Friday, May 22, 2009

All The Gear and Preparation in the World

Will never be able to replace the will to fight, or to defend yourself.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Thursday praised an Army soldier in eastern Afghanistan who drew media attention this month after rushing to defend his post from attack while wearing pink boxer shorts and

In fact, Gates said he wants to meet the soldier and shake his hand the next time he visits Afghanistan.

"Any soldier who goes into battle against the Taliban in pink boxers and flip-flops has a special kind of courage," Gates said in remarks prepared for a speech in New York.

"I can only wonder about the impact on the Taliban. Just imagine seeing that: a guy
in pink boxers and flip-flops has you in his cross-hairs. What an incredible innovation in psychological warfare," he said.

Army Specialist Zachary Boyd, 19, of Fort Worth, Texas, rushed from his sleeping quarters on May 11 to join fellow platoon members at a base in Afghanistan's Kunar Province after the unit came under fire from Taliban positions. A news photographer was on hand to record the image of Boyd standing at a makeshift rampart in helmet, body armor, red T-shirt and boxers emblazoned with the message: "I love NY."

When the image wound up on the front page of the New York Times, Boyd
told his parents he might lose his job if President Barack Obama saw him out of

"I can assure you that Specialist Boyd's job is very safe indeed," Gates said in the speech.

The U.S. defense chief was scheduled to deliver the speech at New York's annual Salute to Freedom dinner in Manhattan.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Am I the only one who laughed when they saw today's headline?
"House sends credit card bill to Obama"
Heh, its too bad he just going to, in turn, forward the bill to John Q. Taxpayer.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Public Safety?

Lyle, at Joe Huffman's blog (which you, as well as I, should read more often) has some great comments on the fallacy of "Public Safety"
We in the pro-freedom camp (Americans) spend too much time arguing about safety. Or rather, we argue safety far too often in the terms laid down by our enemies-- the enemies of liberty. Though the statistics are often on our side, we're granting the basis for the argument (that government exists to promote the physical safety of the individual) to the enemy.

Wrong premise
You should read the rest here.

UPDATE: Danny Hauser, Fugitive from Poison.

It appears the state's test of faith Failed. Danny Hauser, pictured with his mother Colleen, above, is now the subject of a national manhunt after the two did not show up for a court hearing on Tuesday. (follow the link for the original story)

This is, of course, immediately following another hearing in which Brown County, Minnesota District Judge John Rodenberg found that the state has demonstrated "a compelling interest in the life and welfare of Daniel sufficient to override fundimental constitutional rights of both the parents and Daniel" 

In response to the mother and child failing to appear before the same judge who has already ordered Danny to be subjected to chemotherapy against his and his parents will, the judge issued an arrest warrant for Colleen, and ordered Danny to be remanded to the custody of child welfare services, citing that "It is imperative that Daniel receive the attention of an oncologist as soon as possible." His father, Anthony, (mistakenly identified as David in the media) did appear for the hearing, but after his claim of marital privledge, the right that no person can be forced to testify against their spouse, was overruled by the judge, he testified that he does not know where his wife and son are and that they left the family's farm on Monday afternoon, after his wife told him that they had to leave "for a while." The father also testified that Danny was not there at that time.

State and national crime alerts went out Tuesday afternoon, along with a copy of the arrest and detainment warrants for both Colleen and Danny, but at this time, their location is unknown.

Danny, as well as his mother believe that the Chemotherapy will do great harm to his body, as well as cause great pain to the 13 year old boy. They also beleive, as a matter of principle, that it is immoral to willingly and knowingly cause harm to another human being without that persons consent. In this sense, i agree with them 100%, and a short list of Chemotherapy side effects is all that it really takes to prove that it is in fact harmful.
Hair Loss
Immune System Suppression
Brain Damage
Vascular Problems
Heart Damage
Liver and Kidney Damage
Lung Damage
Eye Damage
Mouth Sores
Weight Loss
Excessive Pain
Sensitivity to Light
Wart and other skin problems
Increased Risk of Certain Types of Cancer

and Yes, Death. To include just a few.
In fact, a study released in January of this year by the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Deaths in Britain, looked at the cases of 600 cancer sufferers in the country who had passed on within 30 days of treatment. The study found that about 1 in every 4 of such deaths had either been sped up or was probably caused by chemotherapy. The study's findings also included the discovery that 2 out of every 5 of the patients had suffered significant poisoning from the treatment. Danny Hauser stated in court that he beleived another round of Chemotherapy would kill him, and he might be right. In most, if not all cases of chemotherapy, even if they survive the treatment, the patient is likely to still die of Cancer

And so the Hausers feel, that irregardless of the potential (and no one has ever claimed it is a sure thing) benefit of chemo, it would still be immoral to subject little Danny Hauser to the known side effects of the most toxic drug set in the world, at the very least, without his consent. 

Many Cancer patients feel the same way, chosing not to undergo chemo, every day, in increasing numbers, as more and more of them have previously seen the effects of chemo firsthand.

The state, on the other hand, has no such compunction, and feels, as it does in almost all matters it takes into its hands, that no sacrifice, be it lives, propriety, or constitutional rights, is too great, as long as there is potential benefit for itself.

Godspeed Danny and Colleen Hauser, forced to flee from the reach of government intervention or to subject Danny to a test of faith in the immutible power of The State, who, of course, always knows whats best for you, or your children.

"When they Outlaw freedom, only Outlaws will be Free"

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Correcting Home-schooling Misconceptions

At risk of sounding like I think that Parents should be free to raise their children as they see fit, be it in deciding how much poison should be pumped into a childs body, or how they decide to educate them, I have to touch on the subject, again, today, though not from the perspective objecting to government interference (yet.)

You see, a friend of mine ran into some particularly unfriendly professionals when they took their daughter to the dentist this morning, apparently the staff was offended that they would dare to educate their own child. This sort of reaction is all too familiar to many home-school parents when they encounter people who would never question "the way it is supposed to be" and can be even more complicated when the uneducated dolts they have to deal with work with the government or its school system, and can be difficult to overcome. I drafted the following letter to the owner of the practice in response, and thought I would also share it here.

