Assassination Politics

grarpamp grarpamp at
Mon Sep 26 13:58:17 PDT 2022

Assassination Politics (1997) (
	56 points by Tomte 14 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 35 comments

neilv 14 days ago | next [–]

I met the author, Jim Bell, once or twice, when he came by the
computer store I was working in as a kid.

He seemed OK, in the few words we exchanged, and maybe a techie/radio
hobbyist (IIRC, his car had many antennae on it).

At that time, in the 1980s, someone remarked that Bell had "had one
good idea" (the SemiDisk persistent storage card).

Later on, it looks from Wikipedia like Bell had a lot of troubles.

The light joke about "one good idea" IMHO took on new, darker meaning,
after some of the choices during the troubles, including the
horrifying idea that's the topic of the post.

I suppose a good SF writer could've started with that idea, and
explored an (IMHO likely) scenario of it playing out as a tool of the
most corrupt and the most insane, and then the dystopia that results

I haven't read much of Bell's writings, so I don't know whether at
some point he shifted to a cautionary "we should figure out how to
prevent things like this, because they would be bad".

thomassmith65 14 days ago | parent | next [–]

Sheesh, so the article isn't satire? I assumed the whole thing was
making fun of libertarians.

santoshalper 14 days ago | root | parent | next [–]

The line between espousing libertarian beliefs and satirizing them is so thin.

droopyEyelids 14 days ago | root | parent | next [–]

The line dissolves when you ask a libertarian where property rights
come from, and how they apply to land.

asah 14 days ago | prev | next [–]

Lol. So many flaws... but nobody knew in 1997...

For one thing, life imprisonment (LiP) is a pretty big deterrent, and
among the few willing to risk it, defense tech and the surveillance
state are generally winning the arms race against individual actors
and small groups ("terrorists"). Lots of people want to kill world
leaders and yet assassination attempts (let alone successes!) are
quite rare. This leaves the question of less-defended people, and
there it's more mixed: it's much easier to do but 10^6-10^10 fewer
people want to kill them which makes it a lot easier to catch the
conspirators simply by tracking who had motive. Finally, everyday
victims don't usually have haters with enough capital to motivate
someone to risk LiP - again, making it easy to track down the perps by

impossiblefork 14 days ago | parent | next [–]

I don't think that's true, that it's fear of imprisonment etc. Such
things definitely matter, but I think the reason for the lack of
political assassinations is the same as why we don't get horrible
viruses that spread like wildfire and kill Ebola (which I believe to
be that bioscience professors aren't usually very evil).

People who could easily murder politicians and others just don't want
to. Perhaps they don't hate them all that much, perhaps they like
democracy even though it puts people they dislike into high positions,
perhaps they're opposed to murder.

We don't see mortar or drone attacks using image recognition (instead
of radio control which could conceivably fail if basic precautions had
been taken) on presidents and prime ministers in Europe even though
such attacks would be trivial and the perpetrators would probably have
a decent chance of getting away. It's because people don't hate them
all that much and because the people who hate them a lot don't see
such attacks as politically productive.

Presumably the reason unfriendly countries don't perform such attacks
against those governments that oppose them is that it's not
politically productive and would lead to a negative reaction instead
of just removing the people the unfriendly country would like to be
rid of.

Teever 14 days ago | root | parent | next [–]

> People who could easily murder politicians and others just don't want to. Perhaps they don't hate them all that much, perhaps they like democracy even though it puts people they dislike into high positions, perhaps they're opposed to murder.

I've wondered what makes unstable Americans conduct school shootings
but not targeted assassinations?

Like, there is a part of the population that has no problem killing,
and killing for shock value, but for whatever reason their targets are
children and not politicians. The 1960s and 1970s were full of
assassinations and plane hijackings by all kinds of people but they
seem to have been replaced by the mass murder of children.

impossiblefork 14 days ago | root | parent | next [–]

I think it's fear of a power negative media reaction-- that the murder
would lead to success for the political position that the murderer
attempted to strike at.

sekh60 14 days ago | root | parent | prev | next [–]

I think political assassination teens to make little sense most of the
time. There is a sort of gentleperson's agreement to not do it, is
someone breaks that then no one feels safe and leaders will be
assassinating other leaders left and right. At least I think that is
the great.

