The New Terrapin Gazette

Number 307
28 May, 2013

A fact, once discovered, leads an existence of its own, and enters into relations with other facts of which their discoverers have never dreamt. Apollonius of Perga discovered the laws of the useless curves which emerge when a plane intersects a cone at various angles: these curves proved, centuries later, to represent the paths followed by planets, comets, rockets, and satellites.

The Implications Of Being Recorded, Virtually All The Time

Never mind the actual statistics: the simple fact is, closed circuit TV cameras are just about everywhere. The main purpose seems to be to aid in crime prevention. (Here is a London camera, for example.) The Google “Glass” has made its debut, and evidently some folks are eager and prepared to do violence to anyone who presumes to record them with it.

Russians have been using dashboard-mounted video cameras in their cars for some time, and the results posted on the internet are pretty convincing: do NOT drive in Russia!

What do you think? Do you take the Nixonian view that people deserve to have privacy so they can vent, say stupid things and not be held to account for them, and propose preposterous ideas that are just empty talk and not conspiracies? Or should we all be held accountable for our ravings, however insincere — and however private we thought they were?

This newsletter has never approved of the politics of Castroite Cuba, which has an informer on every block and an informer behind the informer to make sure the first informer informs. Privacy is not the issue — intrusion is. Political correctness is fascism, and whatever abets it is evil. With increased surveillance come intimidation and diminished freedom of speech.

Perhaps the quintessential Utopian state is the best possible example of omnipresent surveillance, and perhaps it serves as the best reason to look askance at Google’s Glass (more here and then here). The reference here is to the defunct nation deceitfully named Die Deutsche Demokratische Republik, which was more correctly referred to as communist East Germany. The Stasi (here as well) was the relevant agency of that nefarious entity, and its activities epitomize the full implications of the “wearable computer”.

If you encounter a techno-hipster wearing a Google “Glass”, perhaps you should say: “I see you are recording me and my words. For that record, I declare that I shall say and do things that are intended to mislead you and anyone who plays the audio-video record back; I shall lie and dissemble; I shall be play-acting. Nothing recorded or retrieved here is to be misinterpreted as necessarily sincere, truthful, representative or accurate.”

This newsletter has expounded at length on the concept of privacy, and will be happy to provide anyone with copies of those essays. For now, the word from here is, “May Google Glass and all devices like it be no more permanent than the egregious sartorial fads of the 1970s.”

Let it be noted as well that NTG endorses the video recording of the activities of law enforcement agencies as they go about their activities. Those folks need watching more than do randomly selected segments of the public.

Assorted Ruminations On Justice And Journalism

This is what happens when a man is placed above the law: click and ponder. In fact it might be useful to compare Holder with Adolf Eichmann. Each ascended to heights from which he could with impunity sink to ethical depths. No one should be invulnerable, unaccountable, above reproach, uncontrollable except by his political master. In such circumstances, the inner moral compass can too easily malfunction. Power corrupts….

Holder represents the heart and soul of Obamite collectivism, minus the antiquated economic nonsense. He is the poster boy for authoritarian injustice. If Obama ever manages to arm and train his “national civilian security force” (which was created on paper by the same legislation that created Obamacare), men like Holder will be its leaders. They will, aping Holder, brook no opposition, whether constitutional or popular. This is the wellspring of tyranny: the mindset of the fanatic who cuts the Gordian knot and soldiers on, regardless. Such men are not and never can be genuine civil servants.

It will be interesting to see how the Department of Justice handles this case. Holder will have to be very careful; if he prosecutes and loses, that could encourage rogue reporters to go after inconvenient truths (of which the current administration has many). If he prosecutes and wins, the news media might be embarrassed by the unintended consequences: either a segment of the public might perceive the media as under political control, or the press might howl at restriction of its first amendment rights. In the latter instance, one should be reminded of Ellsberg’s revelation of the infamous “Pentagon Papers” and the publication of them by the NY Times and the Washington Post. The evil duo of Nixon and (Attorney General) Mitchell tried in vain to enforce injunctions that forbade publication, but they did not attempt to put any journalists in prison for having received and published classified material. As the link above makes clear, Obamites are more ambitious. That’s probably the shade of Alinsky whispering in a few highly-placed ears….

Meanwhile, the lapdog media are losing some credibility with the public, and consequent rejoicing on the political right verges on triumphalism. The celebrations are premature. Remember, Pilgrims: to be effective, censorship does not have to be total. “Effective” means winning elections where a fifty-one percent majority is all you need. The media understand that, and have made it work well — not perfectly — for many years. Recent events simply show that it’s harder to control the narrative now, and in this case, the blundering and lying of the Obamites were too obvious.

