Conventional collectivist created authority is a deception in consciousness. You are your own Authority!

Friday, December 19, 2014

It’s about time

For years now I’ve been lamenting out loud: Why Can’t I Go to Cuba?  Why? Why is the US Still Persecuting Cuba after nearly 53 long years? I can go to China, Vietnam, Russia, Cambodia, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea; just about every other communist or authoritarian hell hole on Earth, except Cuba, a tiny island nation that presents no threat to my country whatsoever.  

Well, now at last it appears that I just might soon be allowed by my government to go to Cuba at least once before I die. Perhaps President Obama has been listening to me. Do you think? OK, probably not, but this week he announced that the United States is poised to begin normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba.
It’s about time.

At long last, we’re going to open a U.S. embassy in Havana and start loosening some of the draconian embargo restrictions that have crushed the Cuban people economically and frustrated most American citizens for more than half a century. We can all thank Pope Francis for his help, and we finally have something to thank President Obama for.  After six years in office he got something right.

"Today, the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba," declared the President. "Neither the American nor Cuban people are well served by a rigid policy that's rooted in events that took place before most of us were born."
"We have to learn the art of living together with our differences in a civilized way," Cuban President Castro said in Havana.

It appears, however, that the only dissenters are the disgruntled Cuban-American politicians who still hold a grudge against the Fidel Castro for overthrowing the corrupt ultra right wing Batista government in 1959 and installing communism Russian style in Cuba. They’ve vowed to block Obama’s plans.      
"This Congress is not going to lift the embargo," Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida declared. He has a personal grudge against the Castro’s because his parents fled Cuba to get away from him. "I intend to use every tool at our disposal in the majority to unravel as many of these changes as possible."
"It invites dictatorial and rogue regimes to use Americans serving overseas as bargaining chips" said New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, who thinks the move will set back efforts to bring democracy to Cuba.
Of course, that’s complete nonsense. The Cuban embargo has been a total failure in bringing about democracy for the Cuban people. The restrictions have served only to soothe the feelings of disgruntled Cuban American exiles while punishing the Cuban people and average Americans for no good reason.
I have news for senator Rubio: The cold war is over. We have diplomatic relations with many communist countries. It’s long past the time to start mending fences with our Cuban neighbors. The U.S. lost the lives of more than 50,000 soldiers in the Vietnam War; none in Cuba. Yet today we have normal diplomatic relations with communist Vietnam but still not with Cuba. It’s absurd.
While the President has the authority to begin normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba and make it somewhat easier for some Americans to visit the island, still Congress is going to have to pass legislation to lift the strict embargo laws before average Americans like you or me can finally go to Cuba. It’s not fair but at least my government is finally starting to move in the right direction.
Meanwhile, church bells rang out Wednesday afternoon in Havana and tearful celebrations erupted in the streets of the island after President Raul Castro announced the news in a televised address. Many happy Cubans in the audience threw kisses to Obama and hugged each other. Is there any doubt that the Cuban people want this? Not in my mind.
In Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood angry debates erupted between groups of younger demonstrators who said they supported the move and older protestors who were opposed. More than half of Cuban-Americans surveyed in Miami recently support an end to the embargo and a solid majority of them also favor restoring diplomatic relations with Havana.
George Davila told CNN en EspaƱol that the time for change has come. "I represent a generation of Cubans who are very interested in the future of Cuba. We think that the best days for Cuba have yet to come. And we think that in the end, the Cuban people need to stop being pieces in a game of chess," he explained.

I couldn’t agree more... It’s about time. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

If Enhanced Interrogation is not Torture...

My last post discussed the reasons why, in my opinion, Bush & Chaney Should Be Behind Bars today for the crimes they committed against captured suspected terrorist detainees following the infamous World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks of September 11, 2001. They’re the culprits who authorized the CIA to conduct a top secret program involving so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” for the purpose of gleaning information from the captives.

