Thursday, December 28, 2006

The "New Police Professionalism": Serious Christians Need Not Apply

Enemy of the Almighty State: Ramon Perez, formerly an exemplary police officer in Austin, is seen here with his wife Michelle and their home-schooled children (from left) Victoria, Philip, Rachael, and Sarah.

Ramon Perez was a rookie police officer in Austin, Texas when he responded to a domestic violence report in January 2005. When he arrived at the address, he was greeted by a distraught woman who claimed that her elderly husband had pushed her down the stairs, leaving her with injured arms.

As he interviewed the alleged victim, the alleged assailant, an elderly man apparently in frail health, emerged from the home carrying car keys and a cup of coffee. Perez, who had called for backup, told the man to stop. As he did the backup officer, Robert Paranich “lunged” at the elderly man, nearly knocking him off his feet.

“I considered that an escalation of force,” Perez later recalled.

With the suspect struggling to regain his balance, Paranich yelled at Perez to use his Taser to subdue the elderly man. To his considerable credit, Perez refused to do so, chiefly because the man wasn't resisting arrest, but also because the rookie officer was concerned that the man was so frail the electroshock device could send him into cardiac arrest.

Those considerations, incidentally, are spelled out in the Austin Police Department's Taser policy, which Perez followed exactly. In the event, Perez and Paranich were able to effect the arrest using “soft-hand” tactics. When it's possible to arrest a suspect without resort to violence, Perez later said, doing so is “the constitutionally correct thing.”

A few days after this incident, Perez received what he and his attorney Derek Howard describe as a punitive transfer to the night shift. Two months later, Perez was questioned at length about the January arrest, as well as a second incident in which he acted with unauthorized fastidiousness about constitutional correctness.

He was told to report to APD psychologist Carol Logan to undergo what was described as a session of “word games” to develop better communication skills with his superiors. Perez was not told that the interview would be a "fit-for-duty review" held to facilitate the pre-ordained decision to fire him.

According to the Austin Chronicle, Logan confirmed that Perez had been told the meeting would focus on “word games.” However, her four page report mentions nothing about that exercise; instead, it focuses “entirely on Perez's moral and religious beliefs, which Logan concludes are so strong they are an `impairment' to his ability to be a police officer.”

Perez is a self-described non-denominational fundamentalist Christian, an ordained minister who home-schools his children. This, according to Logan, produces an “impairment” of his ability to absorb new facts, to communicate with his superiors, and to deal with “feedback.”

“Perez has a well-developed set of personal beliefs,” wrote Logan. “These seem to be based primarily on his religious beliefs and it is obvious that he has spent a lot of time reflecting upon and developing these views.”

While Logan, displaying the reflexive condescension of a career servant of the Regime, describes Perez's convictions as “admirable,” she criticizes him for displaying “defensiveness” when his convictions are challenged. The firmness of Perez's moral beliefs is problematic, she concludes, because they “provide him with a rationale for explaining how his views differ with others.”

Boil down Logan's assessment in a saucepan, and here's the residue: Perez was unsuitable to serve as a police officer because his values transcend the authority of the State, and his moral convictions have immunized him against collectivist thinking.

"Those meddling Christians always interfere with official police state business!" While Nazi second-in-command Martin Bormann didn't use those exact words in his 1942 memo calling for Germany's Christian churches to be "absolutely and finally broken," that's more or less the gist of what he wrote.

It should be noted that Perez was also troublesome because, unlike most newly minted law enforcement officers, he had two decades of adult life in the rear-view mirror before beginning his police career. He was a 41-year-old ex-engineer when he graduated from the academy, and his fellow cadets honored him with the Ernie Hinckle Humanitarian Award for compassion, integrity, and leadership on the strength of the character he had displayed.

A month after the psychologist – who actually functions as what the Soviets called a Zampolit, or “political officer” -- rendered her assessment, Perez was given an ultimatum: He could resign from the APD and keep his peace officer's license, or be fired and lose that license, and thus be left unemployable by any other department. Perez chose the first course, while fighting with the Austin City government for a year to see the report that had led to his firing.

The triggering incident was his refusal to use a Taser on an unresisting elderly suspect; this episode revealed that Perez -- who would appear to be an exemplary officer, a throwback to an era when police were peace officers, rather than heavily armed enforcers of the State's decrees – was not morally ductile. He was fired for disobeying an order from a superior that was unconstitutional and illegal by the department's own standards.

The official explanation is that Perez was fired for being a “substandard cop.” Perez's attorney, Derek Howard, offers a more credible assessment: “He didn't fit in because of his religious belief system.”

“It was concluded that my [morality] justified it [the decision to disobey], when in fact it was my commitment to policy and our training at the academy and the U.S. Constitution, and not necessarily my moral, spiritual foundation, that led me to that decision,” explained Perez at a press conference earlier this month. “Being tough is a good thing. Being tough, as a cop, can save your life or someone else's. But when that toughness crosses over into civil liberties, that's where a line needs to be drawn... and for some officers, that's a gray area.”

Like Molech and other omnivorous pagan idols sustained by lethal violence, the Regime under which we live is a very jealous god: It requires unqualified, instantaneous obedience, particularly from those in the business of enforcing its decrees.

Perez, like any Christian worthy of that designation, will render to Caesar only that to which Caesar is due – which in our system means only the power necessary to protect the lives and property of the innocent. Or, as he put it: "I do believe, if you are a police officer, you have an ordination by God to protect and preserve life." All of this resonates with the actual meaning of the much-misapplied verses in Romans chapter 13 that are often wrested by those preaching unconditional submission to State power.

So now Perez is out of a job, and Austin's branch of the Leviathan Force will fill his slot with someone willing to adapt to the Regime's priorities. In simple terms, this means it will find someone willing to shoot an unresisting elderly suspect, at point-blank range, with a Taser.

This is not the only time I've heard of a police department using psychological testing to weed out police recruits whose Christian convictions make them unsuitable to serve the Regime.

A few months ago a former professional associate of mine described how his son, who applied for a position with a Sheriff's Department in Wisconsin, was rejected after he was made to play similar “word games” with a psychologist. Despite scoring well on every evaluation, this young man was deemed unworthy to work as a deputy sheriff because of his inflexible moral views and impatience with arbitrary bureaucratic policies.

One such incident could be an anomaly, and a second a mere coincidence. Three or more, however, constitute a trend. I'm confident that a third episode of this variety could be found with relatively little effort.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

What Love Looks Like

Somewhere southeast of Salt Lake City, Utah --

In preparing to celebrate the Incarnation, I thought it appropriate to share these words, which were perfectly put to music by the incomparable Phil Keaggy (arguably the finest living guitarist, incontestably the finest living fingerstylist):

The Maker of the universe,
As Man, for man was made a curse.

The claims of Law which He had made,
Unto the uttermost He paid.

His holy fingers made the bough,
Which grew the thorns that crowned His brow;

The nails that pierced His hand were mined,
In secret places He designed.

He made the forest from whence there sprung
The tree on which His body hung;

He died upon a cross of wood,
Yet made the hill on which it stood.

The sky that darkened o'er His head,
By Him above the earth was spread.

The sun that hid from Him its face,
By His decree was poised in space.

The spear which spilled His precious blood
Was tempered in the fires of God.

The grave in which His form was laid
Was hewn in rocks His hands had made.

The throne on which He now appears
Was His from everlasting years;

But a new glory crowns His brow,
And every knee to Him shall bow....

Minds immeasurably broader, subtler, and better stocked than mine have blunted themselves against the mystery of the Incarnation, and vastly deeper souls than mine have found themselves badly overmatched when contemplating the most sobering question of our existence: Why was it necessary for the Creator to take on the form of His creation, and suffer the penalty for our sins?

In His sacrifice we find salvation; in His teachings we find the only true freedom worth pursuing.

But was it necessary for Him to suffer as He did?

Apparently so.

