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Click on title for link. Infuriating how the Republicans keep insisting that “free market capitalism” is a “survival of the fittest” - and yet continually resort to subsidies, bailouts, and lobbying for public policy changes to bolster businesses or sectors that would otherwise be failing.

The worst part of taking this approach to private prisons is that, by creating a profit motive, it creates an incentive to lobby for public policy changes and stricter incarceration rules for minor violations. This has a damaging effect on the lives of so many people (not to mention their families and dependents) who should never have served time for minor offenses.

Disgusting.

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[reposted from the blog of Matt Bieber, a graduate student at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, who received criminal charges of trespassing for merely attending a Romney event]

On Friday, January 6, I took a bus from my home in Boston to Manchester, NH. I was planning to attend a few Republican primary events, write a few posts for this blog, maybe cross-post them on HuffPo, and head home the next day.

But the famous retail politics atmosphere of New Hampshire was exhilarating. I was watching the candidates up close, trading notes with citizens and reporters about the campaigns, and then slurping up diner food while I processed my thoughts. I decided to stick around for a few more days, so I rented a car and found a family friend in Nashua who offered a spare bed.

On Monday, January 9, I drove a couple of towns over to see Mitt Romney speak at the Gilchrist Metal Fabricating Company in Hudson, NH. I walked into the big machine shop, put my backpack and jacket down on a seat near the stage, asked a neighbor to watch them, and went off to find a restroom. Afterward, I was chatting up a campaign staffer when a police officer approached. Sir, we have to ask you to leave the premises.

“Sir, is this about my backpack? I’d be happy to show you – there’s nothing dangerous in there.”

“No, sir – we’ll explain it to you outside.”

I gathered my things and walked past a group of citizens and press, humiliated and confused.

Outside, the officer said, “Sir, the campaign has identified you as someone who was at a protest at Romney’s office in Manchester.”

Now I was really confused. Protest? I didn’t even know there had been protests at Romney’s headquarters, and if there had been, I certainly hadn’t been at them. (Later, after I got out of jail, I looked on the web; I still haven’t found any news stories about protests at Romney’s offices here, though Occupy protesters have attended several of his events.)

I explained to the officer – his name was Lamarche, and his partner’s was Ducie – that there must have been some misunderstanding. Could I speak to someone from the campaign to clear this up? No. I’d have to leave immediately.

I asked about his authority to remove me. “We’re working for the Romney campaign,” he said. I asked if he was on-duty; he said he was. My confusion deepened. So was he working for the town of Hudson today, or for the campaign? “Both.” (Later, I think I got it straight: the campaign hired the police for the day, sort of like a private security detail.)

I thought about Romney’s campaign staff inside. They had mistaken me for someone else, and that was enough – I was out. They had imagined trouble and whisked it away, out of sight. And the police – my police – were being paid to do their bidding.

I asked again to speak to someone from the campaign or the company who owned the plant. The officer refused; the company had delegated authority to the campaign, and the campaign had authorized the police to remove anyone the campaign didn’t want present. But wouldn’t it be simple for me to just talk to someone and explain the mistake? Too many people around, the cop said. Apparently it would be too big a bother. I either had to leave or face charges for criminal trespass.

My reason-seeking brain couldn’t take in what was happening. I had come here to be a part of the primary process, to see it first-hand and to write about it. I came because I was curious, and on my own nickel. I wasn’t part of any protest group or in anyone’s employ. Couldn’t we just have a reasonable conversation and figure this out?

I asked another question or two, and the cop had had enough: “You’re under arrest.” He took my things, handcuffed me behind my back, searched me, and tucked me into a nearby cruiser. I could overhear him talking about going through my things, and he answered a question from the media. I was “the subject.”

A few minutes later, an officer removed me from the cruiser and had me lean up against another police car and spread my legs for a second search. Two or three TV crews had their cameras trained on us; I felt ashamed in a wholly unfamiliar way. I wanted to look directly at the cameras and explain what had happened, but I feared the police officers’ reaction.

I was tucked into the second cruiser and driven away. The camera crews continued filming. A protester – oh, did I mention that there was an actual protest there? – yelled, “Free the prisoner.”

***

The holding cell at the Hudson Police Department. (I was allowed  to use my own phone to make phone calls, and I snapped these pictures as  well.)

The holding cell at the Hudson Police Department. (I was allowed to use my own phone to make phone calls, and I snapped these pictures as well.)

