On Good Intentions

On Good Intentions.

In honor of former Mayor of NYC, Michael “Nanny” Bloomberg:

If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with a conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life.

—Henry David Thoreau

My contention is that good men (not bad men) consistently acting upon that position would act as cruelly and unjustly as the greatest tyrants. Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.

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The Centenary of the Cartel’s Charter

The Centenary of the Cartel’s Charter.

So it’s the 100 year anniversary of the creation, by legislation, of the Federal Reserve. How appropriate that not more than two weeks ago I picked up a used (but basically new) copy of G. Edward Griffin’s The Creature from Jekyll Island? I’ve always wanted this book, but given opportunity cost, I tended to put off going out of my way to buy it. Finding a recent (perhaps the latest) edition at a bargain center for less than $2.00, however, proved irresistible. I think maybe I should start it tonight in honor of this day. Or at least give this another listen:

End the Fed!!!

Was I too Rash on Juries and Nullification?

Was I too Rash on Juries and Nullification?

I made a certain statement (a status update, not a comment) on Facebook, and in retrospect maybe it would have been better to have made it more intelligible (okay, and less harsh as well). Now instead I must go through the statement line by line and clarify and defend it. I don’t know if it is good blogging etiquette or not to drag Facebook into it, but this started out as a clarification for the Facebook crowd and transformed into something to big to post there. We’ll see, I guess. Here is the statement I made:

Idiots (to speak kindly) who call others cowards for trying to get out of jury duty, thereby eliminating the less than 0.00001% chance that that person might have to actually “help their fellow man” are perhaps no less dull and collectivist-minded than the feverish nationalist buffoons who make similar statements about “serving” overseas. The purpose of today’s “defense” system is to murder innocents abroad. The purpose of today’s “justice” system is to incarcerate innocents at home. Any person who wants no part in this is not only not a coward, that person is a hero. Anyone who says otherwise should put their money where their big, loud mouths are. How brave and principled are you really, huh tough guy? Quit yer bitchin’ and show me! Get the hell off of Facebook and the comments sections of blogs and put your own life and livelihood on the line.

This all started when a Facebook friend (a very well-known person in certain circles, but I guess I won’t bring up his name) mentioned he had been “conscripted” for jury duty. This interested me at the time because it was just days after I had sent in my own paperwork for jury duty (this would be the second time, click here for my thoughts on the first). As is usually the case with this particular person’s statuses, the comments section was on fire. But the debate was at least a little more civil than the one that took place in the comments section of a blog post that someone linked to in this Facebook thread. It was an article by the estimable Douglas French of  Laissez-Faire Books and the Mises Institute recounting how he had gotten out of jury duty by telling the lawyers in the voir dire process, and later the judge, that, if made a juror, even if he thought the defendant guilty, he would not convict. That even if he was the only such person, he would hang the jury and nullify a bad law.

To my surprise he was accused in several comments of being a hypocrite and a coward because he chose not to perjure himself in order to get on the jury so that he might actually nullify, rather than do as he had done by merely telling off the judge and the attorneys. Sure, some of these commenters concocted clever ways whereby Mr. French could have (hindsight is 20/20) spoken ambiguously in order to get on the jury and then nullify without technically committing perjury but doing this would have required not only premeditation, but also that the person (in this case a humble economist) perfectly answer any objection brought up by the two (three, if you count the judge) cross-examining lawyers in the voir dire process. This would be like expecting the Oakland Raiders to beat the New York Yankees. In Yankee Stadium. Playing baseball. That’s nothing if not an “undue hardship.” Despite having this explained to them (on both the blog and on Facebook) there were those that persisted in their stupidity and their rudeness. Their argument at the end of it all amounted to, “so what, you’re still a coward.”

Now let me explain what I meant by my original statement, line by line:

Idiots (to speak kindly) who call others cowards for trying to get out of jury duty…

These specific people really are idiots in my estimation. Not because they think jury duty might be a good way to help your fellow man, but because they readily abuse others who don’t think it is all it’s cracked up to be, and because, even after the latter view point has been soundly defended, still won’t make room for the fact that other people might have more important obligations (or even trivial druthers) than being at some magistrate’s beck and call all week, pressured into agreeing with 11 other people on something that might be worth disagreeing on.

