Monday, March 29, 2010
Crackdown: State troopers seal off a road as the Feds conduct a tri-state operation to arrest members of the Hutaree "Christian militia."
The first thing that must be understood is that while the murder of any human being is the most serious crime one can commit, it is not necessarily a crime to kill a police officer.
Defensive use of lethal force against criminal aggression is morally legitimate and legally protected, even -- no, make that "especially" -- when the aggressor is clothed in the habiliments of the state's punitive priesthood. This is not the view of some obscure, unsavory self-styled Christian militia group from Michigan. It is the long-established view of the United States Supreme Court as expressed more than a century ago in the ruling John Bad Elk v. The United States.
John Bad Elk, a Lakota Indian living on a South Dakota reservation, shot and killed a tribal policeman named John Kills Back, who attempted to carry out an arrest without warrant or probable cause. Bad Elk was convicted of murder after the Judge instructed the jury (as paraphrased by the High Court) that "the policeman had the right to arrest [Black Elk] ... and to use such force as was necessary to accomplish the arrest, and that [Black Elk] had no right to resist it."
Under the common law, the High Court pointed out, Black Elk was not obliged to submit to an unlawful arrest, and he "had the right to use such force as was absolutely necessary to resist an attempted illegal arrest...." Furthermore, ruled the Court, "the law looks with very different eyes upon the transaction when the officer had the right to make the arrest from what it does if the officer had no such right. What might be murder in the first case might be nothing more than manslaughter in the other, or the facts might show that no offense had been committed." (Emphasis added.)
Simply put: As a matter of law, a citizen has an unqualified right to use lethal force to defend himself against a criminal assault by a law enforcement officer. This is not "sedition"; it's stare decisis.
The federal indictment against the Hutaree "Christian militia" describes the group's alleged preparations for potential armed conflict against law enforcement officers as a "seditious conspiracy." Whether this constitutes a criminal conspiracy of any kind depends entirely on whether the group planned to commit aggressive violence against individuals.
If they were acquiring weapons and developing appropriate skills in anticipation of defending themselves against government aggression, their actions-- while possibly conspiratorial in nature -- don't amount to a crime. This is particularly true in light of our cultural history, in which sedition -- agitation to change the existing political order -- is our proudest civic tradition.
Government is nothing more than the rationalization and exercise of violence. Everything done by government contains at least the implicit threat of lethal coercion. Thus the indictment's description of Hutaree as "an anti-government extremist organization which advocates violence against local, state and Federal law enforcement" is a product of rhetorical onanism.
The same is true of the charge that the militia's members "did knowingly conspire, confederate, and agree with each other and other persons known and unknown" -- great googlymoogly, do federal prosecutors pay their scribes by the syllable? -- "to levy war against the United States, to oppose by force the authority of the Government of the United States, and to prevent, hinder, and delay by force the execution of any United States law."
If Hutaree was preparing for armed defense against criminal actions by government officials, this charge is as pointless as a broken pencil. If their efforts to "prevent, hinder, and delay" various government initiatives were confined to activism, rather than armed conflict, they are -- in that particular -- not substantively different from hundreds or thousands of other groups.
Once again, the gravamen here is the question of aggressive violence. As paraphrased by the Regime's media stenographers, the charges against Hutaree are digested into a "plot to kill law enforcement officers." This would allegedly entail murdering one policeman and then ambushing others who would attend the Soviet-style paramilitary ritual that occurs on those rare occasions a police officer is killed in the line of duty.
Rather than providing specific details, referring to particular witnesses, or alluding to other material evidence, the indictment repeatedly refers to Hutaree's "general concept of operations." To whose "concept" does this refer -- the specific, overtly stated intentions of the militia members, or the way those intentions were conceived by federal authorities or their allied left-wing "watchdog" activists? Was this "concept of operations" committed to print, or captured on an audio or video record? Was there a specific plan, or were there outbursts of ill-considered speculation or depraved wishful thinking?
In studiously vague language, the federal indictment alleges that "one officer in particular" had been identified as a potential murder target. Plotting to murder another human being is a crime, of course, as is preparing to murder others who would assemble for a funeral.
These matters are questions of fact dependent on evidence not outlined in the indictment. Given that cases of this kind often end in plea bargains before they go to trial, it's possible we may never learn what, if any, evidence supports the most serious charges against the group.
Hutaree, we are told, is a violent cult. FBI Special Agent Andrew Arena referred to Hutaree as typical of the "radical and extremist fringe groups that can be found throughout our society." It may well be a dangerous little sect; like nearly everyone else, I hadn't heard of the group prior to yesterday (March 28), so I can't offer an adequately informed opinion of its intentions. At least some of those involved in other citizen militia groups in Michigan were leery of Hutaree, suspecting that it was seeking to provoke a civil war.
Whatever is eventually learned about Hutaree, as things presently stand the indictment against it could provide a template for "seditious conspiracy" prosecutions involving practically any group that endorses the use of defensive force to protect citizens against government aggression.
Indeed, the definition of "conspiracy" used in the Hutaree indictment could make a criminal out of anyone who reads Federalist Paper 46 in public, thereby sharing James Madison's commendably seditious admonition that the people preserve "the advantage of being armed" in the event that insurrection against the central government proves necessary in order to preserve liberty.