A libertarian/”wingnut” weblogger explains the IRS scandal more precisely than this newsletter has:

The Tea Party movement is a bourgeois revolution. The Washington Establishment, regardless of party, does not wish to be bound by bourgeois conventions, which limit power most irksomely. Much of the revolution of the 1960s was about overthrowing those constraints on the ruling class, after all.

That’s true, of course, and none of it contradicts the “Thomas Becket” rationale found in Number 306 of NTG. Summing up: the scandal involves control issues mixed with ideology and laced with rogue authoritarian contempt for the rule of law; that latter point should not be ignored. In fact the IRS employees who harassed the Tea Partiers broke federal rules. That’s the Ruling Bicoastal Elite doing what it must to cling to power.

For more libertarian-biased commentary, Reason can be depended on. Collectivists loathe those people.

This next item is as closely related as a second cousin: a columnist at the Wall Street Journal tries to explain “How Obama’s ‘smart’ government became abusive government”. Of course virtually no Obamites, no matter what they say for public consumption, consider the overweening use of federal authority truly abusive. They see the IRS as an instrument of policy and an expedient means of controlling the narrative. For them, the ethically unimpeachable quest for Utopia more than justifies repression.

The next link takes you to a dose of pure “wingnut” vitriol. Then there is a less passionate chronological list of references to be found at this weblog.

Finally, the Wall Street Journal has some very knowledgeable people on its staff; this documented commentary puts Obamoid abuse of the IRS into historical perspective. Here’s part two of the story. Highest recommendation.

Notes And Snippets

Taxes

What is wrong here?

“In times of tight budgetary constraints and expenditure cuts, combating tax fraud and tax evasion is more than an issue of tax fairness,” reads the invitation to the Brussels meeting. “It has become essential for the political and social acceptability of fiscal consolidation.”

Nothing is wrong, you say? Quite the contrary, for the article from which this sentence is taken is about tax avoidance. Clearly, the author intends to convince you that avoidance is the same as evasion; were it otherwise, he would never have included this quote. Well, read the article and see where you come down on the issue — but do remember, please, that avoidance of taxes is not illegal, anywhere and any time. The real problem is that governments can never get enough, and they obtain money by confiscating it. In a rational world, no law would enable that, for it is actually theft. Further, consider the unasked, unanswered question that is central to the entire discussion: what do companies do with money they did not surrender to the tax collectors?

The ethics of tax collectors

There’s a trenchant and brief discussion of the behavior of the USA’s income tax agency on a weblog maintained by a law professor. It deals with the moral considerations that underlie the current dispute.

This newsletter continues to refer to Thomas Becket, because it seems likely that the federal employees were doing what they thought was politically correct and would please their hero. And yes, Obama is a kind of hero for collectivists. He has clearly indicated that he intends to save the nation by borrowing and spending, and that tax policy is an instrument of munificence that allows the just to reclaim wealth from those who have too much. The short-term goal appears to be fairness, and the long-term consequences — which include increasing dependence on the generosity of the Ruling Elite — appear to include a dystopia.

Those views are open to dispute, of course, but if the argument begins with agreement on one fundamental contention, they are irrational and false. That contention, simply stated: that free markets do not work. If the economy is truly unable to determine prices, see to the production and distribution of goods and services, and increase prosperity while decreasing poverty, then Team Obama is correct: the more the government controls the economy, the better for everyone. So far, the electorate still has the ability to choose which path the nation will take, but it must be noted that while the resort to dependency can be chosen at any time, once that choice is made, the alternative choice ceases to exist — unless it is created by a violent revolution.

A devastating weblog post written by a prosecutor:

Lois Lerner didn’t just take the Fifth. She gave a little speech first saying she had done nothing wrong. That certainly opens her up to some questions, although the extent to which it does is debatable.

Imagine the following sequence of questions:

1) Did you do anything wrong?

2) Do you think that it would be wrong to target conservative groups because of their ideology?

3) Did you target conservative groups because of their ideology?

Given that Lois Lerner gave an opening statement in which she said that she had not done anything wrong, it would be interesting to see where along this group of three questions she decided to take the Fifth.

Would she, having declared that she did nothing wrong, refuse to answer a question asking her whether she had done anything wrong? Refusing to answer a question simply asking her to reaffirm something she already said would not only be legally improper, in my view, it would also look like game playing.

Would she declare that she had done nothing wrong, but refuse to answer questions about whether targeting conservative groups for their political views is wrong? Even though that question does not directly ask anything about what she did? That would probably blunt the force of her declaration that she did nothing wrong.

