The Land of the Free

Sometimes I think that Radley Balko is the most important blogger in the world for his tireless work in documenting daily the atrocious injustices that go on here in The Land of the Free. Of course, everyone knows we’re all human, that mistakes resulting in cruel injustices happen even in the wake of good intentions and generally prudent and reasonable policies.

But what if that’s not what America is, today? What if the cruel injustices are far too common? What if they are perpetrated on the innocent with bad intentions–intentions rooted in political and bureaucratic self-promotion at the expense of people who aren’t hurting anybody?

I’ve come beyond the point where I can keep up anymore. What’s more, it would be kind of silly to have every–or every other one–of my blog entries point to some new cruelty at Radley’s place. So here’s an idea: I’ll give you about a two-week wrapup of some of the stuff I consider most important. Maybe I’ll do it regularly. We’ll see.

– The Drug War against math nerds

Drug cops in Falmouth, Mass.
sent a hot, young female cop to pose as a student at the local high
school. She befriended several adolescent boys with low self esteem by
pretending she was interested in them, then she asked them to get her
marijuana. If you’ve ever been a high school boy, it won’t surprise you
to learn that they came through, even though most of them had no
history of drug use at all, much less of drug peddling. Of course, they
were promptly arrested, booked, and touted out as the latest Drug War

– Creating Crime

– Stupid Immigrants (are you sure it’s who you think?)

– Another Isolated Incident of "TACT"

A. L. Bostick and his wife,
Lisa, both in their 80s, were rousted early Wednesday morning as
heavily armed members of the city’s Tactical Apprehension Containment
Team smashed into their house on Allen Drive searching for the meth lab. […]
A. L. Bostick remained hospitalized Thursday with bruised ribs and a torn spleen. […] Lisa Bostick was treated for a dislocated shoulder and a broken collarbone…

– "From a federal standpoint…" (Where ATF thugs promoting "Project Safe Neighborhood" forget their G.I Joe wannabe costumes, but nonetheless undertake to "defend" the U of Georgia campus from a costumed Ninja.)

– No Place Like Texas

In case you haven’t been paying attention, let’s summarize:  These alcohol control agents are dressing in SWAT gear to raid bars where people are drinking.

– SWAT to the "rescue"

Yes, the picture to your left is from Buffalo, New York.  Not Iraq.  Or some third world junta-dictatorship. […] Note the artfully written third
paragraph. Police "rescued" the boy, they didn’t endanger him by
tossing a flashbang and firing weapons into the home he was in in the
first place.

"We are declaring war […]," said Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson…

– War on Doctors (just wait until you or one of your loved ones writhes in chronic pain)

Another doctor and pharmacist go down for administering opiate-based pain relief.

– Too Many to Name?

A baffling development in Los
Angeles, home to some of the more notorious police abuse cases over the
last several decades. The chief of police there has apparently decided that he will no longer release the names of any police officer involved in a shooting or excessive use of force case.

– Constitutional

The city of Seattle seized an independent coffee shop via eminent domain […] The project eventually failed […] The city sold the shop back to its original owners […] All in all, the owners of the
shop lost some $120,000 between legal fees and the $70,000 extra they
had to pay above what the city originally paid them when it seized
their property.

– Yea, But it Can’t Happen Here

In February of last year,
I told you about Lester Eugene Siler, a Tennessee man who was literally
tortured by five sheriff’s deputies in Campbell County, Tennessee who
suspected him of selling drugs. The only reason we know Siler was
tortured is because his wife had the good sense to start a recording
device about halfway through the ordeal.

The audio is now available online (read the transcript here).
Drug war outrages lend themselves to overuse of superlatives. But I
gotta say, this may be the most horrifying 40 minutes of audio I’ve
ever heard.

The police are attempting to get the illiterate man to sign an admission of guilt
consent form to search his house without telling him what it says. They
beat him, over and over, hook electrodes up to testicles and shock him,
threaten to kill him, and threaten to go after his family. Early news
accounts reported that the torture continued well beyond the end of the
recording. After the tape ran out, the same deputies apparently
repeatedly submerged the guy’s head in a fish tank and a bath tub,
threatening to drown him unless he confessed.

You know, one of the categories under which this is posted is "Shame and Disgrace." I used to call it "The Hate File," but found that hate can really take you only so far. This, really, is far, far beyond hate. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I’m nearly at the point of embarrassment over being a human being. Still, to this very day, I have people telling me: "they’re breaking the law," even over trivialities like kids crashing a condo swimming pool on one of the first hot afternoons of the year.

I’m not justifying trespassing. It’s wrong because it’s not their property. The "law"–whatever the fuck it says about it–is completely inapplicable to such a situation.

What has this one thing to do with the other–with Radley’s litany of contemptible and evil abuse perpetrated by goons against innocents? If you don’t immediately know, you’re actually part of the problem.

April Report Card

Profit of $18,683 for the month, a 40% return on risk

March was reported here. April finished pretty much how I had accounted for it then, with details in the chart below.


