Category Archives: Terrorism

Knowledge vs. Belief

I started to write this post after Jim posted Unknown unknowns over at Stonekettle Station, which was a post in response to the tempest in a teapot that represented the 24 hour news cycle reporting on the clinic standoff and shooting incident in Colorado Springs. I shelved it for various reasons at first, none of them really earth-shattering. Of course, a week later and we have the inexplicable mass shooting in San Bernardino, which instantly eclipsed the previous story.

I could easily spin this into an screed against the gun lobby and their paid cronies in Washington DC who won’t let the CDC even study gun violence in an effort to figure out how to address it, considering that we have had more than one mass shooting every day of this year (2015) which has to be some kind of record that no society on the face of this earth is really interested in breaking…

…but that isn’t the article I want to write. This isn’t going to be the article I started out writing, either. The issue is much bigger than the specific subject of what we know or don’t know about a specific person set on doing wrong, or having been caught doing wrong. It is even bigger than the problem that Jim was trying to address, the 24 hour news cycle, which I agree probably represents the greatest threat to human civilization in the modern age. The need to fill time, to produce facts and counterfactuals when no hard facts are known about the specifics of the incident in question, can lead to greater and greater flights of fancy.

I turn the TV off when that feeding frenzy starts. It is hard enough to separate the wheat from the chaff on good days.  On bad days like the two events above bring, listening to the news just feeds confirmation bias until you end up looking and sounding like an idiot.

I will include the specific arguments for the Colorado Springs incident in this post, but the point that I’m seeing come into focus now that the shooter has appeared in court and indicted himself is the argument about what we know vs. what we believe. How we can know what we think we know, and how is that different than belief?

That is the reason why the 24 hour news cycle is such a threat. Being not much more than the talking heads that sold soap in the early days of television, the current crop of news faces appear to have even less familiarity with what facts are and why fact-checking is important. They are after all just selling soap.  Keeping the most number of eyes on the screen is how they sell soap, and so the factual content of what they say isn’t the important part of the equation.  That they tell you things that reinforce your beliefs on a subject so that you will keep watching is.

Most of the white-looking people in the US trust the police intrinsically, for example.  Most of us older types were raised on police dramas portraying the cops as the good guys who enforce the laws and keep the peace.  It is very uncomfortable for most of us to be confronted with stories if entire police departments covering up the details of killings done at their hands. And yet, time after time over the last few years, we have been shown just how human police departments are everywhere in the US.  Be it Chicago, Baltimore or Saint Louis, just about anywhere USA, there are examples of police who brazenly violate laws and procedures who are then protected by their brothers in uniform.

This really isn’t news.  If you’ve been paying attention you would have run across stories by people like Radley Balko who have been documenting police excess for several decades now.  The police are after all only human.  If you were in their place you would act no differently than they would, because that is what humans do.  But that doesn’t excuse the excess, it is a point of data that needs to be accounted for when deciding what you know or don’t know about any given subject.

For the black or brown people who are almost always the bad guys in police dramas, the revelation that cops are only human really isn’t news either. They’ve lived with the reality of constant police scrutiny for generations. So much so that stories abound of fathers and mothers cautioning their children not to become police statistics.  So it is no wonder that the chant black lives matter resounds with them. The counter offered by clueless whites that all lives matter is heard by these same people as just another call for them to sit down and be quiet. How is this possible?  How can realities and beliefs about these realities be so widely separated?

When it comes right down to it, what you know with certainty is a very small number of things. Whether it is night or day. Whether it is cold or hot. You know these things because you can test them directly with your senses. Solipsists will argue that you can’t even know those things because we are all just brains in jars at best, but I’d like us all to pretend that the shadows on the cave walls actually represent something real, and try to make sense of that.  If that much can’t be granted, then there is little point in continuing to read this.  Even less in my continuing to write.

Beyond what you can test yourself (fire burns) there are grades of factual knowledge which you can probably safely rely on.  At each point where the facts exchange hands, the ownership of that data has to be documented to be trusted. This is why, when doing research, it is important to seek out source material and not just rely on wikipedia.  The more obscure the subject matter the less reliable secondary sources are.

When watching the news on television or reading news stories on any other site than AP, Reuters or UPI you are already dealing with information that has been through at least three hands if not dozens. When you’ve gone beyond the point where the witness is being interviewed in person, you are dealing with evidence that wouldn’t be accepted in court. That doesn’t mean it is without value, it just means the news you are being offered could be just this side of fantasy.

It might even be pure fantasy. Case in point, the FOX/conservative/anti-abortion counter-narrative about the Colorado Springs shooter.  When I logged on Blogger that night, the first thing I saw wasn’t the Stonekettle Station article. The first article that caught my eye was a piece over at Friendly Atheist in which Ted Cruz voices the notion that the shooter was some kind of leftist.  No, I could not make something that stupid up myself.  Let me quote a bit;

 Cruz is basing that characterization on a supposed voter registration form in which Dear was listed as a woman. Whether it’s a mistake, or Dear was just messing around, or simply not the right form, we don’t know, but no other evidence indicates that he was transgender.

There’s even less evidence that he was a “leftist.”

The problem that I had with Jim’s Unknown unknowns piece now surfaces. Jim mentions this story in opposition to the reports (which he attributes to Planned Parenthood) that the shooter was heard to say “no more baby parts” as he was being arrested.  But the contrast between the veracity of these two stories is as marked as they are in opposition to each other.

