Monday, June 24, 2013

Snowden vs. the Soyuz

If it hadn’t been for the subtle and cynical intervention of the imperial Russian government, the American War for Independence might have failed. George Washington and his colleagues would have been condemned as traitors, and then dispatched to eternity with all of the horrors devised by inventive sadists to deter similar impudence on the part of those described as the Crown’s subjects.

This little-appreciated fact should be pointed out to those who have claimed that there was something inappropriate about Edward Snowden receiving help from Russia in his search for political asylum from the world’s most powerful and most lawless regime. 

At the time of the American revolt, the British Empire enjoyed incontestable superiority at sea, but possessed a mediocre army. It could project power anywhere on the face of the globe, but depended on foreign mercenaries to do most of the hands-on work of killing and dying. 

As the rebellion coalesced in the American colonies, George III made a formal request to Empress Catherine to rent 20,000 battle-hardened Russian infantrymen, and a flotilla of Russian naval vessels to supplement the task force en route to chastise the colonists. Catherine politely declined the offer while bidding her fellow monarch good luck. In private conversations, however, the Empress was indulgently disdainful of the British king, saying that he had bungled the management of the American colonies and should be “taught a lesson.”

Catherine’s refusal to intervene on behalf of King George was not the only favor she did on behalf of the American patriot cause. As the War for Independence unfolded, the Empress conducted a brisk business supplying the navies of France and Spain, both of which gave material support to the Patriot cause. 

When the British government began to interdict neutral shipping to inspect for America-bound “contraband,” Catherine sent communiques to Sweden, Denmark, Holland, and Prussia proposing the creation of a “League of Armed Neutrality” with the advertised aim of protecting freedom of the seas. This had the effect of isolating Great Britain diplomatically, thereby nullifying its naval advantage. France labored under no similar restrictions. This is why the French fleet was able to supply ninety percent of the weapons used by American rebels in their War for Independence.

Russia was one of several countries to which the Continental Congress had deployed envoys in search of aid. Francis Dana, a former secretary to John Adams, endured a long, lonely, and apparently fruitless mission to the Court of St. Petersburg. Harried by the imperial secret police and immersed in the exhausting intrigue of court politics, Dana was never given an audience by the Empress, whose decisions were guided by calculated self-interest, rather than idealism. The dejected American emissary must have been astonished on his return to hear John Adams laud Catherine as a “friend” of liberty’s cause, and to hear Washington extol the virtues of the “great Potentate of the North.” 

In his book The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World 1788-1800, historian Jay Winik describes Empress Catherine – the authoritarian ruler of a Russian police state – as the “midwife” of American independence. The American revolt quite likely would not have succeeded if Britain hadn’t been “neutralized and isolated by Catherine’s Armed League”; by denying King George’s request for military aid, and using her influence to curtail Britain’s naval advantage, the Russian tyrant “helped bolster the hopes of beleaguered American rebels fighting for their lives….”

The Russian government of Vladimir Putin has rendered similar aid to an American whistle-blower who is fighting for his life – much to the dismay and outrage of people who are Americans by birth, rather than conviction, and who mistakenly believe that patriotism is measured by one’s willingness to abide the institutional criminality of the government that impudently rules us.

In 1995, when he plagued the House of Representatives, the execrable Senator Charles Schumer of New York ardently defended the Regime’s annihilation of the Branch Davidians outside Waco, and treated with unfiltered scorn anybody with sufficient temerity to condemn that Soviet-caliber episode of state-inflicted mass murder. As it happens, the FBI’s campaign to annihilate state enemies at Mt. Carmel received material assistance from the Russian security services in the person of the late Dr. Igor Smirnov of the Moscow Institute of Psycho-Correction – whose wife, Elena Rusalkina, has continued his work as a “counter-terrorism” contractor for the Department of Homeland Security

Commissar Schumer, who lauded the joint U.S.-Russian production at Mt. Carmel, is now distraught that the Russians aren’t willing to help the Regime in Washington apprehend a state enemy so he can be tortured and put through a show trial. In a June 23 CNN interview, Schumer fumed that by “aiding and abetting Snowden’s escape,” Putin had “put a finger in the eye of the United States.” Schumer much prefers it when the Russians are aiding and abetting Washington’s murderous crimes against the American people. 

