Sunday, August 29, 2010

Roving Government Scanners Now Can See You Virtually Naked Inside Your Car

Roving Government Scanners Now Can See You Virtually Naked Inside Your Car

Remember how privacy experts were concerned because new backscatter X-ray scanners could see through people's clothing at airport checkpoints? Forbes' Andy Greenberg reported this week that the intrusive-scanning industry has already moved on to much, much bigger things:

American Science & Engineering, a company based in Billerica, Massachusetts, has sold U.S. and foreign government agencies more than 500 backscatter x-ray scanners mounted in vans that can be driven past neighboring vehicles to see their contents, Joe Reiss, a vice president of marketing at the company told me in an interview. While the biggest buyer of AS&E’s machines over the last seven years has been the Department of Defense operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Reiss says law enforcement agencies have also deployed the vans to search for vehicle-based bombs in the U.S.

The company says that while these images, like the airport ones, can penetrate clothing, the results are too low-resolution for people to be embarrassed about. Besides, the people operating the trucks are too busy taking inventory of the entire private contents of your car to spend time studying your genitals.

Are they lying about the resolution of the scans, the same way the Transportation Security Administration lied about the airport scanners' ability to record and transmit images? It hardly seems worth worrying about, given that the entire premise of the vans is flagrantly, indisputably illegal.

The promotional video from American Science & Engineering shows the anonymous white vans cruising down American streets, scanning cars as they pass them. At one point, the scanner appears to be peering through the walls of some sort of prefab building or trailer.

Again, this is completely, categorically unconstitutional. The video—which is so guilelessly dystopian it feels like a hoax, like one of the prescient TV commercials from Robocop—touts the ability of the scanner vans to find explosives and other contraband. If American law-enforcement agencies are really interested in intercepting unlawful vehicle-borne threats, they should start by impounding the contents of their own vans.


Inverted Body Scanner Image Shows Naked Body In Full Living Color

Airport Body Scanners Can Store Your Naked Image, After All (from Slate)

My name is Earl, uh, Fiona, oh, wait … maybe, I don’t have a name yet: The newest spin in tactical weather bombing

By Phasma Scriptor

Until this week, all was quiet on the weather fronts from the last accurate prediction of a tornado being guided over the heart of NYC (see “This IS Kansas, Dorothy … better grab Toto, the wicked weather-witch this way comes”). The tornado through Philly was an unexpected bonus. That attack took advantage of the manipulation of the jetstream that had persistently been given a fairly narrow west-to-east track. Unfortunately, the watchword is hang on, Yankees, hang on. Apparently, the Rothschild weather bombers have opened up an attempt to divert at least one hurricane against the Northeastern Corridor (NEC) and, perhaps, more.

The last hurricane that made landfall in the NEC was the so-called Long Island Express of 1938 (LIX), September 21 to be exact, thought to have been brought rapidly up the East Coast by a late summer jetstream dipping down to the Carolinas and then turning north. The surmise is that the high-speed trip (60-70 mph vs. a more sedate 10-20 mph) from Florida to Long Island was due to this jetstream boost.

As a Category 3 cyclone, the LIX was the worst hurricane ever recorded for the NEC, the 1st since 1869. But, the LIX striking Long Island was a purely natural occurrence. Earl won’t be; nor would Fiona, or anything of the other systems that pop off the West Coast of Africa like so many depth charges from Mother Nature this time of year. The African end will continue to be the work of Mom, but the business end in the Western Atlantic may become more Mutha than Mom, if there’s a successful diversion of any cyclone in this most active portion of the season.

There didn’t appear to be anything out of the ordinary in early-to-mid-August, until this weekend when Danielle collided with the lower-right arc of a high-pressure system (HPS, running clockwise, CW) that had dominated an enormous part of the mid-section of the US for the entire summer (which Fermilab/Argonne-Labs helped maintain and then utilize in the tornado attack on the NEC). The Huntsville/Oak-Ridge facility shoved that HPS arc out into an area just off the South Carolina coast as Danielle approached. The HPS figured into the computer models that assigned a projected path for Danielle that took it far from the East Coast; however, the lower-right arc of the HPS, stretching from the Gulf to SC effectively defending the entire East Coast, was taken out by Danielle. The (counter-clockwise (CCW) low pressure system (Danielle) effectively shredded an enormous hole in the Gulf-SC defensive line, leaving behind a weak, disorganized eddy.

Today (Sun, 8/29), the next summer assault on the NEC looks like it became a go when a path for Earl and, perhaps Fiona, was cleared by Danielle. Although the paths of hurricanes don’t like to be predictable, they're still subject to fairly sophisticated modeling. As of today, the models project Earl's path across a typically wide swath at this stage of development (forecasting Earl to come near but not touch the NEC coastline); the radar readings show Earl is intensifying significantly; my weather bomber tactical decoder ring, however, indicates that, if Huntsville/O-R can keep the HPS from interfering w/Earl or Fiona or both (by inducing turbulence in the disorganized eddies over Florida), then Norfolk and the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab (PPPL) can modulate the Earl/Fiona path and divert either or both into the NEC.

The destruction levied by any hurricane is amplified when the powerful cyclonic winds stall over a vulnerable area. The jetstream is not going to rush either Earl or Fiona up the East Coast, unlike the LIX; that’s because the jetstream is being encouraged to take a soft left turn up through Montana into Canada, thence east after a soft right, followed by a rather crazy hard right over Maine and, then, a very tight u-turn northward over the Atlantic. This action suggests an attempt by the PPPL to stall Earl and/or Fiona over the NEC, if Norfolk can pull either of the current named storms westward to take a path into that CW arcing of the jetstream over Maine.


Another bonus track: The previous prediction of a low probability for mortgage rates dipping to 4 or below isn’t so improbable anymore. With mortgage rates recently sliding to new all-time lows, the 10-year Treasury rate (slipping to close to 2.4% last week) indicates the potential for 3.9%, although the 10-year yield would likely have to get to at least 2.25% and stay there for a while for that to happen. The 30-year Treasury rate has already slid below 4; however, with traders obeying the counter-intuitive, though common, “buy on the rumor, sell the news” strategy, rates shot up when Chairman Ben announced that the Fed would be buying long-term bonds (thus, lowering yields) to give a boost to the economy.

The goons amongst the Rs, if their current obstructionist tactics are an indication (they are), want the nation’s economy to disintegrate for political reasons (ignoring the vast social costs, which also affect the financial costs); that’s what will happen (and becomes increasingly inevitable), if so-called austerity measures are forced upon our system by know-nothing Rs leading know-less-than-nothing dumshitteabaggers and a bunch of other assorted idiots to cry for a balanced budget. Again, the nations that hold our sovereign debt (Treasury paper) do NOT have us over a barrel; we have them over a barrel. The US is many, many, many times too-big-to-fail; we just need to play our stacked deck right. It should be easy, but, thanks to the Rs and their shit-for-brains followers, it hasn’t been and won’t be.

