WolfesBlogArchives: May 2005

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

IT'S TIME TO WORRY WHEN the Holocaust survivors start to flee.

Astute TCFers note that this story might be apcryphal. Equally astute TCFers note that it still has a point.

Posted by Claire @ 08:51 AM CST [Link]

Monday, May 30, 2005

THERE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE AN EARTH-SHATTERING KABOOM!

Blogispondent Ian here again. A few years ago, I was poking around a cartridge collector's show and found a fair amount of 1943 dated .303 British incendiary ammounition. I bought up all I could, as I had an Enfield that I enjoyed shooting. Unfortunately, I never had an opportunity to try it out, as I was always worried about lighting a shooting range on fire. Even so, I wasn't entirely sure if the bullets would even still function as intended - they are 60+ years old, after all.

Anyway, I finally got the chance to try the stuff out the other day. To make things even better, I got a handful of small 1-liter propane tanks (intended for torches, heaters, and the like) to use as targets. [more]

Posted by Ian @ 05:53 PM CST [Link]

COP FAILS TO APPRECIATE MAN'S SENSE OF HUMOR. And cops can have such gentle, diplomatic ways of showing their disapproval.

(It's the second item in this two-item article. Thanks to Tim Osman for this one.)

Posted by Claire @ 08:45 AM CST [Link]

Sunday, May 29, 2005

REBELFIRE: OUT OF THE GRAY ZONE now has its own page on Amazon.com! Yeehaw!

First to spot it: Bill St. Clair. First to post a reader review: Bill St. Clair. (The guy's amazing.)

So far, they have it listed as "out of print -- limited availability." But that should change soon. In the meantime, if you've read the book, please plunge in and write your own customer review. This little book needs everybody's help if it's to leap out of the "libertarian ghetto" and reach the hearts and minds of young readers who may not yet understand the future they're going to have to prepare for.

Posted by Claire @ 08:55 PM CST [Link]

YOU PROBABLY READ THAT CONVICTS WERE GETTING TAX-PAID VIAGRA. Did you know you were also beig taxed so that convicted sex offenders could get it up?

Only a government could come up with stuff like this ...

Posted by Claire @ 04:29 PM CST [Link]

I'VE BEEN TAGGED by Wally Conger to play Book Tag. Although I don't usually "do" anything resembling chain letters, this one seemed both fun and different.

If you're interested in buying any of the books I mention, I'd be grateful if you'd use this Amazon.com link.

Total number of books I've owned:
Thousands. And I once considered it some sort of sin to give, throw away, or even donate books. But when you move around a lot, owning books is like owning grand pianos. I now own fewer than 100 -- but my library card gets hot from over-use.

(This question seems to have morphed into "Total number of books I own" as it's traveled around the blogosphere; I went back to the original form.)

Last book I bought:
I bought four books together: Irish Music for Recorder, Medieval and Renaisance Dances for Recorders, Dancers, and Hand Drums, The Recorder Guide and The Usborne Book of Easy Recorder Tunes. With a little help from my friends, I'm trying to teach myself to play the tenor recorder. The latter of these four books, which features colorful drawings of smurf-like creatures and looks like something a kindergartener would use, actually turns out to have the most and best information about musical notation.

Last book I read:
I'm currently reading two books: Living with a Writer, a collection of essays edited by Dale Salwak (in hopes that somebody will understand me); and the not-quite-final manuscript of the upcoming Spychips: Exposing the secret plan to track your every move with RFID by Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre of CASPIAN. The book is brilliantly written -- so scary and depressing I want to put it down, so full of fascinating vignettes and facts that I can't put it down.

Five books that mean a lot to me:
I'm trying not to go for the obvious "books that influenced my political self" approach. So instead, as Wally did, I'm going to reach all the way back to childhood and extend my memory out in several directions, as well.

All of the following are also books I kept when I finally gave most of my library away.

1. On Beyond Zebra by Dr. Seuss. This book describes some of the letters that lie beyond Z in the alphabet -- and a few of the wild creatures that can be written about only with those letters. I'm sure I would have learned to love word play anyhow, but this book introduced me to it early. It was my favorite Dr. Seuss book when I was six; it's my favorite now. "So on beyond Zebra, explore like Columbus. Discover new letters like Wum is for Wumbus ..."

And here's a wonderful, playful essay by a word lover who feels just as I do about this book. That person also shared a young love for my next Big Book.

2. The Lord of the Rings. What more does anyone need to say?

3. The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo. It's about the Japanese tea ceremony. But also about so much more. About Art and Grace and Beauty, care, patience, and gentle contemplation. Truly a formative book for me. When I looked it up on Amazon.com to list it here I was surprised the to see it's still in print, still with the same cover as my 40-year-old copy. Next year will be its 100th anniversary.

4. On Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau. You've got your bible. I've got mine. This is it.

5. Our Marvelous Native Tongue by Robert Claiborne. Although it's thicker and less fanciful, you can think of this as the grownup's equivalent of On Beyond Zebra. Claiborne writes with great wit about the origins and charms of the English language.

6. I'm an anarchist. I don't have to stop with five just because somebody else said so. Albion's Seed by David Hackett Fischer. No book helped me better to understand the traditions that various English (and to a lesser extent German, Irish, and Scots-Irish) cultural groups brought to America. One of the key concepts Fischer focuses on is how these groups viewed liberty -- and their varying views echo throughout America hundreds of years later.

