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

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Politics & Filthy Lucre

Political and religious chaos in Egypt is the big world news of the day. There is rioting and violence in the streets. Social order is imploding and it looks like the nation is coming apart at the seams. If that sounds familiar it’s because this sort of turmoil and civil unrest is always happening somewhere in the world. It’s always frustrating and sad beyond words for the millions of innocent people involved.

Even the great imperial United States of America, which shamelessly prides itself as the most perfect political union in the history of mankind, is by no means immune. We’ve had our share of Civil War and plenty of other ongoing civil strife from the beginning.

People using politics and religion as clubs to force their will upon others is the curse of human civilization. As long as politics and religion, two sides of the same historical coin, are used to take financial or social advantage, there will be violence and unrest.

To the victors go the spoils: that’s always the problem. But imagine a civilization in which religions were matters of private individual conscience, and politics could not generate spoils. Remove the potential for tyranny and avarice from government and the motive for most political violence and civil unrest would simply vanish.

That is not simply a naive and unattainable pipe-dream objective. It is precisely the nature and scope of the “more perfect union” the founders envisioned in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States. A more perfect political union, they knew from experience, requires a limited form of representative government which operates separately from religion.

The evidence for this is demonstrated plainly in those founding documents. The Declaration of Independence of 1776 reads like a laundry list of political grievances against Great Britain. It reminded King George that governments are instituted among men to secure their rights; that governments derive all their powers from the consent of the governed; and when a government becomes destructive to those ends it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.

With this expressed intent, the United States Constitution, in 1789, created three independent branches of secular government, each limited strictly to a short list of enumerated and circumscribed powers: a legislative branch to democratically determine policy; an executive branch to approve and carry it out; and a judicial branch to check it for validity and proper application.  

So far, for the most part, we have managed to avoid a theocracy, and all the tyranny that goes with them, (thanks entirely to the constant vigilance of religious minorities). The degree of politics in our lives, however, and all the spoils generated by politics, has grown to gigantic proportions over the years. Politics today is just as much a lucrative endeavor in the U.S.A., as it is anywhere in the world, including Egypt.

Both the legislative and executive branches of the United States government have stampeded right through the boundaries, trampling over individual liberty far beyond the limits of their constitutional powers, while the federal judiciary has mostly validated and rubber stamped their usurpations. People are utilizing politics more and more as a tool to force their will upon others for financial and social gain.

That is the reason behind political unrest and violence. That’s what makes people mad enough to rebel. It is not the fact that many honest successful people tend to have more stuff than others; most everyone accepts that; the anger is directed against those who have taken unfair advantage by means of government force and deception to gain undeserved wealth and power.

Among Thomas Jefferson’s long list of serious human rights violations charged against England’s King George by his cruelly abused 18th century American subjects, is this little gem, which, I think, is particularly relevant today:

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance...” 

Mind you, this was 1776. Yet it sounds just like FDR’s New Deal power grab, doesn’t it? It’s the War on Drugs, No Child Left Behind, Obama Care, TSA, DEA, ATF, FDA, IRS, and all the dozens of other three and four letter bureaucratic armed political acronyms rolled up into one, which have come to plague and bleed the American people.  Jefferson would be appalled.

Yes, it is decidedly true in so many ways that our very own loveable red, white and blue billboard icon, Uncle Sam, has become, over the last 235 years, even more the bloated irascible old tyrant than the fat, bumbling, gout infected English King he replaced.
Now, if we could only find and implement all the ways to take filthy lucre out of politics and government, we would not only avoid forever what is happening in Egypt, but our own revered and star spangled political union might indeed approach that philosophical ideal of perfection originally intended.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Reliable Justice: Must it Cost Us a Fortune?

Federal and Arizona state Investigators by the hundreds are still combing through the crime scene evidence, interrogating witnesses, examining the contents of the accused's home and past history as they seek to establish high profile air tight death penalty cases against Jared Lee Loughner for, among many assorted crimes, attempted assassination and murder in the first degree.

Tens of millions of dollars will probably be spent on this one. Decades will pass while the rusty old wheels of justice slowly turn. A trial alone could be horrendously cumbersome, expensive and last many months; the appellate process many years; but first, the prosecution must prove to the court that the defendant is even competent to stand trial; just another obstacle in a long checklist of costly and lengthy legal processes.

Is all this constitutionally necessary for reliable justice?

In a word: no.

The role of the prosecution in a criminal case is to see that justice is done; that of the judge to preside dispassionately determining what law applies; and the defense to demand proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. All Constitutional rights of the accused must be recognized at every stage. That is all as it should be. But that doesn’t mean that all efficiency and economy must be thrown out the window.

Our justice system is still mired fast in the 18th century, a time of flowing black robes, court criers, powdered wigs, and pointless mind numbing traditions and formalities. It doesn’t have to be that way. Justice is not a game of chess.

