All posts by Justin L. Oliver

Justin believes that if you wish to be free you must allow others to be free as well. He opines on culture and politics at Who Plans Whom? Follow @justinLoliver .

Pokémon Go offers a rare glimpse of an equitable society

A Haltom City teenager witnessed a fire of playground equipment at a school construction site while playing the Pokémon Go free-to-play mobile game. Other players have aided in the arrest of an assault suspect or built community spirit with a group sing-along of the game’s theme song.

The game’s outreach effects are just a sample of what an equitable society that prioritized people’s autonomy over their homes and workspaces would look like. Neighbors would likely need fewer work hours to secure a level of material comfort, leaving more opportunity for community building outside their homes, like the way Pokémon Go players are doing.

When social welfare is outside the reign of police powers and the necessity of wage labor, people have space to build their own alternative associations, and the perpetuation of those associations make coercive institutions even less relevant.

Image credit: Sadie Hernandez, Creative Commons license

Future private prison executive to be responsible for licensing private prisons (satire)

Dismissing concerns that his future employment with the Corrections Corporation of America would compromise his ability of regulating the for-profit corrections and detention facility operator, the head of the agency responsible for child and adult protective services told reporters he couldn’t believe some would question his integrity.

John J. Specia was appointed commissioner in 2012 of the Department of Family and Protective Services, overseeing more than 11,000 employees. “I as well as anyone should know what it takes to abide by the minimum ethical standards,” said the former district judge.

The Corrections Corporation of America came under scrutiny when one of its detection facilities in Texas was found by a federal judge to be in a “deplorable” condition, requiring the release of immigrants detained there. Specia is head of the state regulatory body that would oversee the facility under a proposed licensing program to keep the facility operational.

Specia said his future employment in the private prison industry shouldn’t come as a surprise. He added, “My whole career has been tied to the justice system, so I look at my future opportunity as just another progression of administering coerced labor and the institutionalized suppression of those who would oppose the ruling class.”

Haltom City council approves panhandling and day laborer ordinances

The second and final readings of the panhandling and day laborer ordinances were approved during the Oct. 12 Haltom City council regular session.

The panhandling ordinance was approved during the consent agenda. Past coverage is available here and here.

The day laborer ordinance was approved over the objection of general manager David Quatrino and council from Pacesetter Personnel Services, who disputed the constitutionality and effectiveness of the law. They met with staff from the city in August to resolve health and noise complaints and have since employed off-duty county deputy sheriff at the hall on E. Belknap Street. Quatrino claimed during the hearing that no one from the city had contacted him about further issues or let him know about the pending ordinance, which would force a handful of general labor halls to close immediately as they are more than 1,000 feet from a public bus stop. Quatrino estimated as many as 1,000 workers, including skilled and licensed professionals, would be displaced by the ordinance. The general manager requested that the ordinance be delayed while looking for an unoccupied location that would meet the ordinance’s proximity requirement. He wasn’t able to offer detail to the council as to how much time remained on the lease at the Pacesetter’s present location.

Mayor David Averitt said he was reluctant to reverse the decision made at the prior meeting with an appeal at “the 11th hour” before final approval. After convening in executive session for about an hour, the council passed the ordinance unanimously, although councilperson Stephanie Davenport abstained from the vote and discussion for conflict-of-interest reasons.

After a presentation from Keith Lane, the chief of police, the council also approved the purchase of four Chevrolet Tahoe patrol-ready vehicles for approximately $63,000 each. They would be replacing four Ford Crown Victoria models from 2008 and 2009.

Video of the session is available here.

Sherman council’s annexation offer leaving locals flushed

To gain access to the city of Sherman’s water system, a group of Grayson county residents are yielding to the city’s call for annexation.

Approximately 100 of the 150 county residents nearby Sherman who are experiencing issues with water services have signed the request for incorporation. The city council is making the water infrastructure improvements contingent on the expansion of the city’s jurisdiction. The support was expected as working-class people are commonly conditioned to give way to successive spans of servitude for access to basic means of survival.

Households that could see their cost of living raise by an estimated $800 per year have objected to the land grab. From KXII (News 12), “We can’t see any benefit for us as far as water or emergency services,” said Slyvia Hema, who resides within the contested 200 acres. “I mean we have all that and (sic) we’re happy with what we have.”

The city is expected to generate an additional $110,000 in taxes and fees per year if the annexation is completed, according to KXII. The city is planning public hearings in November and December.

Anti-war conference unites against militarism, mobilizes young adults

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The Texas Millennial Institute held an anti-war conference Saturday on the Texas Christian University campus with speakers and panellists rebuking the prevailing militarist foreign policy of the United States government.

Noelle Mandell, co-founder of the non-partisan TMI, said at the closing of the conference, “We’re not threatened by the world around us, and we don’t feel a need to cower in fear behind a war machine.”

Approximately 100 attendees met for the day-long event, according to Mandell, which featured an opening speech from Ghada Mukdad, who immigrated from Syria in 2012. She spoke from personal experience about the breakdown of civil society that takes place during wartime and the difficulty it causes distinguishing friend from foe. The attendance consisted mostly of millennials, young adults born between 1980 and 2000.

