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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Brief on Time: Rebuttal

Tibor R. Machan, in his recent essay, A Brief on Time, (RRND 5/31/11), takes the position that “time” is real.

I argue that it is not.

By “time” he means: “what we record for departure and arrival of planes and trains, what we learn from our clocks and watches, etc., etc, what we aim to save as we go about doing our various tasks, what we complain that we have so little of while others have too much of it on hand.”

“Time is measured in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, centuries and millennia. And the motion of things in the world, including even the speed of light, is, in turn, measured in periods or spans of time,” he observes.

All of that is true, but Mr. Machan’s definition of “time” does not define a physical entity within the cognitive contextual reality of existence.

There are dozens of definitions of the word “time” in the dictionary. None of them identify or define an entity or phenomenon within the cognitive contextual reality of existence, but instead only quantify or measure relationships between such entities and phenomena.

“Space-time” is defined by most scientists as a four-dimensional reference frame, consisting of three dimensions in space and one dimension in time, used especially in Relativity Theory as a basis for coordinate systems for identifying the location and timing of objects and events.

In General Relativity theory, space-time is thought to be curved by the presence of mass, much as the space defined by the surface of a piece of paper can be curved by bending the paper. The four-dimensional continuum in which all objects are located and all events occur is viewed as a single and continuous framework for existence. Space-time consists of length, width, depth, and time.

No argument with that.

But scientists cannot define "time," as a real entity in existence because the concept is only an abstraction quantifying dynamic changes in the context of existence. “Time” is used as a quantifier – a means of measurement -- not a real entity.

Time measures change. If the context of existence stopped changing, there would be no time, so "time" is just a word used to quantify changes.

"Time" elapses, only in your imagination. Changes in the context of existence simply happen constantly, and the reality of existence is always now. If Mr. Machan wants to define “time” as “change,” I would agree with him.

Movement involves change. Speed involves change. Disintegration, decay, atrophy, expansion, contraction, all involve change. Time is used as a mental tool to measure aspects of the changes, such as speed and duration. But “change,” like “time,” is not a physical entity in existence.

Existence is a continuum. Existence is a continuing now. Existence is always now. Now is not a day, hour, minute or second, but always. The contextual reality of existence is now and will always be now. So, there is no “past” or “future” in the contextual reality of existence. Past and future in “time” do not exist. There is only and always now.

“Past” and “future” are, like “time,” conceptual abstractions which we use in consciousness to organize our thinking about the dynamically changing nature of existence. All conceptual abstractions are imaginary. Therefore, both past and future are, like “time,” entirely imaginary.

Conceptual abstractions such as past and future can only be imagined using consciousness. So, the idea of creating a time machine, for example, with which to travel forward or backward in “time” is pure fantasy and quite impossible; sort of like trying to draw a square circle.

Of course, there is evidence now pointing to what happened in the “past.” Fossils, artifacts, and records are evidence of the “past.” But one may only imagine the context preceding or following now. The only real context – reality -- is now.

We experience the contextual reality of existence only now. So the “past” is a memory, a history, a record of events which is out of context with now. Past and future may only be experienced consciously – never cognitively.

Likewise, the “future” may often be accurately predicted based upon evidence of what is happening now and what has happened in the “past,” however any prediction is entirely imaginary as the future does not exist in the cognitive contextual reality of existence.

So “time” is a conceptual abstraction used in consciousness to organize our thinking about the changing continuum of existence. There is no such “thing” as “time” as a physical entity within the contextual reality of existence.

Clocks measure time; time measures change; so “time” is a conceptual abstraction, and not a physical dimension.

“Time” is not real.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

SWATting Small Fly in Tucson

Give someone a hammer and they’ll likely go looking for something to pound. Suddenly, almost everything looks like a nail.

Create a Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) team and they’ll likely go looking for doors to kick in, windows to smash, and miscreant suspects to waste. Suddenly, everyone in their sights looks like John Dillinger.  

SWAT teams are elite military style special police units, originally conceived by Los Angeles police inspector, Daryl Gates, in 1968 to deal with special situations. They’re specifically trained to handle especially dangerous missions such as hostage taking situations, heavily armed standoff’s with desperate criminals, and terrorist take downs similar to the recent Osama bin Laden raid.  

