but it’s ok because other countries have them too!”

  13. #13 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “ACLU: Local governments are using license plate scanners to monitor citizens’ movement.”

    Once again, I have to wonder how the country that was supposed
    to be a brave experiment in self-governance turned into a bunch
    of gov’t spies watching what everyone does and where everyone goes.
    On taxpayer money.

  14. #14 |  Juice | 

    Rookie Cop gets his first kill.

    http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/10415249/

    A 61-year-old Halifax County man died Tuesday, a day after police shocked him with a stun gun while he was riding his bike, family members said.

  15. #15 |  Mike T | 

    #9,

    Using any amount of military for any purpose is an act of war. For anyone to say otherwise is dishonest.

    That just shows your ignorance, then. When the military is sent in under martial law to restore law and order by the request of a state governor, that’s not an act of war. When the military is ordered to respond to the border to prevent a flood of civilians or foreign troops, it’s not an act of war. When the Navy responds to a U.S. or allied ship under attack by pirates, that’s not an act of war. Those obvious exceptions only took a few seconds to list. Need I go on in the ways you are wrong about the Constitution on this matter?

    An act of war is an act of aggression against a sovereign state or its proxies. At the time of our founding, none of the things I mentioned above were considered under the rubrik of a declaration of war. Washington even put down the Whiskey Rebellion without a declaration of war.

  16. #16 |  Pasquin | 

    I’ve got to get me one of those Yoda backpacks. Dog is cute, too.

  17. #17 |  Marty | 

    #8 | Tim P- I don’t blame America for anything. I blame the power freak bureaucrats and politicians. The fact is, our government puts pressure on countries all over the world to spread drug prohibition (we even intervene into other countries with our military to stop marijuana and other drugs). Afghanistan has been ground up in a bullshit cold war and drug war that our government has perpetuated. SWAT raids were invented in this country. Along with the military industrial complex, they’re a big part of the reason our cops are so militarized. Other countries don’t have near the prison population ours has, because of these nasty bureaucrats.
    This is still a great country, despite their best efforts to turn us into a 3rd world cesspool. But we do need to stop these freaks.

  18. #18 |  albatross | 

    Tim P:

    Where do you think those policies come from?

    I am a American citizen, a taxpayer, and a voter, as I think are most regular participants here, including Radley. Our form of government requires citizens to decide what policies we think are good and bad ones, and to vote (and discuss, and organize) in order to get better policies. Spinning those discussions (or the ones you don’t like) as somehow blaming or hating America is deeply stupid–like telling a group of scientists reviewing a medical study that they hate medicine and love cancer, when they conclude that some new chemotherapy agent doesn’t really do any good.

  19. #19 |  Brandon | 

    “When the military is sent in under martial law to restore law and order by the request of a state governor, that’s not an act of war”

    Yes it is. That’s the entire reason we used to have the Posse Comitatus act, and the reason that the National Guard is divided by state, and is not considered active military. If the President were to send in active military units under “martial law,” that would be an invasion of that state, and if it were by request of that state’s governor, he would be an accomplice. You seem to be forgetting that the entire premise of this country’s founding was individual sovereignty.

  20. #20 |  JimBob | 

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57329900/uc-davis-pepper-spray-cop-once-lauded/

    Okay, there’s a CBS article about John Pike, the UC Davis pepper spray guy. It talks about how he was once lauded for dealing with a situation in which a crazy woman was holding another cop hostage with a pair of scissors (no mention of the fact he was given an award for that fact that he REFRAINED from using pepper spray against a violent person, claiming that it “wasn’t the right tool”). It also deals with a prior accusation that he used a homophobic slur against somebody on campus, which doesn’t surprise me, but it doesn’t exactly rise to the level of “Oh, shit, did he just douse those guys with a chemical weapon?”

    But that’s not the “WTF” part of the article. Oh, no. The part of the article that blows my mind is this little gem:

    “Many students, lawmakers and even the university’s chancellor have called the officers’ actions a horrific example of unnecessary force. But some experts on police tactics say, depending on the circumstances, pepper spray can be more effective to de-escalate a tense situation than dragging off protesters or swinging at them with truncheons.”