To Whom it may concern:

It has come to my attention that members of your staff have some very strong misconceptions about home-schooled children and their parents, and have gone so far as to make derogatory and offensive comments to the parents of a home-schooled child that was in your office today. While I doubt that these parents will ever return to your practice with their wonderful daughter, I hope I can fix some of those misconceptions and prevent your employees from so offending other parents, in the future, with their ignorance and inappropriate comments. This is an issue that should be considered in all seriousness, as today in the United States somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 million children's parents choose to educate those children at home, to become more involved in the process of raising a well educated and responsible child.

I encourage you to share the following facts with your staff:

1. Home-schooled children are not neglected or disadvantaged educationally. 

In 1997, a study of 5,402 home-school students from 1,657 families was released. It was entitled, "Strengths of Their Own: Home Schoolers Across America." The study demonstrated that home-schoolers, on the average, out-performed their counterparts in the public schools by 30 to 37 percentile points in all subjects. These scores were all compiled from the educational industry standard Stanford Achievement Test, the same test that is used to benchmark the educational progress of children in public school. 

These 5,124 home-schoolers' composite scores on the basic battery of tests in reading, math, and language arts ranked 18 to 28 percentile points above public school averages. For instance, 692 home-schooled 4th graders averaged in the 77th percentile in reading, the 63rd percentile in math, and the 70th percentile in language arts. Sixth-grade home-schoolers, of 505 tested, scored in the 76th percentile in reading, the 65th percentile in math, and the 72nd percentile in language arts.

The home-schooled high schoolers did even better, which goes against the trend in public schools where studies show the longer a child is in the public schools, the lower he scores on standardized tests. One hundred and eighteen tenth-grade home-school students, as a group, made an average score of the 82nd percentile in reading, the 70th percentile in math, and the 81st percentile in language arts.

The fact is, on average, Home-schooled children are better educated than their Public School Peers, as evidenced by numerous studies on the subject, both from home-school advocacy groups, and by the various State Departments of Education. This academic aptitude results in a very high rate of acceptance into college and university programs, even, sometimes, at an accelerated age.

2. Home-schooled children are not neglected or disadvantaged socially.

Most families who choose to home-school their children are very active outside the home and make opportunities to practice social skills. Home-school parents have more natural opportunities to coach their children on social skills, and home-schooled children have more opportunities to relate to people of all ages, rather than only being isolated with twenty-five people their age in a classroom, and simply told to sit still. Many children, for example, may find a small home-schooled physical education class easier to adapt to than a public school class with all of its social distractions and disturbances. 

There are numerous sport or other social activities that are available to home-school children, even in most school districts, the ability to join sports teams or gym classes

Organizing social activities takes time, and some families, in some places, do struggle to avoid isolation, but even in these cases, enrolling a student in public school does not guarantee good social skills, a good social life, or good friends, either. As one mother said of her children's experiences in public school, "They don't really get social skills at school, and what they do get, I find to be negative." Examples of this abound, from grade school drug epidemics, to gang activity starting at ever younger ages, or as simple as social reinforcement of behavior that would be addressed as rude or inappropriate if addressed by a responsible adult. With their parents so often at their side, home-schooled children were able to see what good manners and self-confidence looked like, rather than be forced to adopt the jungle code of the average high school corridor.

By and large, it has been my observation and experience that home-schooled children grow up to be very polite and sociable, with the added benefit of being able to relate and interact with people outside of their own peer-group. They have fulfilling friendships, and have no social problems in day to day life, and have more experience in interacting in "the real world."

3. Parents do not only home-school "problem children" or children with learning disabilities.

Families will choose to undertake home-schooling their children for a variety of reasons, often something as simple as wanting to provide the best educational experience available. Many parents, in fact, come up against the opposite problem, that their child is learning faster than the classroom environment can provide new material. Many parents find it difficult or impossible to get the public education system to skip their child ahead a grade, or to skip subject levels they have already mastered, and don't want their child held back, or dumbed-down, just to keep up with an arbitrary age based curriculum system.

Other Parents simply want to be more involved with their children, and spend more time with them, something that can hardly be put in the realm of "neglect." One parent I know works long hours, and only has time off during the week, he says that if he didn't home-school, he would never see his own children. Instead, they do schoolwork the hours that he works, at home, and they take their days off together as a family. 

It is true that some parents can become frustrated by the public schools inability to address specific difficulties their child may experience, in a group setting, and choose to address those issues at home, in a one on one setting, but the majority of home-schooled children have no educational or behavioral problems, and shouldn't be treated any different than an average child coming from public school.

4. The Parents of home-schoolers are not all "Religious Zealots" or members of some "Lunatic Fringe."

Homeschooling families come from all walks of life, and can fit nearly as many descriptions as could be applied to parents of children in public schools, with, perhaps one exception. None of them can be called "uninvolved." 

There is no leader, and no reigning ideology that home-school parents must follow. For example, the Home School Legal Defense Association, despite its energetic lawyers and many admirers, is not the leader of home schooling in this country. Instead there a number of children whose families want them to learn at home for many different reasons, often having little to do with religion or politics.

The stereotypical image of home-schoolers as lockstep religious conservatives quickly falls apart when you discover that some of these parents have been shunned by their fundamentalist churches for teaching their kids at home rather than sending them to the church's school, and for many many parents, religious concerns play little to no part in their choice to become more involved in their children's educational process. As I have already mentioned, there are many reasons a parent would choose to home-school their children and those parents come from many different perspectives and backgrounds. 

Perhaps the most telling example I can think of is the sheer number of Public School Teachers who chose to home-school their own children. As one teacher, Maureen, volunteered apologetically: "I didn't want my children to be treated the way I treated some kids," She has a B.A. in psychology and a B.Ed. qualifying her as a teacher and has 13 years experience teaching in a public elementary school in Vancouver. She doesn't say this to claim that she was mean or uncaring, but says that in order to run a class with so many children, she had no choice but to engage in some form of manipulation, however subtle and well-intentioned it was. A desire to provide a better environment for her children why she now home-schools her two daughters. And its not just teachers, as there are several Public and Private school Principles who also chose to home-school their children, in addition to the scores of parents from every conceivable public and private background.