…thereby eliminating the less than 0.00001% chance that that person might have to actually “help their fellow man”…

I am referring here not to pronouncing a “not guilty” verdict on falsely or mistakenly accused innocents (which is why juries ever came about in the first place, I believe, and is a very admirable thing to do), but specifically to hanging a jury thereby nullifying bad law. In order to even get on a jury to do this you basically have to lie in voir dire, which is perjury. The 0.00001% may or may not be exaggerated, but you don’t exactly hear about jury nullification every day so I bet it’s not too far from the mark. If I had been talking about mere “not guilty” verdicts this would be way off. That number is probably more like 50%.

…are perhaps no less dull and collectivist-minded than the feverish nationalist buffoons…

These jury-shamers I am talking about appear to be primarily libertarians, a group of people who seem to pride themselves on being bright and individualist-minded, so comparing them to those they despise the most (basically various shades of Neoconservatism, but in a pinch, Democrats who think Obama deserved his Nobel Peace Prize will do nicely) is the ultimate dig.

…who make similar statements about “serving” overseas.

The kinds of statements I am referring to in my comparison of jury-shamers to Neocons/Obama-Peacers are analogous to jury nullification, not analogous to “not guilty” verdicts. So maybe I’m talking about a person who admits in some cases that innocent people die even in the United States’ wars, but for the most part it’s just the bad guys. And then maybe, as if that didn’t make them look foolish enough, they make some statement to the effect of, “You can disobey immoral/unethical orders without being accused of insubordination, then court-martialed and punished.”

Note that these immoral/unjust orders might still somehow be lawful, or that even if they are unlawful, there is still pressure from command and your peers to carry them out. But let’s not be coy: just because something is done by the book does not mean it is right or correct or even excusable. Having rules of engagement may be better than having no rules, but they are no substitute for not invading and occupying in the first place.

The purpose of today’s “defense” system is to murder innocents abroad.

Collateral damage is murder, so even if these wars are motivated by good intentions, that’s what’s going on. However, I don’t think we should give the same exact Powers That Be that we accuse of being malevolent at home the benefit of the doubt by assuming that they are somehow benevolent abroad.

The purpose of today’s “justice” system is to incarcerate innocents at home.

This is somewhat different than saying that the “defense” system’s purpose is to murder innocents abroad. While there may be collateral damage of sorts, that is not what I am talking about. Here, I am talking about bad law. You may be “guilty” of breaking the law, so in that sense the purpose of the “justice” system is to incarcerate the “guilty”, and not as I said, the innocent. But this assumes that the laws in question are all good.

That is quite an assumption to make about the government of the supposed freest nation on earth that happens to have the highest incarceration rates in the world. The elephant in the room here is the Drug War. Most of us can agree that drugs are generally bad news, and that the violence associated with drugs is even worse news, but far too few seem to realize that this is just the natural result of prohibition. Surprise! It didn’t work with alcohol, which, according to some metrics, is FAR MORE DANGEROUS than certain hard drugs, but somehow these people thought it was going to work with pot and heroin? In a post-1960s world?! What were they smoking?

Any person who wants no part in this is not only not a coward, that person is a hero.

Freedom of conscience. That’s all this is. Would we want to live in a world where people are led to believe that exercising this right somehow makes them spineless (again, we can all agree on something, that just having your conscience tell you something doesn’t make that something right)? Well then, just open your eyes. Look out the window. Turn on the TV (the only channel immune to this might be the Weather Channel). People with an actual conscience or actual principles are laughing stocks. They are the ultimate fools in the eyes of the world. And for that, yes, even the ones I disagree with, they have my respect.

Anyone who says otherwise should put their money where their big, loud mouths are.

Here I’m only applying the same standards to the accusers that the accusers are applying to the accused. Judge not, that ye be not judgedThou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eyeTherefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to themPhysician, heal thyselfHe that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.

How brave and principled are you really, huh tough guy? Quit yer bitchin’ and show me! Get the hell off of Facebook and the comments sections of blogs…

Well, it sounded good at the time. But as a wise guy once told me, “vulgarity is no substitute for wit.”

…and put your own life and livelihood on the line.

In the case of “defense” and the military, especially in time of war, your life is on the line. No one disputes that. In the case of jury duty, especially when you perjure yourself in order to nullify bad law, it could very well be your livelihood that is threatened. But even where there is no perjury or nullification going on, there is still a case to be made that your livelihood is in danger.