At the police station, an officer put me in a cage and asked to remove my shoes, belt, and sweatshirt and place them on the floor between us. He asked me to lift my feet so he could inspect them. He did so tentatively, from a distance.

An officer named Manni and another officer processed my paperwork. As they did so, they told me not to go back to “that area” when I was released. I indicated that I understood I wasn’t permitted to be on the company’s land or in their facilities, but surely I could go back to the street if I so chose – it’s public property, after all. Don’t go back to that area, they said. If you go back, you might cause a disturbance or a riot, and you could be arrested for disorderly conduct.

I tried to keep calm and ask even-keeled questions. Were they telling me I wasn’t even permitted in the street near the facility? And if so, on what grounds? (I wondered, Is the Romney campaign just permitted to cordon off a whole neighborhood?)

And then the following exchange took place. I began to ask, “If I express my First Amendment freedoms –

And Officer Manni interjected, “You’ll probably be arrested.”

I couldn’t locate words. (I’m not entirely sure he said ‘probably,’ but I want to give him the benefit of the doubt.)

It was clear to me that the two officers had no interest in discussing what the law actually said, or what my rights actually entailed. I was paperwork, and they wanted to get it over with. I kept asking questions, and at one point, one of them opened up the New Hampshire legal code and read me the definition of disorderly conduct. He read the words dully, as if they were just syllables, with no interest at all in what they meant.

I asked the officer if he could help me connect what he’d just read with my situation and understand why it would be a problem to return to the street outside the event. He told me that I might return and say things that “aren’t what others think.” [It might have been “aren’t what others believe” or “aren’t what most others believe.” I’m not 100% sure.] It was incredible – he actually paused before he said those words, as if searching for something politically correct to say. I don’t think he realized that the words he found had so little to do with the letter and spirit of our laws and Constitution.

***

My cell was down the hall and to the left.

My cell was down the hall and to the left.

An officer returned, and I given a choice: I could either post bail or spend the night at a nearby jail and see a judge for an arraignment in the morning. Neither option seemed particularly fair: I could either pay money for not having done anything wrong, or I could go to jail and take my chances with a judge for not having done anything wrong. I wasn’t sure I’d hold up very well in jail. I was already shaken and lightheaded, and my heart was still going hard.

I opted for bail, and I was brought back out to the holding cell for mug shots. (Officer Manni made sure that I knew not to smile. “The court doesn’t like that. They take it as an insult.”) He then took a second set of mug shots in a different room. (The first, if I remember correctly, were for the local police department’s records. The second would be sent to other state and local law enforcement agencies and the FBI.)

Last came fingerprints. The prints involved no ink; instead, a digital machine captured my “finger slaps.” Each time the laser-reader scanned my fingerprints and recorded the image, it read “Scan Complete!”

Officer Manni put me back in the holding cell to wait for the bail bondsman, and I sat there for the next couple of hours. At some point, he offered to let me make a call, and he allowed me to use my own phone to do so. “Can I make more than one?” I asked. He didn’t care: “You’re not a murderer.”

So I called a journalist friend, hoping she was nearby. (I only had $16 in my wallet, and I wasn’t sure if I’d need help making bail.) I called my dad, too, and a couple of other friends. Then, remembering I had internet access, I searched for news of the arrest. It had been reported by a local CBS affiliate.  Unfortunately, the reporters (or the police with whom they interacted) had gotten the facts wrong. (Contrary to what the story had indicated, I had never spoken with the owner of the company where the event had been held. In fact, I had asked Officer Lamarche for that very privilege and been denied.)

I was humiliated again. There was a picture of me looking like a thousand other pictures I’d seen, being cuffed and taken away. I saw myself like I imagined others did: Just some jerk who refused to play by the rules and got himself arrested by good, upstanding policemen. And I was in a cage with no way to respond.

I sat and talked with Officer Manni. After what had felt like a tense conversation earlier, he was friendly with me – I was freezing in the holding cell, and he let me have my sweatshirt and jacket. We chatted about his time as a cop in Boston, and we joked about Hahvahd. He answered my questions about what might happen at the arraignment as best he could.

Eventually, nearly four hours after Officer Lamarche had first taken me aside, the bail bondsman appeared. He was friendly enough, though he – like some of the other policemen at the station – seemed to think I had been protesting down at the event. I explained otherwise, and he brushed it aside. What had happened or hadn’t happened wasn’t his concern; he was interested in getting through the procedure and making sure I didn’t get in any more trouble.