The tri-state crack-down against Hutaree, which involved what was described as a "batallion" of state, local, and federal troops (there's little point in using the term "police" any more), is the largest but by no means only recent campaign of its kind.
Last week the Feds reeled in several members of a properly ignominious Connecticut neo-Nazi street gang calling itself the White Wolves.
The White Wolves crackdown followed the familiar outline:
A federal informant (in this case, a convicted felon acting as a "cooperating witness") infiltrates a tiny and all but inconsequential clique of petty criminals, incites them to commit an "overt" criminal act (in this case by asking them to sell him firearms). The feds then draw up a grandiose indictment depicting that the little knot of skinheads as a world-historic menace.
As is true of the case against the Hutaree militia, the White Wolves indictment is a bureaucratic confection -- a wedding cake-sized pile of rhetorical meringue concealing a criminal complaint the size of a small Twinkie.
The objective here -- and, most likely in the Feds' prosecution of the Hutaree militia -- is to induce at least one or more members of the targeted group to join the pool of infiltrator/provocateus for use against other targeted groups.
The dynamics of this routine are a bit like multi-level marketing: The federal handler -- usually an FBI Special Agent assigned to a Joint Terrorism Task Force -- serves as the "upline" to a small stable of provocateurs, each of which is highly motivated to create a large "downline" of similarly compromised assets. As with many other MLMs, nothing of value is actually accomplished, but the people at the top of the pyramid -- in this case, the Homeland Security bureaucrats -- make a very comfortable living.
In times of relative tranquility, that cynical exercise provides career security for Homeland Security functionaries. There's reason to believe that the Feds have expanded and escalated this ongoing enterprise to exploit, and exacerbate, growing public hostility toward an increasingly invasive and esurient government.
Whether it is ever demonstrated that Hutaree intended to "levy war" against the U.S. government, this much is beyond serious dispute: The Homeland Security state is unambiguously preparing for war with the public -- in fact, it has been doing so for a long time.
During a 1997 visit to the Battle Command Training Program at Ft. Leavenworth, author Robert Kaplan frequently heard "discussion of the Posse Comitatus Act, which forbids the National Guard to act as a local police force once it has been federalized by the army in a civil emergency," he recalled in his book An Empire Wilderness. "The implication was that turbulence within the United States might one day require the act to be repealed."
Kaplan describes a round-table discussion of potential military action against domestic dissident groups. One Marine Major, referring to the Oklahoma City Bombing (an atrocity carried out by a former federal employee and "others" who remain "unknown"), declared: "The minute I heard about Oklahoma City, I knew who did it -- rednecks, the kind of guys from southern Idaho."
According to Kaplan, that officer and another of the same rank "suggested that `a time might come when the military will have to go domestic.'"
In the strictest sense, that was a treasonable utterance -- a threat, by people in a position with the means to carry it into effect, to wage war against the people of the "united States in Congress assembled."
When talk of that kind is indulged in by members of a tiny, disreputable club, it is labeled "seditious conspiracy" involving "weapons of mass destruction" -- that is, homemade explosives. When such talk reflects the shared opinion of armed functionaries of the Regime -- people with access to the largest and most destructive arsenal ever assembled, and a growing foreign body count demonstrating a willingness to use it -- this is a sober, responsible discussion of Homeland Security affairs.
Apparently, it's sound public policy for the government to wage war against the citizenry, but a federal offense to take notice of that fact.
Be sure to get your daily dose of sedition on Pro Libertate Radio, courtesy of the Liberty News Radio Network.
Dum spiro, pugno!
Friday, March 26, 2010
Imperial impunity: Samurai in feudal Japan were invested with Kiri sute-gomen, "authorization to cut and leave" -- a literal license to kill. Yet they were actually more accountable than police in contemporary America.
"Time to end this! Enough is enough!" With those words, Officer Troy Meade of the Everett, Washington Police Department fired seven rounds into the body of Niles Meservey, killing him instantly. At the time, Meservey was stupefied by alcohol and sitting behind the wheel of his Corvette. The car was completely boxed in by other vehicles and a chain-link fence. According to several eyewitnesses -- including another police officer -- the 51-year-old man wasn't going anywhere, and posed no threat to anyone. Meade shot the drunken man not because of any threat to himself or others; he did it because he was angry and frustrated over Meservey's non-compliance.
Just minutes earlier, Meservey had been cut off by the bartender after he had inflicted unwanted attention on a couple of women at a nearby club, briefly dragging one of them onto the dance floor.
Several people were worried about the prospect of the intoxicated man attempting to drive home when he clearly presented a risk to himself and others. One of them, Trisha Tribble, called 911.
“We’re really concerned about a guy leaving the parking lot of Chuckwagon on Evergreen Way — in a white Corvette, he’s extremely intoxicated,” Tribble told the dispatcher.
Several officers from the Everett Police Department soon arrived; among them were Troy Meade, an 11-year-veteran, and Officer Steven Klocker. Meade arrived at about 11:39 PM; Klocker reached the scene a little less than five minutes later.