7. RebelFire:Out of the Gray Zone by Claire Wolfe and Aaron Zelman. Is it cheating to list one of my own books as one that "means a lot to me"? But it's true. My first novel, just released. I haven't even received my author's copies yet. I have high hopes that this adventure story, written primarily for young people, will reach beyond the usual libertarian suspects and carry both the fear of tyranny and the hope of freedom to upcoming generations. Anyhow, I'm proud of it. And I'll only get to write a sequel if a lot of people embrace this one.

Tag five people and have them do this on their blogs:

Kirsten Tynan
Dave Polascheck
David Codrea
Karen De Coster
Liberty Lightning
Sunni Maravillosa and Wendy McElroy have already been tagged by others.
What the heck, I'm an anarchist. Why just five? You, too, have been tagged, Bill St Clair

Posted by Claire @ 03:28 PM CST [Link]

Friday, May 27, 2005

OKAY. THERE ARE SOME NEWS STORIES that remind you (as if you needed reminding) that those who want to control the human race are completely nuts. This is one of those stories.

Next, we'll have to ban ... lessee ... skillets, rolling pins, heavy ceramic bowls, blenders and food choppers, large platters, forks (especially the Evil BBQ Fork, which as all of us who survived the 1960s remember was one of the Manson gang's weapons of choice), tenderizing mallets, corkscrews, nutcrackers, stove burners, and canned foods (which we all know can be used to fracture skulls).

Well, that's okay. Because most of the foods we like to eat will probably end up banned, anyhow. So eventually we'll all just be able to save a lot of money by not building kitchens in our houses. We can simply lap soft, nutrative goo out of government-approved dispensers on the sides of our televison sets.

(Another article found by the prolific SJ.)

Posted by Claire @ 12:33 PM CST [Link]

I REMEMBER SEEING THE PAINFUL AUTOPSY PHOTOS of Kenneth Trentadue at various political events in the late 90s. Sad, blown-up photos of a man beaten to death in prison. The feds (in whose transfer facility he had died) adamantly claimed it was suicide, adamantly denied that scene-of-the-crime photos existed ... the usual. Anybody looking at the photos could see something was terribly, terribly wrong with the official story.

But what? Why? Trentadue was a minor criminal, in an Oklahoma City fed facility for a minor parole violation. Why would the feds beat him to death, or allow him to be beaten to death and then cover it up? Now Paul Craig Roberts offers an answer, thanks to the persistence of Ken Trentadue's lawyer brother, Jesse. And it all may tie back to another strange old mystery: whether the FBI knew in advance about the Oklahoma City Bombing, and why some intriguing threads in that case went uninvestigated, some key figures were never interviewed.

I usually don't go for conspiracy theories. But maybe this time somebody's actually discovered a smoking gun.

Posted by Claire @ 12:25 PM CST [Link]

Thursday, May 26, 2005

EARLIER TODAY, I WAS SPEAKING OF ECONOMIC FASCISM. Well, HP is just as happy as FedEx to partner with government to enslave people.

Hewlett-Packard plans to launch a product on Friday that helps governments check the digital identity of citizens.

The technology, called the HP National Identity System, is designed to be used in conjunction with a number of Microsoft products, including its .Net line of server, database and middleware programs. The companies plan to jointly develop, market and offer training for the authentication system.

Looks as if they're trying it out with ex-communist countries before trying it out on our ex-free country.

Posted by Claire @ 07:52 PM CST [Link]

FEDEX. Well, the "fed" part of the name is certainly apropos these days.

(Thank you to Bernie S. for this description of economic fascism in action.)

Posted by Claire @ 11:53 AM CST [Link]

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

WHY BOTHER WITH A JUDGE WHEN THE FBI ALREADY THINKS YOU'RE A TERRORIST? Such an inefficient, old-fashioned notion, getting approval before doing a search:

WASHINGTON: The FBI today asked the United States Congress for sweeping new powers to seize business or private records, ranging from medical information to book purchases, to investigate terrorism without first securing approval from a judge.

Valerie Caproni, FBI general counsel, told the US Senate Intelligence Committee her agency needed the power to issue what are known as administrative subpoenas to get information quickly about terrorist plots and the activities of foreign agents.

Civil liberties groups have complained the subpoenas, which would cover medical, tax, gun-purchase, book purchase, travel and other records and could be kept secret, would give the FBI too much power and could infringe on privacy and free speech. ...

The issue of administrative subpoenas dominated the hearing, which was called to discuss reauthorisation of clauses of the USA Patriot Act due to expire at the end of this year.

The act was passed shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks. However administrative subpoena power was not in the original law. The proposed new powers, long sought by the FBI, have been added by Republican lawmakers, acting on the wishes of the Bush administration, to the new draft of the USA Patriot Act. ...

Under the proposed legislation, those served with subpoenas would have the right to challenge them in court. But civil liberties groups said few were likely to do so, and the person being investigated would be unlikely even to know that the FBI was seeking his personal records.

For example, if the FBI demanded a person's medical records from his doctor, the doctor could challenge the order if he wished, but the individual could not.

The article is here (in New Zealand). But I've quoted the meat of it above.

You can't help but notice that the more our leaders prate about "democracy" -- meaning government by the people -- the more eager they become to bypass the people -- governing in secrecy and with ever-fewer checks on their imperial and imperious behavior.

(Thank yous to R.L. and S.J.)

Posted by Claire @ 12:20 PM CST [Link]

VIRGINIA WATCHDOG. Now here's a real alpha maddog. B.J. Ostergren is mad that government agencies are putting our SSNs and other most-personal information online. And she's taking the most personal steps to stop them.

She links to online public records that contain the SSNs of people like Tom DeLay and Jeb Bush.

Here's an article about her from today's WashPost. (Courtesy of Richard M. Smith)

Here's the Virginia Watchdog website.