Like the rest of his detestable cohort, Schumer believes that the world’s inhabitants, including foreign rulers, have a moral obligation to submit to Washington’s will. Assuming that Putin was involved in the decision to facilitate Edward Snowden’s flight from Hong Kong to Latin America, his actions may well have been motivated by a desire to give a metaphorical middle digit to Schumer and his ilk. 

In any case, if Putin consciously aided Snowden, that choice -- like those made by the Empress Catherine – was based on calculations of political advantage, rather than a principled devotion to individual liberty. And Edward Snowden’s willingness to accept help from Russia is akin to the entreaties made on behalf of the American rebels by Francis Dana.

Commenting about Snowden’s flight to Russia en route to Latin America, a very good friend (and former editor) of mine observed: "If Edward Snowden is going to hopscotch around the word to locations where elections are rigged and human rights ignored, that giant sucking sound is sympathy evaporating for him."

A better way of viewing Snowden’s behavior is that he is hopscotching around the world to countries not ruled by governments that kill people by remote control, and are strong enough to prevent him from being seized and tortured by the only government that routinely commits crimes of that kind.
Yes, Vladimir Putin and his clique are products of the Soviet system that murdered tens of millions of people. At present, however, they are content to contain their ambitions to the country they currently control. 

Russian drones aren’t plying the skies above distant countries, raining death and terror on helpless neighborhoods. Putin the ex-KGB chief doesn’t have Tuesday meetings to authorize summary executions on the basis of a “Kill List” compiled by anonymous and unaccountable functionaries. Russia’s FSB secret police, like its counterpart, the FBI, does stage false-flag terrorist incidents, but once again, those are carried out for domestic political purposes. Moscow doesn’t provide arms, training, and support to terrorist groups in Syria, Iran, and elsewhere; that’s Washington’s gig. And since September 2001 it has Washington, not Moscow, that employs the services of KGB-trained secret police in countries like Uzbekistan and Syria.

During the Brezhnev era, Soviet “journalists” routinely participated in KGB-orchestrated denunciations of dissidents and human rights activists. As the well-coiffed commissar David Gregory demonstrated during his June 24 interview with Glenn Greenwald, behavior of that kind is not quite commonplace for members of the American media elite. An even more repellent example was provided by New York Times columnist Ross Sorkin, who said on CNBC that “I’d almost arrest Glenn Greenwald [because] he wants to help get him to Ecuador or whatever.”
Russia is ruled by a degenerate gangster regime, not a cunning Communist cabal pursuing global hegemony and ideological domination. In many important ways, that long-suffering country is less collectivist than the United States has become.
Wall Street suck-up and would-be Chekist Ross Sorkin.
In Russia today, "Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago is required reading in schools for 11th graders," notes Russian writer Stanislav Mishin (who could be described as the Russian equivalent of a Pat Buchanan-style nationalist conservative). "All the brutality of the Soviets and the crimes that were committed will be in the minds of our children for generations. Where is any review [in American schools] of the crimes that Wall Street committed when it sponsored and set up those same Communist Marxists or Hitler's Fascist Marxists? Nowhere. Where is the admission of the massacres that the American army committed in the independent nation of the Confederate States? Nowhere, nor [is there] anything of the terror bombings of German cities or anything else of that nature. You will never hear anything on these from those NYC/DC blabber heads who love their Wall Street and think that genocidaires like Sherman were bully."

Mishin observes that under the administration of former President Medvedev (a protégé of Putin),  Russia had a flat income tax -- "and not the 30% or so suggested by those American conservatives but at 13" -- and a top corporate tax rate of 24% "compared to the American Federal rate of 36% and additional state rates." There is also a far greater diversity of opinion in the Russian media than one finds in the American "free" press – a fact underscored quite memorably by the way the American media eagerly joined in the Orwellian Two-Minutes Hate of Edward Snowden.

