One reason the police are your enemy

I was reading my normal sources when I came upon several instances of inexplicably bad behavior by police offerers which made little sense other than, perhaps, they just plain enjoyed bullying people and that is why they joined the force. For example, consider the episode Mass. state trooper treats man like criminal for failing to show “respect” reported by The Bay State Examiner in which a cop treats a motorist like a criminal because he wanted to know why he had been pulled over.

On June 10, Anthony Destefano was pulled over in Revere and treated like a criminal by a Massachusetts state trooper who apparently wanted to punish him because he felt disrespected.

A pair of YouTube of the traffic stop show that Destefano repeatedly asked why he was pulled over. The police officer, who identified himself as Trooper Taylor Robidoux, refused to tell him until he handed over his license and car registration. After Destefano produced the documents, the officer told him he was pulled over for having tinted windows.

This example is only a small one, and the motorist was not hurt this time, but it is just one more example out of millions that go on in this country every year. Another report I read just today was about two police officers who crashed a family cookout to harass a man who was not wanted or suspected of any crimes, then shot the man’s elderly father and allegedly planted a gun on him, according to numerous witnesses. And these criminal cops face no punishment for their actions!

Those of us who are paying even a small amount of attention to the news realize that the police are out of control. The reports of police brutality have skyrocketed in recent times and we all have our theories as to why that has come to pass. We know that the police were handed overwhelming and unconstitutional powers in the “war on drugs” and that the police has been “militarized” over the last decades, but understanding how we got to this present state of affairs can be difficult at times.

I was reading Simple Justice: a Criminal Defense Blog by New York defense attorney Scott H. Greenfield the other day when I happened upon a post on one of the main reasons why the police act as they do.

After watching a number of youtube videos sent to me, each of which involved a person subject to commands by police who were, upon failure to comply, harmed, it occurred to me that both the victims of the harm, and those who commented about it, failed to appreciate what was happening.

The harm was in response to what we refer to as “contempt of cop,” the failure to do as told, whether completely or quickly enough.  The reaction tended to focus on the propriety of the command. Sit down. Stand up. Stay in the car. Get out of the car. Stop the video. Move away.  The reaction by the target of the command was that they don’t have to, the command was unlawful or that the order was ridiculous.

The orders may be arbitrary. The police officer didn’t particularly care whether the person was standing or sitting, in the car or out.  What the cop cared about, and cared deeply, is that the person complied with his order, no matter what his order was. Command presence.

A core concept in modern police training is that command presence protects the officer.  It’s the cop’s way of showing the person with whom he’s interacting that the cop is in control, that he is not weak and is the predator rather than the prey.  The corollary is that the person who complies with the officer’s commands is not a threat to the officer’s safety.  The person who refuses to comply, who challenges the officer’s command, is a potential threat. Due to the First Rule of Policing, threats must be stopped.

Ironically, the notion behind command presence was not to strike fear into people, but rather respect.  If an officer appears confident and in control, he will obtain compliance not through the threat of harm, but through the trust and respect he engenders.

This demand for total obedience as part of police training explains why the people who call the cops are often beaten or killed themselves. It explains why the deaf or people with other disabilities often enrage the cops and end up beaten or killed. The orders issued may be arbitrary and of little real meaning other than enforce total obedience by the victims citizens to the “command presence” of the cop.

The entirety of this training focuses exclusively on the officer. That they will “inflict pain” isn’t perceived as a negative, but as mandatory.  The cavalier mention of punishing the perp isn’t viewed as conduct unbecoming, but conduct they are expected, trained, to use to prevent “unacceptable behavior.”  Unacceptable behavior, of course, is noncompliance.

Whatever the stated reasons for the demand to total obedience to the “command presence” of the police officer, the real reason is that the police are the enforcers of the criminal gang writ large: The State. The state demands that you obey their laws, edicts, demands, rules and so forth. The police to the state as the edge is to the knife. The police are the state and don’t you forget it.

There can be no real freedom and liberty as long as the sheep allow the criminal gang and their enforcers to continually commit aggression against the population. The very idea that there are any police officers who are “good guys” is a fallacy and a dangerous one at that. The police are trained to be your enemy and the training was well learned in the vast majority of cases. This is all on top of the fact that many sociopaths and psychopaths join the police force for the raw pleasure they get from inflicting pain on the innocent.

The state is your enemy. The police are the state. Connect the dots.