Should the federal budget ship be righted and put on a diet toward the ideal of balance? Sure, but not now. The rapidly expanding financial benefits generated by e-commerce will follow the explosion of smartphones which will enable the final exponential lurch of the velocity of money to the speed at which smartphones operate - light-speed. These benefits haven’t begun to have their greatest impact which, when brought to a boil, will launch the global economy, the US obviously included, into five to ten years’ worth of wild growth, negating the need for a diet. It’ll be the final and most monstrous bubble which, nevertheless could be, might be, avoided, but when have humans ever learned to avoid blowing into the bubble until it pops and makes your face all sticky?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Zombie Cash

From the: AGITATOR
Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Minneapolis settles a lawsuit from alleged WMD-toting zombies:

Seven zombies accused of carrying weapons of mass destruction will be staggering to the bank shortly with a bundle of cash, courtesy of a legal settlement with the City of Minneapolis.

The seven were arrested in 2006 during Aquatennial while dressed for a “Night of the Living Dead.” They were stiff-legging it down Nicollet Mall to protest mindless consumerism when some unhappy soul called 911.

The cops busted the seven for disorderly conduct and said the zombies’ homemade public address rig looked like a weapon of mass destruction. The zombies spent some brief, scary time in jail, where the cops confiscated one protester’s very real prosthetic leg.

They’ve settled for $165,000.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Weekend Special - Stating the Bleeding Obvious!

Taking a break this weekend so I'm leaving you with one of the most cogent arguments for true liberty and freedom by the esteemable Larken Rose. "Stating the bleeding obvious" in 3 parts. ENJOY!


Stating the Bleeding Obvious (Part 1)

Sometimes it can be difficult deciding how to state the bleeding obvious, when your target audience has been carefully trained to MISS the bleeding obvious. To wit, it's possible to demolish the fundamental assumptions underlying statism using very simple lines of reasoning. And for the recovering statist, the logic is undeniable, and the rational conclusion self-evident. But for the thoroughly indoctrinated (and that included me not many years ago), sometimes the most simple explanation causes the most drastic cognitive dissonance.

Here is an example:

The concept of "authority" is a MORAL concept. "Government," by definition, is the group of people who have the supposed moral RIGHT to enact and enforce "laws." (Whether there are "limits" on what those "laws" require doesn't matter for this particular point.) And a moral RIGHT of the "law-makers" to rule (even if only in a "limited" way) implies a moral OBLIGATION to obey on the part of their subjects. That is the essence of the concept of "authority" and "government."

Now here is one painfully simple proof of why that concept is self- contradictory bunk:

From the perspective of any given subject, each "law" either coincides with his own conscience, or conflicts with it. For example, a "law" may declare that murder is "illegal," and an individual may think that murder is inherently immoral anyway--so the two match. On the other hand, a "law" may require an individual to fund a war that the subject believes to be immoral, in which case there is a CONFLICT between his own conscience and "the law."

Okay, here comes the question. (Statists, brace yourself, because this might be both painfully obvious and existentially disturbing.) Ready?

Question: Can an individual ever have a moral obligation to disregard his own moral conscience, in favor of obeying an "authority" instead?

Here are the two possible answers, along with their logical ramifications:

1) YES, a person CAN have an obligation to go against his own moral conscience. In other words, a person can have a MORAL obligation to do something which he believes to be IMMORAL. I hope I don't need to explain in too much detail why that answer is insane. In short, it can't be good to be bad; it can't be moral to be immoral; committing evil cannot be virtuous. Even if a person's own judgment is flawed and twisted, he still cannot rationally imagine himself to have an obligation to do what, from his perspective, is the WRONG THING TO DO.

Okay, so that answer stinks. Here's the other possibility:

2) NO, a person CANNOT have an obligation to go against his own moral conscience. Therefore, he has no obligation to comply with any "law" that conflicts with his own personal judgment of what is right.

Most people can handle that much (even if they start getting nervous at this point). But here is what directly and logically follows from that:

If a "law" CONFLICTS with one's conscience, he has no obligation to obey it. Such a "law" should have no "authority" (creates no obligation to obey) in his eyes. If, on the other hand, the "law" COINCIDES with his one's conscience, such a "law" is at best unnecessary. It is his own conscience, not any "legislation," which obligates him to act properly. Which means that such a "law" STILL should have no "authority" in his eyes.

In other words, in no situation should any "law" have any "authority" in anyone's eyes, whether it coincides with or conflicts with one's own moral conscience. Every "law" either MATCHES one's own judgment, and is therefore unnecessary and irrelevant, or it CONTRADICTS one's own judgment, and should be ignored. Which means that no man-made "law" ever has any "authority" (i.e., it never carries an inherent obligation to obey). And without any "authority" to its "laws," "government" loses all legitimacy, ceases to be "government," and becomes nothing but a bunch of bossy control-freaks.

So those are your choices: "anarchy," or being morally obligated to be immoral. I would be happy to see any attempt by a statist to offer some other rational answer to the question, but I won't hold my breath.

Larken Rose

"Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right." - Henry David Thoreau


Stating the Bleeding Obvious (Part 2)

My last "bleeding obvious" article addressed the absurd notion that anyone could ever be morally OBLIGATED to disregard his own moral conscience. But the concepts of "authority" and "government" depend entirely upon the insane notion that, at least in some cases, it is BAD for people to do what they think is RIGHT (if the politicians call it "illegal"), and GOOD for people to do what they think is WRONG (if "the law" commands it). Statism relies upon such insanity. But that is not the only way to demonstrate the insanity of the superstition called "government." (This next one, many of you have seen before.)

Question: Can you give to someone else a right that you don't have?

Here are your two possible answers:

YES, I can delegate to others a right that I do not have. That would mean that even though it is IMMORAL for me to do certain things (committing theft, assault, murder, whatever), I can nonetheless bestow moral PERMISSION on someone else, giving them the RIGHT to do such things.

Again, I hope I don't have to go to great lengths to explain why such a notion is utterly insane. If you don't understand it, don't worry; I'll just bestow upon someone else the right to bludgeon you with a club until you understand it.

(There is a slight variation, which is equally insane, which is the idea that ONE person cannot delegate a right he doesn't have, but that MULTIPLE people can delegate a right which NONE of those people possess. This is about as rational as saying, "No, I can't give you an apple, because I don't have one, but if I get together with some of my friends, NONE of whom has an apple, together we CAN give you an apple." Right.)

So that answer stinks. But here's the only other option:

NO, I cannot delegate to others a right that I do not have. As patently obvious as that is, consider what the logically implies:

The people called "Congress" have NO rights that I don't have. Who could have GIVEN them such rights, if no one can delegate a right he himself doesn't possess? If I have no right to "tax" my neighbor, and you have no such right, who could possibly have given the people called "Congress" such a right? In short, NO ONE. You and I have no right to enact and enforce arbitrary "laws" on our neighbors. And neither do the people called "Congress," because no one had the power to delegate to them such a right. You and I have no right to rob people, assault people, threaten people, etc. (We can only rightfully use force to DEFEND against an aggressor.) Ergo, the people called "Congress" have no such right to rob, assault, or threaten either, even if they call it "taxation," or "law," or anything else.