What about foreign aggression and revolutionary subversion? Aren't Putin and his comrades to blame for promoting terrorism? One imagines Mishin drawing a steadying breath before addressing that subject.

"Who invaded over 30 nations in less than 200 years?" Mishin quite reasonably inquires. "Who has fought over 6 wars since 1991: Iraq followed by 10 years of bombing them, Somalia, Bosnia, Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, while engaging unofficially in Somalia, Kenya, Yemen, Pakistan and the Philippines? Who waxes and screams for full invasions of Iran, Yemen, Pakistan, Venezuela? Who threatened to bomb our ships and come in and defend the Chechen Islamics? Who sponsored revolutions in Serbia, Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus (failed), Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan (failed), Moldova (failed)?"

Whatever we learn about Snowden’s motives and affiliations, questions of the kind raised by Mishin should be honestly considered by those who criticize the whistle-blower for “hopscotching” from country to country to elude the long reach of the drone-murderers and dungeon masters in Washington. Assuming that a gap separates post-Soviet Russia from proto-Soviet Amerika, it's one that can be crossed in the kind of modest jump one performs in a hopscotch game.

Dum spiro, pugno!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Joseph Weekley: Self-Pitying Stormtrooper

“It was my gun that shot and killed a 7-year-old girl,” insists Detroit resident Joseph Weekley, who took part in a fatal home invasion on May 17, 2010. This apparent admission is actually an evasion, in that it assigns blame to an inanimate instrument, rather than the individual who wielded it. Weekley also insists that he didn’t intend to pull the trigger, and has no knowledge of doing so, and that he didn’t realize the child was dead until he heard a “high-pitched moan” coming from beneath a pile of clothes. 

The only other eyewitness to the killing of Aiyana Stanley-Jones is Mertila Jones, the slain child’s grandmother. Weekley has claimed that Jones was to blame for the killing of her granddaughter, because the woman supposedly tried to swipe the MP-5 sub-machine gun from the hands of the assailant who had just burst into her home at midnight. That claim was contradicted by fellow home invader Shawn Stallard, who was right behind Weekley when the shooting took place and didn’t see a struggle between Weekley and Jones. 

Weekley has also said that he initially thought that the shot had been fired by one of his comrades. Oh, sure, he grudgingly admits, it may have been his finger that pulled the trigger -- but someone or something else is at fault. In any case, he insists that he’s not to blame – that despite the fact that Aiyana was left to die in a pool of blood, that he, the shooter, is the real victim.

“I just feel devastated and just depressed,” Weekley sobbed from the witness stand during his involuntary manslaughter trial. “Every day this replays in my head. There’s nothing else I could have done differently.”

If it weren’t for the fact that Weekley’s home invasion crew bore the insignia of the criminal syndicate claiming a monopoly on the legitimate use of force within Detroit, he would have quickly been found guilty. In fact, he most likely would have faced a charge of aggravated murder, rather than involuntary manslaughter. 

The trial ended in a hung jury – not because the facts were in serious dispute, but because Weekley belongs to that sanctified caste that exercises the state-conferred power of discretionary killing. He was, and remains, a member of the Detroit Police Department’s Special Reaction Team (SRT), which staged – I’m using the word in its theatrical sense – a midnight raid on the home where Aiyana was sleeping. 

The police were searching for a man named Chauncey Owens who was a suspect in a murder two days prior to the raid. They knew where the suspect could be found and had the advantage of time and superior numbers. If they had been peace officers, they would have staked out the home and waited for the suspect to emerge, then taken him into custody in a relatively low-key conventional arrest. But this wouldn’t have done anything to boost the Department’s “Q” rating.

Although the midnight raid served no legitimate law enforcement purpose, it would have made for exceptional “reality” television. Embedded with Weekley and his comrades on that evening was a camera crew from a cable TV program called “The First 48” – which meant that PR, rather than public safety, was the defining priority of the mission. 

This fact simply cannot be over-emphasized: The point of his mission was not to arrest a murder suspect; it was to turn that arrest into a propaganda film. Weekley, a veteran of more than one hundred previous raids, was already a featured performer in the agitprop series “Detroit SWAT,” which might explain why he was given the lead role in the May 17, 2010 production. That description is not an exercise in snarkiness: The A&E Network's guide to that program lists Weekley as an "actor" and a "cast member."