The state says you are a criminal


Are you a criminal? The state says that you are. Harvey A. Silverglate’s Three Felonies A Day says in his book that federal prosecutors invent creative interpretations of statutes and by doing so create new felonies out of thin air. So many felonies that the average person in this country commits three felonies a day.

The average professional in this country wakes up in the morning, goes to work, comes home, eats dinner, and then goes to sleep, unaware that he or she has likely committed several federal crimes that day. Why? The answer lies in the very nature of modern federal criminal laws, which have not only exploded in number, but, along with countless regulatory provisions, have also become impossibly broad and vague. In Three Felonies a Day, Harvey A. Silverglate reveals how the federal criminal justice system has become dangerously disconnected from common law traditions of due process and fair notice of the law’s expectations, enabling prosecutors to pin arguable federal crimes on any one of us, for even the most seemingly innocuous behavior.

The dangers spelled out in Three Felonies a Day do not apply solely to”white collar criminals,” state and local politicians, and professionals. No social class or profession is safe from this troubling form of social control by the executive branch, and nothing less than the continued functioning and integrity of our constitutional democracy hang in the balance. ~from the publisher’s description

Silverglate tells us that the poor wording of congressional laws allows these prosecutors to establish felonies never intended by Congress to become the law of the land. He tells us that federal criminal law is today so vast that each of us unknowingly commits at least three felonies each and every day.

Federal judges are most often former federal prosecutors and they are of no use in reining in the abuses of the predators called federal prosecutors. These judges permit the prosecution of Americans for crimes that the defendants did not know were crimes and most often could not have known were crimes. Hell, part of the time these crimes did not even exist until some federal prosecutor dreamed up the charge and then filed it against some hapless citizen.

The invention of crimes by prosecutors violates every known legal principle in Anglo-American law and in spite of that it has become commonplace in our modern police state. Silverglate reports in his book that defense attorneys have lost confidence that it is possible to defend a client from a federal prosecution. In the vast majority of cases the defense has become a mere negotiator of a plea bargains to reduces the charges and prison time of the defendant in spite of the fact that many are innocent.

Very often these novel “new laws” can then be used to entrap innocent Americans and send them to prison. If you read Silverglate’s book you can learn how federal prosecutors manage their frame-ups and send scores of innocent citizens to prison for committing no crime at all. Silverglate reports on many cases to evidence his claims and he was personally involved in many of these examples.

In addition to the prosecutors just making up new crimes, we have the specter of all the wrongful convictions by the prosecutors just looking to “win” and justice be damned. This is the aspect of the modern system of in-justice that most of us are more familiar with.

The problem is that prosecutors rarely care about innocence or justice. They are the products of law schools that preach winning at all costs and they know that their future prospects of getting appointments to the bench or winning a political race depends on a high conviction rate. To hell with justice because being “tough on crime” is a requisite item on their resume. Besides that, prosecutors operate under cover of immunity.

In most professions people who make serious errors that harm other people, like sending an innocent man to prison for decades, results in their being held accountable for the actions that caused the situation. In America prosecutors who bend and break the law are immune from any punishment. How the hell did that come to be? Who thinks that giving a man immunity for all his actions will lead to him never abusing his position?

I recommend reading Silverglate’s book even though it is a few years old now. The system is still broken and he describes it well.

Irish Brehon: a legal system

I continually hear that the nation-state government must exist to provide security and justice. This in spite of the fact that we can find no example of real justice coming from the state; and precious little security. There are examples of the private production of law and my favorite example is Brehon, or Early Irish law which arose during the Irish anarchy of old. I have written about the Irish anarchy here and here.


Brehon, the Irish legal system lasted until the mid 1600s and was a fully developed system prior to any invasion by other peoples. Those invasions only weakened the system, and certainly did not improve it any. It is thought that the legal system dates back to perhaps 2,300 BC. The laws were concerned with property rights, contracts, inheritance, and so forth. The code formed a body of civil, criminal, and military law which regulated the various strata of Irish society from the leaders down to the lowest member of the land.

There were many rules. They concerned all aspects of life that might come into dispute, even down to the relationship of foster parents and foster children. The various industries, farming, trade, waterways, property management and so forth were regulated.

This legal code survived, it is thought, for about three millennia and that is testament to the sense of honor of the people; after all, the law was the people’s law. The law’s authority came from the acceptance and moral strength of the people who were governed by the Brehon Code. In ancient Ireland an individual’s word was his bond. We can find testimony to the moral power of the Brehon code throughout all we know of ancient Ireland.