At the outset, the relevant question is always whether or not there is enough evidence to hold the accused for trial. Police must have probable cause to make an arrest. So the accused should be brought before an impartial judicial magistrate immediately, before questioning, before booking, before any incarceration, to establish the legal validity of the arrest.  

Magistrates should be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for this vital purpose. Competent defense attorney’s, who are independent from the government, should likewise be available to represent the accused within moments of the arrest.

Once the validity of the arrest is established by a showing of probable cause, the government should have the right to hold the accused or require bail for his appearance at further proceedings. Any interrogation or other direct government involvement with the accused should be subject to continuing respect for all his constitutional rights. That does not have be be burdensome or expensive.

The most relevant question in any criminal trial is whether the accused committed the crimes charged against him. That is a question of fact for a jury of his peers to decide, based upon the admissible evidence, as required by the law and the Constitution.

The Constitution does not necessarily, however, require a jury to decide such ancillary issues as the accused’s motive, mental intent, competency, sanity, degree of culpability, or punishment. All of those issues should properly be adjudicated after the trial without violating any constitutional rights. The trial should therefore come quickly, be concise, and resolve only the relevant questions of fact.

There should be no incompetency defense before or at trial.

There should be no insanity defense before or at trial.

Neither is mandated by the United States Constitution, nor are they necessary for fair administration of justice. Incompetency or insanity might properly mitigate the consequences of an act upon the actor but it does not absolve the actor of the wrong. Stupid and crazy is not a legitimate excuse.

Most pretrial matters should be handled by a motion and order process under which scheduling is flexible and a jury need not be present. Every hearing, every proceeding, every item of physical evidence, every image, sound and word of witness testimony, all proofs, as well as every ruling by the court on objections and requests should be recorded and digitalized as part of the official record of the case.

Much of this activity might take place informally and out of the courtroom. Witnesses, for example, could testify at the crime scene, or a hospital. Objections would be overruled or sustained by the court immediately, and any inadmissible evidence would be blocked from the part of the record eventually given to the jury.

After all sides have rested and the record is clean and complete, a jury would be convened to hear attorney statements and arguments in person, review only the evidence they are supposed to have, and render a verdict based solely upon that evidence. High profile trials would be over in hours instead of months; the process would be far more reliable, and less costly, while every constitutional right would still be strictly observed. A court of law need not tolerate a circus atmosphere in the courtroom.

If the verdict is not guilty, the trial is over, the jury dismissed, and the accused goes free with all his constitutional rights intact, including his rights against double jeopardy. Ancillary issues, if any, are moot.

If the verdict is guilty, the trial is likewise over, jury dismissed, and now the convict may lawfully be held for judicial sentence and disposition. Now is when all those ancillary issues mentioned above should come into play. Now the overriding question is what to do with with this convict; what is in the best interests of justice; and the protection of society; all the while strictly observing his constitutional rights?

Suppose incompetence, diminished capacity, or insanity is asserted by the convict, and/or any of a number of other possible mitigating factors. These are more or less issues of learned opinion, not fact.

Such assertions, if true, support the people’s holding the convict from the beginning anyway, and to continue holding him indefinitely, while at the same time determining where and how he should be treated, and perhaps mitigating the extent of his eventual punishment. No constitutional rights are lost by allowing the court to take such evidence into consideration in determining an appropriate sentence within reasonable parameters.

Again, most of the evidence relative to disposition might be gathered and preserved on the record outside the courtroom to minimize cost and maximize efficiency, while fully observing constitutional rights. After sentencing, the Defendant would still have all his traditional rights to appeal his conviction, sentence, or both.

There should be no death penalty. The Constitution does not mandate any particular penalties, except to say that punishment must not be cruel or unusual. While some convicts richly deserve death or worse for their crimes, and death is neither cruel nor unusual punishment, never-the-less, the whole process of putting someone to death is far too expensive, difficult to implement fairly, and there is just too much room for an error to become an irreversible injustice.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Abortion: A Rational View

As America observes the 38th anniversary of the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Ct. decision in Roe v. Wade, it is apparent that the national controversy over abortion rages on.

President Obama, speaking for the “pro-choice” side, supports the decision, calling legalized abortion a constitutional right he is committed to protecting, because it recognizes a "fundamental principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters."

But that’s ridiculous; the government intrudes on private family matters all the time. There is no such “fundamental principle.” The Constitution provides zero protection to private family matters. There are no “family rights.” The word “family” is found nowhere in that document. As a smart lawyer, and former professor of constitutional law, the president must surely know that.  

On the “pro-life” side, abortion foes are promoting their annual March for Life, taking heart in the recent realignment of congress in their favor, and confident that a national cultural shift, together with their new majority of anti-abortion state governors and state legislators, will result in far greater restrictions on the activity.

But that is equally ridiculous; because it also fails to recognize that the right to an abortion is an individual right, a right enjoyed solely in private by individuals, as a matter of private individual conscience – not a collective right. The collective, including family, may not put fundamental individual constitutional rights to a vote.  