As a sample of the Ostergren maddog style, here's her letter to Jeb Bush after he got his own SSN "scrubbed" from the public record but left other peoples' SSNs in plain sight.

Just for the hell of it: the SSN of CIA director Porter J. Goss: 041-30-4161. The people who want to spy on us are the ones who most richly deserve to be "outed." What's sauce for the goose ...

Posted by Claire @ 10:07 AM CST [Link]

Monday, May 23, 2005

I'VE OFTEN WONDERED HOW RAND AND VON MISES KEPT THEIR COURAGE, living most of their lives in an era where the free market was considered to have failed. Those two (and a handful of others) stood against an era in which socialism, communism, and other forms of central management were ascendent. They stood against a worldwide intellectual flood of anti-individualism and anti-freedom.

We owe them. But how they personally endured, I've never known.

Thanks to them and that tiny handful of their contemporaries, the ideas of free markets and individualism rose again and prevail today. But what strange times we live in now. The ideas of socialism, communism, and all the related collectivisms are dead or dying. They have no credence any more, after almost a century in which they caused untold havoc. For the last 25 years or so, all the intellectual power has been behind free-markets.

And yet ... all those "free-market" ideas are being used and twisted by the same politicians and bureaucrats who would once have marshalled behind the banner of some -ism. Now we have "free-markets" in the form of statist monstrosities like NAFTA and the WTO. And who would have thought, all those years ago when Reason magazine was extolling the virtues of "privatization," that privatization would mean such cruel insanities as private prison companies lobbying the federal government to give them more, more, more, more? Or private contractors delegated by the IRS to go out and collect taxes? Or "private" corporations, founded and funded by government, running government programs like AmeriCorps?

It was better, in some ways, when the "-ismists" were more open about their plans to control everything and everybody. Now, their motives are exactly the same, but their free-market rhetoric twists our minds into a Mobius strip of endless propanda.

If I still sometimes wonder how Rand or Von Mises withstood the days of socialism, I also wonder how today's freedom lovers endure an era in which everything we once touted as a solution to big government is being twisted by governments into an excuse for more centralized power and greater oppression.

Somehow, I won't feel one bit better about national ID if Oracle is given a "private" contract to develop its databases. Or if the Department of Homeland Security is someday turned into the "Corporation for Homeland Security" with a board of directors drawn from Microsoft, Boeing, Amtrak, and the CIA.


Posted by Claire @ 03:28 PM CST [Link]

Sunday, May 22, 2005

OOPS. Be careful next time you apply talcum powder.

Posted by Claire @ 02:42 PM CST [Link]

MIDDLE-CLASS OUTLAWS. This is a strange new genre of citizen Our Beloved Government is creating. Ordinary middle-class or working-class men and women who, in order to stay free, must step outside the system. Or run like hell outside the system, for that matter.

This creates definite oddities. Joel Simon (aka John DeWitt) expresses the feeling very well in his adventurous poem "The Night of Randall's Crates."

Sort of a sense of WTF am I doing here? How did I -- me! -- the former vice-president of the student body, the former Chamber of Commerce member, former Republican party devotee, or whatever -- come to this??? Driving without a license, ditching the IRS, banking offshore, using fake ID, trading in illegal goods, monkeywrenching databases, or even just thinking about how to make the whole effing gummint go away ... ME!, Ms. National Merit Scholarship winner or Mr. Future Teacher of America.

Ian also brings up an aspect of the middle-class Outlaw dilemma in a TCF thread called "Black Market Problems." Nobody who ever grew up in the inner city or in an eastern bloc country of the Communist era would have to raise such issues. They'd already know how to run a black market or an underground railroad in a world where "law and order" is the tyrannical enemy of every individual. They'd already have an idea what you could get away with and what would be too risky.

We have to learn. And for most of us, I fear the Zorro capes will never rest quite comfortably on our shoulders.

But -- speaking of eastern bloc countries -- I know of several once-ordinary folk forced into exploits that the desperate citizens of East Berlin would have understood all too well. And all the while we listen to politicians prating on and on about how much they cherish our "freedom." I wonder if Stalin made speeches like that, too? Indeed these are strange and interesting times.

Posted by Claire @ 12:50 PM CST [Link]

THE BOOKS STARTED GOING OUT ON THURSDAY and the first (mini) review of RebelFire: Out of the Gray Zone comes from Bill St. Clair.

Really more of a reaction than a review. But I'm so pleased. :-) And relieved. Thank you, Bill. I'm glad we touched your heart and somehow I'm not surprised you were the first to hit the Net with the news.

Last night I dreamed I was writing Orlando Bloom's next movie and that we were already shooting the film, even though I had no idea where the story was going to end up. Life -- and launching a first novel into the world -- feels sort of like that.

Some books are still waiting to ship. So be patient a few days if you haven't gotten yours. My author's copies are among those still waiting in the mail queue.

Posted by Claire @ 10:29 AM CST [Link]

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

THAT'LL TEACH YOU TO SNORT THAT CATNIP, FLUFFBALL!

(Another from Rick.)

Posted by Claire @ 06:17 PM CST [Link]

SERENITY COMIC PAGES ONLINE. A few of 'em, anyway. Scroll down, then click to enlarge. Lookin' good ...

(Thanks to Vlad Taltos for the lead.)

Posted by Claire @ 03:13 PM CST [Link]

MAKING MUSIC, STAYING SANE. A few weeks ago I bought a tenor recorder on eBay. In RebelFire: Out of the Gray Zone a character in one scene holds a tenor recorder, and since I wrote that, the idea had been nagging at me. In fact, I realized the idea of getting a recorder had been nagging at me since my teens.

