Ideas have Consequences

Once Caesar get comfy with the use of torture of swarthy foreigners, it’s just a matter of time before he starts thinking its would be a neat tool to use on American citizens too. That, in addition to the fact that torture is, you know, evil, is part of why I have banged the drum against it. Because few things could possibly be more stupid and myopic than for Christians, of all people, to urge a rapid de-Christianizing Caesar to take up the instruments of torture for use against people he regards as enemies of the state. You can practically hear the moment coming when the foolish Christian torture defender turns to Caesar in surprise and growing disquiet and says, “Why are you looking at me like that? Ouch! Hey! That hurt! Ouch! Hey! What are you doing? Somebody! Help me!”

In an attempt to warn you that this day may be closer than you realize, I want to reprint in full AND URGE YOU TO READ this piece by William Norman Grigg, which documents just some of the ways in which the growing police state is doing, well, pretty much what torture defenders have been urging it to do–except right here on American soil against American citizens.

After Daniel Chong was arrested in a federal drug raid, he wasn’t taken to Gitmo. Instead, the Feds thoughtfully arranged to bring Gitmo to him, nearly torturing him to death in the process.

Chong, a senior at the University of California-San Diego, was one of nine people swept up in an April 21 narcotics raid by the Drug Enforcement Administration. After his arrest he spent four hours handcuffed in a cell before being questioned. One of the agents who questioned
Chong described him as someone who was “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Following the interrogation, the student was told that he would be released and provided with paperwork to sign. He was then handcuffed and put into a five-by-ten-foot detention cell, where he
was held for five days
in conditions that qualify as torture under any rational reading of either domestic or international law.

The DEA’s story was that Chong was simply “forgotten.” A likelier explanation is that he was ignored, or even singled out for deliberate abuse. Chong shouted and screamed for help, kicking against the heavy door of his cell. Although his hands were cuffed, he managed to tear a small fragment from his jacket, which he shoved under the door in an effort to get the attention of his jailers.

Since Chong had no difficulty hearing conversations and other sounds outside his cell, there’s no reason to doubt that his pleas were heard, and simply disregarded.

After being left alone, handcuffed, in complete darkness, Chong began to hallucinate. Fearing that he might die in captivity, he shattered his eyeglasses and used broken shards to carve the words “Sorry, mother” into his arm.

Although Chong has admitted he had gone to a friend’s house to commemorate “4/20,” an unofficial observance celebrating recreational marijuana use, he was not charged with a narcotics offense. Through its prohibition enforcement action, DEA managed to create conditions in which Chong ingested substances much worse for him than marijuana. Left for several days without food or water to sustain him, Chong made a futile attempt to trigger an overhead fire sprinkler, and then eventually drank his own urine. Tormented by the insistent protests of an empty stomach, he consumed a small amount of a white, powdery substance that was found to be methamphetamine.

By the time two agents “discovered” him, Chong was literally pleading for his captors to kill him. He was hospitalized for acute dehydration, renal failure, a perforated esophagus, and severe cramps. He had shed 15 pounds. He has never received an apology.

If a dog had been subjected to treatment similar to the abuse inflicted on Daniel Chong, those responsible would face felony charges. Thanks to the spurious principle of “supremacy
clause immunity
,” there is no measurable likelihood that the people who nearly tortured Chong to death will face criminal charges. It’s quite likely they will never be identified.

It’s not just the Feds employed by the DEA – an agency best described as the CIA’s slow-witted sibling – who enjoy this privilege.

No criminal charges have been filed against the Lee County, Florida Sheriff’s Deputies responsible for the torture death of Cleveland resident Nick Christie. The emotionally disturbed 62-year-old man was detained for several days in March 2009 after his frantic wife Joyce
made the fatal mistake of calling the police for “help.”

Mr. Christie, who had recently been prescribed a potent anti-depressant called Lexapro, suddenly left his home in Cleveland to visit family in Ft. Myers. When he arrived at his brother’s house, Christie’s behavior became dangerously erratic.