By the time Officer Meade arrived, Meservey's Corvette was bracketed by cars on either side and cut off by a parking lot fence in front of him. Meade pulled up behind Meservey, effectively boxing him in.
Joanne Hancock, who was smoking outside the Chuckwagon Inn when the police arrived, went inside to share the news with others concerned about Meservey. This prompted a small group of people to go outside and watch the arrest.
By the time Klocker arrived to provide “backup,” Meade had spent roughly five minutes trying to convince Meservey to get out of the car. Klocker would later report that Meade’s tone and attitude toward the intoxicated man were “belligerent,” and that he “used language which made him uncomfortable because of the nearby civilians.”
He's a hero -- aren't they all? Officer Troy Meade, charged with murder in the shooting death of Niles Meservey.
“I don’t know why the f**k I am trying to save your dumb ass,” Meade snarled at Meservey, according to Klocker’s account.
Both Meade and Klocker withdrew their portable electro-shock torture devices (more commonly called Tasers). Meade, who was closest to the driver, shot Meservey with his Taser through the open driver’s side window, inflicting two separate strikes — one five seconds long, the other six seconds’ duration.
“Why in the f**k did you do that?” muttered the drunken man, who — predictably enough — wasn't inclined to endure any further abuse. He reached for his keys and started the car, but he had nowhere to go: The vehicle lurched over a concrete curb and ran into an unyielding chain-link fence.
Bear in mind, once again, that Meservey was entirely boxed in. It was possible, albeit with some difficulty, for Officer Meade to reach through the window and seize the car keys, rather than escalating the situation by using potentially deadly force. Had he done so, it wouldn't have been long until Meservey would have succumbed to unconsciousness.
But this would have meant exercising a modicum of patience, and doing some heavy lifting. It was more convenient to shoot the unarmed, helpless drunk. So Meade — according to Klocker's official account — took up a position near the left rear wheel of the Corvette, pulled his gun, and fired eight shots into the car.
When several other police officers arrived a few minutes later, Meade was seen pacing back and forth near the murder scene.
“I’m out of it,” he blubbered to one of the new arrivals. “I want my Garrity.”
The “Garrity Rule” — adapted from the 1967 Supreme Court ruling Garrity v. New Jersey, which involved a ticket-fixing scandal — is the legal security blanket desperately grasped by police officers who have just committed a serious crime.
Uttering the incantatory word "Garrity" triggers an enhancement of the right against self-incrimination that only the government’s armed enforcers enjoy: Any statements made thereafter can only be used for the purpose of a departmental investigation, not for criminal prosecution.Scene of the crime: Meservey's Corvette following the lethal shooting (left); an overhead view (below, right).
Klocker, who witnessed the entire incident, pointed out to investigators that when Meservey’s body was pulled from the car, the prongs of Officer Meade’s Taser were still firmly embedded in his shoulder.
“I’m thinking as I'm dragging him … why didn’t we [shock] him again?” Klocker told investigators. If escalation had been “necessary,” Klocker thought, Meade would have used the Taser again, or resorted to pepper spray. “I would never have shot [Meservey]… I don’t think we had reached that level of force yet,” Klocker concluded.
Meservey was neutralized and not long from the comforting embrace of alcohol-induced unconsciousness. Thus it seems obvious to someone not indoctrinated in the state’s view of discretionary killing that there was no reason to use lethal force of any kind in this situation. Using the minimal force necessary to take the keys away from Meservey would have ended any threat the drunk posed to persons and property.
But Meservey had done something more serious than threaten the lives and property of other citizens; he had insulted a police officer through his persistent refusal to submit.
Meade --who was involved in a prior lethal shooting a few years ago -- vaulted up the escalation ladder from confrontational and abusive language to lethal violence within a matter of minutes. In doing so he provided a compelling illustration of the fact that every encounter between police and citizens is pregnant with deadly consequences for the latter. Though useful, such a lesson was not worth Meservey's life.
Meade was originally charged with first-degree manslaughter and placed on paid vacation (aka “administrative leave”).
Unlike a private citizen charged with lethally shooting an unarmed, non-threatening man six times in the back, Meade was set free on his own recognizance. It’s entirely likely that Meade wouldn’t have been indicted if it weren’t for rising public concern over recent police shootings in Everett.
Meade's attorney defended the murder of Niles Meservey as the result of a “split-second decision," although such manifestly was not the case. Trisha Tribble, who summoned police to the scene by calling 911, was mortified by the death of Meservey, whom she described as “this drunken guy, [who] was obviously out of his mind.” "
"There was no reason for him to die,” she commented after the slaying.
Bear in mind that Allen didn't say a police officer should never commit a crime like that; what he said, in essence, was that a police officer who commits an act of lethal violence should never be charged with a criminal offense. From this perspective, any use of deadly force by an officer is legal by definition.
The claim made by Allen on behalf of Officer Meade is a contemporary American version of what was called kirisute-gomen in feudal Japan. The phrase, roughly translated as "authorization to cut and leave," referred to the power exercised by Samurai, the Shogun's armed enforcers, to kill anyone from a lower caste who insulted them.