My only contribution to much worthier efforts to limn the imponderable depths of this question is this:

God made Himself flesh in the person of Jesus so that mankind would know what love looks like.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Red-State Socialist Racketeering: A Case Study...

... and an uncomfortable one, at that.

Rexburg, Idaho is plausibly considered the most Republican community in the union. It is also my hometown – the place where I graduated from High School and junior college, where I was senior class president and starting fullback on Madison High School's first state championship football team, and made many good and close friends.

In recent years, Ricks College has expanded into a four-year university, Brigham Young-Idaho. The LDS (Mormon) Church has also announced plans to construct a temple in the community. The conjunction of these two developments has led to a growth spurt: Over the past six years, 9,000 people have moved into the southeastern Idaho town. Rexburg, a small, socially conservative town, has begun to outgrow its infrastructure.

Last year, city voters turned down a $950,000 levy to pay for street repair and other improvements, and the Idaho state legislature later voted down a proposal to permit college towns to raise local sales taxes. Furthermore, the construction boom hasn't done much to expand the property tax base, since most of the new properties – such as expanded college facilities and Mormon Church meeting houses are tax-exempt; in fact, roughly half of the property in the city is off the tax rolls.

With the local revenue aquifer running dry, the Rexburg City Government has decided to invest $60,000 to retain the services of the National Group, a Washington lobby shop run by veteran Republican activist John Harmer of Bountiful, Utah. Harmer's company, reports the AP, was hired “to bring in federal money.”

Rexburg Mayor Shawn Larsen

This is to say that it will work its wiles on legislators in the Imperial City in the hope that they will steal money from communities in Wisconsin, Iowa, Alabama, and elsewhere in order to pay for street improvements in my southeastern Idaho hometown.

If the city has $60,000 to spend on lobbyists, and its needs are so pressing, why doesn't it either spend the money on some urgent project?

Harmer claims that his firm is charging Rexburg half its normal fee, and that it will bring back five or six times its fee in federal boodle. City Mayor Larsen expects to spend the ill-gotten funds on road and street improvements, as well as “homeland security and economic development.”

The former, of course, means that Rexburg's Finest will be folded into the ever-growing Leviathan Force. And like other cities nationwide, Rexburg is most likely going to find creative ways of raising the funds to keep its lobbyists on the payroll – which means speed traps, red-light cameras, and other police shake-downs will become common back in my hometown.

Among the most disagreeable aspects of this sordid business is the fact that those involved in this corrupt exercise in public plunder are consciously sinning against constitutional principle.

A little more than sixteen years ago, while working as a columnist at the Provo, Utah Daily Herald, I interviewed John Harmer during his congressional campaign in Utah's 3rd District. A former Lt. Governor to Ronald Reagan, Harmer, understandably, was eager to play on that association, urging voters to see him as inheriting Reagan's mantle as an exponent of minimalist government. Suffice it to say that Harmer, like Reagan, has never been bent double beneath the burden of his limited-government principles.

John Harmer: Political profit before principle

Harmer has been successful as a political entrepreneur, casting himself as an anti-pornography paladin, urging the creation of a federal commission to explore (among other things) changes to federal obscenity laws. He's smart enough to recognize that a federal “war on porn” would be as successful in dealing with that problem as the “war on drugs” has been at eliminating narcotics use – and he's probably cynical enough to recognize the profit potential in declaring “war” on another ineradicable vice.

More recently, Harmer has sold his services to the Chinese automaker Geely, which plans to market a five-passenger family sedan, priced below $10,000, in the USA starting in 2008. Harmer has no background in the auto business, but great value as a Sherpa to aid the Chinese automaker through the treacherous terrain of US regulatory law.

Which is to say, once again, that Harmer, a supposed bane enemy of large, invasive government, has learned how to make a profit from regulatory overkill.

Were he a genuine patriot and constitutionalist, Harmer would devote his efforts to the task of paring back the regulatory thicket, or even putting it to the torch.

But that's not where the money is.

There is something ironically appropriate in the designation of Republican strongholds as “red” states: During the late, unlamented Republican reign, these communities – often vilified as strongholds of reaction – have become clients of Washington and net consumers of redistributed wealth.

This is true, alas, even of my hometown, where I learned the virtues of constitutionally limited government, and the evils of welfare state collectivism.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

From a Fissure to a Chasm

“Turn with me to the third chapter of Ecclesiastes,” instructed our pastor.

“Let's leave,” I whispered tightly to my wife Korrin. She quietly but firmly shushed me, and she had a point.

At the time – March 2003, the Sunday before the beginning of the most recent Gulf War – our family hadn't yet welcomed our youngest daughter, Sophia, who would be born the following January. Nonetheless, there were six of us, situated very near the front of the chapel, and had we chosen to take our leave at the beginning of the service we would have caused quite a spectacle. So we sat through the entire sermon, which was a potted, pre-fabricated homily on the theme of the supposed virtues of war, just as I knew it would be.

Our pastor at the time was a young man, well-turned out and personable with a remarkable high baritone singing voice. His sermons tended to be well-crafted and theatrical, and generally very effective. This particular installment was less than inspired or inspiring, because the pastor seemed determined to circle the point he was making without running directly into it.

The Bible says that “there is a time for war,” he said in at least a half-dozen different ways, none of them sufficiently clear or specific to permit his audience to answer this question: Was the then-impending war in Iraq one Christians could support in good conscience?

Although he was emphatic in making the case for the righteousness of war in the abstract, our pastor seemed unable to make a case for this particular venture. His message appeared to be that when our Leader commands us to kill, it is our duty as Christians to obey.

The following Saturday, several days after the invasion of Iraq had begun, our family happened to be driving down the main street of Appleton, Wisconsin – our residence at the time – en route to the YMCA. Just short of our destination we saw two contending demonstrations. On our left was a small group gathered behind a large banner bearing the legend “SUPPORT OUR TROOPS!” -- which is always phrased as an imperative, and generally in capital letters with an exclamation point. Most of the people arrayed behind that sign were people from the church we were then attending.

On the right side of the street was a somewhat larger group of anti-war protesters drawn from various local activist groups. Korrin and I glanced at each other briefly and – without a word, practically in unison – shouted our support for the peace protesters through the windows of our mini-van, as I honked the horn to get their attention.

“It would appear,” I commented to Korrin as we pulled into the parking lot at the Y, “that we are attending the wrong church.”

Hey, Christian war-bots -- remember this guy, the Prince of Peace?

We migrated to three other churches, only to encounter the same problem: Theologically and politically conservative churches were badly infected with the leaven of Bushiolatry, and saw nothing amiss in their approval of the blood sacrifices being offered up in Iraq.

By late 2005, Korrin and I had found a theologically suitable church whose pastor was a disillusioned ex-Republican and recent recruit into the Constitution Party (which, alas, has problems of its own with which to grapple). We had also become regular weekend participants in anti-war demonstrations in Appleton and as far away as Milwaukee.

Just shortly before leaving Appleton to move to Idaho in November of that year, our family took part in that most stereotypical liberal exercise, the candlelight vigil for peace. We didn't join in the John Lennon sing-a-long, or participate in any of the New Age rituals some protesters insisted on performing.

We attended those events to give voice to our opposition to a monumental crime against Christian decency and constitutional law – and, when opportunities presented themselves, to explain to fellow protesters the intimate connection between a large, interventionist government (which many of them supported) and an aggressive, interventionist foreign policy (which they obviously opposed).

With remarkable consistency we found that anti-war activists were willing to reverse-engineer their assumptions about big government from their opposition to the war.

We also found that our friends and family members who are conservative supporters of the war have been utterly unwilling to reconsider their positions in spite of their advertised hostility to big, invasive government.

It's likely that millions of other politically and theologically conservative Christians have had similar experiences. Perhaps more than a few of them have reconsidered their support for the Iraq war as the multi-layered rationales for this misadventure have been abraded way by the pitiless sandstorm of reality.

