Tuesday, August 17, 2010

War & Social Security

  • This is the desire of those who proclaim war
  • ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’
    • ...the chain of historical events which led up to today’s National Security State and the American empire. From Harry Truman to Barack Obama, we have seen an out-of-control executive branch wage unconstitutional, undeclared wars by centralizing power in the presidency. How did this all come about? Here are three exceptional documentaries which introduce that history. The first film is the 1987 PBS documentary, The Secret Government: The Constitution In Crisis, narrated by Bill Moyers. It explores the comprehensive background of the secret covert government established in 1947 by the National Security Act. In particular, this powerful video compares and contrasts the Iran-Contra affair of the Reagan era with that of the Watergate scandal of 12 years earlier which brought down Richard Nixon. The second documentary is the exceedingly rarely seen 1988 Coverup: Behind the Iran Contra Affair, narrated by Elizabeth Montgomery. As you watch this extraordinary story unfold, you will see precisely why this incredible film has been shoved down the Orwellian Memory Hole for many decades. It discusses not only the hidden dimensions of the Iran-Contra affair but also the October Surprise scandal of 1980; CIA complicity in the global narcotics trade; CIA assassinations and covert activities; and FEMA, REX84, and the suspension of the U. S. Constitution.

    • Many of the Reagan administration criminals and nefarious characters featured in both of these first two documentaries will later turn up in the George W. Bush administration — “continuity of government.” A key component to the Iran-Contra affair was the secret shipment of cocaine from Central America to the United States under the cover of the National Security State. One of the major delivery points of these narcotics was Mena, Arkansas. The third documentary, The Clinton Chronicles, details how then governor Bill Clinton and his administration were up to their eyeballs in these illegal covert activities. For more information on these matters, please consult this book list.
    • Get the links
  •  Social Security & The Ponzi Scheme (by Christopher Manion)
    • In 1956, my father got Pearl-Harbored (one might say he was almost Hiroshima’d) for suggesting on his popular radio show that Social Security was a “Ponzi Scheme.” He told the story of Ponzi’s arrest, incarceration, and ultimate deportation to Italy — and then made some poignant observations about the Social Security program:

      “Ironically, Ponzi was hardly out of the country before the same federal government that had imprisoned him for fraud proceeded to adopt the Ponzi “get rich easy” scheme as its very own. Ponzi had represented his financial jackpot as a “securities exchange.” The federal government proceeded to call it “Social Security.”

      The federal government was able to add some important features to this bizarre shell-game that were unavailable to Ponzi. First of all, the federal government cannot be prosecuted for fraud. But more important than that is the exclusive governmental feature of compulsory participation.”

      Today, 54 years later, Paul Krugman exonerates the Federal Ponzis, insisting that “cruel attacks” on its solvency are baseless because “Social Security has been running surpluses for the last quarter-century, banking those surpluses in a special account, the so-called trust fund.” But just in case — how could the Compassionate Krugman resist?—- he one-ups Ponzi with his usual bromide: tax the rich.

      In the mid-1980′s, a stalwart senate staff colleague of mine decided to find this “Social Security Trust Fund.” She finally found it, literally, in the desk drawer of a mid-level federal bureaucrat somewhere in West Virginia — handwritten numbers representing the “value” of the “trust fund” for each passing year. Of course, the “bank account” had no money in it: Congress had already spent every penny.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Random News

  • Researcher claims solution to P vs NP math problem
    • Vinay Deolalikar, a mathematician who works for HP Labs, claims to have proven that P is not equal to NP. The problem is the greatest unsolved problem in theoretical computer science and is one of seven problems in which the Clay Mathematics Institute has offered million dollar prizes to the solutions.