From my own logical and rational perspective, (putting both religion and the convoluted reasoning of the Supreme Court aside), the right is grounded upon the overarching fundamental right to life, liberty and property; the same rights the nation’s founders declared “self evident” and “inalienable” in the Declaration of Independence; the individual human rights which have always existed long before the U.S. Constitution came into existence.

The individual owns herself entirely, which means her life and every cell in her living body all the time, including any male sperm deposited there, unfertilized eggs, fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses, regardless of the stage of development. As the owner of her body and everything in it, she is at liberty to stop the pregnancy process and dispose of her property as she sees fit, just as she is at liberty to have tummy tuck surgery, or for that matter, whether to have coffee or tea with her breakfast, while directing the course of her life.

To hold otherwise is to disaffirm the purpose of the Constitution, which is to preserve and protect those fundamental rights at a minimum.

Abortion is not murder. It is not the equivalent of murder. Nor is it manslaughter. It does not involve the wrongful killing of a human being. It doesn’t even violate the biblical commandment against killing. Fetuses enjoyed no rights whatsoever in antiquity. The Holy Bible doesn’t say that life begins at conception. There is nothing in the Bible about abortion. And there is nothing in the United States Constitution granting government any power to prohibit or restrict abortions.  

Of course, a fertilized egg is human. An unfertilized egg is also human. A sperm cell is human whether or not it eventually unites with an egg. A woman produces hundreds of human eggs over her reproductive lifetime. A man produces millions of human sperm cells. All are human. Most of them are discarded and left to die without much if any further development. The deaths are usually intentional too, but no one complains about the loss of all those human lives. No one cries murder. A corpse is human too, but no one would argue that a dead body is still a person entitled to constitutional rights.

The anti-abortion position insists that human life worthy of protection begins at conception, but that is an arbitrary designation. The fact is that human life is an evolving continuum which began so long ago that no one knows when. Eggs and sperm are both very much human and very much alive before they combine into a fertilized egg, therefore conception marks merely the beginning of a fertilized egg, not the beginning of human life.

Once born, the individual is a person endowed with his or her own constitutional rights. It owns itself. Birth is not an arbitrary determiner of personhood. Birth, in fact, is the natural and traditional moment in life during which the organism becomes separate from its parent, i.e. in human terms: becomes his or her own individual person. That was always so in antiquity, just as it is today. Nature aborts and discards far more human sperm, fertilized eggs, unfertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses before birth than do medically induced abortions. 

Notwithstanding this obvious reality, many social conservatives, without thinking through all the potential consequences, are demanding a so-called "right to life" constitutional amendment which would grant equal protection of the law to the unborn as "persons." Fertilized human eggs, they argue, are human beings from the moment of conception, fully entitled to all the rights and protections afforded to persons under the law.

But if an egg at any stage of development were endowed with constitutional rights before birth, such rights would necessarily conflict with the rights of its host. The implications of that are enormous. The host would become a slave to both her egg and the social collective under this thinking. She would be liable to account for the wellbeing of each egg from the moment of conception.

The government would be empowered to monitor every woman’s pregnancy from conception until birth in order to make certain that the rights of the egg were fully protected and enforced. Women would be required to report regularly to the government on the current state of their fertility. Government would be empowered to determine by force and against her will whether or not she is pregnant. Women suspected of endangering a fertilized egg would be involuntarily committed, incarcerated or prosecuted as criminals.

A fertilized egg could actually, through guardians or other representatives, sue its mother in a court of law forcing her to protect its rights before birth at the expense of her own. Expectant mothers would be told what to eat, what to drink, where to live, and what activities or personal associations are permissible or prohibited for the protection and welfare of an egg.

Every miscarriage would be the subject of a new government investigation, a coroner’s inquest, forensic autopsy, and potential criminal prosecution by the United States Pregnancy Police. Every birth defect might result in a criminal or civil cause of action against mom. The state would dictate the entire course of every pregnancy in the "best interests of the egg."  

That is one recipe for an Orwellian un-American nightmare. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Spending Cuts 101

Recent news reports tell us that some conservative members in the new congress want to cut domestic spending far more sharply even than their own Republican leaders have promised, prompting their Democratic peers to complain bitterly that such cuts would practically eviscerate government.  

Supposing the proposed cuts were actually implemented (fat chance); Big Brother would lose, among other solidly entrenched federal police employees, 4,000 FBI agents; 1,500 Drug Enforcement Agency thugs; 900 federal marshals; and 5,700 prison guards. Furthermore, Pell grants for poor students would be slashed by an average of $1,000 each; Head Start early childhood education programs would leave behind 389,000 kids; and 3,000 food safety inspectors jobs would be scrapped, say the Democrats.

My goodness, is that all?

If these so-called conservative Republican guys were truly serious, we could eliminate our enormous national debt in a heartbeat. If we simply eliminated all the rampant waste and fraud in domestic government spending, the entire federal budget deficit would disappear overnight. 