I have no musical talent. Seems to me that, as a writer and former artist I should be able to do at least a little music. But my family was non-musical, and the one time I had a chance to learn to play (when I was 9), it was the wrong time, wrong circumstances, and wrong instrument -- an instrument I hated then and that still sounds to my ears like two cats fighting at midnight.

But I've always been entranced by the sound of woodwinds and drums. So a year ago, I eBayed a bodhran (an Irish frame drum). And this spring, a 60s vintage plastic recorder. Got an instruction manual plus CD for the drum, some songbooks for the recorder ... and gave it a try.

I'm not making a serious effort to become brilliant at either of these instruments. The term "exercise in futility" probably applies, alas. But I do love the sound and feel of both the exotic drum and this mellow-voiced recorder. Sometimes I just go outside and whomp on that drum under the moonlight. Sometimes I play random notes on the recorder simply because the individual sounds are so resonant and beautiful.

This week, as Real ID has assaulted freedom and everybody who loves freedom, I've occasionally sat at my desk with the recorder in my hands, playing trills or picking out simple, classical or folk melodies as I surf the net.
[more]

Posted by Claire @ 09:13 AM CST [Link]

NEWSWEEK -- A PARABLE. I was wondering when somebody in the media would finally make the obvious connection.

(Found via Bill St. Clair's End the War on Freedom blog.)

Ah. Jim Lobe got it, too.

Posted by Claire @ 07:57 AM CST [Link]

A SERENITY COMIC. Not sure how to wrap the old brain around that idea. How will they convey all the rapid wit? Still ... more proof (if anywas needed) that even the Fox network's best efforts couldn't kill Firefly

(Another found by SJ.)

Posted by Claire @ 07:34 AM CST [Link]

DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN ALL THE "EXPERTS" SAID IT WAS RIDICULOUS to suspect that cell-phones contribute to development of brain tumors? Well, evidence is starting to emerge.

Of course, one study may mean nothing. But despite claims that brain tumors (cancerous and otherwise) aren't on the rise, emperical experience seems to indicate that they are. I won't be surprised if cell-phones aren't the only culprit -- but all the rest of this e-stuff that surrounds us all day, as well.

I'm not making any claims. The evidence really isn't in, and I'm not going to run around shouting that the sky is falling. I just wouldn't be surprised if evidence does eventually come in.

Posted by Claire @ 12:02 AM CST [Link]

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

"SHADY CASH FATTENS TOWNS' COFFERS."

Not exactly news to anybody who's been watching. And of course plenty of small-town taxpayers certainly cheer because all this stolen-without-due-process loot is a fine way of taking the $$$ burden off their own shoulders. But if you wonder why cops are getting more and more corrupt and cynical and less interested in the law, you don' t have to look far.

The biggest of the 11 busts in Hogansville occurred in October, when Officer John Starnes saw a pickup with Texas license plates pull off Interstate 85 and into a gas station about 1:30 a.m. He stopped the truck, which had a broken taillight, and officers found $654,000 stuffed into a hidden compartment in the tailgate.

Starnes, an Army National Guardsman, made the bust on his last day on the job before heading to Iraq. No drugs were found, but police took the money and truck, gave the men $500 and dropped them off at the bus station.

Police acknowledge that, more often than not, people who are stopped are so eager to get out of town that it is unlikely they will return to go to court, not even to try to have their cars and money returned.

"For want of a taillight ..."

Posted by Claire @ 05:32 PM CST [Link]

Monday, May 16, 2005

BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS! That's the theme of the day.

For starters, in a remarkable (if not exactly Twilight Zone caliber) coincidence, I sent the manuscript of one book to the publisher today -- on the very same day another of my books is being officially published. In fact, I was at the P.O. sending off the manuscript about the same time the finished books were being loaded on a truck.

RebelFire: Out of the Gray Zone is on its way from the printer! Give it a couple of days to reach the warehouse ... and all those pre-orders should be on their way to buyers by Wednesday or Thursday. YEEEEEEEEHAWWWWW!

I haven't been this excited about a book since ... well, I've never been this excited about one of my own books. Not even when 101 Things was published. If you haven't ordered your copy or copies ... GO. DO IT. What are you waiting for??? And buy an extra copy for your 12-to-18-year-old friends and relatives. You'll enjoy the novel, I hope. But it's for their future.

And a huge thank you to Aaron Zelman, who was not only my writing partner but who made the entire project possible.

Your Work -- Your Way is the manuscript that went off to Loompanics this afternoon. That's only its tentative title; might change before publication. But the subtitle tells the story: "Spring the job trap and give the Job Culture the boot."

More on books (and on national ID) that came in today:

Wendy McElroy is making a special offer on the anthology she co-edited with Carl Watner, National Identification Systems: Essays in Opposition. The book retails for $45 (trade paperback). Ouch. But now there's a better way. Wendy will send an autographed copy to anyone who donates $40 to her McBlog. I'd go for that.

I have a copy of that anthology, which features both historic and contemporary essays. It includes two or three of my own articles, as well as works by Sunni Maravillosa, Carl Watner, and many well-known and respected scholars. Check it out at Wendy's site, and follow her link to the book's table of contents. It's a fascinating and comprehensive collection that covers everything from Jeremy Bentham's conception of the panopticon to the forcing of surnames upon conquored Indians to "ID Without Big Brother."

Finally, since I seem to be in book promotion mode and on the subject of national ID, I'd like to remind anybody who's concerned about the Real ID Act to read -- or re-read -- I Am Not a Number!

