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Archive for the ‘War on Constitution’ Category

The most dangerous place for a reporter to be in America today is at a protest. Not because they’re attacked by protesters. Rather, because police officers regularly attack the press at protests and regularly destroy their equipment. 1st Amendment guarantee of a free press? The Constitution is just a piece of paper, right?

Meanwhile, even when reporters do get the story, media outlets are afraid to print investigative reporting about oligarchs because the oligarchs own the courts and can put them out of business.

Indiana proposes licensing only “responsible” people to be reporters. Presumably any reporter who dares report on a protest or reports things the oligarchs don’t want reported is “irresponsible”.

And of course the Orange Racist Russian Stooge keeps trumpeting that any media critical of him is “fake” and his deplorable followers regularly threaten reporters.

Combined with the fact that most reporters now aren’t full-time staffers of newspapers, they’re part-time stringers for wire services who don’t have access to the legal resources of a major media outlet, and you get a serious issue where proper reporting is being suppressed by the government and the government’s supporters.

One of the first things that fascist regimes try to do is shut down any media that’s critical of them. Erdogan has done that in Turkey, and it appears the deplorables and their God-Emperor Donald the Trump are bound and determined to see that happen here too. Because remember, people. The Constitution, and the 1st Amendment that it contains, is just a piece of paper.

Or is it that the Constitution just has one paragraph, the 2nd Amendment?

So confusing!

– Badtux the Press Penguin

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Canada’s CBC News warns Canadians not to carry much money south of the border because the police will steal it.

Used to be, only corrupt 3rd world nations had police that would just blatantly steal your money. Guess that means we’re one of those, now. The problem is, corruption on that scale is bad for business. Tourists decide to take their money elsewhere, somewhere where it won’t get stolen. Businessmen whose businesses churn a lot of cash decide to invest their money elsewhere, not in the United States. And so forth.

The modest reforms that Congress is proposing will not end the corruption, but will at least reduce some of the incentives behind it. In the end, the U.S. Supreme Court is going to have to rule that the 4th Amendment is, in fact, the 4th Amendment, and prohibits seizing things without a warrant and probable cause. Until then, police departments will continue to steal more money than thieves.

Yeah, well, I’m not holding my breath on that one, not with this Supreme Court…

– Badtux the 3rd World Penguin

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HIPAA is the law here in the United States. It is a Federal law that protects patient privacy and prevents hospitals from releasing information about patients and that has very few exceptions. Basically, these are the exceptions:

  1. The transfer of patient information is necessary in order to provide appropriate medical care to the patient.
  2. The patient or, if the patient is unconscious, the patient’s next of kin, gives consent.
  3. The patient is under arrest and in the custody of the State.
  4. The police have a warrant for the medical records or medical procedure being requested.

If a nurse violates this law by, say, allowing a police officer to draw blood from a comatose patient without any of the above, she will at the very least be suspended, if not fired and have her license yanked by the state licensing board. Hospitals take this shit seriously. Not only is it the law, it’s their duty to their patients.

So anyhow, this cop by the name of Detective Jeff Payne demanded of the burn unit head nurse, Alex Wubbels, that she allow him to draw vials of blood from a patient for drug screening. He didn’t have consent from the patient. The patient was not under arrest. He had no warrant, he couldn’t get a warrant because there was no probable cause because the patient was the victim of a crash caused by a fleeing criminal and was not himself accused of any crime. From what I can figure, this detective wanted the blood in order to prove that the patient, a reserve police officer, was not under the influence of drugs at the time that the criminal’s car jumped the median and smashed into his truck.

Thing is, none of that allows the nurse to allow him into the patient’s room, much less perform a medical procedure. He’s not next of kin. He has no warrant. The person in the room is not in the custody of the State i.e. is not under arrest. Under HIPAA she’s not even allowed to tell him what room the patient is in without permission from the patient or the patient’s next of kin. So he’s demanding she break the law, and she puts in a phone call to the hospital’s administrator and puts the administrator on speakerphone to talk with the officer, and the administrator explains the exact same thing to the officer, i.e., that the nurse is not allowed under the law to tell him anything about the patient or allow him to do anything to the patient unless one of those last three conditions is true. At which point the officer goes fucking postal on the nurse, jacking her up and hustling her out the door and cuffing her because she’s there and the administrator wasn’t, apparently.