To assume someone is a religious fundamentalist or a member of some anti government political fringe, just because they chose to home-school their children is simply ignorant and is not borne out at all by the facts.

As a long time advocate of Home-school, and having been home-schooled myself, I hope this information helps you in understanding the reality of the present state of homeschooling in the United States, and contributes to your office's sensitivity in the future.

The basic idea to be considered can be boiled down to who cares more about a child's learning, than their own parents? Regardless of the situation or your staff's understanding of the issues at hand, no one has the right to insult a parent for doubtlessly doing what they feel is best for their children. 

Thank you for addressing this,
R. Franz.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Hippocratic Oafs

Poison your child or we will take your child from you.
Submit to the taking of your child, or we will imprison you. 
Submit to imprisonment, or we will kill you.

In the Police State, the penalty is always death, and the choice is never yours.

Submit, or die.

In what seems mostly oddly comparable to the biblical story of Abraham and Issac, a Judge in Minnesota has ordered a 13 year old boy's parents to resume submitting him to chemotherapy treatment for Hodgkin's Lymphoma, despite the fact that neither the boy, nor his parents feel that is best for him, or his health. If Anthony and Colleen Hauser refuse to sacrifice little Danny Hauser to illustrate their obedience to the all-knowing State, Brown County District Judge John Rodenberg states that the boy will be taken from his parents custody, and will consider charging them with Medical Neglect. Of course, unlike the biblical fable, the government is unlikely to say "just kidding" at the last minute. These tests of faith are for keep.

The boy, Danny, had completed one course of chemo, which the parents felt they were coerced into accepting, and decided after seeing the side effects of chemo treatment firsthand, that they would explore other treatments available to them. They stated through their court appointed lawyer that they felt that "the injection of chemotherapy into Danny Hauser amounts to an assault upon his body, and torture when it occurs over a long period of time,"

Danny himself is vehemently opposed to the treatment, stating in his court testimony that he believes the chemo will kill him, and said: "I'd fight it. I'd punch them and I'd kick them."

After that initial treatment, the Hausers decided they wouldn't subject Danny to any more chemo without his consent, and began to explore other treatment options, include homeopathic and native American methods. The doctor who administered the Chemo was concerned by this, and contacted the County Prosecutor's office, who asked a judge to intervene. He did.

A large segment of the alternative cancer treatment crowd feels that Hodgkin's lymphoma has a very high success rate with non-chemo treatments, but medical experts offered their opinion that without Chemotherapy treatment Danny has a 95% chance of dying. (I didnt even go to med school, but im fairly confident that the actual chance of mortality is somewhat closer to 100%, in all cases.) But they made no mention of the fact that when Danny orriginaly went to the doctor, he could barely breath, and now (despite suffering from a Deep Vein Thrombosis that appeared in his arm immediately following the initiation of chemo) he claims to feel just fine, much better than he did immediately after the treatment.

A court-appointed attorney for Daniel, Philip Elbert, called the judge's decision unfortunate.

"I feel it's a blow to families," he said Friday. "It marginalizes the decisions that parents face every day in regard to their children's medical care. It really affirms the role that big government is better at making our decisions for us."

Which, of course is the legal precedence that is set forth here, that the government and its approved sources of information are better qualified that you to make personal decisions involving your health, or that of your child. The money quote from the judgement was that the state has demonstrated "a compelling interest in the life and welfare of Daniel sufficient to override fundimental constitutional rights of both the parents and Daniel" 

While many people claim that the chemotherapy in question might help Danny overcome his illness, none are willing to state that the chemotherapy will not hurt him, and this is where the Hauser family comes to odds with contemporary popular opinion, as they don't believe it is ever acceptable to cause harm to another human being, without that beings explicit permission. In essence, they have their own, voluntary, Hippocratic Oath, and they meant to keep it. The government, of course, borne out of the concept of "the greater good," has no such compunction, feeling that no sacrifice is too great, as long as it receives benefit from it in the end. Perhaps the profit seeking medical industry has adopted the same outlook, in search of profits. 

A commenter on one story I read has accepted this judgement with blind faith in science, without ever having looked at it himself. Not very scientific of him, I don't think, but i think this is how the majority of public opinion swings, today. Accepting the opinion of "Great Authority" without qualification, or their own understanding of the moral issues at hand. This great vox populi stated:

Jonathan May 17
The only choice is between Scientifically proven methods or Voodoo. Of course it is child abuse when parent such as this and the last commentator continue to try and cure their children with voodoo. Ignorance is not an excuse.
I think scientifically proven is a bit of an unfounded statement there, isn't it Johnathan? It is proven, I mean there were studies right? they must have proved them, after all. Yes, of course. But proven to do what?

It is proven to Kill cellular tissue, as most poisons of that type will, and in certain types of tumor, it is proven to reduce tumor size by a statistically significant amount in a statistically significant segment of a test group.

That is it. It does not say it will cure cancer, no one has ever claimed it will, and most people who undergo chemotherapy eventualy die of cancer. (I'd venture that the majority of those who dont, die in auto-accidents and by suicide, if not complications from the immune system crushing that is chemo.) There is no guarantee that it will even extend the life of the patient, and in some cases it will drastically reduce it.

And that is to say nothing of what is "proven" in the way of the worst side effects of any drug still allowed on the market.

In essence, all that is proven 100% of the time, is that the outcome will be a crap shoot, and the experience painful and miserable. In the case of something that benefits a percentage of individual patients, but harms 100% of patients, human judgement must be used to figure out if that particular case would be better served by the application of treatment or not.

A child is not a statistic, and neither is any other patient. It might be proven to statistically improve a percentage of patients, but those statistics are only designed to guide the judgement of applicability to the INDIVIDUAL case. This is why, in the US, which is one of the heaviest pro-chemo medical industries in the world, still does not prescribe chemo in 100% of cancer cases.

It is only after the consideration of the type and stage of the cancer, as well as the general health and age of the patient that many sufferers of cancer are told by their doctors, that chemo treatment is not advisable, and that they should go home.