Why not cut by at least 10% or more the funding from every federal government branch, department, agency, administration, office, program, commission, and bureau? We could even eliminate some of them altogether, including such monstrosities as the Department of Homeland Security, and its dreaded TSA; the Departments of Education, Labor, Transportation, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, to name just a few of the most deserving.  

Let’s mothball NASA and all its grandiose space cadet programs, and end a few more of the most wasteful government schemes, like the National Endowment for the Arts, faith based giveaway social programs, farm subsidies, corporate bailouts, and student loans.

We should cut out and heave over the side of our great ship of state, all congressional earmarks and pork barrel projects from every piece of legislation, old and new, reduce congressional expenses and staffing by 50%, and make serving as a senator or representative in congress a part-time job. They should meet once a year for maybe a month or two to conduct official business and spend the rest of their elected time in their home districts selling used cars or doing whatever else they did before taking office, with no travel in-between.

The president should cut back hard on all White House expenses, especially his travel budget by at least 50%, so he can actually work at his oval office more often, perhaps thinking of more good ways to trim the fat out of the nation’s morbidly obese federal budget. No more unnecessary foreign excursions, expensive first family vacations to Spain, lavish presidential state dinners, black tie and tails entertainment extravaganzas, trendy Hollywood style White House parties, and crisscrossing the country excessively on Air Force One. No more imperial presidency.

While we’re at it on the domestic front, we should sell at least half of our vast government owned lands to private developers; lease a few or all of the National Parks and monuments to private profit oriented administrators; privatize the post office and the nation’s interstate highways; close a few dozen federal prisons; privatize the rest; and eliminate prison altogether as a penalty for all but the most violent criminals and hard cases.

Why should we be feeding, housing, and babysitting 24/7 petty pilferers, pot smokers, crack heads, and flimflam artists for years on end when we know they are going to get out eventually anyway? Miscreants who don’t pose a serious risk of harm to themselves or others need not be warehoused in cages and turned into hardened predators. Other far less expensive and more effective methods to deal with minor offenders and nonviolent criminals are available for the purpose of fair punishment and rehabilitation.

But why stop there with only domestic spending cuts? Why not cut the massive lard bucket out of our national defense (some might call it offense) spending too? The Department of Defense and Pentagon have bloated almost beyond recognition in recent decades. We could eliminate half or more of all the hundreds of U.S. military bases around the world and few people would even notice, aside from all the fat cats who benefit by the waste, of course.

We could reign in our huge military industrial complex; dismantle and recycle at least half or more of our ICBM’s; cut drastically our enormous arsenal of nukes, conventional weapons, military equipment, hardware, tanks, war ships, and aircraft; get out of Afghanistan and Iraq, and stop meddling militarily in the Middle East; reduce the numbers of armed services personnel by half; eliminate most foreign aid; and cease all future futile efforts to police the world.  

These few modest suggestions barely scratch the surface of all that can and should be done to cut the GDP percentage of government spending permanently down to reasonable pre WWII levels, while still preserving traditional safety nets for the poor, necessary entitlement programs for the elderly, and disadvantaged. Yes, we can keep Social Security and Medicare for those who have paid in, while phasing out gradually and privatizing it for those who have not. We have room for some responsibly administered welfare in the U.S.A. No one has to freeze or starve.

We should go back to the governmental basics of serving and protecting our once free country. As responsible individuals, we might once again enjoy the precious benefits of peace, prosperity, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness our founders intended for us.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Born Again Bigotry

"There may be some people here today who do not have living within them the Holy Spirit. But if you have been adopted in God's family like I have, and like you have if you're a Christian and if you're saved, and the Holy Spirit lives within you just like the Holy Spirit lives within me, then you know what that makes? It makes you and me brothers. And it makes you and me brother and sister.”

“If we don't have the same daddy, we're not brothers and sisters. So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother." 

Is this merely the characteristically bigoted and misguided sentiment of some ignorant backwoods preacher proselytizing from the far fringes of America’s Hillbilly Hallow, and thus, nothing much to be concerned about? Sure sounds that way, doesn’t it?

But no, these are the words of 67 year old former Baptist Church deacon, from Tuscaloosa, and freshly elected Republican governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley, spoken only moments after his inauguration, to the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church congregation on Martin Luther King Day. (Birmingham News)

So much for the spirit of separation between church and state in the great state of Alabama from the mouth of its highest elected office holder; that apparently no longer exists there (if it ever did). In fairness to Gov. Bentley, since his remarks were made in a church, perhaps he didn’t technically violate the Constitution, but he clearly demonstrated where he’s coming from and how he feels about those of us who might not share his quirky views on the subject of religion, which amounts to all but bona fide born again Christians.

Not much controversy has been generated over this incident, but imagine the uproar he might have spawned had he said something like this instead: "There may be some people here today who were not born in the U.S.A. But if you are natural born like me, and like others who are real American’s, with the blood of America in their veins, as it is within me and you if you are a real American like me, then you know what that makes? It makes you and me brother and sister. But if we don’t share the same American heritage, I’m telling you, then you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister.”