Sorry, statists, but once again, your choices are either believe something insane, or abandon your statism; either you can give someone else the RIGHT to commit theft, assault, and murder, or "government" is completely bogus, because the people in "government" have no right to do ANYTHING that you and I do not have the right to do (because no one has ever had the ability to GIVE them such a right).

Once again, the insanity underlying statism is pretty darn easy to expose, even if it's rather uncomfortable for the indoctrinated to rationally consider. (Again, I was raised as a statist, and I vehemently resisted such obvious truisms for a long time, before giving up and choosing sanity.)

Larken Rose

(I'm tempted to end by quoting huge chunks of "The Law," by Frederic Bastiat. But I'll settle for this tidbit: "But how is this legal plunder to be identified? ... See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.")


Stating the Bleeding Obvious (Part 3)

In response to my two prior messages about stating the bleeding obvious, a lot of people said that we need SOME "laws," or that we need LEGITIMATE "government," or some minimal amount of it. Not surprisingly, no one actually contradicted the bleeding obvious points. No one said, "Yes, I CAN delegate rights I don't have!" And no one said, "Yes, I CAN be obligated to ignore my own conscience!"

In short, they dodged the obvious proofs that the concept of "government" is inherently bogus, and went into claims about how it's NECESSARY to have some "government." Sorry, but that is not a logical response. If I pointed out that Santa Claus doesn't have time to go to every kid's house on Christmas Eve, that the laws of physics don't allow reindeer to fly, that Santa can't physical fit through chimneys (for those who still have them), that a bag that size couldn't hold a billion toys, and so on, would a rational rebuttal be, "But we NEED Santa Claus to exist, because otherwise Christmas won't work!"?

And a "limited Santa" position isn't any more sane. "Okay, we don't want Santa to be excessively involved, but for those kids whose parents can't afford gifts, we NEED a minimal amount of Santa involvement." Well, too bad. Because Santa doesn't exist. And neither does "government." It doesn't matter how much you "need" them. It doesn't matter what would happen without them. They DON'T FREAKING EXIST!

"Government" is the entity imagined to have the RIGHT (not just the ABILITY) to rule others. Trouble is, no one can HAVE such a right, because no one can delegate such a right. This is true whether someone is claiming the absolute, unlimited right to rule, or some version of "tyranny lite," as the Constitution pretended to create. No one can have a moral obligation to obey politician scribbles (their so-called "laws") when they conflict with one's own moral conscience.

There is no right to rule, and no obligation to obey, which means there is no "authority," which means that "government" does not exist. Yes, the gang of thieving, lying, murderous control-freak scumbags exists, as do their unthinking mercenaries, and the damage they cause is very real. But the claimed LEGITIMACY of their forcibly-imposed "legislative" master plan is NOT real. And even if they only initiated the types of aggressive violence described in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution (e.g., limited "taxation" and "regulation"), it would STILL be utterly and completely illegitimate (though a lot less destructive). The logic of my two prior messages applies just as much to "limited government" as it does to totalitarianism. No one has the right to rob me, even if they only steal a little, and only in certain, relatively unobtrusive ways, and even if they say it's necessary, or for my own good.

People try to cling to the cult superstition of "government" because it makes them FEEL good, like believing in Santa. They want to think that, if they're good, some all-knowing, all-powerful entity will make sure they're protected. Never mind that "government" is always more of an aggressor than a protector. I can't count how many people have argued to me, "Well, what we have NOW is nasty, destructive and illegitimate, but we really need a GOOD 'government,' or there would be chaos!"

You mean things like $2,000,000,000,000 a year being extorted every year from people who earned it? Oh, wait, that chaos is BECAUSE of "government." You mean like 200,000,000 people being murdered in one century? Oh, wait, that happened BECAUSE of "government." You mean like MILLIONS of non-violent people being forcibly kidnapped, dragged away from their friends and family, and put in cages? Oh, wait, that happened BECAUSE of "government." You mean like an entire economy destroyed by people counterfeiting the currency into worthlessness, and engaging in massive banking fraud? Oh, wait, that happened BECAUSE of "government." You mean like constant violent conflict on a massive scale? Oh, wait, that happens BECAUSE of "government." You mean like people being terrorized, tortured, harassed and assaulted? Oh, wait, that happens BECAUSE of "government."

How many thousands of years more does the myth of "government" have to result in suffering, injustice, death and destruction, before people will give up the insane notion that we need "government" to PROTECT US from suffering, injustice, death and destruction?

There is a simple, logical reason WHY "government" is always destructive. It's not because of bad luck, or because we weren't vigilant enough. It's because, by its very nature, the only thing "authority" can ever do, and will ever do, is add IMMORAL VIOLENCE into society. That is not just a prediction; it is a logically provable reality.

There are two basic categories of force: AGGRESSIVE force, where someone uses violence or the threat of violence to rob, assault, or murder another; and DEFENSIVE force, where someone uses threats or physical force to try to STOP an act of aggressive force. Most people acknowledge that aggressive force is immoral, and defensive force is moral. Attacking someone is bad; protecting someone is good. Starting a fight is bad; defending yourself is good. (I think most five-year-olds grasp this ... it's just the adults who believe in "government" who have problems with it.)

DEFENSIVE force is inherently legitimate. Each of us has a right to defend ourselves, or others, against aggressors. We don't need any official office, any badge, any special "authority," or any "law" to make defensive force justified. The ONLY kind of force that needs special permission, that needs "legislation" or other pseudo- religious political cult rituals to legitimize it, is AGGRESSIVE VIOLENCE--force that is NOT inherently righteous. If the politician, or the cop, has a right to use force in a situation that you do not, then he has the right to INITIATE FORCE. He has the right to attack someone, to start a fight, to commit acts of aggression. Because you don't NEED a badge, or a "law," to have the right to use inherently justified force. You only need them if you want to ATTACK someone.

In other words, all "government" ever does, all it CAN do, is to add IMMORAL VIOLENCE into society. So, is that what society needs more of? Is that what we need in order to be civilized and peaceful? More unjustified violence? "There would be chaos and mayhem if we didn't add more immoral violence into society!" Is that really what you want to be arguing?

If someone, or some organization, only used inherently justified, defensive force, they simply wouldn't fit the definition of "government." A "government" which can only do what EVERY other individual has the right to do on his own, has no "authority," has no right to rule, cannot enact and enforce any "laws," and does not in any way constitute "government." It can be a militia, it can be a private security company, it can be a concerned individual, but it CANNOT be "government." Because of what the word means, there CANNOT be a purely defensive "government," which only PROTECTS rights.