    Emphasis added. Oh, well, in THAT case, I suppose the pepper spray is TOTALLY justified. I mean, if the only options to deal with a bunch of sit-in protesters are pepper spray to the face or swinging at them with truncheons, by all means, use the pepper spray. We won’t question you any further!

    Jesus Tapdancing Christ, if this is how the debate is going to be framed– “We can pepper spray them, or we can beat the shit out of them with clubs; which do you prefer?”– then I have to give up. I gave up on cops a while back, but I still had some hope for the rest of the populace. Apparently I was too much of an optimist…

  21. #21 |  Mike T | 

    #19,

    Yes it is. That’s the entire reason we used to have the Posse Comitatus act, and the reason that the National Guard is divided by state, and is not considered active military. If the President were to send in active military units under “martial law,” that would be an invasion of that state, and if it were by request of that state’s governor, he would be an accomplice. You seem to be forgetting that the entire premise of this country’s founding was individual sovereignty.

    No, the reason we have the Posse Comitatus Act was to prevent the abuses that were widespread during Reconstruction. Those abuses were what arises when the military is used as law enforcement, as it was extensively in the South during Reconstruction. Prior to that, the military was used as domestic law enforcement at the federal level from time to time in ways that are blatantly illegal. For example, Jackson told the South Carolina government that if they resisted US Customs’ efforts to collect the tariff, the next wave of tax collectors would be US soldiers. When the Whiskey Rebellion started, Washington federalized the militia (before we had a real standing army of any size) and marched it on the rebels to collect the tax and put down the rebellion.

    Your argument about the National Guard is also pure rubbish because the National Guard are actually closer to federal combat units on loan to the states than a state militia. They’re officially part of the Department of Defense and ultimate authority over them is with the DoD chain of command, not the state governor.

    That is precisely why we need to restore the official state militias.

  22. #22 |  Tim P | 

    @10 Erik – The fact we’ve put 10 years in Afghanistan has nothing to do with the savage ways of a savage culture. Everybody and their brother wanted us there on Sept 12 2001, and I mean everybody. When we arrived these barbaric practices were being done, and they’re still being done.

  23. #23 |  Highway | 

    Tim, can’t have it both ways. Basically, you’re trying to say ‘they were like that when we got there, so it’s not our fault.’ What others are trying to say is not that they act like that because it’s America’s fault, but that America has spent 10 years and billions of dollars to have a total effect of fuck-all on that behavior. What was the point?

  24. #24 |  CyniCAl | 

    @#20 | JimBob

    Congratulations on your political evolution. Please consider anarchism your next step.

  25. #25 |  CyniCAl | 

    Mike T has all the answers. Good. We need more people like him in charge, then things would be perfect.

  26. #26 |  Just Plain Brian | 

    but don’t forget every other civilized, and uncivilized for that matter, country on earth has a prohibition on drugs.

    Portugal.

  27. #27 |  JimBob | 

    @#24 | CiniCAl

    I’ve been pretty close to it for a while. The problem with anarchism is being taken seriously. But if the BASIC functions of a government– protection of the citizenry from coercion, ensuring legal equality for politicians and citizens alike– are as completely undermined as they seem to be today, I don’t know what other fucking alternative is practical.

  28. #28 |  JOR | 

    “When the military is sent in under martial law to restore law and order by the request of a state governor, that’s not an act of war.”

    Not an act of war? What are they going to do, hug their way to domination?

  29. #29 |  MPH | 

    License plates. Check your states requirements, but I’ll bet you don’t have to display them. You just have to have a valid registration. I once read the traffic laws in IN. There was no requirement to display your plate. You DID need a valid registration. If you did display a plate, it had to be current, numbers/letters clearly visible, associated with your current registration, etc. But you were not actually required to display it. I displayed my plate upside down to protest the obscene property tax I had to pay annually to register my car. I only got pulled over about it once, and the cop spent 20 minutes on his radio trying to figure out what I already knew: I couldn’t be given a ticket, because there was no requirement to display a plate at all, and if one was displaying one, it didn’t have to be right side up.

    So check your state’s traffic laws. If you’re not required to display a plate, and don’t want automated systems keeping track of you movements (or sending you speeding/red-light tickets), put your plate somewhere else. If nothing else, one can always say “perhaps someone stole it”.

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