Monday, August 20, 2018

Is This a Recent Trend?


Over the years, I've heard any number of stories about cops using tape to conceal their badge numbers, usually when deployed en masse versus protesters or whatever.

Lately, every cop I encounter seems to have a black piece of cloth stretched over his or her badge, obscuring any personal identifier that might be on it. It looks like the cloth might actually be stretch nylon sewn into the uniform shirt.

Not that I encounter a lot of cops, but it's not terribly unusual for me to run into a local police officer or a deputy county sheriff at an area convenience store. That was the case this morning, and I noticed the obscured badge, and remembered that I had been noticing obscured badges. So I figured I'd ask around about that.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Purposes of the Libertarian National Committee ...


... do not extend to resolving ideological/factional disputes within the Libertarian Party, or to censuring the ideological/factional opponents of the LNC's members.

Thankfully, a recent attempt to abusively employ the LNC's public policy resolution authority to do those two things seems to have failed (the email ballot doesn't close until August 22, but more than 1/4th of the LNC has already voted no and the vote is running 10-5 against with a 3/4th threshold for adoption).

The obvious target of the resolution was the Libertarian Socialist Caucus. Think what you will of them, they do exist, they are part of the Libertarian Party, and at the party's recent national convention their endorsed chair candidate collected enough delegate support tokens to participate in the formal debate and their endorsed vice-chair candidate made it past the first ballot.

I do not label myself a "libertarian socialist," but there is such a thing, and people to whom that label is applicable have been activists in the party since long before I came along (1996), let alone since fairly recently arrived party activists like Caryn Ann Harlos (the "have the LNC grind my ideological ax" sponsor of the resolution) and Joshua Smith (the "have the LNC censure my ideological/factional opponents" sponsor of the resolution) ran for and won election to the LNC.

In fact, there have probably been "libertarian socialists," broadly defined, in the party since its founding in 1971 or shortly after.

The late Karl Hess, who edited the party's newspaper for four years, was also a member of Students for a Democratic Society and the Industrial Workers of the World.

Bruce Baechler, recipient of the party's 2002 Thomas Paine Award, was also a Wobbly.

There's always been a noticeable Georgist/geoist tendency, usually not expressing as organized faction, in the party. Georgists/geoists disagree with the theory of property in land that most other party members accept. And that's okay.

Article 4, Section 1 of the party's bylaws is clear, unambiguous, and dispositive: "Members of the Party shall be those persons who have certified in writing that they oppose the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals."

We get to disagree (and have done so loudly for nigh on 50 years) on what that means -- on what constitutes initiation force and why, including but not limited to debating questions relating to what might constitute or not constitute a rightful property claim. And it's not the LNC's job to intervene in such arguments.

The Problem with Juror Identity Secrecy


Per BBC News:

The judge in the trial of ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort says he will not release the names of jurors because of fears for their safety. ... Speaking in court while jurors deliberated for a second day, Judge [TS] Ellis said: "I had no idea this case would excite these emotions ... I don't feel right if I release their names .... I've received criticism and threats. I imagine they would, too."

If there are fears for the safety of jurors, jury tampering (beyond the legal version, voir dire), etc., then the proper course is to sequester the jury -- put them up in a hotel with armed security until the case is over.

But here's the US Constitution:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed ...

If we don't know who the jurors are, how can we know where they're from or whether or not we can expect them to be impartial?

The trial is in Virginia, and it's a case on tax evasion and related offenses. Since Ellis won't tell us who's on the jury, for all we know he just let Mueller's people bus in 12 IRS agents from New York, all of whom worked on the case they're now hearing, to fill the openings.

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