As far as I know, he still didn’t get his fucking blood, because hospital administrators were already on the way with lawyers in tow and put a stop to that shit. He was forced to let Nurse Wubbels go, and slunk away.

And his police department didn’t even give him a fucking paid vacation. They took him off of the phlebotomy program, of course. No fucking way was any hospital in the Salt Lake City area going to give him the time of day again. But hey, reprimand? Nope, didn’t happen. Suspension? Nope, didn’t happen. It’s almost as if a cop can just fucking assault anybody anywhere at any time for any stupid reason and the command staff just shrugs and says, “what can we do?”

Y’know, twenty years ago when the original “militia” neo-Nazi movements were breaking up in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, David Neiwert was committing acts of journalism and publishing articles tracking where all these fucking Nazis were going. What he found out was that a lot of them were getting hired by police departments that were busy staffing up due to Bill Clinton’s program to put 100,000 additional cops onto the streets and which correspondingly had lowered standards and didn’t look too hard at those people. Thus the FBI warnings about neo-Nazi infiltration of police departments. So anyhow, it’s 20 years later now. Those fucking Nazis are no longer just foot soldiers. They’re now in leadership positions in police departments all around the country. Thus the Oath Keepers hate group, which claims over 30,000 law enforcement members.

And this is the result — even the non-Nazis in police departments have absorbed the whole “ve must haff ORDER!” mentality of the Nazis, and disregard the whole law part of the term law and order. We live in a day and age where it doesn’t matter what the law says. It doesn’t matter what the Constitution says.

All that matters is the attitude of the cop that rolls up on you.

And that doesn’t describe a democracy. That describes a police state in all but name.

– Badtux the Sovok Penguin

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A spoon, you say? A spoon with spaghetti sauce residue on it? What’s that got to do with the drug war, you say?

Ask Ashley Gabrielle Huff about that.

After a spoon was found on her during a traffic stop, a spoon she insisted was last used to eat Spaghetti-O’s at the office for lunch, Ashley Gabrielle Huff was kept in jail awaiting trial on bogus meth charges due to astonishingly high bail despite the fact that she had no criminal record, was married, had children in the schools, and otherwise was no flight risk. She was ready to plead guilty and forever give up her voting rights just to get out of jail if they gave her time served. Then the lab results came back, months after the spoon had been submitted to the state crime lab: Spaghetti sauce.

Just as she’d insisted from the beginning.

Our drug war is ridiculous. A spoon? That was all they had, a spoon, and purported residue on said spoon? Yet that was all it took to deprive her of her rights and put her in a cage for months.

The reason I bring this up is because there is now a widespread movement amongst progressives to reform the bail system to do away with injustices like that. Bail bondsmen in the state of California are outraged about it, but the fact of the matter is that most people in jail are not there because they’ve been sentenced for a crime. They’re there because they can’t afford bail. And while they’re in jail, they’ve lost their job, their children may be in foster care, their home was repossessed or they were evicted with no ability to retrieve their belongings, their college kicked them out for non-attendance and kept their tuition money, and otherwise had their lives destroyed.

It’s one of the few things that the progressive Left and the libertarian Right agree on: the bail system is broken, it enriches bail bondsmen and local sheriffs who run jails at the expense of poor people and taxpayers, and needs to be fixed so that people who aren’t a flight risk have bail set according to their income, not according to some fixed schedule writ in stone.

Which means: entrenched people who benefit from the current system are keeping it from happening.

For now.

— Badtux the Criminal Injustice Penguin

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I mean, yeah, people are upset that all this elections data is going to be in one place where it could comprise a massive invasion of privacy, but it isn’t as if the White House would ever release sensitive personal information about voters.

Except they did. Oops.