In the case of an individual, these choices are recommended by the doctor and the final decision is made by the patient. In the case of a child, who is better able to make these judgements than the parent who knows the child, and is responsible for looking for their well being?

The choice presented isnt as was stated, between "proven science and voodoo" it is between something that may help, with blind luck, but is guaranteed to simultaneously create great suffering, and something that may also help, but also, and more importantly to at least these parents, will not hurt the child.

This decision is to be made as a judgement call, and not by statistical analysis, or it would have to treat every case of gran mal seizures with a hemispherectomy, no matter that the treatment could be as simple as a mild anti convulsant. It is a parent's right to do what they think is best for their child, especially when the alternative can be nothing but suffering, and a painful, hairless, vomiting death.

Well, Johnathan, if ignorance is not an excuse, what is yours?

And what is the state's excuse, and you, Doctor, what is yours?

Perhaps you forgot this portion of your precious oath: 
"Above all, I must not play at God."

How quickly we forget.

If you would like to read more about Danny Hauser's case, and the judge that ruled neither he nor his parents have say over what is done with his body, you can, here 

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Revive or Expire.

From my reading today, which has made me tired, and I fear, none the more optimistic:

"They have made the happy discovery, that the way to silence disputes, is to take no notice of them. Let us too give this experiment fair play, and get rid, while we may, of those tyrannical laws. It is true, we are as yet secured against them by the spirit of the times. [...] But is the spirit of the people an infallible, a permanent reliance? Is it government? Is this the kind of protection we receive in return for the rights we give up? Besides, the spirit of the times may alter, will alter. Our rulers will become corrupt, our people careless. A single zealot may commence persecutor, and better men be his victims. It can never be too often repeated, that the time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest, and ourselves united. From the conclusion of this war we shall be going down hill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves, but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of this war, will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier, till our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion."
-- Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.XVII, 1782.

Also, on an almost unrelated note, is it just me, or does the new Star Trek Film make it seem like there will be little to zero improvement in the quality of life in the US in the year 2258, despite huge improvements in energy and construction technology, along with the opening of the interstellar raw material locker? Outside of Starfleet, (and possibly the police force) all I saw was some flashing lights to distract the kiddies while they were away from their studies and labors. Hell, the only nice things I saw on earth, that wasnt owned by the government, were antiques. Good lot that says for the fate of liberating technology. Now mind you, Im not taking the scenery in some Hollywood flick as prophesy of the future, but Star Trek itself was born out of the idea of showing the full potential of humanity, and as anyone who has ever watched "How William Shatner Changed the World" knows, it inspired a good number of great minds to reach for that envisioned potential. This... This is mindless distractions and college barfights and dirty dockworkers paying god knows what in taxes to build the most expensive versions of the USS Ronald Reagan ever conceived. 

Im going to bed.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Your Cereals are on Drugs!!

Uhh oh... Here we go again. The Food and Drug Administration has sent a threatening letter to General Mills warning them that Cheerios are a new unapproved new drug. 

You didnt misread that, no, the FDA is now stating that a breakfast cereal invented in 1941 is an Unapproved New Drug. 

Heres an excerpt:

Unapproved New Drug

Based on claims made on your product's label, we have determined that your Cheerios® Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal is promoted for conditions that cause it to be a drug because the product is intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease. Specifically, your Cheerios® product bears the following claims ort its label:

• "you can Lower Your Cholesterol 4% in 6 weeks" " 
• "Did you know that in just 6 weeks Cheerios can reduce bad cholesterol by an average of 4 percent? Cheerios is ... clinically proven to lower cholesterol. A clinical study showed that eating two 1 
1/2 cup servings daily of Cheerios cereal reduced bad cholesterol when eaten as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol."

These claims indicate that Cheerios® is intended for use in lowering cholesterol, and therefore in preventing, mitigating, and treating the disease hypercholesterolemia. Additionally, the claims indicate that Cheerios® is intended for use in the treatment, mitigation, and prevention of coronary heart disease through, lowering total and "bad" (LDL) cholesterol. Elevated levels of total and LDL cholesterol are a risk factor for coronary heart disease and can be a sign of coronary heart disease. Because of these intended uses, the product is a drug within the meaning of section 201(g)(1)(B) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 321 (g)P)(B)]. The product is also a new drug under section 201(p) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 321(p)] because it is not generally recognized as safe and effective for use in preventing or treating hypercholesterolemia or coronary heart disease.

Followed shortly by the allegation that the box is mislabeled because it makes the inappropriate,  untested and unproved claim that eating healthy is good for you. 

Your Cheerios ® product is misbranded within the meaning of section 403(r)(1)(B) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 343(r)(1)(B)] because it bears unauthorized health claims in its labeling. We have determined that your website is labeling for your Cheerios® product under section 201(m) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 321 (m)] because the website address appears on the product label. This website bears the following unauthorized health claims:

  • "Heart-healthy diets rich in whole grain foods, can reduce the risk of heart disease."

Jebus. is there anyone out there (other than my dear friend Bilgeman) who still thinks the FDA is a regulatory agency tasked with guarding public health, and not a part of a huge Pharmaceutical Cartel Protection Racket tasked with dismantling and destroying anything that might threaten Drug Company profits by so much as hinting that you dont need to take handfulls of patented pills to be healthy? Red Yeast, Vitamins, Fish, and now Cheerios?

The FDA has grown in size 1,000% since 1955, and in the same time period, the time to bring a new life saving drug to market has tripled. The FY 2008 budget was 2,300 million dollars, and is set to expand this year, not to provide more regulation to protect the public health, but to more effectively provide the protectionism that the american medical industry requires to maintain profits in such an unbalanced market.