Teever 14 days ago | parent | prev | next [–]

Deterrents only work if they're enforceable. Will you be able to catch
someone if they use a drone to take out a target?

After watching what is going with the use of consumer drones in
Ukraine I've come to the conclusion that we will soon see this in
America. People will start to fight back against corrupt law
enforcement sooner or later.

Imagine the world where people in a community brutalized by law
enforcement crowd source drone strikes to take out particularly
menacing law enforcement officers after they've been let off with paid
vacation for the nth time.

The police will quickly come to the determination that it's safer for
their members to actually put through the legal system as offenders
than walking free on the street.

zardo 14 days ago | root | parent | next [–]

> The police will quickly come to the determination that it's safer for their members to actually put through the legal system as offenders than walking free on the street.

I don't think that's how this scenario would turn out. Policing would
just move explicitly to counter insurgency operations. Laws would
change as necessary to give authorities whatever tools they need to do

Teever 13 days ago | root | parent | next [–]

But will that be sufficient to stop a technology like off the shelf drones?

I have a feeling that we're about to find out.

Tostino 13 days ago | root | parent | next [–]

Depends on how much rights those in power want to strip away in the
name of "safety".

Teever 13 days ago | root | parent | next [–]

It's not so simple.

If a parent vigilanted an incompetent cop in Uvalde and the political
response was to enact the next patriot act people would lose their

Politicians can't be so overt about this kind of thing because
American society is sitting on a powderkeg and pile of guns.

fifticon 14 days ago | parent | prev | next [–]

Thought: The day-to-day situation in Mexico, for a number of decades,
give a sinister data-point for the rate at which someone is willing to
murder rather ordinary citizens.

pjc50 14 days ago | root | parent | next [–]

Indeed. I'd add that quite a lot of the US mass shootings seem to be
"political" in character, in that their perpetrator leaves some kind
of manifesto or messageboard postings explaining their motive, but the
victims are either random or attending the same school as the
perpetrator. There's (fortunately) nobody with an organized program of
political violence.

michaelscott 14 days ago | parent | prev | next [–]

It definitely makes a lot of assumptions that I don't think hold true
in practice. As you say, many world leaders would even want to have
one another killed (as individuals with both motive and a lot of power
to make it happen) and yet it doesn't happen very often. The
practicalities of actually _using_ the digital cash, should you win,
in a way that wouldn't point the finger at you are also not so simple.

It's an interesting thought experiment though. Would probably make for
a cool novel!

jim_kreggis 14 days ago | parent | prev | next [–]

Yeah, there's no way this would lead to minimal government, the exact
opposite would happen.

dang 14 days ago | prev | next [–]


Assassination Politics (1997) - - Oct 2013 (62 comments)

Assassination Politics (by Jim Bell) + Bitcoin = ? - - April 2011 (8 comments)

Assassination Politics - -
Oct 2008 (1 comment)

Assassination Politics - -
Feb 2008 (1 comment)

blantonl 14 days ago | prev | next [–]

It's downright terrifying to think this was written 25 years ago, and
now many of the tools that the author describes as being enablers in
some of the described activities are readily available to the average
person, let alone nation states and governments.

LiquidSky 14 days ago | parent | next [–]

You should feel the opposite: this was written 25 years ago, was
stupid when it was written, and as these tools have become
ever-cheaper and more ubiquitous, nothing at all like this has ever
happened, showing how hopelessly naive Bell was (and, judging from his
subsequent activity, still is).

This was the idiotic rambling of someone with a bit of technical skill
and a complete and utter lack of understanding of people, politics, or
society. This is something a 14 year old computer geek might come up
with hanging out with his friends.

jovial_cavalier 14 days ago | prev | next [–]

Somewhat related:

leashless 13 days ago | prev | next [–]

I've known about AP and the problems it poses since it was published.
I was also the release coordinator for the 2015 Ethereum launch, and
wondered if we would see any attempts to implement AP on our
infrastructure. I spent some time thinking about how to fix it.

I think the answer is a large anonymous fund, a public good, which
simply lists anybody who starts an AP server on a public blockchain on
their own AP server.

I think the game theory is sound, which says nothing about either
morality, reasonableness, or legality.

some_random 14 days ago | prev | next [–]

I love this kind of political writing, unique and incredibly naive.