"Before the Meiji Restoration of 1868, there was a legal structure in place whereby people of the Samurai class or higher could kill anyone of the agrarian class or lower who insulted them," explained Dr. John Pierre Mertz, a professor of Japanese language at the University of North Carolina, in a phone interview. "The Samurai literally had the power to cut people in two, if they considered the insult to be intolerable. This was part of the culture, and people were very aware of it. In fact, there were manuals that described how a woman could clean and prepare a decapitated head for burial."
There's no reliable way of knowing how often this form of summary execution -- often referred to as burei uchi, or "striking down the impolite" -- was carried out, and what accounts exist tend to be encrusted with accumulated myth and legend.
"Understandably, very few people were willing to stick around and witness incidents of this kind," Dr. Mertz explained to Pro Libertate. "It's important to understand as well that the consequences of an act of this kind could be quite severe, since a killing of this kind was taken as evidence of failure on everybody's part to uphold the societal code. There would be an inquest, and if a Samurai were found to have killed an inferior for no good reason, he would be compelled to apologize -- which meant committing ritual suicide through seppuku. So it's likely that things of this kind happened rarely in feudal Japan."
Another historical analysis of the Edo period maintains that there was another important restraint on the power of Samurai to execute "impudent" commoners: By that account, a commoner had the absolute, innate right to use lethal force in self-defense against what we would now call police brutality.
A commoner who killed a Samurai in self-defense was not subject to punishment of any kind, since that act would have culled an unsuitable specimen from the warrior caste. A peasant targeted for execution but who escaped with his life was not tracked down and charged with "resisting arrest" or "evasion" of the police"; instead -- per this account -- the Samurai who needlessly drew his sword was subject to severe punishment for disrupting the peace.
While admitting that the existing records are scanty and ambiguous, Dr. Mertz insists that in the Japanese feudal system, only fellow Samurai or their superiors could seek retribution for criminal violence against those in lower orders. "If an Agrarian person were to lift a finger against the disciplining power, it would be a really serious thing," Mertz replied when I asked whether a peasant in that system had a right to self-defense. "Once again, it's difficult to say exactly how the laws were implemented, since there isn't a lot of detailed reporting on the subject."
Even if Japanese peasants weren't permitted to defend themselves, the dreadful penalties inflicted on Samurai who needlessly killed commoners provided a compelling deterrent against the use of unjustified violence by the enforcement caste.
This fact engenders wistful speculation: How frequently would American police resort to unnecessary force if they -- in the fashion of the Samurai -- confronted the prospect of enduring exactly what they illicitly inflict on others?
The post-1868 Japanese ruling elite was forced to abolish kirisute-gomen because the idea of empowering police to execute citizens for "impudence" was offensive to the Anglo-Saxon view of individual liberty protected by law -- the same legal tradition that begat the United States Constitution.
"After Japan was opened to the West, citizens from western nations who lived in colonial enclaves were protected by `extraterritoriality' agreements secured through British treaties," Dr. Mertz recounted to Pro Libertate. "Western governments weren't going to permit their citizens to be struck down in the streets" because they refused to genuflect to Samurai. So the Japanese revoked the enforcement caste's license to kill.
The sobering and inescapable fact is that in Lee Greenwood's America, where "at least [we] know [we're] free," the police consistently enjoy a far greater scope of official impunity than that granted to the roaming warriors of feudal Japan.
Clear and concise confirmation of that assessment comes by way of some less-than-friendly advice offered by an LAPD officer who writes for National Review under the nom-de-cyber Jack Dunphy.
In any encounter with a cop, a civilian must bear in mind that "the officer is not all that concerned with trying not to offend you," explained Dunphy. "He is instead concerned with protecting his mortal hide from having holes placed in it where God did not intend. And you, if in asserting your constitutional right to be free from unlawful search and seizure, fail to do as the officer asks, run the risk of having such holes placed in your own."
During the military occupation of the conquered South, President Andrew Johnson told his subordinates: "Whenever you hear a man prating about the constitution, spot him as a traitor." Officer Dunphy expands that totalitarian formula: A Mundane who frustrates a member of the Exalted Enforcement Caste by invoking his constitutional rights, he should be shot on sight in the interest of "officer safety" -- the highest priority and most sacred responsibility of the heroic Paladins of Public Order.
Until very recently, the laws of most states recognized the principle stated by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 1943 ruling United States v. Di Re: "One has an undoubted right to resist unlawful arrest, and courts will uphold the right of resistance in proper cases."
The right to resist unjustified police violence -- whether it takes the form of kidnapping (the proper description of an unlawful arrest) or physical assault -- is still legally recognized in a dozen states. It has been upheld in recent court decisions, most recently by Florida Circuit Court Judge John DeFuria, who ruled that homeowner John Coffin "had a right to resist" when he and his wife were violently attacked in their home by two sheriff's deputies. Nonetheless, arrests for the non-crime of "resisting arrest" are quite common. In fact, a study conducted last year by the San Jose Mercury News found that an average of three people a day were arrested for that supposed offense in that city.
Furthermore, of the 206 court cases in which "resisting arrest" was the most serious "offense," 145 -- or seventy percent -- of the cases "involved the use of force by officers." Most importantly, not a single one of the 117 complaints of unnecessary force filed with the police department's internal review board was "sustained."