Roughly four years ago, as it became clear that the Bush Regime wouldn't settle for any outcome in Iraq that didn't involve invasion, occupation, and the theft of that nation's energy resources, a small but significant fissure became visible between those who pledged their devotion to the Dear Leader, and those of us who don't reside in the reality-optional realm where Bush's will is the only standard.

That fissure has now become a chasm. And others will soon develop as well.

The Wee Decider has let it be known that, well, gee golly Ned, it would be a ripping good idea to expand the size of the Army.

Like any small child too long permitted to believe in the invincible sovereignty of his whims, the Bush-baby doesn't explain exactly how this is to be done. He's simply going to have incoming Minister of War Robert Gates devise a “plan” to accomplish this objective.

It works like this: Georgie wants, and Georgie must have it, so the nice adults surrounding him have to find some way to get it for him.

Perhaps Mr. Gates can simply inform the Pentagon's recruitment officers that they needn't be so picky, and that they are now free to enlist the hordes of would-be inductees who are being turned away – their hopes of glory cruelly dashed, their eyes bright with frustrated tears.

Those hordes, of course, have made their absence keenly felt. This isn't going to change.

Which means that at some point, the order will be given to send forth the draft-nappers. When this occurs, parents in countless conservative churches across the nation will likely be treated to yet another version of the same homily based on the third chapter of Ecclesiastes, as pastors try to swaddle child sacrifice in the sanctified robes of Christian duty.

When this happens, how many parents will look on their children – both sons and daughters, since the New Model Slave Army would be “gender-inclusive” -- and decide that the State, the coldest of all cold monsters, is entitled to feast on the warm, living flesh of their offspring?

How many, on the other hand, will find themselves blinking awake in mortal horror as they realize – however tardily – that it is utterly perverse to allow strangers living in a cocoon of privilege to steal their children, in order to have them either kill or be killed by children of other parents with whom they have no quarrel?

The chasm opened between those two types of parents could conceivably lead to an actual shooting war in this country, one side of which would be considered entirely just by non-pacifist anti-war activists like myself. Our National Anthem points out that it is the duty of “free men” to “stand between their loved homes and the war's desolation,” and that this is a “cause [that] is just.”

God grant that I'm entirely wrong, and that what we're contemplating here never transpires. But it's clear that our rulers are perfectly willing to allow young Americans – including, may God forgive us, young mothers – to kill and die in Iraq simply because neither of the ascendant factions wants to risk the political liabilities for “cutting and running” from a war we should never have fought.

Those bastards (no other word is suitable, at least none I would use) care that little for the lives they waste in the service of their own convenience.

The time will most likely come when the battle-cry of the patriots at Thermopylae so suitably adopted by the gun rights movement, will be adopted as well by those of us determined to protect our children from those who would steal them to serve in the imperial Slave Army: Molon labe!

Roughly translated, the phrase means: If you want them, you're going to have to come and get them.

That's not an invitation. It's a warning.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Is This How It Will Begin?

Because of the unreasonable demands of unwise foreign deployments – chiefly the demented war of occupation in Iraq, but also the deepening morass in Afghanistan, as well as ongoing missions in the Balkans and elsewhere -- the high-performance US military is becoming a 1989 minivan with a rolled-over odometer and four bald tires.

I offer that metaphor as the owner of a vehicle meeting that description.

In one respect, this assessment of the military is not entirely metaphorical: Military officials are concerned about the prospect of a shortage of special Humvee tires that at present are manufactured at only one facility – a Goodyear Tire & Rubber plant in Kansas.

As it happens, that plant is one of sixteen that have been crippled by a strike for several months. Rep. Duncan Hunter, outgoing chairman of the House armed services committee, claims that the strike has reduced output of the tires by 35 percent. Priority has been given to routing the tires to Central Command, which presides over operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Incidentally, the fact that a region literally half-way around the globe falls under the jurisdiction of “central” command offers compelling testimony of our regime's irrational imperialist priorities.)

Although Goodyear officials insist that no shortfall has developed, and that production at the critical Kansas plant will be back to full capacity in the near future.

Nonetheless, Rep. Hunter says that the military may seek an injunction under the Taft-Hartley act to compel the striking workers back to the production lines. The Financial Times ominously reports that the military is examining unspecified “measures” to end the strike, which suggests something more drastic than an injunction.

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius has put pressure on management and labor to end the strike, pointedly reminding Goodyear CEO Robert Keegan that “the state [of Kansas] has been very supportive of the Goodyear operations here, and has made significant investments in the plant,” in the form of millions of dollars in state and local incentives to keep the plant in the area.

Gov. Sebelius's comments are a timely and unambiguous reminder of the principle that what the State (or any of its appendages and appurtenances) subsidizes, it controls. They also underscore the fact that our much-vaunted “free market” economy is more honestly described as corporatist – the fusion of big, centralized government with large, politically favored corporate entities.

Corporatism is the economic component of the fascist system developed (but not invented) by Benito Mussolini, and emulated by FDR's New Deal regime. The Goodyear strike could conceivably result in executive action – the domestic use of the military as strike-breakers – of an overtly and unmistakable fascist nature.

As left-populist commentator John Nichols reports, “The Bush Administration's Department of Defense is examining whether it has the power to break a strike at tire plants that supply the military.”

That the Regime has the power is beyond dispute. The question is whether it has the authority to do so. As Nichols correctly observes, “The Constitution affords the executive branch no such authority. But, as should be obvious by now, the current Administration has little regard for the founding document.”

Of course, the Regime – borrowing another theme from its National Socialist and Fascist antecedents – insists that the President is our Living Constitution, and his decrees are self-ratifying. To date, Bush and his ruling clique have managed to beat back every challenge to the open-ended powers claimed on behalf of the War President. If they decide to make the Goodyear strike a test case for military seizure of economic assets deemed critical to the war effort, they may succeed where Harry Truman failed.

In April 1952, with the US mired in what has amounted to a UN-led “police action” that has lasted more than a half-century, Truman ordered the seizure of American steel mills in order to preempt a strike that he claims would have undermined the war effort. The steel industry sued the Truman administration, and the case – Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer – resulted in a critical rebuff of the then-embryonic doctrine of plenary executive power in wartime.

Truman insisted that while the presidency had no specific power to seize the plants, that he was “acting within the aggregate of his constitutional powers as the Nation's Chief Executive and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States” -- a claim similar in substance, albeit more elegant in presentation, that those that dribble down the chin of the Grand and Glorious Decider.

Writing on behalf of a six-Justice majority, Hugo Black laughed that claim out of court, writing that “We cannot with faithfulness to our constitutional system hold that the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces has the ultimate power as such to take possession of private property in order to keep labor disputes from stopping production. This is a job for the Nation's lawmakers, not for its military authorities.”

I pause here to italicize Black's ironic disclosure here that seizing private property on behalf of the State is “a job for the Nation's lawmakers.”

As Black continued, “In the framework of our Constitution, the President's power to see that the laws are faithfully executed refutes the idea that he is to be a lawmaker.... The President's order does not direct that a congressional policy be executed in a manner prescribed by the President.”

If Congress had “authorized” the seizure, in other words, Truman's executive order most likely would have been upheld by the Supreme Court in 1952. More than a half-century later, with exponents of the doctrine of executive primacy controlling the Supreme Court, the omission noted in Black's decision most likely wouldn't be considered significant.

Furthermore, there is the possibility that this entire affair could be exploited as a test of the new powers conferred on Bush to deal with “major public emergencies” under the Defense Authorization Act signed into law last October 17 – the same day that the Bush-whelp scrawled his signature on the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (more properly described as the “Repeal of Liberties Act”).

The Military appropriations measure contains a provision dealing with “Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies.” As a Congressional Quarterly analysis points out, the language of the measure “alters the two-centuries-old Insurrection Act, which Congress passed in 1807 to limit the president's power to deploy troops within the United States. That law has long allowed the president to mobilize troops only `to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy.'”

But the amended law takes the cuffs off” by adding a new list of circumstances under which the military can “go domestic," and permitting the President to federalize state national guard units without a request from state governments.