The statement no more baby parts was repeated by an officer to a reporter directly on scene, who dutifully passed it on to their viewing audience. While that is hearsay and not evidence admissible in court; the officer if he were to appear in court could repeat the statement and it would be admissible.  It would also be accepted by an overwhelming number of juries who trust police officers to be truthful (see above) even in the face of so much evidence that police will lie to protect their own.

Since this case isn’t about one of their own, and since the police showed remarkable restraint in bringing a cop killer in alive, I was inclined to believe the statement of the arresting officer.  That the shooter (not alleged, he plead guilty) repeated a version of the same statement at his hearing just confirms the motivation that lead him to commit the crimes he is guilty of.

On the other hand, the preferred story of conservatives/anti-abortionists is based on what? Essentially no evidence whatsoever, more wishful thinking than anything else.  And yet it is repeated by a Republican Presidential candidate as if it was the unquestionable truth.

That is the nature of belief. It doesn’t require facts.  Facts are counterproductive because they can be questioned. If facts are presented that counter a belief, it only takes the briefest scrutiny to discover or manufacture an anomaly which the believer will use to discard the entirety of the factual information presented. Ted Cruz wants to believe that the shooter couldn’t be one of his fellow anti-abortionists. Ted Cruz believes that leftists are dangerous people, and that LGBT people are a threat to his way of life.  The story he repeats is ready-made to fit into his preconceived view of the world, and it matters not one bit that the story makes no sense on its face.  That the average liberal and LGBT person would be in support of Planned Parenthood and consequently wouldn’t see a need to attack one of their clinics never enters into the mind of a conservative repeating this laughable story.

Given the history of attacks on Planned Parenthood, and the current cloud of controversy artificially created by anti-abortion activists faking videos that purport to show Planned Parenthood selling body parts, the story of a shooter in a clinic almost serves itself up ready-made as a vehicle to attack the religious right and conservatives in general. Of course they would want to craft a counter-narrative (however flimsy) to give themselves an out, a way to disavow accountability for their actions over the last twenty years and more.

A conservative could easily counter all of the above (most probably will) with the adult equivalent of I know you are but what am I?  Since about the time that Reagan was elected, conservatives started to complain about the liberal media. Even I, for a time, fell for this notion that the media was somehow biased in general against conservatives. As the years have progressed, and conservatives have created their own outlets like FOX news, conservapedia, and uncounted news sites including the whacko fringe like prisonplanet and infowars, it has become clear that conservatives aren’t satisfied with simply presenting news from their point of view.  No, what they want is their own set of facts which are unassailable.  Unassailable because they aren’t based on anything real.

Another example is the softer, nicer language of pro-life and pro-choice adopted by the two sides of the endless argument over abortion. Having softened the language, pollsters can get majorities of citizens in the US to say they are pro-life. Who would be against life?  I’m pro-life, I’m also pro-choice; militantly pro-choice.  The fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans still believe that abortion should be legal gets lost in the conservative rush to declare the opposite, that the majority of Americans oppose abortion. This conservative view on the matter simply isn’t true as polling shows.

What has occurred since the creation of FOX news is the division of the US into two camps; one of those camps thinks they are right, and the rest of us are liberal.  In their attempt to prove that the rest of the media is based on a liberal conspiracy, conservatives have consciously created a conspiracy of their own. A conspiracy where they tell lies which they know are lies, because the ends justify the means.

When you evade the truth, when you spin tales to hide your true goals, what you get are people who believe your lies so firmly that they will act on them as if they were truths.  You get what transpired in Colorado Springs yesterday, to the embarrassment of every single person who identifies as pro-life. Remember that the next time you hear the phrase liberal media.

Paris in Perspective

As the Charlie Hebdo artist said after the recent attacks in Paris, #ParisIsAboutLife. I tried to broach a tangent to this subject when I wrote the recent piece, Greece in Perspective. I sometimes wonder if I’m not too subtle in my writing.  Other times I know I am, because the message never seems to get across.

Joann Sfar on Instagram
h/t to Independant

Jim Wright wrote a particularly moving piece today that reminded me of the more subtle point I was trying to make with that other blog entry.  Titled The Price of Civilization he goes into precisely why I ended the Greek piece with a reference to war and the Marshall Plan.

I’ve always been struck by the apparent contradiction that the most humane policy ever adopted by the United States was crafted by a General who oversaw so much bloodshed.  But that was the wisdom of Truman and Marshall, overlooked by many these days.

Which is too bad.  Because Jim got it right when he said;

Terrorism, the kind we face today? It comes from the fact that we, us, we keep blowing up civilization and leaving nothing but death and ruin in our wake. Terrorists are like cockroaches, they thrive on chaos and destruction and we’re damned good at creating that chaos. 

Those of us on the liberal side of the aisle like to point at Bush II for creating the problem of Daesh by removing Saddam Hussein from power (as his father predicted would happen during the first Gulf War) but truthfully it is the American people who are to blame. Our own imperial nature which we coyly disguise and defend as capitalism.

We’re the ones who insisted that we wanted out of Iraq as soon as we could get out, instead of actually spending the additional decades it was going to take to make the region into a self-sustaining conglomeration of disparate elements.  The kind of time that was spent helping to rebuild Europe after the war. A Europe that was already embracing self-determination and democracy.