He issued me an order to appear at an arraignment in Nashua on January 26th; I would face a charge of criminal trespass. I told him I didn’t have enough money to pay my bail, but that I’d be happy to go to a nearby ATM and get it. He offered me a ride, and we chatted along the way.

I liked him. He didn’t seem to think I was a bad guy, and he treated the whole thing matter-of-factly. I asked if there was any way this wouldn’t appear on my record, and he said no. Make sure you appear at that court date, he said. He explained how things might shake out at the arraignment – what my plea options were, that kind of thing. He seemed to genuinely want things to go well for me. And when he dropped me off at my car, he had some last words of advice, “Don’t hang around this area.” Apparently, even hours after the event had ended, the Romney campaign and the local police were still present, nibbling away at my freedoms.

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WASHINGTON — December 2, 2011 — The United Nations envoy for freedom of expression is drafting an official communication to the U.S. government demanding to know why federal officials are not protecting the rights of Occupy demonstrators whose protests are being disbanded — sometimes violently — by local authorities.

Frank La Rue, who serves as the U.N. “special rapporteur" for the protection of free expression, told HuffPost in an interview that the crackdowns against Occupy protesters appear to be violating their human and constitutional rights.

"I believe in city ordinances and I believe in maintaining urban order," he said Thursday. "But on the other hand I also believe that the state — in this case the federal state — has an obligation to protect and promote human rights."

"If I were going to pit a city ordinance against human rights, I would always take human rights,” he continued.

La Rue, a longtime Guatemalan human rights activist who has held his U.N. post for three years, said it’s clear to him that the protesters have a right to occupy public spaces “as long as that doesn’t severely affect the rights of others.”

In moments of crisis, governments often default to a forceful response instead of a dialogue, he said — but that’s a mistake.

"Citizens have the right to dissent with the authorities, and there’s no need to use public force to silence that dissension," he said.

"One of the principles is proportionality," La Rue said. "The use of police force is legitimate to maintain public order — but there has to be a danger of real harm, a clear and present danger. And second, there has to be a proportionality of the force employed to prevent a real danger."

And history suggests that harsh tactics against social movements don’t work anyway, he said. In Occupy’s case, he said, “disbanding them by force won’t change that attitude of indignation.”

Occupy encampments across the country have been forcibly removed by police in full riot gear, and some protesters have been badly injured as a result of aggressive police tactics.

New York police staged a night raid on the original Occupy Wall Street encampment in mid-November, evicting sleeping demonstrators and confiscating vast amounts of property.

The Oakland Police Department fired tear gas, smoke grenades and bean-bag rounds at demonstrators there in late October, seriously injuring one Iraq War veteran at the Occupy site.

Earlier this week, Philadelphia and Los Angeles police stormed the encampments in their cities in the middle of the night, evicting and arresting hundreds of protesters.

Protesters at University of California, Davis were pepper sprayed by a campus police officer in November while participating in a sit-in, and in September an officer in New York pepper sprayed protesters who were legally standing on the sidewalk.

"We’re seeing widespread violations of fundamental First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights," said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, co-chair of a National Lawyers Guild committee, which has sent hundreds of volunteers to provide legal representation to Occupations across the nation.

"The demonstrations are treated as if they’re presumptively criminal," she said. "Instead of looking at free speech activity as an honored and cherished right that should be supported and facilitated, the reaction of local authorities and police is very frequently to look at it as a crime scene."

What they should do, Verheyden-Hilliard said, is make it their mission to allow the activity to continue.

Using the same lens placed on the Occupy movement to look at, say, the protest in Egypt, Verheyden-Hilliard said, observers would have focused on such issues as “Did the people in Tahrir Square have a permit?”

La Rue said the protesters are raising and addressing a fundamental issue. “There is legitimate reason to be indignant and angry about a crisis that was originated by greed and the personal interests of certain sectors,” he said. That’s especially the case when the bankers “still earn very hefty salaries and common folks are losing their homes.”

"In this case, the demonstrations are going to the center of the issue," he said. "These demonstrations are exactly challenging the basis of the debate."

Indeed, commentators such as Robert Scheer have argued that the Occupy movement’s citizen action has a particular justification, based on the government’s abject failure to hold banks accountable.