(Remember, under the "Trd" (Trade) caption, B = buy, S = sell, T = to,
O = open, and C = close. ‘#’ is for the number of contracts purchased
at 100 shares per contract. All spreads are on the SPX for April
expiration. Since you can’t lose on both your underside and topside
positions at the same time, risk is calculated on the side with the
greatest exposure.)

The green shaded trades represent one complete series in a single month. In past months, I’ve talked about protecting a trade by closing it down and opening a new position a month out in order to get higher premiums from time value. In this case, I was pretty certain that the 1310/1320 I entered on 3/08 was going to be in trouble, but I closed early enough (3/16) that I was able to just double my position size from 15 to 30 contracts and stay within the same month. In short, that series profited about $5,000 if you add up the black numbers and subtract the red ones.

The SPX finished up for the month (4/20) at 1311.46. Indeed, at first glance, keeping that 1310/1320 would have put me in the money at expiration, costing about $2,250 in settlement cost (15 contracts). But–and this is a little advanced for the purpose of this report–that’s not what happened. The SPX, somewhat unique, doesn’t settle at the closing price of the 3rd Thursday of the month. That’s when trading stops for that month of options. It settles on Friday morning’s opening price. In this case, it gaped up and settled at 1320.70, so keeping that 1310/1320 would have cost the full risk of $15,000. Be careful out there.

Also, in previous months I’ve talked about an aggressive trade I made in January that I rolled to February, then to March, then to April. It’s represented by the 12 contracts of 1315/1325 opened 3/08. A few days before settlement, the SPX took a dive and I decided to exit that trade on 4/17 for a debit of only $270. I took a $1,000 profit in a troubled trade in January and kept driving it all the way to April, eventually finishing with a $3,000 profit on that series. Never give up. In this style of trading, it’s not over until you say it’s over. …And good thing I closed it, too, because I just might have let it ride seeing that it was 4 points out of the money on Thursday, the last day of trading. However, I’d have been very disappointed on Friday when the settlement figure was released. That would have hit me for a settlement cost of $6,800, turning my $3,000 profit into a $3,000 loss.

I also closed down a 1255/1265 Put the day before expiration. This ended up being unnecessary, but I’ve been expecting a serious correction for about a month now.

May is a bit lackluster. I haven’t looked at the figures but I may be up somewhere around $4,000 or so with not many opportunities to get any more trades filled at the premiums I want in this month. The SPX has been on a solid uptrend since November…


…and that has driven implied volatility way down. Options premiums are priced largely by implied volatility, i.e., the more a security jumps around, especially takes big dives often, the more the market will pay you to write and sell an option contract with any reasonable risk of going against you. The key is to have premiums high enough to be able to stake positions far enough away as to give you an 80-90% chance of winning.

So, we’re getting paid less for doing the same thing, waiting for the market to make another big correction so we can still hold relatively safe positions but get paid better for them.

People tell me that they have a hard time following all this, month-to-month. I understand. It’s like me telling you how to play a guitar, or something. All I can say is that less than a year ago, I’d have not understood any of this. If you want to learn, go visit my good friends at OptionsLinebacker. For very little time and money, you can put yourself on track to do this month in and month out for the rest of your life.

One additional note. OptionsLinebacker too publishes their actual monthly results–unlike many newsletters that tell you only about their winning trades. I can vouch, folks. These are each and every trade covered in the newsletter and I’ve been there for the blow-by-blow since last October. Yes, these returns are more modest than my own (and, I suspect, more modest than those of the newsletter publishers in the trades they don’t cover in the newsletter). However, as I told them the other day: you can’t cover the aggressive stuff I do in a newsletter. It’s too dynamic and people will just get themselves in trouble and lose big. You’ve got to know what you’re doing and do it on your own–without help and guidance. With their help and guidance, however, you can learn to trade very safely and conservatively and still turn in annual gains better than 30%. What you do beyond that is up to you.

Like Riding a Bike

Well, that’s the saying anyway. Today it proved to be somewhat true in my case. Longtime readers (thank you so kindly) are aware of my initiative last spring to earn my ticket flying powered airplanes. This was my last entry on the subject, from last July. I was well on my way to finishing up in September. Then, we decided to sell our house, buy a downtown loft, move, invest in and sometimes fix-up real-estate–and now build new townhouses–and it all got to be a bit of overload. And I haven’t even covered running a company with a couple of dozen employees–or blogging. …Or having my customary evening cocktails and making sure the hard disk on my TiVo doesn’t get past 80% capacity…

I called Jim, my instructor, a few weeks ago describing how my morning 3-mile walk underneath the final glide for SJC was just killing me. Every morning I watch airplanes land when we’re in a high-pressure weather pattern (rare, lately) and take off when we’re in low pressure pattern and rain is coming (too common). By the way, clearly the most impressive spectacle is the morning landing of the FedEx DC-10, probably arriving from Memphis. Day in; day out. What a cool looking bird in full landing configuration.