Maybe we’re just blind to it, we inhabitants of the most egalitarian association of completely disparate influences, commonly referred to as the US.  Because, no matter what detractors might say, no where on Earth do you have the mixture of varying cultures like those present in the current US social structure (maybe Oz. Maybe) all of them more or less harmoniously governed as a single nation.  We take the bloodless transfers of power that occur here like clockwork as something everyone experiences, when the truth is that nowhere is there anything like the US when it comes to government, good and bad.

Listening to the Polish election celebrations, where a new isolationist government has been elected, it becomes apparent just how insulated most other places in the world are when it comes to exposure to other cultures.

Even in the conservative bastion of Texas all I have to do is travel to a different part of Austin to experience a whiff of almost any culture you can name. Asian cultures. African cultures. Native American cultures. These flavors are spread all over the nation in pockets. When I lived in Garden City several hundred Vietnamese refugees were dropped just outside of town in a little makeshift neighborhood constructed hastily to accommodate them. There was a lot of grumbling about this, but little violence. Why would there be? It’s a free country, isn’t it? Most of them moved away before too long, apparently to places like Austin where I live now, but we folded them into our society with hardly a hiccup, compared to the experiences of previous generations.  That is what America really is good at.

It is a shame that more people don’t understand this. Even the average American doesn’t get it.  As violent as we are, the thought of seizing control of the levers of government with force occurs to almost none of the citizenry.  This is because there is no need to use violence.  Those interested in getting involved in government do so; the doors are open, come on in and roll up your sleeves. If you are among the conspiracy-minded who doubt this is true, find your local precinct meeting place and show up for a meeting.  You might be surprised.

Yet the government we set up in Iraq was seized by the majority religious faction in the first election held there, and they proceeded to exert their authority over the other minorities in ways that lead directly to the creation of Daesh-held areas of the country in response. We allowed this to happen in a country we had effective control over. What did we do? We left, not that we really had much choice.  But we failed to impart the most important bit of knowledge that all of us should have gathered from our experiences in this free country before we left there. That is to our shame and the world’s detriment.

Freedom doesn’t mean you get to have your way. Freedom means you get to present your arguments. You get to present your arguments without fear of being killed for expressing them. If you are very persuasive, you might actually get to see your arguments accepted by others.

Pointing a weapon at someone will get you compliance, but it will ultimately lead to betrayal and violence, because coercion has a way of backfiring. That is why our military adventurism fails us as a nation. The civilizations we invade at the point of a gun just see the gun. They certainly don’t see the America that the average American actually experiences. The America where guns are frequently a topic of discussion, but almost never used anymore. We all know that when someone points a gun at you, you do what they say. But we also know that the tables will turn, that the aggressor will one day be the victim. Because that is the way of all things human.

So it will be with the violence in Paris that we all witnessed yesterday. The perpetrators of violence will either die violently or be subjected to French justice, a good bit more genteel than American justice. But Paris will go on just as before. Cities are for the living.

In the end, that may be the best response to terrorists everywhere.  The best response to those people who encourage us to do violence out of fear. Create a civilization, a society, that can withstand their attempts to destroy it with fear.  To slowly smother those who believe that there are things worth dying for with the millions more of us who know that there are many things worth living for. To go on living as if these fear-mongers never existed in the first place.

To pay the costs of establishing a civilization that can withstand the trials of living.  Like Marshall did after seeing so many good men die. You either go on living or get busy with dying.  There aren’t any other choices.

Propaganda, Spin & Shooting Down Civilian Aircraft

I posted a link to a segment from the Rachel Maddow show on Facebook a few days back.

I’ve spent a good portion of today writing responses to accusations that the segment is biased and not based on facts.

I get it, it’s popular these days to insist that television news is biased.  If it isn’t FOX news’ conservatives incessantly whining about liberal bias (liberal meaning “anything not Conservative” i.e. mindlessly jingoist with a heavy helping of Jesus on top) it’s the blatant bias of FOX news itself making up stories that they think their viewers will ascribe to (#Benghazi, anyone?) as detailed on any number of channels including MSNBC which the clip above comes from.

The “why” of the location of the plane, it’s status right before it fell out of the sky, will only be answered by the fight recorders if they are ever found. Flight recorders that the separatists claim to have already found.

 Conspiracies are already spinning on the subject.  Ukraine shot the plane down. Ukraine thought they were targeting Vladimir Putin’s plane (the story from Russian news sources that Rachel Maddow relates) the plane was loaded with corpses and crashed on purpose to frame the Russians.  I’m sure there will be more.

Ukraine hasn’t been shooting down planes in the area; Ukraine would have known (since they control their own airspace) that the plane was a commercial airliner. The separatists have been, and shot down a plane at the same altitude and similar heading earlier in the week (not to be confused with a shootdown from more than a decade ago)  So they clearly had the capability to do it again, and the motivation to continue hampering Ukrainian efforts to put down the separatists.

The separatists exist largely because Russia funds them. There is a conspiracy theory (which theorists like Dan Carlin deny is one) that suggests that the unrest in the Ukraine is due to US intervention in the region, that we’re trying to pull the former soviet state into the NATO alliance. That that is why Russia acted to claim the Crimea through the use of the separatists.