Constitutional and statutory guarantees of the right to resist state-inflicted violence are otiose when those designated the "disciplining power" refuse to police themselves, and the productive class has neither the means nor the will to protect itself. This is why we've arrived at a point where police can kill innocent citizens with impunity, and yet the slightest physical contact by a citizen can be prosecuted as "battery on an officer," and a citizen wielding a flyswatter can be charged with "felonious assault" on a policeman.
Portrait of a literary hero as "Zek": Alexander Solzhenitsyn during his incarceration in the Soviet gulag (left and below, right).
Without a right to resist, we have a duty to submit -- and submission to unlawful police violence frequently results in serious injury, sexual assault, and death.
Wherever possible, resistance should be peaceful. Where violence is used it must be strictly governed by the non-aggression principle. Prudence has its proper claims to make as well: The right to resist unlawful violence may not be exercised in every appropriate circumstance, but it must be recognized as valid in all cases.
In the first chapter of The Gulag Archipelago, Solzhenitsyn offers a detailed reflection on the "cataclysm" that results when one hears an armed stranger pronounce the dreadful phrase, "You are under arrest."
"At what exact point ... should one resist?" he wrote. "When one's belt is taken away? When one is ordered to face into a corner? When one crosses the threshold of one's home?"
By the Brezhnev era, after tens of millions had been exterminated in the gulag, many Russians lamented that "submissiveness had softened our brains to such a degree" that resistance was no longer possible. All of this could have been avoided, Solzhenitsyn contended, if resistance had begun "at the moment of arrest itself."
"And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive?" mused Solzhenitsyn in a famous footnote to that chapter. "Or, if during the periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, where they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang on the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood that they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?.... The [Security] Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers ... and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!"
"If ... if .... We didn't love freedom enough," he concluded. "We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward."
Solzenitsyn's words will be a suitable epitaph for American liberty if we do not restore, and practice, the right to resist.
(This essay is an updated adaptation of the presentation I was scheduled to make at last week's Liberty Forum in New Hampshire.)
Be sure to tune in for Pro Libertate Radio each weekday from 6:00-7:00 PM (Mountain Time) on the Liberty News Radio Network.
Dum spiro, pugno!
Monday, March 22, 2010
Dr. Leviathan Will See You Now
I'm tempted to say that someone should have the strength of her convictions.
"I observe a benevolent feeling here.... There is also tenderness.... But, beware, tender hearts! Don't you know where tenderness leads? To the gas chambers....
Never in the history of the world have there been so many civilized, tenderhearted souls as have lived in this [twentieth] century. Never in the history of the world have so many people been killed. More people have been killed in this century by tender-hearted souls than by cruel barbarians in all other centuries put together....
My brothers, let me tell you where tenderness leads -- To the gas chambers...."
Father Smith's sermon, from Walker Percy's monitory novel The Thanatos Syndrome
Rejoice and be glad, Americans!
Owing entirely to the visionary compassion of the Dear Leader and his party, the same regime that has slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans, that poured trillions of dollars into the coffers of Wall Street kleptocrats, that brought its unique healing touch to victims of the post-Katrina disaster in New Orleans, and that routinely commits similar acts of divine charity, will now relieve you of the burden of making your own health care decisions.
This point was made -- albeit unintentionally -- in a widely syndicated "news analysis" intended to celebrate this development.
"Rarely does the government, that big, clumsy, poorly regarded oaf, pull off anything short of war that touches all lives with one act, one stroke of a president's pen," observed AP commentator Calvin Woodward. "Such a moment has come." (Emphasis added.)
War requires the domestic regimentation of all private life and the confiscation of private property to accomplish the mass destruction of foreign property and the mass annihilation of foreign lives. Mass murder is the only undertaking in which government consistently out-performs its private sector competition. Yet we are supposed to believe that this engine of destruction can also serve as an instrument of compassionate healing.
Despite the best efforts of its servants to swaddle it within layer after layer of tender-hearted rhetoric, the State remains as Nietzsche described it: "the coldest of all cold monsters.... Everything it says, it lies; and whatever it has it has stolen." It "bites with stolen teeth, and it bites often...."
Bearing that last maxim in mind, we can discern the true intentions behind "Obamacare" in the fact that it includes the largest expansion of the IRS -- both in terms of power and personnel -- since the reign of FDR, America's first fascist President-For-Life.
"Reform" will mean fewer doctors and more tax collectors. Those are the priorities of an entity built to consume life, not to preserve it.
The Destroyers celebrate themselves: Commissarina Pelosi and her comrades strike a pose after passing the Obama "health care" bill.
"Coldly it lies," Nietzsche wrote of the State "and this lie slips from its mouth: `I, the State, am the people.'"
"We proved that this government -- a government of the people by by the people -- still works for the people," lied the Dear Leader himself -- seemingly determined to validate Nietzsche's analysis down to the details -- following the party-line vote in the House.
"Community organizers" of Mr. Obama's ilk see the "people" as an undifferentiated mass to be mobilized in pursuit of collectivist objectives. They likewise assume that only those thus enlisted in the cause of collectivism qualify as "the people." That perspective is pregnant with terrible portents regarding the treatment of tens of millions of Americans -- including the author of these words -- who will not participate in the Regime's system of regimented, rationed health care.