Here is my last "bleeding obvious" question for this series:

If every individual has the right to use defensive, inherently justified force to protect the innocent, and "government" has the right to use force in some cases where most individuals do NOT, what KIND of extra force does "government" add to society? Here are your choices:

1) It adds GOOD force, because when otherwise immoral violence is "legalized," it becomes GOOD.

2) It can only add BAD force, because any violence that is not inherently good--any force beyond the defensive, inherently justified force that every individual has the right to use-- must be inherently bad.

So which is it? Once again, you may not LIKE your choices, but these are still your only logical choices:

a) Civilization requires an organization that does nothing but add more immoral violence into society.

b) Immoral violence is ... um ... immoral. We can't possibly need, and shouldn't have, any organization that only ADDS more immoral violence into society.

Larken Rose

Yesterday was "Happy Cost of Government Day! "

Happy Cost of Government Day!

Yesterday August 19, 2010 Americans were forced to “celebrate” "Cost of Government Day!" In 2010, the average American worked until August 19–or 231 days– to earn enough income just to pay for the cost of federal, state and local government. In total, government spending now consumes 63.41 percent of all income in the United States.

Each year, Americans for Tax Reform’s Center for Fiscal Accountability calculates Cost of Government Day. Due to major increases in government spending in 2010, August 19 is the latest Cost of Government Day ever recorded:

The Center for Fiscal Accountability breaks down how many days it takes the average American to pay for different components of government spending:

The Cost of Government Day for each state is based on varying spending burdens.

Those states with the earliest Cost of Government Days:

Alaska- July 28
Louisiana- July 28
Mississippi- July 31
South Dakota- August 2
West Virginia- August 3

Those states with the latest Cost of Government Days:

District of Columbia- August 29
Maryland- September 4
New York- September 10
New Jersey- September 14
Connecticut- September 17

Enjoy the rest of your 134 days this year! Finally, the average American has paid off his or her share of the cost of big government spending.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Potatoism! Onward Potatoian Soldiers, marching on to war...

Sound familiar???

The Great Blago Fiasco

By Phasma Scriptor

The real surprise in the Great Blago Fiasco was that he was found guilty of even 1 count, not that the jury was well-hung on 23. It's typical in criminal trials of a rather scandalous or
infamous or celebrated nature for the venire facias (the jury pool) to be packed with citizens prone to favor the state. This feat isn’t exactly monumental because a very substantial number of people either work for the state or have some direct interest in rooting for the state; most people, despite any pretensions to the contrary, bow to the power of the state and believe in its legitimacy and, by implication, the presumption that prosecutors bring well-founded cases.

In federal courts (like the UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT for the NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS, EASTERN DIVISION (USDCNDIED), wherein Rod Blagojevich was on trial), judges are empowered to select the individuals who will sit in juries, based upon a procedure in which there’s another presumption, namely, that a judge “randomly selects individuals to be summoned to appear for jury duty” which supposedly will “help ensure that jurors represent a cross section of the community, without regard to race, gender, national origin, age or political affiliation.” Nothing prevents the selecting judge from examining the questionnaires submitted by each prospective juror to ensure that the venire facias for a particular trial has characteristics favorable to the prosecution.

When, for in
stance, the defendant and his/her attorney see that the prospective jurors being led into the courtroom for the voir dire (the process by which prospective jurors are questioned about their backgrounds and potential biases before being chosen to sit on a jury) are almost all white in a district where no such percentage of white individuals is extant, that's an extremely good indication that the defendant is in trouble. It’s well known that black females are generally more sympathetic to the defendant. So, failure to admit them into the pool is, on its face, proof of a pre-emptive fix against the defense. That was standard MO for the bad old South, which remains true, in some cases, for the bad new South. That also remains true in every jurisdiction for those special trials where findings of guilt are imperative for the peace and dignity of society.

Every prosecutor worth their spurs goes after a criminal defendant, empowered to “strike hard blows” yet are, in legal theory, restricted from striking “foul” blows; of course, hitting below the legal limit frequently occurs and, if on appeal, a skillful lawyer can demonstrate that his/her client was victimized at trial by prosecutorial misconduct, the convicted appellant can have the verdict reversed. But, if the misconduct is in the jury selection, no such foul play can be attributed to the prosecution and, there being a presumption of fair play by the judge, pointing fingers at the bias of the jurors is much harder to argue than most issues on appeal.

Thus, with a limited number of challenges, the defendant's attorney(s) would find it difficult to pick a jury that wasn't stacked against the defendant, even if a jury expert was employed specifically for the
voir dire and even if the venire facias provided an uneven playing field. Where the venire isn’t really random, winding up with an independent jury is virtually impossible. Meanwhile, a skilled prosecutor would be able to pick off most, if not all, of the scabs, the few independents in the venire.

How does this possibility of a stacked jury pool relate to the Great Blago
Fiasco? After all, his finder of fact, the jury, was able to only get a guilty verdict on one measly count? Ah, but this was the jurisdiction where clout was perfected. The jury was clouted to get Blago off; the circumstantial for that is the not-news that only one juror hung up a guilty verdict on the more serious charges, even though there was naive speculation by non-Chicagoans (or even Chicagoans who don't comprehend clout) that many, if not most, jurors were voting for acquittal on those charges. US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, by all accounts a very straight shooter, would not countenance tilting the pinball game in favor of the house, even though, as a veteran prosecutorial lifer, he’s well aware of the way the courts work now and, realistically, have always worked. No, fixing Blago’s jury would have been an inside job … inside City Hall, which, given the instantaneous leap-from-their-seats reaction of the US Attorneys’ side to retry Blago on the 23 counts sitting in mistrial mode, was already on the minds of Fitzgerald, et al.

The Daley family has, for the past going on 60 years, controlled the nomination of candidate
s for the federal bench in the USDCNDIED; they were all chosen on the basis of the abiding Machine hiring qualification of “We don’t want nobody nobody sent” in the typically mangled grammar/syntax/pronunciation of the South Side Irish Mafia. Hence, almost the entire federal bench in the USDCNDIED have been Daley loyalists; they were somebodies. If that sounds very mob-influenced, it is, the Mob having been joined at the hip (head, chest, legs, feet, toes) with the Machine, many key precinct operatives having been soldiers. After the various federal raids on the Chicago Mob and City Hall, the relationship is attenuated, but the overriding power and super-clout of the financial beneficiaries and backers of the old Machine, the Crown and Pritzker families and their special evil spawn, Sam Zell, remains undiminished, such that, when necessary, appropriate muscle and/or grease can be discretely applied.