So I called Jim, and then it commenced raining–again–day after day and I let it go by. Yesterday, he called me and I told him: "Jim, unless we schedule something right now, it isn’t going to happen." So we did. I met him at Amelia Reid today at 1 p.m. I had told my wife last night: "Don’t worry; I’m not stupid enough to go up by myself even if Jim was stupid enough to let me."

It’s been eight months. My last log entry was August 20, 2005.

We did a crosswind departure out to the training area where I demonstrated coordinated turns to the right and left, some power-on slow controllable flight at 50 mph indicated, some power-on stalls, kissing stalls with turns, and some power-off stalls with power recovery. When he was satisfied that I could still keep myself "out of the bucket" (a metaphor that integrates being behind the power curve and close ground clearance) on short base & final, we went back and did two landings to full stop and two touch & go’s. It all went superbly and upon return to base he endorsed my logbook for another 90 days of solo flight.

There was an interesting, self-reflective aspect to it all. My landings–where the rubber meets the road–where all superb–even with a bit of a cross wind. I recall that on my last solo outing, on August 20, I was unhappy with a good majority of my eight landings. So what’s going on? I believe it’s part of our wonderful human condition. We have the mental, the physical, and the all-important integration of the two. But we also have a mental capacity that allows us to train ourselves–to compartmentalize so that we achieve a state of being able to do things with near perfection that requires no conscious thought on our part. To catch a phrase: "muscle memory." That’s where the riding-a-bike metaphor comes from.

It’s also why any training endeavor needs to be integrated with sufficient time. We tend to want to "overthink" things, and this is a real and valid concept/concern. We certainly must keep our wits about us at all times, but there is also reason to "let go," so to speak, and allow the amazing matching which is our integrated body and intellect show its true and awesome power. There’s a fine line, and I think perfection is to be found by dancing along its edges. Today, it was only essentials that were in my conscious sphere and not a lot of other stuff that’s part of the training process. That’s what made the difference.

Some would say it’s a gift from God. I’d say it’s how we built civilizations on our own.


I cannot begin to describe to you the general contempt I have for what that concept has come to mean in this culture. I’m not sure, but I can well imagine that it originally served to describe those who behave dishonorably in their dealings with others.

Today, in terms of dishonest word manipulation, it’s at the very top. Today, when you hear it, it’s nearly always a veil intended to cover an outright theft. When a big company is acting "unfairly," it means: somebody is laying claim to something to which they are not morally entitled, and "fairness" is trotted out as a legal principle in order to carry out a legally legitimized usurpation–an outright theft–you know, like when it was perfectly legal to enslave, buy, and sell another human being or send him to the back of the bus because of his skin color. (It’s always important to keep "the law" in fine historical perspective.)

So I get an email from a lawyer yesterday. As lawyers go, he’s a very fine one. He defends businesses from the sort of theft that goes on in the courts–and more often: backroom settlement–to the tune of hundreds of millions every day. He does what he can, which is a lot. Anyway, the purpose of the email was to highlight an article he’d just published in a law review concerning the unsettled nature of the legal definition of "unfair" in the appellate courts.

So I wrote back.


It’s interesting, and for what it’s worth, I’m glad there are defenders of business out there such as yourself. I understand what you’re up against and I certainly don’t envy you your task. The playing field is sloped to your definite disadvantage and the deck is most assuredly stacked heavily against you: yet you manage with sophisticated legalisms to save the skin of clients time and again who haven’t harmed anyone (and aren’t going to).

Your approach to that is certainly different than mine. See: I believe in property rights (unequivocal ones). So with the exception of outright force initiation or fraud–which definitions should certainly not require nearly so much nitpicking as the concept of "unfair"–all of this is just one giant usurpation, theft, and parasitic destruction on the part of the state. …The sole purpose being, of course, to provide endless avenues for the bogus "saintly good fairies" (politicians, government officials, consumer "advocates") to point fingers at the imaginary "demons" (big business and the rich)–all for the general consumption of a population of abject morons with chips on their shoulders, founded in destructive envy and brought on by breathtaking ignorance in virtually all disciplines. Such ignorance has become systemic in the culture.

It’s not the America I would have hoped to live and do business in.

(some metaphors above borrowed from here)

Minus $16 Billion

That’s the net worth of the once great General Motors if you count their contractual pension obligations going forward (and why wouldn’t you?). Recently, out of a real business necessity, they’re pursuing cash flow at the expense of profits to the tune of about $1,200 cost (borrowed) each time they sell a vehicle.

Know what? I really don’t care if GM–or any other once-great American company, for that matter–goes under. Sell it off for scrap, for all I care. Do you know what else? The prospect of tens of thousands of GM employees and retirees losing their pensions and medical benefits fills me with a strange sense of satisfaction. Oh, not because I don’t want them to prosper. I do. I want everyone to prosper beyond their wildest dreams–but only in a manner that reflects reality and the natural order of things. It’s kind of like Lottery stories: they hold no interest with me whatsoever; and when I hear that some former winner is broke, again, I’m neither surprised nor saddened.