      The question of whether P equals NP essentially asks whether there exist problems which take a long time to solve but whose solutions can be checked quickly. More formally, a problem is said to be in P if there is a program for a Turing machine, an ideal theoretical computer with unbounded amounts of memory, such that running instances of the problem through the program will always answer the question in polynomial time — time always bounded by some fixed polynomial power of the length of the input. A problem is said to be in NP, if the problem can be solved in polynomial time when instead of being run on a Turing machine, it is run on a non-deterministic Turing machine, which is like a Turing machine but is able to make copies of itself to try different approaches to the problem simultaneously.
    • My thoughts:  It will be interesting how this turns out.
  • Early puberty for US girls raises health risk
    • According to a new study, US girls are reaching puberty earlier than ever, a trend that raises some health concerns.... Though the study didn't address why US girls were reaching breast development earlier, it found that heavier girls reached puberty earlier.... Scientists and researchers are also worried about chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA) and atrazine that could disrupt growth hormones. The chemical industry says that these chemicals are safe and are harmless to humans.

      Herman-Giddens also said that it can be confusing to hit puberty at a young age. Girls reaching puberty at a younger age are more likely to attempt suicide. Also, earlier puberty can cause low self-esteem and depression and at adulthood, girls who reached puberty earlier are more likely to have breast cancer and endometrial cancer.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Religious Roots of Liberty

Click on the link to read the whole thing.

Religious Roots of Liberty

Mises Daily: Wednesday, August 26, 2009 by Rev. Edmund A. Opitz 

Every variety of tyranny rests upon the belief that some persons have a right — or even a duty — to impose their wills upon other people. Tyranny may be fastened upon others by the mere whim of one man, such as a king or dictator under various names. Or tyranny may be imposed upon a minority "for their own good" by a democratically elected majority. But in any case, tyranny is always a denial — or a misunderstanding — of the mandates of an authority or law higher than man himself.

Liberty rests upon the belief that all proper authority for man's relationships with his fellow men comes from a source higher than man — from the Creator. Liberty decrees that all men — subject and ruler alike — are bound by this higher authority which is above and beyond man-made law; that each person has a relation to his Maker with which no other person, not even the ruler, has any right to interfere. In order to make these conceptions effective for liberty, they must be deeply ingrained in the fundamental values of a people. That is to say, they must be part of the popular religion. There was one people of antiquity for whom this was true, the people who gave us our Old Testament. It was among the ancient Israelites that the conviction took hold and emerged into practice that there was a God of righteousness whose judgments applied even to rulers.

All over the Middle East, patient researchers have turned up monuments and vainglorious inscriptions carved into rock or pressed into clay at the behest of proud kings. Except in Palestine! [This remind you of DC and Mount Rushmore?]

An authority states that there is not a single royal inscription from any of the Bible kings. The Prophets saw to that! No boastful king in ancient Israel would have presumed to leave an inscription dedicated to his own glory, much as he felt he deserved such.

Now, no people live together without conforming to a commonly accepted code, and without having recourse at times to law. The people of ancient Palestine lived under authority, not in a condition of anarchy. If the king was not the source of their law, there must have been another and higher source. There is no doubt as to what their authority was: they looked to God as the source of their law.

Nearly every man was learned in this law, and also deeply involved in the religious relation to God in which the law was rooted — and liberty was a precious by-product of these conditions. Establish these conditions — that is, widely held religious values in which God is regarded as the source of authority and justice, superior to any earthly power — and they provide a firm foundation for political liberty.

In these circumstances there is a continuous check to tyranny, should any such attempt to raise its head. Neglect these conditions, and liberty has no roots. It is like a cut flower which has no vitality in itself and does not last beyond the life it derived from the plant. The way is prepared for tyranny.

Collectivist regimes, in the nature of things, must be profoundly irreligious, even to the extent of pressing a corrupted religion into service to shore up tyranny. Genuine religious experience entails the recognition of an inviolable essence in men, the human soul. It inculcates a sense of the worth and dignity of the person and breeds resistance to efforts to submerge individuals in the mass.

Men whose personal experience convinces them that they are creatures of God will not become willing creatures of the state, nor attempt to make creatures of other men. For them, God is the Lord, whose service is perfect freedom; and Caesar is the ruler, whom to serve is bondage.
It was upon such a faith that this country was founded. Those who migrated to these shores in the early days did not always see the full implications of their beliefs, and sometimes acted contrary to them. But in the end those beliefs prevailed, and they are recognizable in American institutions.