I originally wrote it in the late 1990s after Congress's earlier spate of sneaky ID and database coups. Updated it in 2002. IANAN isn't really the book for the lone wolf who wants to evade (or fake) ID. It could be useful to such a person, for sure. But it's really for those of us who foresee a day -- all too soon -- when universal ID control will make life so difficult for real freedom seekers that we'll all have to band together in outlaw networks and outlaw communities if we want to stay alive and stay independent.

Back in 1998, that seemed like a radical idea -- forming communities to provide the UnNumbered with everything from employment and trade to health services. Now ... it's something we'd better start doing if we want to survive the tyrannical times that are rapidly descending on us.

Posted by Claire @ 08:58 PM CST [Link]

REAL ID REBELLION. The first shots are fired by Sunni Maravillosa from her Real ID Rebellion blog. I'm going to add it to the blogroll and add it to the list of sites I visit every morning.

The rebellion has only begun. There will be more. Much more.

Posted by Claire @ 08:31 AM CST [Link]

Sunday, May 15, 2005

THE NEW HARDYVILLE COLUMN IS ONLINE. "We're All Illegal Aliens Now."

Debra reminded me that I should have included a link an earlier related column: "National ID: Our Line in the Sand." I didn't want to bother BHM's webmaster with an added link. But if you've got friends or relatives who think Real ID is no big deal, "Line in the Sand" is an article they should read.

Posted by Claire @ 11:45 PM CST [Link]

SHOOTING CONCRETE BLOCKS, PART DEUX Blogispondent Ian here again. A few weeks ago, I did some experimenting on the effects various calibers had on concrete blocks. Well, that first set of blocks left me wondering about a few more types of ammo, so I made up a second set of blocks to shoot with other types of ammunition. [more]

Posted by Ian @ 01:22 PM CST [Link]

Friday, May 13, 2005

FRIGHTENING THOUGH IT IS, it's encouraging to realize that the Real ID Act and a lot of other fedgov horrors are the acts of desperate people who see their control slipping away from them.

Found a couple more such examples on Dave Gross' Picket Line blog.

Army recruiters, having failed to meet their goals three months running, are resorting to using the illusion of power as a substitute for real power. For example:

In late April, Army Staff Sgt. Thomas Kelt left a voice mail message on the cell phone of Christopher Monarch, 20, of Spring, telling him to show up at the Greenspoint recruiting office by 2 p.m. or a warrant would be issued for his arrest, according to Monarch and an Army official.

Monarch said he didn't receive the message until after the designated time. "I was scared," he said.

He said he had not made an appointment to meet the recruiter and was not interested in joining the military.

Monarch said he called Kelt the next day to clear up the matter. Kelt told him threatening to issue an arrest warrant was a "marketing technique," according to Monarch, a version of the story the Army confirmed.

Dave also reports that a highway-safety bill currently making its way through Congress would increase the infamous "frivolous tax return" penalty tenfold, from $500 to $5,000. (This is where they whack you with an unconstitutional, no-due-process fine for doing things like writing "filed under protest" on your 1040.) The same highway safety bill (yes, highway safety bill) would also increase penalties for "failure to file" income taxes and even create a new crime of "aggravated failure to file."

The Senate memo (pdf document) describing these provisions confidently predicts the amount of revenue the government will make off these new (or 10x worse) "criminals."

But much of this is a grand illusion. Although certainly the IRS does make showcase examples of a few "failures to file," the government's ability to track the millions of quiet resisters is virtually nil. And hitting people with $5,000 fines for exercising free speech on a tax return is simply an act of frustration and fear. It's very similar to the even larger fines they threaten you with for showing disrespect to TSA screeners.

These things are creepy indeed. And dangerous. It would be foolish to minimize the havoc a frightened govenment can wreak. But -- like Real ID -- these new developments aren't signs that the tyrants are winning. They're signs that the tyrants are freaking out with fear and frustration because central control via law, threats, and diktat ultimately does not work.

Every increased penalty, every new act or threat of violence, is an admission of impotence. An admission of failure.

We don't have to engineer the tyrants' fall. They'll do that themselves. We just have to help them along and be ready when their illusions of power finally collapse around them.

Posted by Claire @ 09:14 AM CST [Link]

THE ACHILLES HEEL OF THE REAL ID SYSTEM. Human beings.

I thought this part was especially fascinating, even though it was peripheral to the article:

Sensenbrenner believes the new law would prevent another attack similar to 9/11 by preventing terrorists who illegally live in the United States from getting identification papers allowing them to blend into society unnoticed.

"Those murderers chose our driver's licenses and state IDs as their forms of identification because these documents allowed them to blend in and not raise suspicion or concern," the lawmaker said.

First, Sensenbrenner and everybody who voted for Real ID should be held personally liable for their claims. If there's ever another terrorist attack in the U.S., they should have to pay damages to everybody harmed by it, since they're promising to protect us.

Second, terrorists used drivers licenses because the fedgov and the airlines made the DL the key to getting on a plane. The more confident our "security" (Achtung!) masters become that a DL is some sort of magic security device, the more likely they are to blandly overlook other areas of real danger.

(Tks to SJ for the lead.)