Now every one-stoplight hamlet in America has one. The paramilitary teams each come armed to the teeth with all manner of specialised weapons and equipment, including flash and stun grenades, assault and sniper rifles, sub machine guns, together with helicopters, armored vehicles, heavy body armor, night vision goggles, and anti-ballistic shields. They’re trained hard and constantly to storm buildings in military fashion, shoot first and ask questions later.

And so it was on May 5, 2011, when Jose Guerena, an ex U.S. Marine, and Iraq war veteran, was gunned down dead in a hail of bullets inside his Tucson Arizona home.  His wife looked on in horror as a Pima County Sheriff’s Department SWAT team raided the place to execute a common search warrant, kicked down the front door, and opened fire at the hapless suspect in the middle of the night.

The cops thought Guerena was involved in recreational drug smuggling. All in all, within a matter of seconds, approximately 70 shots were fired, at least 22 of which riddled Guerena’s body. No shots were fired by the suspect. His gun was later found still locked in safety position. After summarily wasting the guy, a search of his home was conducted which came up with nothing illegal.

Notwithstanding these exceedingly gruesome and incredible facts, an attorney defending the five murderous sherriff’s deputies insists that: "They absolutely responded how they were trained. They responded within Arizona laws, within the law throughout the nation," … "If you are faced with that type of deadly threat, you're allowed to respond."

He’s right. That’s exactly how they are trained. They’re a SWAT team and they’re going to go out and SWAT the bad guys. Every threat is a deadly threat. Every mission is a dangerous mission. Every suspect is a potential cop killer in the War on Drugs.

Every situation demands surprise confrontational force, door kicking, window smashing, grenade tossing, guns blazing, and shooting to kill at the slightest hint of possible resistance. The old days when cops used to talk a suspect into compliance are long gone in Tuscon.

There is no rationality, no consideration, no finesse today. Now they just arrive in a flash of raw power and blast their quarry into oblivion. It doesn’t seem to matter anymore that innocent people might be involved; they might have the wrong house; the wrong guy; innocent children; or no actual potential danger presented.

The SWAT teams need constant training to sharpen their skills, so if there are no hostage crises’ available, their skills will necessarily be employed to execute petty search warrants and apprehend jaywalkers.

We’re not talking about serial killers here. Guerena was suspected of drug smuggling, hardly a heinous or dangerous crime. Why not just knock politely, wait till he comes to the door, and execute their search warrant like cops have been doing successfully since law enforcement was invented?

The five deputies involved in this murder by cop case remain on the SWAT team. No criminal charges have been filed and no disciplinary action taken.

God bless America!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Spaced Out

At a time when the United States of America is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and financial ruin, enormously expensive adventures for the sole purpose of fulfilling science fiction fantasies, is the last thing government should be doing.   

President Obama told us good news and bad news recently about the United States government sponsored manned space programs.

The good news is that NASA’s space shuttle program is ending this summer after more than 30 years of horrendously dangerous and expensive manned space flights. What’s more, the agency's planned Orion Constellation manned space program set to return astronauts to the moon by the next decade in a newly designed rocket ship has been scrapped.

Does this mean that the U.S. government is finally and properly getting out of the men-in-space business altogether so that private commercially funded spacecraft and robots can take over the immensely hazardous and expensive activity of space exploration and science?

Unfortunately, for the American taxpayers, the answer is “No!”

The bad news is that, for now, NASA will start renting seats on Russian Soyuz space craft, at horrendously expensive premiums, for American astronauts going to and from the International Space Station. President Obama envisions commercially built American spaceships will provide this low earth orbit service in the future, at taxpayer expense, of course.

Even now, NASA is funding several private companies to develop and manufacture these new earth orbit spacecraft. So the bad news becomes worse when we discover that the intent is only to free NASA up for even more ambitious exploration efforts – like manned space voyages to an asteroid and the planet Mars.