The good news here is that the governments of 38 states -- beginning with my home state of Idaho -- are preparing acts of legal interposition against the Regime's individual health insurance mandates.
Perhaps it could also be regarded as ambivalently good news that the Regime's expanded effort to cartelize health care will inevitably create a black market in which fee-for-service treatment will flourish. This assumes, of course, that anybody retains sufficient wealth to pay for medical care as the omnivorous Regime devours everything within its sphere of influence.
Both Obama and his allies admit that the measure that passed yesterday -- call it "Enhanced Cartelization" of the health industry -- is merely another step toward undisguised government control of health care. Before Sunday's vote, our nation was more than halfway there. As Calvin Woodward admits: "Federal and state programs now cover half the cost of health care purchased in the country and were expected to go over 50 percent in the next year or two even absent Obama's plan."
What this means, of course, is that the federal government -- the world's largest medical "insurance" provider -- created the very market distortions now being invoked to justify further federal control over health care. The same can be said of the "two-tier system" execrated by those who seek to create a uniform, government-run medical service.
In the 1930s, writes Woodward, "the American Medical Association denounced proposals for organized medical services as an `incitement to revolution' at the hands of `Medical Soviets.' And that wasn't even about government-run health care. The AMA's fierce opposition to collectivism included objections to private insurance, the norm today, and the pooling of doctors into what became health maintenance organizations decades later."
Like other statist stenographers, Woodward either doesn't recognize or will not admit that the AMA's critique of "Medical Soviets" has been entirely vindicated.
As Dr. Miguel Faria, a Cuban-born neurosurgeon and health freedom activist, summarizes:
"Although proponents of socialized medicine delight in scoring rhetorical points against free market medicine by reciting horror stories about HMOs, the managed care/managed competition philosophy should not be considered free market medicine, but rather a form of collusion between private entities and government."
It is true, as proponents of Obama's "reform" proposals contend, that we already have a de facto system of health care rationing. But as Dr. Faria notes, this is "largely a product of federal intervention"; furthermore, "while under a `single-payer system coverage would be universal, access to care would be rationed by the central government or its agents."
All Praise the Omniprovident State -- source of all good things, and infallible allocator of scarce resources: A WWII-era propaganda poster depicts central economic planning in "patriotic" terms. (See another example below, right.)
In his victory speech, Obama pointedly observed that the new "reform" framework reflects the efforts of collectivists from both sides of the narrow partisan divide.
While the State-centric media tirelessly linked Obama's name with those of FDR and LBJ, his most important antecedent was actually the much-reviled Richard M. Nixon, during whose reign the Feds created the corporatist health care cartel whose power will be dramatically enhanced under the current "reform" measure.
In a prescient analysis published more than a decade ago, Dr. Faria recounted the relevant history:
"The emergence of HMOs began in the years 1971-74, during which time President Richard Nixon openly embraced Keynesian economics and enacted such measures as wage and price controls. the imposition of the managed care/managed competition ideology on our health care system is part of the same package of government interventions. The mechanics of managed competition were carefully worked out with the diligent cooperation of President Nixon and Senator Ted Kennedy.... Working in collaboration with private sector interests, the Nixon/Kennedy axis created the template for a fascist health system in which government-approved entities -- HMOs and similar health care provider networks -- would deliver medical care under government supervision."
In that system, physicians "employed by HMOs are required to practice a form of rationing, called `cost-effective analysis' or `data credentialing,'" continued Dr. Faria. "HMO administrators, in turn, employ utilization review data to assess doctor performance in terms of financial impact rather than sound medical judgment or patient needs. Physicians who are deemed cost-ineffective, including those who incur expenses by treating the sickest patients and dealing with the most difficult cases, confront ... the possible loss of their membership status in hospitals and health care networks."
During my own recent hospitalization, several physicians with whom I spoke confirmed elements of Dr. Faria's analysis and expressed severe frustrations over the burdens and limitations of the corporatist health care system. One of them confided to me that his favorite time to work is Christmas Day, since he is freed from the oversight of bureaucratic administrators "and so I'm actually free to practice medicine."
What Dr. Faria describes is a post-Hippocratic medical system in which the physician is required to act on behalf of the collective, rather than the interests of the individual patient. This same perverse ethic was enshrined in the post-Bismarck German social welfare state, with consequences as familiar as they are horrifying.
When medical care is collectivized, the system operates in the supposed interests of "the people," rather than for the benefit of any individual person -- with special exceptions made for those who belong to the presiding oligarchy, of course.
Ah, the "good old days" of wartime central planning: Americans line up, ration books in hand, to purchase government-limited consumer goods. Imagine similar lines at government-operated medical centers, and you've got a good idea of what Obama's "reform" will look like.
It must not be forgotten that the State creates nothing. This means that, in economic terms, rationing -- the allocation of resources on a political basis -- is all that it does.
During the two world wars, America was shackled in a system of economic central planning that included rationing of practically every worthwhile consumer good. This is what government will do whenever it is given a pretext in the form of a suitable crisis. Apply that model to the delivery of health care and you'll get a good idea -- to paraphrase the Blessed One Himself -- of what "change will look like."
