New Year, not a moment too soon

  1. The 4th and 8th amendments are dead
  2. Obama DOJ kid-soft on hate-crime when hater is gay
  3. The Real Role of Diversity
  4. “Trump Democrats”
  5. Absurdity and Overreach
  6. Ted Cruz finds a new way to scare me
  7. Finally, something positive

I really am not going to miss 2015.

1

I ignored the headline first time I saw it for some reason: Federal judge: Drinking tea, shopping at a gardening store is probable cause for a SWAT raid on your home. Don’t make the same mistake.

Last week, U.S. District Court Judge John W. Lungstrum dismissed every one of the Hartes’s claims. Lungstrum found that sending a SWAT team into a home first thing in the morning based on no more than a positive field test and spotting a suspect at a gardening store was not a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Key facts, in roughly chronological order:

  1. Doing what at a gardening store? Buying hydroponic equipment. A garden store stakeout for hydroponic purchasers is what started suspicion of the family.
  2. A “positive field test” for what? THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
  3. A “positive field test” of what? Sopping wet tea leaves in the trash of someone who had been spotted buying hydroponic equipment.
  4. Why not wait for a better test? Because the police were engaged in a press gimmick to be carried out too soon after the field test.

Note, too, that these field tests are riddled with false positives. The video in the Volokh Conspiracy blog, this report and the whole Marijuana Policy Project site should make you a skeptic. And that a home marijuana farm will have a suspiciously warm foundation wall between ground and sill, detectable by thermal scanner. And that a a home marijuana farm is going to have some suspiciously high electric bills, that you could subpoena.

But, gosh, what reality TV show wants to watch thermal imaging or analysis of electric bills? It’s much more “newsworthy” to kick down multiple doors on a fixed date as part of an annual ritual (sort of a violent local version of Groundhog Day).

I have never, ever, toked. But I would be offended at police searching my trash for no better reason than that I’d bought hydroponic equipment. And I’d be appalled at sending in a SWAT team even if police had conclusive proof of hydroponic marijuana farming in a home — absent anything more to indicate the likelihood of armed resistance.

Need any more proof? We are living in a police state. The constitution that grants us gay marriage is powerless to restrain these preening, limelight-loving creeps.

2

It was tempting just to share this story on Facebook and be done with it, but it bears a sinister implication.

The United States Department of Justice issued a press release trumpeting “Former Springfield, Missouri, Man Pleads Guilty to Defacing Islamic Center and Burning the Qur’an,” falsely implying that burning the Koran is a Federal Crime. The lead paragraph reinforces that:

U.S. Tammy Dickinson of the Western District of Missouri announced that a former Springfield, Missouri, man pleaded guilty in federal court today to violating the civil rights of others by leading a conspiracy to deface The Islamic Center of Springfield with graffiti and burn two copies of the Qur’an.

You have to go seven paragraphs in to get a hint, and then only a hint, on what a burnt Koran/Qur’an has to do with federal criminal charges:

Smock admitted that it was his idea to commit the acts and that he persuaded his co-conspirators to participate, and that he selected the Islamic Center of Springfield for vandalism because of the religious nature of the property in order to threaten and intimidate worshippers so as to hinder and interfere with the worshippers’ enjoyment of their constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.

(Emphasis added) Eugene Volokh tipped me off to the story and concludes:

The prosecution seems sound, but the headline on the news release strikes me as misleading. Consider as an analogy, for instance, a release saying “Man pleads guilty to defacing U.S. Army recruiting office and burning the American flag,” where in fact the man pleaded guilty to trying to threaten violence against recruiters in a note accompanying the burned flag (and in the defacement of the recruiting office).

Then Volokh goes a layer deeper in a second blog. The Department of Justice release said:

The graffiti included explicit and offensive language in addition to such statements as “Bash Back,” “Now is our time!” and “You bash us in Pakistan we bash here.”

I’d have glided right past that, not recognizing the characteristic locution, but Volokh didn’t gloss over it:

[T]he plea agreement reports that the graffiti, put up in early 2011, contained “the following statements”:

(i) “Allahu Fuckbar;” (ii) “Queer insurrection;” (iii) “It’s okay to be gay!” (iv) “Now is our time!” (v) “Bash Back;” (vi) “You bash us in Pakistan we bash here;” (vii) “Allah was gay;” (viii) “[illegible] unite;” (ix) “Satanic trans” (with circle around Star of David above); (x) “Fuck straights;” and (xi) “Bash Back lives.”

And once one sees “Queer insurrection,” “It’s okay to be gay!,” “Allah was gay,” “Satanic trans,” and “Fuck straights,” this puts a different cast on the graffiti that the press release did quote — at least two and possibly all three of those statements also appear to be pro-gay-rights.

“Bash back!,” as discussed in Mount Hope Church v. Bash Back! (9th Cir. 2012), turns out to be a “national anarchist group …, which has described itself as largely composed of gay, lesbian, transgendered, bisexual, and queer activists.” In the Mount Hope Church case, Bash Back! disrupted a church service in Michigan by shouting “It’s OK to be gay” (which also appeared in the Islamic Center graffiti) and “Jesus was a homo” (again, compare “Allah was gay”) “while flinging pamphlets, glitter, and condoms into the air.” See also this story about the settlement of the civil suit arising out of the protest.