NASA is developing a brand new deep space Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV), and heavy-lift launching rocket, based on designs originally planned for the Orion spacecraft moon project. Congress wants the spaceship and launch vehicle ready to go by 2016.

So, you see, the new rocket ship and manned space program to the moon, which we thought was going to be scrapped in the interest of saving billions and billions of taxpayer dollars, is actually being recycled into this new far more elaborate and expensive manned space vehicle, and far out space cadet program, to send astronauts on expeditions to an asteroid by the year 2025, and on to Mars by the 2030s.

"We are committed to human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and look forward to developing the next generation of systems to take us there." "The NASA Authorization Act lays out a clear path forward for us by handing off transportation to the International Space Station to our private sector partners, so we can focus on deep space exploration," a NASA official declared.

Naturally, he sees things that way. He has a big government administrative agency to think about. After all, there’s an awful lot of NASA, and NASA related jobs and livelihoods at stake.

But why is it necessary to send a group of living breathing humans to an asteroid? What could they possibly hope to accomplish there, in person and in flesh, which robots couldn’t do with far less hazard and expense? Are we planning on colonizing asteroids now with human beings? What madness is this? The politicians have been watching too many Star Trek reruns, I think.

What is the logical, necessary, and practical reason for manned missions to Mars, a desolate no-man’s-land, just like the moon, where earthlings have not adapted and cannot survive without bringing their earth environment along with them at huge risk and unprofitable expense?

There was nothing on the moon worth returning for after 40 years, and there is nothing on the planet Mars now worth the risk and expense of sending manned missions to obtain.

The fact that something can be done is hardly a good reason for doing it if that is all there is.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Drug War Tales

Drug prohibition in the United States has spawned the same bad results as alcohol prohibition did only much worse.

Like the war on booze of yesteryear, today’s decades long war on drugs is claiming more lives and liberty casualties than the banned substances themselves could ever accomplish unchecked. The harder authorities crack down on traffic in recreational drugs, the more demand for them is created. Banning substances merely gives rise to more of them, including new substances yet to be banned.

Nearly 35,000 deaths in drug related killings have occurred in Mexico alone during the last four years since a federal offensive was launched on drug cartels which supply American demand. More than 15,000 of those killings happened just last year as the crackdowns intensified.

Recreational drug trafficking is an extremely dangerous occupation, not because the substances involved are particularly dangerous, but because they are deemed illegal by the state. Business disputes among drug dealers are necessarily resolved with guns and bombs since courts of law are not available to the black market.
Chewed or brewed into tea, coca leaves act as a mild stimulant which prevents altitude sickness, aids digestion, and reduces hunger and fatigue. Bolivia recently proposed an end to the 50 year U.N. treaty banning coca leaf chewing in their country, but the United States has objected and is urging other member countries to object as well.

As a result, many thousands of poor innocent indigenous people living in the Andes Mountains and chewing coca leaves for centuries as part of their deep religious and cultural heritage, as well as for practical healthful reasons, will remain criminals under the law because of of our losing War on Drugs and the insatiable American demand for cocaine.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), using its emergency powers, has recently banned five chemicals used to make "K2" and "Spice," two popular smokeable herbs which can mimic a marijuana high. The DEA classified the chemicals under Schedule I, the supposedly most ‘dangerous’ category in the federal Controlled Substances Act, up there with opium and heroin.

"Just because something is legal or unregulated doesn't make it safe," a government official explained.

Quite true. Quite true indeed.

Now I suppose it is only a matter of time before over the counter cold and allergy medications, gasoline, paint thinner, nail polish remover, and model airplane glue will be banned as Schedule I substances for the common good in the never-ending War on Drugs.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Did Hippies Cause Catholic Priests to Molest Kids?

Hippie culture is what caused the Catholic Church sex scandals.

That’s right; the Church isn’t really at fault. It was the the influence of “culturally deviant behavior” prevalent during the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, which caused “inadequately trained, emotionally unprepared, and isolated” Catholic priests to molest kids, according to the latest $2million whitewash commissioned by American Catholic Church bishops. (Boston Globe; 5/18/11)

There you have it from the religious experts. Hippie free-love culture caused a few poor, inadequately trained, emotionally unprepared, and isolated Catholic priests to force themselves on innocent, vulnerable, defenseless little children under their charge. It’s the Devil (hippies) made them do it excuse. They are victims too.

