July 25, 2010

Book Burning in the Digital Age... and so it begins

The battle of the copyright is a long and sordid tale on the internet. Most folks are familiar with the old days of Napster, and the record companies suing the pants off of soccer-Moms because their kids had downloaded songs to the family computer. More recently as technology has continued to advance, we have seen movie companies also come into the fold along with the music companies, often suing to shut down websites that host torrent files of copyrighted material, as well as still going after the individual on occasion. At the end of the day though, most folks aren't overly concerned about those issues. Music and movies are creative expressions and public past-times for the most part, not exactly a priority in this day and age. It all sounds like a lot of hair-splitting over profits that no one really wants to be bothered with. Sure artists are entitled to make money from their work. But at the same time, when someone shells out $20 for a CD that has one good song on it, it's clearly a rip-off scheme by the recording industry too. A big ball of frustration and argument that is best left to the folks who have a vested interest in the fight. The whole debate has just soured many people to listening to music or watching movies at all. Easier just to flip on the radio or the TV and be done with it. Music and movies just aren't much fun as a hobby anymore, which is probably a bigger reason for any perceived loss of revenue for these big companies than anything else. Some folks have just decided to grow up faster than we would have liked to, wistfully leaving pop-culture behind to focus on more important issues. Like freedom of speech, perhaps.

Now anyone who has had contact with American society in the past fifteen years or so has heard all about these copyright lawsuits, and has probably heard the argument that it is all “really about freedom of speech.” Most of us never really bought into that though. It wasn't really about freedom of speech so much as buying a cable modem and ripping enough tracks to make a mix disc for the weekend, and to make it worth the money you were shelling out for the broadband connection. But as it turns out, these freedom-loving pirate pioneers might have had more insight than most of us ever gave them credit for. It's not just about ripping a free copy of some crappy pop jam anymore. The debates over sharing content over the internet are no longer the frontier of internet free-speech. The goalposts have been on the move it seems.

In 1993 there were about 50 corporations that controlled just about all of the media in the United States. Newspapers, magazines, radio, television, the works. By 2004, we were down to only five corporations controlling it all. Since the collapse of United Press International, the Associated Press has been the one and only national news service in the United States. This means that just about all the news you see is filtered through this one single company. Even local news from your home town is partially owned by the AP, as part of their agreement with smaller news agencies that make up their network. If there is a big enough story in your hometown, it gets handed up to the AP and sent out across the wires to be picked up by every other news agency across the country, as an AP article, not usually even giving a mention of your local hometown newspaper or reporter that broke the story. But in return, these smaller news agencies get to print other AP news, which accounts for just about anything that is being reported on any given day. This gives the AP a huge amount of leverage over how news gets reported, even if it does not originate with them. No news agency would dare defy the AP, and risk losing their agreement to print just about anything that is being considered news. It would be business suicide. The mainstream media in America is a network dominated by the AP. Not exactly an ideal arrangement for the promise of free speech. There was a time that we as freedom-loving Americans saw a singular state-controlled media as the hallmark of an evil totalitarian Communist regime, but would it really be any better to have a single corporation reporting all of the news rather than the state? Hardly. That would simply make it the hallmark of a Fascist totalitarian state rather then a Communist one. You see, Communism is what you get when the government controls business. Fascism is what you get when business controls government. In a nutshell anyway.

Thanks to technology, we still have a bastion of free speech with the internet. Even while your average American is content to sit back and zone out to regurgitated tabloid news, for many of us, the internet is as enlightening as it can be frustrating and confusing, navigating the back corridors of truth. The news here is not pre-packaged and heated in the microwave. It is raw, and requires critical thinking, cleverness, memory. In short, here you have to stop and think. If the truth is handed to you on a silver platter, it just might not be the truth, just like that might not be beef in that fast food taco. It's a shame that more folks aren't interested to look a little deeper into things, and are content to take the half-truths of the mainstream media as a complete source of important information. But at least the rest of us have the internet, this beacon of liberty and free speech. Well, for the moment anyway. It seems that our days may be numbered, and dwindling fast now.

Back in the summer of 2008, the Associated Press, a monolithic news agency with a litigious history decided it was going to set the precedent for how their material was disseminated across the internet, by issuing Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notices to bloggers and news aggregators they claimed were violating their copyright and additionally were accused of “hot news” misappropriation under New York State law. They had already slapped two companies with copyright lawsuits not long before, one in Florida. In essence, this was the beginning of the AP trying to force the entire U.S.-based internet to become another one of their subsidiaries under licensing agreement.

Now to really understand this, we need to have a look at what is called the “fair use” act. What it tells us first is that copyrighted material can be used without permission, for such purposes as “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.” Seems quite reasonable, but too bad it's not quite that simple. You see, there really are no set guidelines. Even from that list there can be any number of exceptions based on the nature of the copyright work, potential profits from someone who is citing the work, and so forth. It is all so completely ambiguous that they might just as well have said, “Use whatever you want at your own risk because it's all up to the judge anyway.” That's really no exaggeration. Rulings in one case will not necessarily be used as a precedent in the next, particularly in civil suits, though copyright violation can be a criminal matter as well. There are no set standards for selected content, length or proportions of quotations, or potential market impact. Nevertheless, it has still been used as a general guideline for everyone from internet bloggers to public school teachers. An example might be the playing of a movie in the auditorium of a public school for students. It may not be considered a violation of copyright because it is being used for educational purposes. But if that same movie were to be played in an auditorium full of families at the ice-cream social gathering where goodies were being sold to raise money for a field trip, that could very well indeed be ruled as a liability through public dissemination of copyrighted material. Many restaurants can no longer sing the “Happy Birthday” song to patrons on their special day because of the threat of copyright lawsuits.