Acting on the tragically misguided assumption that requesting police intervention is a good idea, Joyce called the Lee County Sheriff’s Department to ask them to find Nick and get him to a hospital. After deputies found the retired boilermaker, they arrested him on trespassing charges.

Over the next 43 hours, Christie was repeatedly shackled in a restraint chair, hooded, and attacked with military-grade pepper spray. The chemical assault was so intense that it left other inmates gagging on the fumes. Christie, who suffered from respiratory and heart disease, pleaded with deputies to remove the spit mask because he couldn’t breathe. One inmate described how Nick turned “purple and almost blue” as he suffocated.

When medical personnel arrived to check on Christie, they were overwhelmed by
the pepper spray residue. The victim died of heart failure two days after his arrest. The death was ruled a homicide – but the State Attorney’s office insisted that there is no evidence of criminal wrongdoing on the part of the deputies who tortured Nicholas Christie to death.

The same blanket immunity from prosecution shields the members of the thugscrum –at
least ten and as many as fifteen officers – from Fresno, California, who beat, pepper-sprayed, and repeatedly tasered a man named Raul Rosas.

The police had arrived at Rosas’s residence on June 6 of last year in response to an unspecified “domestic disturbance.” When the police arrived, Rosas took refuge in the bathroom. One of the officers kicked open the front door and dragged out the unarmed man, who was immediately hit with a dose of pepper spray. The chemical weapon attack was a prelude to a full-scale onslaught: Witnesses reported hearing the sounds of a taser being used for at least eight to ten
minutes.

After hog-tying Rosas, the assailants earned extra points for creative sadism by using a garden hose to drown him as he pleaded for water – a crude but effective simulacrum of waterboarding. This atrocity was witnessed by Rosas’s horrified children and several neighbors, who repeatedly warned that the victim was suffocating. “After some time had passed, [Rosas] had clear spit bubbles coming out of his mouth,” recounts a lawsuit filed by the victim’s family. “Witnesses observed [his] lips turn purple.”

When one of the witnesses told the cops they were killing Rosas, one of them sneeringly insisted that the victim was “faking it.” Eventually one of the officers felt for a pulse and found nothing. None of the officers involved in this torture-murder has ever been publicly identified, much less subjected to prosecution or administrative punishment.

Given the foregoing cases, it could be said that Pennsylvania resident Derena Marie Madison was comparatively fortunate: Although she was physically abused and humiliated, she wasn’t killed or severely injured.

At about 2:30 a.m. on February 3, 2011, Pennsylvania State Troopers Chad Weaver and Michael Zampogna pulled over a vehicle driven by Jamie Cornell, who was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. After Cornell was taken into custody, the troopers threatened to have the vehicle towed. This prompted Madison, who was a passenger, to exit the car in protest. This gave the troopers an excuse to arrest her for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct.

Shackled at the wrists and ankles, Madison was taken to a nearby State Police barracks, where she was chained to a bench with her hands cuffed behind her back. Without provocation, Weaver hit Madison with two blasts of pepper spray to her face. None of the other officers intervened.

Still trussed with handcuffs and leg shackles, Madison was unable to wipe the pepper spray residue from her face. In response to her pleas for help, several troopers – whom she couldn’t identify, because she was blinded from the pepper spray — carried her downstairs and outside the barracks. After being thrown to the snowy ground and doused with a large quantity of water, Madison blacked out. When she regained consciousness, she quickly realized that one or more of the assailants had urinated on her head, face, and neck.

Taken back to inside the barracks, Madison was chained to the bench again and briefly held before being released without receiving medical attention. Eleven days later, she was formally charged with public drunkness and disorderly conduct, and eventually found guilty on both charges.

Responding to Miss Madison’s lawsuit, the State Troopers didn’t contest her account; instead, they claimed that their actions were taken pursuant to their duties, and therefore they were protected by “sovereign immunity,” maintaining that “subduing persons is one of the acts law enforcement officers are employed to perform [and that] officers are also permitted to use force, if necessary, in the commission of their duties.”

Although the State Troopers described Madison as an “out-of-control person,” there is no evidence that she did anything other than express her displeasure over the prospect of being abandoned once Cornell’s vehicle had been towed away.