Posted by Claire @ 07:09 AM CST [Link]

Thursday, May 12, 2005

EARLIER, MARK YANONNE GAVE US THE AL-QUAEDA RESPONSE to the Real ID act. Now "Bernie S," a Jewish correspondent, forwards the Department of Homeland "Achtung!" Security's response:

*ACHTUNG...ACHTUNG*

*VEE VELCOME YOU TO DAS THIRD REICH NAZIFICATION UFF AMERI_K_A . EFFREYVUN MUST HAFF DER PAPERS FOR DAS NATIONAL ID DRIFERS VEHICLE LICENSE MIT DER FOTOGRAPH UND DER FINGERPRINTS , BIRTH CERTIFICATE, DAS EYE RETINA FOTO SCAN UND VAT EFFER VEE VANT TO KONTROL ALLES IN AMERIKA FOR DER VONDERBAR UFF DER THIRD REICH IN AMERIKA.*

*EFFREYVUN WHO REFUSES VILL BE SENT TO HERR DOKTOR MENGELE FOR MEDICAL RE-ORIENTATION UFF DAS FUTURE UFF AMERIKA DER ATTITUDE VICH IS AGAINST DER FUEHER'S NAZI FACIST DATA KONTROL ORVELLIAN STATE.*

*SEIG HEIL SEIG HEIL, DAS FACIST ORVELLIANISM UBER ALLES. *


Posted by Claire @ 01:01 PM CST [Link]

AL-QUAEDA'S RESPONSE TO THE REAL ID ACT. :-)

Posted by Claire @ 12:17 PM CST [Link]

STAY ANGRY. If I could tell people one thing about the Real ID Act, that would be it: Stay angry. Stay very, very angry.

I'm amazed at the calm in the aftermath of Senate passage of this Stalinist monstrosity. And I don't just mean I'm amazed at the mainstream media's lack of clue. I mean that civil libertarians and other commentators on "our side" are largely treating the Real ID Act as just one more bad development in an era in which bad developments have become routine.

This is so often how it is: The federal government does something horrible, unconscionable, freedom-raping. We all get angry about it for a few days or a week. We blog. We expend our best italics, exclamation points!!!!!, and CAPITALS.

Then a week or two later, the government does something equally horrible. We adjust to the old horror, rant about the new, and whatever we were so indignant about before becomes old news -- part of the background noise of an increasingly tyrannical (but somehow always endurable) nation.

The Real ID Act is not just one more ugly development. The Real ID Act imposes a national ID card. (And don't argue that different states will have different card cosmetics; and don't use phrases like "sets the stage for." This is national ID.) This is not just another bad development. This is a defining moment.

Please keep that in your head and heart: This is a defining moment. When Bush signs that thing, which could be as early as today, the American experiment in freedom will be over. No pretense any more. An America with a national ID card is not America. If the Real ID Act isn't overturned, America is gone.

Now, I'm aware that our drivers licenses have effectively functioned as national ID cards since the late 1990s. Heck, I even wrote a book about that, and if you haven't read it, now might be the time. The moment SSNs became linked with drivers licenses was a bad moment, and if you've given an SSN to obtain the "privilege" of driving, you've alread submitted to the federalization of ID. Most of us have already consented to allow our federal human-inventory number (SSN) to become our permission slip for everything from gettting a job to going to the doctor to opening a bank account to boarding an airplane.

So perhaps Real ID looks like just one more incremental change. (It could be argued that the moment our grandparents let the state control their right to travel was a bad moment, too; I won't disagree. Damn, people were so naive and trusting of government then -- as most are now, long after they should know better.)

But the Real ID act takes the gloves off -- and brings out the brass knuckles -- even while its promoters smile and assure us they're still making nice. It gives control of driving -- and data -- to the Homeland "Achtung!" Security Department. Go ahead and consider it another incremental change, if you wish. But if so, please consider it incremental in the same way that the final straw on the camel's back is incremental. National ID is here. In May 2008, America -- which has been headed that way for a long time -- becomes a nation of serfs and subjects.

And rebels. Please, please, let it also become a nation of angry, determined, adamant rebels.

Do not let this become yesterday's news. Do not learn to live with this. However painful it is, stay angry. And stay angry enough to resist.

Posted by Claire @ 09:09 AM CST [Link]

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

"DEVICES DETECT CACHES OF CASH."

Posted by Claire @ 07:35 PM CST [Link]

"H.R. 418 WILL NOT CREATE A NATIONAL ID CARD." H.R. 418 is aka the Real ID Act, aka our new national ID card. So you can bet I'm not the one who said the above. But boy, if you want to see an example of thinking that's either slimily dishonest or downright delusional, take a look at this:

There is absolutely nothing in H.R. 418 (REAL ID Act) that would create a national ID card.

H.R. 418 establishes minimum standards (including proof of legal presence) that must be met before states issue licenses or ID cards to residents IF and only if the states want their licenses and IDs to be accepted by Federal agencies as proof of identity. In other words, the states do not have to do anything at all if they are not concerned whether the Federal agencies will accept their documents as proof of ID to receive federally-funded welfare; board airplanes; enter federal buildings, etc. And, if the states do choose to comply, they will still set their own procedures for issuing licenses -- except for the minimum, common-sense standards set out in federal law and, they will still issue their own licenses.

Opponents of the bill have latched onto this provision and are seriously distorting it because, theoretically, at some unknown point in the future, it might be possible for Congress to decide to take over the issuance of licenses and make the driver's license into a national ID card. While this scenario is not impossible, it is reasonable to say with confidence that these groups are fighting the wrong bill. If Congress were to consider a bill that would actually turn licenses into national ID cards that bill would be the one to fight.

Additionally, enactment of the driver's license standards included in H.R. 418 will, in fact, make it LESS likely that Congress will see a need for a national ID card, so civil libertarians should be lined up in support of this bill. The simple fact is that a national ID card is only needed when other forms of identification documents are found to be unreliable whether it is because they can be easily counterfeited or because they are issued to people who shouldn't get them, like illegal aliens. The standards in H.R. 418 specifically address this point by requiring the implementation and use of security features on licenses and by requiring applicants to prove they are here in the U.S. legally and, finally, by requiring state officials to verify all of the documents presented by an applicant as proof of eligibility for a license. If driver's licenses become secure, there will be no legitimate need for a national ID card.