Granted, the measure doesn't specifically enumerate strike-breaking among the appropriate uses of the new powers. However, if the strike continues, it's possible that the Bush Regime may label it an “insurrection” or “combination” against the national interest, and authorize military action to break it up. This possibility becomes more acute with leaders of both branches of the Establishment Party endorsing the idea of a “temporary” surge in troop levels in Iraq.

Poland's Soviet stooge Jaruzelski reads the December 13, 1981 declaration of Martial Law to put down the Solidarity labor movement.

If the Goodyear strike is put down forcibly, the radiating consequences could conceivably include protests and even riots elsewhere in the country, and were this to happen it's not difficult to anticipate further State violence by paramilitary police or even additional military deployments.

For the past decade or so, as our nation's law enforcement agencies have been fused with the military and intelligence organs into a centrally directed internal security apparatus, many of us have wondered when, why, and how the balloon would go up and outright martial law would begin. (Note the conspicuous absence of “if” from that list.)

May God grant that such a development never occurs. But the Goodyear strike may prove to be the triggering incident many of us have long dreaded.

A quick note --

I've received some more very generous gifts from Pro Libertate readers. While "thank you" seems a pallid and inadequate expression, I wish to offer my deepest thanks for these amazing acts of kindness.

I likewise want to thank those of you who have been posting comments on this blog, paticularly those who expressed concern and offered prayers on my behalf as I've dealt with my annual bout of Venusian Flu, or whatever bizarre Xeno-pathogen is responsible for leaving my head feeling like a jello mold. For the past week and a half, coughing has been practically the only vigorous exercise I've been able to do, which explains why my posting here has been a little erratic. Thanks again for the prayers and kind words.

My book project is coming along very nicely, and as soon as publication details are available I'll share them with you. I'll also have some more details later this week about the other previously mentioned media project.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Snapshots of a Demented Regime (UPDATED; see the last item)

One difference between a genuinely totalitarian ruling elite and criminal cliques of the sort that run more ordinary governments is this: Totalitarians display a thoroughgoing ignorance of basic human nature coupled with a demented belief in the State's ability to re-arrange reality by decree.

On this basis it's clear that the people who rule us fall squarely into the totalitarian camp. By way of illustration, I offer the following examples.

The Mint's Melt-down Mendacity

The Regime's Department of Counterfeiting and Fraud, more commonly known as the U.S. Mint, “has implemented an interim rule that makes it illegal to melt nickels and pennies, or to export them in mass quantities,” reports ABC News. Those who violate this bureaucratic enactment – which is facially unconstitutional, since only Congress has the authority to enact national legislation – are subject to a $10,000 fine, up to five years in prison, or both.

The Regime has removed every trace of precious metal from its coinage. At present, only the nickel and pre-1983 penny contain anything of value. As the Regime debases the value of its official currency, the market value of the metal used in nickels and pennies has soared, which means that the penny at present is worth 1.73 cents, and the nickel 8.34 cents.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Mint claimed that it had received “numerous inquiries” about the use of the Liberty Dollar, a gloriously lustrous, privately circulated silver coin (or negotiable storage receipts backed by gold and silver and accepted by various merchants as an instrument of barter). As I reported in a previous installment, the Mint claims that the use of gold and silver in private, voluntary transactions is a form of “forgery” and “counterfeiting.”

And this is the same U.S. Mint that brazenly stole a collection of rare gold coins from a dutiful, law-abiding subject of the Regime.

In the late 1960s, after the Regime ceased to use silver in its currency, the Treasury Department implemented a regulation forbidding export or melting of silver coins. Edmund Moy, the U.S. Mint's chief commissar, insists that the new regulation is necessary “because the Nation needs its coinage for commerce. Replacing these coins would be an enormous cost to the taxpayers.”

Any rational person – a population that excludes the talent pool from which Moy and his ilk are drawn – would understand that the new regulation portends a withdrawal of copper pennies and cupro-nickel five cent coins from circulation, and their replacement by coins forged from less expensive trash metal. They will be melted down and the metal used as the State ordains, just as silver coins were in 1965 and confiscated gold coins were in 1933.

So the Regime is taking pre-emptive measures to prevent private interests from doing what it plans to do in short order: Use the spread between the official value of the copper penny and nickel, and the market value of the metals they contain, to make a tidy profit.

How much of a profit? According to Moy, if one percent of the nickels and pennies presently in circulation were melted down, “taxpayers would have to foot a $43 million bill” to replace them. In fact, since 1983 the penny consists of 99.2% zinc, with a copper patina; prior to that year, the coin was composed of 95% copper and 5% zinc. So it's reasonable to suspect that the Regime is actively melting down pre-1983 pennies.

Eventually, the price of zinc will skyrocket, and the Regime will mint coins from pewter.

This story, apart from illustrating, redundantly, the dishonesty and dementia of the “public servants” employed by the U.S. Mint, is a clear storm warning of impending inflation. Demand from China has helped drive up the price of copper and nickel (as well as practically every other industrial metal), but the single most important variable has been the Regime's relentless destruction of the “dollar”'s value.

You Couldn't Make This Up

In his revealing book Confessions of a Tax Collector, former IRS Revenue Agent Richard Yancey noted that the IRS rarely goes after organized crime figures, preferring to prey on honest, well-intentioned private citizens who are deemed guilty of violating some arcane provision in the artfully incomprehensible tax code.

This might explain why the new regulations emitted by the Regime's Department of Theft, Extortion, and Financial Terrorism (a more accurate name for the IRS) expects that organized crime figures and politicians (but I repeat myself) will waive their Fifth Amendment immunity to self-incrimination by dutifully disclosing all of their corrupt transactions.

No, I am not kidding. Here's an alphabetized list, from the IRS's own official publication:

Bribes. If you receive a bribe, include it in your income.

Illegal income. Illegal income, such as money from dealing illegal drugs, must be included in your income on Form 1040, line 21, or on Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040) if from your self-employment activity

Kickbacks. You must include kickbacks, side commissions, push money, or similar payments you receive in your income on Form 1040, line 21, or on Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040), if from your self-employment activity.

Stolen property. If you steal property, you must report its fair market value in your income in the year you steal it unless in the same year, you return it to its rightful owner.

It's reasonable to believe that the IRS, as a matter of professional courtesy, wouldn't be so rude as to facilitate the prosecution of thieves and other criminals. They're too busy persecuting people who have committed the supposed offense of trying to keep the money they have legitimately earned, who try to vindicate their rights through legal challenges, or who exercise their right to peaceful protest.

Tax analyst Dave Gross
reports that just before adjournment, Congress enacted legislation boosting the “frivolous filing penalty” from $500 to $5000 and making it applicable “to all federal taxes, not just federal income tax. It also may now apply to things other than tax returns, such as `requests for a collection due process hearing, installment agreements, and offers-in-compromise.' The IRS is required to publish a list of what it considers to be frivolous arguments before applying these fines.... This might affect those tax resisters who include marginal notes of protest with their tax forms, declare [a] vast number of `dependents,' or try to use the tax courts to advance legal arguments about the Nuremberg Principles and other such long shots. It will certainly snag the folks in the Constitutionalist tax protester set, for whom these provisions were targeted.”

What this most likely will mean, notes Claire Wolfe, is that “next time you write `Paid under protest' or `What law requires this?' on your 1040, you'll be subject to a $5,000 penalty, not `merely' $500. And as always, don't expect an impartial judge and jury to hear your case before the fine is levied....What a quaint notion that is, here in 21st-century Amerika.”

Doesn't know Shi'ite from Shinola

Silvestre Reyes, the Texas Democrat Congressman who will head the House Intelligence Committee, was a critic of the Iraq war prior to his appointment. Now he has joined the chorus calling for additional troop deployments as part of what is called a “double down” approach to winning the war.

This approach is considered bold by people who have no compunctions about wasting the lives of other people as part of a losing bet.

