Is it still possible to curb the intrusive power of government?

Without an actual shooting revolution, that is.

It seems obvious to me that our government, at all levels and in most of the 50 states, is overgrown. The mere expense of it all, even if it affected us in no other way, is ruining the way of life that made our country the economic engine of the world, and a geopolitical superpower. I think our Founders would shudder at the prospect of personal income taxation, not to mention a progressive scheme that combined with state and local taxes takes more than half of the yearly income of the folks doing the most to create our general prosperity. The cost, though, is hardly the most catastrophic effect of the excess of state power.

As I write this, there are a bunch of protesters camped out at a visitor center in a Federal wildlife refuge in Oregon. What exactly they are protesting isn’t being talked about much, if at all, in the left-wing press. When they do mention it, most of what it’s all about is ignored. The ‘crimes’ of the Hammond ranchers are only deemed crime in the first place because the BLM and the FWS have been trying to drive ranchers out of the area to expand that wildlife refuge where the protest is taking place. No actual harm was done by the burning of a small area of federal land. Fires in the wilderness are a natural occurrence, to which the flora and fauna are well-adapted, and the fires set by the Hammonds did nothing but restrict the growth of invasive species and protect their ranch and home from lightning-set fires. For this, the government wants to label them terrorists and imprison them for years. It comes down to the desire of BLM and FWS personnel to eliminate cattle-ranching in the area, rather than to protect wild lands and wildlife from anything. They simply should not have this kind of power to enforce their personal preferences.

My previous post on the Avery case also illustrates an excess of government power, this on a local level. There was a lot of over-reach in that case in the name [but not the service] of justice and the investigation of crimes. A few members of a county police force put a man, who they knew was not guilty, in prison. The only motivation seems to be revenge for an offense against a deputy’s wife and/or a feeling that Avery was a bad person, bound to commit a more serious crime eventually. This, again, is a power that government employees should simply never possess. When Avery eventually proved his innocence of rape, he was promptly railroaded back into prison, and his prosecution used as a lever to force him to settle for very little compensation for the eighteen years stolen from him, and to protect from liability the individual officers that had done the most to steal those years. In order to bolster their very weak case, police and prosecutor then abused a learning-disabled child [with the assistance of his court appointed public defender!] into implicating himself and Avery in crimes for which there never was any independent evidence, and used that ‘confession’ to imprison the child as well. That they pulled this off frankly horrifies me. That both Avery and Dassey still sit in prison for Avery’s defiance of the petulance of the Manitowoc County Sheriffs sickens me. That every level of jurisprudence, right up to the SCOTUS has endorsed this patent abuse of police and prosecutorial power frightens me. If Wisconsin was a death penalty state, these petty despots might already have succeeded in permanently silencing Avery’s protestation of innocence, and they might even have managed to have the State murder him over the rape in which he has, again, proven his innocence, rather than raised mere reasonable doubt. As it is, Avery is lucky to have survived prison, so far.

I used to be in favor of the death penalty for first degree murder. I’ve come around to generally opposing the DP, after seeing hundreds of exonerations for murder, like Avery’s for rape, by new DNA and other evidence. In many cases, prosecutors who happily use new science to obtain convictions in newer cases oppose DNA science used to prove earlier convictions incorrect. Anyone who does this ought to be locked up himself, rather than be lauded, much less re-elected, for being ‘tough on crime.’ Fighting to keep innocent people in prison is the exact opposite of ‘tough on crime,’ and libertarian-minded folks like myself should not be the only ones to recognize that. The possibility that people have been executed for crimes they did not commit should provoke revulsion at this excess of State power, in everyone, rather than acceptance. You do need to break eggs to make omelets, but human beings are not eggs, and justice is not an omelet. No analogy I can think of actually serves. Only the actual words for the actual factors involved convey the gravity of the situation. Government employees simply should not have the power to use the State to kill their fellow citizens if there is any doubt, even if that doubt appears unreasonable, that the accused is guilty of murder. This is not a Constitutionally-backed position, as the USC does explicitly countenance the death penalty, and does not proscribe its exercise by the several States. I don’t claim religious backing for my opinion on this either. For one, I don’t have any religious beliefs, and for two, I’m pretty sure the USC does prohibit the codification of religious beliefs into law.