In short, according to the recently released Senate report concerning the matter, President George W. Bush and his Vice President Dick Chaney illegally authorized the U.S. government to abuse and torture captured prisoners.

Oh, no they didn’t! scream the many pundits and politicians who defend the use of enhanced interrogation procedures on prisoners. First of all, they insist that the enhanced interrogation techniques carried out by the CIA, which included, among many other brutal practices, water boarding, for example, is not torture. Enhanced interrogation is legal, they say; it’s necessary; it saved many lives; it’s effective; and it works. 

In the same breath, however, these defenders of enhanced interrogation uniformly maintain that the Senate should not have released the report about it. Because that report is going to seriously endanger the lives of Americans, they warn. It’s going to make America look bad in the eyes of the rest of the world. It’s going to cause our enemies to become even angrier at Americans and thereby increase the likelihood of more terror attacks. And, oh yes, we’re not going to do it anymore?

But if the enhanced interrogation techniques, which were authorized by Bush and Chaney, and carried out by the CIA upon captive suspects in the so called War on Terror, is not torture... then intentional infliction of physical pain and suffering upon a person by the authorities for the purpose of coercion, i.e., to extract vital  information or a confession, for example, is not torture, a conclusion which flies in the face of the very definition of the word “torture.” Calling torture “enhanced interrogation” is simply calling torture by another name.

To be sure, the enhanced interrogation methods employed by the CIA and authorized by Bush and Chaney consisted of a lot more than simply the interrogators raising their voice during the questioning. It was a lot more than subjecting them to the 3rd degree as it were. It was punching and slapping them; throwing them against concrete walls; drowning them to near death; and in some cases even killing them. I’ll spare you the rest of the gory details which you can read for yourself in the report.

If all of that is not torture... 

What then is the law that allows it? The defenders never cite any law.

Why isn’t it lawful and proper to conduct the same enhanced interrogation methods on domestic criminal suspects? If the cops want to know who the accomplices of a kidnapping or bank robber suspect are, for example, why not employ a few enhanced interrogation methods on the detainee to get that important information by coercion? It’s legal; it’s necessary; it saves lives; it’s effective; and it works, doesn’t it?

Why can’t we Americans use enhanced interrogation methods as a lawful and proper means to discipline our children? After all, it’s not torture, right? Isn’t it perfectly OK to use a little physical pain and suffering to make our kids better citizens if it works? Spare the rod and spoil the child, right? That’s what the Bible says.

Why didn’t Americans use the exact same enhanced interrogation methods on the German and Japanese prisoners of war during WWII? If such methods are lawful and proper, shouldn’t it have been routinely done during that horrible war when our country truly was in dire danger? The Japs and the Germans were using it on Americans. Why didn’t we do it to them?

Why does Senator John McCain, who suffered terribly from the same kind of enhanced interrogation methods as a POW at the hands of our Viet Cong enemies during the Vietnam War call it torture if it’s not torture? If anyone should know what torture is its John McCain and he calls what Bush and Chaney authorized torture, plain and simple.

If it’s not torture, then why do the defenders argue that the report about it should not have been released? Why should it endanger American lives any more than our lives are endangered now unless it reveals something about our government that is really bad; something for which all Americans should be ashamed?

If it’s not torture, then why should the report make America look bad in the eyes of world opinion? Why should it make our enemies angrier at us than they already are? Why are we not going to do it anymore if it’s not torture?  What’s the problem if it didn’t reveal that laws were violated and our nation should be ashamed?

Obviously, there is no reason for the defenders to be alarmed if indeed enhanced interrogation is not torture. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bush & Chaney Should Be Behind Bars

Former President of the United States, George W. Bush, and his Vice President, Dick Chaney, are criminals of the worst sort. They, along with their CIA operatives, should both be paying the price for their numerous crimes behind bars.