Despite his eagerness to throw lives and money away in Iraq, Reyes, who will pull down an annual salary of $165,200 in his new job, is utterly ignorant of the basic sectarian and geo-strategic realities of the Middle East. In an interview with Jeff Stein, National Security Editor for Congressional Quarterly, Reyes couldn't explain the distinctions between Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims, or essential details about the ideological and theological leanings of al-Qaeda and Hezbollah.

This one's Shinola, Rep. Reyes. As to that brown stuff you thought was shoe polish, well....

“Reyes stumbled when I asked him a simple question about al Qaeda at the end of a 40-minute interview in his office last week,” recounts Stein. This is a horrifying delinquency in someone who will be well compensated by the taxpayers “to know more than basic facts about our foes in the Middle East.”

Just as revealing was Reyes' attempt at self-deprecating humor as his utter lack of qualifications manifest itself.

“Why do you ask me these questions at five o’clock?” he asked Stein. “Can I answer in Spanish? Do you speak Spanish?”

Before being elected to Congress, Reyes was a Border Patrol Agent.

James Kim: Murdered by the Feds through Depraved Indifference

Last week I noted that the tragic Kim family had become stranded in the inhospitable wilderness of western Oregon because somebody -- most likely vandals -- had left open a gate that should have been shut.

After the family (James and Kati Kim and daughters Penelope and Sabine) had been marooned for about a week -- their meager food supplies long since depleted -- Kim struck off in search of help. He walked a total of sixteen (not ten, as initially reported) miles before expiring in a creek, most likely hours before he was spotted by rescue personnel.

If the gate had been shut, the Kims would not have taken their fatal wrong turn. It stands to reason that if the gate had been sabotaged by vandals, the responsible parties could be prosecuted for the death of James Kim.

Well, the guilty party has been identified, and I think a trial is in order:

"Federal workers failed to lock a gate blocking the logging road that led James Kim to his death last week -- a different story than has been told since his death and his family's rescue. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management was supposed to lock the gate near the entrance of the road, known only as 34-8-36, on Nov. 1. The gate is meant to prevent people from turning onto a maze of logging spurs instead of staying on Bear Camp Road, which cuts through the mountains to the Oregon Coast. Officials with the agency have maintained since last week that the gate had been locked but was later vandalized. But BLM spokesman Michael Campbell said Wednesday that an internal investigation this week into the suspected vandals turned up the surprising culprit: the agency itself.... An internal investigation into the lapse is under way, Campbell said."

An "internal investigation" is useful, but insufficient. A criminal investigation is also necessary. Allowing the BLM to police itself in this matter would be exactly like permitting La Cosa Nostra to run the NYPD's Organized Crime bureau.

James Kim, like countless hundreds of millions, is a victim of death by government. Indeed, it's entirely likely that government is the leading cause of untimely death in recorded human history.

(Thanks to Lew Rockwell for passing along the link.)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Hey -- Take Your Time

(Caveat lector: The following essay includes a photograph of an offensive gesture.I included it because it is relevant to the present subject.)

In the vast inventory of George W. Bush's contemptible traits, the most lethal may be his capacity for invincible self-delusion. Close kindred to that attribute is his apparently limitless self-absorption, one symptom of which is his mistaken belief that a petulantly out-thrust lower lip is a pose of Churchillian resolution.

That cluster of misbegotten attributes was displayed to memorable – and nauseating – effect during the Bushling's December 13 news conference, in which he declared that he would not be “rushed” into a decision regarding the disposition of our troops in Iraq.

People are dying by the dozen, by the score, by the hundreds each day – but Bush the Lesser can't be “rushed.”

Military families are being split apart and driven into bankruptcy by prolonged and repeated deployments to Iraq, but Bush is content to bide his time.

It is obvious to any sentient being -- and perhaps even to Sean Hannity, although that Bush Regime rent boy would never admit it -- that the Iraq War was a strategic catastrophe of world-historic proportions.

Persisting in an obvious falsehood (in this case, that "victory" in Iraq is possible) is not heroic determination. It's arrogant pride.

George W. Bush has been insulated from accountability his entire life. He is a stranger in the house of responsibility. Sacrifice is a concept utterly alien to him. On the available evidence – I'm not referring to staged photo-ops, or faith-promoting stories forwarded to e-mail lists -- he is clinically indifferent to the suffering of other people, particularly those on the receiving end of his imperial whims.

Does anyone remember Bush's self-indulgent mockery of Texas death row inmate Karla Faye Tucker? She was a convicted murderer who became the focus of a campaign for executive clemency. Several Evangelical religious leaders tried to intercede with then-Texas Governor Bush prior to Tucker's 1998 execution, as did death penalty opponents from the other end of the spectrum. Shortly before her execution date, Tucker gave an interview to Larry King.

One can believe, in good faith, that Tucker – a confessed double-murderer who, along with a boyfriend, killed two sleeping men with a pickaxe – deserved to be put to death. (Although I firmly believe in the right to lethal armed self-defense, I'm of the opinion that the degenerate regime under which we live has no moral authority to execute anyone – but that's a discussion for another time.) But any functioning adult exercising the power to consign another human being to death would have the decency to affect the proper solemnity.

The Bushling's reaction to the pleas made on behalf of Tucker, captured on videotape, was to screw his simian features into an anguished grimace and mimic a tearful plea for mercy: “Please, don't kill me.”

Dead woman walking: Double murderer Karla Faye Tucker on her way to execution.

That sub-adolescent display was provoked by a question posed by commentator Tucker Carlson, a Republican-wedded conservative of the National Review/American Spectator variety. He was understandably horrified by the repulsive gesture, and even more alarmed when he read the transcript of Tucker's interview and learned that she had never pleaded for clemency.

The question Carlson asked of Bush was this: Did the Governor meet with any of the activists seeking the commutation of Tucker's death sentence?

“Bush whips around and stares at me,” Carlson reported. "`No, I didn't meet with any of them,' he snaps, as though I've just asked the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed.”

After Tucker reported the incident, Bush – or, more likely, an aide blessed with rudimentary English skills – wrote a rejoinder remarkable for the depth of its dishonesty and its singular self-preoccupation:

“Mr. Carlson misread, mischaracterized me,” insisted the aide on behalf of Bush. “He's a good reporter, he just misunderstood about how serious that was. I take the death penalty very seriously. I take each case seriously. I just felt he misjudged me. I think he misinterpreted my feelings. I know he did.”

In Bush's view, he was the injured party, since – in the world of in-bred privilege he inhabits – it simply isn't fair to report incidents that reflect poorly on the “Decider” -- especially when they involve matters of life and death, and displays of repulsive behavior by the retromingent man-child who somehow ended up exercising the power to make such choices.

The same self-fixated cruelty was on display during the 2004 White House Correspondents' Dinner, which took place long after it was clear that Saddam Hussein's much-invoked arsenal of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons didn't exist.

To the raucous laughter of the assembled press celebrities – representatives of the supposedly adversarial Fourth Estate, mind you – the Bushling narrated a slide show of Oval Office scenes in which he seemed to be searching for something.

"Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere,” Bush cracked as he displayed a picture of himself staring vacantly out a window. In another pose Bush was looking under his office desk: "Nope. No weapons over there."

At the time of that repellent performance nearly three years ago, fewer than 600 Americans had died in Iraq. The casualty count now is nearly identical to that inflicted at the World Trade Center on 9/11 (for Iraq and Afghanistan combined, the death toll passed the 9/11 figure weeks ago).

That supposed comedy routine was the equivalent of an upraised middle digit – which is one of the Bushling's favorite gestures, incidentally – directed at those who had pointed out, prior to the invasion, that Saddam was not a threat to the United States.

Hey, I just report this stuff; I don't make it up.

The implied message was this: “It doesn't matter who's right – I'm the one who's in charge, so just shut up.”

The same alloy of narcissism and cruelty exhibited in those episodes is on display now as Bush -- for the sole and exclusive purpose of avoiding a full-blown retreat during his time in office – vamps, stalls, and dissimulates. “Don't rush me,” he snarls as blood flows, nourishing enmities that will blossom into terrible vengeance.