The truth is that Kiev wants to get closer to the EU, to be considered part of the EU rather than a satellite of Russia. If I understand the political structure of the country, the governors of the various regions are appointed not elected. That has lead to unrest in the outlier areas away from Kiev and its direct control, parts of the country that want to elect their own leaders directly. There is also a history of distrust between the Eastern and Western sections of what we call ‘Ukraine’ today (bad blood from WWII during the occupation by Germany) That is why the separatists accuse the government of Kiev of being under the influence of fascists.

Russia would of course like its territory back. Kiev has been historically in and out of Russian control for centuries, and was actually the first city to be called Russia (Kievan Rus) and would probably be the capital of the country of Russia if the Mongols hadn’t taken it and occupied it. But none of this means that Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin should be handed the keys to Kiev just because he wants it under his control.

Putin and Russia are as accountable for MH17 deaths as the US is for funding and equipping terrorists in other regions; as in, completely accountable if you are living anywhere outside of Russia or the US. As the saying goes “live by the sword, die by the sword.” The trick is to not be the one living by the sword. Vladimir Putin is the last of the KGB. When he dies, that era dies with him. If we can just stop funding the MIC in the US, the other half of the equation will also close.

It really isn’t propaganda or fallacy to say Russia is to blame for downing the plane. The separatists exist as a military force because Russia has encouraged them. Whether the equipment came from Russia recently, or was soviet equipment left in Ukraine at the end of the USSR, it exists because of Russian expansionism and empire that goes back centuries in time.

Putting the shoe on the other foot (to turn another phrase) I saw the same kinds of denial surrounding the downing of Iran Air Flight 655, the Iranian commercial airliner destroyed during the Iran/Iraq war, a conflict we heavily funded and supported. Everything from the excuse that Reagan gave and the US government still sticks to (an accident) all the way to full blown conspiratory “plane full of corpses flown at the Vincennes on purpose” insanity.

But we shot that plane down in cold blood and killed all those people because we were there and ready to kill. The same is true for the groups fighting in Ukraine right now, and the group in question gets its backing from Russia and is equipped with weapons made in Russia. They are the ones ready to kill. They get the blame. As much of the blame as the US got for that downing of an Iranian airliner.

Does that mean war?  No. Not even vaguely (I’m sure John McCain is already strapping on his sword, if he ever takes it off anymore) that does mean that Russia and their proxy separatists should answer in international court and pay restitution at the very least. If someone can be found that actually gave the order to shoot that plane down, that person should be put on trial.  But I think we’ve had enough killing in the world of late.  How about we not call for more, just right now?

The End of Liberty Dollars?

Years ago, I set up a Google alert for “Liberty Dollar” (and NORFED. Norfed was the name of the company that started Liberty Dollar Silver) because I wanted to keep track of what was being said about the currency in the mainstream media. Not a lot, until recently.

A week ago today, I got a note from Bernard Von Nothaus, founder of the Liberty Dollar, stating that he had been convicted of various crimes relating to the creation and running of the silver barter currency, and was appealing the conviction.

Dear Liberty Dollar Supporters,

I sincerely regret to inform you that I was found guilty on all four counts regarding the Liberty Dollar in less than an hour on Friday, March 18. The only explanation is that a strong, anti-liberty person took control of a weak-willed jury and pushed the verdict through in record time in spite of well worded Jury Instructions. A government forfeiture hearing immediately followed the conviction. PLEASE NOTE: Your property is at risk so please continue to read these emails and take action so the government does not steal your property. An appeal is planned but that will take years. More news to follow. An unofficial, but most interesting account of the trial is available via Heather’s blog at:
http://www.liberty4free.com/Liberty%20D … 0Trial.htm
God help you and our country as American descends into a hellish hyperinflationary future without the benefits of the Liberty Dollar.
I am very sorry our efforts to return America to value failed.

Thank you so much for your support.

Bernard von NotHaus
Monetary Architect

Ever since then I’ve gotten a slew of articles. Got notice for one in Mother Jones referring to Bernard as a Pot Priest. I think that was the funniest I’ve seen. The scariest I’ve seen was this one.

U.S. Attorney calls currency minting ‘terrorism’

Here’s a novel of an expansion of the federal government’s use of the word “terrorism,” from the triumphant statement of a North Carolina U.S. Attorney, Anne Tompkins, who just won a conviction against a man who minted his own currency:

Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism,” U.S. Attorney Tompkins said in announcing the verdict.

“While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country,” she added. “We are determined to meet these threats through infiltration, disruption and dismantling of organizations which seek to challenge the legitimacy of our democratic form of government.

The convict, Bernard Von NotHaus, who runs the National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve and Internal Revenue Code, and now faces 15 years in prison.

Minting barterable rounds, rather than commemorative rounds, is a terrorist act? Oh really? What do you call a US currency that contravenes all US law relating to the value of our currency? If you doubt the veracity of this claim, simply reference the wiki on the subject. The constitution specifies that “gold and silver” are “legal tender”. Where is the amendment changing this law? How is bartering with gold and silver not in the realm of constitutional behavior, but using a visa card funded with digital federal money based on nothing is Constitutional?

I get it, the guys with guns say it’s so, so it is. It’s a lot like tax law. Still, I’d really like an explanation beyond the “because I said so” that bad parents offer up as an excuse to their children.