That’s not to say that Bush, Chaney and their government CIA thugs should be tortured. Even those criminals convicted of the most heinous of crimes should not be tortured. The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution forbids torture whether before or after a conviction of crime: “Amendment VIII -- Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

At a minimum, George Bush and Dick Chaney violated the United States Constitution by authorizing the CIA to torture suspected terrorist detainees. Had any of these detainees actually been convicted of terrorism the American Constitution and laws would forbid any form of torture as a means of punishment. Torture by definition is cruel and unusual punishment.

Bush and Chaney authorized torture before trial – a means of punishment which is forbidden even after a trial and conviction of crime. In the aftermath of the 9/11/01 terror attack they authorized and now contend that it was perfectly proper and lawful for their government CIA henchmen to brutally torture captured suspected terrorist detainees.

Today, in fact, a totally defiant and smirking Dick Chaney adamantly insisted to Fox News anchor, Bret Baier, that if given the chance he would do it exactly the same way all over again.  

Bush and Chaney specifically authorized the CIA "to do whatever it takes" to prevent another attack on the scale of Sept. 11, 2001. Whatever it takes included subjecting the prisoners to water boarding sessions, weeks of sleep deprivation, slapping and slamming them against walls, confining them to small boxes, keeping them isolated for prolonged periods and threatening them with death.

CIA personnel, aided by two outside contractors, authorized by Bush and Chaney, decided to initiate a program of indefinite secret detention and the use of brutal interrogation techniques in violation of U.S. law, treaty obligations, and our values, concludes a U.S. Senate report released this week. “... the conditions of confinement and the use of authorized and unauthorized interrogation and conditioning techniques were cruel, inhuman, and degrading... the evidence of this is overwhelming and incontrovertible,” it concludes.

Some of the captives received "rectal rehydration," a form of feeding through the rectum. Others got "ice baths." CIA thugs threatened harm to their children, sexual abuse to their mothers, or slitting the throat of their loved ones. Internal CIA records describe the water boarding of Khalid Shaykh Mohammad, for example, as evolving into a "series of near drownings.

The water boarding technique was physically harmful, inducing convulsions and vomiting. Abu Zubaydah became "completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth." The CIA instructed personnel that his interrogation would take "precedence" over his medical care, resulting in the deterioration of a bullet wound incurred during his capture.

Sleep deprivation involved keeping detainees awake for up to 180 hours, usually standing or in stress positions, at times with their hands shackled above their heads. At least five detainees experienced disturbing hallucinations during prolonged sleep deprivation and, in at least two of those cases, the CIA nonetheless continued the sleep deprivation. One interrogator told another detainee that he would never go to court, because "we can never let the world know what I have done to you."

The chief of interrogations described one facility as a "dungeon." Another senior CIA officer admitted that the facility was itself an enhanced interrogation technique. Detainees were kept in complete darkness and constantly shackled in isolated cells with loud noise or music and only a bucket to use for human waste. One detainee died from the severe cold conditions while shackled nude in his cell.

Prisoners were walked around naked or shackled with their hands above their heads for extended periods of time. Some were subjected to a "rough takedown," in which approximately five CIA goons would scream at and drag them outside of his cell, cut his clothes off, and secure him with Mylar tape. The victim would then be hooded and dragged up and down a long corridor while being slapped and punched.

“Prior to the initiation of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program and throughout the life of the program, the legal justifications for the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques relied on the CIA's claim that the techniques were necessary to save lives,” concludes the report. The report also concludes that the torture program was “ineffective” for that purpose.

I say that even if the torture scheme did save some lives, (a dubious claim at best), still it could never be justified under any circumstances. If the law justifies torture if the infliction of torture can save lives, then all criminal suspects can be tortured as a means of saving lives. If the government can find excuses to torture suspected terrorists it can just as well find excuses to torture any suspect.

They flouted the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America. They tortured human beings, and for that reason alone...