If these priests were inadequately trained, emotionally unprepared, and isolated, how can that possibly be the Church’s fault?

“The most significant conclusion drawn from this data is that no single psychological, developmental, or behavioral characteristic differentiated priests who abused minors from those who did not,” the report claims.

Gee, I guess that makes it all OK if no one can tell the good and bad ones apart. They all looked the same. What could the Church do about that? So it did nothing.

Abusive priests had “no common profile,” so seminaries could not have done a better job screening for them. “Homosexual priests were no more likely to abuse than heterosexual priests,” and, “celibacy could not be blamed for the abuse,” they say.

Maybe the bad priests couldn’t be screened so easily for potential abuse factors in the first instance, as they claim, but what is the Church’s excuse for concealing their crimes, minimizing their conduct, and letting them do it again and again long after their abusive behavior was discovered? The report doesn’t say.

“The majority of victims were pubescent or post pubescent,… thus, it is inaccurate to refer to abusers as pedophile priests,” the study concludes.

In short, if the little kids were age 10 or above, “it’s not pedophilia,” according to these objective scholars. It’s grossly “unfair,” then, for anyone to call them ‘pedophile priests’ because fewer than 5% of the victims were under 10 years of age.

But what difference does it make whether they can be called ‘pedophiles’ or not? They were still molesting helpless little kids and the Church was giving them a pass. This report is far too long on discussing what isn’t, while way short on addressing what is.

Why are so many sexual abusers priests? That is what this report won’t address. I don’t mean to imply that only priests are likely to be sexual abusers. Plenty of school teachers, counselors, day care providers, and scout leaders fit that category too. It’s not hard to figure out why.

Sexual criminals are drawn to the priesthood for many reasons. The job provides a clerical uniform which instantly lends unearned status, reverence, power, trust, confidence, and credibility, to latent abusers, who otherwise might be social nobody’s. Being a priest gives them easy access to helpless young potential victims they can manipulate while in the guise of ‘minister.’

The priesthood was excellent cover for sexually abusive activities. Most occupations don’t provide nearly the opportunities available to clergy to abuse kids. Priest’s occupy a position of trust. Priest’s are regarded as above suspicion since they are men of God. And, best of all, for the priest, his employer usually swept his bad behavior under the rug and gave him another chance.

Priest’s go for the kids because children are easier to groom and manipulate than savvy adults.  Kids are more available and accessible. It’s awfully hard for little kids to say “no” to a priest who pays them special attention and seems to love and care about them.

Add to all that the celibacy requirements of the priesthood, and you have a bunch of grown men with normal raging human sexual urges, who are never-the-less obliged to hide them behind a facade of piety and chastity – a dangerous situation which is bound to cause problems.

Priest’s are not allowed to enjoy openly romantic relations with others, so they must carry on their activities in secret with whatever victims are at hand. Criminal priests have been sexually abusing kids as well as adults for centuries, long before the advent of hippie culture.

The Catholic Church has only itself to blame.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Misguided by Torture

“John McCain is misguided in his stance against enhanced interrogation techniques,” former one term Pennsylvania senator and current GOP presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, solemnly proclaimed this week. "Senator McCain doesn’t understand how enhanced interrogation works."

“Everything I’ve read shows that we would not have gotten this information as to who this man was [bin Laden’s courier] if it had not been gotten information [sic] from people who were subject to enhanced interrogation,” Santorum insisted in a somewhat less than articulate fashion.

“I mean, you break somebody, and after they’re broken, they become cooperative.”

Can his man possibly believe it’s that easy?

Can he possibly believe deep in his social conscience that ‘breaking’ people and forcing them to cooperate after they’re ‘broken’ is moral and ethical?

This is the same Rick Santorum who:

·        Called George W. Bush the first Catholic president (Bush is a Methodist and JFK was the first Catholic president);

·        Wants intelligent design, a.k.a. creationism taught in the public schools;

·        Objected to moderate GOP calls for less emphasis on conservative social issues in the 2012 presidential campaign;

·        Once said: “I have no problem with homosexuality. I have a problem with homosexual acts.”