Some of the unique features of early Brehon Law, compared to our modern law, included recognition of personal responsibility scaled to ones position in society, the priority of individuals over property, equal rights between genders, environmental concern and lack of capital punishment. Most importantly, it was a system that required restitution for wrong rather than punishment. The effectiveness of the body of law is reflected in the great respect given it by its citizens. The law was so revered and honored by the people that there were neither courts needed nor police forces required to enforce it. ~ Michael Ragan

In that portion of the Brehon Code corresponding to what is now known as criminal law, the various offenses such as murder, manslaughter, assaults, wounding, thefts, willful damage are specified with the amount of compensation for the guilty party to pay the injured. The amount of compensation is laid down in detail for almost every possible variety of injury one could imagine.

Since the law arose out of the people themselves through their experiences and real legal cases, the law could not be changed without public approval. It took a majority of “free people” in a public assembly of the people to change any portion of the code. This was a law supported by the people because it was their law. It was not ruler made law handed down from on top but rather it was people made law. This is real “democracy”.

All polices were decided at an annual meeting of one of the competing tuaths. The tuatha were voluntary associations and each one had a “king” elected by the individual tuatha who could be voted out at any assembly.  But law enforcement was not a function of the king in the Irish tuath, rather it was dependent on each party in a suit to provide themselves with sureties who would guarantee that the monetary judgment of the Brehon’s court would be honored. There was an elaborate system of surety-ship which formed the basis of the entire legal system. Hence, a man’s character, reputation, and property were highly important in this society. Honor was highly valued since the honorable would follow the code. The Brehons were essentially arbitrators rather than judges and the system was essentially non-violent with restitution rather than revenge being the goal of the system.

The durability of the Brehon legal system is amazing given that it dates back perhaps 3,000 years. Why was the code so durable? It had to be the people themselves. Irish literature shows a great respect for the code and its administration. There was no trace of state-administered justice but rather justice administered by the people themselves. Imagine no police, no state courts, no prisons, no bailiffs, and no wardens. This was justice provided by the “private sector” and property rights were protected in a jealous manner.

And what do we take away from this example after all? We can easily see that there is no need for the nation-State and its brutal, controlling, warlike force to have a legal system to provide for justice. In fact, we see that justice itself is impeded by the nation state and its ruling elitist class who makes “law” to dominate the masses. We can see that even in a society cursed with a state government the people would be far better off if they could keep the justice system out of the hands of the brutal and lawless rulers.

The idea of common law systems is one we need to resurrect.

The U.S. is a police state

In a recent post called The State answers Winston Smith there was one person (wophugus) who insisted, in the comments section, that calling the US a police state was way out of bounds. For example he claimed:

I also think you either know next to nothing about what life is like in a police state or are enormously callous to those who suffered through police states, appropriating their pain for rhetorical value.

There was a long back and forth, but no meeting of the minds since I think calling the present USA a police state is quite appropriate and so I decided to take a look at the issue. But first, there was a response to “wophugus” from another fellow that is worth looking at.

From praetorSF in comments:

wophugus’ statements are reflect very common sentiments amongst people I talk to, and they are sentiments that I find rather fascinating and mysterious (when they aren’t the result of pure ignorance of current events that is).  My theory is that it is the result of denial and cognitive dissonance.  We were all raised being taught about the founding fathers and how great our country was because we were a free country without Kings or Dictators or repressive police organizations.  We have a visceral reaction to the word police state, we don’t like to imagine that WE are the people that we always used to feel a bit sorry for, living in an unfree country.  I think many people just find it hard to admit that to themselves.

My challenge to those people, and to wophugus, is this:  give me YOUR definition of a police state.  At what point does a country cross that magic line?  What specific things does a country have to do to make it meet that definition?  If you sit down, think about it, and come up with a coherent definition, America pretty much has to fit the bill.  Secret law?  Check. Incarceration of a vast number of our citizens (more than any other country in the world)?  Check.  Execution of our citizens without trial?  Check.  Torture?  Check.  An oligarchichal ruling class that is above the law the rest of the citizens are subject to?  Check.

One of my favorite quotes is “Those who do not move do not feel their chains” (and I really need to look up who said it one of these days 🙂 ).  Really that’s what your argument comes down to wophugus:  “most people don’t make a big enough nuisance of themselves to draw the state’s ire, thus we are not a police state.”

I have read that a police state is generally defined as a government that exerts extreme and pervasive political, economic, and social control over its subjects. It is the situation where the State can do as it pleases while the citizen needs permission to act. Some people cannot see what’s happening in the US. To them it seems ridiculous to say that the US is a police state. “Where are the jack-boot Nazi Gestapo thugs breaking down doors and hauling people off to death camps?” they cry out. They seem to think that only the very worst police states from the past can be called by the name “police state”.