Bush & Chaney Should Be Behind Bars

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Fatty

The fattest man in the world died of pneumonia last week. Keith Martin was 44 years old, weighed 980 pounds and reached that dubious record by voluntarily consuming 20,000 calories every day. Not surprisingly, he was also unemployed spending his days in bed playing video games and watching TV.

His excuse: “I was depressed.”

“I started eating to ease the pain, and before I knew it, I was bingeing every time something upset me,” Martin said in a documentary about his life before he died. “I’ve always been depressed. I am an agoraphobic— I’m afraid of public places— but it was never treated... I just want to be happy, without needing food to make me happy.”

Martin’s typical daily diet consisted of six fried eggs as a first course for breakfast, followed by lunches and dinners featuring pizza’s kebabs, Big Macs and lots of other kinds of takeout fast food. He washed it all down with 3.5 liters of coffee and 2 liters of carbonated drinks.

To say that this man exhibited a severe eating disorder would amount to a gross understatement.

“Keith, like many people, had some emotional issues, and he turned to food for comfort,” explained his doctor, Kesava Mannur. “That type of behavior is nothing new, but what is new is how easy it is for people in that situation to buy a lot of cheap food,”

The doctor’s proposed solution: The British government should impose a fast-food tax to help the morbidly obese.

Leave it to the deluded statists of this world to come up with a bird brained idea like that. This doctor actually thinks that his patient would not have become morbidly obese if only the collective would have taxed everyone for eating at fast food restaurants. The responsible people should pay for the irresponsible people’s problems. The skinny guy should sacrifice for the fatty.

Now, I do sympathize with people like Keith Martin. There are far too many folks like him today. I feel sorry for them, but the reality of the matter is that they’re doing it to themselves. It’s their fault. They alone are responsible for their depression; their morbid obesity; their wasted lives, and finally their own demise. They got where they are by being irresponsible.

Martin and the rest of the morbidly obese should have rejected the stagnant philosophy of statism and embraced the life enhancing philosophy of libertarianism. He should have learned how to love himself. He needed a healthy dose of self esteem. With that he would have realized that he alone was responsible for his life. Personal responsibility is the hallmark of libertarianism.

This may seem insensitive, but had he taken personal responsibility for his depression and obesity he would have looked in the mirror long ago and called himself “fatty.” The people around him who knew and loved him should have called him “fatty.” What they definitely should not have done was enable him by bringing him Big Mac’s with which to stuff his fat face. Strangers on the street should have called him “fatty,” and he would probably still be alive today enjoying himself and weighing far less than half a ton.

There is no excuse for becoming morbidly obese. I can speak from my own personal experience. That’s how I know. Once in my early 40’s I allowed myself to bloat out to 210 pounds. It was disgusting. My waist size exceeded 40 inches. I looked in the mirror and called myself “fatty.” Why? Because I was getting fat, that’s why. And I sure didn’t want to become obese.

I was a libertarian then and the first thing I did about it was to take personal responsibility for my problem. I was “Mr. Fatty” and it was solely my responsibility to do something about it. So I went on the Atkins diet and followed it meticulously. In my mind while eating every meal I called myself “fatty.” I started exercising on a treadmill and each time while doing that I called myself “fatty.” I kept telling myself how disgusting it was to be obese and how it was my own stupid fault. I purposely shamed myself for my own good. I quickly lost 55 pounds.

Learn how to love yourself. Be scrupulously honest with yourself. Accept the reality of existence. You can control it. That’s how to stop overeating, quit smoking, and avoid becoming an alcoholic. It’s the solution to any addiction. If I can do it, anyone can. Keith Martin could have done it. He should have done it. It was solely his responsibility to do it.

The morbidly obese should be the first ones to call themselves: “fatty.”

Thursday, December 4, 2014

What do the facts and reality have to do with it? II

I took some heat from my fellow libertarian friends last week over my post: “What do the facts and reality have to do with it?” I concluded that the Ferguson Mo. grand jury correctly determined from all the evidence presented that there was insufficient probable cause to indict white police officer Darren Wilson for any crime stemming from the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown.