Displaying an honesty uncommon among those in his profession, U.S. District Judge Gary L. Lancaster rejected the “sovereign immunity” claim. Repeatedly assaulting a handcuffed woman with pepper spray and urinating on her serves “no legitimate law enforcement purpose,” but indicates a “personal motivation, rather than intent to serve the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.” This raises the troubling possibility that behavior of this kind could be considered appropriate if it were “authorized” as a matter of official policy.

A similar possibility was raised by a federal ruling in the case of Niagara, New York resident Ryan S. Smith, who was tortured into providing a DNA sample to police.

Smith, a repeat offender, was suspected of involvement in a July 2006 home invasion and kidnapping. When three of the suspects took one of the hostages to another home, Smith allegedly remained behind to guard two small children, who had been bound and gagged. While there, the suspect helped himself to a soda, apparently unaware that by doing so he would leave behind potentially incriminating DNA evidence.

The residual DNA from the soda can was eventually matched by the FBI’s Combined DNA System (CODIS) with a sample previously taken from Smith. In August 2008, Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza issued an order requiring Smith to provide a DNA sample via a painless swab of his inner cheek. Smith didn’t object, and the sample was taken without difficulty.

At this point, the story becomes complicated by professional incompetence. The Niagara Falls Police sent the sample to the wrong lab, where it was opened and contaminated.

The investigators went back to Judge Sperrazza for a second order, which — unlike the first one – was granted ex parte. This means that Smith’s defense counsel was not informed or consulted. Smith refused to provide a second DNA sample.

This prompted the police to consult with the County District Attorney’s office to learn how much force they could employ to compel Smith to provide potentially self-incriminating evidence – a question that should be foreclosed by the Fifth Amendment.

As Detective Lt. William Thomson would later testify, Assistant Niagara County D.A. Doreen M. Hoffmann, who is presiding over the prosecution of Ryan Smith, instructed the police that “we could use the minimum force that was necessary” to force the suspect to submit to a DNA test.

That formulation is a tautology, since it authorizes the use of any amount of force needed to extract the sample. As long as the police were reasonably careful in calibrating the duress the applied, they could continue escalating the level of force until it broke the suspect; wherever they end up would obviously be the “minimum” necessary to accomplish their objectives.

Smith was brought in handcuffs to the police station and informed that the investigators had been authorized to use physical force. Although nobody intended to harm him, Smith was told, the sample was going to be surrendered; it was just a question of how much he wanted to endure before it was. Smith still refused to comply.

At this point, the police were implicitly authorized to use any method of “pain compliance” they considered appropriate. They could have waterboarded Smith, subjected him to “stress positions,” locked him in a small cell with an insect – in short, they could have employed any of the methods recently extolled by CIA torture supervisor Jose Rodriguez in his recent 60 Minutes interview.

The police elected to use a taser in “drive stun” mode in order to force Smith to cough up the DNA sample. On the basis of that evidence – which was extracted through torture, albeit of a comparatively
mild variety, Smith was hit with a 24-count criminal indictment. He was also charged with “criminal contempt of court” for forcing his interrogators to torture him.

When Smith’s defense counsel filed a motion to suppress the evidence based on Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections, the same Judge who issued the ex parte orders produced a ruling validating the use of taser torture as means of forcing compliance, as long as it’s not done “maliciously” or to “excess.”

Judge Sperrazza is “the first judge in western civilization to say you can use a Taser to enforce a court order,” complained Patrick Balkin, Smith’s defense counsel. Healso pointed out that the precedent could inspire other practical applications of electro-shock “pain compliance”: “They have now given the Niagara Falls police discretion to Taser anybody anytime they think it’s reasonable. [Sperrazza's] decision says you can enforce a court order by force. If you extrapolate that, we no longer have to have child support hearings; you can just Taser the parent.”

In a lawsuit filed against the City of Niagara Falls, Smith alleged that he was “tortured into unconsciousness” by repeated Taser charges. The police investigators insist that they were much gentler in the application
of electro-shock trauma, but their testimony regarding the number and duration of shocks is mutually self-contradictory (as well as inconsistent with the record kept by the Taser unit itself).