“Bash back” also seems to be a phrase more broadly used by people speaking out against what they see as gay-bashing.

Of course, vandalism and threats of violence (more on that in the original post) are crimes regardless of the vandal’s motivation. People who view a religious or political ideology as oppressive are free to speak out against it, but not free to damage its buildings or threaten its adherents. But if you’re interested in the details of the crime, it looks like the message of the graffiti might be more complex than a quick read of the press release might suggest.

Indeed. I’d have assumed some kind of Christian (culturally only), right-wing hate group were it not for these added details.

I might be misinterpreting some elaborate triple-cross (i.e., culturally Christian, right-wing hate group with uncommonly sophisticated knowledge of gay anarchist rhetoric attempts a twofer by terrorizing Muslims and pinning it on gays), but the more plausible interpretation would seem to be gay anarchists trying to intimidate U.S. Muslims for perceived Islamic gay-bashing in Pakistan.

No wonder the Obama DOJ plea agreement was a mere slap on the wrist:

Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, a joint recommendation will be made to the court that Smock be incarcerated for 14 days, followed by a five-year term of supervised release; that Smock must pay $10,440 in restitution; and that Smock must perform 40 hours of community service.  If the Islamic Center of Springfield, or an Islamic Center located near Smock’s residence, is willing to have him perform his community service on its premises, then that is the location where Smock should perform his community service.  Smock will meet with and personally apologize to the leadership of the Islamic Center of Springfield for his crime.

3

“Diversity” is one of the pillars supporting the legitimacy of our ruling class. (The other is technocratic competence or “merit.”) In our present situation, the President of Yale justifies his power by appealing to his competence—and to his commitment to “diversity.” The same goes for CEOs of major corporations, heads of major philanthropies, and most political leaders. “Diversity” serves to block accusations that the control of power (and wealth) is an inside game that favors insiders. No, says the ideology of “inclusion,” we hold power, yes, but we do so with a self-sacrificial commitment to use it to empower others.

Moreover, “diversity” is also a bludgeon with which to beat up on any challengers to today’s elite. Republicans? They’re the “white party,” which is another way of saying a party of prejudiced, racist xenophobes. To lack “diversity” disqualifies one automatically. This is a very handy tool with which to dismiss competition for power, especially when you can define “diversity” as you wish, which is what our establishment does.

Minority students, especially black students, are aware (or at least half-aware) that the power of the ruling class depends upon THEIR cooperation. Because of our history of slavery and segregation, our ruling class needs black Americans so that it can certify itself as “diverse.” As a consequence, minority students—again, especially black students—are in a position to collect enormous rents.

Consider this scenario. Twenty white male Yale students surround a black faculty member, cursing and taunting. If Yale’s president expelled them, our power elite would applaud. Now, consider what actually happened at Yale, which was the opposite, students of color cursing and berating a white professor. Had Yale’s president expelled them, he would have triggered an institutional crisis that in all likelihood would have cost him his job.

The stakes are increased exponentially by the fact that our ruling class is positioning itself to stand astride the entire world. The One Percent is reconfiguring itself as the global establishment …

Populism Left and Right, here and in Europe, senses that multiculturalism serves as an ideology to justify the transformation of American, French, or German elites into global elites. And they’re rebelling, rightly to my mind. Ordinary people rightly see that they’ll be sold out if that’s what needed to promote whatever form of global “diversity” the One Percent sees as necessary to buttress its right to rule.

(R.R. Reno, The Real Role of Diversity)

4

I cannot say I am surprised at this story summary in the New York Times:

Trump’s Strongest Supporter: A Certain Kind of Democrat

A survey found that Donald J. Trump is popular among the less affluent and less educated, while his strongest supporters are self-identified Republicans who are nonetheless registered as Democrats.

I’ve said before that blue-collar union-type people were demoted to insignificance by the Democratic Party in 1972. Voter registrations may not have caught up with voter behavior.

5

We may have found the highest and best use for George Will, BFF of My Man Mitch and, by some accounts, “conservative.” I am in awe of his Goodbye to 2015, a year of absurdity and overreach.

6

For the record (and this is little bit scary to me), I’m liking the substantive positions of Ted Cruz better than those of most of the GOP field, such as his position on Syria, regarding which I consider this Washington Post Editorial Board opinion dead wrong. Writing New Years Eve morning, I suspect that Daniel Larison will take them to task in more detail later in the day.

I was (strike one): Right (hyperlink here)  OR Wrong. (Larison didn’t name the Post by name, but he did address Syria.)

I don’t like or trust Ted Cruz, as I’ve said repeatedly. I have never denied that he’s smart or that he’ll use the truth as readily as lies and slander if truth serves him.

7

This has been pretty relentlessly down, no? How about a little New Years Day trip to Upworthy?

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.