Sunday, August 24, 2008

Texas Tyranny and Braveheart Sam

This article originally appeared on Aug 22nd, 2008 in

I have a new hero. He calls himself Sam I am and he´s from Texas. He has bravely decided to take on a gang of thugs, liars and thieves armed with nothing but a camera. He put his life and fortune at risk to expose these criminals. He rattled their cages a little and got under their skin. He took a big chance, realizing the violence they could perpetrate upon him, and yet he stuck to his quest and managed to film their shady activities for all the world to see. You can see the results here:

If you go to the above link and watch the videos, you will see that Sam I am is taking on the Texas justice system. He felt that there was an inherent conflict of interest in the system and wanted to demonstrate this for all to see. As he explains, he was pulled over by two armed men and detained for forty five minutes while they questioned him. According to Sam, they did not show him proper ID and did not tell him why he was being detained. They demanded he appear to be judged by one of their black robed men under the threat of being kidnapped and thrown in a cold cage if he should have decided not to show up. Knowing that any black robed man behind a bench would be paid by the same people that paid the uniformed men who had detained him, Sam felt that perhaps there was a conflict of interest here and that he would not be fairly judged. He decided to confront these people who seem to believe they are better than the rest of us. He armed himself with a video camera for his own protection and thought he might ask a few questions to get a better understanding of the nature of our convoluted justice system. What he found was deeply disturbing to anyone who loves freedom and wants to live their lives free of tyranny.

The first thing Sam discovered is that these people are very afraid of video cameras. They don´t want their actions to be public knowledge. They seem to want to prevent the "common folk" from finding out some little secret. They also appear to be frightened of questions. The man in the black robe who calls himself "judge" is especially adverse to answering any questions one may have. How dare anyone question his authority? How dare anyone not understand the nature of his proceedings? Doesn´t everyone know we are all to simply bow down before him and do his bidding, no questions asked? And how dare anyone bring a recording device into a courtroom? Why, all the proceedings are recorded by the state sanctioned stenographer, as they have been for centuries. No need to bring a twenty first century device which would reveal all into the room. Certainly the stenographer, who by the way is paid by the same people who pay the judge and the police, certainly he would never make a mistake, lie, change the testimony or bare false witness should something go amiss. There´s a reason these people do the things the way that they do them, and I highly doubt it has anything to do with protecting the accused against the power of the state.

The refusal of the judge – who is supposed to be a servant of the people, not their master – to allow a video camera into the courtroom should concern everyone. After all, if he´s not doing anything illegal, if he´s not doing anything wrong, then he should have nothing to worry about. Isn´t that what they always tell us when they want to intrude on our privacy? His refusal to give straight forward answers to straight forward questions should be of even greater concern. How is one supposed to defend oneself in a system where the judge refuses to explain the rules of the game? Sam should be ashamed of himself for wishing to obtain knowledge. Why, doesn´t he know that in the courtroom the judge´s word is law? To him, it matters not what any silly state constitution might say. He can change the rules anytime he wants if they get too inconvenient. After all, it´s his courtroom, right?

Then there´s the judge´s insistence that Sam hire a lawyer to answer his questions. It seems to me that here we have another inherent flaw in the system. First off, hiring a lawyer for a traffic ticket is a bit like hiring a mechanic to fill up your gas tank. You´re just going to pay that much more for the gas. After all, defense lawyers swear an oath to the same powers that judges and prosecutors do. They´re all on the same team! They´ve all joined the same club. They´re all there for the purpose of relieving the common folk of their cash. Besides, it´s always been my understanding that the law should to be clear and concise so that everyone can understand it. Why have we allowed it to become so complicated that only a certain class of people can understand it? Why have we allowed a ruling class to develop in this country where everyone is created equal? How did we devolve to such a point where men´s egos become so important that they believe themselves to be of more value than their fellow human beings? How did we become a nation of wimps who have forsaken their God given rights and allowed such individuals to rule over us like kings without even questioning what was happening?