I stopped participating in the LD community when the Feds declared the practice illegal. I traded a good number of rounds for goods and services over the years prior to that. Any merchant that came to me and wanted deposit-able federal dollars (the banks refused to take gold and silver and insisted on fake money. Riddle me that one) I gladly traded them paper for silver. To this day, I search my change for the increasingly rare pre-80’s piece of federal money that has silver content in it, so that I can set it aside to get its real value assayed. I’d still take real silver and gold over fake paper, anyday.

…and I wonder at governments that accuse honest businessmen of fraud, while conducting a fraud on their own.


If you had Liberty Dollars in the warehouse, your property is about to be forfeited. Here’s the skinny;

URGENT ACTION: Bad News for your Property!

Dear Liberty Dollar Supporters:

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the 100s of replies. The two most common words re my conviction were “sorry” and “sad.” I wholeheartedly agree and am sorry I can’t reply to every email. URGENT we have no time to lose to protect your property from gov theft!

Please do NOT let the government steal your property!!!

I have just learned that the government will aggressively defend against any claims once the judge decides on April 4th whether or not the property in whole or in part is subject to forfeiture. This means that the government may steal your property i.e. the silver that backs the paper or digital Liberty Dollar Warehouse Receipts ‘without just compensation’ i.e. fair market value! Please stand up for your Fifth Amendment!

URGENT ACTION IS REQUIRED IMMEDIATELY!!!

Unless you are identified as an “interested party” on the official record prior to the April 4th Forfeiture Hearing on Monday morning, you may not have standing with the court to redeem your Liberty Dollar warehouse receipts or the gov process may be so encumbered that the government prevails and steals your property.

You do not have to identify the total value of your paper or digital Warehouse Receipts that you are holding to qualify as an “Interested Party.” So, even if you are holding just one $1 Liberty Dollar silver certificate, you are qualified as an “Interested Party” and encouraged to register – IMMEDIATELY.

Registering is easy, fast and free: Simply email the statement below to Assistant US Attorney Thomas R. Ascik <thomas.ascik@usdoj.gov>, the government attorney who is trying to steal your property. And send a CC to me <Bernard@LibertyDollar.org> and I will send all the emails to the attorney who will represent you after you sign an attorney/client agreement. Your CC to me is very important! Please do NOT forget to CC me so you will be on the list to have your property or its fair market value returned to you.

EMAIL THE STATEMENT BELOW to Thomas Ascik with a CC to me. Be sure to include your name and address:

I hereby certify that I am the bearer of Liberty Dollar warehouse receipt(s) and an interested party in any forfeiture action regarding my property. I demand the return of my property or its fair market value in a timely manner and to be informed with sufficient time to reply to any and all actions until my property is returned.
INCLUDE YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS

Please note that you will need to sign an attorney/client agreement and agree to pay a contingency fee prior to any legal services. NO FEE is required at this time.

But that may not be enough! If you are holding a serious amount of paper or digital Warehouse Receipts, I strongly encourage you to attend this Forfeiture Hearing on April 4, 2011 at the Federal Courthouse, 200 W Broad St. in Statesville, NC. I know the time is short, the distance is great and the cost is dear; but that is the best suggestion I can make at this time for anyone with a serious amount of paper or digital Warehouse Receipts. If you do appear, you will be called as a witness and officially recognized as an interested party in the court record.
NOTICE: There is a small chance that the Hearing may be continued (postponed) so please email me for the latest info for the Hearing.

Please do NOT let the government steal your property!! At the very least, email Thomas Ascik and send a CC to me to protect your silver. Stand up for your property and continue to be a part of the Liberty Dollar effort by demanding the gov return your silver or its fair market value.

Now Anybody can be a “Unique Terrorist” Please read this open letter to America calling for your cry out about my conviction.

Click HERE for a list of recent articles regarding the BVNH conviction.
Please get your article published and contribute to this public outcry or encourage someone to do so.


The US government has gone after all the alternate currencies that I ever heard of, and they’ve been successful in shutting them all down. The only remaining e-Metal investment firm that I know of is Goldmoney.com, and they wisely got themselves associated with British banking interests as soon they saw that the US government was taking an interest in e-Metal alternative currencies.

Liberty Dollars isn’t the only group working out asset return strategies with the government. e-Gold is also in that process; a process that is now entering it’s third year. So don’t hold your breath on getting your money back, let alone soon.

http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/07/e-gold-founder.html
http://blog.e-gold.com/2008/07/a-new-beginning.html
http://mashable.com/2008/07/21/e-gold/
http://e-gold-exchange-news.blogspot.com/

Fascist Form Letters Rule the Day

Posted my thoughts on Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s form letter endorsement of federalizing Texas law enforcement here. At that time I thought John Cornyn (Texas’ other Senator) was savvy enough to understand not to send form letters endorsing legislation, to people who are on file as being opposed to the same legislation. Apparently I’m mistaken.

Campaign for Liberty, Downsize DC and EFFector all sent messages out requesting that we contact our representatives and express our desire that the PATRIOT ACT provisions be allowed to sunset, about the middle of February. I dutifully sent of a few lines of text that day;

Repeal the Patriot Act. Do NOT renew any of its provisions. Do not follow the House in this. Refuse to extend the Patriot act. This is the ‘patriotic’ thing to do…

Not my best writing, but I thought it was pretty clear my thoughts on the subject. Today, I get this message in the mail;

Dear Mr. Steele:

Thank you for your recent letter regarding efforts to strengthen our nation’s ability to investigate and prosecute terrorism while protecting our constitutional liberties. I appreciate having the benefit of your comments on this important matter.