As i said in Confronting the Cost of Addiction:
The FDA is the reason most of the people i know travel out of their home country to buy the medicine they need to ensure their health, when the other countries have similar regulations, but the drugs are cheaper, because their parasitic regulator cartels haven't yet grown as fat, and without such massive parasitism and protectionism, the general cost of health care would be a fraction of what it is today, as evidenced by the market of "medical tourism", a sad state of affairs if ever Ive seen one.
This rising cost is felt across the board, and now, might even effect your breakfast.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Economics in Two Paragraphs

This short passage was written by Turgot as a summary of the thought of Vincent de Gournay (who coined the phrase "laissez faire et laissez passer"), Together, the two, in a fact that makes obvious the absurdly false dicotomy of US one party politics, made up a significant intellectual force of the "Left Wing" or "Liberals" of early revolutionary France. In the following excerpt, Turgot makes a few things abundantly clear:

"The general freedom of buying and selling is therefore the only means of assuring, on the one hand, the seller of a price sufficient to encourage production, and on the other hand, the consumer, of the best merchandise at the lowest price. This is not to say that in particular instances we may not find a cheating merchant and a duped consumer; but the cheated consumer will learn by experience and will cease to frequent the cheating merchant, who will fall into discredit and thus will be punished for his fraudulence; and this will never happen very often, because generally men will be enlightened upon their evident self-interest.

To expect the government to prevent such fraud from ever occurring would be like wanting it to provide cushions for all the children who might fall. To assume it to be possible to prevent successfully, by regulation, all possible malpractices of this kind, is to sacrifice to a chimerical perfection the whole progress of industry; it is to restrict the imagination of artificers to the narrow limits of the familiar; it is to forbid them all new experiments; it is to renounce even the hope of competing with the foreigners in the making of the new products which they invent daily, since, as they do not conform to our regulations, our workmen cannot imitate these articles without first having obtained permission from the government, that is to say, often after the foreign factories, having profited by the first eagerness of the consumer for this novelty, have already replaced it with something else. It means forgetting that the execution of these regulations is always entrusted to men who may have all the more interest in fraud or in conniving at fraud since the fraud which they might commit would be covered in some way by the seal of public authority and by the confidence which this seal inspires, in the consumers. It is also to forget that these regulations, these inspectors, these offices for inspection and marking, always involve expenses, and that these expenses are always a tax on the merchandise, and as a result overcharge the domestic consumer and discourage the foreign buyer. Thus, with obvious injustice, commerce, and consequently the nation, are charged with a heavy burden to save a few idle people the trouble of instructing themselves or of making enquiries to avoid being cheated. To suppose all consumers to be dupes, and all merchants and manufacturers to be cheats, has the effect of authorizing them to be so, and of degrading all the working members of the community."

– Turgot, "√Čloge de Gournay" (1759), translated by P.D. Groenewegen

When you subsidize failure, you create incentives to fail, and when you penalize the successful to create those subsidies, you remove the incentive to succeed. If you protect people from the ability to commit failure, you remove the ability and necessity for them to learn, and penalize those who do, creating an entire culture of fail.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Peter Schiff, Uninterrupted.

For once. 

I know most of you are familiar with Peter Schiff, the unofficial king of financial doomdom, and i know all his videos are all over the net. I did think this one was noteworthy, though, as most of the others are clips of him making one or two points and being interrupted by television pundits who weren't really listening and then being summarily dismissed. It was nice to hear him make the entirety of the case, uninterrupted, and very clearly.


Give it watch, and see the stark difference between what passes as media and government, versus what the rest of us call logic.

Also worth mention is the fact that Peter Schiff is rumored to be considering running for the U.S. Senate in 2010
check it out here 

Sunday's Dilbert.

I'm a moderate fan of Dilbert, good strip, nice dry humor, and often very on target topically. I read the paper a little late, so most of you probably saw this before i did, but i thought it about nailed it.

I would like to note though, just as the fraud of Financiers, Regulators, and Rating Agencies have made things this terrible for all of us, they have only tied their own hands when it comes to moving forward, not ours. The fact is, we have been here before, as we were lied to by overlords in the past, who made guarantees of social security (no pun intended), and failed to carry through, we were able to stop listening to them, and move on. This is the way many a European monarchy ceased to be of great import, and many a former "regulator" was chopped up by fishwives.

The fact is, we know we cant trust them, they know they cant trust each other, and so there is very little business that can get done, with them. I think where my opinion differs from Mr Adams' though, is that i don't see that as the death of capitalism, but rather a new birth of it. The fact is, there are people you can trust out there, good people, friends, family, people with like values and viewpoints, members of your own communities, etc, and you should be doing your business with them, and they with you, and we can all prosper as we watch the fates of the plundering fools in their giant "too big to fail" spiral down the porcelain bowl of history.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Moderately Amusing.

"From my own experience visiting the troops in the Middle East, I can tell you this, though: despite how the conflict has been portrayed by our glorious media, if you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Osama bin Laden, there's a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice... and Harry Reid and bin Laden would be strangled to death,"  Feherty wrote in an a D Magazine piece welcoming former President George W. Bush back to Dallas.
Heh, his comment didn't sit too well with a few reactionaries, offended as they were that such jokes about challenging the sacrosanct will of democratic process (independent of the rule of law) could be made in... public speech. (gasp) People who as David Codrea pointed out, don't understand what exactly the purpose of our military is (no, not to assassinate boobs on the hill). Read his reply here. 

Saturday, May 9, 2009

New Deal, Raw Deal, Same Deal

From a 1934 issue of the Chicago Tribune, about the same time as the beginning of what historians now refer to as "the second New Deal" 

Im sure alot of people about that time were thinking "Watch out, here it comes again"

I found this cartoon today, just after reading a news article about how the presidential administration is leaning towards empowering the Federal Reserve as the super-regulators of the financial industry, overseeing any financial or business transaction that they feel might pose a risk to systemic stability. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said that he thinks that one executive agency or individual needs to be put in charge, because "Committees don't make decisions," He also said such a regulator should be given oversight into all institutions that pose a risk to the financial system, regardless of what business they are in.

I read this immediately after seeing several articles about how the proposed federal budget is going to save us metric shitloads of money, and reducing the federal deficit (money we will owe China) by... Are you ready for this? 3/5 of 1%! Well crikey, if that doesnt make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, i dont know what would. Of course, when i looked a little closer, the articles made no mention of the Trillions of dollars that have already been spent this year, outside of any official "budgets" to push on the nationalization of our financial and automotive industries, it completely passed over the 9% increase in war spending, and didnt so much as touch upon the fact that not only is the 1,750,000 million dollar spending deficit enclosed in this budget, what normal people refer to as running your business into the ground, it is not a drastic reduction in overspending from even last year, nor did it mention that the amount that is to overspent in this budget is nearly equal to the entire federal budget of FY 2000. Thats right, we are going to overspend and borrow as much money this year, as we spent in total, just 9 years ago.