·        Once said: “…if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.”

·        Complained frequently about trial lawyers and medical malpractice cases; voted to cap pain and suffering damages in such cases to $250,000, while his wife hired a trial lawyer and sued her chiropractor for $500,000 for pain and suffering damages, and accepted a verdict of $350,000, which was later reduced to $175,000, and deemed “excessive” by an appellate court;

·        Spoke out firmly against all stem cell research as immoral and unethical, then accepted $50,000 in contributions from companies that do stem cell research; 

·        Blamed the Catholic priest sex scandal on “liberals in Boston;

Now this Rick Santorum fellow is running for President of the United States claiming that Senator John McCain, a decorated Navy pilot, Vietnam veteran, and victim of the most extreme, cruel, and ghastly torture tactics imaginable as a prisoner of war in a Viet Cong concentration camp – a man who was himself broken by enhanced interrogation -- is misguided, and doesn’t understand torture techniques. 

What else does this guy believe?

Oh, yeah … he believes he has a chance in 2012.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Donald Trump & the Great 2012 Presidential Hoax

"I will not be running for president as much as I'd like to," Donald Trump declared suddenly yesterday, after dominating the media headlines over the past six months about how much he loves his country; how he was running for president for the good of the nation; how he was going to “kick China’s ass,” “stuff the oil cartels,” “make the world stop laughing at us,” create jobs,” “undo Obamacare, and solve all the nation’s financial problems.

Trump's reason for quitting: His TV reality show "The Celebrity Apprentice has made a lot of money for charity and I want to continue in that role,” Trump explained.

Of course he wants to continue in that role. It’s not like all the other candidates who really want the job of president; you know, the one’s who are sincere. This man never once had the slightest intention of actually running for president. He doesn’t want that job. He knows he’d never get elected anyway. He carries way too much baggage to even think about it.

The entire charade of his potential candidacy was a lie; a bombastic, entertaining, but empty hoax. It was pure bullshit. It was a bald faced fraud. He did it all to make money, and he’s made money on it. He did it for publicity; name recognition, and he got plenty of that. He did it for his own personal promotion and self aggrandizement – to show how important he is and how many people he could fool.

That is the business of Mr. Trump – marketing Donald Trump. He’s brilliant at it.

"It's very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it," said Trump candidly in January 2002, long before all of this. He warned us. We can’t say he didn’t warn us.

“I screwed Muammar Gaddafi one time on a business deal,” Trump boasted triumphantly not long ago. That statement made me cringe a little. What type of person brags of screwing someone in a business deal, even if the victim was a nasty dictator? He warned us, alright. He warned us shamelessly. His motives couldn’t possibly be more transparent now.

Well done, Mr. Trump. You’ve done it again; no question about it. Your plan was brilliant. Your TV show’s ratings skyrocketed. You made big money. You pulled off another huge deal. Your lucrative show gets another season, and probably more to come.

The only problem is that you did it at the expense of your valuable personal credibility, integrity, and reputation for honesty. Why should anyone ever believe another word you say, Mr. Trump?

I, for one, still have a lot of admiration for Donald Trump; admiration tempered with a great deal of disappointment. He’s only 4 months younger than me. I’ve followed his life and career over the years. He’s led a charmed existence; born with a silver spoon; his father was fabulously wealthy. He’s had a lot of success on his own, though. And, he’s overcome many personal failures too. He’s a very smart businessman.

But now his credibility with me is zero.

I won’t forget how he pulled this scam; how he hounded president Obama mercilessly about his birth certificate; questioned his citizenship; his scholarship; told us gullible Americans how his investigators had looked into the situation and found all manner of amazing juicy facts; facts which never materialized after the president disclosed the record.

And then he had the unmitigated gall to try and turn his obvious failure into a contrived triumph. "I'm so proud of myself,” he crowed, after the long form was made public. “I accomplished something no one else was able to accomplish.” “I'm really honored, frankly," he bragged, "to have played such a big role in getting rid of this issue."