Of George W. Bush it can and must be said that he managed somehow to pass from adolescence into senescence without experiencing rational, sober adulthood. This wouldn't be a problem if he hadn't been handed the extravagantly swollen powers of the imperial presidency.

But this result is entirely predictable. After all, what personality type is interested in the kind of job that the modern presidency represents?

On the evidence of at least the last two White House occupants, the imperial presidency is a position for which only sociopaths need apply.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

"How Much Does the State Weigh?"

The persistence of evil: An aging adherent of Stalin's personality cult loves him some Big Brother.

During the Moscow Show Trials of the late 1930s, Soviet prosecutors ran across one particularly recalcitrant subject who simply refused to confess. The man maintained his innocence despite the demonic inventiveness of the tormentors who employed what the Bush regime calls “coercive interrogation” methods to break him down.

Granted, the interrogators could simply have treated him to a “Lubyanka breakfast” -- a cigarette and a bullet to the back of the head. But without a confession, the entire exercise would have been sterile at best, and counter-productive at worst. The entire point was to extract a confession, and to display the broken defendant to the public as evidence that the state was both infallible and pitiless. It simply wouldn't do to execute a man who defiantly insisted on his innocence.

Perplexed and anxious, the lead prosecutor sought and was granted an audience with Stalin, who listened intently. After the prosecutor finished describing the troublesome case, Stalin sat in quiet thought for a moment before asking an unexpected question of the increasingly agitated prosecutor.

“How much does the State weigh?” asked the Soviet ruler in a disarmingly gentle voice. “All of the buildings, the farms, the weapons and equipment? All of the officials, police, soldiers, and prosecutors?”

The prosecutor, who by this time was probably about to suffer a stress-induced coronary, replied that he didn't know the answer, and doubted that anybody could know.

“How long could one man hold the weight of the State on his back?” Stalin persisted, his voice still atypically mild.

“Comrade Chairman, no man could bear the weight of the State for an instant!” answered the prosecutor.

“Exactly,” replied Stalin, his voice suddenly transposing into a quietly threatening register that induced a perceptible chill in the room. “Remember this well, and go back and get that confession.”

The very model of the modern prosecutor: A.Y. Vyshinsy was chief prosecutor at Stalin's Purge Trials in the late 1930s, before going on to be a co-author of the UN Charter. His approach to prosecution -- assuming that everybody is guilty of something, he worked to extract confessions that enhanced the power and prestige of the state -- is followed by most American prosecutors today.

Please forgive me if the details of that incident aren't exactly right; it's been a quarter century since I first read that story. I was prompted to remember that story by the most recent batch of headlines describing the fact that the United States of America has an unassailable lead over the rest of the world – including such havens of liberty and justice as Communist China and post-Soviet Russia – in the field of incarceration.

Citing the International Center for Prison Studies at King's College in London, former Assistant Treasury Secretary Paul Craig Roberts points out that “the US has 700,000 more of its citizens incarcerated than China, a country with a population four to five times larger than that of the US, and 1,330,000 more people in prison than crime-ridden Russia. The US has five percent of the world's population and 25 percent of the world's prisoners. The American incarceration rate is seven times higher than that of European countries.”

One of every 32 adult Americans is either imprisoned, on parole, or on probation. Roberts is of the opinion – a point of view he has ably defended in his extremely valuable book The Tyranny of Good Intentions – that a very high percentage of the prison population consists of people who have been wrongfully convicted. This isn't because our jury system is useless, but rather because “hardly any of the convicted have had a jury trial. No peers have heard the evidence against them and found them guilty. In the US criminal justice (sic) system, more than ninety-five percent of all felony cases are settled with a plea bargain.”

In elaborating on this point, Roberts describes what can properly be described as a neo-Stalinist “justice” system in which the central objective is to validate the State's infallibility – albeit through pre-trial allocution by the defendant, rather than a successful trial -- and career-minded prosecutors have long abandoned any pretense of being interested in justice:

“Any defendant who stands trial faces more severe penalties if found guilty than if he agrees to a plea bargain. Prosecutors don't like trials because they are time consuming and a lot of work. To discourage trials, prosecutors offer defendants reduced charges and lighter sentences than would result from a jury conviction. In the event a defendant insists upon his innocence, prosecutors pile on charges until the defendant's lawyer and family convince they defendant that a jury is likely to give the prosecutor a conviction on at least one of the many charges and that the penalty will be greater than the negotiated plea.”

Accordingly, our “justice” system at present “consists of a process whereby a defendant is coerced into admitting to a crime in order to escape more severe punishment for maintaining his innocence. Many of the crimes for which people are imprisoned never occurred. They are made up crimes created by the process of negotiation to close a case.... What we have today is a conveyor belt that convicts almost everyone who is charged.”

Once again, a fuller understanding of the process Roberts describes is offered in his book, which outlines the abandonment of our Anglo-Saxon tradition of individual rights through the rule of law in favor of a version of Jeremy Bentham's evil collectivist doctrine of utilitarianism (the “greatest good for the greatest number,” as “good” is defined by a supervisory elite).

But a good and sufficient illustration of the truth of Roberts' indictment of our “justice” system can be found in the case of Richard Paey, a wheelchair-bound 48-year-old father of three serving a 25-year prison sentence in Florida for the supposed crime of asserting his innocence. About two and a half years ago, Paey – who is in chronic severe pain as a result of injuries suffered in a car accident, and exacerbated by an inept surgery and the subsequent development of multiple sclerosis – was convicted of fifteen counts of drug trafficking, obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, and possession of a controlled substance.

The “drugs” in question were painkillers Paey obtained in Florida with the help of Dr. Steven Neurkowicz, his family's former physician in New Jersey. Paey claims that Neurkowicz wrote him the necessary prescriptions; this account was validated by Florida pharmacists during his trial, and in Neurkowicz's initial testimony.

However, the prosecution was able to terrorize Neurkowicz into changing his story through the simple expedient of threatening to take away his practice and face a 25 years-to-life sentence for over-prescribing painkillers.

Neurkowicz, already rattled by the paramilitary raid on his office in New Jersey (Paey's family received the same jackboot-on-the-neck treatment in Florida), agreed to testify against the crippled man in court.

Following standard procedure, prosecutors offered Paey a deal: Eight years' probation, including three years of house arrest, if he were to plead guilty to attempted drug trafficking. Insisting that he had done nothing wrong, Paey refused that deal, and subsequent offers – including one that would have reduced the charges against him in exchange for testimony against Dr. Neurkowicz.

It took three tries for the prosecution to convict Paey. The first attempt ended in a mistrial; the second in a conviction that was thrown out because of a procedural error.

The third trial resulted in a guilty verdict, despite the fact that the prosecution admitted that Paey didn't sell or otherwise distribute the painkillers. Under Florida's laws, however, possession of more than 28 grams of painkillers is sufficient to provoke a charge of drug “trafficking.” Accordingly, the jury – owing largely to false assurances by the jury foreman that a guilty verdict would result in probation – voted to convict. After the trial, one juror told the press that he voted guilty in order to avoid being the sole holdout.

Displaying the soul (if that's the correct word) of a Stalinist prosecutor, Florida Assistant State Attorney Mike Halkitis declared after the trial: “It's unfortunate that anyone has to go to prison, but he's got no one to blame but Richard Paey. All we wanted to do was get him help.”

You're a damned liar, Mike – a gelded, sycophantic, metrosexual liar. The same is true of your comrade Scott Andringa, the prosecutor who presided over the “trial” of Paey, who told New York Times columnist John Tierney that he was “proud that I did my job as a prosecutor” in sending an innocent man to prison.

Drug war casualty Richard Paey: Although confined to a wheelchair, he stands much taller than the corrupt, tax-engorged drones who sent him to prison.

Your “job” was to get a crippled, pain-wracked man to submit to the power of the State – and you lost. He's in prison, with his integrity intact. You're not physically imprisoned, but as hostages to professional vanity and corrupt ambition you're not free men, or men of any kind. If either of you were any part of a man, you would resign your positions and work tirelessly to rectify the injustice you wrought on this innocent man and his family.