I understand it is the situation in probably most states that your employer cannot fire you (and may even be made to remunerate you in some way) for taking time off for jury duty. Were it not for this law (which places burdens on employers that arguably shouldn’t be there), there’s at least the possibility that you would not be retained/paid for this “time off”, especially if your employer was not particularly fond of the unjust and immoral incursions of the government into everyday life. And why shouldn’t your employer be able to look out for his own best interests, even if it means firing your sorry behind? Does he “owe” you your job, indefinitely, no matter what? If it wasn’t for our crummy system and you were to be fired or lose pay because of jury duty, would your instinct really be to blame your employer? Not the people who conscripted you for jury duty in the first place? Or not the people who made life so miserable for some so-called criminal that you felt it was your duty to aid that person by nullifying the bad law he was being tried for breaking?

Additionally, since jury duty, unlike the military (these days at least) is something the state compels people to do (ultimately backing up their threats with actual guns, prisons, and larceny), telling these loud mouth accusers to put their livelihood on the line needn’t mean they have to serve on a jury (something they cannot do unless called upon). It could very well mean instead that they go out and agitate through means of civil disobedience: resisting arrest, harassing magistrates and LEOs, and so forth. Don’t act so surprised by these seemingly bizarre suggestions; we are talking about libertarians here, after all. And civil disobedience, though not quite so much as actual violent acts (only justified in self-defense, need I remind you?), can very well land you in the slammer and/or ruin your reputation as a good cog in the machine. If that doesn’t threaten your livelihood, I don’t know what does.

Ron Paul, Change Agent

Ron Paul, Change Agent.

From what I can tell, a “change agent” in the lingo of the conspiracy theorist is a person who seems alright on the surface but in reality is bought and paid for by the New World Order/Illuminati/Bilderbergs and whose primary function is to co-opt the opposition and channel their frustration into fruitless endeavors, so that the powers that be may effect the change they desire with virtually no threats to their plan. If someone like Ron Paul can be accused of this, of course, then no one is safe. Which is why using the term “change agent” in this way has little effect. But as an actual agent of change, Ron Paul’s record speaks for itself, I think. No, I don’t mean his legislative record, for this is rarely something anyone should be proud of, and at best serves only to condemn the person in question for the misdeeds they have committed in the name of making law and doing the will of the people. I refer to his other record. His list of achievements in public life outside of the halls of Congress.

The man has single-handedly convinced thousands upon thousands of people to adopt a more freedom-oriented outlook on life, if not also to utterly transform their worldview. And he continues to do so with his latest book, which I received in the mail today not more than a few hours ago. I’m already reading it and in the first chapter he is keen to stress the ideas that liberty and personal responsibility go hand in hand (one might term this a “Virtuous Voluntaryism“) and that an education’s structure and content must be consistent with one another in order to be effective.

I hope that thousands if not millions of people read this book (and/or others like it) and come away from it with a fresh or reinforced opinion on what needs to be done with our education system (hint, the bulk of the fight takes place outside of “the system”), which is in a complete shambles. Because that’s just how many people it is going to take to reform fix restructure completely uproot the current establishment. Doing this is an end in itself, of course. But it is also a means to a far greater goal. Children raised by the state cannot help, on the whole, but to be children raised for the state. Ron Paul forcefully drives home the point that the status quo cannot be successfully challenged without first addressing the wholesale brainwashing of what many deem to be society’s greatest asset: the children. Stop the elites and bureaucrats on this front and victory over them in perhaps every other field of battle is all but assured.

So I encourage you to read this book, to suggest to others that they read it, and once done, to share (your/their) copy with still others (could be wrong, but I think it’s WAY easier to do this with a hard copy than with a Kindle or iPad). That is what I intend to do with mine. I hope and expect to be finished with it within the week.

What I’ve Been Thinking All Along

What I’ve Been Thinking All Along.

[This article can also be read at Notes on Liberty]

And never had the patience to say until now.

These are my thoughts and observations on the Zimmerman case. I did follow the news and commentary when the shooting happened, and in the following weeks. But trials bore me to tears, so I didn’t really pay much attention (I wasn’t the only one) to it. In fact, other than the verdict, this is what I knew about the trial and its periphery, commentary throughout:

- Zimmerman was charged with manslaughter as well as second degree murder. I don’t know if these were leveled against him at the same time or if they dropped one to pursue the other. I could probably easily find out but I’m feeling lazy.

