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Comment: Re:It's democracy, stupid. (Score 1) 459

by goodmanj (#47507091) Attached to: Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

Social mobility and democracy are not the same thing, and neither are the opposite of communism.

The actual amount of social mobility in today's American democracy is damn near zero. Obama was raised in a family of anthropologists and bank vice presidents, and let's not even talk about the Bushes. Gorbachev's parents were farm workers.

(Picking on Gorbachev because he was the only Soviet leader born after the revolution.)

Comment: Re:As a Massachusetts resident... (Score 1) 534

You're missing the point. The individual SWAT cops who bust down your door are employed by the cities they serve, not the LEC. The LEC has no law enforcement authority: it's just a phone tree, a seminar room, and a place to park the SWAT truck.

Or so they'll say.

Comment: Re:Repeat after me... (Score 2) 534

I never said the military doesn't have rules, but they're not the rules you want for dealing with intranational criminal violence. That ROE is missing a little bit of info on how to talk armed men into surrendering, how to disable them without killing them, how to arrest them without screwing up their Miranda rights, how to avoid contaminating a crime scene, how to avoid property damage, the list goes on.

I don't want my military to know all that stuff. I want them to be good at killing enemy combatants when civil authority has been abandoned. If you make soldiers be cops, you get dangerous cops and terrible soldiers.

Comment: Hypothetical rationale (Score 2) 534

This conversation's going nowhere because we've started with a one-sided news report and all of us agree that this is bullshit. It's chest-high full of straw men in here. So here's an attempt to describe the SWAT teams' legal rationale for this. It comes from reading the news report, reading the Law Enforcement Councils' website, and living in Massachusetts so I know how local government works. Plus a lot of "what would I do if I were evil" speculation.

Massachusetts has very weak county government. Local law enforcement, even in rural areas, happens at the town level. Many small towns have like one cop car and two cops, and can't afford a crime lab, a drug lab, a K-9 unit, and whatnot. The county provides specialist services to all the towns within it, but SWAT teams are not one of these services. It makes total sense that local towns would form a cooperative association (the LECs) to pool their limited SWAT resources.

From what I read on their websites, it looks like SWAT personnel don't work for the LEC. They're ordinary town cops who're assigned duty to work with other town cops through the LEC. That is to say, the LEC has no law enforcement authority, but the individual cops do. The LEC provides equipment storage, networking, and shared training for the town cops. As far as I can tell, legally, the LEC is just a place to park the SWAT van, a seminar room for Powerpoints, and a phone tree.

It's not a private army, I bet they'll say, it's a professional association, just like how your city's dentists all get together at the country club first Tuesday of the month. All the personnel are employed by the towns. All the equipment belongs to the towns. You want the public records for your recent 3 a.m. visit by the battering ram boys? Talk to your town.

Now, clearly, this is all bullshit. But it seems to me to be well-crafted bullshit, created by the SWAT teams' lawyer buddies, and we're not going to make it go away unless we appreciate it for what it is.

Comment: Re:Repeat after me... (Score 5, Insightful) 534

I strongly disagree. The military, including the national guard, has lots of training in killing, but little training in hostage recovery, preservation of criminal evidence, the rights of suspects, and protecting the safety of bystanders.

The police fall down on these things a lot, but at least they know how they're *supposed* to work. The national guard are the people you send in when you intend to kill citizens and you don't intend to have a trial afterward. (This is why the "peaceful" deployments of the guard in the civil rights era ended with dead citizens: that's their job.)

There is a time and a place for military suppression of unrest, but the SWAT team is an absolutely necessary middle ground between the beat cop and martial law.

Comment: Re:Hahahahhahaha (Score 1) 143

by goodmanj (#47093029) Attached to: Sifting Mt. Gox's Logs Reveals Suspicious Trading Patterns

You can be sure that there are at least as many bitcoin proponents who would like a government to simply stay out of the whole affair and let them engage in vigilantism as there are those who would like a government to provide a remedy.

To be sure. The value of this social experiment is not so much in pointing out the hypocrisy of the anarcho-libertarians, or convincing them they're wrong, but in showing everyone else what an anarchist "utopia" actually looks like in practice.

"The pyramid is opening!" "Which one?" "The one with the ever-widening hole in it!" -- The Firesign Theatre

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