Or would she declare that she did nothing wrong, and agree that targeting conservative groups is wrong — but refuse to say whether she targeted conservative groups?

I hope that when they bring her back before the committee they ask questions like this.

There are going to be a certain number of questions that are designed for the cameras. Did you target conservative groups? Did President Obama tell you to target conservative groups? Did you kill Grandma and bury her body out behind the woodshed? Congressman will ask her questions like this in order to get her to respond by taking the Fifth, hoping that it will make her look guilty.

But a more targeted group of questions that relate directly to the content of her opening statement would be more advisable in my opinion. At the very least, they should follow up each question they ask concerning her actions with the question: “Would it be wrong to do that?”

Either she will refuse to answer questions about whether obviously wrong actions are wrong — or, having declared she did nothing wrong, she will be required to answer questions about whether she took these actions.

Embryonic catastrophes and their remedies

Protecting the (very important!) bee: a ban of specific chemicals — neonicotinoids — is going into effect in Europe.

Iran is trying to crack (not “hack”, please!) into US energy companies and the SCADA networks they depend on. If the mullahs succeed, they could shut much of the USA down and indignantly deny having done anything at all. What would the proper response be? More importantly, when will Washington finally realize that critical networks must be disconnected from telephone lines, thereby rendering them utterly inaccessible via the internet?

Assuming racism exists where it does not

The term “tar baby” is not racially coded. It means a trap for the meddlesome. Breitbart Journalism claims “Tar baby is considered a racially-coded, derogatory term, especially when used in reference to black Americans.” In fact to refer to a person as a tar baby is to claim that any attempt to involve oneself with that individual can only result in chaos. Certainly code words have been used to refer to black folks; George Wallace — if memory serves — used to call African-Americans “Japanese Presbyterians”. Well, literate individuals should not be condemned for their use of such expressions as “a black mood”, “a black-hearted villain”, and “tar baby”. Those who are too sensitive about racial stereotyping run the risk of becoming not just holier than thou, but too eager to identify and denounce miscreants. That punitive streak is often paired with condescending, patronizing attitudes, producing a noblesse oblige that insults the very people for whom those politically correct hearts bleed.

Links

More trouble appears to be on the way for Team Obama.

New concept that’s not so new: mobile phones that can detect radioactivity and expose nuclear weapons. The idea was reported in issue Number 49 of this newsletter, which appeared in late 2009. Perhaps the notion is coming of age.

More on the claimed AGW consensus. The post provides a comprehensive view of the concept.

The One cautions the young to avoid the seductive promises of Utopians.

This horror demands an answer: how long will it take Muslim reformers to bring their religion into the second half of the twentieth century? Highly recommended. (If you have trouble accessing this commentary, try a search engine; use “melanie phillips denial is still a river in londinistan” as the search terms.)

This author insists that the USA will accept a nuclear-armed Iran. His understanding of how Obama thinks and what the president plans might be correct.

International cooperation on the identification of and research into possibly pandemic disease is inadequate, as this report indicates. Mistakes like this only lend credibility to conspiracy theories regarding the greed and immorality of pharmaceutical companies, scientists and governments.

This is an efficient way for “green” pressure groups to get the executive branch of the US government to do their bidding — without involving Congress or the public. It’s clever and anything but transparent. Didn’t The One promise enhanced transparency from his administration?

Obamacare: dangerous to your health. That’s explained in a short video that is excellent supplementation for your factual deficiency.

Your brother-in-law is not the world’s most incompetent male, after all. This guy beats him.

The author of this piece in The Atlantic tries to make sense of the confusion surrounding leaks, reporters, ethics and the law. Your opinion could be miles from his, of course — and might even focus more on the magazine than on the topic.

Finally, here’s an alternative to Drudge: use your search engine to get the URL for “news in two minutes youtube” and subscribe to the News in Two Minutes Channel. After viewing the video each morning, look just below the video screen where the publication date is listed in boldface; a bit farther down, you will see “Show more”. Click on those words to see URLs for the news stories summarized in the video. Recommended.

‘Round and ’round, the cut of the plow in the furrowed field
Seasons round, the bushels of corn and the barley meal
Broken ground, open and beckoning to the spring; black dirt live again

The plowman is broad as the back of the land he is sowing
As he dances the circular track of the plow ever knowing
That the work of his day measures more than the planting and growing
Let it grow, let it grow, greatly yield

The masthead includes a quote from the works of Arthur Koestler.

The staff of The New Terrapin Gazette expresses its sincere gratitude to the many people who have gifted the world with Slackware Linux, Emacs, and Firefox.

Publisher: The Eagle Wing Palace of The Queen Chinee.