Neighbors who saw the Berserkers assemble outside the home warned that there were children inside. The presence of toys scattered in the front yard should have made that fact obvious enough that a cop could understand it, especially in light of the fact that several testified that they had scoped out the house repeatedly in the hours prior to the operation. 

 Even if the yard had been barren of evidence that children lived inside the home, rational people would have understood that a full-force raid was both unnecessary and needlessly dangerous to anyone who resided therein. But anything less than a Fallujah-style "dynamic entry" would have meant missing an agitprop opportunity, and left the jacked-up adolescents in paramilitary gear with an unbearable case of blue balls. So Weekly and his fellow sociopaths attacked the living room where Aiyana was sleeping by flinging a flash-bang grenade through a closed window, kicking down the door, and storming in with guns drawn. 

A few months after Weekley killed Aiyana, the officer’s taxpayer-funded defense team sketched out a legal strategy in which the girl’s family was to blame for her death. Weekley’s attorney filed a “Notice of Non-Party Fault” claiming, without providing evidence, that family members were involved in “drug dealing, vehicle theft and illegal utility hook-ups,” and that Aiyana’s grandmother was at fault for the child’s death because she “interfered in the execution of the search by unlawfully touching the defendant and causing his weapon to accidentally discharge.” 

The same strategy was followed during the trial: More attention was focused on perceived contradictions in Jones’s account, and on her supposedly irresponsible statement that the police “came to kill” the night of the raid. 

We are invited to believe that the anguished reaction of a traumatized grandmother to the needless death of her seven-year-old granddaughter is a more significant outrage than the act of carrying a paramilitary midnight raid on a residence for the benefit of television cameras. 

The Detroit Police Department’s institutional reaction to the killing of Aiyana brings to mind the behavior of U.S. helicopter pilots involved in the massacre documented in the notorious “Collateral Murder” video. After two helicopter gunship crews annihilated more than a dozen unarmed Iraqis, troops on the ground reported that two children had been injured in the attack.

“Well, it’s their fault for bring their kids into a battle,” sneered one of the assailants.

For those who belong to the state-privileged criminal fraternity that includes Weekly, “officer safety” is at all times and in all places the highest and most important consideration. The same limitless self-preoccupation that typifies the state’s enforcement caste is also manifest in an acute sense of self-pity on the part of police officers who murder innocent people. 

During his testimony, Weekly invited the public to pity him.

“I’ll never be the same,” blubbered Aiyana’s killer, who recalled playing at the park with his daughters before being called to play a part in the paramilitary assault that led to the state-sanctioned murder of someone else’s 7-year-old child. 

The human type Weekly represents was described very well by Hannah Arendt in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem. Referring to members of the Nazi regime’s “special action squads” – which they called Einsatzgruppen, and we call SWAT teams, or SRTs – Arendt noted that the problem they faced was “how to overcome not so much their conscience as the animal pity by which all normal men are affected in the presence of physical suffering. The trick used by Himmler — who apparently was rather strongly afflicted by these instinctive reactions himself — was very simple and probably very effective; it consisted in turning these instincts around, as it were, in directing them toward the self. So that instead of saying: What horrible things I did to people!, the murderers would be able to say: What horrible things I had to watch in the pursuance of my duties, how heavily the task weighed upon my shoulders!" 

Weekley is a museum-quality specimen of the self-pitying Stormtrooper – and the jurors who were willing to let him escape mortal accountability for his crime would likely have done the same for Weekley’s German antecedents in the 1930s. 

Dum spiro, pugno!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Coming Soon: "Anti-Discrimination" Drone Strikes?

Jack Phillips: Baker, businessman -- cultural "terrorist"?
Discrimination against gays and other people identified as “protected classes” is, according to self-described constitutional authority David Adler, “a form of domestic terrorism that requires swift and sustained remedies.”

Assuming that Adler uses language with the sobriety and specificity adult conversation requires, he must understand that he is tacitly endorsing the use of lethal means to punish those who decline to associate with certain people. 