La Rue said he sees parallels between Occupy and the Arab Spring pro-democracy protests. In both cases, for instance, “you have high level of education for young people, but no opportunities.”

La Rue said he is in the process of writing what he called “an official communication” to the U.S. government “to ask what exactly is the position of the federal government in regards to understanding the human rights and constitutional rights vis-a-vis the use of local police and local authorities to disband peaceful demonstrations.”

Although the letter will not carry any legal authority, it reflects how the violent suppression of dissent threatens to damage the U.S.’s international reputation.

"I think it’s a dangerous spot in the sense of a precedent," La Rue said, expressing concern that the United States risks losing its credibility as a model democracy, particularly if the excessive use of force against peaceful protests continues.

New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman welcomed the international scrutiny.

"We live in a much smaller, connected world than we ever did before, and just as Americans watch what goes on in Tahrir Square and in Syria, the whole world is watching us, too — and that’s a good thing," Lieberman said.

"We’re kind of confident that we’re living in the greatest democracy in the world, but when the international human rights world criticizes an American police officer for pepper spraying students who are sitting down, it rightly give us pause."

* * * * *

Dan Froomkin is senior Washington correspondent for The Huffington Post. You can send him an email, bookmark his page, subscribe to his RSS feed, follow him on Twitter, friend him on Facebook, and/or become a fan and get email alerts when he writes.

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Albuquerque International Sunport Security Checkpoint:

I pass a camera crew filming the ticket counter. I stop and consider telling them what I am about to do, but decide against it. They probably won’t care. Instead, I wheel my baggage to the security area.

I can feel my heart beat in my chest. I’ve never done anything like this. I’ve always said “Yes sir,” even when I didn’t agree. Even this simple act fills me with conflicting emotions.

New Mexico is far warmer than my native Pacific Northwest. I’m sweating by the time I reach the first inspection of my ID. I’m sure I already look like a terrorist. The TSA agent, perched on his stool, takes no notice. I look enough like my driver’s license and I have a valid airline ticket. He black lights my ID and lets me pass with hardly a glance.

I’ve come here to moonlight from my real job. My daughter had an operation, and I had to come up with thousands in deductible. She’s in college and, so far, I’ve managed to keep her from becoming a debt slave, like her mother. I took eight extra weekends of work in the Land of Enchantment to cover the cost. I’m lucky, I guess, I can do that. Others, with fewer job opportunities, have no choice but to go bankrupt.

My heart kicks it up another notch when I get to the conveyor belt. Shouldn’t have had that coffee this morning but thank God I didn’t eat anything, or I’d be hugging the trash can right now.

Come on, I tell myself, what are they going to do? Confiscate your toothpaste? Say something mean to you? So what. Relax. You can do this. You should do this. You have to do this.

I take off my shoes and strip my backpack of computer and the baggie of incidentals. I stand in line while my armpits grow embarrassingly moist and I feel my heart race. I think, Get a hold of yourself. You’re being a drama queen.

When it is my turn, I decline to go through the monitor that scans under your clothes, as I always do. The TSA agent starts his spiel about how safe it is. I’ve done my research. His statements are questionable, but that is not why I am doing this. I start my own spiel.

"The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution reads: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrant shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, an particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

I’m speaking loud and clear so those around me can hear. Before I get to “unreasonable search” a man in an ill-fitting suit and a tie marches up to me. He tells me I was disrupting his operation. I have no idea what his position is. He stands in front of the metal detector—the first place they usually screen me. He tells me I am holding up the line. I drop my voice and tell him to go ahead and screen me. I’ll take the pat down. But that’s not what he wants. He wants me to shut up. I continue reading the Fourth Amendment.

He asks me to go with him to some undisclosed location to “talk”. He indicates with his hand somewhere back toward ticketing, away from being screened. I decline. He tries to gently guide me with a hand on my elbow, like we’re on a date, pushing me back up the line. I stand firm. I want to go forward, let them pat me down while I read the Fourth Amendment to my fellow citizens.

He asks me what airline I’m on. I have seen no badge or ID. I ask him if he has a warrant for the information. He looks at me dumbfounded. He sees the United boarding pass in my hand. He tells me he won’t allow me to fly. I have no idea if he has that sort of authority.

I say as loudly and clearly as I can, “I am being told I can not fly for reading you the Fourth Amendment.”

