Monday, October 29, 2012

Police Tactics

The role of the police departments in this country is changing. Originally lawmen were charged with the responsibility of keeping the peace in society. This meant that after some bad act occurred the police would arrive to sort out the mess. Jails were build as needed to accommodate the increase in our slowly growing prison population.

Over the years the police departments began to take a more proactive role in crime. Police agents actively sought out crime organizations to infiltrate and as "gang members" the police were forced into acting like the people they were investigating. As a result of being undercover these policemen were then, technically, just as guilty as the actual gang members who they are trying to catch. (Aiding and abetting?)

The acceleration of the drug wars marked the first major deviation in police tactics. Originally the nature of crime required a crime to occur before police could get involved. The change in police policy now suggested that the best way to prevent crime was to "get out in front of it". Police agents would infiltrate drug gangs by the simple expedient of supplying vital ingredients or equipment to aid in the commission of a crime. The reasoning went like this. Sooner or later the gangs would accomplish their nefarious goals so why not accelerate the process? Police would assist the gangs along the way to, say, producing drugs so they can harvest both the drugs and the gangsters in one tidy bundle.

The increase in arrests was impressive. Of course along the way mistakes were made so drugs and money went missing, and successful drug lords lawyered up and went free. But you can't win them all. There is no way to tell whether society got a net benefit from police assistance in drug manufacturing but the prison system began to swell.

The most recent iteration in police activity in "getting ahead of the crime" involves the Internet. By a strange quirk in the law a shareware service called LimeWire, with over 100 million users worldwide, is providing a virtually unlimited resource for inmate production. The service was originally started as a music club whose members were able to share their favorite music with each other. Members would upload their songs or albums to the server so others could download them. As technology changed video sharing became as popular as audio. Police cyber cops recognized a potentially huge bonanza of fresh inmates.

These new criminals are being harvested as a result of a quirk in the way a law "encouraging child sexual abuse" is interpreted. By some absurdly defective reasoning it is legal to watch anything online your heart desires, including child pornography, but, as incredible as this seems, if you download an illegal video for viewing later you have just committed a crime. This subtle distinction has put every member of LimeWire at risk and here is how.

Let's say you are looking for a classic video called "Lolita" starring James Mason. The LimeWire server performs a search for keywords and produces a list of movies to choose from. In order to see if what you want is in the list you must download the video to view it. Whether the video you got was what you were looking for not, or whether the movie was a Lolita movie starring a child pornography actor makes the commission of a crime possible without the downloader even knowing in advance whether the movie was what he was looking for, or more importantly, illegal. As a result of this absurd police practice thousands of people nationwide are falling victim to and are having their lives destroyed by accident.

It is up to society to decide whether it is better served by a police department actively seeking to add to our prison population by prosecuting nonviolent accidental victims of a shareware service, or not.

One thing is for sure. Affording the 2 billion we spend weekly housing prisoners in this country is busting budgets in every state. Scarce resources are going begging for more socially beneficial projects. Allowing the police department unlimited funds to prosecute "thought crimes" may be the stupidest thing we Americans can do ourselves going forward.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Global Positioning Accuracy -- WOW!

The Earth is surrounded by satellite network of 31 spacecraft equipped with incredibly accurate clocks. To synchronize these clocks with Earth time an adjustment was necessary because the satellite clocks gain about 1 billionth of a second, when compared with surface clocks, every three days. That means that time travels faster in space than it does here on the Earth's surface. If this time differential was not accounted for and adjustments to global positioning made, the coordinates provided by the satellites would be off by as much as 6 miles per day.

With measurements accurate to the billionths of centimeters and seconds it is difficult for me to imagine how anyone can doubt the conclusions our scientists have reached with regard to the birth of the universe. Taking the simple step from realizing one plus one equals two to measuring the volume and age of the universe only took mankind a few thousand years. And yet…

Accepting global warming, evolution, the "Big Bang" theory, and acknowledging the "God" particle seem to be beyond the imagination or understanding of our religious right. What could go wrong with giving them charge of the country?