Smith was eventually convicted of nearly two dozen offenses. Last March, the New York State Supreme Court overturned Smith’s conviction and ordered a new trial, ruling that the use of a taser to compel the prisoner to surrender a DNA sample was “excessive force.” At the time, Smith “posed no immediate threat to the safety of himself or officers, nor did he attempt to evade the officers by flight,” recounts the decision. Smith “was handcuffed, seated on the floor, and surrounded by three patrol officers and two detectives…. [He] did not threaten, fight with, or physically resist the officers at any time; rather, he simply refused to open his mouth to allow the officers to obtain a buccal swab.”

This is not to say that the ruling foreclosed the future use of taser torture as a police interrogation method. The court suggested that the police could have arrested Smith for “criminal contempt,”
and then obtained “judicial approval to use physical force if necessary to extract the DNA sample.”

On this construction, torture is acceptable as long as it’s committed pursuant to a court order. This would be something akin to a “torture warrant” of the kind suggested by Alan Dershowitz.

That proposal was offered by Dershowtiz a decade ago as a way of addressing a “ticking bomb” scenario involving a hidden nuclear weapon; the New York Supreme Court’s standard would authorize the use of judicially sanctioned torture as an instrument of prosecutorial convenience.

“Criminal means, once tolerated, are soon preferred,” warned Edmund Burke, a maxim abundantly vindicated by the near-ubiquity of torture as a law enforcement tactic in contemporary America.

It’s not too late to oppose this, and if you have even a modest IQ and sense of self-preservation for you and your family, you will.

  • SecretAgentMan

    This piece lost me with the Smith case. The author is apparently unaware that all search warrants are granted ex parte, and have been for over 200 years. Defense counsel’s hyperentilating “extrapolations” are ridiculous excuses for not having an argument. “My Goodness, they’re jailing people for bank robbery! This is tantamount to jailing anyone for anything!” Try taking a buccal swab DNA sample from a suspect who resists and see what happens. You won’t get a usable sample. You will, however, get a wet chunk bitten from your fingers. No law enforcement officer should have to put up with that bull.

    I’d agree that it’s better practice to haul the suspect into court and have a judge explain to him or her that if they continue to resist, they will be found in contempt and still have the sample taken. But the author hysterically calls that a “torture warrant.” Right. Just like dragging a drunk 200 pound woman out of her car, causing her to fall on gravel is “torture,” or putting a wrist-lock on a violent suspect is “torture.”

    • Andy, Bad Person

      Except he didn’t bite them or resist in any way. He simply refused to open his mouth, which warranted the use of the taser, I guess?

      2 questions about the ex parte element, since I’m not versed in criminal law:

      1. You said that search warrants are regularly granted ex parte, and I’ll grant that. Are most orders for DNA samples granted in the same way? That’s what we’re talking about here.

      2. Is it relevant that the ex parte order was not for just for a DNA sample, but for a second sample because the first was handled incompetently by law enforcement?

      • SecretAgentMan

        Right. This isn’t self-defense, but the collection of evidence. The officers don’t have to fear for their safety, and such fear (or lack of it) isn’t relevant to the force they’re entitled to use. When someone refuses to open their mouth for a buccal swab (that’s basically a Q-tip rubbed gently on the inside of the cheek), there are three options. 1. Wait and say pretty please over and over again until the person changes his or her mind. 2. Restrain the person and forcibly pry their jaws open and hold them open until the swab is taken. 3. Do what the officers did. The force used for option 2 will be no less gruesome than the force these officers used, and runs the high risk of breaking out some of the suspect’s teeth or permanently damaging his or her TMJ.

        (A note about CSI-style plots where DNA is recovered from a dixie cup; discarded DNA can be collected, but it won’t substitute for a match with a known exemplar in court. Cases where abandoned DNA is used involve matches which are then used precisely to get the kind of court order we see here, because the match is good enough for probable cause and a warrant, but will not stand up in court to prove guilt. Although advances in technology may eventually put CSI/Minority Report DNA tech in the hands of law enforcement, that day has not come).