Though he took great pains while speaking with a black church congregation on MLK Day, to include people of color as his “brothers and sisters,” (presuming they’ve been saved by Jesus), I guarantee you that, given his unabashedly bigoted mindset, had he been speaking to a crowd after his governor of Alabama election 60 years ago, Bentley’s targets for disdain would almost certainly have included blacks. 

This guy simply reinforces all the ugly stereotypes of redneck religion, politics, and prejudice from the old South. I feel sorry for the good people of Alabama who will have to put up with this divisive old turkey for the next several years.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Discretion Abused

A law abiding citizen wants to legally transport his handgun from one state to another. He puts the unloaded weapon and bullets separately inside his luggage, and checks the bag at the airport after properly advising officials. Due to weather conditions, his flight is diverted to a different state where he’s stranded temporarily and obliged to collect his bag there while waiting for another flight.

Unbeknownst to him, the law in the state where he’s stranded requires a license for the possession of handguns. He has no license in that state. The man dutifully advises airport officials about the gun once again when he checks the bag for his new flight. Airline officials alert police. The cops arrest the man, toss him in jail for 10 days without charges, and refuse to return his gun for more than 3 years. He wants to sue the goons over this outrageous abuse of power.  

“Tough rocks,” say the courts.

"We recognize that he had been placed in a difficult situation through no fault of his own," wrote a federal Appellate Court Judge, but the law "clearly requires the traveler to part ways with his weapon and ammunition during travel; it does not address this type of interrupted journey or what the traveler is to do in this situation."

The U.S. Supreme Court might soon decide whether to hear the case, and I hope they do; this fellow deserves justice, but that’s beside the point of this sad little tale. Forget about all the legal technicalities and mumbo jumbo, the man was obviously as innocent of any wrongdoing as a new-born lamb, and everyone knows it – especially the police who subjected him to the unnecessary ordeal. He never should have been arrested in the first place.

A short time ago, I wrote about my hero, Dr. Julian Heicklen, and his noble crusade to lawfully inform prospective jurors about their not so widely known power to nullify the law or its application in cases where an injustice would result with a criminal conviction. The fact that prosecuting attorneys also enjoy this power is very well known, and that is probably the reason why our man was not charged for a technical violation of the law after serving 10 long days of his life in the slammer. 

We all know as well that the police enjoy this very same power. They are not required to write a speeding ticket in every instance, for example, when a warning will fairly serve the purpose. They have wide discretion whether to bring charges in almost any case and they employ that discretion frequently in situations like this one.

Police authorities too often abuse their lawful discretion, and that is clearly what has happened here. They should be ashamed.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Holiday Authority!

Martin Luther King Day and President’s Day this year won’t be days off for school children in some districts seeking ways to make up for multiple unexpected snow days. The situation is infuriating civil rights leaders, who call it an insult to the memory of Dr. King, and ruffling the tail feathers of the great American cultural Authority!

These are the ones who believe they have the absolute god given right to enforce their arbitrary whims about what and who we all should honor, how we all must honor them, and when.

It is not enough to simply proclaim a day in their honor; they insist that all official business and commerce must come to a screeching halt on that day. And if the magic day falls on a weekend day, (we already have 104 of those every year), a weekday is taken as well to make sure normal activity stops in forced deference to the occasion. Anyone who objects or takes exception is deemed unpatriotic and disrespectful of the ‘chosen’ honorees.

Granted, there are many great people, including some presidents, and memorable historical events deserving of remembrance. Martin Luther King’s birthday is arguably one of them, but it is not a proper function of the collective and its representatives to dictate to the rest of us which ones they are. Those decisions should properly be left to individuals. Cultural choices are the prerogative of individuals, not politicians. My own individual personal cultural preference would be George Carlin Day, but if I were in charge, I wouldn’t force it on the nation. I’m happy to celebrate it all by myself.

Christopher Columbus was a great explorer of his time. He deserves his place in the history books, but that doesn’t necessitate my bank being closed this October 10th for Columbus Day 519 years after he landed on Hispaniola. What is the point of a national holiday in his honor? The guy never even set foot in the United States.

What is so special about New Year’s Day? It’s just one day out of 365 of them. Nothing important happened on that day. If people want to observe it, all fine and good, but must it be mandatory? I want to trade stocks on that day.

I respect and honor the contributions and sacrifice of our military hero’s as much as anyone, but is it really necessary to shut down the country twice a year on Memorial Day and Veterans Day to honor them? Likewise Labor Day – what is the point? I’m glad we have workers and laborers. Why not management day as well? Managers deserve honors too.

Then we have Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, both of which are clearly religious holidays. If religious folks insist on taking those two days off, that is their right as individuals, and more power to them, but the First Amendment prohibits government from making laws respecting an establishment of religion, and proclaiming Christian religious holidays as a matter of law is a violation of the United States Constitution. It is not the job of government to tell us when to be thankful, and non-Christians should not be forced to observe Christmas.