Normally a police state maintains control through a vast number of laws and pervasive surveillance like in the old East Germany with its Stasi secret police force. The population’s right to travel about is converted into state issued privilege and the minions of the government operate with little transparency. The police state typically concentrates on non-violent crime and uses the astronomical number of laws to enforce their will upon the people.


As we have been reading lately, whistle-blowers like Edward Snowden have documented the vast surveillance operations of the NSA, while others have alerted us to the operations of the CIA and FBI. The local police have become militarized and the no-knock home invasion by SWAT teams has become standard operation procedure. Even shooting the family pets has become a normal police procedure.

There is no aspect of life that is not controlled by government in a police state. In most places in America you must get a “permit” to even work on your own house. It costs $140 in Orlando, Florida for the “permit” to install a new outside door on your house. I know because I need one after the latest break in attempt; the sort of crime that the police refuse to protect the population from because they are too busy issuing tickets and fines to raise money for their own benefit. Does this fact make the USA a police state? Of course not. But it is a data point in the case that the US seeks the power to control every single aspect of your life. In many places it is a felony to sell fresh whole milk to the public. I bet the boys in 1776 never thought that would happen. And enforcement has become draconian, with police departments pursuing militarization. Even police in the grammar schools will taser and handcuff young children. A special federal police force called the Department of Homeland Security has spearheaded this militarazation while the DHS functions without transparency or accountability. The NSA is spying on everyone with far greater abilities than the east German Stassi did.

To travel freely about the country without any “papers”, formerly a right, is now a privilege granted by government agents at their whim. Without proper “ID” you may well end up in jail. The people who lived in the USSR would be very familiar with that concept, and god forbid you carry any real amount of cash as you travel about as that marks you as a criminal unless you can prove that you have a good reason to carry the money — and good luck with that as you will need it.

How many peaceful activities are now felonies in the USA? Harvey Silverglaten wrote a book called Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent  in which the civil rights attorney argues that, “The average professional in this country wakes up in the morning, goes to work, comes home, eats dinner, and then goes to sleep, unaware that he or she has likely committed several federal crimes that day. Why? The answer lies in the very nature of modern federal criminal laws, which have exploded in number but also become impossibly broad and vague.” And if the state decides to make an example of you, then the prosecution in this country is so powerful and out of control that 99 percent of the accused don’t even try to fight the charges in court. They take whatever plea bargain the state offers.

How many nonviolent activities can get a man caged in one of the US rape prisons? Can you go to prison for writing on a sidewalk? On the “people’s sidewalk”? In this article Writing with Sidewalk Chalk Can Earn You Hard Time? we find that 20 years hard time can be handed down for writing a slogan on the sidewalk in chalk that will wash away with the rains in short order. 20 years? In a free country? A women in Florida got 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot in the air to keep her abusive husband from attacking her yet again. She could have shot him, but instead gave him a warning shot to prevent violence. She even had a restraining order against him which the police obviously did not help her with. Apparently Florida thinks women should just take their beatings and not disturb the peace.

How freely can you relocate your assets and person outside the jurisdiction of the US government? You had best check into that because currency control laws have become draconian; all in the name of fighting the war on drugs and the “war on terror”.

The site Dissident Voice posted an article called What the NSA Revelations Tell Us about America’s Police State a few days ago. The USA has become a police state. Like East Germany in the days of the Stassi, most people do not get into any trouble. Most people will obey their masters just as the Germans in East Germany did or just as the African in the U.S. did in the deep south once upon a time even though they outnumbered their white masters by a considerable margin.

In the U.S. a person can be accused of numerous crimes without knowing exactly what he has supposedly done. He might be arrested in the middle of the night by a SWAT team no-knock military style raid. A citizen might find himself on a no-fly list and be unable to travel for reasons that remain secret to him. Everyone’s electronic communications or actions are spied upon and recorded.  Secret orders are handed down by a secret court to target individuals who then have no recourse to discover why they were targeted.

The U.S. has a government that wields the legal authority to round up people, including U.S. citizens and take them to concentration camps, detention centers, or military jails where the government can torture them, incarcerate indefinitely, or execute them. Just claim they are “suspected terrorists” and there is no limit to the power the government has over them. Due process? “We don’t need no stinking due process”.