An experiment based on those principles was launched on these shores less than two centuries ago. It was the result of a conscious effort to forge an instrumentality of government in conformity with the higher law, based on the widely held conviction that God is the author of liberty.

So long as men accepted the basic affirmations of religion — that there is a God of all people with whom each individual has a personal relationship — our liberties were basically secure. Whenever there was a breach in them, we possessed a principle by which we could discover and repair the breach. But when there ceases to be a constant recurrence to fundamental principles, our political freedom is placed in jeopardy. Political liberty is not self-sustained; it rests upon a religious base.

All men desire to be free, and the will to be free is perpetually renewed in each individual who uses his faculties and affirms his manhood. But the mere desire to be free has never saved any people who did not know and establish the things on which freedom depends — and these are the things of religion. The God-concept, when cherished in the values of a people, is the universal solvent of tyranny, for, as Job said, "He looseth the bond of kings" (Job 12:18).

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

AZ New & Blogs 8/10/2010

  • Goddard calls for end to private-school credits
    • Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry Goddard is calling for the suspension of tax credits for private schools and the return of state funding for all-day kindergarten as part of an education plan released Thursday.

      Goddard, the current attorney general, also called for more local control of education, saying state lawmakers spend too much time micromanaging classroom teachers.

    • My thoughts: We must fully brainwash your children.  If we don't have them in schools 24/7 then we cannot properly do that.  Oh, and we want you to have local control over your classrooms by making it so you can't give your hard earned money to the schools of your choice.
  • AZ Capitol Times 2010 Election Site
  • Federal Appeals Court Declares Connecticut's Matching Funds System Unconstitutional
    •  Today, the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals barred the matching funds provisions of Connecticut's version of government funding for political candidates. The unanimous opinion mirrors the Goldwater Institute's arguments in a federal lawsuit that prompted the U.S. Supreme Court to block Arizona's matching funds provision on June 8, 2010.

      "The First Amendment requires matching funds to be struck down," said Nick Dranias, Goldwater Institute director of constitutional studies and lead attorney in the lawsuit against Arizona's matching funds provision. "Political speech by one candidate cannot be silenced by the threat of government campaign subsidies to the opposing candidate."

      A three-judge panel for the Second Circuit declared that Connecticut's matching funds "imposes a substantial burden on the exercise of the First Amendment right to use personal funds for campaign speech."
  • Escaped murderers kill NM couple, flee to Yellowstone National Park
    • Escaped murderers Tracy Province, 42, who was serving a life sentence for murder and robbery, and John McCluskey, 45, serving 15 years for second-degree murder, aggravated assault and discharge of a firearm; and Casslyn Mae Welch, 44, McCluskey's cousin and fiancee who helped the men escape from a medium-security prison near Kingman.
  • New Study: Speed Cameras Cause Bad Driving, Increase Crashes
    • We’ve known since they first appeared, but now it’s official: Speed cameras cause bad driving. A recent poll by UK car insurance provider Liverpool Victoria, 81% of drivers said they looked at the speedometer instead of the road when a camera appeared, and 5% admitted to braking suddenly when in sight of a camera. Liverpool Victoria managing director John O’Roarke was quoted as saying, “…while they may reduce speed they also appear to impair driving ability or, at the least, concentration on the road. As this report shows some drivers behave erratically and, at worst, dangerously around speed cameras.”
    • To prove the point that the opposite is true – that removing cameras reduces accidents – the Telegraph reported Saturday on newly reduced data from Swindon (UK). Swindon turned off their cameras 9 months ago, and similar to Arizona, experts predicted a bloodbath. Redflex’s Shoba Vaitheeswaran predicted, “…watch for a large increase in aggressive, dangerous driving” after Arizona ended its statewide contract. Instead, the opposite has happened. Since the cameras were turned off, injury and fatality crashes were down by 4% and 50% respectively in the entire area. At the camera sites themselves, fatalities dropped from 1 to 0 and non-injury accidents dropped from 13 to 12. We expect similar results in Arizona.
  • A good news local public school story
    • There's a wonderful story in today's Star about Principal Ray Chavez and Apollo Middle School in the Sunnyside district, and the positive changes since he took over a few years ago.