GM stockholders, directors, officers, and employees have been ignoring reality for decades. Employees got pitched a deal that for monthly dues to a union organization, they could make GM pay them more than the worth of their production. Everyone bit, of course. What do they know?

I guess my problem is that I really don’t want to point my finger, laugh, and mock the employees for what I said would happen from the moment I began to understand business dynamics and economics. Downing a whiskey a bit earlier, I reflected that my feeling in this regard was akin to watching a child burn his fingers on a hot stove he’d been admonished not to touch over and over. Be honest. Do you not feel some satisfaction when that child, screaming in pain and horror, is afforded such an important lesson at so low a cost? And how efficient. You could admonish "hot: don’t touch" for a decade and it won’t begin to contain the influence of that micro-second touch.

But children also have a good and reasonable excuse: they’re children; ignorant in most things.

While GM employees don’t have that excuse, I find it hard to lay too much blame at their doorstep. I lay it squarely at the doorstep of a generations-worth of worthless, spineless, unprincipled, quarter-end-bottom-line directors and executives who refused to stand up to the theft that was being perpetuated by the union, backed by the federal government. If anyone had the wherewithal to pull an Atlas Shrugged, they did. Now it’s too late.

The UAW, the whole labor-union
movement, and the left-“liberal” intellectual establishment, which is
their father and mother, are responsible for foisting on the public and
on the average working man and woman a fantasy land of imaginary Demons
(big business and the rich) and of saintly Good Fairies (politicians,
government officials, and union leaders). In this fantasy-land, the
Good Fairies supposedly have the power to wring unlimited free benefits
from the Demons.

Without the UAW and its
fantasy-land mentality, autoworkers would have been motivated to save
out of wages actually paid to them, and to provide for their future by
means of by and large reasonable investments of those savings—
investments with some measure of diversification. Instead, like small
children, lured by the prospect of free candy from a stranger, they
have been led to a very bad end. They thought they would receive
endless free golden eggs from a goose they were doing everything
possible to maim and finally kill, and now they’re about to learn that
the eggs just aren’t there.

very sad to watch an innocent human being suffer. It’s dreadful to
contemplate anyone’s life being ruined. It’s dreadful to contemplate
even an imbecile’s falling off a cliff or down a well. But the union
members, their union leaders, the politicians who catered to them, the
journalists, the writers, and the professors who provided the
intellectual and cultural environment in which this calamity could take
place—none of them were imbeciles. They all could have and should have
known better.

What is happening is cruel justice,
imposed by a reality that willfully ignorant people thought they could
choose to ignore as long as it suited them: the reality that prosperity
comes from the making of goods, not the making of work; that it comes
from the doing of work, not from the shirking of it; that it comes from
machines and methods of production that save labor, not the combating
of those machines and methods; that it comes from the earning and
reinvestment of profits not from seizure of those profits for the
benefit of idlers, who do all they can to prevent the profits from
being earned in the first place.

That’s just a small taste. Go read George Reisman’s complete article.

(via Beck)

The Stupidity of Theft

From a comment, here:

Your right we should be ashmaned of ourselves. and for Katrina too. I
dont like the republicans anymore. they inspire hate for our own, but
let scum like Iran breathe.


That’s quite a mix of things. I suppose the only way to tie them together is under a common premise of "entitlement."

Immigrants are entitled to social services. Katrina victims are
entitled to disaster relief. Americans at large are entitled to be
taken care of before those in other countries.

If you remove that premise, what do you have? Suppose nobody has a
right to take from me and you–or anyone else–without our say-so.
Note: I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with giving immigrants a
helping start. Not saying there’s anything wrong with massive relief
efforts for victims of natural disaster. Not saying there’s anything
wrong with various forms of assistance for Americans at large, or
"taking care of our own," first.

But stealing from me, you and every other productive person renders
all of those things the spoils of theft–not the
charity from good and kind people those things should be.

I don’t have a right to stop an immigrant from crossing a line on a
map–except as it concerns my own property; which means: I also don’t
have a right to steal your property or anyone else’s to help them. I
don’t have a right to stop you or anyone else from giving your last
nickel to help a disaster victim, but I have no right to compel you to
"give" a single nickel either, and no one has a right to compel me.

Taxation under threat of force tarnishes, ruins and embitters
everything that American charity–the greatest in the history of the
world–was supposed to be.

Theft is always stupid. It’s a shortcut that undercuts the benevolent humanity underlying all genuine charity.

Dear Lawbreakers:

Yes; I’m talking directly to you.

See, I’m reading and hearing a whole lot lately about how sacred are the "laws of the land." …How respectful and reverent we must be and how solemn must be our demeanor when contemplating the dire warnings of crumbled civilizations brought about by the prospect of lawbreakers!!! Well, dear reader:


Do you own a computer? An Internet connection? Browse the Internet? Ever shop? Buy anything online? Ever not be charged sales tax, like from Amazon, or a private purchase on eBay or the like? Yes? Uh…and did you calculate your sales tax liability over the entire year of purchases and send in a check to your governor? Do you send in a check for purchases you make in other states with no sales tax or a lower sales tax while traveling or on vacation?