We hear from lawyers and other government loving types that claim that these things don’t happen to everyone in the U.S. but only to “a few”. Excluding the TSA groping and the NSA electronic snooping they may have a small point. Their point is that the majority of the people obey their masters and stay out of trouble for the most part. They claim that with tons of money anyone can get due process. They claim, in effect, that we have as system as caring and free as in Nazi Germany (as long as you were a “good German”)

My friends, we have a full blown police state. It is not an exact duplicate of any that came before it, after all, the technology has changed tremendously, and the U.S. police state is uniquely American, but we have a police state.

Any state, be it a dominate Empire or not, can exist only when the vast majority of the people are satisfied with their lot in life or are resigned to it. The U.S. central state needs the cooperation of the more than 300 million people — be it enthusiastic or sullen cooperation. The people of the USSR brought down the communist police state without bloodshed by simply withdrawing their consent to be ruled by the system. It was an unbelievable sight at the time. We can do likewise. Withdraw your consent to be owned by the state.

Our rights and our property

Some of my friends got off onto a property rights argument yet again in a back and forth on Twitter. The exchange reminded me that when you get to the heart of most arguments you will find a misunderstanding of property rights, a misunderstanding of basic economics, or both. And so, I decided to write a brief look at my take on property rights and then a look at a friend’s distinction between “private property” and “personal property”.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ~Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of independence

In America among the so-called “Liberals” of the modern era we find those who are constantly finding “human rights” to justify whatever their latest goals and schemes happen to be at the time and yet they attack the individual’s property rights every chance they get. These “human” rights of the so-called American Left are all warm and fuzzy and are without the clarity needed to be principles. The liberals are ready to toss a “human right” under the bus when it is pragmatic to do so. They don’t seem to have any bed rock principles to guide them other than they think they know what is best for the rest of us.

I have long been convinced that all “human rights” are property rights. When the argument drifts away from property rights then the “rights” become vague and they vacillate with changing fads and circumstances. Without the principle of the individual’s property rights, often it becomes just a government dictate as to what “rights” one has and that situation is not rights at all but government granted privilege.

Murray Rothbard wrote:

Take, for example, the “human right” of free speech. Freedom of speech is supposed to mean the right of everyone to say whatever he likes. But the neglected question is: Where? Where does a man have this right? He certainly does not have it on property on which he is trespassing. In short, he has this right only either on his own property or on the property of someone who has agreed, as a gift or in a rental contract, to allow him on the premises. In fact, then, there is no such thing as a separate “right to free speech”; there is only a man’s property right: the right to do as he wills with his own or to make voluntary agreements with other property owners.  ~ Power and Market, 2nd ed. (Kansas City: Sheed Andrews and McMeel, 1977), pp. 238-39.

Free speech is in the news again as well as the right of a “free press”,  and there have even been calls to have Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian Newspaper, and other journalists prosecuted for publishing materials supplied by the whistle blower Edward Snowden. I intend to write about the Snowden episode another day but that news led me to think of “freedom of the press” and of “free speech” in conjunction with private property today.

It has been said that “the right to freedom of speech” is just the right to hire a venue (or start a blog) to express your views on various matters. I can say anything I want to while I am in my house (if the wife lets me of course!) and I can write what I want to here (freedom of the press) at this blog as long as I don’t violate the agreement with wordpress or verbally aggress against someone in my writings.  Free speech and free press rights are almost the same thing, especially in these modern high tech times. Both are just subsets of private property rights. I can enter into agreements with others to express my views in a variety of ways — but I have to respect the property rights of others at the same time.

Sometimes people get all hung up on common words. Most people define “private property” simply as property held by non-governmental legal entities. Or in other words, the property that the State does not claim is said to be “private” property. And “personal property” has historically just meant private property that is movable as opposed to land that you can not move. As Rothbard did, I take “property rights” to mean those rights in our private property to include all property owned by the individual no matter if he can move the property about or not. Why make such a distinction? After all, what usually divides people on “property rights” is land.

Land is often the sticking point with many people because the easiest way to control a man is to control the land beneath his feet. If you keep the masses from owning land, then you have gained control of the masses to a great degree. That is one of the reasons that the criminal State would often make huge land grants to its favored co-conspirators. In a libertarian world, there would be a lot of “owners” of large tracks of land that would not be able to defend their deed to that land, but that is for the common law courts to decide after society sheds the evil of the state — and a topic for another day.

“To take from one because it is thought that his own industry and that of his father’s has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association–‘the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.'”  ~Thomas Jefferson: Note in Destutt de Tracy’s “Political Economy,” 1816.