Then there´s Sam. He´s a man who wants to learn, wants to defend himself, and yet the man who calls himself judge does not respect this. After entering a plea for Sam – a blatant conflict of interest since no one should be able to both act as a judge in a person´s case and represent him – the railroading really begins. Rather than simply ask Sam what it was he didn´t understand, "judge" orders one of his uniformed men to remove him from the courtroom. It is out in the hallways of this public building that we find out the real shocker. The police, those who are supposed to protect the rights of individuals, those who swore and oath to uphold the constitution of the state of Texas, don´t care about their oaths. They are more concerned with the orders of their master, the man known as "judge". It is they who ultimately empower him.

And so it is for Sam, taking on the system for something that could have easily been dealt with for a few bucks. Indeed, many of us would probably have buckled and paid the extortion demanded by these men who believe themselves better than us commoners. Why bother with something that would make us feel so uncomfortable? Why challenge something that seems so small? It´s not just the money, it´s the principle. We need men like Sam to remind us of these things. We need to remember out dignity. We need to remember that we are a nation of free people, not a nation of sheep willing to follow without question whatever hollow men present themselves as authority. Indeed, our forefathers founded this nation because they questioned authority. They bravely stood up to a very powerful authority, the most powerful of its day. And that is what Sam has done.

It has been the small things that have mattered. It is the small things that have been used to slowly convince us to stop caring about the liberties we once proudly proclaimed we would die to protect. It is in small ways and with guile that our politicians and justice officials have been able to convince us that we should allow them to stop respecting our rights and start violating them. Sam has concerned himself with something small to alert us to something big. He has done so in a very brave manner, putting himself in harm´s way to sound the alarm to the rest of the freedom loving people´s of the world. He is a freedom lover and a hero much like William Wallace was, and so I name him Braveheart Sam. I wish him the best of luck and pray he gets the backing he deserves.

Politicians, Gods and Messiahs

This article was originally published on Aug. 10, 2008 at

I heard a conversation take place the other day where one person was explaining to another how he felt about Barack Obama. He told this woman that to him, and to people in his generation, Barack Obama represented the same hope that Jack Kennedy had represented to that generation. This statement sent shivers down my spine. Here was a man in his late fifties not only comparing Barack Obama to John F. Kennedy, (no offense, but Mr. Obama is no John F. Kennedy) but he´s hanging his hopes and dreams on one individual who has an undetermined agenda, may have a questionable past, and has a collectivist voting record. I think this man´s faith is misplaced and the thought that there are millions more out there like him disturbs me.

Let´s start with the John F. Kennedy thing. I was born the year Mr. Kennedy was elected president and was only three when he was assassinated, so I personally remember nothing about his presidency. What I know about him I know from what I´ve read in history and what I´ve read I liked. One of the things I understand about JFK is that he was not a fan of the Federal Reserve or of central banks in general. He was a threat to them. Mr. Obama has not taken such a position. JFK also took a stand against secrecy and secret societies. Mr. Obama has done no such thing. Many have suggested that it was these facets of John F. Kennedy´s policies along with his brother´s stance against organized crime that got him assassinated. It appears to me that Mr. Obama is working with the establishment rather than against it. He may promise change, but all I hear is propaganda and happy speak spewing from his mouth and all I see is more of the same should he be elected. He offers no real change and any change that should come about from his promises will not necessarily be change for the better.

Yet this is nothing new. People have always expected their politicians to save them from some perceived injustice or threat ever since they ceded their own personal responsibility and thrust it upon some appointed leader. Even back in the days of the Roman Empire the leaders were considered gods. In fact, it was mandated that the people worship them as gods. It is frightening to consider that this is the direction our nation is taking. The United States of America was supposed to be a country based on the premise that all men are created equal, not the premise that there is one among us who is more perfect than the rest of us. It was based on the premise that each individual can best determine his own needs, not the premise that one amongst us knows what´s best for all. It was based on the idea that individuals and localities could best determine which policies suited the general area, not the idea that a centralized government or a single leader should force some utopian idea down the throats of all Americans in a one sized fits all construct.