So, I rely only on logic, and my belief that freedom is inherently better than oppression, under all circumstances. I hope that belief is more common than it appears.

To return to my headline: is this situation fixable? That’s another of my hopes, but I can feel that hope slowly dying. It seems that the pursuit of personal power leads many of our leaders on both sides of the major-party divide to policies that cannot but destroy our nation. From spending us into an inescapable black hole of debt, to mass immigration from cultures inherently opposed to freedom, it appears that we are on the brink of losing the ability to be a free people. It even appears a sizable minority of our youngest adults don’t even want that ability. I don’t know if it’s too late. I don’t know if even a shooting revolution could restore us. I do feel a deep gratitude for the possibility.

Good luck, y’all.

Same Data, Different Graph

I love the graph of temperature on a scale that you can actually feel.

Dave Alexander & Company with David Edgren and Gus Bailey - The Artisan Craft Blog

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How can the same data be shown on both of these graphs?  The temperature is shown on one graph and the change in temperature is on another.  Does one graph hide the Global Climate Change, and the other exaggerate it?

Retired chemist and physicist C.R. Dickson points out that the large error rates in global climate measuring combined with the very tiny increases shown make for very shaky conclusions.  We’re simply not measuring the temperature well enough to trust an increase of a degree or two.

Because it’s so difficult to observe man-made global warming, some experts at NASA GISS believe the accuracy of climate models requires a one hundredfold increase in order to see the small amount of warming.

“A doubling in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), predicted to take place in the next 50 to 100 years, is expected to change the radiation balance at the surface…

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David Harsanyi Is Guilty As Hell

Of not understanding the difference between acquittal and innocence.

I’ve had occasion to read Harsanyi from time to time, and I’ve never been particularly impressed with his rhetorical skills, but also never been particularly annoyed by him until now.

Frankly, that article is almost complete garbage, from start to finish, but I don’t feel the need to dispute all of it. I’ll just hit some of the worst bits to illustrate my point. Harsanyi in italics:

“I was convinced of many things watching the 10-part series: I was convinced the criminal justice system and Manitowoc County were likely corrupt, and that many people in that office wanted to see Avery end up back in jail.”

Well, duh.

” I was convinced that I was being manipulated by directors Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos (more on this later). I was definitely convinced that Avery was guilty of the murder. And, believe it or not, a viewer could believe all those things simultaneously.”

What you could not believe, unless you are an idiot or straining very hard to think like one, is that Steven Avery got a fair trial. That corrupt Manitowoc Sheriff’s department was deeply involved in the so-called investigation of Avery’s premises, despite the public declarations that they would avoid conflict of interest by handing off the investigation to another county. That fact alone, even without at least two of the Manitowoc “investigating” officers being busted lying under oath, is enough to raise reasonable doubt about every bit of evidence that they plantedfound.

“Parts of Halbach’s body were found burned in Avery’s fire pit.”

Grammatically incorrect, or an unjustified assumption? Parts of Halbach’s burned body [note the difference] were found in the fire pit. And in a burn barrel a hundred yards away. And the largest single part was found in a nearby quarry, not on Avery’s property at all. The burned parts were handled so poorly that no scientific conclusion could actually be drawn as to where the burning took place.

“Evidence of Avery’s involvement was found inside his home.”

Uh, sure, punkin’. You know what wasn’t found? Any evidence whatsoever that Halbach, who was according to the state’s case bound to a bed, raped repeatedly, and then stabbed and cut repeatedly, and then dragged out while still alive, was ever in that home. What was the ‘evidence’ that Avery was involved? Harsanyi doesn’t specify, but it’s easy enough to find out: Some papers, and the magic key. It’s magic, because it didn’t turn up until the 5th search of the same small mobile home, and not until the two Manitowoc officers who had the most to lose [in impending litigation over their railroading Avery for a rape he did not commit] happened to be the ones searching. That key is even more magical because despite Ms. Halbach handling it on a daily basis for years, none of her DNA seems to have ever clung to it, but Avery’s supposedly did.

“There is DNA evidence tying the bullet found in the Avery garage to Halbach.”