The keynote speech from the Future of Freedom Foundation president Jacob Hornberger called for dismantling the national security establishment, saying it is “a perpetual terrorist-producing machine.” He cautioned that agencies of a government even with limited powers acting in secret effectively make “a government of unlimited powers.”

Nationally syndicated radio host Scott Horton, director Angela Keaton, and CATO Institute scholar Ted Galen Carpenter recounted episodes of foreign intervention during their speeches.

Horton argued that empire exerts itself through a sense of omnipotence, “making this seem inevitable, seem like the consensus of everybody who knows anything.”

During a question-and-answer session, Keaton offered a preliminary class analysis that the imperial ruling class maintains the power of elites by splitting the solidarity of workers. She added, “It’s really, really important that the poor in the United States never, ever discuss their plight or discuss the economic system or discuss the empire or discuss why their children get recruited for the military.”

TMI has other single-issue conferences scheduled this year addressing immigration and public choice theory.

Notable quotes

I know you all heard a million times that the reason they [the Bush administration] did the [second Iraq] war was that they wanted to bring democracy to the people of Iraq. Well, that’s just a lie, and here’s the simple proof of it. They only wanted to bring democracy to countries where they don’t own the dictator: Iran, Iraq and Syria. — Scott Horton

You guys must be sick to death to hear about how Hillary [Clinton, the United States secretary of state] didn’t provide good enough security for the American ambassador in Benghazi on the attack of Sept. 11, 2012. Well what the hell was he doing in Benghazi? Why was he stationed in the hornet’s nest of al-Qaeda fighters? Because high treason, that’s why. He was there because America took the side of our enemies, and they put our ambassador in the middle of his enemies. … We’re supposed to say the scandal was he didn’t have enough security and not the scandal was he and the CIA were running an operation funnelling al-Qaeda fighters and weapons to go to overthrow another secular dictator. — Scott Horton

The entire time America has been so-called backing the rebels, all they have really been doing is funnelling guns and money to our enemies, to al-Qaeda. It’s not even plausible deniability. … If you watch TV news or listen to NPR in the last week, you’ve heard them crying their eyes out that the Russians are bombing more than just ISIS. They promised to just bomb ISIS, but they are bombing others too. Like, al-Qaeda, you mean? They are mad [the Russians] are bombing al-Qaeda, because al-Qaeda works for America right now. — Scott Horton

The military-industrial complex, the media, and think tanks do such an outstanding job of making this seem inevitable, seem like the consensus of everybody who knows anything. … There are 300 million of the rest of us who don’t have a vested interest in this empire. And even though TV makes it seem like we have everything to lose if the empire were forced to come home, it’s just not true. — Scott Horton

Where I come from a particular background, the empire to me is a symbol of sexism and homophobia and racism and some of the most horrible -isms, collectivism basically, about the ways we think about people. It perpetuates ugliness. — Angela Keaton

I tried avoid discussion over the Confederate flag because when I saw that, I saw the police, the church of the great state, between poor white people and poor black people. It’s really, really important that the poor in the United States never, ever discuss their plight or discuss the economic system or discuss the empire or discuss why their children get recruited for the military. Because if anyone starts to ask those questions, there is enough of a critical mass, and there is going to be problems for the elite. — Angela Keaton

The essence of privilege when you live under the empire, no matter what your condition, is that you are not the one being droned, not yet anyway. — Angela Keaton

You can’t have a free society when your government operates in secret. — Jacob Hornberger

A government that operates in secret is an unlimited government. — Jacob Hornberger

Just like Smedley Butler said, “War is a racket.” The whole national security establishment is one big racket. — Jacob Hornberger

Event: Foreign policy conference at TCU on Saturday

The Texas Millennial Institute is hosting a foreign policy conference Saturday, Oct. 10, on the Texas Christian University campus.

“Make Conversation, Not War” is a free day-long event that begins at 10 a.m. and runs until 6 p.m. in the Brown-Lupton University Union Ballroom. The speakers list includes Angela Keaton, Jacob Hornberger and Scott Horton. The schedule should be available later in the week.

Offical registration for the event is available here. Updates are available on the Facebook event page.

Parsing statement of the Hurst police shooting of James Dunaway

Following the deadly police shooting of a 51-year-old Hurst man, a Hurst police spokesperson addressed the incident with reporters.

It was revealed that James Dunaway, the domestic dispute suspect killed by officers after a foot pursuit, “did have a gun.” What the spokesperson didn’t clarify is whether Dunaway fired or pointed the gun at anyone. According to one witness, Dunaway was seen with a black object in his hands, and he was shot when he didn’t drop it. The witnesses didn’t say how much time passed between the time the officer gave the order and when the officer fired.

Haltom City mayor and police chief explain intent of panhandling ordinance

At the Sept. 28 regular session of the Haltom City council, Mayor David Averitt and Keith Lane, the chief of police, discussed the intent of a proposed panhandling ordinance and displaying signage to warn of the ordinance.

Despite their purported concern about reducing traffic and increasing public safety, the mayor stated “the hope [of posting signs about the ordinance] is that they [panhandlers] will move somewhere else.” Chief Lane agreed, “That’s right. It absolutely works that way.” Heavy enforcement “moves them,” he said. If they believe panhandler represent traffic and safety concerns, city leaders seem satisfied with shifting those concerns instead of solving them.

The ordinance passed its first reading.

The full video is at