In the days of the Roman Empire it was easy to keep the people worshipping the state. There were threats surrounding them. Armies of "barbarians" gathered on the borders of the empire and threatened the citizens of Rome. The "less civilized" peoples of the world were easy targets for the Roman leaders to demonize and attack. The people of the Roman Empire often looked to their military and their emperor for protection. It´s not so simple in today´s world. Boogie men are harder to come by. Sometimes they may need to be invented or a group may need to be labeled and marginalized to provide the necessary fear factor. In this way modern man will look to his leaders for protection, so that he may be "saved" from some perceived threat. In this way he will give up his liberties for a measure of security. In this way one may very well be conned into giving up his rightful property for an empty promise. As it was in Roman times, so it has become presently.

The emperors of Rome had other ways of controlling the masses besides the fear of attack from the outside and the promise of safety the military provided. They also knew the value of spectacle. They knew the benefit they could derive from public works. They also understood the concept of class warfare and knew very well how to play the people of one class against another. In this way they could keep the populace entertained and prevent them from realizing they were being fleeced. In this way they could keep groups of people focusing their ire on other groups rather than on the elite atop the economic pyramid. Modern politicians work in much the same way. They promise the fruits of other people´s labor to those considered less fortunate while the political class and their friends wallow in unearned wealth. They keep the focus of the people off those who are truly conspiring to manipulate them by delivering to them gifts stolen from the public treasury. With such promises it is no wonder the masses will look upon them with the adoration usually reserved for gods. In this way the masses give up their self reliance and become dependent on those in power to provide for them. As it was in the time of the Roman Empire, so it has become presently.

The mass media is only too happy to provide spectacle for the masses. With the promise that the huge media conglomerates will be able to keep their information monopolies they are just as happy to project a positive image of any politician they anoint as the chosen one. In such a manner they can decide which image to promote and which stories to bury so the common man perceives a diluted and manipulated picture of those who seek power. In this way those who own the media also own the politician. Even the vilest, most depraved human can worm his way into the hearts of millions so long as he says what the people want to hear and the media shows only what it wants the public to see. Like the emperor of old presiding over the gladiatorial games, the masses see only a strong, vibrant personage in the public figure of their future leader. It is a distorted view the masses see. It is a dangerous practice to put the faith of a populace in the hands of such a figure. Perhaps the old adage that some things never change applies here.

The founders of this nation gave us a gift. Though that gift is embodied in the Constitution of this land and the Declaration of Independence that helped birth our nation, those documents are not the gift I speak of. The founders of the United States of America, having been brought up in the age of enlightenment, understood the principles of liberty, personal responsibility and self reliance. They chose these principles as a template for building the nation. They understood the folly of giving too much power to one man, or to one class, and fought to prevent such a situation from happening to their progeny. The Constitution has been ignored and defiled for decades now, but the founders taught us what it means to be free. That is their gift, and hopefully their ultimate legacy.

We should regain our self reliance. We should stop depending on others to do so for us. We should take matters into our own hands. We should reclaim our liberty and our power. We should strip the federal government of its control of our lives and shrink it down to the point where we´re hardly aware it even exists. Decentralization is what´s needed now, not bigger government, more bureaucracy and failed wealth redistribution schemes. We need to stop believing that some messiah is going to come to our rescue and show us the way to some promised land. Each one of us needs to be his own savior. Each one of us needs to be the change he desires.

The Fear of Failure, the Failure to Allow Failure

This article was originally published on Aug 1st, 2008 at

When I was in the fourth grade, I had a friend named Andy. I walked to school with him every day. Back then we had neighborhood schools, so we were allowed to walk home at lunch time to enjoy a home made meal. People might say that times were different then, that people were different, but I don´t believe we were so much different than we are now. I don´t believe that the nature of human beings has changed, but perhaps the attitudes reflected in our society have.