Recent events across the country, including in our home state of Texas, remind us of the real threat terrorists pose to our national security. The USA PATRIOT Act (P.L. 107—56) was signed into law on October 26, 2001, and contained specific provisions that enable the United States to carry out the War on Terror. This legislation broadened the authority of law enforcement officials to intercept wire, oral, and electronic communications and permitted them to share grand jury and wiretap information with intelligence, defense, national security, and immigration officials. Additionally, the USA PATRIOT Act enhanced border security by increasing the number of immigration inspectors, Border Patrol agents, and Customs Service personnel and authorized funds to purchase equipment that improves border security technology.

During the 111th Congress, Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division David Kris testified in support of renewing critical provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act. Renewing this important legislation ensures that law enforcement officials have the resources necessary to complete their goals and increases our nation’s security without compromising our civil liberties. As you may know, three key provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act were set to expire on February 28, 2011, and on February 15, 2011, the Senate overwhelmingly voted to pass the FISA Sunsets Extension Act (H.R. 514) and reauthorize these critical intelligence tools for three months.

I appreciate having the opportunity to represent the interests of Texans in the United States Senate. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

Sincerely,
JOHN CORNYN
United States Senator

517 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Tel: (202) 224-2934
Fax: (202) 228-2856
http://www.cornyn.senate.gov

Please sign up for my monthly newsletter at http://www.cornyn.senate.gov/newsletter.

Well, at least his secretary knew how to do a mail merge. Still, I would have appreciated some feigned disappointment at being unable to comply with my request. Some heartfelt commiseration? But braggadocio about extending provisions of legislation they didn’t even read before they passed? Provisions which have been shown to have been abused, repeatedly, by the organizations entrusted with the enhanced powers?

Loved the invite at the end. Did you know, if you mail Senator Cornyn you get added to his list automatically? Going to start reporting him as a spammer shortly.

Who exactly do these people represent? It certainly isn’t me.

Senate 3-year PATRIOT extension thwarted

…By Rand Paul.

Now the fight shifts to the U.S. Senate, where Rand Paul is prepared to lead the battle to defend the Bill of Rights.

Last night, the Senate tried to sneak through a 3-year extension under unanimous consent, but Senator Paul prevented this by standing up and objecting.

(from a C4L e-mail broadcast)

Let’s see if he can prevail. Here’s a link for DownsizeDC’s campaign to repeal the PATRIOT act. Time to let your Senators know how much you want it gone…

https://secure.downsizedc.org/etp/campaigns/129

Treasonous Americans

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and both houses of Congress, including Rep. Jason Altmire, D-McCandless, today introduced legislation to strip U.S. citizenship from people with terrorist ties.

The bill’s chief sponsors — Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn, and Scott Brown, R-Mass., Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Allentown, and Mr. Altmire — said they had been working on the measure for weeks. But the momentum built with Saturday’s failed Times Square bombing, allegedly perpetrated by American citizen Faisal Shahzad.

You can add John McCain’s name to that list as well. Traitors to the spirit of America, in more ways than the terrorists that they wish to target are.

Treason is a strong charge. Just discussing this bill shouldn’t be treason, I hear you saying. Yes, commentators talking about this bill are simply exercising free speech. However, the members of Congress that have proposed and advanced this bill are attempting to subvert the Constitution of the United States. They are proposing changing the requirements for citizenship, making it a revoke-able condition which the government, at it’s sole discretion, can remove from a person. In their opinion, this would allow them to treat people suspected of terrorism in any manner they deem appropriate, embroidering on W’s joke of an argument concerning “enemy combatants” and expanding it to include American citizens.

Frayed and damaged as our observance of the rules contained in the Constitution are, those government representatives have taken an oath to uphold it. We should judge them accordingly. They are terrorists themselves, all of them. Willing to inspire fear in the population in order to secure their next term in office. They believe that human rights are removable, a condition of citizenship of the US. They are attempting to not only justify their use of rendition, detainment and torture of foreign nationals (something we are rightly reviled for on the world stage) but they are attempting to apply this moral degeneracy to the portions US population that they deem to be “terrorists”. Not only should they not be re-elected (but they probably will be) but they should be facing a firing squad, right alongside of Faisal Shahzad, for his act of treason.

That’s why we don’t need their new ridiculous fear-mongering law. Because we already have one. And I know traitors when I hear them speak. It’s time that they be put on notice. Stop this farce, now. You have officially gone to far.

FFrF Radio: Mike Christensen; Archive: Emily Lyons & Scopes II: Alvin Harris

Podcast Link.
July 26, 2008Mike Christensen, Seattle “Imagine No Religion” Billboard Booster

Gershwin’s Summertime introduces the show, followed by a clip from Letting Go of God.

Theocracy Alert. Lieberman courting the religious right, Grassly bounced by them.

Mike Christensen sponsored an “Imagine No Religion” billboard in Seattle. He changed his definition of agnostic, and that’s why he’s now an atheist. Sounds familiar. It’s interesting to hear from a member of a younger generation on a thoughtful subject; like the impact of religion on the world.


“Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion.”Steven Weinberg

2007 Archive episode.
July 28, 2007Emily Lyons, survivor of religious antiabortion terrorism

Theocracy Alert. CNN YouTube debate snippets and related editorializing. This is how the hosts always get in trouble, and they do it again. One of the question dealt with candidate support for “public” schools, which Annie Laurie lamented were being robbed of funds by “parochial schools” in rigged voucher systems.