Online purchases from sites like and eBay may seem to arrive
in a state of untaxed bliss. But the law actually requires shoppers to
pay their own state’s sales tax rate–the concept is called a "use tax"–and voluntarily cough up the exact amount owed each year at tax time.


New York state has added a line to income tax returns requiring all
residents to calculate how much they should pay on Internet, mail order
or out-of-state purchases. The threat is explicit: Anyone who
creatively underestimates will face stiff penalties if an audit occurs.

"If you’ve written zero or left it blank, during the audit we’re
going to make you produce your financial records, bank statements,
credit card statements," said Michael Bucci, a spokesman for the New York Department of Taxation and Finance.
"If we find out you have made purchases you haven’t reported to us, not
only are you going to be liable for the amount owed, the tax liability,
but also interest and penalties, which…could be up to three times as
much as what you actually owe."

For the first time this year, California has taken its
thou-shalt-pay-up warnings to the Internet through banner
advertisements on four newspaper Web sites. One on the Sacramento Bee’s site warns: "Make online purchases? You might owe use tax." (It has the
benefit of being easily, and accurately, misread as "You might owe us tax.")


"One reason we want to collect the use tax and have been very
aggressive about it is that 100 percent of the sales tax goes to
education–the use tax does too," said Danny Brazell, a spokesman for
South Carolina’s Department of Revenue.

South Carolina is one of the more diligent states–or from a taxpayer’s
perspective, one of the most brutal. It has signed a deal with the U.S.
Customs Service to obtain records about state residents who import
expensive items from abroad; has sent out random mailings to taxpayers;
and has added a line to its income tax return.


"In the event that we were auditing one of our customers, one of our
taxpayers, if we found a use tax liability, yes they would be held
accountable for that and there would be penalties," said Gore, the
California tax agency spokeswoman. Those include an interest rate of 9
percent, and, if negligence is proven, a 10 percent additional penalty.

California residents pay a sales and use tax of up to 8.75 percent in
some areas, one of the highest in the nation. Golden State laws are
strict: If Californians travel to a state with a 5 percent tax and shop
there, the law requires them  to write a check to the state tax agency for up to the 3.75 percent difference upon their return.

Well, you know, since we live in a day when the most essential attribute of America that most people seem to be able to regurgitate is that we’re a "nation of laws," it seems to me that we’re in quite a pickle. …Although, I’m sure that the thousands of people who read that CNET article, the hundreds who read this blog entry, and the many who’ll be informed elsewhere will immediately commence sending in their checks–you know–since "we’re a nation of laws" & all.

(via DeCoster)

“Managing Migration”

Guy Herbert, over at one of my favorite foreigner blogs, ("samizdat"), knows question begging when he sees it.

[…] But how does a state achieve the balance between the need for control of its borders and the need to facilitate movement across its borders for legitimate purposes such as trade, tourism, family reunion and education?

…asks the IOM, seeking to explain its purpose, but begging the question. The assumption is that states will naturally ban travel and trade (which is what ‘control their borders’ means) and then decide what are ‘legitimate purposes’ for permitted movements. But this is a convenient doctrine invented by states in the 20th century, a generalization of the conditions of the Tsarist police-state and the petty, nationalist bureaucracies that emerged in the 19th.

Where – let alone why – I choose to live or travel is no business of states, unless I am doing injury to their citizens. By going from place to place I do accept that places are different legally as well as culturally and physically. If there were no differences there would be no point in travel. But the natural condition of borders is openness. They are just lines on a map.

You’ll notice that here in "the land of open arms," the whole debate has been reduced to the laziest common denominator, by which I refer to all the "Einsteins" out there throwing about the term "illegal" and admonishing "enforcement of laws"–as if such presumptuous and thought-stopping rhetoric had somehow–over the last century or so–become wise and pithy.

All y’all it’s-the-law "logisticians" ought to go back to sleep and leave ideas to those capable of dealing with them.

Sent Items

It may come as a complete surprise to some, but I got into a political discussion with my dad’s oldest friend (we’re talkin’ since 8th grade) last night at my mom’s 65th birthday party. Yea…about the immigration deal, protectionism and such.

This morning, I’ve got an email that references the conversation, along with a reference to this post by Michelle Malkin, who I just about can’t stomach reading or listening to in radio interviews, any longer.

So, I reply:

Uh huh. And those clean-cut, middle-class-looking high-school students in Whittier, CA are what? Huh? Do you suppose they’re American citizens or "illegals?"

Look, I’m not particularly fond of seeing such a symbol tarnished in such a way either. I also suspect that the American Flag symbolizes something entirely different for me than it does for most–particularly judging by what I’m hearing lately. For me, it symbolizes freedom. It symbolizes a Declaration of Independence. It symbolizes freedom from oppressive governments like King George’s and King Bush’s. It symbolizes an ideal–an ideal premised upon the unalienable rights of individuals–rights that render all man-made law either moot, or an assault upon freedom and individualism.