If present trends continue, the day may soon come when a discrimination complaint filed against a landlord, a restaurant owner, or an employer will be treated as sufficient grounds for a drone strike, or at least the summary arrest and indefinite military detention of the thought criminal until he is suitably re-educated. The former would meet Adler’s criteria for a “swift” remedy for that supposed act of “domestic terrorism”; the later would represent a more “sustained” approach to a remedy. 

Mr. Adler is the director of the Andrus Center for Public Policy at Boise State University. He describes himself as an authority of some kind “on the Constitution, the presidency and the Bill of Rights.” Writing in the June 6 issue of the Idaho Statesman, Adler commended the City Council of Coeur d’Alene for joining Boise, Sandpoint, Moscow, and Ketchum in enacting municipal ordinances “to prohibit discrimination against their residents in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.” 

The “courage” supposedly displayed by those city governments, Adler insists, stands in severe contrast to the timidity of the state legislature in refusing to expand the state’s anti-discrimination laws to include sexual orientation. Appropriating one of George W. Bush’s preferred post-9/11 tropes – “If you’re not with us, you’re against us” --  Alder insists that those who are not enlisted in the ranks of coercive “tolerance” are on the side of benighted bigotry: Anyone who refuses “to prohibit discrimination … effectively endorses it,” he asserts. 

No, it’s even worse than that, Adler insists. The social division runs between enlightened “neighborhoods and community centers where patriots gather to promote the concept of liberty” – which, in Adler’s universe, requires government regimentation of all private associations and commercial transactions – and the squalid ranks of domestic “terrorists” and those who enable them. Thus if you reside in Idaho, and aren’t actively working to expand anti-discrimination laws, you must be considered an ally of domestic terrorists, and shouldn’t expect to be spared with the anti-discrimination drones begin to fly.

Mr. Adler might object that this is a caricature of his views. It is not. He refers in detail to the use of what he calls “state power” to “mitigate the evil nature of discrimination” against women and various ethnic minorities. This is an application of supposedly redemptive coercion on the basis of what Columbia University School of Law Professor George P. Fletcher calls the “Secret Constitution.”

In his book of that name, Fletcher explains that the government ruling us draws its authority not from the principles of the Declaration of Independence, or even from the delegate powers listed in the U.S. Constitution, but rather from the war to re-conquer the independent South. That conflict, usually referred to by the artfully misleading title “Civil War,” established the fact that the government in Washington is willing to kill Americans in whatever quantity it deems necessary in order to enforce its edicts, and then sanctify the slaughter in the name of some suitably “progressive” social objective.

Fletcher puts the matter quite plainly in Our Secret Constitution – How Lincoln Redefined American Democracy: “The heart of the new consensus is that the federal government, victorious in warfare, must continue its aggressive intervention in the lives of its citizens.” 

Recall that Adler referred to those who agitate on behalf of anti-discrimination laws as “patriots” who “seek to promote the concept of liberty.” Fletcher usefully explains that under what he calls the “new order” the “liberty that comes to the fore … under the Secret Constitution requires the intervention of government. Liberty is born in the state’s assertion of responsibility to oversee and prevent relationships of oppression.” (Emphasis added.) 

On this construction, the more regimented our commercial and personal associations are, the “freer” we become, pending that millennial day in which we will achieve the perfect liberty that is possible only through the blessing of undisguised totalitarianism.

Laws criminalizing “discrimination” are innately totalitarian: They vitiate the concept of property rights upon which all liberties depend, and they authorize the state to punish people for doing nothing. In many instances, those accused of discrimination are pointedly denied due process. Under the ordinance enacted last year by the City of Boise, for example, a business owner or landlord can be fined $500 and sent to jail for a year on the basis of a single discrimination complaint, and the defendant in that process is explicitly denied the right to a jury trial. This is impermissible under the Idaho State Constitution, not that this fact is of any material consequence. 

