Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fire-breathing bartenders arrested, face 45 years

Perform a bar trick for the amusement of your customers, go to jail for half a century

I used to live down the street from this place, which was called Foot Anakin's back in the 80's when I was there.

I think this case is a good example of how our criminal justice system has gone off the rails. Nowadays just about anything you do can be construed as a felony, and prosecutors are quick to charge people with anything they can think of in relation to an incident. Multiple gratuitous charges stemming from a single event are a violation of double jeopardy in my opinion. Combine this with mandatory minimum sentencing rules and you wind up with a system that is a much greater threat to society than the REAL criminals it is nominally supposed to be protecting us from. A burglar will steal your TV or maybe your car, the criminal justice system will steal your life.

But there is a way out for these guys, and that is the most pernicious part of this whole mess. If they plead out to a lesser charge, the prosecutors get to claim a win, and they get a slap on the wrist. Why is this a problem? Because it destroys the principles of due process and trial by jury. Once upon a time when a person was charged with a crime, the prosecution had to prove their case in court before a jury of that person's peers. Not anymore. Today most people are so terrified of spending the rest of their lives in prison something that should rightly be called a misdemeanor that they simply plead guilty to anything the prosecution offers that will save them from that terrible fate. The prosecutors get to claim a "win," that they are "tough on crime," and their conviction stats are improved. Citizens who do not cave, and who do demand their day in court, are punished for it if they lose. If these guys actually fight these bogus charges, you can rest assured that the prosecutors will press to make these charges stick, and the sentences that will imposed really will be 45 years in prison (or worse) if these guys lose.

This is not justice, this is tyranny.

A free society is not one in which prosecutors deprive the judge and jury of their rightful place under due process. When prosecutors abuse their position to declare someone convicted of a crime by fiat, they are no longer public servants but criminals themselves.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Get the government out of the marriage business

Time for a divorce

This is what I've been saying for over a year now.

I was married once. I'm now divorced. The state was not involved when I got married, and it wasn't involved when I got divorced. This was not by design, but it is how things turned out. Some people will tell me that I wasn't "really" married at all because I didn't get permission from the government. But why should my (now ex) wife and I, as adults, need to ask the state for permission in the first place? How is it the business of government to decide who is married and who is not? Why is the state even informed of the change in status?

This brings me to the very point that this article makes so well. Why is the state involved in defining marriage? Worse yet, why does it assume the role of permission-giver, without whose assent a marriage is not "real"? Does that make any sort of sense in a free society?

Let the role of the state be limited to the enforcement of valid contracts between consenting adults, and let the adults in question define their relationship in whatever terms they choose.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Some lies hurt more than others

I saw a bumper on HBO recently. I honestly don't know exactly what show was being promoted, but it featured a black woman reciting a poem in which she explicitly named the Tea Party movement as part of the oppression of black people.

It is one thing when leftists spread lies about us being racists. Leftists telling hateful lies is something that happens every day. It is quite another to see someone buying into those lies and repeating them.

It honestly made me sad and I felt sorry for this woman. If she believes the lies about the Tea Party movement, then what other destructive lies has she bought into? How is her life being damaged by those lies, her potential destroyed? What possibilities are there for her that will never be realized because she has come to believe that America itself is her enemy?

Mosque at ground zero and the hypocrisy of faux conservatives

If muslims want to buy property near ground zero and build a mosque then that is their fundamental right as free human beings. It is also their right under the 1st amendment.

If there are other people who don't like this, then the answer is to pony up more money for that same piece of land than the muslims are willing to spend to secure it. If the muslims won't sell....too bad. Crying to the government to "protect" us from the free use of private property is both stupid and wrong.

I'd heard a great deal of fussing about this business for a long time, and I'd always assumed that some government entity was involved in the building of this mosque. Now I find out that this is the work of private citizens using private property. The fair-weather conservatives who would deny them that right should be ashamed of themselves. Rights aren't just for people we like. They are for everyone.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Public Tax Meeting

(Blatantly stolen from here)

We Voted On It

John JJ Richman was making breakfast when he heard the crowd outside. They seemed just shy of hostile. He opened his door to see about 65 townspeople, out of a town of 100. Two spokesmen were standing on the porch.

John: Good morning. Why are you all here?

Rob: There are things that need changing, and you are the one to help us.

John: (Distracted by the milling crowd)

Rob: The town could use improvement. Renovating the school, hiring more police, fixing up the football field, and a summer splash fountain for the children. For the little children! (Rob was shaking a bit.)

John: Well, if you put it like that, I can contribute $1000. (He scans the crowd) Make that $2000.

Rob: Not enough. We want you to pay for it all, along with the other 4 rich guys in town. You are earning $250,000 and paying $80,000 in tax. We think $105,000 in tax is only fair, (his eyes flash) or maybe a bit more. That leaves you with $145,000, which is more than fair. You live in the town and will benefit from the improvements.

John: That's a big bite. Why should just 5 out of the 100 fund the whole town? As a single man, that $80,000 in 2008 payroll and income taxes is 32% of my earnings, isn't that enough? Maybe the whole town should contribute.

Rob: We contribute what we can. We have less money than you. Some of us work for you, and you don't pay enough. We should all be more equal. You have the money and we need it.

John: I already personally pay 20% of the town's expenses. The 5 rich guys in town together pay 60%. The 25 well off families pay 86%. Isn't that enough?

Rob: We are not into philosophy. We want money. You have money.

John: Well, I don't agree with you. Where do you get the authority to just take what you want from me?

Rob: I'm the mayor, and at my election two years ago a referendum passed by 65 to 35 about fixing potholes. I think you argued at the time that there was already enough money to fix them. It seems you were always stingy.

In that referendum, Section 3, Paragraph 2.a says: "The town shall have the authority to levy taxes to an aggregate amount strictly limited to a total of $20,000 to fix the potholes in the town's streets and thoroughfares (note 1)."

Note 1 says: "And in emergencies, for things other than potholes, and possibly a bit more".

(The crowd laughs and slaps each other on the back)

John: This is unfair. You want me to pay more without paying anything more yourself.

Rob: Actually, we are lowering our own taxes. We deserve it, and you don't. We don't understand how you get your money. Some sort of luck or black magic. It probably should be ours. Somehow you took it when we weren't looking. We are leaving you more than enough. You should be happy.

John: I don't have the extra money on me.

Rob: We'll bill you. We are not barbarians.

(The crowd looks disappointed)

John: It seems I can't do anything about this. You understand that I won't be expanding my business within the town. I'm feeling a bit upset. I may go fishing.

Rob: Fishing is good. We'll see you there.

We may be back in a month about money for another Stimulus Package. We want to improve the town economy by giving each of us 65 a stimulus check of $1000. Those new TV's look sweet.

John: Is that all?

Rob: (Turns toward the crowd without answering) OK boys, next stop is 13 Orchard Lane, there is more work to do.