Actually, there isn’t. The test that was run for this particular DNA sample was invalidated by the contamination of the control sample. That’s the way forensic science works, or it’s not science. The thing is, the tech had used up all of the material in the single test, so she just declared it good, because the state was simply desperate for some actual evidence that Halbach had been killed on Avery’s property. That the bullet was tied to Avery’s gun is of no consequence, as it was found in his garage. This is the same hoarder-ishly cluttered garage where the state alleged Halbach had been butchered, where no other trace of her blood or any other of her DNA was ever found, despite the concrete floor being jack-hammered up so they could could search for blood in the cracks. They did find blood in the cracks, by the way…but only Avery’s.

“Police found her car, with blood on it and in it, left on the Avery family’s lot.”

No, they didn’t. The car was found, on a property with 4000+ vehicles, by a civilian, a relative of the deceased, within a few minutes of beginning to search. The car may have stood out a little, as it was probably the only vehicle on the lot with brush and pallets leaned against it, in a simulation of it being “hidden.” Or, the searcher may have been given a hint as to where to look, by the young man who made sure that she had a camera before sending her to search there. That young man was Halbach’s ex-boyfriend, who also happened to be involved with the hacking of Ms. Halbach’s voicemail password and the apparent deletion of some of the messages.

Harsanyi also pretends to believe that it would be somehow difficult for the police to plant DNA from Avery’s sweat on the keys and Halbach’s car. This is ridiculous, on its face. These very motivated officers, who were, again, supposed to not be involved in the investigation at all, were in fact repeatedly in and out of Avery’s house over and over for weeks, while he sat in jail, denied bail at any price. It is no stretch at all to suppose that a glove, or any bit of dirty laundry, could be used to transfer such DNA to the keys and the car. Harsanyi also seems to think it would have made some form of sense for Avery to have transported Halbach’s body, or some parts thereof, around in her car, between his house and 20-feet-distant garage, or the further 20 feet to his burn pit. This despite no one seeing the car anywhere near his house between the time Halbach was there alive, and when it suddenly turned up in the junkyard. Intact, rather than run through the easily available crusher. Yes, Avery, the absolutely brilliant crime-scene cleaner [despite an IQ of 70] who was supposedly able to rape, stab, and butcher a woman in at least two locations without the slightest trace of blood left behind [nor any sign of a clean-up]…was also such an incompetent, that he smeared his own blood all over Halbach’s car, and also spread hers around the cargo area.

You might believe that. If you really want to, really bad.

Finally, in a footnote, Harsanyi addresses Avery’s supposed accomplice, and nephew, Brendan Dassey’s recanted confession.

*For me the matter of Dassey’s confession was the most problematic part of the case. The police interviews with him were almost unwatchable at times. The detectives’ questioning of Dassey (and describing what they did as “questioning” is far too charitable) without an attorney or family member present, despite the kid’s obviously low IQ, was abuse. Kratz’s press conference misrepresenting the tenor and outcome of that confession was nothing more than a lie. Yet, it needs to be pointed out that Dassey’s confession was far more specific than his other stories and comported with evidence that turned up.”

The one time, including by what was supposed to be a member of his own defense team, that Dassey was questioned without being alternatively badgered and cajoled into saying exactly what his inquisitors wanted to hear was on the stand at his own trial.  He then fully recanted the bullshit ‘confession’ that Harsanyi concedes he was abused into making. The glaringly obvious reason that this ‘confession’ [consistently inconsistent, between interrogations] “comported” to the evidence, is that’s what the detectives wanted to hear. So they abused a mentally impaired child into saying it, and trotted him off to prison for what will more than likely be his entire adult life, to satisfy their egos and protect their colleagues from their liability for imprisoning a man they knew was not guilty.

Steven Avery may indeed somehow be guilty of Theresa Halbach’s murder. He’s not a smart man, and he’s probably not a particularly good man. He certainly wasn’t a good man when he was locked up for a rape that another man, the one guilty of it, had already confessed to committing. He does, though, have a record of honestly confessing his own bad acts, and resolutely denying false accusations. He did probably twice as much time for that false accusation of rape as he would have if he’d ‘admitted’ it to the parole board. There is plenty of reasonable doubt in the Halbach murder, though, not because Avery resolutely denies committing it, but because the state’s case is garbage, like Harsanyi’s article.