It also doesn't make clear if the revenue estimates enclosed in calculating that deficit include the tapering off in revenue collection that is only to be expected in the ongoing depression, as all I hear on the radio (and im sure the TV is parroting the message) is that "the recession is coming to an end" and that "the regulatory steps that have been taken so far have finally made room for the economy to start showing real growth again." Somehow im not sure it does. Back in the real world, the city i live in, a major employer is exporting all but one of its facilities to Malaysia, effecting at least 10,000 direct jobs, and an untold number of vendors, suppliers, and contractors. and this is only one employer. Man, can't you just feel that stimulus at work there? We can only hope they arent believing their own lies, or we may well end up with a deficit far in excess of their own estimate of 1.75 Trillion Dollars (thats a couple thousand dollars in debt for every man woman and child in the US) and in fact, far in excess of any previous administration, since... well, the end of World War II, and the demise of the first two "New Deals."

Watch out, here it comes again.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Ashton Lundeby Case

William Grigg has a very thorough rundown of both sides of the Ashton Lundeby case, in which federal agents have been holding a 16 year old child without bail (flight risk? haha!) on a (as all federal juvenile cases are) sealed docket, evidently stemming from a bomb threat that was phoned in via VOIP, in another state. Initially it was reported that the case was being processed under provisions of the USA S.U.B.J., er P.A.T.R.I.O.T. act, but in fact, this is unlikely, as there are plenty of old overreaching federal laws with which to denigrate children and other "threats." 

You should read it here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Securing your Right to Free Speech

Summary and Fundimental Assertions:
  1. Free Speech is a protected Natural Right, recognized in many places.
  2. Alienated or marginalized individuals are able to coalesce into a cohesive movement through a common language of resistance
  3. An open free speech area that promotes ideas on their own merit will aid in the development of a Manyspeak democracy
  4. Free Speech frightens the State because it threatens the illusion and control of a unified Onespeak Democracy.
  5. The state identifies, regulates and infringes free speech.
  6. The state is very likely to continue to infringe further and further.
  7. You can take measures now to protect yourself and your right to free speech. 
  8. Further measures of protection should be developed and more regularly employed.
  9. We are afforded, currently, a tremendous opportunity to unshackle our society from an engineered Onespeak Democracy
  10. The challenges presented by a Manyspeak Democracy can be overcome by the restoration of Freedom and the Rule of Law. 

The Right To Free Speech:

The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution reads as follows:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances"
But congress has made laws, haven't they? From the Biden-Feinstein Act to bills that speak of "Homegrown Domestic Terrorists", they write bills, and vote, and appoint watchers and listeners, and our rights are continually infringed and eroded.

The Nineteenth article of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that:

"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

But all around the world governments, from China to California, tell their people what information may and may not be imparted or received, dont they? And then they watch and listen to what is said, seeking out violations of their oh so important regulations, for "the good of the state."

Eric Holder, the Attorney General apointee of President Obama, the highest law enforcement office in the land, has stated that he does in fact support "Reasonable Restrictions on Free Speech" especially concerning that all too scary boogieman "Internet."

The Internet, as you will no doubt hear more and more in the coming months, is a danger to the status quo, the stability of systems, because it is essentially unregulated. What they wont say is that it is essentially equal, and it is this equality that poses the real risk. All forms of expression that can be used to impart information are to be feared by those who prefer safety and stability to freedom, and are in danger, but the Internet is a special case. While people like Chuck Schumer wont come out and say it, the reason he says that the Internet "should be regulated like pornography" is that the Internet has very little in the way of class or caste controls. As many members of blog sites, such as this one, show, Anyone Can Have a Voice. This is a scary idea for the controlling oligarchy, and if you contrast this with the historical emphasis on freedom of the press, which was intended to be in fact free; but only at a price, you will notice a stark difference, a difference with a huge and beneficial impact on democracy.

In 1791, at the adoption of the first amendment, "Freedom of the Press" only applied to a handful of pressowners, all well-to-do members of their communities, often businessmen with a variety of other investments. The ordinary citizen could not afford a printing press. In short, these were all men who were part of the system, and who, if they strayed from the system, had something the system could hold over them to bring them back into the fold.

Its true, people who weren't connected, or well-to-do, were still able to speak their minds and could often still hand letter handbills or letters and make their viewpoints know, but to who? a handful of bills or letters at most, and in this way, this freedom of speech, and of the press was protected, but always slanted through the screened voices of class separation. The mass influence of the modern press was unrivaled, even up into the technological age, where its class tradition was preserved in the new worlds of Radio and Television. As these new technologies developed, there arose private newsletters and shortwave radio stations, even small mail order video distributors, with alternative viewpoints, but still, the influence of the status quo, the system of the affluent, far exceeded the influential impact of a few people here and there who might receive such mailings, or such broadcasts, and so, while the movement of information was free, it was always essentially controlled, at least enough for a democratic society to maintain its equilibrium through majority influence and preserve the status quo. This is the essential point of maintaining mob rule, with the viewpoint that unbridled democracy is inherently instable, tumultuous and undesirable. In effect, the idea that The Masses can't be trusted.

The accessibility of the Internet, however, is quite different from the mass media concept of tiered information, as not only can anyone, at almost no charge, post their opinion, anyone can reach, and read it, and with exactly the same investment, is able to repost it, or forward it, if they so desire. In this way information is uncontrolled, and in fact viral. It is true that no one web journal article or independent web page is read by as many people as say the front page of CNN, so in a way that tiered propagation of viewpoints is maintained, even on new technology, but at the same time, one article, or idea can be spread from person to person, from web journal to web journal in a matter of minutes, often traveling further than a single article from a big news site ever could. This propagation of information, spreading like the branches on a tree, is what has made the Internet a powerful tool for the conveyance of ideas.