I've quoted the entire mindboggling text in full, so you don't really have to follow the link. But I included it anyway, just in case you thought I'd made all this up or gotten it from The Onion.

Posted by Claire @ 01:57 PM CST [Link]

JUDGE APPROVES END OF UNITED AIRLINES PENSION FUND.

A federal bankruptcy judge approved United Airlines' plan to terminate its employees' pension plans on Tuesday, clearing the way for the largest corporate-pension default in American history.

And as with yesterday's Senate passage of the Real ID act, the mainstream media barely notices.

The fedgov's Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (yeah, another one of those strange government corporations) will assume about $5 billion of the $10 billion total liability. That is, tax slaves will assume the debt while United employees, especially the higher-paid ones, still get screwed. But the PBGC is, itself, fundamentally bankrupt. It's sitting on a load of cash, but has no more means of meeting its long-term obligations than GM or United has. So we'll all pay when the feds crank up the printing presses.

Something has been wrong with the U.S. economy (and U.S. sanity) for a very, very, very long time. But never in all my years of watching and waiting has so much vibrated with wrongness at the same time. Deficit. War. National ID. Slow collapse of major industries. Dot-com bubble followed immediately by housing bubble (signaling a mass-scale, pathological denial of reality). An economy running on debt, debt, debt. Galloping expansion of government in every direction -- accompanied by the rhetoric of "conservatism" and "freedom." Total apathy or disaffection in the populace. Everything is reeking of dangerous wrongness.

But in the meantime, we've got the Michael Jackson sex-sex-sex trial to entertain us and plenty of credit cards in our pockets. So party on, folks. Party on.

Posted by Claire @ 08:31 AM CST [Link]

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

ANOTHER ONE for the "only cops [and other authorities] should have guns" file?

Posted by Claire @ 08:10 PM CST [Link]

THE SENATE PASSED THE REAL ID ACT unanimously. And so far, at least, the mainstream media isn't even mentioning the true horror that was hidden in that big appropriations bill. This seems to be the total level of their awareness -- one miss-the-point paragraph in a miss-the-point article:

Democrats also criticized immigration law changes attached to the bill that make it harder for foreigners to seek asylum in the United States and denies all illegal aliens driver's licenses.

Sigh. Oh well, anyone who values freedom has become a sort of "illegal alien" anyhow. So I guess we shouldn't be surprised.

Posted by Claire @ 08:07 PM CST [Link]

DESTROYING THE VILLAGE TO SAVE IT. A cartoon every fed should have tacked to his bulletin board. Or maybe tacked to his ... uh, guess I better not say that ...

(Found by Katherine of CASPIAN.)

Posted by Claire @ 08:00 PM CST [Link]

AND IT'S ALL THANKS TO ONE CONGRESSCREEP WITH TOTALITARIAN LEANINGS. Prepare for Outlawry.

OTOH, it's funny as hell that, to get your official photo ID, you'll have to show photo ID. Imagine the long lines and chaos that provision is going to cause.

Posted by Claire @ 12:03 PM CST [Link]

STRAY DOG RESCUES ABANDONED BABY. Awwwwww ....

Posted by Claire @ 10:09 AM CST [Link]

Monday, May 9, 2005

THE COLOR CODE OF MENTAL AWARENESS

Blogispondent Ian here again. That was the title of one of the lectures I heard as part of my rifle class at Front Sight. They said (several times) that it was the most important information they would give us during our training, and I'm inclined to agree. More than anything else, it will keep you from getting into a life-threatening situation in the first place - and as Sun Tzu said, the ultimate victory is to avoid a fight. [more]

Posted by Ian @ 02:38 PM CST [Link]

Sunday, May 8, 2005

THE FEDGOV CAN'T TELL A NUKE FROM A BAG OF KITTY LITTER. Consider that next time you read about some super-sophisticated device that can allegedly detect your gun, read your DNA, and tell if you're having sexual fantasies about your next-door neighbor as you walk through the airport.

(Tks again, SJ.)

Posted by Claire @ 07:26 PM CST [Link]

WHO KNEW that mere mob rule could accomplish so much? Wow, democracy is even better than God, I guess.

When I searched the site in hopes of finding similar praise for the term "republic," all I turned up was references to "The Czech Republic" and "The Dominican Republic." Guess that form of gummint is only for backward nations, these days.

(Tks, SJ.)

Posted by Claire @ 03:32 PM CST [Link]

LAISSEZ FAIRE BOOKS HAS REFUSED TO CARRY Vin Suprynowicz's freedom novel, The Black Arrow. They worry that the "gratuitous vulgar" sexual content might offend somebody.

Sunni Maravillosa rips into LFB. (The online replies to Sunni's open letter include a couple from LFB's representative, explaining their decision.)

Fran Tully also waxes indignant.

Laissez Faire has an absolute right to decide what books to carry in its own catalog. But when a libertarian book source decides to protect its readers from exposure to a novel merely because that novel has sex in it, the world has truly turned on its head.

So ... when will LFB stop carrying Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, both of which are rife with sexual kinks?

Posted by Claire @ 09:34 AM CST [Link]

Saturday, May 7, 2005

TWO WEEKEND READS.

Gary North on why "welfare" costs (aka health care and pension obligations) are killing General Motors -- and why hardly anybody saw this coming, even though the stage was set 55 years ago.