Sunday, October 14, 2012


Just about everyone in America understands welfare to be a benefit to the needy. Welfare is kind of a fail safe for those without the means to survive without our government's help. This help usually comes in the form of food stamps and cash to women with children who have no other means of support. What the good and trusting citizens of our country don't realize is that the lion’s share of welfare in the US goes to the greedy, not the needy. Corporate welfare in the form of "loopholes" allows huge chunks of corporate revenue to be ignored for tax purposes, and yet every worker on a payroll in America sees every dime of his or her income taxed. In fact, hundred cent dollars are something the American payroll earner never sees except as a line item in a box.

So are tax benefits to corporate America welfare? Untaxed income to corporations for things like a depletion allowance (this is the oil company welfare program and amounts to billions of dollars annually) and for crop subsidies to our agribusinesses (which amounts to more billions annually) add up to many times what the government spends on food stamps and welfare for women with dependent families. The difference between what is welfare and what is not appears to be that the money given to a “person” is welfare and money generated but untaxed on corporate income is good for business and a job creator.

Another form of federal welfare which goes under the radar is the tax exemption federal workers enjoy. If you get a federal paycheck no federal income taxes are deducted from those earnings. Most people in America earning $50,000 or more annually are obligated to pay federal income taxes of at least $10,000. In addition to that they have to pay all or most of their own health care costs. Free healthcare is another privilege provided to federal employees. If these perks are available to some citizens they should be available to all citizens and considered welfare payments. Everybody should have free healthcare as long as every federal employee does, but for some reason our congressmen don't see it that way.

Clearly what is welfare and who is receiving it is a matter of opinion, but if we look at corporations and federal worker tax subsidies as free income, or at least extraordinary benefits, and are willing to call a spade a spade, that would make our federal employees and corporations the largest welfare recipients in the country. If we look at free healthcare for life for federal employees and look at what the rest of America's expected to live with we begin to realize just what exalted status our federal employees enjoy.

We have created a sector of our society which believes they are entitled to more than the rest. We have put some real low riders on high pedestals and allowed them to dictate policy to us, the peasants, as if they are distributing alms to the poor. What is amazing to me is just how many people in this country, those who are on the low-end of the totem pole, support the policies which keep them firmly in place at the bottom of the barrel.

(Sorry about the mixed metaphor.)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The simple truth about truth

The truth is there is nothing simple about "the truth".

Truth is supposed to embrace reality, to conform to fact and what is accepted as common knowledge, and to fit into the belief systems we have established like those of organized religion. Guess what? All of the above criteria are subject to change without notice. None of the above "standards" which are designed to measure "truth" can withstand the test of time. Therefore, “the truth” is not absolute but subject to modification as new information becomes available.

What people are giving you when they are "telling the truth" is giving you a version of truth from their point of view. Frequently their version of truth is based on nothing more than hearsay, biased news reports, or hand-me-down beliefs regurgitated over the centuries and which may never have been true to begin with. For example…

Every truth the people in the Middle East believed about their life and destiny in year 100 BC was, for the most part, either turned upside down or severely challenged by the year 400 A.D. Everything society thought they knew about the Earth and sun revolving around them in the year 1000 was proven to be false by the year 1500. Everything the entire world had gained in knowledge about itself doubled from 1500 A.D. to 1850 A.D. By the time the year 2000 A.D. rolled around the knowledge base of the planet was doubling every other year. Incredible as it sounds, very little of what we thought was true one thousand years ago, let alone 2100 years ago, turns out to be true today.

A significant amount of what we were taught as children turns out to be false by the time we reach adulthood. For example, when I grew up we had nine planets. My favorite planet was Pluto. A few years ago Pluto was de-planetized and reduced in stature to a gigantic iceberg full of sand and dirt. So it turns out there is very little we know about our world today that can withstand the test of time. We are gaining in knowledge and experience at a ferocious rate. The new information we gain daily paints a different picture than the one we grew up with.

The universe, as it is now understood, is as misrepresented by the traditions of 7 billion people today as it was during the years when the Earth was host to less than 1 billion people and the consensus of opinion was the earth was flat. These distant ancestors of ours were certain their theory was correct; the church guaranteed it! Daily advances in all intellectual disciplines are so astounding anymore that everyone paying attention is gasping for breath.