      The story is so glowing, it almost sounds too good to be true, but I'm going to take it on face value.

      The story it brings up that old question, if this school can do it, why can't others? My tentative answer is, others can do it as well, but it's not as simple as "Let's see what they're doing at Apollo and do it here." Educational success doesn't transport easily. Education isn't like McDonalds where you can drop a new, identical franchise and expect it to function just like the others around the country. Educational success is much more complicated and fragile. It takes a certain level of genius and determination from administration and staff, and a chemistry that works.

      The story is well worth a read.
    • My thoughts: Public schools = Regression to the Mean
      •  If you are really good at what you do, you have a problem. Some of your peers are gunning for you – not to beat you by outperforming you, but by taking you down or out. To understand why, you would be wise to know the story of Jaime Escalante.
  • U.S. Senate candidate Deakin facing foreclosure
  • CD1 Candidate Beauchamp Named in Lawsuit
    • The suit, filed in Gila County Superior Court on June 21, 2010 (CV2009-0340), charges Trent with intimidation and coercion against current and ex staff members at Globe High School. Beauchamp, a Globe attorney and former GUSD school board member, has been cited as conspiring with Trent to intimidate and cause the termination of staff members at GHS. In one case, Patrick A. Ward, a former teacher at GHS and defensive coordinator of the GHS football team, had 3 potential employment contracts either cancelled or rescinded after Beauchamp or Trent directly contacted the Superintendents of the schools in New Mexico which had offered Ward employment contracts.
  • Texas ranches overtaken by Mexican drug cartels
    • In a series of articles, the Cypress Times has reported that two ranches in Laredo, Texas were seized by armed members of the Los Zetas Mexican drug cartel. The initial report, with links to Diggers Realm, can be read here.

      Today, it is confirmed that multiple ranches have been taken over by drug gangs.
    • My thoughts: Yep, solution is easy.  Legalize the production, distribution, and consumption of all drugs.
  • Is Stuffing Lucrative Private Prisons with Immigrants the Real Motive Behind SB1070?
    • Channel 5 investigates and makes Governor Brewer flee in terror from their questions about links between her key advisors and the private prison industry.
    • My thoughts:  Is this for real?  Don't know.  But neither would I be surprised.
  • Valedictorian speaks out against schooling in graduation speech
    • The following speech was delivered by top of the class student Erica Goldson during the graduation ceremony at Coxsackie-Athens High School on June 25, 2010
    • ...This is the dilemma I've faced within the American education system. We are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn. We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective.

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

       This was happening to me, and if it wasn't for the rare occurrence of an avant-garde tenth grade English teacher, Donna Bryan, who allowed me to open my mind and ask questions before accepting textbook doctrine, I would have been doomed. I am now enlightened, but my mind still feels disabled. I must retrain myself and constantly remember how insane this ostensibly sane place really is.
      I am now supposed to say farewell to this institution, those who maintain it, and those who stand with me and behind me, but I hope this farewell is more of a "see you later" when we are all working together to rear a pedagogic movement. But first, let's go get those pieces of paper that tell us that we're smart enough to do so!  
  • Grigori Rasputin Bailout
    • Sending billions of federal taxpayer dollars to teachers and other public school employees is the bailout that just won’t die. It’s been sliced, shot up in a firefight between Democrats, and even had a battle with food stamps, but it just can’t be killed!

      Now, let’s be clear: This is not some wonderful crusade all about helping ”the children.” It is pure political evil, a naked ploy to appease teachers’ unions and other public school employees that Democrats need motivated for the mid-term elections. It has to be, because the data are crystal clear: We’ve been adding staff by the truckload for decades without improving achievement one bit. Since 1970 (see the charts below) public school employment has increased 10 times faster than enrollment, while test scores have stagnated.
  • Presidential Dictatorship: Not Thinking Things Through
    • In fact, Obama is not materially different from his predecessor in any significant way. Mssrs. Christian and Robbins depict Obama as a unique threat to our "Anglo-Saxon" tradition of liberty protected by law. But it was Bush -- acting under the influence of his Sith Master, Dick Cheney -- who disemboweled the habeas corpus guarantee, the foundation of common law protections of individual rights. Granted, Obama has embraced and enlarged on Bush's actions, but the damage was done before the "alien" occupied the Oval Office. Perhaps Christian and Robbins intend to intimate that the threat Obama poses to the "Anglo-Saxon" tradition is a matter of identity, rather than performance, given that the chief damage was done by Bush the All-American Boy, rather than Obama the "alien."