That leaves only the July 4th Independence Day. If any occasion deserves a national government holiday, I must admit, this one is it. This is a memorable day no one can argue the collective can take due credit for – the birth of our nation. Kids should stay home from summer school on that day to celebrate. The post office should remain open though.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Marijuana made him do it

Speculation is rampant about why Jared Loughner, the Arizona shooter, did it.  Initial reports called him a “pot smoker,” as if that might have something to do with it. Indeed, some arm-chair analysts want to put at least some of the blame on Loughner’s alleged “drug use” and the supposed associations with crime and mental illness. “Drugs made him do it.”

Americans have a love/hate relationship with drugs. On the one hand they maintain an all out war on them, while on the other; they want senior citizens to get their drugs free. If drugs are so bad, why should seniors get 'em for free? Ok, Ok, I have to recognize the dubious distinction between legal and illegal drugs.

Illegal drugs are not approved by the government Authority!

That’s the distinction. Legal drugs are often described as miracles. But when the same drugs are valued for recreational benefits, the miracles become crimes. If your dentist gives you cocaine for a toothache, and it stops the pain, that's a miracle, but if you take it on your own, it’s a demon and you’re a felon.

It’s the potential for recreational use of a drug that really bothers the Authority!

The logic goes something like this: We don’t like marijuana. Too many people use it just to feel good. So marijuana should be illegal. Let's take a vote. Who wants to ban marijuana? There is nothing in the Constitution recognizing the right to use marijuana. We don’t want anyone to have it. We don’t want our kids exposed to it. Marijuana must be banned in order to protect our children.

And if someone who smokes marijuana commits a heinous act, the marijuana must have had something to do with it. Drugs are bad unless we say they’re good, according to the Authority!  

Of course, bad things can happen to people with the careless use of drugs, and many other substances, whether legal or illegal, but after all these decades of war; it’s obvious that the single most dangerous aspect of illegal drugs is the fact that they are illegal. By far, most of the violence and damage associated with drugs is because of their illegality -- not the effects of the drugs upon individuals or the public health.

The worst part of using illegal drugs is not getting high, or getting addicted, or getting sick -- it’s getting caught!

So, if Sarah Palin didn’t cause the rampage with her campaign rhetoric, and marijuana didn’t do it, the drug warriors are left to find other more reasonable explanations for Loughner’s crimes.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Government against the tide

Boom and bust is the nature of reality. The geological and fossil records present just two of countless convincing examples. There is no stopping it. We can’t halt the seasons. We can’t interrupt the tides. Powerful cycles will run their course.

The history of human activity is a long chronicle of boom and bust. That is especially so with human economic activity. When too much of something is created by a boom, the boom goes bust.

Farmer’s plant and harvest too much crop in a boom, the price spirals down into a bust. The eventual scarcity of that crop caused by the bust triggers another boom, and the cycle continues.

Demand for real-estate becomes a boom with rising prices. Eventually, the market becomes saturated with buyers; prices begin to fall; the buyers become sellers; and the market crashes into a bust. When the market becomes saturated with sellers, and prices are ridiculously low, new buyers suddenly appear; another frenzy ensues which evolves into the next boom, and the cycle continues.

There is no stopping it. As long as there is human economic activity, there will be cycles of boom and bust. When governments intervene artificially to try and stop the pain, they only delay and compound the effects of the cycle, making things worse.

The federal government, for example, grossly exacerbated the last housing boom. Its legislative policies of easy credit and encouraging home ownership for everyone resulted in a flood of new buyers into the market, a large percentage of whom could not otherwise afford to buy.

The market became saturated with homes and buyers. Prices continued to rise. When the normal economic cycle was ready to bust, the government stepped in again to stop it; to encourage even more unqualified buyers with all kinds of financial incentives and legislative decrees. Anyone could now buy a home.

The boom expanded seemingly forever. But eventually everyone who wanted a home had one, and the un-creditworthy ones began to default on their loans in droves, prices crashed, the market is flooded with sellers of homes, and the resulting bust has caused catastrophic financial damage to the economy – far greater than would have resulted from a normal turn in the cycle.

What did the federal government do then? Why, it blamed the catastrophe on private business; on Wall Street greed; and run-away capitalism, that’s what. As government always does, it blamed its failures on the governed. “We need more regulations on business,” declared the government.

But do we?

The federal government has constitutional power to regulate commerce; the power to make laws; declare rules; to tax; borrow; lend; control the flow of cash and credit; monopolize and print the currency; determine the money supply; arbitrarily set interest rates, and spend huge sums on a vast scale. In short, the federal government today controls the economy almost entirely -- not business, not Wall Street, and not capitalism. No private business or group of private businesses has anywhere near that kind of power. This is common knowledge.