I’ve said this several times before, but it bears repeating. They aren’t public schools, they are government or state schools; not much better than prisons in their current form. The alternative to government schools isn’t religious schools (as Annie Laurie has implied more than once) it’s competition for the best education to be had for the least amount of tax burden. The alternative to a top down Soviet-styled federal education bureaucracy (what we have now, or are moving towards) is a real education marketplace.

Far more important than establishing godless money (the question that followed the school question) is establishing a separation of school and state.

Echoing Steven Marsh’s question;

Am I wrong to fear the dogma of the left/socialist as much as I fear the dogma of the right/fascist? Why can’t we throw out all the dirty bathwater, and just embrace American liberty? Take all the funds from the overfunded government schools, and force them to compete in an education marketplace, let the best educators win.

While I am concerned (as the hosts are) about the religious test imposed by the public on their candidates; I’m more concerned with the imposition of outdated state structures on today’s youth. (more school related rants)

Emily Lyons was injured in a clinic bombing by a Right-to-Lifer (how can one kill and support a “right to life”? It’s an unsupportable conflict, and no counter-arguments will be accepted) terrorist, Eric Robert Rudolph. Truthfully, the interview is hard to listen to, for me. I have an almost uncontrollable rage response when it comes to people who are willing to kill for their peaceful religions.

Raging Grannies sing, and then loving messages from christian fans closes out the show.


“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.”Blaise Pascal

2006 Archive episode.
July 26, 2006Scopes II: Alvin Harris

Theocracy Alert this week features a listing of theocracies advances, counter pointed with theocracies defeats (they ought to try this more often) The verdict in the Andrea Yeats trial is discussed, along with the impact on someone else who hears voices in his head, George Bush.

Alvin Harris’ interview revolved around his representation of FFrF in a case concerning Bryan college and the legacy of the scopes trial (FFrF vs. Rhea County School System) Evangelicals who wish to promote their religion in the government schools should remember the lessons of the founders, and their experience with state mandated religious education. What happens when the government adopts a flavor of christianity that you don’t agree with?

Dan Barker performs I Ain’t Afraid

An Individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms

I’ve been waiting for this decision ever since I heard about the case in a CATO Daily Podcast. From the CATO site:

On June 26, 2008, the Court rediscovered the Second Amendment. More than five years after six Washington, D.C. residents challenged the city’s 32-year-old ban on all functional firearms in the home, the Court held in District of Columbia v. Heller that the law is unconstitutional.

Here’s the pdf for the District of Columbia v. Heller decision.

I’d like to offer a thanks to Rob Balen (who was subbing for Jeff today) for alerting me to the fact that the Supreme Court finally got a decision right. Having said that, I must observe that Rob Balen the food critic is a gun-phobe. I never heard so much whining over someone being allowed to have guns since the last time I heard someone begging not to be shot in a movie.

Someone should explain the danger to this Yankee carpet-bagger, when he goes South and tries to tell Southerners that they can’t be trusted with weapons. It’s going to rile some people up.

Where is Suzanna Hupp when you need a voice?

Suzanna Hupp interview from Penn & Teller’s Bullshit!, Season 3, Gun Control

I was living in Austin when this tragedy occurred. I remember wishing, at the time, that a customer had taken the guy out. No one could wish harder than Suzanna Hupp.

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Militias are the people; each individual person is a member of the militia. Guns equip the militia. Should we amend the constitution? Remove the second amendment and task government with our protection, empower the military as the only form of defense for the country?

If not, then each of us is responsible for our own defense, and the defense of our neighborhood/city/state. That is the way the founders intended for this to work. It’s about time the courts have acknowledged these facts.


There is so much that is being left unsaid in this post, I can’t imagine where to begin, even if I wanted to fix the misconceptions apparent in this piece. Here. Now. Today. (10/13/2017) Since I made a deal with myself ages ago not to erase old posts and simply make corrections through this addendum process, I’m left scratching my head just how to exactly paint the picture of my cognitive dissonance on this subject. I think I’ll start with a link to what is my latest piece on the subject as of this mea culpa review process,

The second amendment is a two-edged sword, in more ways than the one I’ve just outlined. The other argument which can be (and has been) made is the original intent of a well regulated militia; If the people tasked with keeping us safe deem that it the task is impossible with the rules now in place, they can conscript all able-bodied persons into the military for the purposes of weapons assessment. 

That is one sure-fire way to make sure we know who should and shouldn’t have a weapon. I’m as opposed as I can get to the idea of a return to the bad-old days of the draft, but if anyone can have a weapon, and if no other laws are possible to fix the problem of weapons in our midst, then the only remaining solution is the one where everyone is trained and everyone is armed to their proficiency. 

What we need to decide is, which kind of America do we really want to live in? The time for that conversation is rapidly passing us by.

The tragically escalating numbers of mass shootings in the US over the last decade has left us all pretty much scratching our heads. A good number of what I considered allies as of the writing of this 2008 piece have become conspiracy fantasists in the true meaning of the phrase and have decided that any mass shooting that can’t be explained with the label terrorism is automatically a false-flag event. Essentially turning themselves into the kinds of nutjobs that really shouldn’t be trusted with high-powered weaponry in the first place.