For the first time in history, information has the potential to be vetted entirely on its merits, and not on the merits of the person or agency providing the information.

If you would, consider the following:

"Colonial rebellions throughout the modern world have been acts
of shared political imagination. Unless unhappy people develop the capacity to
trust other unhappy people, protest remains a local affair easily silenced by
traditional authority. Usually, however, a moment arrives when large numbers of
men and women realize for the first time that they enjoy the support of
strangers, ordinary people much like themselves who happen to live in distant
places and whom under normal circumstances they would never meet. It is an
intoxicating discovery. A common language of resistance suddenly opens to those
who are most vulnerable to painful retribution the possibility of creating a new
community. As the conviction of solidarity grows, parochial issues and
aspirations merge imperceptibly with a compelling national agenda which only a
short time before may have been the dream of only a few. For many American
colonists this moment occurred late in the spring of 1774." -- T.H. Breen, The
Marketplace of Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence,
Oxford University Press, 2004, p.1.

As information and opinion spreads, it can be latched upon by unhappy portions of the masses, who, then, are no longer isolated from the rest of society, and inevitably, through either isolation or re-assimilation, neutralized as mere interruptions of the status quo. Instead, unhappy portions can gather and form their own shadow societies, people with like values or beliefs can gather virtually or physically and reinforce those beliefs and values together, as they communicate and interact separately from the masses that share the beliefs and values pushed down by the tiered and controlled media, society at large. This shared political imagination can spontaneously, organically bloom into a societal revolution of sorts, with a definite impact upon democracy. Just in recent times, i can think of one such "revolution" that did, in fact, have a definite impact on the last presidential campaign, though that movement was only in its infancy.

This sort of organic democracy, is, and always has been a challenge to the authority of the status quo state. As society evolves, an autocratic or unresponsive government will always lag behind the will of the people, which it tries to combat by controlling that evolution. A society that can evolve in many different directions simultaneously is a logistical nightmare for any controlling statist, and therefor, a threat. 

And so, these status quo statists, believe that they must fight this unstable and dangerous force. They pass laws outlawing certain types of speech, they first illegally, and then under protection of law, set up processes and agencies to monitor 100% of the available information, building databases and launching investigations into those that originated it. Examples, or signals of this impending choke hold already abound, both to frighten people into "watching what they say" and to punish those who might originate such language of resistance; ideologically, or through action. 

In 1996 the Communications Decency Act was signed into law, severely restricting online speech that could potentially be seen by a minor – which, of course was argued, is almost all of online speech. (Crying "its for the children!")

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act criminalizes the discussion and dissemination of technology that could be used to circumvent copyright protection mechanisms, and makes it easier to act against alleged copyright infringement on the Internet.

The Biden/Fienstein Act made it illegal to instruct anyone how to build explosives or other dangerous weapons on the Internet (older pages say to boil bleach outside and add salt to supersaturation) 

Jim Bell has of this year served over 10 years in a federal prison for writing a single article he posted to the net. The original article, entitled "Assassination Politics" was pulled from the internet, and for many years the government forced other servers to remove copies of the article, but soon realized they were fighting a losing battle, and instead creating much more interest, through its big brother censorship tactics, in what was originally an obscure thought exercises in free market impacts on government corruption. Today a simple google search will bring up hundreds of copies. 

Sherman Austin, an 18 year old kid in L.A. was arrested and convicted, not for writing anything, but for merely hosting content on his server, "" content that the government didn't agree with, and he was convicted of "cyberterrorism" the first such case tried under the S.U.B.J.errr... P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act.

And its not just Political activists that have been targeted or silenced.

A January 4, 2007 restraining order issued by U.S. District Court Judge Jack B. Weinstein forbade a large number of activists in the psychiatric survivors movement from posting links on their websites to leaked documents which purportedly show that Eli Lilly and Company intentionally withheld information as to the lethal side-effects of Zyprexa. The Electronic Frontier Foundation appealed this as prior restraint on the right to link to and post documents, saying that citizen-journalists should have the same First Amendment rights as major media outlets. The First Amendment Concerns in this case were dismissed by the appeal court.

The authors of PGP (pretty good privacy) a secure encryption scheme for email, were involved in a multi-year court battle over their work, which the government argued could thwart their attempts to secure evidence or perform proper surveillance, under the assertion that encryption was a weapon, and subject to the same controls they hold over missile guidance systems.

This tendency toward increased regulation of content and accessibility to the Internet shows no signs of slowing, nor is it likely that it will, as it is not in the state's interest, the US congress has proposed legislation to ban access of all social networking sites from schools and public libraries, the Deleting Online Predators Act, and numerous bills have been proposed to introduce FCC style regulation of the Internet as a whole, under the misnamed "Net Neutrality" movement, and more recently there has been a number of vocal proponents, like Chuck Shumer, for regulating political speech under the guise of "Fairness Doctrines" As the state marches on with these limits, it becomes ever more clear that, if we wish to retain this right to free speech, not just in private conversations, but in the public forum of the world wide web, we must guard both against laws that would give watchers more power, and that we must guard the ability to defeat the detection of the watchers entirely.

As the measures taken against free speech on the Internet become more totalitarian in nature, those who wish to preserve those rights must become more defiant of those infringements, while protecting themselves from being targeted or eliminated for what they say, believe, or read online. While no measure of security is invulnerable, there are many common techniques any advocate or supporter of real change must familiarize themselves with, and depending on their personal circumstances and content, begin using even now, as a small measure of protection, and more importantly, to raise awareness of what really is going on behind the scene with big brother.

It is in this vein that i have introduced a series of articles on "Some Semblance of Privacy." The first article, on creating a portable thumbdrive with a browser that disables some tracking scripting as well as anonymize the orgin of browser traffic, is already up. This double layer of protection, in both the drive being usable from anywhere, as well as the traffic being rerouted to various secure proxies around the world, is a good start, but we will need to know more than just how to view a webpage securely. We might need an encrypted Chat, or Anonymous Email, or... and the list goes on. As time permits, I will add to it, but it is a good starting point, from a practical application standpoint, and something you can do today.