VHRanger 14 days ago | prev | next [–]

The author was raising huge red flags citing Waco Texas & Ruby Ridge
as a reason to have government employees assassinated.

That's the same rhethoric behind Oklahoma city bombing for those at home.

It's the same sort of stochastic terrorists that end up in the QAnon
hole these days.

I don't know why we pay their talking points any attention.

HideousKojima 14 days ago | parent | next [–]

Just because Timothy McVeigh was a mass murderer doesn't mean the ATF
and FBI agents at Ruby Ridge and Waco weren't murderers too. I realize
who did what at Waco is highly disputed, but the rules of engagement
being used at Ruby Ridge were straight up murder:

"If any adult in the area around the cabin is observed with a weapon
after the surrender announcement had been made, deadly force could and
should be used to neutralize the individual."

VHRanger 14 days ago | root | parent | next [–]

Waco and Ruby ridge were effectively the same. The end result of their
actions was "How would you execute a warrant against El Chapo" and
both forced the feds to act in such a way.

There's an initial crime (sex with 12yr old for David Koresh, and
selling illegal weaponry to white supremacist criminal orgs for Randy

Then they don't engage the legal system normally by hiring a lawyer
and fighting the charges -- they hide in a hole hoping to be forgotten

When the feds inevitably try to serve a warrant, in both cases they
respond in a hostile manner and kill a LEO.

At this point you can basically be expected to be treated like a drug
lord -- you're facing charges and responding to warrants by killing
officers. So you get besieged like a drug lord.

The main difference for Ruby Ridge is that the government took a bunch
of decisions (procedural mistakes, over-eager sniper and rules of
engagement) that made them unsympathetic.

But even with this, it's a little absurd to come out and defend the
Weavers for playing very stupid games and winning stupid prizes. You
kill a law enforcement office in a hostile manner, don't expect to be
treated with courtesy.

There's hundreds of cases where LEOs are recklessly killing innocents
in manners that should get them lambasted, but Ruby Ridge ain't it.

HideousKojima 14 days ago | root | parent | next [–]

>There's an initial crime (sex with 12yr old for David Koresh, and selling illegal weaponry to white supremacist criminal orgs for Randy Weaver).

>Then they don't engage the legal system normally by hiring a lawyer and fighting the charges -- they hide in a hole hoping to be forgotten about.

Weaver was acquitted on all charges, with the exception of a charge
for failing to appear in court for the original charge that lead to
the siege. And the rules of engagement still are and were murder.

VHRanger 14 days ago | root | parent | next [–]

The charge could have been unpaid parking tickets, it wouldn't change
anything. The point is they had a charge and they failed to engage
with the legal system like functional adults. You can fight the charge
like any other.

Instead they keep trying to evade the legal system and inevitably get
someone knocking at the door.

If your response to that knock on the door is to shoot, you get what's
coming to you.

The other point is that this unsympathetic case is viewed in some
special light when there's a ton of cases where the government is much
much more clearly in the wrong.

The difference is that in those other cases it's generally a "them"
(ethnic minorities, urban poor, etc.) whereas for libertarian weirdoes
like Weaver they somehow get lumped in the HackerNews zeitgeist's

helloworld11 12 days ago | root | parent | next [–]

You truly are a disingenuous apologist for disgustingly murderous
police tactics, which lacked all reasonable professionalism, duty to
the basic idea of policing in a remotely free country or even loosely
moral barometers. No, the correct response to the warrant being served
against weaver wasn't to shoot his dog after secretly invading his
property in tac gear and deliberately provoking a defensive response.
No, the correct further axction is not to shoot his 14 year-old son in
the back or to shoot through a window at a house in which you know a
woman with a 10 month-old baby is standing. No normal notion of good
legal procedure or even non-moronic, non-thuggish thinking can defend
these and other acts.

Even a number of police agree. Here's a claim from one of the U.S
Marshalls on site:

"Many of the people the USMS used as third party go-betweens on the
Weaver case—Bill and Judy Grider, Alan Jeppeson, and Richard
Butler—were assessed by the Marshals as more radical than the Weavers.
When Deputy U.S. Marshal (DUSM) Dave Hunt asked Grider, "Why shouldn't
I just go up there ... and talk to him?", Grider replied, "Let me put
it to you this way. If I was sitting on my property and somebody with
a gun comes to do me harm, then I'll probably shoot him."