Andy would pick me up in the mornings and we´d walk to school together, then at noon break we´d walk together as far as we could until we had to separate to go to our respective homes. After lunch, I often times walked back to school alone. Andy often failed to make it back to school on time. He was tardy quite often during the course of the year. As a result, when the final grades came out and we were passed to the next grade, Andy was held back. He failed to move on that year and would be forced to spend an extra year in school.

I doubt very much a similar circumstance could occur in today´s society. Even if it did, it is not likely one of today´s schools would fail Andy and hold him back. We as a society seem to have developed this fear of failure, as if to say that failure is bad and should not be tolerated. It is a fear that is unwarranted, in my opinion. Failure can and should be a good thing if one learns from it and deals with it accordingly. As it turns out, Andy was hardly ever tardy again after that year. The importance of punctuality was a lesson he learned well. To this day Andy is very conscientious of the time and is certain to keep any appointment he makes. Had he not been allowed to fail in the fourth grade, had he not learned his lesson back then, there is every possibility that he may have learned it in a far more significant way when he got older, such as by not finding employment or getting fired from a job. As it is, things turned out fine, which they usually do.

Today´s students are never held back. They hardly ever fail. This is because educators have become afraid that failing a child may hurt his self esteem. They seem to fear that the child will learn the wrong kind of lesson and turn into a psycho killer or something if one should fail. More likely the child will learn that the behavior or non behavior he engaged in will lead to failure and therefore change the undesired behavior. Unfortunately, this type of attitude has crept up from the educational system and leached into our nation´s economic system.

Recently in the news there´s been several bailout stories including Bear Stearns, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. There´s all kinds of fears surrounding what would happen should these institutions fail. Politicians and those in power seem to believe that should these institutions fail the world would come to an end, or at least the economy would come crashing down around us. Perhaps it would, but perhaps not. We will never know because these behemoths, these privately owned publicly traded companies, will be or have been bailed out using our money, the money the hard working middle class of this great nation have labored hard for. The extremely wealthy caretakers and the investors who should be lamenting their poor judgment will benefit while the working class foots the bill, with interest that could keep our progeny in debt for generations, all because of fear of failure.

Now, I don´t claim to know what would happen if these institution failed like some financial psychics might, but I can tell you some things that will or will not happen because of the bailout. New opportunities for small businesses to step in and take up the slack, for innovation to occur within the home mortgage industry and for competition to develop and thrive in that industry will not present itself. CEOs and others in charge of these huge companies will not have to be held accountable for their mistakes. They will not lose their fortunes because of their bad decisions. They will not learn from their mistakes and so they are likely to make the same mistakes again. They will learn that failure is no big deal and that they will be rewarded by their friends in Washington DC and given billions of stolen tax dollars to play with when they err. They will basically come to understand that when an institution becomes more or less a government sanctioned monopoly fiscal responsibility and common sense are unnecessary to keep the company afloat.

Failure should be a learning experience. It is what helps make a man or woman understand why things are done a certain way and not another. It helps people understand the importance of certain facets of human existence. When there is a system built up that fails to allow failure, than the system itself is doomed to eventually fail, for those lessons are not learned by the people on top and so they will continue to make the same mistakes that lead to failure. It is like the accountant who insists that two plus two is five. Until he learns that two plus two is four, he will continue to fail to keep accurate books and will one day have to learn reality the hard way. One day, the piper must be paid and I´m not so sure I want to be around when that day comes.

Failure should not be feared. It is a fear that stems from uncertainty of an unknown. Yet hasn´t mankind survived these kinds of situations before? Haven´t we shown our resilience and our resolution in the past? When a house burns down, certainly it´s a tragedy and we wonder what will happen next, but we keep on living and we rebuild. Whenever disaster strikes, we pull ourselves up and rebuild. The same can happen if our institutions fail. It might take some time to get over the initial shock and assess the situation, but eventually the industry would rebuild itself and life would move forward, perhaps even improve. In the case of the above mentioned institutions, fear won out and those in power refused to allow failure. Perhaps in the future we can prove ourselves a little bit braver.