Now that he's in prison, Paey is actually receiving – courtesy of the same state that imprisoned him – a larger daily dose of painkiller than he had been consuming “illegally” before his trial. Of course, this blessing comes with conditions.

Radley Balko, in an October 24, 2005 piece for National Review, pointed out that following a July interview with the Times' John Tierney, which resulted in piece sympathetic to Paey and critical of the State of Florida, “prison officials retaliated” by moving Paey “to a prison facility more than two hours from his wife and family. He was then moved even farther away, some 170 miles, to the Tomoka Correctional Institution near Daytona Beach. Sympathetic prison officials, other inmates, and medical staff have since told Paey he was moved away from his family because the guard who sat in on his interview with Tierney had complained to prison authorities about what Paey had revealed to the journalist.”

At the same time, medical staff at the prison told Paey they had been denied permission to refill the morphine pump attached to his wheelchair. For several weeks Paey lived under “the equivalent of a death sentence” -- actually, something much worse, given the unbearable agony he confronted if the morphine were to be cut off – before the prescription was filled literally hours before his pump ran dry.

Last week, Florida's Second District Court of Appeals refused to overturn Paey's sentence, insisting that while the sentence was manifestly unjust, the proper course would be to appeal to outgoing Florida Governor Jeb Bush for executive clemency.

Mercy is for the privileged: Noelle Bush, daughter of Florida Governor Jeb Bush, was arrested and charged with an offense similar to the one for which Richard Paey was sent to prison for 25 years. Because she was born into the royal family, Miss Bush was referred for drug treatment.

Jeb Bush's daughter Noelle, incidentally, was also found guilty of prescription tampering. She was referred to a drug treatment program.

The ruling in Paey's appeal prompted an incendiary dissent by Judge James Seals:

“I suggest that it is unusual, illogical, and unjust that Mr. Paey could conceivably go to prison for a longer stretch for peacefully but unlawfully purchasing 100 oxycodone pills from a pharmacist than had he robbed the pharmacist at knife point, stolen 50 oxycodone pills which he intended to sell to children waiting outside, and then stabbed the pharmacist.”

But Judge Seals is making a category error here by assuming that the purpose of the law in proto-Soviet America is to punish crimes against persons and property. An armed robber behaving as Seals describes, after all, would not be defying the power of the State. This is why the State wouldn't deposit the entire weight of its coercive apparatus on the back of that criminal, as it did in dealing with Richard Paey.

Point of Personal Privilege

Last week I received several donations from some incredibly generous people. You know who you are, and I intend to thank you individually, but for the record, I want to let you -- and my other readers -- know how deeply grateful I am. The help was timely and very much appreciated. God bless you.

On a less pleasant subject:

I really don't want to return to the subject of my termination by the JBS, but numerous inquiries received during the past couple of weeks -- and the increasingly bizarre stories that are being told about me -- make it necessary for me to clarify some important points.

Point one: I did not quit. I was involuntarily terminated.

Point two: At no time subsequent to my termination was I approached by JBS leadership to open "negotiations" with a view to bringing me back on the staff. Various third parties have offered to act as intermediaries in such discussions, but none of those overtures was made on behalf of JBS leadership.

Point three: I have not been sued by anyone for anything I have written here or anywhere else.

One reader informed me this morning that his local coordinator "asked his boss how the `negotiations' were going on to get you back. He was told that those had ceased as you had now gone off and gotten yourself sued.... He said that the JBS legal staff did not want to consider hiring you now since it would bring all kinds of legal ramifications on them as well."

There is not a molecule of truth to that account. Furthermore, the official letter of termination I received on October 3 says nothing about concerns over the
"legal ramifications" of what I've written here; had such concerns existed, they would certainly have been mentioned in that letter, or in the conversation I had with the JBS CEO on the previous day.

The official reason I was fired, as explicitly described in the October 3 letter from JBS CEO Art Thompson, was my refusal to take down this personal blog, apologize for everything I have written herein, and submit everything I write or say in public to JBS leadership for pre-approval. That refusal, according to the letter of termination, constituted a breach of "responsibility to [my] employer."

I've used this blog to tell the truth as I've been given wisdom to understand it. This was unacceptable to my former employer, which now apparently expects its field staffers (who, it must be said, are not privy to the relevant details) to retail untruths about the reasons I was fired.

Since the people I'm referring to are friends, I hope I'm wrong in that perception. However, given the extent to which the misrepresentations have been circulated, I'm left without a suitable alternative explanation.

Members and staffers of the JBS who want to learn more about this should contact me directly at

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Way We Are Now: A Brief Photo Essay

I'm grappling with a really nasty strain of the flu today, and will probably be back later with a more substantial offering. Until then, I present the following for discussion:

A typical scene from "liberated" Baghdad.

The feet belong to Jose Padilla, the Chicago gang-banger designated an "enemy combatant" and tortured for the better part of his three and a half year detention; the guys in Imperial Stormtrooper drag are getting ready to haul Padilla to the dentist. Bear in mind that the purpose of the detention was not to protect the public, but to force Padilla to become an informant/agent provocateur.

Here's the explanation provided for this award-winning photo captured by a Collegiate journalist:

"A member of the Durham Police Department Selective Enforcement Team escorts a child to use the bathroom after serving a search warrant at a suspected drug house. Working closely with the police department's Gang Units, SET is responsible for making high-risk entries into dwellings to serve search warrants. Gang Unit Two made two controlled buys, or drug purchases, from the home with the help of an informant, giving them probable cause for a search warrant. Even if a raid doesn't turn up anything, presence and show of force sends a hard message to the neighborhood that gang and drug activity will not be tolerated."

(Thanks to Andrew Sullivan and Radley Balko for the photos, and to Clyde Wilson of Chronicles for the borrowed title.)

Friday, December 8, 2006

Three Men

“He died trying to save his family.”

It is impossible for human hands to compose a nobler or more honorable epitaph.

Two weeks ago I was only dimly aware of the late James Kim, senior editor for the on-line tech journal CNET, and former contributor to the now-defunct Tech TV cable network. Like many others, I followed wire service accounts of the search for Kim and his family – wife Kati, and daughters Penelope (4) and Sabine (seven months) – after they got lost in the forbidding, snow-bound wilderness of southwestern Oregon during a return trip to their home in San Francisco.

James was not with Kati and the children when they were found alive last Monday. After spending a week stranded in the family's station wagon, James had made the desperate choice to strike out in search of help.

Wearing only street clothes to protect him from the pitiless winter conditions, Kim managed to traverse more than ten miles before collapsing in a shallow creek. That trek followed seven days with his family in their station wagon, which had become stuck on a road made impassable by a severe winter storm. Bear Camp Road was supposed to be closed to traffic, but vandals had destroyed the padlock on the gate that would otherwise have prevented the Kim family from taking their tragic wrong turn.

Marooned without cellphone coverage and with a tiny supply of bottled water and snack food, James and his family used the station wagon as a shelter, melting snow and eventually burning the tires for heat. After the food ran out, Kati was able to nurse the children.

After waiting several days for rescue, James made the decision – a mistaken one, as it turns out, but it was not for that reason the wrong one – to set off on foot for the town of Galice, which he erroneously thought was only four or five miles away. He collapsed roughly a mile away from a well-stocked fishing lodge, and had only been dead for a matter of hours when rescue workers located his body.

“He’s the most tenacious man- seven days in his car and hiked that many miles to get help for his wife and two little ones,” commented Jackson County Deputy Grant Forman, who had been part of the search. “With everything going on in the world, you have a man who will do everything to save his family. It’s just amazing. I don't think he gave up until he died.”

“He was very motivated – he traveled a long way,” observed Josephine County Undersheriff Bill Anderson.