He says, “If you keep this up I’ll call the police.”

I say as loud as I can, “You are going to arrest me for reading the Constitution?”

"You are disrupting the screening process, and yes we will arrest you."

Again, I say I will be screened but not by the machine. They make no effort to walk me through the metal detector or find a female officer to frisk me. He tries again to walk me out of the area. I stand my ground and read the First Amendment:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise there of, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances."

The police do come, two of them. A young man and a grizzled officer with a road map of wrinkles lining his face. The young man stands in front of me and now I am terrified. They aren’t just going to take my toothpaste. Why didn’t I ask the camera crew to come—take the chance of getting the brush off? They might not do this, if there was a camera. Do I have the will to continue? I hear his voice asking for my name over the thudding of my heart in my ears.  Do I have to give it to him? I’m not sure.

I look behind him to the startled mass of silent passengers. “If you have a cell phone camera, this would make good You Tube footage.” It is an act of desperation, and I don’t see anyone reach for their phone.

They jack hammer questions at me, name, where am I from, phone number, etc. I lose track, I can’t tell which questions I am obligated to answer and which I’m not. I concentrate on the officer in front of me. I think I know what the police can and can’t do. He asks me my name, again, and I ask “Do you have a warrant or am I under arrest?”

He sees the license and plane ticket still in my hand and tries to take them. I pull them back. “Do you have a warrant to remove those?” He lets them go.

Guy with a Tie tells the cops I won’t be flying. The police try to push me out of the area. I stand my ground.

"You are giving up your Constitutional rights for something that only has a 1 in 25 million chance of happening. Fifty times less than death by lightening or being struck by an asteroid." I call to the herd of passengers. They stare at me dazed.

The cops push me with more aggression and tell me that if I don’t quit, I will be arrested.

I yell, “Thomas Jefferson said, ‘those who would give up their liberty for their security deserve neither.’”

They physically push me out of the security area. I try to dig in my heels and resist, but my stocking feet slide over the tile floor.

I shout, “When you allow the Bill of Rights to be violated, you deprive your children of the  government your parents gave you. That is neither reasonable or responsible.”

They stop pushing me at the end of the security check point and I regain my footing.

The old goat of a cop shoves me. “Get the hell out of here!” he yells, “Go on, stop causin’ trouble.”

I am in my stocking feet, with no cell phone, wallet or back pack. I stare at his snaring face and I can’t. I just can’t walk away. In for a penny, in for a pound. I sit down.

Instantly, my right hand is yanked behind my back and the cuffs are snapped on so tight they cut my skin. I grit my teeth, bite my tongue and let them have the left hand as well. He yanks the ID and boarding pass out of my hand. He pulls me up before he tells me to stand, but I scramble to my feet so I won’t be resisting arrest. I walk where I am directed. At the first people I pass, I shout, “I am being arrested for reading the Constitution of the United States.”

Old Goat lifts my hands up so high it hurts.

I continue to yell. People walking to the gate stare wide-eyed, but no one stops. In my hometown of Arcata, someone would have whipped out a cell phone and filmed it for You Tube, or at least “Shame!”ed the police for this act of cruelty.

A shout comes from behind me, “You are not being arrested.”

I switch to,” I am being battered for reading the Constitution of the United States.”

Old Goat pushes my hands up to the level of my shoulder blades, forcing me to walk bent over. I grunt with the pain but I won’t give in to him.

"I am being battered for reading the Constitution of the United States, and when I tell you that he hurts me more."

Now my hands are over my head and it’s hard to breathe. My eyes water, but I will not cry. My voice is high pitched with the strain of it. I have to pause to pant between my word, but I’m all-in.

"I…pant…am being battered…pant…for reading the Constitution…pant…and when I tell you that…pant…he hurts me more."

I am actually glad when we reach the holding cell. They throw me inside and slam the door with all the drama of any cop show.

The cell is clean and small, secured with a security door you would put on the front of your house. I sit on the bench at the far wall. My wrists, especially the right, are killing me. My mouth is parched and I am gasping.

Suddenly, I am filled with self-doubt. The bad machine doesn’t know it is a bad machine. I say a prayer. Have I done the wrong thing? I’ve never stood up like this before—am I a bad person?

Calm descends. No. My words were the truth. If I can’t turn to a fellow citizen and say, “Hey the TSA isn’t obeying the Constitution. They’re acting like this is a totalitarian state. What do you think?,” then it’s because I live in a totalitarian state. I have acted on the side of democracy, so I can look the next generation in the face and say, “At least I tried.”