He’s the one who made it an issue. And now he wants credit for making himself the fool.

I won’t forget watching him as he sat stone faced and smoldering at his White House Correspondent’s dinner table while the President of the United States and another funny comedian exposed him for the fraud that he is with their jokes. Trump wasn’t laughing; as if he really expects people to take him seriously about anything now. Maybe that’s when he realized that his game was over.

Trump’s parting shot to Americans: "I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and, ultimately, the general election. I have spent the past several months unofficially campaigning and recognize that running for public office cannot be done half-heartedly. Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector."

Right; he turned down the presidency of the United States, a rich prize he surely would have won, so he could continue presiding over his inane TV reality show. Excuse me while I barf.

"I make you this promise: that I will continue to voice my opinions loudly and help to shape our politician's thoughts. My ability to bring important economic and foreign policy issues to the forefront of the national dialogue is perhaps my greatest asset and one of the most valuable services I can provide to this country," Trump concluded.

You bet he will – so long as he thinks he can make a sensational buck on it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fighting Non-Existent Crimes in Oklahoma

Oklahoma lawmakers have just passed a new law providing a maximum penalty of life in prison for the “felony” of making hashish from marijuana. That puts this “crime” on a par with murder in the first degree, forcible aggravated rape of a child, or committing violent acts of terror against the United States.

Think of it. An innocent socially productive weekend pot connoisseur, (there are many millions of them in the US), suffering the misfortune of residing in the state of Oklahoma, is considered almost as guilty as Osama bin Laden if he scrapes the resin off a few of his choice buds into the form of a brick. That’s all hashish is. It’s the sticky stuff concentrated on the crushed female flowers of cannabis plants made into a brick.

Making hashish is like turning wheat into flour to get at the part of the plant you want to eat. It’s similar to processing corn into cornstarch, or cabbage into coleslaw. Separating the resin from the plant does not increase potency; it merely eliminates all the bulky chaff. Consequently, hashish is nothing more than concentrated pot, much like concentrated orange juice, and arguably just as harmless for human consumption.

Oklahoma, it seems, has been plagued with about a dozen or less of these hash making cases over the past decade. So the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs thought it necessary to request this tough new law as a "preventative" move, according to one straight faced bureau spokesman, who also admitted that: "It may be two or three years before we see another”.

So we have to wonder what these lawmakers and agency hacks were thinking when they determined that making hash from pot plants alone in a basement is worse than rape, armed robbery, and assault with a deadly weapon combined. There are convicted murderers in Oklahoma that don’t get life in prison. You could gouge someone’s eyes out on purpose in that state and not get life in prison.

Oklahoma Drug War bureaucrats need to justify their existence; that’s what’s going on, and Oklahoma politicians don’t want to be seen by their rabidly social conservative constituents as soft on criminals. "It's just the mindset up here, and it’s been beaten into these new senators and representatives that you cannot be soft on crime," state Sen. Richard Lerblance, a Democrat, told The Associated Press. "It was the same way when Democrats were in control."

Yes, it is this stubbornly obtuse mindset on the part of the political collective, left and right, which puts Oklahoma's state incarceration rate perpetually in the top five among states nationally. The numbers of prisoners and prison budgets have increased exponentially during the last decade in Oklahoma. More than half of Oklahoma's prisoners are nonviolent “offenders.”

We’re talking about stuffing good people, innocent people, who otherwise contribute much to society while harming no one, into prison and throwing away the key.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Dead or Alive

I suppose it was inevitable that there would be cries of illegality after the surprise commando raid by American Navy SEALS which took the life of Osama bin Laden at his hideout compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Now, ABC News reports that the sons of the late terrorist are accusing the United States government of blatantly violating international law by assassinating their father, an unarmed man, and dumping his body at sea, without so much as affording him the presumption of innocence and a fair trial.

They point out that both Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein were arrested and tried in courts of law, and demand an inquiry into to why their dad was summarily executed without arrest or trial under the circumstances.

That’s quite true, they were arrested and tried, but neither of those two criminals declared holy war on the United States or promised to continue killing innocent Americans wherever they could be found.