        Yes, orders for DNA exemplars are search warrants. The law generally regards DNA like the contents of someone’s house; either a warrant or exigent circumstances (judicially-recognized situtations in which it is impractical to require police to obtain a warrant) to take a known DNA exemplar (i.e., one that’s verified by witnesses as belonging to the suspect). About 11 states have a procedure that is identical to the procedure for obtaining a warrant (judicial authorization, etc.) except that DNA samples can be taken on reasonable suspicion rather than probable cause. One reason I distrust the article is this hyperventilation about ex parte orders; I’ll bet a box of donuts that Smith’s lawyer played that up when talking to the reporter because it *sounds* creepy and unethical, and the reporter’s too credulous to know that it’s routine. Having ex parte warrants is a good balance — it accomodates law enforcement needs to act quickly and without tipping their hand, but makes a permanent written record that the suspect can review and challenge later, possibly suppressing the evidence or even filing a civil suit.

    • Mark Shea

      Okay. But don’t those other stories bother you?

      • SecretAgentMan

        Yes, if they’re true. The reporter’s handling of the Smith case makes me wonder. This stuff is very problematic, particularly given Americans’ penchant for zero-sum attitudes. In the 60s the police were “Gestapo pigs” and now they’re regarded as paragons of ‘Murkin righteousness. Both attitudes are wrong. Police are human beings doing a very stressful and difficult task; sins are to be expected and don’t necessarily prove that police are in a conspiracy to waterboard the American people. At the same time, police are supposed to do a stressful and difficult task; sins are defalcations on their oaths. There’s a lot to reevaluate in American law enforcement, such as the trend to militarize policing styles. But that has to be done responsibly, and I’m sayin’ that the reporter’s handling of the Smith case shows a lack of awareness about everything responsibiity requires.

    • Ted Seeber

      There are other ways to obtain DNA evidence, however. A pair of scissors and access to the prisoner’s hair will do it. No need for a Taser at all.

      • SecretAgentMan

        Hair shafts have mitochondrial DNA, testing of that DNA is expensive and will not provide a positive unique identification. You’d need to pull out multiple hairs by the roots to get the necessary DNA, and by the tone of the report on the Smith case, you’d have to “torture” anyone who wouldn’t keep his head still. That’s assuming he or she isn’t bald, or have hair implants.

  • Michaelus

    DNA is self incrimination. I can refuse to surrender DNA, a kidney, urine, breath etc. just like I can refuse to make any statements at all. In turn the Government of the old USA could but me in jail. Now they can electroshock me until they get what they want.

    • CJ

      This is incorrect as a matter of law. The privilege against self-incrimination only applies to testimony, not production of records, DNA samples, etc..

      • Michaelus

        That’s right – it is now legal to take a man’s DNA, blood, etc. even if you have to kill him to get it I suppose….

    • SecretAgentMan

      By that logic a defendant can’t be required to be fingerprinted or stand in a line-up. The fifth amendment protects us against compulsory self-incrimination, i.e. voluntary statements acknowledging the truth of an accusation or providing information to the state. (And that’s only because the temptations posed to law enforcement and the judicial system to resort to torture or other pressure tactics are too great to allow compelled statements, it’s not because there’s some sacred right not against self-incrimination hewn into the natural law). State compulsion can’t operate on your “choice” to breathe, have fingerprints or urinate because neither of those things is voluntary.

  • Claire

    I also had trouble with the Smith case, inasmuch as it involved home invasion and kidnapping. However, I don’t understand why the suspect could not simply have been found in contempt of court and then imprisoned until he agreed to comply. Extracting a sample by force (or threatening to do so) is indeed a police state tactic. Very troubling piece.