Why, then, is it so difficult for most people to understand and accept that the meddling of government into the normal boom and bust economic cycles is responsible for the out of control financial consequences which loom so large in America today?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The President Will Make it All Better

President Obama will be in Tucson Arizona today to address the nation at a memorial service for the victims of the recent shooting spree there. The President of the United States and his entourage will be the focus of this event.

He needs to chime in his thoughts and opinions along with the rest of the politicians. "It's going to be important,” the President told reporters, “to feel as if we are speaking directly to our sense of loss, but also speaking to our hopes for the future and how out of this tragedy we can come together as a stronger nation.”

Some political pundits remarked that “it will be a defining moment for his presidency.”


Since when is it the president’s job to do this? Why this is even considered a political event? How could his remarks possibly become a defining moment for his presidency? Why is his appearance in person important? Why is it necessary for the President of the United States to address the entire nation over this? Why do his feelings about “our sense of loss” matter? What do “our hopes for the future” have to do with anything? Can he possibly explain “how out of this tragedy we can come together as a stronger nation”?

Gee, can our president really turn a horrible bloodbath into a positive for us? We can be a stronger nation because of this? President Obama seems to think so.

Amazing! With a few more tragedies like this, along with our fervent hopes for the future, America can become even stronger. That is the logic of Authority!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Odds Are Irrelevant When the Game Is Rigged

The U.S. troop advantage in Afghanistan is 12 to 1 over the Taliban according to recent news reports. Apparently, despite all their casualties since the war began, the Taliban have managed to maintain a fighting force of about 25,000 strong. That’s 300 of American’s finest professional soldiers, armed to the teeth with the most expensive and sophisticated weaponry in the history of warfare, against 25 dedicated but ill equipped amateur thugs. Twelve to one seems like pretty good odds.

Meanwhile, NATO is busy with the task of training Afghan security forces to the tune of $20 billion dollars over 2 years, and plans to continue its mission after that for at least another 5 years, and billions more. So it seems that the Afghans will soon have a wonderful security force to protect their “democracy.”

But, wait a minute -- now we learn for sure that our Afghan friends, including the President’s family, big businessmen, and high placed officials, are… (Gasp)… corrupt!  They’re in league with the enemy! Our spies have discovered what they call “Malign Actor Networks,” intricate economic connections between the “good guys” and “bad guys,” all financed, of course, by the billions and billions of dollars in aid from the West.

The Afghan government is crumbling from rot while giving U.S. aid to the “enemy.” Now we know that neither side would benefit all that much by an end to the conflict.

The Afghan war has the unique distinction of being the longest running military campaign in the history of the United States of America – longer than the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Vietnam War, and Korean War – longer than World War I and World War II combined and with no end in sight.

We have kicked the Taliban’s butt repeatedly from Kandahar to Kabul, but they just keep coming back in the same numbers as ever. If the U.S. left tomorrow, the “democracy” would instantly vaporize in Afghanistan. In short, things would go on as normal. As we stay longer and longer there will surely be much more of the same. Like Vietnam in the last generation, it comes down to another no win situation for the U.S.A. The only winners are the ones raking in the dough.

And the cruel irony of it all is that it was our government’s longstanding Middle East political and military meddling in the first place which got us into this mess. That’s what we get for trying to be the world’s Authority!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Scam by any other name …

A new billboard advertisement sponsored by American Atheists in Huntsville, Alabama, has provoked the mighty army of American theists into a minor uproar over the simple declaration that all religions are scams.

The atheists define "scam" as “a fraudulent business scheme or ploy to intentionally mislead a person, usually with the goal of financial gains.” By that definition, religion has investment swindler, Bernie Madoff, looking like a land fill rag picker in the grand universe of scams.

Fox News, Bill O’Reilly, devoted a segment of his popular show to the question of why atheists would want to “insult” religious people by calling religion a scam. That’s like wondering why anyone would want to “insult” Madoff’s hapless victims by calling his Ponzi scheme a scam.

"Organized religion is just a sham and a crutch for weak minded people who want to go around sticking their noses in other people's business," former Minnesota governor, Jessie Ventura once said. Articulate astute politician, and popular professional wrestler, Mr. Ventura knows a thing or two about scams.  But for his atheism, he might have been president.

Religion is culturally promoted for the purpose of inducing sacrifice by means of deception in conscious minds. It is a premeditated assault upon reason. At its best, religion is intellectual dishonesty; at its worst, absolute tyranny. Religion is fraud by every definition of the word.

Churches, mosques, temples, and synagogues are warrens of deceit. If religion were not constitutionally protected in this country, all the priests, preachers, rabbis, and Imams would have to go directly to jail.

I don't say all this to make people mad. Let's just be honest. How many times must spirituality be debunked before people realize that spirits are imaginary? A spirit is a conceptual abstraction in your mind. They are never experienced within the contextual reality of existence. Unconsciously you have always known that. We are all naturally born atheists.

The U.S. Constitution First Amendment Free Exercise Clause recognizes religious folks’ right to scam each other in the name of God -- an imaginary spirit who demands sacrifices – a metaphor for ultimate human Authority!