Richie's boys would have let Rod swing unless he refused to roll over on Richie, the outcome on which the smart money placed their bets. Richie has been the next shoe to drip ever since former Gov. George Ryan took the pipe from Fitzgerald. Rod, as the son-in-law of ex-Alderman Richard Mell (though estranged, for public consumption, from clout-heavy Mell), well knew the routine - the Irish version of omerta, the mob's vow of silence to the grave. In the 11th Ward, the womb that spawned Daley, Jr., it's a given that, if you're drunk (for Richie, a 2-5ths of Scotch kinda guy, that would be anytime) and in a proper 11th Ward saloon, there's a loose-lips exception. The boys know that Rod knows where an awful lot of bones are buried and, so the smart money thought, Rod being basically a pansy would give it up to the suits. The verdict speaks loudly for the
venire having been salted with at least one decisive Machine vote, likely more.

So, what’s the upshot, speaking somewhat figuratively? Cook County is the site of the case upon which the “Jeopardy” episode (aired 11/1/95) of the long-running TV series Law & Order was based. “Jeopardy” featured a corrupt judge who lets a murderer go free with a proper painting of his eagerly outstretched palm. When the crime is discovered, Executive Asst. DA Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) obtains a ruling that another trial is in the offing for the wrongfully acquitted murderer because there’s no double jeopardy where the so-called “fountain of justice” has been poisoned; the trial is considered null and void.

The real-life Cook County si
situation, also not a trial for which jeopardy attached to Mob hit-man Harry Aleman, involved Cook County Circuit Court Judge Frank J. Wilson, very instructive as to the manner in which “justice” prevails in Chicago when a criminal defendant, even an accused murderer, with the proper clout goes to trial. Wilson was chosen to turn vicious Mob enforcer Aleman out on the street, which, for the incredibly low, low price of $10K, he did (complaining, ex post facto, that he should have gotten way more). And, like the corrupt judge in “Jeopardy”, when Wilson was being stalked by the FBI, evacuated his brain bone. Aleman’s original attorney, Thomas Maloney, who arranged for the fix, later went on, as a Cook County Circuit Court judge, to release three defendants charged with murder, including the infamous Anthony “the Ant” Spilotro, made more infamous in the movie “Casino” as “Nicky Santoro” played by Joe Pesci. Maloney also put an innocent man into stir for a murder he didn’t commit (released 23 years later).

Thus, if the smart money is really smart this time, Blago will be re-tried (actually, tried for the 1st time, there having been no jeopardy here either), a quiet investigation of the lone juror holding out for acquittal for Blago on all the nasty charges will be conducted and, eventually, Blago will be convicted on the second go-around. Or third.

Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury

Buddy John T [] scores 2 in a row!!! This is soooo cool! If you R not a Bradbury fan then that would be a great reason for self immolation. Just kidding, really...however if you don't get his writings then what DO-U-GET?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Ecstasy of Empire

Thanks to a great friend and intellect, John Teschky, for passing this along!

The Ecstasy of Empire

Paul Craig Roberts
August 16, 2010

The United States is running out of time to get its budget and trade deficits under control. Despite the urgency of the situation, 2010 has been wasted in hype about a non-existent recovery. As recently as August 2 Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner penned a New York Times column, “Welcome to the Recovery.”


Without a revolution, Americans are history.

As John Williams ( has made clear on many occasions, an appearance of recovery was created by over-counting employment and undercounting inflation. Warnings by Williams, Gerald Celente, and myself have gone unheeded, but our warnings recently had echoes from Boston University professor Laurence Kotlikoff and from David Stockman, who excoriated the Republican Party for becoming big-spending Democrats.

It is encouraging to see some realization that, this time, Washington cannot spend the economy out of recession. The deficits are already too large for the dollar to survive as reserve currency, and deficit spending cannot put Americans back to work in jobs that have been moved offshore.

However, the solutions offered by those who are beginning to recognize that there is a problem are discouraging. Kotlikoff thinks the solution is savage Social Security and Medicare cuts or equally savage tax increases or hyperinflation to destroy the vast debts.

Perhaps economists lack imagination, or perhaps they don’t want to be cut off from Wall Street and corporate subsidies, but Social Security and Medicare are insufficient at their present levels, especially considering the erosion of private pensions by the dot com, derivative and real estate bubbles. Cuts in Social Security and Medicare, for which people have paid 15 per cent of their earnings all their lives, would result in starvation and deaths from curable diseases.

Tax increases make even less sense. It is widely acknowledged that the majority of households cannot survive on one job. Both husband and wife work and often one of the partners has two jobs in order to make ends meet. Raising taxes makes it harder to make ends meet–thus more foreclosures, more food stamps, more homelessness. What kind of economist or humane person thinks this is a solution?

Ah, but we will tax the rich. The rich have enough money. They will simply stop earning.

Let’s get real. Here is what the government is likely to do. Once Washington realize that the dollar is at risk and that they can no longer finance their wars by borrowing abroad, the government will either levy a tax on private pensions on the grounds that the pensions have accumulated tax-deferred, or the government will require pension fund managers to purchase Treasury debt with our pensions. This will buy the government a bit more time while pension accounts are loaded up with worthless paper.

The last Bush budget deficit (2008) was in the $400-500 billion range, about the size of the Chinese, Japanese, and OPEC trade surpluses with the US. Traditionally, these trade surpluses have been recycled to the US and finance the federal budget deficit. In 2009 and 2010 the federal deficit jumped to $1,400 billion, a back-to-back trillion dollar increase. There are not sufficient trade surpluses to finance a deficit this large. From where comes the money?

The answer is from individuals fleeing the stock market into “safe” Treasury bonds and from the bankster bailout, not so much the TARP money as the Federal Reserve’s exchange of bank reserves for questionable financial paper such as subprime derivatives. The banks used their excess reserves to purchase Treasury debt.

These financing maneuvers are one-time tricks. Once people have fled stocks, that movement into Treasuries is over. The opposition to the bankster bailout likely precludes another. So where does the money come from the next time?

The Treasury was able to unload a lot of debt thanks to “the Greek crisis,” which the New York banksters and hedge funds multiplied into “the euro crisis.” The financial press served as a financing arm for the US Treasury by creating panic about European debt and the euro. Central banks and individuals who had taken refuge from the dollar in euros were panicked out of their euros, and they rushed into dollars by purchasing US Treasury debt.

This movement from euros to dollars weakened the alternative reserve currency to the dollar, halted the dollar’s decline, and financed the US budget deficit a while longer.

Possibly the game can be replayed with Spanish debt, Irish debt, and whatever unlucky country is eswept in by the thoughtless expansion of the European Union.

But when no countries remain that can be destabilized by Wall Street investment banksters and hedge funds, what then finances the US budget deficit?

The only remaining financier is the Federal Reserve. When Treasury bonds brought to auction do not sell, the Federal Reserve must purchase them. The Federal Reserve purchases the bonds by creating new demand deposits, or checking accounts, for the Treasury. As the Treasury spends the proceeds of the new debt sales, the US money supply expands by the amount of the Federal Reserve’s purchase of Treasury debt.

Do goods and services expand by the same amount? Imports will increase as US jobs have been offshored and given to foreigners, thus worsening the trade deficit. When the Federal Reserve purchases the Treasury’s new debt issues, the money supply will increase by more than the supply of domestically produced goods and services. Prices are likely to rise.