Young cop sits at a desk outside my security door. I hear Old Goat in the adjoining room tell someone, “We arrested her for disorderly conduct.”

I yell, “That is the first time I’ve heard a charge.” I do not add that there have been no Miranda rights or “You’re under arrest.” statement. In fact, they kept insisting while I was being marched through ticketing I was not under arrest—just cuffed and brutalized.

They ignore me. Old Goat asks for a statement from Guy with a Tie.

I ask, “Can I go back and get a statement from the people who witnessed it?”

Of course, there is no response.

I turn to young cop. “How does it feel to be one of the brown shirts.”

"What?"

"You can look it up later," I say.

He says, “Did you listen to what people were saying?”

"I listened to what you told me. I responded to your questions."

"No—to the people in the airport? They were shouting for you to shut up."

True, one of them in the back of the line was irritated by the delay. The rest looked on wide-eyed and confused. I don’t remember anyone shouting encouragement, but it was hard concentrating on the crowd with so many men in my face.

I try a different tactic. “Didn’t you take an oath to defend the Constitution?”

"Look, we’re just trying to keep you safe."

"The thing you are keeping me safe from, only has a 1 in 25 million chance of occurring. I’m more likely to win the lottery today."

"Maybe you should have bought a ticket."

I sigh and switch tactics again. “I know you have a job to do. I bet when you got into this it was to be of service. But how do you feel about what you just did?”

"I followed the rules and did this by the book. You disobeyed an officer when you wouldn’t give me your license."

"I wasn’t under arrest. You had no right to take anything from me. What if you book doesn’t follow the Constitution, the highest law in the land?"

"It’s not that big a deal. It’s for everyone’s safety. We don’t want to take the risk. You don’t have to fly you know. You give up your rights when you fly." (Yes, he really said that.)

"You know, as well as I do, I do have to fly. I have a job, too. I got to feed by family, too. That’s just an excuse for ignoring the Constitution. What if they say you need to give up your rights  in order drive a car, or board a bus. Where is your line in the sand that can’t be crossed. You know where mine is."

He chews on his lip, turning this over in his mind.

“I know about orders. I have to follow rules, too,” I continue. “Would it surprise you to know I was in the Air Force once?”

He looks me in the face, really seeing me for the first time. “Yes, actually, it would.”
“Twenty years. I’m a retired Lieutenant Colonel.”

"How are those cuffs? Are they too tight?"

"They’re a bit snug,” I smile at him, “I wouldn’t mind them a little looser."

He unlocks the door, and I turn my back so he can loosen the cuffs but he takes them off. He asks over my shoulder, “Are you thirsty? Would you like some water?”

I turn rubbing my protesting right wrist. There is a half inch dent in my skin outlining the cuff. “I’d love some water.”

He brings a cold bottle and shuts the door. I’m grateful when the chill of the water hits my hot throat. I down half the bottle before I even realize it.

Guy in a Tie comes to the cage door. He asks if the address on my license is correct. I confirm that it is. He asks my phone number.  I ask if he is an officer of the law and does he have a warrant. He asks if I am refusing to talk to him. I ask if I am legally obligated to give him information. He asks again if I am refusing to talk to him. I tell him I am refusing to answer questions, and he leaves.

Young cop comes to the door. “What’s your name?”

I sigh and ask about a warrant.

"We have your license. That’s not why I am asking. I just wanted to know your name."

I give him my first name—the one on the license since they already have it. “What’s you name?” I ask.
“Jared (not his real name).”

"Pleased to meet you Jared. Wish it was under better circumstances."

He nods and smiles.

A new man comes to the door. Marty (also not a real name) has a better fitting suit than Guy with a Tie. Polite is apparently in his job description.

"If I could get you home tonight, would you like that?" They must have hired him from a pool of telephone solicitors.

"Depends on the situation."

"But you would like that?"

"My husband would like it."

"Well, I’m married. Making the spouse happy usually makes my life better."

I can’t deny this, and I nod. He disappears and returns. He offers to get me on a later flight if I take a misdemeanor charge of Disorderly Conduct. I feel like I am giving in, but what can I do? I actually do have to go to work tomorrow.