But there is a limit to this right, and that is found in the Establishment Clause – the first sentence in the Bill of Rights -- which requires government to remain neutral in matters of religion.

Theoretically, at least, it’s a constitutional win-win for theists and atheists alike.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Julian Heicklen: My Hero

An American jury has enormous power. It determines the facts; the weight and credibility of evidence; the believability of witnesses; and especially the application of law to the case.

Jury verdicts determine innocence or guilt, liability or no cause for action. They are not infallible. Mistakes are often made. Verdicts have been corrupt. In most cases, though, a jury will try diligently to do what is right. If it thinks something about the case stinks, it has the power to disregard evidence and/or refuse to apply the law.

That’s called “jury nullification,” and, like it or not, it’s been part and parcel of our justice system for centuries. Judges, prosecutors, and all government Authority! hate it. They think they have all the power. They want juries to follow their instructions, and their instructions never say anything about nullification.

Most jurors are ordinary citizens, serve only once, and thus do not realize the true extent of their powers. They just dutifully obey the instructions of the court, then rubber stamp a verdict, even if they disagree with the law, or the application of it to an accused under the peculiar circumstances of a case.  

Enter the frail elderly white haired Professor, Julian Heicklen, authentic American hero, to peacefully and politely inform them of their lawful powers. Dr. Heicklen spends valuable free time exercising his First Amendment constitutional right to distribute Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) literature outside in front of federal courthouses.

For this valuable service he has been deliberately ignored by the mainstream media; wrongfully arrested, handcuffed, and imprisoned numerous times on the orders of federal judges or police; dragged to mental hospitals; medicated with tranquilizers against his will; beaten, tortured, sodomized, and otherwise cruelly abused by medical personnel in collusion with the police; only to have all charges against him dropped every time – because he has done nothing wrong.

Dr. Heicklen is a true champion of liberty; battered, beaten, but triumphant in the cause of freedom from unfettered government Authority! 

Dr. Julian Heicklen, Sir: You Are My Hero!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Zero Tolerance in the 21st Century: Justice Sans Reason

Justice as an ideal value is fundamentally necessary for the viability of civilizations. Each of us instinctively knows what justice is. Wrongdoing which harms another requires justice. Justice includes deserved punishment as the rightful consequence for one’s wrongful acts. It is the equivalent of fairness.

Proper justice is grounded in reason, logic, and due regard for all the circumstances – not in a rigid, inflexible, one size fits all schedule. The punishment should fit the crime.  We all agree with that.
In America, it used to be that a kid caught with something he wasn’t supposed to have at school had it confiscated by his teacher to be returned to him at the end of the day with a stern warning not to bring it again. Kids used to bring their dad’s WWII swords and pistol souvenirs to class for show and tell while no one so much as batted an eye.

But times have changed drastically from only a decade ago when the “War on Terror” and “zero tolerance” found their way into the American lexicon.

Zero tolerance policy is uncooked justice without the pinch of reasoning.

Draconian punishment, un-tempered by the essential elements of fairness, logic, perspective, and common sense, is the usual result.

The latest victim is an exemplary student athlete at a North Carolina high school, suspended for the remainder of her senior year, and charged with a misdemeanor for having a small paring knife in her lunchbox. She accidentally took her father's lunchbox to school; school officials searched it; found her Dad’s apple peeling utensil; banned her from campus; and then charged her criminally with misdemeanor possession of a weapon on school grounds. The incident is likely to ruin her entire academic career.

She might have brought a baseball bat to gym class without such unpleasant consequences, though that instrument could easily be employed to bash in the heads of fellow students and teachers alike. She might have used her athletic shoelaces as a garrote to strangle one of her classmates. Her school apparently isn’t afraid of shoelaces. A pencil or ballpoint pen might be used to gouge out a few eyes, but those aren’t considered weapons either.

Indeed, she might have brought a hundred assorted “weapons,” from bobby pins to paper shears, plastic bags to nail files, without arousing the mighty omnipotent high school Authority!

She could have left the little knife at home and gone to the school kitchen for a big knife were it her intent to stab someone. Of course, we all know that it was not her intent to bring a weapon to school in the first place, and certainly not for the purpose of harming anyone. The school officials know that. The police know that. The prosecutor knows that. Anyone with half a brain knows that.

So why didn’t the education thugs just confiscate the “weapon” and return it to her at the end of the school day with a warning, as any reasonable teacher has done for centuries? Why were they even searching through her lunch box?

Zero tolerance! Absolute and unequivocal zero tolerance – that’s why. The deception in consciousness in this case is the delusional necessity for zero tolerance. To Hell with circumstances; reason doesn’t count; she broke the rule which makes us safe from terrorists in our War on Terror. She’s a potential terrorist. She must pay the price for zero tolerance. Even if we all know she isn’t a terrorist, we’re going to treat her like one anyway because terrorism is serious business since 9/11 and requires zero tolerance.

By far, the most common terrorist of them all is this mindless governmental Authority!