Discrimination is not a crime, and it doesn’t become one simply because a government demands that we pretend it to be. A crime requires a conscious act of force or fraud that injures the property (including the person) of another individual. No injury of that sort occurs when one party declines to engage in a business transaction with another. In a market economy, the former party would lose a financial opportunity, and the latter would be able to find others who would be willing to provide the same good or service. The opportunity cost of foregoing that transaction is the price that is paid by those who chose to discriminate – and that’s the only morally supportable form of “punishment” that can be imposed for discrimination. 

In a political economy, as Fletcher and Adler understand it, the state asserts an entirely spurious property right in the management of all transactions and private associations, and claims the authority to intervene when one party declines to participate in transactions with someone identified as a member of a “protected class.” Those accused of discrimination can be found guilty of a “crime” without engaging in an overt act of any kind, let alone one that involves force or fraud. 

In a “discrimination” case in Colorado, that state’s “CivilRights” bureaucracy and the ACLU have become co-conspirators in a campaign of official persecution targeting a businessman who was the victim of an act of criminal fraud.

Last July, Denver resident Jack Phillips, who operates a specialty bakery called the Masterpiece Cakeshop, declined to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Because Colorado state law officially discriminates between marriage and the “same-sex” arrangement that wants to appropriate that title, the couple intends to travel to Massachusetts later this year for a their ceremony. The trouble and expense involved in making that trip are the fault – if that word applies – of the Denver state government, not Jack Phillips. 

For his part, Phillips simply declined to take the couple’s money, which is his indefeasible right as a businessman. He didn’t defraud them or impose on their property rights in any way. Denver, being a self-consciously “progressive” city, abounds in businesses that would be delighted to make a wedding cake for the couple. So neither party in this matter endured any injury – until the couple decided to target Phillips for official harassment because he had invoked his religious scruples in explaining why he declined to take their business.

Several other same-sex couples joined in the fun. One of them included a woman who decided to pull what she probably regarded as a clever little sting operation. Littleton resident Stephanie Schmalz, who complained that she and her significant other, Jeanine, had been told by Phillips that he wouldn’t make cupcakes for their “commitment ceremony.”

After reading about the incident involving the other same-sex couple, “I decided to try an experiment,” Schmalz recounted in a January 3, 2013 affidavit. “I called Masterpiece Cakeshop again and spoke with Jack Phillips. I told Mr. Phillips I was a dog breeder and was planning to host a celebration on the occasion of breeding one of my dogs with a neighbor’s dog. I specified that for the `dog wedding’ I wanted a cake larger enough to serve about 20 people, in the shape of a dog bone, and lettered with the names Roscoe and Buffy. My Phillips stated no objection to filling this order; he quoted me a price of $69.99 plus tax and asked when I needed the cake.”

“I then felt even more disgusted that the owners of Masterpiece Cakeshop were willing to take a cake order for a supposed wedding between two dogs, but not willing to take an order for a celebration of the love and commitment between two women,” concluded Schmalz in a coda ironically worthy of her name.

I’ll let others to contemplate whether the speciesism displayed by Schmalz is a form of criminal discrimination worthy of state scrutiny and punishment. The germane issue here is that her affidavit contains a sworn confession to the offense of wire fraud – a “scheme or artifice to defraud” involving a telephone conversation -- which is a crime under both federal and Colorado state law. She made a fraudulent representation to an innocent businessman, who offered a price quote in good faith. 

Mr. Phillips could make a very good case that Schmalz’s deception amounts to a civil tort. What elevates it to a criminal offense is the fact that her fraudulent representation is being used against Phillips in a state government proceeding that has already imposed considerable material expenses, and may result in fines, a year in a cage, and government-supervised re-education.

Conflicts of this kind are being staged elsewhere – such as New Mexico, Washington, and Oregon – by gay rights activists who mistakenly assume that the sacred cause of “tolerance” justifies assaults on the property rights of businessmen whose acts have not harmed them, but whose religious convictions they find objectionable. 

David Adler refers to this variety of sanctimonious bullying as “courage,” which he says is displayed whenever people are willing “to bring state power to bear against the forces of discrimination.” We can expect Mr. Adler to lend this voice to the chorus of “progressive” celebration that will erupt when the anti-discrimination drones begin their cleansing work.


Dum spiro, pugno!