He says there is the little matter of getting through airport security. I say that I never declined a physical search, it was never offered. My intent was to read the Constitution, while it was happening. He speaks to someone in the next room. I ask who he is talking to and Guy with a Tie emerges.

"You refused to talk to me."

"No, I refused to give you personal information you were not entitled to."

"You refused to be searched."

"I never refused. You never offered. You only offered to remove me from the area."

"You don’t have a right to disrupt the screening."

"You disrupted the screening. I just read the Constitution."

Marty intervenes. Clearly, his job is to get this resolved today. He breaks us up and I ask him, “So next week, when I have to fly again, what’s going to happen when I read the Constitution?”

I actually feel pity for the way he looks at me. I have just made his day a living hell and I really do feel sorry for him and for calling Jared a Brown Shirt.

"Let’s just get through today,” he says.

I agree to be searched and tell them I will read the Constitution in a normal voice while they do it. This is not good enough for Guy with a Tie. He says if I read the statement, I can’t pay attention to what the frisking officer tells me. You know, how she is going to put her hands here and there and use the back of her hand to check my “sensitive areas”. They tell me I need to listen to this, I kid you not, for my own safety. I say I will only read while she is not speaking. That won’t do either, because I won’t be concentrating on her instructions. Seriously, this was their rational explanation to me for continuing to violate my First and Fourth Amendment rights. I have to get home so I finally acquiesce.

Marty asks if I could be released and Jared lets me out. They give me back my shoes. Old Goat explains that I could await arraignment next Monday, or take the misdemeanor. I say I have already agreed to the misdemeanor.

“OK,” he says, “then you need to wait ‘til Monday.” He leaves again.

"Wait a minute.” I call after him, “I don’t think I understood the options. Could you come back and explain them to me?" There is only silence. My heart is beating again.
“I said I was taking the misdemeanor. Did I not understand what that was?” Monday is  a week away. My job and my husband will kill me.

Jared comes to the rescue. He gets Old Goat to write up the misdemeanor charge and explains I have to appear before the judge here in New Mexico. That is going to be damned inconvenient, as I live in Northern California, but I agree.

Jared and Marty walk me back to security with Guy in a Tie. Jared asks, “What did you do in the Force?”

"Same thing I do now. I’m a doctor."

He snorts and looks at me. I know I’m not what he expected. Now, he can’t help but think about all I’ve said. Is he drawing his own line in the sand? Maybe. It took me a while, too. I got here in stages, not all at once.

They walk me to the ticket booth. Three planes and I won’t get home until midnight, but at least I am going home. Marty gives me his card and asks that I call him the next time I flying through Albuquerque. I agree. I have nothing to hide, I maintain that I have not done anything not guaranteed to me by the Constitution.

They search me and I am sore and exhausted. I am silent. They check my bags for explosives and my backpack alarms. The same pack ,with the same contents, I have had checked here multiple times with no problems, alarms today. I share this fun fact with Jared. He smiles and nods. They unpack it and examine everything but decide the 3 mm bamboo knitting needles aren’t that dangerous.

Guy with a Tie wants to know if I was born in Arcata. I ask why I should give this information. He asks for my phone number. Again I ask if I am legally obligated to give it.  He says that a TSA representative will want to follow up about the incident. I’d love to talk to customer service about today. I give my number.

He dances from foot to foot and hunches his shoulder. He won’t look me in the eye for more than a microsecond.

I say, “I can tell by your body language you know more than you are telling me.”

He gives me the deer in the headlights look and says “That’s not my department.”

"What’s not your department?"

"Investigations. When they call you."

"You mean an agent is going to call me?"

"Well, yes."

"Agent of whom, TSA or FBI."

"TSA."

"What will they be investigating me for?"

The headlights are closing in on the deer. “I don’t know. That’s not my department.”
I nod, too tired to worry that part of the intimidation leveled at people who aren’t good little sheep is to be investigated by a federal agency for terrorism.
I turn to my gate. I have 5 hours.

I call my husband.  “Why would you do such a thing in some damn red-neck state, where I can’t get to you?” He has for years tried to cure me of my delusion that there is some democracy left in the United States. I can hear the worry in his voice and I am sorry for putting it there. I try to reassure him that I am alright.

I find the first available electric socket and I write.

Tears finally come. People pass me by, staring, but I just put my head down and write. I open my veins and I write it all, the fear, the self doubt, the shock, the pain, the indignation.