      When Awlaki's father -- working with the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights -- filed an emergency appeal for an injunction to prevent the extra-judicial state murder of his son, "a significant and extraordinary problem arose," notes Greenwald: Regulations issued by the Treasury Department under the Bush administration "prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in any transactions with individuals labeled by the Government as `Specially Designated Global Terrorists,' and those regulations specifically bar lawyers from providing legal services to such individuals without a special `license' from the Treasury Department specifically allowing such representation."

      "On July 16, roughly two weeks after Awlaki's father retained the ACLU and CCR to file suit, the Treasury Department slapped that label on Awlaki," Greenwald continues. "That action would have made it a criminal offense for those organizations to file suit on behalf of Awlaki or otherwise provide legal representation to him without express permission from the U.S. Government."

      Timothy Geithner, the career criminal in charge of the Treasury Department, has condescended to issue the requested license, thereby permitting Awlaki's father to press his legal challenge. This also preserves the supposed authority of the executive branch to grant or deny -- on any whimsical basis it considers appropriate -- permission to attorneys seeking to defend the legal rights of people on the president's "kill list."

      Last January, after Awlaki was accused of inciting the attempted Christmas bombing of Northwest Flight 253, his father was asked why he didn't encourage his son to return to the United States to confront the charges.

      "I will do my best to convince my son to do this," Awlaki told CNN, but he understandably doesn't trust a government that claims the right to execute his son without trial -- or even formal criminal charges.

      "They want to kill my son," he pointed out. "How can the American government kill one of their own citizens?"

      The unsettling answer to that troubling question is one terrifying word: "easily." Obama's conservative critics want to make this task even easier still. They really haven't thought this through, have they?
  • President of Mexico Calls for Debate on Legalization of Drugs
    •  For the first time ever, Mexican President Felipe Calderón said yesterday that it was “fundamental” to have a debate on the legalization of drugs. Calderon, from the conservative National Action Party (PAN), had until now been reluctant to pay heed to the growing calls in Mexico and Latin America for a hemispheric debate on drug legalization. Once they left office, two of Calderón’s predecessors—Ernesto Zedillo and Vicente Fox—have also engaged in the debate, calling for the need to legalize drugs as a way to battle the drug violence that is crippling Mexico. Others, such as Jorge Castaneda, former foreign minister of Mexico, have also called for an end to prohibition.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Patriotism: What is it?

Wikipedia defines it thus:
Patriotism is love and devotion to one's country or homeland.

My wife defines it like this:
A positive appreciation of those who came before you and a willingness to create a better community.

The first definition I have a problem with since it creates a blindness and unwillingness to create the better community (it is necessary to look at yourself with a critical eye in order to see what needs to be made better).  The first definition creates the support for unjust wars, fallacious concepts, and continuance of policies that have proven to be false.

Under my wife's definition a patriot could be just about everyone and you lose the partisan politics.  Both Bush and Obama could be patriots (to the consternation of their foes).  It's difficult to see into the hearts of our leaders and be able to tell what they truly believe.

Under my wife's definition even I become a patriot since I truly am grateful for what the founders of our country did by creating the freest country, although not entirely free.  But I am grateful that we are closer than ever before to becoming a free people.  So what is it that I do to improve my community?  Right now I'm trying to be productive by contributing to the market place (hopefully I'll finish my project soon) and I am also trying to help people think more critically and not fall back into partisan politics but think of the truly best way to fix our problems, you could say I'm trying to help free minds.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sharing Political Views

I can relate to the interviewer (whether I am right or wrong I do not know, but I like to think I am):