- The prosecution had a really lousy case against Zimmerman. Much of what they did helped the defense. The prosecution’s witness’s own statements indicated that Zimmerman had a right to be where he was (for the record, I’ll take an impetuous neighborhood watch volunteer over the well-trained police, any day of the week, and twice on Sunday), and that he was the one being attacked. Any provocation, short of a threat or assault, may have been stupid, but it was hardly criminal. So you have the testimony of witnesses who didn’t even see all that went down. From the start it was pretty obvious that the prosecution didn’t have much more than this. Maybe Zimmerman did throw the first punch. Who knows? But it has to be proven beyond the shadow of a doubt. It seemed pretty obvious from the facts the public was made privy to well before the trial that the prosecution would never be able to do this.

- Certain groups wanted a guilty verdict, no matter what. Some of them for their own sincere reasons, but many simply because they have an agenda. Few if any of them, from what I could tell going all the way back to when the shooting happened, even had the capacity to empathize with George Zimmerman. This is fine, but when it becomes a racially motivated witch hunt with a presumption of guilt, and then the media gets a hold of it, and the outcome of the trial begins to take on consequences that could have repercussions throughout the nation, we have a major problem on our hands.

The fact is, it is really no one’s business besides the accused, the victim’s family, the lawyers, the witnesses, and the local courts and police. Not even really the community’s beyond the general task of stamping out crime. Some would argue that this trial has major consequences, and so we must pay attention to it. They are right, but it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Making a big deal is what makes it a big deal. The only reason it has any consequences for anyone other than those involved or anywhere besides where it actually occurred is because we have been paying far more attention to it than it ever merited. And the reason for this is a collectivist mentality, where all formerly and currently oppressed folk must band together to defend their own even though they might just be in the wrong.

How could a case like this possibly have an impact on trials or laws or liberties or race-relations or childrearing or property rights in other states without the media and special interest groups hyping it beyond its actual scale and scope?

I certainly don’t want to sweep injustice (if there even was any besides the presumption of guilt placed upon George Zimmerman) under the rug, but it is illogical to think that widening the circles of those who think they have a say in this matter will lead to a preferential outcome. For all the clamor and hyperbole this case was still decided in the courts by an impartial jury of Zimmerman’s peers (well, sort of). The way certain people on the television, on the radio, on the web, in print comported themselves could have had little other effect than to pressure the jurors to follow the guidance, not of their own conscience, but of a bloodthirsty lynch mob. Even if they happened to hand down the correct verdict under these circumstances, and Zimmerman got what he “deserved” (whether exoneration or incarceration), they could in no way claim that they served the cause of justice. Neither the mob nor the jurors.

America is a nation full of self-serving big-mouthed know-it-alls, not that this is news or we need a reminder. Unsurprisingly then, the cause of justice was the last thing on these peoples’ minds. I place most of the blame on Trayvon’s (most vocal) sympathizers as it looks like Zimmerman’s were mostly reacting to the trend of busy-bodies, community organizers, and race-baiters who ran with this non-story to further an agenda: gun control, person control, race control, but not self-control.

But guess what? The real haters lost. So it was all one big distraction. A waste of everyone’s time. It was fascinating and all, but can we talk about something important (in its own right) now?

On Pledging my Allegiance to a Totalitarian Regime

On Pledging my Allegiance to a Totalitarian Regime.

On this Independence Day, in addition to watching fireworks, attending the neighborhood barbecue, and having a good time with those who matter most, as well as actually remembering the purpose of the celebration, that is, political independence from a tyrannical empire, I would like to continue being my contrarian nonconformist self and bring something dark and uncomfortable to my readers’ attention.

What could possibly be more (in)appropriate on this day—this Holy and Sacred Day—than to call into question—nay, to utterly denounce—one of this country’s most valued traditions, the recitation of the loyalty oath; the offering of blind, faithful obedience to a contract I did not sign, written by men I neither know nor necessarily respect, and interpreted by men far less worthy? Yes, the Pledge of Allegiance, second only to the Constitution and the Declaration (the Compact and the Articles long since forgotten) in the vast library of hallowed patriotic texts! Are there many other things so dear, so familiar, so comfortable (let alone more so) to the assembled children and to the huddled masses? No, I say! There are few. Very few. Especially today, this Glorious and Celebratory Day!