It now appears as though rivers once ran on Mars! Folks, as we learn more, life just keeps getting better and more mysterious. Can real progress be far behind?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes, some beliefs impede progress. Intelligent people in this country still deny the truth revealed by modern science and insist that fairy tales and hand-me-down beliefs thousands of years old still hold water. There is only room for one correct sequence of events that contains the kernels of truth important for us to utilize going forward. It is important for our future generations to believe in a truth which contains as much factual knowledge as we are capable of developing. Superstition and innuendo offer no help when included in a foundation necessary to build our future. That is about as smart as building a home on a seashore cliff or below flood level. Unfortunately we still do both of those.

Truth may come in more than one variety. People equate “feelings", especially if they come from "the heart", as being the purest form of truth because they believe feelings come straight from the depths of our soul. It is important to note that just because we fervently believe in something, or someone like Jesus, our belief does not automatically convey the property of truth to our belief. Those less romantic believe truth must pass some form of empirical test, like a math test, and a theory must have some scientific verifiability before it can be accepted as truth. Pragmatists reject the "heart felt" component people use to justify their belief system. They believe feelings have no part in the truth behind the universe and "feelings" should be considered irrelevant to any meaningful description of “the truth”.

At any rate, the United States can no longer afford to have its belief system interfere with providing our children a truthful education. Our attempt to build a proper foundation in our colleges and universities for our children going forward must embrace the most current information available. Otherwise, we will continue to fall behind the rest of the planet just as those in the Middle East, stuck in Middle East beliefs, have done for thousands of years.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Prisoner Production Measures

Over the past five decades America has been invested in an ongoing policy aimed at, of all things, cleansing our society of every imagined threat to our 200 year old Victorian-style morality, or to our 2000 year old religious based 10 commandment code of conduct. During the process of cleaning up our society we have made victimless crimes our number one priority. We have built thousands of prisons and jails sufficient to accommodate an influx of millions of new inmates, staffed them with hundreds of thousands of jailers, and then massively increased government payrolls for local and federal law enforcement officers to feed the funnel.

Court officials oblige the need for an ever growing prison population by sending everyone not financially able to afford an adequate defense to jail. If the truth were known, our court-appointed system for defending indigent defendants is a farce. Think about it. Why would any legislative body vote to spend as much money to defend the accused as they do to prosecute the accused? That sounds self defeating to me. They might lose as many or more cases than they win which would be an in our tax payer face obvious huge loss to society and a good reason to stop prosecuting victimless crimes in the first place.

Nationwide statistics on time invested per case by public defenders on behalf of their clients indicates that court-appointed attorneys, on average, provide less than 8 seconds per defendant on any one case; this statistic includes capital murder cases where the death penalty could be in play. Folks, money talks, and most public defenders are dump trucks whose real job is to speed the accused into jail, not to keep them out.

Bottom line, if you are broke you are going to jail.

We could save the taxpayers in this country a fortune if we weren't concerned with providing the appearance of a fair trial. This is one of the best, or worst, arguments in favor of a dictatorship (what I say is what is true!). Image is everything in a democratic society and unless you can control your image by controlling the media you had better appear to be on the right side of law enforcement and the wrong side of crime (even if you are one of its biggest beneficiaries!).

This process seems to be irreversible. At any given time only about 2% of our society is behind bars, or in the system, so most of us feel immune to prosecution. Our society, however, delights in seeing our neighbors go to the gray bar hotel for no better reason than to provide fresh gossip for the coffeehouse. The interesting thing about the prisoner production process is that sooner or later it may expand to the point where it includes everyone.

By any objective world measure we are a jail happy and uniform crazy society. Our solution to the inevitable erosion of an obsolete moral code is to "fight another war" against any and all perceived immoral behavior. Legislators pass laws which they know will statistically slide another slice of our society into jail. Society rolls over on its brothers and sisters and accepts yet another limit to the freedom of expression here in America.

Fellow Americans, we have been so successful at identifying and prosecuting nonviolent victimless offenders of obsolete morality statutes that fully 86% of our prison inmates are in jail for victimless crimes. We are spending 2 billion a week prosecuting and incarcerating, for the most part, pot and sex offenders, whose only crime is sharing a different moral code of conduct than our legislators act like they adhere to.

If you follow the headlines in any given week you could get the very real impression that the lawyers who write the laws don't follow their own laws. If Congress was held to a strict honor code and members were forced to admit to their own law violations I wouldn't care to guess how many congressmen would remain seated, but I can guarantee that the members remaining wouldn't amount to a quorum.