"Who Shot Mohammed Al-Dura?" Although this Atlantic article is nearly two years old now, it's a stunning cautionary tale for the media age. Mohammed Al-Dura was the 12-year-old Palestinian boy shot to death as he and his father cowered beside a wall. The media told us -- and the entire Arab world believes -- that Israeli soldiers did it. But did they? Or, for that matter, was any little boy ever killed in that place, at that moment, at all?

"Who Shot Mohammed Al-Dura?" also shows the power of myth and spin; billions believe what they want to believe, despite unclear, contradictory evidence. And once the story has life of its own, almost no one on any side wants to challenge it.

Posted by Claire @ 11:24 AM CST [Link]

Friday, May 6, 2005

I LOVE STORIES LIKE THIS. I know it's not nice, but I do.

(Tks to Herself for sending this sterling example of "homeland security." We can all rest so much safer tonight.)

Posted by Claire @ 11:37 AM CST [Link]

THE SMOKING MEMO ON IRAQ.

... politicization is far too mild a word for what happened. The intelligence was not simply mistaken; it was manufactured, with the president of the United States awarding foreman George Tenet the Medal of Freedom for his role in helping supervise the deceit. The British documents make clear that this was not a mere case of "leaning forward" in analyzing the intelligence, but rather mass deception -- an order of magnitude more serious. No other conclusion is now possible.

Small wonder, then, to learn from CIA insiders like former case officer Lindsay Moran that Tenet's malleable managers told their minions, "Let's face it. The president wants us to go to war, and our job is to give him a reason to do it."

Posted by Claire @ 08:21 AM CST [Link]

COL. DAVID HACKWORTH IS DEAD. He was no libertarian, but he was the real deal as a soldier and an advocate for soldiers. He recognized political BS when he encountered it and he spoke forcefully against it. Here's his website, with obituary.

Posted by Claire @ 07:59 AM CST [Link]

J.D. TUCCILLE REVIEWS THE BLACK ARROW.

Posted by Claire @ 07:48 AM CST [Link]

Thursday, May 5, 2005

"RECLAIMING OUR RADICALISM, PART II." by Wally Conger. Why you can't use politics to cure the evils of politics.

Posted by Claire @ 11:58 AM CST [Link]

Wednesday, May 4, 2005

WHAT UTTER HORSEPUCKY.

Airline passengers soon will be asked to provide their full names and birth dates when they buy tickets.

In coming weeks, the Transportation Security Administration plans to require airlines to solicit the information. Passengers do not have to provide it, though if they don't there's a better chance they'll have to undergo more stringent screening at the airport, Justin Oberman, the TSA official in charge of the program, said Wednesday.

Oberman said having passengers' full names and birth dates will make it less likely that they'll be confused with people who are known or suspected terrorists.

"Far fewer people will be inconvenienced than they are today," Oberman said.

These are the same folks who put seven-year olds on terrorist watchlists, not to mention U.S. senators (who, come to think of it, have ruined more lives and wreaked more havoc than most suicide bombers ever manage). These are the people who can find and confiscate knitting needles while still missing at least 25 percent of the real weapons people carry onto planes. And now they assure us we'll be less inconvenienced by providing them with more information about ourselves? We're now responsible to help them make their effed up lists and completely arbitrary procedures work better?

If they cared about the job of actually investigating criminals, rather than randomly playing with data and snooping on the innocent, they wouldn't have to pull this crap. But then, if we were actual free people, they wouldn't dare pull this crap.

(Thanks, Mystery Reader.)

Posted by Claire @ 02:07 PM CST [Link]

THE ACLU ON THE REAL ID ACT. Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU's Privacy and Liberty Project, wrote a long message to Declan McCullagh's Politech list today. I've taken the liberty of copying it and placing it behind the "more" link because it's important.

Among other things, Steinhardt points out that the act (which is all but a done thing now) creates not only a true national ID card but ...

*The "machine-readable zone" paves the way for private-sector piggybacking.* Our new IDs will have to make their data available through a "common machine-readable technology." That will make it easy for anybody in private industry to snap up the data on these IDs. Bars swiping licenses to collect personal data on customers will be just the tip of the iceberg as every retailer in America learns to grab that data and sell it to Choicepoint for a dime. It won't matter whether the states and federal government protect the data - it will be harvested by the private sector, which will keep it in a parallel database not subject even to the limited privacy rules in effect for the government.
[more]

Posted by Claire @ 12:07 PM CST [Link]

THIS IS NOT FROM THE ONION.

... the study said "an average worker's functioning IQ falls 10 points when distracted by ringing telephones and incoming e-mails ... more than double the four-point drop seen following studies on the impact of smoking marijuana."

The report cited a 2002 report on marijuana use by researchers from Carleton University in Ottawa.

The research found that 62 percent of adults are addicted to checking e-mail and text messages. Half of the workers would "respond to an e-mail immediately or within 60 minutes."

One in 5 is "happy to interrupt a business or social meeting to respond to an e-mail or telephone message."

This was the result of a study commissioned by HP. We all know that results of isolated studies have to be taken with a grain of salt. But this one smacks me in the face as intiutively true.
[more]

Posted by Claire @ 09:57 AM CST [Link]

Sunday, May 1, 2005

TODAY'S "NEW" HARDYVILLE COLUMN is actually a classic column, dressed in its Sunday best with new links and several updates: "When Police Don't Take No for an Answer."

Since the Fourth Amendment and Americans' knowledge of their rights are in even worse shape than they were back in 1999, I thought it was time to visit this one again. Much credit for the writing of this column goes to the elusive Lawyer X. Hardyville is fortunate to have him.

Posted by Claire @ 08:36 AM CST [Link]

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