== The Right to Record Police Officers ==
I have called it the most important civil liberties matter in our lifetimes, even though it was hardly covered by the press. In 2013 both the U.S. courts and the Obama Administration declared it to be “settled law” that a citizen has the right to record his or her interactions with police in public places.
No single matter could have been more important because it established the most basic right of “sousveillance” or looking-back at power, that The Transparent Society is all about. It is also fundamental to freedom, for in altercations with authority, what other recourse can a citizen turn to, than the Truth? (See details here.)
See my earlier posting about this: You Have the Right to Record Police, wherein was also predicted that this would not be the end of it! One result will be more and more police wearing their own cameras! And in this explosion of reciprocal vision, crime and abuse of authority would be the two losers, while the streets will fill with both better behavior and tsunamis of thinly veiled sarcasm!
The other major effect would be – for a while – police “accidentally” breaking lots of cams and cellphones… “till third parties caught enough of them in the act.”
What I did not expect was for this to play out so swiftly, in 2014.
Drop by this article on the ACLU web site: Hidden Third Cameraman Proves Crucial in Nebraska Photographer Abuse Case: “Take a look at the photograph above. It shows a former police officer in an orange jumpsuit making a court appearance to face a felony charge of evidence tampering, as well as misdemeanor obstruction and theft. I hope that police around the nation will see this image … and realize that this is what can happen when they try to seize and destroy photographs or video taken by others.”
Read the article and know that this will continue for a while. But more and more, cases like this will alert decent officers to choose our side. And then (for the most part) it will end.
Indeed, evidence shows that California police use of body cameras cuts violence and complaints: An excellent article in The Guardian (UK) offers an update on the experiment in Rialto California where all 70 of its uniformed officers have been required to wear active video cameras when interacting with the public, and the results have emboldened police forces elsewhere in the US and in the UK to follow suit. After cameras were introduced in February 2012, public complaints against officers plunged 88% compared with the previous 12 months. Officers’ use of force fell by 60%. Most officers, skeptical at first, have adapted. They feel constrained to be more polite, but are also freed from frivolous abuse accusations and win easier convictions for righteous busts. This, even as citizens feel ever-more liberated to make recordings of their own.
== The philosophical underpinning ==
I spoke of the citizen’s need to be able to appeal to the truth. (We cannot compete with elites in the Realm of Lies.) The American Constitutional Framers knew this when they wrote the Sixth Amendment… the most under-appreciated but vital portion of the Bill of Rights. It is the component that says you have a right to remain silent about your own faults or mistakes or even crimes… but you do not have a right to withhold information that might free or exculpate someone else.
The Sixth proclaims that when you are accused and put to trial, you may compel testimony in your own defense from reluctant witnesses and yes, even high officials of the state. You can demand the surveillance footage that offers you an alibi. You can insist upon using light to protect your liberty. It is the Transparency Amendment, and it underpins every argument for a coming world wherein reciprocal accountability limits the ability of the mighty to capriciously twist our lives.
Make no mistake. This general right to look back and to use light and truth for your own defense is the fundamental that may decide whether we might be the ones to set forth into the galaxy and bring light elsewhere. It will mean taking responsibility to be smart, complex citizens, instead of passive sheep or growling cynics. It will mean shining accountability into places where the mighty (out of ancient human habit) thrash and wield great power to avoid it. But it all begins with the habits that we learn — and maintain — down at the level of the street.
== Examples? ==
I’ve seen some amazing footage of police officers patiently adapting to this new era by responding to citizen cameras with patience and professionalism. We need to share and discuss examples of both extremes. Because it is in such YouTubed examples that we’ll feel our way forward. (Please share some here in comments.)
This example may make you cringe a little… but ultimately you come away glad to have hired grownups like these two.
“Government ought to be all outside and no inside…Everybody knows that corruption thrives in secret places and avoids public places, and we believe it a fair presumption that secrecy means impropriety.” — Woodrow Wilson
== The real aim of the The Helium Sell-off? ==
“In 1996, Congress passed a law requiring the U.S. government to sell off our entire helium stockpile by 2015. This has forced the price of the gas way, way lower than it should be, considering how little of the stuff is actually left in the world (Some estimate that a balloon’s worth would cost $100 if the market were allowed to set the price.” The US currently owns 80% of the world’s supply and given the ever-widening range of uses, it might offer leverage against – say – the Chinese near monopoly on rare earth minerals.
Indeed, if anyone out there can think of a non-criminal reason why the GOP made this fire sale selloff such a high priority, I’d love to hear your theory.
== It’s your own damn plan, fellows ==
Rediscovered and now circulating – much to Republican embarrassment – is the signing ceremony, April 12, 2006, for the crowning achievement of Mitt Romney’s governorship — a health insurance plan almost identical to “Obamacare” that has been working very well in that state, ever since, and that was in fact the template from which the Affordable Care Act was modeled. At the ceremony, the head of the Heritage Foundation — the elite think tank of conservatism — crowed over the role his group had played in designing “Romneycare” based in the earlier Republican Party Health Plan, proposed in the 1990s by Newt Gingrich and his party. A plan for individual mandates and insurance buying markets or “exchanges” that in fact originated at the Heritage think tank and that was touted as a way to use market forces to solve the problem of the uninsured.
A plan that President Obama and the Democrats cloned almost exactly, under deluded thinking that if they proposed the Republicans’ OWN plan, that would draw Republicans into negotiating calmly about how to institute their… own… damn… plan. A delusion of mega proportions, proving that Democratic optimists can sometimes be almost as crazy as their lunatic opponents. Who now screech “communism!” at their own… damn… plan.
Watch the video of how proud Heritage was, of a health care plan they devised, and now call communism. Again, this is not about left or right. It is about crazy.
== Some lagniappes of political miscellany ==
Credibility rating ideas quickly becoming reality! Politifact, which attempts to neutrally assess how often politicians tell whoppers or innocently get facts wrong, has spun off “Punditfact” to apply the same harsh scrutiny to “pundits” in mass media, who get away with riling folks up and stirring civil war without any formal; system to keep them accountable… till now. And the future I portray in Earth and in Existence keeps coming on, even faster than expected.
And this. We’re nuts.
And… NSA-developed methods for interfering in internet traffic at the basic, packet level are rather dismaying to contemplate. Especially if everyone starts doing it. Especially tyrannical regimes.
Some (iffy) US maps of the seven deadly sins. But… but I thought Republicans approved of greed!
Interesting exploration of which kind of tax maximizes revenue and which kind helps to deter a vice. An important issue as marijuana moves legal.
In The Myth of America’s Decline: Politics, Economics and a Half Century of False Prophecies, Josef Joffe takes on the gloomcasters by pointing out that the *relative* decline of US dominance comes largely from the success of Marshallian efforts to enable the rest of the world to rise out of poverty. Relative superiority is s sick allure that draws oligarchs to preferring impoverished feudalism over a rich and lively middle-class society. It is unworthy.