It has never, to me, symbolized anything having to do with a state, a government, a border, a law, democracy, republicanism, federalism, constitutionalism, or any other such nonsense.

But the way I see self-proclaimed "Americans" behaving these days…

…I can’t help but think that turning the flag upside-down is strangely appropriate–in spite of my certainty that the video-gaming, main-street-cruisin’ kids doing it are just as clueless and stupid as just about all kids at their age.

See this post by a friend of mine:


More, from me and others:,0329-Binswanger.shtm

I can go on all day. See, I’ve been thinking about all this kind of stuff–daily and deeply–for going on 15 years. It didn’t suddenly pop onto my radar screen.

It’s very simple. There’s only one way to prevent a peaceful, honest, hard-working immigrant who desires to come to America and trade his labor for other things in a struggle to better his life. First is to systematically demonize him. He’s an "illegal." He’s "stealing" "our" jobs. Second is to stop him by force: guns, fists, imprisonment, deportation, etc.

America ought to be ashamed of itself.

From the last of the list of the links, above:

    "One doesn’t have to be a resident of any particular country to have a moral entitlement to be secure from governmental coercion against one’s life, liberty, and property. In the words of the Declaration of Independence, government is instituted ‘to secure these rights’–to protect them against their violation by force or fraud."


    "It is not a criminal act to buy or rent a home here in which to reside. Paying for housing is not a coercive act–whether the buyer is an American or a foreigner. No one’s rights are violated when a Mexican, or Canadian, or Senegalese rents an apartment from an American owner and moves into the housing he is paying for. And what about the rights of those American citizens who want to sell or rent their property to the highest bidders? Or the American businesses that want to hire the lowest cost workers? It is morally indefensible for our government to violate their right to do so, just because the person is a foreigner."

“Democracy of the Dead”

I suppose that Jonah Goldberg is at least to be commended for this most accurate depiction of what constitutions really are–or at least eventually become.

This, via Drizzten, and you ought to head over and read his Spooner quote–if not the whole Spooner essay which he links to. It’s a classic ‘must-read’ for everyone, especially those who harbor sacred notions regarding the US Constitution.

Googling the Chesterton quote yielded the following:

"Tradition means giving a vote to most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead." Chesterton goes on to say: "Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father."

OK, so it’s mostly crap. What else would you expect from someone who "…also argued against both socialism and capitalism and showed why they have both been the enemies of freedom and justice in modern society"?

So there you have it. Imagine yourselves. You embrace a political philosophy–democracy–and find that not only are you at the mercy of the mob, but also of those who died over 200 years ago–when bloodletting was still in vogue. Isn’t it all just so wonderful?

And don’t misunderstand. I am far less opposed to the actual basic content of the U.S. Constitution than I am with the very idea that some ancient document somehow–magically–binds me in any way. In fact, if the actual original content and meaning of the U.S. Constitution were actually followed without equivocation, there’s a good chance I’d have just kept quiet all these years. Instead, we have the worst of possible scenarios: a document we’re all subject to by threat of force, that we’re unable to reject or modify outside of the most laborious and unlikely process, but yet can be "interpreted" to mean virtually anything by an elite tribunal of lifetime appointees selected for their skill in obfuscating truth (legal "opinions") in the interest of popular politics.

The U.S. Constitution is quite likely the worst thing that ever happened to America. It took what America was supposed to be, from The Declaration of Independence, and destroyed it.

(via Beck)

Goings On

Wow. Haven’t posted in a while. Busy. Actually, I’m trying to put together a $5 million construction project. Here in the Bay Area–Sunnyvale, in particular–that’s six townhouses on a 12,000 square foot lot. I’ve got the land under contract for $1.2 million and have been working on putting a financing package together for the cost of construction.

Met the architect, yesterday. I swear to God: it’s the coolest office I’ve ever seen. It’s on the 7th floor of a glass building in Burlingame, CA. Corner suite. About 400 square feet. Floor to ceiling glass. Overlooks the entire bay, as well as being just adjacent to the southeastern jetty of SFO so you can sit there watching 747-400s taking off and landing, marveling at where in the world they’re coming from and going to. See what I mean by clicking right HERE (you’ll want to close that balloon that pops up). This is an office I’m quite certain Howard Roark would have been proud of.

Now I’m off to pick up my Winchester Mod 94.

Food For Thought

Here’s some food for thought to all you "law-abiding, ‘compassionate’ conservatives" out there, as well as democrats who smell the red meat that the immigration issue is sizing up to be for the upcoming solve-all-problems-by-voting-your-1/270,000,000th-say season.