How high will they rise? The longer money is created in order that government can pay its bills, the more likely hyperinflation will be the result.

The economy has not recovered. By the end of this year it will be obvious that the collapsing economy means a larger than $1.4 trillion budget deficit to finance. Will it be $2 trillion? Higher?

Whatever the size, the rest of the world will see that the dollar is being printed in such quantities that it cannot serve as reserve currency. At that point wholesale dumping of dollars will result as foreign central banks try to unload a worthless currency.

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The collapse of the dollar will drive up the prices of imports and offshored goods on which Americans are dependent. Wal-Mart shoppers will think they have mistakenly gone into Neiman Marcus.

Domestic prices will also explode as a growing money supply chases the supply of goods and services still made in America by Americans.

The dollar as reserve currency cannot survive the conflagration. When the dollar goes the US cannot finance its trade deficit. Therefore, imports will fall sharply, thus adding to domestic inflation and, as the US is energy import-dependent, there will be transportation disruptions that will disrupt work and grocery store deliveries.

Panic will be the order of the day.

Will farms will be raided? Will those trapped in cities resort to riots and looting?

Is this the likely future that “our” government and “our patriotic” corporations have created for us?

To borrow from Lenin, “What can be done?”

Here is what can be done. The wars, which benefit no one but the military-security complex and Israel’s territorial expansion, can be immediately ended. This would reduce the US budget deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars per year. More hundreds of billions of dollars could be saved by cutting the rest of the military budget which, in its present size, exceeds the budgets of all the serious military powers on earth combined.

US military spending reflects the unaffordable and unattainable crazed neoconservative goal of US Empire and world hegemony. What fool in Washington thinks that China is going to finance US hegemony over China?

The only way that the US will again have an economy is by bringing back the offshored jobs. The loss of these jobs impoverished Americans while producing oversized gains for Wall Street, shareholders, and corporate executives. These jobs can be brought home where they belong by taxing corporations according to where value is added to their product. If value is added to their goods and services in China, corporations would have a high tax rate. If value is added to their goods and services in the US, corporations would have a low tax rate.

This change in corporate taxation would offset the cheap foreign labor that has sucked jobs out of America, and it would rebuild the ladders of upward mobility that made America an opportunity society.

If the wars are not immediately stopped and the jobs brought back to America, the US is relegated to the trash bin of history.

Obviously, the corporations and Wall Street would use their financial power and campaign contributions to block any legislation that would reduce short-term earnings and bonuses by bringing jobs back to America. Americans have no greater enemies than Wall Street and the corporations and their prostitutes in Congress and the White House.

The neocons allied with Israel, who control both parties and much of the media, are strung out on the ecstasy of Empire.

The United States and the welfare of its 300 million people cannot be restored unless the neocons, Wall Street, the corporations, and their servile slaves in Congress and the White House can be defeated.

Without a revolution, Americans are history.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts is the father of Reaganomics and the former head of policy at the Department of Treasury. He is a columnist and was previously an editor for the Wall Street Journal. His latest book, “How the Economy Was Lost: The War of the Worlds,” details why America is disintegrating.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Man Scrawls World’s Biggest Message With GPS ‘Pen’

One man drove 12,238 miles across 30 states to scrawl a message that can only be viewed using Google Earth. His big shoutout: “Read Ayn Rand.”

Nick Newcomen did a road trip over 30 days that covered stretches from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. First, he identified on a map the route he would need to drive to spell out the message. He put a GPS device in his car to trace the route he would follow. Then, he hit the road.

“The main reason I did it is because I am an Ayn Rand fan,” he says. “In my opinion if more people would read her books and take her ideas seriously, the country and world would be a better place — freer, more prosperous and we would have a more optimistic view of the future.”

Newcomen, unlike previous GPS artists, actually traveled the lines he traced on the map. He used a GPS logger (Qstarz BT-Q1000X) to “ink” the message. Starting his trip in Marshall, Texas, he turned on the device when he wanted to write a letter and turned off the device between letters. The recorded GPS data was loaded into Google Earth to produce the image above.

“The first word I wrote actually was the word ‘Rand’, then I went up North to do the word ‘Read’ and finished it with ‘Ayn,’” says Newcomen.

And for those who don’t know, Ayn Rand is a Russian-American writer whose books Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead are among the world’s best-selling novels.

Newcomen’s venture sounds pretty crazy, though he gets points for ambition.

What message would you write using a GPS?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

When the weather goes south ... then north ... then south, again (Bonus: When interest rates go south and stay that way)

By Phasma Scriptor

There’s an understandable disconnect, at least, for those who aren’t weather nerds, about Pentagon weather modification, which is just about everybody. Yet, ever since the water witch and the far more sincere (wrought by drought desperation) sacrificing a few community firstborns gave way to seeding clouds (to say nothing of Spahn and Sain and pray for rain), weather modification has progressed as far as any other field of technological endeavor. The only problem is that, like so many other beyond-public-consumption-state-of-the-art, weather modification remains packed in the super-frigid ice of need-to-know security clearances. So, here’s a quick/dirty summary of late developments.

The Sovietization of Nikola Tesla. The realization that it’s a no-contest between electrostatic energy, gobs of it, vs. air (i.e., not concrete blocks). The record-setting North American winter of 1978-79, courtesy of the Soviet Union giving Tesla’s brilliance life in order to make Russian winters last more than two weeks in August. Blown substandard Soviet fuses. Chernobyl. The Soviet kiss-off (Kissov?). Soviet imports distributed across the US national laboratory system. Transplants take hold, bring forth abundant harvest. Pentagon doing what the Pentagon does, weaponize, weaponize, weaponize. Unintended/unforeseen consequences of messing with Mother Nature - wildfires not seen, ever (at least by humans), in Mother Russia, the long-term aftereffects of several years of softening Siberia’s hardcore tundra (which is like radical climate change accelerated, a tell on where so-called global warming can go). Note: Russians are abysmally inept unless given a proper, detailed roadmap w/footnotes, little arrows, dotted lines, lots of Xs and Os (as in Tesla’s easy-to-follow instructions); so, there having been no hint as to the ecological effects of utilizing electrostatic energy to alter climate, the Russkies naturally had no clue what havoc they were wreaking on their historically sub-basement-zero temps.

The dead-on prediction, in a previous post, of a direct weather-bomb hit on Times Square (it was described as the “heart of the NEC [Northeastern Corridor]” wasn’t all that, but the precision (not predictable, but knowable) was still impressive, since the eye was pretty small), with the follow-up on Phillie (and a similarly small eye). What was new with the slow-motion missile that triggered the issuance of a tornado warning NYC, observable on the Weather Channel, that bastion of military intelligence, was the double course correction (first a soft, but noticeable, left; then a soft, but noticeable, right) imposed on the severe weather system that went through Manhattan; pure guess, at this point, since there’s no previous provision of information about the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (in NJ), is that the PPPL was responsible. Else, military stealth craft with recently developed portable transponders.

