In an effort to raise awareness about the continuing erosion of U.S. privacy and property protection, Reason Magazine has reimagined a Christmas classic to include forced police entry and civil forfeiture.
‘Twas the Night Raid Before Christmas
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through our home
Not a creature was stirring but CNN’s gnome;
The stockings were hung by the family tree,
In hopes that St. Nick would come visit Philly.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
Except my wayward son, a sugar plum head;
With mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
He snuck to the porch and sold 40 bucks of smack.
Then out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Downstairs, to the entrance, I flew like a flash,
A yell of “Police!” and the front door was smashed;
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But cops with guns drawn, not a single rein-deer,
One arrested my son so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he was not St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles, my house they did seize,
“How can you do this?” I pleaded from my knees.
“It’s called civil forfeiture,” bellowed the cop,
“I’ll take what I want, and I’m not gonna stop.”
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had so much to dread.
“In just Philly alone, in just 10 years’ time,
One thousand private homes are now mine, all mine!”
The grip of a rifle he held tight beneath;
The laser sight circled my heart like a wreath.
His scope—how it twinkled! trained on my dog Thor,
He kicked out my family, padlocked our door.
“Loitering, jaywalking, BS traffic stops:
All excuses to rob you—’cuz we’re the cops!
TVs, cash, cars galore: everything is fair game,”
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
Take church funds! Take shark fins! Take crosses, SUVs!
Buy Vipers! Buy hookers! Buy drones and Zambonis!
To the billions we seize! with no charges at all!
Now dash your hopes, dash your rights, dash away all!”
Then with that last word, he went straight to his work,
And stole all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a snort, he said “Sucks your son blows.”
He sprang to his cruiser as his team he advised:
“The rest of our wish list, we’ll seize from good guys!”
And I heard him exclaim, ere they drove out of sight–
“Happy Christmas to all. On to the next house tonight!”
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And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night, and lo the angel of the Lord came upon them and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid, and the angel said unto them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior, ’tis Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
CNN’s Gloria Borger rejects the notion that President Obama is a lame duck, saying “he’s flexing his executive action muscles.”
Discussing her recent analysis “Obama sheds Clark Kent demeanor, tries on Superman costume,” Borger insisted that Obama has “a list” of executive orders and he’s “checking it twice” ahead of the new year.
Wow, Superman and Santa Clause. What a guy.
H/T: Weasel Zippers
Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch
Totalitarian regimes were all over the headlines this week. North Korean despot Kim Jong Un successfully quashed the release of an American movie, raising serious questions about the power of foreign terroristic threats over U.S. free speech. And President Barack Obama announced that he intends to bring about the end of a half century of chilly relations with Cuba, which remains in the hands of former dictator Fidel Castro’s family. Therefore, you can now enjoy a Cuban cigar but not watch a film critical of a dictator. Wait, what country is this?
It’s hard to tell whether IRS commissioner John Koskinen has a realistic grasp of the way the agency he leads is perceived by more than half the Congress, as well as an unknowable number of American citizens. But he apparently believes casting the agency’s financial troubles in a pitiful light makes for a sympathy-generating tactic.
Koskinen responded to Congress’ recent $346 million IRS budget cut Thursday by indicating the agency could impose a temporary shutdown on itself to save on personnel costs, furloughing employees in order to save an estimated $29 million per day.
“There isn’t any more give in the system. You make any further cuts in this organization and the wheels are going to start falling off,” Koskinen told the press Thursday.
“At some point, we’re going to set a new American record for the number of years in a row we get a budget cut.” Koskinen stressed that furloughs, which would halt all agency activity on a day-by-day basis, aren’t being planned — but that they couldn’t be ruled out.
He also took the opportunity to credit the budget reduction for potentially delaying the timely processing of Americans’ tax returns for 2014.
“Everybody’s return will get processed. But people have gotten very used to being able to file their return and quickly get a refund. This year we may not have the resources,” he said.
The IRS will operate on a $10.9 billion budget for the coming fiscal year. The largest annual budget the agency has ever received came in 2010, when it was allocated $12.15 billion.
In a video produced by Campus Reform, students at George Washington University gleefully sign a petition to deport U.S. citizens in return for providing citizenship to illegal immigrants.
“Please sign our petition for President Obama to deport one American citizen, in exchange for one undocumented immigrant,” read the petition. “Everyone must be allowed a shot at the ‘American Dream.’ Americans should not be greedy. Let us right the wrongs of our past and make another’s dreams come true.”
According to the campus activism organization, about two-thirds of the students they spoke with in an hour agreed to sign the petition.
“It makes sense,” one student said. “Like, I’ve noticed that there is a lot of like hatred against undocumented immigrants and it’s not necessarily their fault.”