While understandably devastated by Kim's death, his professional associates were not surprised by the self-sacrificing tenacity he displayed in trying to save his wife and daughters, because he had made it clear – in ways both large and small – that nothing was more important to him than his family.

I know nothing of James Kim's religious convictions, if any, nor do I know – or care – about his politics. This much, however, I know:

There is a quality of will inscribed in a father's heart by his Creator, a determination to protect those he loves at whatever price to himself. This essential quality of soul will impel a man to see his body broken before he will yield and admit defeat.

That defining trait of true manliness was displayed by James Kim, a bespectacled Gadget Geek who exhibited none of the stigmata of comic book machismo. May God grant comfort to Kim's wife and daughters, and may we honor Kim's memory for reminding us, albeit in such heart-rending fashion, of what it truly means to be a man.

Two days ago I had been shamefully ignorant of the life and martyrdom of Franz Jagerstater, an Austrian peasant patriot who was beheaded by his country's Nazi-dominated government in August 1943 for refusing to serve in the armies of the Reich. An unassuming man of an unremarkable background, Jagerstatter was a sacristan at his local church and a self-taught poet. Through weekly visits to the modestly appointed local library, he had “a ringside seat to the discussions, arguments, discourse and monologues of dialecticians, ethicists, orators and poets of the ages,” writes Justine Nicholas, who teaches English at the City University of New York. “He internalized their teachings, along with those he gleaned from the Bible, which he had committed to heart.”

Jagerstatter, like all Austrian men, was subject to conscription following the Anschluss. From October 1940 to April 1941, he served in the army, albeit not at the front. After a year at home with his wife and three daughters, he was called up once again, but this time, recalls Nicholas, he refused, “asserting that Hitler's regime went against the best of what he had read and experienced in life.”

He was arrested and interrogated by dutiful public servants who couldn't refute his arguments (which astonished them, coming as they did from the mouth of an unschooled peasant) but insisted that his duty was to power, not to conscience.

To fight on behalf of the Reich, Jagerstatter believed, “was a matter of personal guilt and serious sin,” observes one biographer.

“It is very sad to hear again and again from Catholics that this war, waged by Germany, is perhaps not so unjust because it will wipe out Bolshevism,” he wrote in 1942. “It is true that at present most of our soldiers are stuck in the worst Bolshevist country, and simply want to make harmless and defenseless the people who live there and defend themselves. But now a question: what are they fighting in [that] country – Bolshevism or the Russian people? When our Catholic missionaries went to a pagan country to make them Christians did they advance with machine guns and bombs in order to convert and improve them?... If we look back a little into history, we note almost the same thing again and again: If a conqueror attacks another country with war, they have not normally invaded the country to improve people or even perhaps give them something, but usually to get something for themselves. If we fight the Russian people, we will get much from that country which is of use to us here. If one were merely fighting Bolshevism, these other things – minerals, oil wells or good farmland – would not be a factor.”

Transpose those remarks into a slightly different key, and they would apply just as well to the Bu'ushist crusade against “Islamo-Fascism.”

Despite taking an oath of loyalty to the Fuhrer at the time of his forced induction, Jagerstatter “stubbornly refuses for personal reasons to fulfill his patriotic duty in Germany's hard struggle for survival,” wrote a military investigator shortly before the death sentence was carried out. Those “personal reasons” were Jagerstatter's sober and binding moral convictions, chief among them the belief that no government or ruler has the right to re-write the moral law to suit his corrupt whims.

Like his perspicuous critique of the true motives behind Germany's supposed “struggle for survival,” Jagerstatter's condemnation of Adolf Hitler's claim to be the Great and Glorious Decider for the entire Reich has contemporary resonance as well.

“Who dares to assert that among the Germany people in this war only one person bears the responsibility?” he asked of those who insisted that once their Fuhrer spoke, the thinking had been done. “What Catholic can dare say that these raids which Germany has carried out in several countries, and is still carrying out, constitute a just and holy war?... If the Church stays silent in the face of what is happening, what difference would it make if no church were ever opened again?”

Condemned to death for “sedition,” Jagerstatter was visited by his local Catholic bishop, who advised him to suppress his conscience in order to survive and live a “Godly” life after the war. Despite his desire to live and be reunited with his wife and daughters, Jagerstatter wasn't willing to surrender that which made him a man – his freedom to obey God's law – in order to live as a serf.

“When a leader allows himself to break the rules of humanity, it is the duty of every citizen to break the leader's rules,” he wrote. He recognized that he could “change nothing in world affairs,” but understood that his doomed resistance would be “at least a sign that not everyone let themselves be carried away with the tide.”

A man is not a cork carried haplessly on the eddies and currents of contemporary opinion, but a firm and immovable rock that the stream must accommodate. Jagerstatter was rock-like in his composure as he was led to the gallows, and he left an impression on those who witnessed his matrtyrdom. Father Jochmann, the priest who was with the condemned Christian patriot in the hours prior to execution, commented later that Franz Jagerstatter was the only saint he had ever met.

Sgt. Ricky Clousing was a “partier and snowboarder” in High School before having a conversion experience that convinced him that “God had a different plan for me.” Attending a local Presbyterian church in Washington as a teenager, he went on four mission trips to Mexico and was on an evangelical mission in Thailand through Youth With a Mission when the Towers Fell on Black Tuesday.

Like thousands of men his age, Clousing enlisted in the military after 9-11, eventually becoming a “human intelligence collector” -- that is, an interrogator – with the 82 Airborne. He spent four months in Baghdad and Mosul interrogating “insurgents” corralled by American troops. His experiences in Iraq, as well as his study of the origins and conduct of the Iraq war, left him convinced that the invasion and occupation constitute a monumental offense against God's law and our Constitution.

Sgt. Clousing “said he saw American soldiers shoot and kill an unarmed Iraqi teenager, and rode in an Army Humvee that sideswiped Iraqi cars and shot at an old man's sheep for fun – both incidents [he] reported to his superiors,” summarized a New York Times account. “He said his work as an interrogator led him to conclude that the occupation was creating a cycle of anti-American resentment and violence.”

After returning to Ft. Bragg, Sgt. Clousing described his objections to his superiors. He was sent for counseling to a chaplain, who recited the familiar statist catechism – Bible citations referring to war, orphaned from their context and conscripted to serve the cynical interests of the ruling elite. He was sent to a psychologist who informed him that he could be discharged from the military if he took the “Corporal Klinger” route – feigning insanity or homosexuality.

Clousing, who hadn't been looking for a way out of the military and wasn't interested in lying, was offended by that advice. And because he doesn't object to all warfare in principle, Clousing couldn't file for conscientious objector status. (Like countless millions who oppose the Iraq war – myself among them – Clousing supports the right of armed self-defense.)

When the order came to re-deploy to Iraq, Clousing chose not to show up for duty. Fourteen months later he turned himself in to military authorities at Fort Lewis. A court-martial in August found Clousing guilty of being AWOL, and sentenced him to eleven months in jail.

Before he surrendered for trial, many of Clousing's church friends rebuked him for refusing to re-deploy, insisting “God established government and we're supposed to be submitting to authorities, and by me leaving it's rebelling against the authority that God established,” he recalled. “Their politics has infiltrated their religion so much, they can't see past their politics.”

Those who reflexively disgorge this summary of Romans 13 misrepresent the single most important principle revealed therein: All authority comes from God, and thus can only be used on behalf of Godly objectives. This means that no ruler or leader has the authority to command us to support or carry out innately un-Godly actions – such as aggressive war waged on behalf of patent lies.

Clousing, 24, understands this truth and had the courage to uphold it at the cost of imprisonment, and in defiance of the advice he received from both friends and clergy.

Different as they are from each other, James Kim, Franz Jagerstattler, and Ricky Clousing all displayed glorious, principled intransigence in the face of insurmountable circumstances.

There are times when a man, in order to be a man, simply has to say “no” -- as in, “No – I will not let my family freeze to death without doing anything I can to save them,” or “No – I will not be complicit in an illegal war of aggression” -- and stick with that answer irrespective of the cost.