I’m reading reports of the massive demonstrations and I can’t help but recall back in the day when people were breaking laws right and left–peacefully and gleefully–in order to partially correct the institutional injustice faced by the black man. What was their fundamental operating premise, their rallying cry? Was it that blacks were "legal citizens of the United Sates?" Or, was it that blacks are … uh, human beings who ought to be judged, individually, by the content of their character and not the color of their skin, or, and pay attention here: their "legal" status.

Arbitrarily stopping a guy at some arbitrary line drawn on a map when he is coming to peacefully trade with others in terms of employment, food, shelter, clothing, and so on, is not fundamentally different than sending a black man to the back of the bus. If these demonstrators get their fundamental premises and rationale correct, you "compassionate" ones just might get one hell of a lot more than you bargained for.

Finally, a Little Logic and Honesty

I’ve been sitting on the Doctor Doom story for about a week since I first came across it.

Recently citizen scientist Forrest Mims told me about a speech he
heard at the Texas Academy of Science during which the speaker, a
world-renowned ecologist, advocated for the extermination of 90 percent
of the human species in a most horrible and painful manner. Apparently
at the speaker’s direction, the speech was not video taped by the
Academy and so Forrest’s may be the only record of what was said.
Forrest’s account of what he witnessed chilled my soul. Astonishingly,
Forrest reports that many of the Academy members present gave the
speaker a standing ovation. To date, the Academy has not moved to
sanction the speaker or distance itself from the speaker’s remarks.

Naturally, there’s no shortage of outrage. I don’t need to point it out, as Google will do a far more thorough job than I for those so inclined. Also, in fairness, it’s probably appropriate to reference Dr. Eric R. Pianka directly–either his clarification or backtrack, depending on your point of view.

What I’ve yet to see, and anyone is welcome to point me to it, is some recognition that the man is simply logically and honesty drawing conclusions from his own premises–the same premises at the root of the entire 20th and 21st-century antagonism between individualism, on the one hand, and communism, socialism, fascism, environmentalism (there are no distinctions to make at root premises) on the other.

Most people will never go that far. For instance, I’m every bit the atheist, evolutionist, secularist, and materialist, which chief tenets no doubt make up the fundamental anthropological view of Dr. Pianka. Yet, most outrage you read will be based upon some notion of evil as derived from some religious text or belief: that we are all the children or purposeful creation of some sort of supreme being (Western). Or, that all life forms are somehow part of some great circle of life or being (Eastern).

But here’s the rub, folks: given his premises–and for many of you, your premises–he’s right. If, indeed, man is not the unequivocal, unchallenged, and rightful ruler of nature, then no one is; and some microbe destroying 5 billion people–whether by accident or purpose–is no more remarkable than a pride of lions taking out four-fifths of a herd of gazelles. It’s all just nature, and after all, there are "balances" and "natural efficiencies" to be maintained. Even for you believers out there: God’s will is his will. If microbes wiped out billions (they’ve wiped out millions in the past), your doctrines require you to accept it. Period.

You know what I’m tired of? I’m tired of explaining to people why, apart from their catechism (presumably because they have no better argument), human beings are indeed special. There’s a lot to say on that subject, but it boils down to two words: free will. Animals don’t have it, plain and simple. We–the rational animal–do; and it makes all the difference in the world. It makes the only fundamental difference. Without that, we are indeed meaningless and of no particular higher value, whatsoever.

But with that most important of attributes we literally possess the will and the means to ultimately control all of existence: to increasingly add purpose–human purpose–to existence. For, so far as we know, all existence operates by means of comprehensible and logical natural laws and is composed of various fundamental particles and elements having relationships that are ultimately definable and controllable. The key to all of that is knowledge, and all knowledge is contained within the free-will, conceptual consciousnesses of human beings; that which other animals do not possess. Non-human animals do not possess conceptual knowledge, and thus, will never control and quench a forest fire or construct a massive concrete dam to save or advance their their lives for their own self-reflective purposes.

No, there’s no guarantee that some microbe won’t wipe out 90% of Earth’s human population at some point in the future. It’s happened before. In the broadest sense, there is no such thing as a guarantee of anything at all. That’s never stopped humanity from generally acting in accordance with its nature, which is to increasingly understand reality, existence, and to control it to productive, purposeful, and valuable use–all by human standards. It should not stop now just because some scientist decides to draw back the veil to reveal the endgame of Earth’s dominant philosophy over the last hundred or so years. The self-fulfilling nature of the whole thing is quite plain to see. The best way to see to the destruction of 5 billion people from a super-virulent disease is to tie humanity’s hands now–whether it be done by individuals themselves, through irrational fear, or by their chosen authorities they are foolish enough to believe in.

I don’t know what’s better or worse: the "good doctor," or shouting FREEDOM! one day, and then going down to vote in your slave-masters the next.


“It’s The Law”

JTK over at No Treason duly bitch-slaps Libertarian turned Republican Congressman Ron Paul.

You bandy about the words “illegal” and “lawbreaker” as if they had moral content. They don’t.

Weren’t Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and all the founding fathers lawbreakers? Wasn’t Thoreau? Or Martin Luther King?