The Pledge of Allegiance, in it original form, was written by one Francis Bellamy, an early member of the Progressive Movement and an ardent admirer of Abraham Lincoln. It was at the request of the magazine The Youth’s Companion, which was at that time the sole seller of American flags (for which it charged handsomely) to public schools. From the start it is clear that the pledge was born not of patriotism but of monopolistic rent-seeking.

The original text,

I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,

makes no allusion toward God, despite being written by a Baptist Minister (defrocked), Francis Bellamy. Mention of God was later added by Congress and signed into law by President Eisenhower, at the behest of various pressure groups (fortunately, none of these seems to have been particularly nefarious). I suppose that adding the words “Under God” somehow makes this already-tainted prose seem more American, more acceptable to those whose first inclination should have been to cast it aside as nothing short of idolatry or submission to tyranny.

The pledge incorporates several ideas that should be considered thoroughly disgusting to lovers of liberty. The symbolism of the “Nation” is more important than the actual principles it was supposedly founded upon. Individuals owe everything they are and everything they have to the collective entity referred to as the “Nation”. The states are not Constitutionally sovereign and the self-determination of the people living in them is undesirable. The right of the pledgee to separate himself from something he had no say in, no part in, no matter how evil or corrupt, is explicitly denied. “My Country, Right or Wrong,” as Stephan Decatur once put it.

It is arguable that its one truly positive line, “Liberty and Justice for all,” when written by such a man as Bellamy means something entirely different from what most people mean when they say it. Bellamy, you see, was inspired by the French Revolution’s “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité,” not the American Revolution’s “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

He was a proponent of civic religion, not unlike what was instituted during the First French Republic just prior to the Reign of Terror, and an apologist of tyrannies and promoter of lies. Especially those of Lincoln, by Lincoln, and for Lincoln. He was also a cousin to Edward Bellamy, a the author of Looking Backward: 2000-1887, a novel of a future socialist utopia.

But this should come as no surprise. Egalitarianism and authoritarianism often go hand in hand. Our man Francis Bellamy may not have identified himself as a fascist, but, as with most progressives and socialists, this did not stop him from actually being one.

The original salute to the flag, also created by Bellamy was based on the old Roman gesture of unconditional fealty to the Emperor. Similar (or rather, identical, both in appearance and in purpose) salutes were later incorporated into the civic religions of Italian Fascism and German National Socialism. The American variant of the Hitlergruß was not dropped by the progressives running the public schools until 1942. The same people who introduced it knew that their purposes would be better served by erasing history. They didn’t want to be perceived as fascists, a perception which would be logical when considering the economic, war, and propaganda policies of the Roosevelt Administration as well as the nationalistic ideas of early progressives such as Francis Bellamy, John Dewey (who provided the education model for Fascism), Theodore Roosevelt (who provided the governing model for Fascism), and Woodrow Wilson (who provided the propaganda model for Fascism).

Students_pledging_allegiance_to_the_American_flag_with_the_Bellamy_salute

So the next time you are at a gathering with a bunch of ignorant (but often well-meaning) flag-worshippers, don’t be afraid to sit down or leave the room in protest. I’m not often in that situation, but the last time I was, I stood up, but kept both hands by my side and my mouth shut. I moved my eyes around, avoiding the flag. It was awkward at first, but I do not regret it. For me, personally, this was originally about my political philosophy. But the more I think about it, it is also consistent with my theological perspective. The Pledge is idolatrous.

I do not mean to be accusatory by this. Certainly, those who have not given clear thought to it may not be intending to say the Pledge in this way. But once they have thought it through, if they still think it is alright to say the Pledge, or are afraid not to say it for fear of embarrassment, I would find it hard not to judge them. If not on the level of their conscience, then on the level of their intellect or their ego.

In addition to the charge of idolatry I add that of blasphemy. The “under God” addendum makes the Pledge a form of taking the Lord’s Name in vain. Quite possibly one of the worst forms, in fact. I think it is much better to curse out of anger or surprise, than it is out of high-mindedness or groupthink. The sin is more forgivable when it is a spontaneous, thoughtless, and forgettable remark than when it is required recitation for all right-thinking Americans.

To paraphrase The Most Interesting Man In The World: I don’t always take the Lord’s name in vain. But when I do, I prefer to say “God Damn.”