Yeah, I’m glad I live in a state (California) where the state government says “Over my dead body” to that massive invasion of privacy…

– Badtux the “Ooops!” Penguin

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Basically our system of checks and balances depends upon having a President who isn’t willing to upset the system because he’s been part of the system for so many years. Between Abraham Lincoln, FDR, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan, the power of the Presidency has risen to the point where if a President *did* want to seize absolute power, there are few institutions that could stop him. If Congress is terrified of his supporters, for example, like the Republican politician in one Forbes article who said (anonymously) that he wouldn’t ever publically opposed Trump because he lived in the middle of Trump Country and “they’d shoot me”…

If Trump simply issued presidential edicts, ignoring Congress and the law, brought in the 101st Airborne to enforce martial law in Washington D.C. in contravention of the Posse Comitatus Act, etc., who would stop him? Let’s say that he has all Democratic members of Congress arrested for treason and their lawyers all file habeas corpus petitions to the district court in D.C., and the district court orders them released and Trump refuses to do so. What then? Yes, he would be in contempt of court, but the 101st Airborne is protecting him and he has the entire executive department apparatus working for him from prosecutors to the FBI and Secret Service, how would the contempt citation be enforced? If you’re hanging your hat on a military coup, you’re hanging your hat on a narrow pole indeed. People in Turkey thought the military would keep Erdogan from seizing absolute power. They were wrong — Erdogan purged the military, put his supporters in charge, and staged a fake coup to weed out any who weren’t loyal. Now the Army is one of his biggest power bases for his dictatorship.

Right now, the only thing that prevents scenarios like this from working out this way is tradition. By the time politicians arrive at the presidential level of politics, they’re so invested in tradition and “the system” that they don’t even think of stepping outside the system into blatant authoritarianism, Nixon’s “it’s not illegal if you’re the President” being the most extreme to happen in the recent times and it got him forced out office by his own party. But tradition is a damn thin rack to hang a hat upon if you have someone with authoritarian tendencies in power, and a Congress that is terrified to death of him and his supporters. That’s the problem with someone from outside of the system achieving the Presidency. He’s not part of the system. He doesn’t have that indoctrination in the system that a traditional politician who came up through state offices, governorships, legislative offices has. Especially if he’s from the business world, where he can fire someone for almost any reason (at-will doctrine), and order his people to do almost anything (though if he orders them to do something illegal, they might turn him in if he makes it too obvious). Put him behind all the levers of power that the modern President possesses, and what’s to stop him from becoming an authoritarian who rules by fiat?

*Will* it happen? I hope not. *Can* it happen? I don’t see anything in our currently crippled system of government that could stop it, other than perhaps a military rebellion, and Erdogan in Turkey already laid out the template for how to handle that one. Just corrupt the officer corps, and the rest will go along. And as we already saw with CBP enforcing a blatantly illegal order, there’s hella lot of authoritarians inside the government who’d be right there with the notion of having a God-Emperor Trump.

– Badtux the Fascism-smellin’ Penguin

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The order that God-Emperor Donald the Trump just issued blocking legal visa holders from entering the US is literally illegal.

Immigration law does not allow a President to strip a visa from a legal immigrant upon a whim. Immigration law sets out a set of actions on the part of a visa holder that can result in loss of a visa, from being arrested for a crime to being tagged as part of a terrorist group by the FBI. Merely being Muslim is not one of them.

In short, God-Emperor Trump has no right under the law to simply strip a visa from a legal immigrant who is in full compliance with all visa requirements, and stripping or granting a visa based upon religion literally violates a thousand laws passed by Congress over the past 50 years as well as violates the 1st Amendment of the Constitution. Yet he has ordered thousands of people to have their valid visas seized at the border based upon their religion and basically said to everybody saying, “that’s illegal”, “I’m the President and if the President does it, it’s not illegal.”

This is not the action of a President. This is the action of a dictator who believes he is above the law and above the Constitution. And CBP jumped right on it when it came to enforcing this illegal order. No bureaucratic delays, no nothing, just eager, gleeful enforcement of a blatantly illegal order.

This is dangerous. This could possibly be disastrously dangerous. A President hasn’t so blatantly violated the Constitution since Andrew Jackson told the Supreme Court, “you have issued your order, now enforce it.” when they said he couldn’t remove the Cherokee to Oklahoma under the Constitution. I will discuss this further in my next post.

– Badtux the Totalitarian-smellin’ Penguin

Update: The lawsuits have been filed. The question is whether God-Emperor Trump will obey the orders of the courts when said orders are served. We shall see.

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