This development has left me without a place to call home on this subject. I do find some comfort in the writings of Jim Wright over at Stonekettlestation. Sadly he doesn’t see any end to this craziness either. Not until the US itself gets tired of the bloodshed and settles in for a good old-fashioned discussion of what an American fix for this problem might look like. Here’s hoping that self-reflection occurs sooner rather than later.

Common Sense 118 – Which Evil do You Prefer?

Entitled Crazy Alien Mutant Whigs (Dan, where do you get these titles?) and with a nod to Alexis de Tocqueville (Democracy in America) Dan once again quotes from a very good article. Written by Sriram Khe it asks the question “what is the previous year truly relevant to this one?” His suggestion? Not 1968 or 1964. No, it’s 1979:

If ever there was a competition for which year since World War II will qualify for the title of Annus Horribilis, 1979 could be a leading candidate. First, a list of some of the events from that year:

Jan. 16: The shah of Iran flees the country, and goes into exile.

Feb. 1: Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returns to Iran, and is warmly welcomed by millions of Iranians.

April 4: Former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto is hanged in Pakistan.

July 3: President Jimmy Carter signs a directive to support the opponents of the pro-Soviet government of Afghanistan.

July 16: Saddam Hussein becomes the president of Iraq.

Nov. 4: Americans in the U.S. embassy in Tehran are taken hostage.

Dec. 25: The Soviet Union begins to deploy troops in Afghanistan.

read more | digg story

I had to repost it. Good points, good article. Not so for the article from William Kristol, a New York Times OpEd piece entitled Dyspepsia on the Right from which the following quote was highlighted:

“It’s not easy to rally a comfortable and commercial people to assume the responsibilities of a great power.”

Kristol fashions himself as a Neoconservative, but I prefer the label that actually describes the political positions he favors. He is a Fascist. The statement above has all the flavor of something Goebbels might have said in the time leading up to WWII. If we follow people like Kristol to where they want to go, we will be the bad guys the terrorists have tried to paint us to be.

Dan draws a parallel between the phrasing above, and Britain during it’s empire phase, saying that it’s false. “The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” (Thucydides) is, in fact, closer to a true observation of the events unfolding around us (there isn’t much difference between an imperial monarchy and a fascist dictatorship) and that it would at least have been a wash, politically, if we had not gotten involved in the Middle East in the first place.

Which is what this is all about. Kristol’s piece is all about how the Republicans must rally behind McCain because he is truly the “lessor of two evils”. That supporting someone dedicated to victory in the Middle East is better than allowing someone admitting defeat to gain office. Khe’s piece is no more and no less a list of the evils we have brought about through our involvement in the Middle East.

Is securing the supply of oil from the region really worth the cost it has inflicted? Don’t kid yourselves people, that is what our involvement has always been about (Common Sense 115 goes into this) and in the end, all those millions of dollars, and all those thousands of lives have bought nothing more than that. How do you define victory in a war against a tactic? (terrorism, similar to a point made by Dan way back in episode 61) and is it worth the price? If a change in policy yields more funds to find alternatives to oil, and consequently deprives Middle Eastern regimes of their number one funding source, how is that not also victory?


A brief nod to the last part of the show, talking about the fat police and recent findings in a study of socialized health systems in Europe. The future of American health care is something that I’ve voiced my opinion on in the past. In a recent Dutch study, it’s been shown that people who are healthy actually cost the socialized systems more than people who eat, drink and smoke to excess; because the people who live unhealthy lives die early and cost the system less.

So, get out of my face, fat police. I want my burger and fries now.


I’m going to end where Dan began. Defining where all of us misfits stand politically. We know we aren’t left or Democrat, or right and Republican. But that doesn’t mean that we are Martians or Whigs. What it means is that two parties (actually, it’s one party with two heads, one fascist, one socialist. Choose one if you dare) and a left – right political spectrum doesn’t begin to describe the varieties of views that are possible.

There is a reason that the Advocates call their booths Operation Politically Homeless; and there is reason why David Nolan created the Nolan Chart, and that wasn’t just because he wanted to promote the Libertarian Party. His reason is probably similar to my reason for promoting the Advocate’s World’s Smallest Political Quiz whenever I get the chance. I do it because, in order to change people’s views of the world, you have to change their philosophy. The most basic principal in today’s (erroneous) political philosophy is that there are two sides to an argument, and those two sides can be adequately expressed as right and wrong or left and right.

I see it all the time in poll questions. Do you favor or oppose expanding government involvement in the health care system? Those sorts of questions exclude a broad range of viable alternatives; including my favorite, getting the government the hell out of the health care system. But the false left – right dichotomy forces people to choose the lessor of two evils, more government health care (it’s actually the greater of two evils, but that’s an error in perception relating to the popularly held belief that we have a free market health care system now. We don’t) and couches all the arguments that follow within that frame of reference.

I’m not saying that all political misfits are libertarian (the anarchists who claim ownership of the label would have massive coronaries at the prospect of having to expand libertarianism to that extent) what I’m saying is that we as a people really need to acknowledge the fact that the political system, and the philosophy that governs it, is completely out of touch with reality; and needs to be revamped or replaced. And the place to start the process is defining where we stand politically, so that we can see who we are standing next to, and what our leaders are really asking for. If you don’t know that, everything that follows is simply so much hot air.