Not sure what the score is with respect to these weather strikes, but the patterns are consistent and recognizable enough, such that there’s been few misses; can’t remember the last. The twin tornadoes on the NEC were the debut of a precision summer bombing run; air doesn’t exactly cooperate all the time and hot air, like from a politician, is subject to more uncertainty (oh, yeah, politicians blow hot air with 100% reliability); something about entropy that makes itself more evident, like in the jetstream, stronger in the winter than the summer when heat expansion pretty much dissipates concentrated energy in air movement, except when there’s a severe weather system; NYC and the NEC, generally, generate so much heat from their collective concrete surfaces, along with an exceedingly small amount of moisture that emanates from those surfaces, that tornadoes rarely get through (Phillie, for instance, has a less than 1% of experiencing a tornado (1/200 years). The existing conditions friendly to the development of severe weather must then be used and given an electrostatic boost. An extra charge sufficient to power up the system burns so much energy that the power usage from the required local nuke must be monitored to prevent the regular users, residential/commercial, from being deprived (and, therefore, much more prone to scream foul) of their refrigeration. During the summer, that restricts weather modification to periods when the area from which the modification is generated has relatively moderate temps.

Thus, the double twisters were notable for, one, being artificially fabricated twisters, the most concentrated and dangerous form of weather, and, two, the apparent directional control exercised over them, and, three, packing the most serious form of heat in the weaponized weather arsenal which had formerly consisted solely of the winter feat of dropping multiple-feet-of-snow on the NEC. Certainly, the latter stresses the extremely vulnerable and fragile infrastructure of the NEC; however, the potential for bringing the NEC infrastructure (which extends west past Pennsylvania to Ohio and Michigan, and north to the northern tip of Ontario) to wipeout status, as has been the case for nearly a half-century even without the threats of weather-as-strategic-weapon, is enormously enhanced with a summertime attack, when all the AC dials for 100 million hot bodies (give or take 20 mil) are cranked as far as they can go.

Bonus track: As advertised, mortgage rates sank to the lowest in the history of mortgage rates in modern America.
10-year Treasury yields, bouncing for a short period off of 2.9%, broke through this week, seeking support at 2.8%. The headline from a NYT report today (Fed Will Meet With Concerns on Deflation Rising ) confirms my 3-year-long insistence (see "Ranting will not make it so") that inflation is off the table, way, way, way off the table. As recently admitted by financial "experts", real interest rates are negative. Paying up $106 per $100 bond face value on the 10-year is the market saying so (Gosh, the market? The DSTs worship the "free market"; so their god is kicking their brains out). While real estate pricing remains soft, the reality of real estate is the realtor's mantra, "They're not making any more of the stuff"; so, the urge to have children and keep the population growing mandates that, despite the deflationary scenario, real estate prices, being based upon the necessity and the utility of having a roof over your head, will be buoyed by this fact of life (unless there's a catastrophe which wipes out a substantial number of potential home-buyers, like, say, the Super-Size-Me Syndrome clogs the arteries of every adult eating fries in a McDonald's, suddenly and without remedy).

Gold, on the other hand, has very little utility and, as noted in "Ranting", is very hard to carry around in any significant amount and has never, ever offered the salutary effect of paying interest, even at a negative real interest rate. BTW, for the DSTs who think they believe in the Bible, bite this --- Matthew 10:8-10, James 5:3, I Peter 1:18 and Ezekiel 7:19.
If I ever want any gold/silver, I'll come by your street, when the time is right, and wait for you to toss your worthless coins out the window. Oh, no, wait, that shit's too heavy to carry away. Never mind.

Deflation always proceeds into uncharted territory because the manner in which it plays out is subject to the rapidity with which prices go down, unlike the more or less steady climb of prices in inflationary times. Bargain-hunters, in their feverish minds, think a crash in prices represents the golden buying opportunity. The Rothschilds' slogan was more practical, ruthless, but practical - "Buy when blood is running in the streets." Of course, they're the ones who provoked the blood to run in the streets. Nice guys.

For more information in this vein please go here:

Why We Hate Cops

A well articulated reasoning for the growing hatred of the arrogant omnipotent state-morality busybodies in our midst glaring at us with their hands on gun or tazer. For further reading on the subject see Are Cops Constitutional?

Why We Hate Cops
by Paul Bonneau
2 paulbx1 dfgh net

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

I remember the first time I heard anyone in "regular" society express hatred for cops (I'm not counting "revolutionary" times back in the '60's which on retrospect appear not to have been very serious). It was a friend of mine, a fellow engineer, who happened to like going fast on motorcycles, and he was complaining about a ticket he'd gotten. I was a bit shocked to hear him say that. I had thought until then of cops basically as decent people with an important job to do, with maybe a few "bad apples". I was pretty naive back then.

I've gotten the impression lately that cops aren't getting very much support in Internet forums these days, even in places where in the past you'd find almost unqualified support. About everyone seems fed up with 'em.

I wondered why this should be. Why are they becoming so much more frequently scorned?

Is it because they are parasites, tax eaters? They are that, but I find this implausible; if only because 95% of the population is on the dole in some way. Government schools, Socialist Security, Medicare, farmer and rancher subsidies, corporate welfare, people working for war materiel suppliers, the list goes on and on. It's hard to imagine folks getting riled about that aspect. Miss Smith the friendly librarian is no different, and who hates her? Cops are a waste of tax dollars, but so is everything government does with tax dollars.

I think one reason cops are hated is that people generally don't like being scrutinized, and put under suspicion for minding their own business; they really, really don't like that. Cops are always checking you out, looking for a reason to "brace" you (an old meaning of the word that looks very useful these days).

The War on Some Drugs has to cause some hatred, as more and more peoples' lives are ruined by it. Indeed, this prison industry boondoggle has stained all aspects of the "Justice" system, not just cops.

Another reason is that cops are treated, and see themselves, as superior to the rest of us. In innumerable ways, cops are always given the benefit of the doubt; certainly legally, and also informally—although the latter seems to be fading a bit, as trust in cops fades. They are "The Only Ones", we are "mundanes", "proles", peons. They can lie to us, we can't lie to them; they can beat us up and torture us, but if we touch them it is "assault".

Along with this insufferable attitude is a self-regard that what they are about is important and good. I suppose everyone suffers from this malady, but usually it does not impact a person as it does when one runs into a cop in the throes of it. As C.S. Lewis put it, "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good, will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." What are cops, if not "omnipotent moral busybodies"? At least when the Mafia runs a protection racket, they don't deceive themselves they are doing you a benefit. One appreciates the Mafia's honesty, in comparison.

Notice, all of the above applies to all cops, "good" and bad. Now, there is a significant fraction of rotten cops, and some departments are overrun with them. There are lots of cops who enjoy playing the bully. But do we hate cops because they are as imperfect as we are?