Or how about the deputy assistant director of the FBI at the time,
writing in a memo that:

"Something to Consider 1. Charge against Weaver is Bull S___. 2. No
one saw Weaver do any shooting. 3. Vicki has no charges against her.
4. Weaver's defense. He ran down the hill to see what dog was barking
at. Some guys in camys [camouflage] shot his dog. Started shooting at
him. Killed his son. Harris did the shooting. He is in pretty strong
legal position."

As one of the comments above states: Let the reader decide what
constitutes a reasonable attempt to serve a warrant".

tb_technical 13 days ago | root | parent | prev | next [–]

"You get what's coming to you" is the language of fascists looking for
an excuse to play with their new toy guns.

They shot a kid in the back, and shot a woman holding a baby through a window.

This case is a barometer for whether or not a person likes the taste
of boot leather.

SlickNixon 13 days ago | root | parent | prev | next [–]

> When the feds inevitably try to serve a warrant, in both cases they respond in a hostile manner and kill a LEO.

>From the Ruby Ridge wiki:

"On August 21, 1992, six Marshals were sent to scout the area to
determine suitable places away from the cabin to apprehend and arrest
Weaver. The marshals, dressed in military camouflage, were equipped
with night-vision goggles and M16 rifles. DUSMs Art Roderick, Larry
Cooper, and William F. "Bill" Degan formed the reconnaissance team,
while DUSMs David Hunt, Joseph Thomas, and Frank Norris formed an
observation post (OP) team on the ridge north of the cabin.

At one point, Roderick threw two rocks at the Weaver cabin to test the
dogs' reaction. The action provoked the dogs; Weaver's friend, Kevin
Harris, and Weaver's 14-year-old son, Samuel ("Sammy"), emerged and
followed the dog "Striker" to investigate. Harris and the younger
Weaver said that they were hoping the dog had noticed a game animal as
the cabin was out of meat. The recon team (Roderick, Cooper, and
Degan) initially retreated through the woods in radio contact with the
OP team, but later took up hidden defensive positions.

Later, the OP team and the Weavers claimed the dogs were alerted to
the recon team in the woods after neighbors at the foot of the
mountain started their pickup truck. The recon team retreated through
the woods to a "Y" junction in the trails 500 yards (460 m) west of
the cabin, out of sight of the cabin. Sammy and Harris followed
Striker on foot through the woods while Randy, also on foot, took a
separate logging trail; Vicki, Sara, Rachel, and baby Elisheba
remained at the cabin. The OP team were anxious at first, but then
relaxed. Randy encountered the Marshals at the "Y"; Roderick claimed
to have yelled, "Back off! U.S. Marshal!" upon sighting Weaver, and
Cooper said he had shouted, "Stop! U.S. Marshal!" By their account,
Sammy and Striker came out of the woods about a minute later. When the
Marshals' position was revealed by the dog "Striker", a yellow
Labrador Retriever, DUSM Roderick shot the dog dead. Seeing this,
Sammy Weaver reacted by shooting in the direction of Roderick. DUSM
Cooper then shot towards Sammy Weaver and Kevin Harris, who both
sought cover. Harris, once finding cover behind a tree stump, then
returned fire with one unaimed shot, which eventually killed DUSM
William Francis "Bill" Degan. Sammy Weaver, now retreating up a hill
was then shot in the back and killed by DUSM Cooper."

It will be left as an exercise to the reader to determine if the above
constitutes an "attempt to serve a warrant".

chasd00 14 days ago | root | parent | prev | next [–]

wasn't Randy Weaver's wife killed by a sniper with nothing but an
infant in her arms? That's pretty bad.

coldtea 14 days ago | parent | prev | next [–]

Perhaps because reality doesn't stop existing if you don't pay attention to it.

Nor do actual threats become any less threatening (if anything, the opposite).

So not paying any attention to the talking points, i.e. not reading
TFA, wont have any effect.

Not to mention that the people "sane" enough head the advice and not
read it, are the ones who wouldn't do anything shady even if they read
it anyway...

eggsome 13 days ago | prev [–]

Does anyone know if there is any merit to his patent?


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