U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, pronounced the killing of the terrorist legal. I won’t argue with that from my American point of view. The Pakistani government, on the other hand, would most likely brand the entire mission an unlawful violation of international law. After all, we did violate the territory of a sovereign nation without permission. So maybe the bin Laden boys have a point.

If four state of the art Pakistani military helicopters touched down suddenly in Crawford, Texas, loaded with Taliban warriors on a similar commando mission, would that be considered legal from an Al Qaeda perspective?

Whether gunning down the unarmed bin Laden was the best thing to do, rather than arresting him and taking him into custody, is debatable in my mind, but both options were acceptable for many reasons.

By all accounts, bin Laden was unarmed, dazed, confused, and probably willing to surrender without resistance. He could have been arrested and restrained. There was room in the helicopter for him. If there was room for his dead body there was room for him. He might have been worth far more to us alive than dead.

Killing the beast was way too good for Osama bin Laden, I think. I would much rather have him rotting in an American prison – a fate worse than death -- eating American prison food, and listening to American prison sounds while his fellow American prisoners ridicule and vilify him constantly for the rest of his miserable life.

But, I have to admit, gunning him down like a rabid dog, dragging him off to a Navy ship, and dumping his body who knows where in the ocean, is probably the best way to prevent this monster from becoming a martyr.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Terrorist Homes & Gardens

Did you ever wonder what $1 million dollars will buy in the Abbottabad Pakistan residential real estate market? I didn’t think so. To satisfy your curiosity and mine, I did a Google search on the question and here’s what I found:

A recently abandoned terrorist hunting lodge and hideout, situated within a tranquil gated and high walled compound, located in lovely suburban Abbottabad, fully furnished, and featuring all the latest modern amenities, has just come on the Abbottabad market at only $1 million, after the previous owner suffered an acute reversal of personal fortune, according to the Pakistani High End Real Estate Association.

Note especially, the sturdy, angular, naturally finished concrete block fortification construction technique done in contemporary modern minimalist Middle Eastern shoebox style, complete with barbed wire accents, manicured Fred Sanford inspired gardens, and austere third world prison motifs:  

This beautiful estate and grounds is nestled within the most exclusive subdivision of luscious Abbottabad valley, with spectacular mountain vistas in the background, amid picturesque native Pakistani landscapes and architecture:

The property comes with a personal front doorman, butler, and all around general gofer terrorist lackey cadet in training:

Art Deco style fixtures and impeccable furnishings adorn the main residence:

A 5 star live-in maid staff keeps the interior rooms of the main residence sparkling clean at all times:

The latest technology in home entertainment theater hardware is included, featuring remote control, flat wide screen LED TV, and another terrorist lackey who looks exactly like Osama bin Laden to change the channels for you:

I know, I know, this dump could be bought in inner city Detroit for 50 grand, things being as they are in America today, but the real estate market is positively skyrocketing in Abbottabad Pakistan right now, thanks to all the help from good hearted Americans who keep the local economy flush with foreign aid cash.

Consequently, $1 million doesn’t go very far in Abbottabad anymore.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tortured Logic

Bill O’Reilly was bellowing long and loud from his Fox News bully pulpit last week about the many wonders of torture as he sees it. “Torture works!” “Only three terrorists were water boarded!” he smugly proclaimed. “Torture led directly to bin Laden’s demise!” “Torture saves American lives!”

“The president should have the power to authorize torture on terror suspects for the purpose of inducing cooperation with authorities,” declared O’Reilly. He’s convinced we would never have found the criminal bin Laden without using torture.

At least Mr. Bill admits that we’re talking about torture here. Water-boarding is torture. To his credit, most other torture advocates would rather call it “enhanced interrogation,” because the euphemism makes them feel better about it. That’s because they know deep in their hearts and minds that torture is immoral, unethical, abnormal, and wrong.

“I’m against torture 99% of the time,” Bernie Goldberg, another conservative Fox News commentator, confessed. He was quick to add, though, that “torture is neither wrong nor immoral.” The “fact that torture is illegal presents no problem” since “laws can be changed.” Congress can simply pass a law authorizing “only the president” to torture suspects “only in ticking time bomb” situations, “where it might save lives,” he reasons. 