Writing last week on the eve of the House vote, Dr. Faria pointed out that within the medical treatment and research community, "the word is out that `more care is not necessarily better'....
[This is because] health care gurus see the imminent U.S. government takeover of American medicine, and this ... will mean not only increased taxation on the horizon, but also massive rationing and the drastic curtailment of medical services...."
Government disruption of the market leads to scarcity, which leads to demands for even greater interventions -- thereby creating a self-sustaining cycle that ends only when the "official" economy is destroyed and the productive are driven underground, where they are pursued as "economic criminals."
Nietzsche described those who preside over the State and enforce its decrees as "destroyers" who "lay snares for the many ... they hang a sword and a hundred cravings over them." Subservience to the state, is "slow suicide," he warned, since it is an all-devouring idol from which arises the incessant stench of countless human sacrifices.
Dispensing death is what government does. We should expect business to pick up really soon.
In an update to my most recent previous installment I mentioned that it was necessary to cancel our family's trip to New Hampshire (where I was to take part in the Liberty Forum) because two of our children have been ill.
Katrina's bronchitis has improved; that's the good news.
Today we learned that Justus, our 13-month-old, has pneumonia. His condition is stable and improving, but things could have taken a much more serious turn had we not come home when we did.
I greatly appreciate the kind wishes many of you have expressed. I would appreciate it if those of you in the habit of praying would make mention of Justus. Thanks.
Be sure to tune in for Pro Libertate Radio each weeknight from 6:00-7:00 Mountain Time on the Liberty News Radio Network.
Dum spiro, pugno!
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Career Opportunities in the Torture State (UPDATE)
Astonished and terrified by an unexpected reversal of fortune, three thugs formerly employed by the Gotham City crime boss Gambol suddenly find themselves kneeling on the floor with guns pressed to their heads.
The lifeless body of their erstwhile employer is a bloody heap at the feet of his murderer, a leering, disfigured sliver of psychosis calling himself the Joker. Just minutes earlier, Joker had been the subject of murder contract issued by Gambol; now he was prepared to absorb the best and most ruthless elements of mobster's outfit into his own criminal enterprise.
"Our operation is small," Joker explains distractedly as he grabs a cue stick from a pool table and examines it. "There's a lot of potential for aggressive expansion. So, which of you fine gentlemen would like to join our team?"
"Oh -- and there's only one spot open right now," Joker continues, "so we're going to have ... tryouts."
With this, Joker breaks the pool cue over his knee, fashioning one half of it into a large, hardened wooden spike. Tossing the murder implement in front of the three kneeling, desperate henchmen, Joker indifferently instructs them: "Make it fast."
Joker's incentive structure isn't that different from the one employed by the Regime ruling us. There's great potential for expansion; positions are lucrative, but limited in number; the selection process favors those unhindered by moral compunctions about the criminal exercise of lethal violence, albeit generally directed against innocent strangers rather than former or present colleagues.
The genial face of Fuhrerprinzip: The war criminal Jay Bybee, now a life-tenured federal judge, poses with his disarmingly cute family.
Eight years ago, three insignificant, position-seeking henchmen in the Bush administration were handed the equivalent of the Joker's improvised punji stick. The White House, at the initiative of Vice President Cheney, had secretly ordered the use of torture against suspected terrorists and other detainees, and it was prepared to reward Justice Department attorneys who could swaddle that criminal enterprise in a suitable cloak of pseudo-legal sophistry.
In this the Bush junta displayed a trait is shared with Josef Stalin's regime, which fastidiously preserved the pretense of legality even as it carried out torture and mass murder. It was the Bush administration's position that the Authorization for Use of Military Force, enacted by a panicked Congress immediately following 9-11, authorized the president to do pretty much whatever he wanted to anyone anywhere. But institutionalizing torture -- a policy that would involve serial violations of several laws (including federal statutes, military regulations, the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and various international accords) -- would require at least a pretense of legal justification.
In January 2002, Alberto Gonzalez, whose title was Attorney General but whose actual function was consigliere to the Bush-Cheney criminal syndicate, wrote a memo grandly proclaiming that the "new paradigm" of war renders "obsolete" and "quaint" previous legal restrictions on the abuse of detainees. Gonzalez then gave the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) the task of retrofitting a rationale into the existing policy.
As Judge Andrew Napolitano points out in his invaluable new book Lies The Government Told You, the OLC "operates as the `constitutional conscience' of the Justice Department. Its job is to exercise independent, objective judgment to make sure the president and the executive branch are working within the law.... OLC lawyers are not private attorneys who put forth their clients' best argument in an adversarial setting. No judge or jury reviews the OLC's opinions. Rather, the OLC is supposed to work as a check on the executive branch, representing a line of defense against unlawful executive activity."
This description assumes something that Judge Napolitano agrees isn't substantiated by the available evidence -- namely, that officials employed at the OLC would act on behalf of the Constitution, rather than in the interests of their own ambitions.