It's hard to say. On one hand, if a person agrees policing must be done, and that government must do it, then it would be somewhat irrational to fuss about a small percentage of bad cops (although getting them out—good luck—might be a reasonable aim). On the other hand, even for those who agree with these premises, it's one thing to talk about this theoretically—another thing entirely to watch a cop beating a pregnant woman on YouTube.

There is one final reason to hate cops. All through history, every tyranny has used cops as its primary tool for sustaining that tyranny. They are the point of the government spear. And let's not deceive ourselves, although most "good" cops probably do deceive themselves about this—if we ever descended into a Nazi- or Stalinist-sized hellhole, few if any cops would resign. Some might feel bad about what they are doing, but they would never resign. Their livelihood comes first; it goes without saying. My guess though, is that this consideration does not enter peoples' minds when they are hating cops. It will if we descend into that hellhole, but not before.

People are questioning all sorts of government "benefits" these days, so it's not surprising cops are being questioned too. Looks like many folks are coming to the conclusion they are not worth the trouble.

Maybe it's just a return to sanity. Cops had it pretty good in this country for a long, long time. My impression, in talking to foreigners, is that cops are normally assumed to be crooks and thugs. Maybe we're just finally opening our eyes.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Valedictorian Speaks Out Against Schooling in Graduation Speech

The following speech was delivered by top of the class student Erica Goldson during the graduation ceremony at Coxsackie-Athens High School on June 25, 2010. I wish that we could be so fortunate that most of the children of the sheeple learned this as well. Alas, free critical thinking and self-education seem to be relics of the past as we shuffle towards Idiocracy. However, if there is one then there may be others. We must encourage them to continue to swim upstream, go in the out door and be the free-thinking contrarians. Because it is in the multitude of eccentric nonconformists that tolerance and a guard against groupthink resides.


Here I Stand
Erica Goldson

There is a story of a young, but earnest Zen student who approached his teacher, and asked the Master, "If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen? The Master thought about this, then replied, " Ten years . ." The student then said, "But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast -- How long then?" Replied the Master, "Well, twenty years." "But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?" asked the student. " Thirty years," replied the Master. "But, I do not understand," said the disappointed student. "At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?" 
Replied the Master, "When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path."

This is the dilemma I've faced within the American education system. We are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn. We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective.

Some of you may be thinking, “Well, if you pass a test, or become valedictorian, didn't you learn something? Well, yes, you learned something, but not all that you could have. Perhaps, you only learned how to memorize names, places, and dates to later on forget in order to clear your mind for the next test. School is not all that it can be. Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible.

I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system.

Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme.

While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I'm scared.

John Taylor Gatto, a retired school teacher and activist critical of compulsory schooling, asserts, “We could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness – curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for surprising insight simply by being more flexible about time, texts, and tests, by introducing kids into truly competent adults, and by giving each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every now and then. But we don't do that.” Between these cinderblock walls, we are all expected to be the same. We are trained to ace every standardized test, and those who deviate and see light through a different lens are worthless to the scheme of public education, and therefore viewed with contempt.

H. L. Mencken wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. ... Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim ... is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.

That is its aim in the United States. (Gatto)

To illustrate this idea, doesn't it perturb you to learn about the idea of “critical thinking.” Is there really such a thing as “uncritically thinking?” To think is to process information in order to form an opinion. But if we are not critical when processing this information, are we really thinking? Or are we mindlessly accepting other opinions as truth?

This was happening to me, and if it wasn't for the rare occurrence of an avant-garde tenth grade English teacher, Donna Bryan, who allowed me to open my mind and ask questions before accepting textbook doctrine, I would have been doomed. I am now enlightened, but my mind still feels disabled. I must retrain myself and constantly remember how insane this ostensibly sane place really is.

And now here I am in a world guided by fear, a world suppressing the uniqueness that lies inside each of us, a world where we can either acquiesce to the inhuman nonsense of corporatism and materialism or insist on change. We are not enlivened by an educational system that clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, for work that need not be done, for enslavement without fervency for meaningful achievement. We have no choices in life when money is our motivational force. Our motivational force ought to be passion, but this is lost from the moment we step into a system that trains us, rather than inspires us.

We are more than robotic bookshelves, conditioned to blurt out facts we were taught in school. We are all very special, every human on this planet is so special, so aren't we all deserving of something better, of using our minds for innovation, rather than memorization, for creativity, rather than futile activity, for rumination rather than stagnation? We are not here to get a degree, to then get a job, so we can consume industry-approved placation after placation.

There is more, and more still.

The saddest part is that the majority of students don't have the opportunity to reflect as I did. The majority of students are put through the same brainwashing techniques in order to create a complacent labor force working in the interests of large corporations and secretive government, and worst of all, they are completely unaware of it. I will never be able to turn back these 18 years. I can't run away to another country with an education system meant to enlighten rather than condition. This part of my life is over, and I want to make sure that no other child will have his or her potential suppressed by powers meant to exploit and control. We are human beings. We are thinkers, dreamers, explorers, artists, writers, engineers. We are anything we want to be - but only if we have an educational system that supports us rather than holds us down. A tree can grow, but only if its roots are given a healthy foundation.

For those of you out there that must continue to sit in desks and yield to the authoritarian ideologies of instructors, do not be disheartened. You still have the opportunity to stand up, ask questions, be critical, and create your own perspective. Demand a setting that will provide you with intellectual capabilities that allow you to expand your mind instead of directing it. Demand that you be interested in class. Demand that the excuse, “You have to learn this for the test” is not good enough for you. Education is an excellent tool, if used properly, but focus more on learning rather than getting good grades.

For those of you that work within the system that I am condemning, I do not mean to insult; I intend to motivate. You have the power to change the incompetencies of this system. I know that you did not become a teacher or administrator to see your students bored. You cannot accept the authority of the governing bodies that tell you what to teach, how to teach it, and that you will be punished if you do not comply. Our potential is at stake.

For those of you that are now leaving this establishment, I say, do not forget what went on in these classrooms. Do not abandon those that come after you. We are the new future and we are not going to let tradition stand. We will break down the walls of corruption to let a garden of knowledge grow throughout America. Once educated properly, we will have the power to do anything, and best of all, we will only use that power for good, for we will be cultivated and wise. We will not accept anything at face value. We will ask questions, and we will demand truth.

So, here I stand. I am not standing here as valedictorian by myself. I was molded by my environment, by all of my peers who are sitting here watching me. I couldn't have accomplished this without all of you. It was all of you who truly made me the person I am today. It was all of you who were my competition, yet my backbone. In that way, we are all valedictorians.

I am now supposed to say farewell to this institution, those who maintain it, and those who stand with me and behind me, but I hope this farewell is more of a “see you later” when we are all working together to rear a pedagogic movement. But first, let's go get those pieces of paper that tell us that we're smart enough to do so!