Wasn’t the Declaration of Independence itself an act of lawbreaking?

Men have no moral obligation whatsoever to obey or even recognize
immoral laws, including many immoral laws that you are party to. Stop
using law as a proxy for morality in your arguments. There is no
necessary relationship between the two.


Status Report

I’m in Vegas (again) for a couple of days. All business, this time.

In the meantime, Billy Beck has a very good post up that explains what I mean when I say that "America exists all over the world."

Go take a look.

Be Careful Who You Pray For

Reason’s Tim Cavanaugh highlights a couple of recent studies (748 patients and 1,800 patients) that suggest that not only is prayer for the sick of no measurable therapeutic benefit, it often measurably hurts, i.e., makes people worse off.

God comes up empty-handed in the largest, longest study of the effect
of intercessory prayer. In a study of 1,800 heart bypass surgery
patients, the American Heart Journal finds that remote orisons not only don’t make any difference, they actually make things worse.

My own experience with religion in youth leads me to a particular understanding. In my observation, the more religious people appeared outwardly, the worse they did at just about everything — especially financially. Often, their lives could be clearly seen as on a long, steady downward trend. Those same people, once they begin to turn away from religion as a day-to-day affair seemed to do better at manging their lives and prospering as human beings (by my standards, of course).

Now, granting that such study data is objective, how do you square it with your beliefs? It seems to me that you’ve basically got to conclude that either your God is a completely evil sonofabitch, or there just isn’t any God as you imagine to be and prayer substitutes as a far less effective placebo, or a harmful one, compared to a person’s own will to survive and get through a crisis. The placebo effect is an objectively verified phenomena, though disputed as to the actual source of improvement.

Oh, well. I guess it’s just more empirically verifiable fact getting in the way of "certainty" about what real events took place thousands and thousands of years ago because a few books, equally thousands of years old, says so.

You know, of human being behaved similarly about anything else, they’d be immediately declared insane.

Winchester Model 94 30-30

One of my greatest memories of growing up in Reno, Nevada was our annual deer-hunting trips up north to Elko County, within eyeshot of the Ruby Mountains. My family (grandfather, grandmother, dad, mom, and assorted others) hunted deer exclusively with scoped .243 bolt-action rifles. That was the only suitable gun with which to hunt mule deer in Nevada’s sagebrush and open spaces, in our not-so-humble opinions. Why? Well, as I’ve stated, our hunting ethic was always about eating what we kill and we’d all seen way too much meat ruined by overkill with 30-06s and 7mms.

Anyway, fast forward to the early 80s. I was going to college in Oregon and had occasion to go on a deer-hunting trip in western Oregon with my brother and some friends. We were hunting for whitetail, as I recall, and there was thick greenery everywhere. I quickly discovered that a scope was worthless (you get an eyeful of blurry green). A friend had a good old lever-action model 94 Winchester 30-30 he let me borrow, and I just loved that gun. Ever since, I always thought about getting one.

Then, the other day, I read something over a Kim’s place and I knew it was finally time to act (after nearly 25 years; what the hell, eh?). So, I went on over to The Gun Exchange this afternoon and got myself one for the great price of $399, manufactured between 1943 and 1948 (no records for that era, for some reason). Of course, I’ve got to wait 10 days until I pick it up, so no pic. However, this one here from 1954 looks exactly the same and is in the same wonderful condition.


So, there you have it.

I Reply

To a comment:

To be perfectly honest, this is how I approached
"libertarianism" from the beginning, back in 1990–owing to the
influence that awakened my mind. I saw it not so much as a required evolution in
"practical politics," as society is currently arranged, but more
as a need to “evolve” (or motivate) the "practical mind" to the next
stage of its necessary development.

Understand: human consciousness (conceptual, integrative) is
the greatest power in the universe, per se. It is the only power
capable of purposefully controlling all of existence / the universe (think
about it: on what foundation does knowledge rest?). We already have human consciousness. We’ve had it for about
3,000 years or so (if the late Julian Jaynes in The
Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bi-Cameral Mind
is to be
believed). All the potential is there.

But I see "children" raising their fists in the
streets all over the world, demanding "their fair share." I’d love to
be on the verge of concluding that the problem is existential, metaphysical.
But I’m talking about things so fundamental that we’re not dealing with a
"bug" in consciousness. That’s impossible (again: the foundation of knowledge?). There are only
"bugs" in individuals.

What it all comes down to, and what it means, is that
everyone living today has missed the wondrous ride in an eventual dump-God,
dump-State, guiltless human future that could be ours now–a future of complete and total individual
achievement through conceptual and integrated knowledge of reality.

When you consider the human potential, very few human beings
currently alive on this planet Earth have anywhere near what it will take.
Compared with the eventual destiny of fully-integrated, honest-dealing with
reality, humans today are but days away from being apes.

The loss of potential is staggering. Human beings are
wasting time literally worshiping fairy tales (on high and below) they’re stupid enough to believe in when they have the tools at their disposal to see to their own subversion of
mortality, eventually.