As more and more citizens become outraged by the massive amount of money being squandered by law enforcement officials hypocritically trying to enforce antique moral codes of conduct still on the books, legislators will be forced to find fresh meat (legislate a new class of imagined offenders) to prosecute. Until citizens everywhere realize they are being swindled on a massive nationwide prison scam, more and more of our money will be wasted on harvesting new and different slices of society to feed our prison system.

The next time a politician puts pen to paper it could be your own slice of vice on the line and your own freedom in jeopardy. Beware!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bill Nye about the Truth: “Creation Views Threaten US Science”.

Bill Nye, known as the “Science Guy”, has waded into the evolution debate with an online video (Click here to see the video) that urges parents not to hand down their religious based doubts about evolution to their children. Religion is a leading contributor to our decline in world standings in math and science according to tests conducted here in America. We Americans are slipping consistently in science and math rankings worldwide because we teach erroneous theories. This fact is responsible for a growing loss of employment to our society. We, the job creators, are failing to provide our children the next generation education they can use to get the next generation jobs they need to provide for their own families and futures.

The angels we pray to and the demons we fear are figments of our imaginations, nothing more. Like noises in the night, thoughts of angels or demons can cause anxiety and fear but always remember this; while fear feels real and causes great anxiety, fear can never kill you, and neither will an imagined angel or demon. Fear is a reflex reaction hardwired in humans to make life’s hard choices clearer, quicker and easier to make; fight or flight for example. Nothing could be simpler or more necessary to our continued survival than primal fear, and the ability to get out of harm’s way instinctively and immediately.

Where we have trouble as a very diverse society is trying to live together without reconciling our belief systems with our life experiences and education. We can't help being "a little bit jumpy" (this quote from the movie Starman starring Jeff Bridges) since it is in our nature to spook easily. Smart orators learned thousands of years ago that to control a man's mind all that is required is to implant the seed of fear in him. Feed that fear, control the "antidote" to that fear, and you can very easily control the person.

Religion has fulfilled this role in society for thousands of years. Priests, claiming a direct link to those who control the afterlife, kept ever larger numbers of people in fear for their immortal souls and as a direct result, under their, the priests, control. By the simple expedient of offering a place in heaven a gifted orator could manipulate entire civilizations into doing his bidding for the entire duration of their lives on earth.

Take Christianity for example. The premise behind this religion is very simple. First instill the fear of damnation in everyone and next provide the guarantee of everyone spending an eternity surrounded by hellfire and brimstone should damnation befall them and theirs. Next, provide an "antidote" to spending this eternity in "hellfire" by providing another choice. For admission into an eternal life in paradise all that is required by you is for you to accept Jesus as your personal Savior. Presto, your troubles are over! Come on up! The deal is done forever!

(Psst… Don't forget to leave a healthy donation in the collection plate for your ultimate hook-up before you leave, and be sure to renew your connection weekly.)

Where society is having trouble is in reconciling religion and its roots with modern science. Almost 50% of the people in the United States accept creation as a viable theory to the birth of the universe. Bill Nye, in his viral YouTube video referenced above, states that a belief of this nature undermines the value of science and the true facts in our society. What he is suggesting, in my opinion, is that allowing this false belief about creation to continue to circulate in our society is similar to excusing half the adult population in the United States for believing in Christmas myths and never realizing the truth about Santa.

So what difference does it make how old the people in the United States believe the universe to be? The answer to that lies in understanding the nature of truth. Truth is not some flexible silly putty structure capable of being morphed into any theory desired and subsequently treated as fact. The truth is not something to be manipulated to fit any imaginary set of circumstances.

Discoveries revealing the nature of the atom and the math calculations deriving the speed of light are not figments of our collective imagination. Man really did set foot on the moon. Water has been discovered on planets thousands of light years away. Animals have been cloned in labs. All of man's advances in math, science, medicine, etc. are all based on a belief that one plus one equals two. Each discovery is built upon a real foundation of empirical evidence proven beyond a shadow of a doubt…

Except to those who believe in the theory of creation. The route to a creation believer’s belief is not based on facts, mathematics, physics, astrophysics, or a single bit of empirical evidence. It is based on nothing more than faith. Creation theory is based upon a book written thousands of years ago by dozens of different people over the course of hundreds of years. This “theory” was concocted out of erroneous assumptions and,without factual “evidence”, and this "theory" contradicts every scientific discovery made in the last few hundred years.