Police in Franklin County, Washington, were overruled by a federal judge this week in their attempt to admit evidence in a criminal case against a man they had been surreptitiously spying on via a webcam they had nailed to an outdoor utility pole.
U.S. District Judge Edward Shea ruled that the cops could not admit as evidence the warrantless footage they had collected from the camera, which they remotely operated for six weeks outside the home of a man they suspected of selling drugs.
U.S. attorneys had argued that the evidence didn’t require a warrant, since a pan-and-scan camera operated remotely did not substantially differ in its information-gathering abilities from a human enforcement officer standing out in public to survey the same area.
But Shea repudiated that argument, noting that a) the camera was effectively concealed from the suspect’s view, whereas an officer would be conspicuous, and b) the camera operated 24 hours a day, whereas a human surveillance effort, sanctioned with a warrant, would have forced the department to make decisions about whether to allocate 24-hour manpower to collect evidence on their suspect, Leonel Vargas.
“The American people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the activities occurring in and around the front yard of their homes particularly where the home is located in a very rural, isolated setting,” Shea wrote. “This reasonable expectation of privacy prohibits the warrantless, continuous, and covert recording of Mr. Vargas’ front yard for six weeks.”
Shea also made note of law enforcement’s peculiar decision not to train the camera on Vargas’ home when the police were in the midst of conducting a raid on the house.
The worst-selling issue of People magazine this year was the June 16 edition featuring Hillary Clinton on its cover — a feature timed to coincide with the release of her poorly reviewed, slow-selling book “Hard Choices.”
According to Adweek, Clinton’s cover helped People to a sales total of 503,890 copies for its June 16 issue, compared with its top-selling Aug. 25 cover of Robin Williams, which sold 1.17 million copies.
The Hillary cover, showing Clinton holding on to the back of a chair with both hands, drew its share of mockery for its unwitting allusions to feebleness. At the time, The Washington Free Beacon satirically snarked:
The cover looks innocent enough at first glance, but a close analytical reading reveals what can only be interpreted as a deliberate effort to call attention to the former Secretary of State and Goldman Sachs affiliate’s advanced age (66 years, 7 months).
Notice the subtle placement of the word “grandmother” at the bottom of the page, next to what a layperson might reasonably assume to be an old person’s walker in Clinton’s hands.
Homeland Security officials are worried that a solar storm in the future could leave millions of Americans without power and cause massive infrastructure failures throughout the nation.
That’s according to a 2012 FEMA document outlining the government’s response plan for severe “space weather” that wreak havoc on the power grid and electronic equipment.
“An analysis of the space weather impacts indicates that the greatest challenge will be to provide life-saving and life-sustaining resources for large numbers of people that experience long-term power outage from damage to the U.S. electrical grid,” the FEMA document says.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is responsible for monitoring solar activity, has predicted that a solar storm could render useless 300 electrical transformers that are difficult to replace and leave “130 million people without power for years.”
Large solar disruptions occurred in 1859 and 1921, but at the time electrical systems were limited.
According to federal officials, a storm on par with the 1921 magnetic storm could black out the eastern U.S. and Pacific Northwest.
“The extreme geomagnetic space weather event will cause widespread power outages to a large number of people (approximately 100 million people) in a multi-region, multi-state area of the U.S. due to geomagnetic induced currents damaging EHV transformers, especially along coastal regions,” the report says.
House lawmakers voted last week to pass the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (CIPA), legislation that would put in place infrastructure protections against solar storms.
Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle
The Senate Intelligence Committee released a report this week accusing the CIA of engaging in torture. Alternative media saw the release of the report for what it was: a political tactic employed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who is just weeks away from losing her powerful position as chairwoman of the committee. The mainstream media, however, jumped on the opportunity to pummel President Obama’s predecessor — one of their favorite pastimes.
Earlier this week, we told you about Norm Jacobs, the Beloit, Wisconsin, police chief who’d announced a plan to solicit local residents willing to voluntarily invite the police into their homes to conduct firearms searches.
That idea has died on the vine. Apparently, a lot of people in Beloit had a problem with it.
According to the Beloit Daily News, an angry public forced the city to abort the program almost as soon as it had been announced.
“Amidst backlash from the public, the Beloit Police Department withdrew its offer to inspect homes for illegal firearms about a week after it announced the program,” the paper reported late Wednesday. Jacobs admitted the idea had garnered “a lot of negative feedback,” although he maintained that much of it originated from people outside Beloit who had heard about the story after it went viral.
But Jacobs said the spirit of the idea isn’t going away.
“Just because we put a name to it doesn’t mean it was any different than what we could have done before,” he told the Daily News. “I’m hoping that more people in the community will come up with ideas to make their neighborhoods safer.”