But if torture were so effective in the War on Terror as these advocates insist, why then, did it take almost 10 years to locate the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden? Why has this War on Terror been going on for so long? Torture doesn’t seem to be getting us anywhere fast. Remember, the Gitmo detainees were tortured methodically during all that time.

It’s not just three suspects who were tortured by water boarding, as O’Reilly and others like to claim. That falsehood has been soundly debunked with evidence of fractures, bruises, lacerations, and other obvious symptoms of physical torture displayed by many Gitmo prisoners. Torture is common practice at Gitmo and the prison doctors are covering it up.

How do we know that it was torture that led to bin Laden’s discovery and demise? We’ll never know. We know only what we are told. How many false leads did the torture produce? There must have been plenty over 9 ½ long years. That’s because torture too often yields unreliable information.

Sure, we can get lots of information by means of torture. Sometimes the guilty will even confess. The innocent usually confess too when they are tortured. They’ll say anything to make it stop. I know I would. Some poor slob who knows nothing will give it all up and start making up all kinds of stories about what they think their torturer wants to hear. Guilty people do exactly the same. That’s why the result of torture is so unreliable. When it comes to getting good information, torture is mostly counterproductive.

How do we know we wouldn’t have found the criminal quicker had the suspects not been tortured? Cesar Millan, the internationally famous Dog Whisperer, has demonstrated conclusively, again and again, that torture doesn’t work very well as a means of getting animals to do what we want. He shows us on each episode of his TV show what positively motivates dogs almost immediately to behave exactly as we like.

His technique works equally well on human beings far away better than torture. It’s called positive reinforcement psychology. You find out what positively motivates your captive subject; give them reasons to talk; rewards for positive behavior; separate them from their peers; lie to them; manipulate them; treat them with calm and assertive kindness as the primary  motivation tool and they will more likely eventually cooperate.

If the practice of torture is not self evidently wrong and immoral, then why are Bernie Goldberg, and most other reasonable American people, against it 99% of the time? Why is it that your average hard core conservative Christian, like Bill O’Reilly, is most likely the one to condone torture?

Surely they don’t get their instructions from Jesus. Would Jesus condone torture? I suppose the Spanish Inquisitor’s and the Pope thought so, so why shouldn’t Bill O’Reilly? To Hell with the Gospel in matters of expediency, you might say with a shrug.

Now, let’s take the torture advocates logic to the end of the twisted philosophical path. If torture works so quickly and so well; if it results in consistently reliable information; if it is not immoral, unethical, and wrong to torture human beings, then why not torture common criminal suspects as the best means to get their cooperation? Bernie says congress could just pass a law.

Why should criminal suspects have the right to remain silent? Why can’t we force them to incriminate themselves and others? Why shouldn’t we subject them to cruel and unusual punishments to get them to talk? Think of all the lives we could save by just inflicting a little pain on the bad guys. Why let the Constitution get in the way of expediency and a good idea?

And, while we're at it, why not allow teachers to torture student suspects in missing property investigations? You know; when no one wants to talk. Nothing serious, just some arm twisting perhaps; a little choking maybe. That’s not immoral, is it, Bernie?

Suppose an 8-year-old says he’s planted a time bomb in the cafeteria that will explode in 10 minutes, and only he knows the code to stop it. Let’s torture him for it, right?

Let’s also permit parents to torture naughty kids who lie. That’s how it used to be in America in the good old days. Torture was common as dirt back then, just as it was in all of antiquity. Only recently, after reflection upon all the horrible inhumane atrocities in history, have civilized people come to recognize the insidious evils of torture.

Torture is wrong; torture is immoral; torture is unethical; torture is abnormal, abhorrent, sadistic, cruel, abominable and inhuman. While it may be argued as practically justified in response to extremely rare circumstances of social necessity, it never-the-less is not morally justified under any circumstances.

The path of torture leads expediently down a slippery slope to horror and tyranny, and no tortured logic can alter it.