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11. Daryl Gates
Inventor of the SWAT team and four-star general in America’s war on drugs, Gates is as responsible as any other law enforcement officer for the blunt, pseudo- military instrument our police forces have become. Thanks to significant incidences of wrong-door raids and dangerous prank calls that send SWAT teams to innocent families’ homes, Americans don’t even have to be doing drugs or breaking any laws to witness the fruits of Gates’ labor.
12. Newt Gingrich
Gingrich rose to fame as a politician, but he’s more like an annoying dinner-party guest: He’ll say anything to get attention. During the 2012 campaign, the former speaker of the House called fellow Republican Paul Ryan’s budget proposal a “radical” form of “right-wing social engineering”—but later said he’d vote for it. In 2005, he declared his support for an individual mandate to purchase health insurance, even going so far as to predict that it could be done in a way to “make most libertarians relatively happy.” By 2012, he was saying the mandate was “fundamentally wrong” and “unconstitutional.” Gingrich never truly stands for anything except himself.
13. Steven Hayne
For 20 years, Mississippi prosecutors looking for a way to put a friendly thumb on the scales of justice turned to Dr. Steven Hayne. A graduate of Brown Medical School, Hayne performed roughly 1,500 autopsies per year at the behest of prosecutors—1,175 more per year than is permitted by the National Association of Medical Examiners. The result? A lot of bad evidence and a lot of faulty convictions. Thanks to Radley Balko’s investigatory work in reason and elsewhere, Hayne is no longer performing autopsies in Mississippi. Sadly, the number of false convictions he contributed to is suspected to be in the hundreds.
14. Eric Hobsbawm
Until his death last year at the age of 95, British historian Eric Hobsbawm enjoyed the dubious honor of being perhaps the world’s most prominent academic apologist for communism. Asked in 1994 if the murder of “15, 20 million people might have been justified” if the result was the establishment of a Marxist society, the lifelong Communist Party member replied, “yes.”
15. J. Edgar Hoover
The FBI’s investigations into militias during the 1990s and Muslims in the 2000s trace their roots to the tenure of James Edgar Hoover. The agency’s longest-serving director, Hoover was famous for investigating groups that challenged the American government and its empire. He spied on and entrapped leftists, and he smeared and undermined civil rights leaders.
16. Jeffrey Immelt
In fairness, anyone who ran General Electric would probably make this list. Not because the blue-chip energy/media/whatever company is particularly evil, but because it’s particularly big, and as such it’s a natural poster boy for modern-day crony capitalism. GE has spent more than $200 million on lobbying already this young century. Immelt, head of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, reacted to the 2008 financial crisis by claiming, “The interaction between government and business will change forever.…The government will be a regulator; and also an industry policy champion, a financier, and a key partner.” That’s exactly the problem.
17. Michael Jacobson
The most zealous of the foodie nanny-staters, Michael Jacobson is the guy who makes Mayor Bloomberg seem like a reasonable moderate. The Ralph Nader protégé co-founded the Center for Science in the Public Interest in 1971 to fight for fat taxes, ominous warning labels, and laws requiring that broadcasters give a minute advertising time to broccoli for each minute of Froot Loops. His group, he once said, “is proud about finding something wrong with practically everything.”
18. Ed Jagels