Unfortunately, to believe in the 10K theory (this theory states that God created the universe, earth and man within the last 10,000 years or so) requires the holder of this belief to ignore everything that points to a different conclusion. Frankly I find it easier to believe in Santa Claus.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Is militarizing our state and local police forces a good thing?

Reality is always uglier than the virtual reality we all spend hours watching on cop TV.Over the last decade shows featuring the police have flourished, and police agencies of all descriptions have been glorified. Since no one dares question the "hero" status our men in blue achieved during the 9/11/2001 crisis, the light shining upon these public servants is positively glowing at all times.

Let's get back to reality. Deaths due to officer involved shootings are at an all-time high countrywide. In fact, a new method of suicide, coined suicide by cop, has become a legitimate reason for police officers to gun down unarmed citizens. For a few horrifying incidents visit this site:

Incidents like those on many college campuses of police abuse of pepper spray, and tazer abuse by law enforcement officers all over the country are spiraling out of control. Tactics employed by the Mayor of New York City to disband the Occupy Wall Street movement were absolutely draconian. Consider this. New York City has the third largest standing army on the planet. The city is under police control and the police are controlled by just one man, the mayor.

Although we would like to believe we are in control of our country’s private armies nothing could be further from the truth. That delusion is similar to the delusion that “we the people” control our own military forces. Somehow the right to wage war has been usurped from Congress, which was given the right under the constitution, and has been revested in the office of the President. We avoid a conflict between our government’s branches by no longer declaring war; We just start bombing whoever our President decides is the “enemy”. One man now controls the largest military force in the history of the planet. The last decade of Presidential warfare gives ample proof of concept; and ample proof of abuse of power.

As police departments everywhere gain more power and influence, the abuse of that power by individual people becomes irresistible. We all have causes, and what is the point of accumulating power if you can't use it to further your own causes? Right? If a police officer should have a racial, sex, or religious bias instilled from birth it will be impossible to control. Racial profiling, so rampant in the South, is already an accepted practice and written into law in Arizona. The tendency for geographical regions to propose their own brand of law and social justice recently surfaced when Texas politicians started making succession type noises over immigration policy.

The possibility of a local style civil war occurring over immigration or racial issues is never far from the surface. As local police departments accumulate more and more power regional tensions will increase. The probability of armed conflict or organized military style activity breaking out along our Southern border increases daily.

As we bring home our brainwashed and battle hardened trained soldiers we find it difficult to assimilate these “heros” back into society. They become employed in paramilitary style organizations; the police, the private security industry, bounty hunting organizations, and investigation agencies are a few choices. What is it we expect to happen when millions of people seasoned by war are turned loose in our society? Can more "Rambo" style mass murder situations fail to happen? The suicide rate among returning veterans has never been higher. Is this a good thing?

The truth is war is hell on earth. We have a barbarian practice of subjecting millions of our most highly impressionable youths to military style brainwashing. This is required training to survive a tour of duty ending in incredibly hostile territory, and renders those soldiers unable to cope in a normal society. Life's millions of decisions can overwhelm soldiers not used to having choices. These people have been programmed to follow orders and in the absence of such a controlled environment they are like pool balls caroming around the country without borders to restrict their behavior or to give them direction.

Killing people, even if you are following the direct order of a government, does not make actions of that nature sane, honorable, or even legal. We discovered after World War II that "just following orders" was no excuse for those involved. Everyone captured for war crimes was convicted and hanged. Just how faulty an excuse “murder by following orders” became should have been burned into our psyche forever. Alas, the lesson barely lasted a single generation.

So here in this country our future is certain. We will become an increasingly more violent nation. Civil unrest will rise to levels not seen since the Vietnam era. Budgets will be strained by paranoid state and local governments attempting to protect themselves from civilian unrest by adding ever more people to the government side of the equation. All that additional manpower and waste of money will accomplish will be to increase tensions.

So as our upper crust achieves the excesses of the Roman Empire at its height and glory, our empire, as did the Roman Empire, will continue to crumble. Either we become a peaceful nation without the need for an excessive military and police force, or we will explode under the weight of those forces as all empires before ours have done.