Wilson shot Brown in self defense. That was the reality of the matter. But there are lots of folks, including those who looted and burned several buildings and businesses after the decision, who weren’t interested in the facts and the reality of what happened and why it happened.

They wanted Wilson indicted for murder. They wanted him put on trial. And I suspect that even if he were eventually acquitted at a trial because the case against him surely could not have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, there would have been just as much if not more looting and burning from the angry mob.  

Now, my instincts are just like many of my libertarian colleagues. I don’t trust cops. I’m skeptical of their motives. I think that generally speaking today’s cops too often tend to use excessive force in the line of duty. Cops are far less likely to use restraint nowadays. They tend to exhibit an attitude of do violence first and ask questions later. Some of them think their badge is a license to do unjustified harm.

But I try hard to never allow my instincts to override my better judgment when confronted with the facts and reality of a situation. Reality always rules over emotion. What is the reality?  It’s always a mistake to draw conclusions from a kneejerk response to an event like the shooting in Ferguson Mo.

Today I saw the video of the NY City police confrontation last July with Eric Garner, a black man who was resisting arrest for selling loose cigarettes on the street. Police officer Daniel Pantaleo along with several other cops took Garner down to the sidewalk with a choke hold. Pantaleo continued choking Garner even after he said he couldn’t breathe.

In short, Pantaleo choked Garner to death. The coroner ruled the death a homicide. Choke holds are specifically designated as against police department policy. Pantaleo testified that he didn’t intend to kill Garner. A grand jury found no cause to indict Pantaleo for any crime.

In fairness to this cop I will accept his testimony as true. He probably didn’t intend to kill Garner or do him great bodily harm. However, he was clearly using excessive force to affect the arrest. At a minimum then, this cop should have been indicted on a charge of negligent homicide, if not involuntary manslaughter.   

This case is far more compelling on the issue of whether an indictment was proper than the facts presented in the Ferguson Mo. case. Panatela had no good reason to put Garner in a continuing choke hold. That is the reality of the matter. But as far as the NY City grand jury was concerned:


What do the facts and the reality have to do with it? 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Seduction is not Rape, Part 2

In my August 30, 2013 post, “Seduction is not Rape,” I reviewed a case in which a 49-year-old male teacher who seduced his 14-year-old student was convicted of rape.

“Now, make no mistake about it; what he did was clearly wrong; a crime; a disgusting, unethical despicable act deserving substantial punishment,” I wrote, “but it was not rape. Those who call it rape are disingenuously engaged in redefining a word in the English language which means something entirely different than what happened to that girl. In doing so, they commit a disservice to women and girls who have actually been raped. This is a case of seduction and seduction is not rape. Rape requires the necessary element of force or coercion. It is the crime of forcing another person against their will to submit to sex acts.”

In that case the “victim” consented to the sexual acts. The teacher seduced her. There was no force involved. But the law arbitrarily specified that a minor does not have the mental capacity to consent to sex. So the force necessary to make the act a crime was implied from the arbitrary designation of a lack of consent – a legal fiction. The law provided that she couldn’t consent under any circumstances. If she couldn’t consent then she didn’t consent, and if she didn’t consent then it follows that she had to have been forced.  

He didn’t rape that girl. Rape is the crime of forcing another person to submit to sexual acts. He seduced her. Calling seduction rape is like calling negligent homicide murder. Murder requires, among other things, the element of intent to kill, an element that is totally lacking in the crime of negligent homicide. To arbitrarily infer the element of intent to kill from negligence serves only to pervert the definition of murder.

The definition of rape is perverted by inferring the necessary element of force from the fact that the victim is a minor. The crime of seduction of a minor is far less serious than the crime of rape, but by calling seduction rape the law employs a fiction for the purpose of making the two crimes seem to be of equal import.