    • SecretAgentMan

      I agree with you and this is a great point. But there are (and ought to be) limits to how long you can hold someone for contempt. Also note that this solution requies jail space and correctional resources, which are tight, and it also allows a suspect to withhold critical evidence, delaying investigation and prosecution of a crime. We should be reluctant to give suspects the ability to frustrate law-enforcement investigations or prosecutions in that way. (Bear in mind, too, that DNA can clear a suspect, which is also a great help to investigations). And sooner or later, the same issue occurs anyway — what do you do with a suspect who simply won’t cooperate no matter how many times a judge scolds and jails him or her? All police tactics are police-state tactics, but that says more about police states than police.

  • ivan_the_mad

    What a brave new world we live in! Remember November, vote Republocrat for even more judicial progress!

  • Anna

    Yep, we just locally had a case where officers Tasered a wheelchair-bound elderly man who “threatened officers with a handful of safety pins.” Apparently he yelled at a staff member who woke him up, hence the calling of cops. But how to oppose this except with “hey, what a rotten thing to do! Whoa, hey, no, wait, I’m just sayin’, I’m not an enemy of the state too!”

  • Rosemarie

    +J.M.J+

    Sometimes I wonder whom we should fear more, the criminals or the police.

    • SecretAgentMan

      That’s a good point. My take is to say that we should fear them equally, but for different reasons.

    • kenneth

      Both. And in fairly equal measure.

  • Hermann

    See, even more reasons NEVER to visit the USA!

    Shalom
    Hermann

    • Chris M

      True.. we should visit safe places like.. umm.. Israel? UK? Greece? Russia? Burma? Thailand? Egypt?

    • Marthe Lépine

      You could still come to Canada… But you need to hurry, our government is working very hard to imitate what is going on in your country.

  • Richard Johnson

    Democrat or Republican, it really doesn’t matter any more. The rights that are ‘granted by the Creator’ can be given or taken by the government.

    We’re seeing lots of stories coming out of the recent Occupy protests. Similar abuses of power by the police (in one case a police van driving through a crowd and striking/injuring several people). Invariably voices on the right pooh-pooh this and say they deserved it.

    I wonder…when the vans start driving through protesting Catholics marching on the White House will they also pooh-pooh the results?

    We’re in this together, folks. The same government that seeks to restrain the rights of religious institutions also wishes to restrain the rights of advocacy groups, minorities, and others.

    • ivan_the_mad

      “Invariably voices on the right pooh-pooh this and say they deserved it.”

      I don’t think you have a very good understanding of what the “right” is, and making statements about “voices on the right” is silly. I can just as validly say “voices on the left played down Obama’s assassination of an American citizen overseas”, and can _very_ credibly say “voices on the left are playing down the use of drones for domestic surveillance”. But statements like these don’t buy anyone anything, and really just seem like smears against the “right” or the “left”, and ignores the fact that there’s a great deal of dissent and disagreement on either “side”.

      But I will agree with your point that we’re all in this together. So stop trying to get in cheap shots, they just diminish the value of this point that you make afterwards. We can spend all day nitpicking about selective outrage on the “right” or the “left”.

  • John

    Yes, Ideas have consequences. The idea that We the People can’t govern ourselves but need a massive “professional” police force to enforce the law leads INEVITABLY to the abuse of such professional guild power. This sort of abuse – that runs the gammut from roughness to abuse to torture (and yes, there are distinctions between the levels of abuse…) is the inevitable result of a population going from citizens to subjects.

    But the situation will not be made better by calling everything “torture”. Just like inter-racial harmony is not promoted by having one side call EVERYTHING it doesn’t like about the other group to be ‘racism’. Yes, lots of things are racist…but not everything. Clarity is crucial.

    Mark’s got a great point – as did Anthony Codvilla (as quoted by Rush Limbaugh last year) about the ‘Ruling Class’ vs. the rest of us….. this is the 99% vs. 1% phenonomenon….both “left” and “right” are seeing the same thing but they tend to lay the identity of the 1% on different actors and thus the solution to the consolidation of power is likewise different. But Ideas have consequences…if the evil 1% are “capitalists” then the solution requires a balance of terror by some equally powerful state apparatus…. whereas is the 1% is the state and capitalists are our saviors we the Ruled can be easily buffaloed into anti-government activities…. In reality, the Ruling Class is really 10% and they control both the Federal Government and the Financial system (including many – though not all – Fortune 500 companies). In this case there is no “either/or” solution to the People being either a political or an economic savior. Our only “solution” is cultural/demographic…the sheer numbers coupled with a huge alliance of groups, associations, churches, religions, non-governmental associations etc. that as the “market” can carve out a counter-weight politically and economically.