When I am done, it is time to board. I pack my computer and stand in line, trying to come to grips with all that just happened.

I wonder what my husband will say when I get home. I wonder how I’m going to get down here for a court appearance. I wonder if they will let me fly again. I wonder what will happen if I read the Constitution next week when I have to come back. I wonder, briefly, what Ben Franklin or Thomas Jefferson would say, if they knew it was a sign of terrorism to recite the Bill of Rights.

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Links to PDF of the class action lawsuit and related press by clicking on the title of this post.

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ouse Majority Leader Eric Cantor set out to “humanize” his image by doing a 60 Minutes interview with Leslie Stahl that aired on New Years Day. This is how Stahl explains the context of the interview, “President Obama has made Eric Cantor the face of Republican inflexibility.”

Although it did not go entirely as planned, it’s clear what Cantor and his press team wanted: Cantor presented as a nice guy, a family man, a reasonable politician who is trying to do what he thinks is best for his country.

The interview contains the usual elements of a Washington PR makeover: Cantor the “cool” dad who listens to rap, Cantor the devoted husband, Cantor the cyclist, Cantor as a boy who wanted to fit it at school, Cantor the statesman who stands for his principles, Cantor the straight-shooting populist who rails against lobbyists who figure out how to game the system and include “provisions in the tax code that favor their industry,” etc.

But, something goes awry: the Ghost of Ronald Reagan makes an appearance and, like x-ray vision, reveals the cracks in Cantor’s story.

STAHL: What’s the difference between compromise and cooperate?

CANTOR: Well, I would say cooperate is let’s look to where we can move things forward where we agree. Comprising principles, you don’t want to ask anybody to do that. That’s who they are as their core being.

STAHL: But you know, your idol, as I’ve read anyway, was Ronald Reagan. And he compromised.

CANTOR: He never compromised his principles.

STAHL: Well, he raised taxes and it was one of his principles not to raise taxes.

CANTOR: Well, he– he also cut taxes.

STAHL: But he did compromise–

CANTOR: Well I –

OFF-SCREEN ANGRY VOICE: That just isn’t true! And I don’t want to let that stand!

The voice that breaks the fourth wall belongs to Cantor’s press secretary, Brad Dayspring. After the interruption, 60 Minutes immediately cuts to Reagan in 1982 announcing a tax raise and the need for compromise. To millions of viewers, it felt like Reagan had cooperated with CBS News to give Cantor and the House Republicans a good bonk on the head.

Despite the best laid plans of the Cantor media team, the Ghost of Reagan stole the show and revealed the chasm that separates Reagan from Cantor, and the ideological conservatives of today from the principled conservatives of yesteryear. The biggest difference between Reagan and Cantor is that Reagan, in his approach to tax policy and the economy, had the strength of character to do what was right for the country, even if powerful special interests disagreed.  Where is that strength of character now?

As Reagan said of his ‘82 tax increase, “I support it because it is right for America. I support it because it is fair.”

Fairness. What’s right for America. Those are the kind of principles that ought not to be compromised. A pledge to powerful bankers and corporate lobbyists is not a principle; it’s a backroom deal.

Our country needs more revenue to heal an economy in cardiac arrest. We can address the deficit as the economy heals from emergency surgery and is up and walking again. We need to put job creation and economic growth before backroom pledges and ideological rigidity. That’s what Reagan would do if he were president today, and that is what Cantor should do if he really, truly wants an image makeover.

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Well worth the read.

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This is well worth the read.

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If you followed my tweets from the markup session for SOPA in the House of Representatives, you know how frustrating it was to watch: you had these lawmakers blithely dismissing the security concerns of the likes of Vint Cerf, saying things like, “I’m no technology nerd, but I don’t believe it.” In other words: “I’m a perfect ignoramus, but I find it convenient to disregard the world’s foremost experts.” Another congressman from Florida kept saying things like “No one can explain to me how this bill harms political debate or academic freedom.”

I think I’ve got the perfect metaphor for the hearings: there’s a scene in the Disneyland Jungle Boat Cruise where you pass the “gorilla camp,” in which a tribe of gorillas have taken over an explorer’s camp, upending the jeep and taking deadly possession of the firearms. One gorilla is staring up the barrel of a rifle, while another is firing a pistol into a collection of floating explosive barrels in the river.

"

http://boingboing.net/2011/12/17/wtf-is-happening-with-sopa-now.html