Today, a New Jersey lawmaker wants to take the legal fiction a step further down the road to absurdity by criminalizing what he calls the act of “rape by fraud.”  Sex by fraud is already defined as a crime in at least five states, including California and Tennessee.

That’s right. If a grown man lies to a grown woman in order to talk her into having sex, he’s a rapist according to New Jersey Assemblyman Troy Singleton, D-Burlington. In short, he thinks that the fraud amounts to the force necessary for the commission of the crime of rape.

“I truly believe that we have to look at the issue of rape as more than sexual contact without consent,” Singleton explains. “Fraud invalidates any semblance of consent, just as forcible sexual contact does. This legislation is designed to provide our state's judiciary with another tool to assess situations where this occurs and potentially provide a legal remedy to those circumstances.”

It happens all the time. A guy tells a woman he loves her. He lies. He really doesn’t love her; he just wants to get in her pants and it works. If lawmaker Singleton has his way with the legislature, the guy will be convicted as a rapist.


That is absurd. Why? ... Because seduction is not rape. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What do the facts and reality have to do with it?

The headline for the lead news story in RRND today reads: “MO: Grand jury gives cop killer a pass.” Obviously, the author of that headline thinks that the cop who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri on August 9, 2014 is a murderer who got off scot free for the crime.

Sadly, that’s also the inevitable conclusion of a lot of folks, many of whom took to the streets yesterday after the grand jury decision was announced to burn buildings and loot businesses.

Officer Wilson is a murderer, they insist. He shot to death in the street an innocent unarmed black teenager for no good reason. There is no justice. That cop deserved to be prosecuted and convicted no matter what the evidence.

What do the facts and reality have to do with it, they reckon?

Facts, evidence, reason, logic, truth -- the entire reality of existence go flying out the window in situations like this when otherwise intelligent human beings experience a knee jerk emotional reaction to an event. White cop shoots black teenager equals murder no matter what the reality.

Well, that simple equation just doesn’t add up in this case. Because now the world knows what really happened in Ferguson on that fateful day. Now we know the facts. We know why the grand jury, which included three blacks, decided unanimously after carefully considering all the facts that there was insufficient evidence to charge Officer Wilson with any crime.

First off, the whole world knew even long before the grand jury was convened, that Michael Brown was no innocent teenager. Just moments before his death, this kid did a strong armed robbery at a convenience store. It’s all on video tape for everyone to see. 

I saw it. He brazenly walked into the store, grabbed a handful of cigars, turned to leave without paying for them, and used physical force to intimidate the clerk on his way out the door. Michael Brown was a criminal, a thug, a thief, and a robber beyond any doubt.

As Brown and a companion were walking down the middle of the street just seconds after committing the crime, he was confronted by Officer Wilson in his police car. Wilson was aware that Brown fit the description of the robber. He told Brown to stop, called for backup, and attempted to detain Brown while waiting for assistance to make an arrest.

Brown walked up to the car and started a physical altercation, punching Wilson several times in the face and grabbing for his gun. Wilson fired two shots, one of them striking Brown’s hand. Brown then ran off. Wilson exited his car and ordered Brown to stop. That is when Brown – all six feet four inches and nearly 300 pounds of him -- turned around and charged Wilson like a raging bull. Wilson, by now in mortal fear of his life shot Brown dead.

The physical evidence gathered and reviewed in scrupulous detail by the forensic scientists and experts backed up Officer Wilson’s account of the event. Several other eye witnesses also corroborated the forensic evidence. Brown was not just an innocent black teenager shot down dead in the street for no good reason. Brown was a thug and Wilson shot him in self defense after he resisted arrest and tried to assault him.

Those are the facts. That is the reality. It’s why Michael Brown is dead. Officer Wilson committed no crime.


But to some people Officer Wilson should be fried; the facts and reality have nothing to do with it.