Jay Bybee, assistant attorney general for the OLC, had made it clear to Gonzalez that he wanted to be a federal judge. A Washington Post profile of Bybee notes that Gonzalez, who dangled before Bybee the prospect of an appointment to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, asked if he would "be willing to take a position at the OLC first" (emphasis added).
In light of what Bybee would later describe as severe pressure to produce a pro-torture brief for the White House, that reported conversation is compelling evidence of a corrupt quid-pro-quo. Gonzalez's meaning couldn't have been clearer if he had thrown Bybee a sharpened stake and told him to "make it quick."
John Yoo, the subordinate who did most of the scut work in composing the memoranda signed by Bybee, had his own ambitions. As Harper's legal analyst Scott Horton points out, Yoo "clearly aspired to become Bybee's successor."
The title of assistant attorney general, while all but unknown to the public, "is a marquee position usually opening doors to partnership at major law firms, judgeships, or still higher government offices," Horton writes. "Yoo was open about his goals, and he mobilized major resources to obtain them -- including his `clients,' [vice presidential chief of staff] David Addington and Dick Cheney."
At this point it's important to recall Judge Napolitano's point that the OLC is supposed to restrain executive power, rather than to facilitate corrupt exercise of the same. Yet Yoo -- as he has subsequently admitted -- composed legal briefs that served the interest of his superiors (and his own ambitions), rather than designed to state clearly what the law permitted them to do.
Three years later, as the Bush regime continued to refine its rationales for torture, the OLC was under the direction of Steven G. Bradbury, who was given the title of "acting" assistant attorney general. He wasn't formally confirmed to that position -- which was the object of Yoo's incontinent desires -- until July 2005. There is primary source evidence that his formal nomination was withheld as a way to extract a pro-torture brief the White House would find satisfactory.
An April 27, 2005 e-mail from deputy attorney general James Comey expressed concerns over drafts of memoranda dealing with "specific interrogation techniques," including some that involved "severe physical suffering."
"The AG [Attorney General] explained that he was under great pressure from the Vice President to complete both memos," wrote Comey, who observed in a parenthetical comment that "Steve [Bradbury] was getting similar pressure from Harriet Miers and David Addington to produce the opinions.... [I] have previously expressed my worry that having Steve as `Acting' -- and wanting the job -- would make him susceptible to just this kind of pressure...."(Emphasis added.)
Comey's concerns were justified, given that "almost immediately after Bradbury produced the [pro-torture] memo, the White House okayed his name going forward for the appointment as an assistant attorney general," writes Horton.
"The evidence therefore supports the case for a quid pro quo scheme in which Bybee, Yoo, and Bradbury were offered powerful government preferments (in Bybee's case, a life-time judgeship) in exchange for rendering the opinions," Horton continues.
Corruption of this kind has been prosecuted by the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section on numerous occasions. Despite the fact that Yoo never got the position he desired, both he and Bradbury could -- and probably should -- be prosecuted under bribery statutes. Furthermore, bribery is specifically listed in Article II, section 4 of the U.S. Constitution as an impeachable offense.
In crafting a legal framework to institutionalize torture, "the OLC under Jay Bybee took the advice of those who asked for its advice," Judge Napolitano summarizes. That is to say, Bybee and Yoo -- as Bradbury would later do -- ratified an illegal policy, thereby corruptly exercising public power in anticipation of personal benefit.
For the purpose of criminal prosecution it doesn't matter that Yoo's desires weren't consummated. Nor does it matter that the desired payoff for both Yoo consisted of a relatively obscure but powerful government job, rather than cash, sexual favors, or some other vulgar emolument.
Their willingness to prostitute themselves by institutionalizing torture brings to mind the disgusted astonishment exhibited by the dramatized Thomas More as he learns of the price Richard Rich placed on the perjury that eventually cost More his head: "Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the world -- but for Wales?"
The Obama administration, as the principled and vigilant Glenn Greenwald tirelessly documents, has distinguished itself by its lack of zeal to investigate Yoo, Bradbury, and others implicated in the Bush administration's war crimes. Although he's much more low-key in his approach, the urbane and erudite Obama is just as devoted to the advancement of Fuhrerprinzip (the Leader Principle) as was his crude and cretinous predecessor.
Bybee's new career as a life-tenured federal judge has already yielded a ruling that eviscerates what remained of the Fourth Amendment. Yoo has managed to parlay his crimes against the Constitution and human decency into something akin to celebrity status.
An "ungrateful Iraqi" experiences one application of post-Cheney conservatism at Abu Ghraib.
For the post-Cheney conservative movement, the practice of torture is the summum bonum of good government.
The distaff spawn of Cheney's loins is building a presidential campaign devoted to endless war, unlimited presidential power, and the detention and torture of anyone whom the "Commander-in-Chief" selects for such treatment.
The current campaign being waged by Cheney's front group, "Keep America Safe," suggests that attorneys who take their constitutional responsibilities seriously would make excellent candidates for indefinite detention and "enhanced interrogation."
Doubtless right now there are legal scholars and other potential office-seekers staying warm in think-tank warrens and media sinecures, eagerly awaiting the opportunities that would come should Cheneyite conservatism be re-enthroned in 2013 and the Torture State inaugurates another phase of aggressive expansion.
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Dum spiro, pugno!