    There is no hope for a head-on military or political revolution: the entire apparatus was designed to crush violent revolution and insurrection. The only solution is peaceful mobilization ala Solidarity/Church efforts in Poland. So long as a million people gathered to peacefully meet, pray, communicate etc. the full force of the Police-state and Political apparatus/Intel agencies could do nothing but watch their subjects begin to act like citizens.

    In the USSR like here, there was a whole spectrum of mistreatment of citizens that ran the gammut from rude behavior to torture to genocide… knowing the difference is important but the real fulcrum is to mobilize such a ground swell of public opinion, cultural counter-weights that the authorities and their pay masters become less and less sure that terror will pay off…

    After all, even if we were to get the world on board calling water boarding “torture” who will enforce the law against torture on the torturers who are the Police? Better to mobilize to such a degree that the police simply have to acknowledge the People.

  • kenneth

    “It’s not too late to oppose this, and if you have even a modest IQ and sense of self-preservation for you and your family, you will.”………

    I like to believe this is true, but I have deep doubts about it. We have spent decades building an airtight culture and infrastructure of police state authority. Both political parties have successfully manipulated their bases through fear to ensure that no truly independent voices are heard and that they are only answerable to voters in a purely nominal sense of the word. This or that candidate may fall from time to time but the core consensus will never be seriously challenged. Technology has improved to the point that true totalitarianism is now feasible. Anyone who truly wants to grasp the basis of my pessimism on this count ought to watch “Colossus:The Forbin Project.” Those of you a bit long in the tooth probably have. In a very real sense, we created a similar system. A “machine” which we imbued with the power to destroy us and absolute invulnerability, all on the theory that it was to protect us from “them.” Of course like Forbin, we realize much too late that the thing has an intelligence and a will of its own and that its posture as our obedient servant was an illusion.

    • Joseph

      As long as everyone still has reasonably affordable A/C, comfy couches, and cable television, you won’t see anyone going any further than agreeing that “something must be done” on blogs and internet forums. It’s easier, more convenient, and much more comfortable to complain about it online or while having a few drinks with friends.

      • Richard Johnson

        Amen, Joseph. And when folks do actually decide to take time to go down and protest, these same couch-commentators can be counted on to critique our efforts, our lack of organization, our lack of hygiene, and our lack of jobs. And then they will go back to their “Dancing with Stars” episode.

  • John

    Protest is useless. Action – in terms of violence – is counter productive as the entire system was designed precisely to crush violence and thrive no matter who protests it in the streets. The only way forward is to simultaneously (and via lifestyle changes) begin to take one’s own family off the systems’ life-support/dependency grid; the more debt you have, the more you need their financing, fire, police, electricity, etc. the more your food, education, housing, retirement, entertainment, inspiration, etc. is dependent on the vast panoply of Federal, state, local government “services” and the oligarchy’s Media complex…. the more utterly trapped you are.

    But no one can go cold turkey – no one can go ‘off grid’ without losing civilization (or becoming even more easy pickings by the same system). The only future for us – is the only path of all peoples in past collapsed empires: seek to beef up family ties, local neighborhood involvement, community building, church building, non-governmental associations (scouts, sports, civil clubs)…. pay off your debts (car, credit, mortgage) and live without credit (no credit cards, no loans…)… slowly de-couple from the system that declares it utterly vital that the police/fire/emt etc. be in your life or you’re helpless before nature or criminals…. ditto with higher education, food and fuel and energy consumption: we’re told we have to put up with so much “just because” – from GMOs to high fuel and energy costs to high costs of tuition, health care etc. when in reality high prices are choices.

    This is not to “go Galt” – and it’s not to run off into easily besieged compounds or give the alphabet agencies excuse to crush militias. We need to live independence in reality before we can hope to win it “de jure”.


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