In the future it is possible that we will need something like public decentralized servers to host dissident content or discussions, and i hope that someone is working now on a simple user friendly solution to that now. The Freenet Project is an excellent example of uncensorable internet, but it isnt particularly user friendly, and doesn't work for static reference materials, as all content expires and is eventually purged from the network. It is still, however, important that we continue to work to protect the opportunity provided to us by continued development of the electronic networks, as it is the last great hope we have, and the best chance an ordinary person has to help save the world, so to speak. 
It was thought at one point that the technology of mass media would put an end to ideological factionalism, or Manyspeak, by influencing the very thoughts of the Masses through the uniformity of information and presentation of values, or Onespeak. Aldous Huxley's speech at Berkley in 1962 is the penultimate illustration of this concept, which he called "The Ultimate Revolution" (listen to it, if you have never heard of it, and the same goes for Brave New World)

"It seems to me that the nature of the ultimate revolution with which we are now faced is precisely this, that we are in process of developing a whole series of techniques which will enable the controlling oligarchy, who have always existed and presumably always will exist, to get people actually to love their servitude. This seems to me the ultimate malevolent revolution... This is a problem which has interested me for many years and about which I wrote, 30 years ago, a fable Brave New World which is essentially the account of a society making use of all the devices at that time available and some of the devices which I imagined to be possible, making use of them in order to, first of all, to standardize the population, to iron out inconvenient human differences, to create, so to say, mass produced models of human beings arranged in some kind of a scientific caste system. Since then I have continued to be extremely interested in this problem and I have noticed with increasing dismay that a number of the predictions which were purely fantastic when I made them 30 years ago have come true or seem in process of coming true. A number of techniques about which I talked seem to be here already, and that there seems to be a general movement in the direction of this kind of ultimate revolution, this method of control by which people can be made to enjoy a state of affairs which by any decent standard they ought not to enjoy. I mean the enjoyment of servitude." -- Aldous Huxley

But people can only be made to love an identical servitude if they are given identical "facts" about reality, and identical experiences to back them up. Alternatively, they can be given different forms of servitude if they divided into castes and kept seperate, as they were in Brave New World, and given seperate "facts" for each caste, with seperate experience to reinforce each of the respective facts about what constitutes reality and propriety.

 Once individuals are free to discover their own facts, and share "facts" and experiences between classes or castes, the illusion begins to waver, the un-uniform nature of reality becomes evident and this type of control is nearly impossible. Instead of adhering to one of the roles set forth for them by society at large, individuals again begin to form their own roles, and reach out to strangers for support, discovering that common language of resistance, outside of the structures set up by society at large. This creates friction in the well oiled machine of public relations democracy, and does in fact result in a democracy that is inherently instable, tumultuous and undesirable.

That is why, as a society, as we continue to develop, we must not only rely on the ideals of democracy, as the more free we become with information and comunication, ideals, experience, and growing understanding of the nature of reality, the harder uniform stable democracy can be. This is exactly why these statis quo statists are afraid of these developments. As Nigel Lawson, former UK finance minister, recently wrote:

"Democracy is nowadays a greatly over-hyped blessing, particularly by Americans, who have no pre-democratic history to provide a perspective. It is clearly less important than freedom, the rule of law and constitutional government, which ideally it should entrench, but may well not do so."

It is exactly with the understanding of the dangers and instabilities of democracy, that documents such as the Bill of Rights, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were drafted, so that democracy could flourish, but be kept from destroying itself. It is through the rule of law, and the aportionment of power among people that mob rule and the resultant chaos of factionalism must be kept in check, as democracy itself can be transformed from a fight between factions over what beliefs or ideals can be forced upon others, into a discussion of what beliefs or ideals we all hold in common. It is most likely that this discussion, far from the partisan bickering we see today, will show that we do, in fact, hold the common ideals of Freedom, the Rule of Law, and a constitutionaly protective structure of government. Any challenges to order presented by factionalism or seperate beleifs will be overcome by embracing those beleifs we hold in common.

This great discussion can only be begun in a public and equalitive venue, and it is up to us to guard the one we have now, even as we begin to develop new ones, as this may be the most important discussion in the future of our society.

Libertas Quae Sera Tamen

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Pete Seeger's 90th Birthday

What are your kids going to learn in school tomorrow?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Even Judges are Confused

As to how exactly the Rule of Law gave way to the Rule of Men.

Passages like this one:
'An enactment in which section 31 (6) and (7) of the Criminal Law Act (1977) (pre-1949) enactments produced the same fine of maximum fine for different convictions shall be treated for the purposes of this section as if there were omitted from it so much of it as before 29th July, 1977, had the effect that a person guilty of an offence under it was liable on summary conviction to a fine or maximum fine less than the highest fine or maximum fine to which he would have been liable if his conviction had satisfied the conditions required for the imposition of the highest fine or maximum fine.' (Criminal Justice Act, section 38, sub-section 4)
...have British Judges wondering:
So, yet again, the courts are faced with a sample of the deeply confusing provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, and the satellite Statutory Instruments to which it is giving stuttering birth. The most inviting course for this Court to follow, would be for its members, having shaken their heads in despair to hold up their hands and say: "the Holy Grail of rational interpretation is impossible to find". But it is not for us to desert our judicial duty, however lamentably others have legislated. But, we find little comfort or assistance in the historic canons of construction for determining the will of Parliament which were fashioned in a more leisurely age and at a time when elegance and clarity of thought and language were to be found in legislation as a matter of course rather than exception.
...what exactly they are supposed to make of the reams upon reams of rubbish legislators spew forth every year, when what they really would like to do is rule cases fairly, while relying on the order of law.

Read the rest here, being sure not to miss some of the very thoughtful comments, like this one:
[...]One day you are innocently reading your Bible and staying out everybody else's way. The next, Janet Reno's goons are using a tank to break into your property with guns blazing and burn down your home with your children inside. And then, to make sure you get the message, you end up on trial -- not Janet Reno.

The end result of that kind of behavior is a spreading contempt for the Rule of Law -- which leaves us with a non-sustainable society. The current insanity will end. Unfortunately, it will end in tears.

In today's legal world, Ignorance of the law is not a defence, it is a presupposed fact, for all parties involved.