Across the internet though, it has been generally understood by bloggers and members of discussion forums and so forth, that news reports are not treated with the same level of copyright scrutiny as other media such as movies and music. After all, news is a relatively public matter anyway. Granted, reporters work hard often risking life and limb to get their stories, other staff all do their jobs, the news agencies have their expenses and financial obligations to investors, but at the end of the day the events they are reporting on are public events that they are willfully sharing with the greater public. In print they share it with the public for pocket change, but on their own internet sites they even share the news for free, and quite often encourage viewers to share it on networking tools such as Twitter or an RSS feed. The profitability in news reporting is not in the news itself, but in advertising revenues from companies who know that people will see their ad when they come to find out the news of the day, whether it be in print, over the airwaves, or over the internet. So really, it is in the best interest of any news agency to get the news out there as far and wide as possible, so long as they are referenced in some way. Let's not forget the old adage “there's no such thing as bad press.”

Copying and pasting an entire article may be seen as not really acting in good faith on the part of the blogger, but so long as it is properly attributed, it really should not be of serious concern to a news company. It's not really going to cost them anything. No one is going to decide that they would rather see their mainstream search engine news in some backwater blog day after day where the articles may be missing pictures, related links, and be generally mutilated in a hack paste job. Most folks will want to go right to the source, and see a copy/paste job merely as reference for discussion. Adding a link to any pasted article is certain to drive traffic back to the original news site, with folks who might never have even bothered to check the day's news otherwise. When most internet users post these articles, they are not posting it to circumvent the original news services and are not claiming the articles as their own original material, they are posting for the purposes of discussion, not plagiarism. Whether it be to critique the report itself, the news source overall, or as a general discussion related to the news being reported, the news article itself still becomes secondary to our own expression of free-speech. In this way we see that even a fully copied article could be seen as fair use, as a reference in these discussions.

So understanding all of this, one really has to ask, what was really behind the aggression of the AP against bloggers and other websites? Especially when you have a look at some of the specific instances they had issued the DMCA notices for. Many did not even copy the same headline, all of them contained links back to the original AP source, and none of them were even full posts of the article. They were merely snippets of the article, with a link back to the original complete article. You would think that the AP would be thanking them, not trying to sue them. You can see that down in the corner here of the MSMReview we even have a host-provided widget installed that runs an AP headline ticker. Is that something that we can be sued for? Could we be sued if we posted those same headlines without the widget?

By the end of 2008 it appears that the AP decided to back off a bit, and admitted that they might have been being a bit heavy-handed in the protection of their media. But one really has to wonder what set them on in the first place to such an ill-conceived venture. The only potential loss of revenue might have come from the fact that many news outlets in their network will pull an article after a bit of time, and then charge a fee for retrieval from an archive. In this way, a blog or forum could be seen as archiving these stories and undermining a very minor potential source of revenue. How often do folks actually go ahead and pay for an article for which the link is no longer active for, and especially in comparison to the potential for referral traffic generated by articles posted outside of the original site? Moreover, do they charge your local library a fee for making old newspapers available to the public after the articles have been pulled from the website? Granted, the library already paid 50-cents for a copy of the paper, but if that token amount were really the issue, then why do they not charge to read the headlines on their own websites and the large search engine hosts?

It just doesn't make sense, there is something missing from this picture still. Now we come to more recent news. It seems that other news sources are now hiring outside companies to do their dirty work for them, having a go at the bloggers and forums this summer in a similar manner that the AP did back in 2008, but on a much wider scale, and even more aggressively this time. Are they really so desperate for quick profits that they are willing to cut off their noses just to spite their faces? Are they really willing to alienate readers, and in turn their advertising clients, to scrape a few bucks away from bloggers? Was the whole AP fiasco just a “testing of the water” to to gauge reaction to an assault on free speech?

Steve Gibson, CEO of Las Vegas-based Righthaven has been buying up newspaper copyrights for the sole purpose of scouring the web to find and then sue anyone who has posted material without permission. He is able to compel quick settlements based on the fact that even a single violation can be a penalty of $150,000. Righthaven already has hundreds of lawsuits in the works, but estimates that there may be billions of violations. That will not doubt put any nickel and dime blogs and web sites right out of business. Many blogs and forums that could be seen as a profit company because of ad placement through services such as AdSense, really are not actually profitable at all, and are generally operated for reasons other than profit, such as practicing free speech and engaging their fellow human beings in discussion on current events via the internet. But even for larger sites, the threat is potent, seeing how much they stand to lose for even a single violation if they fight it in court then lose. One large internet forum that generates about 5 million hits a month with their user-generated discussion forum on alternative topics has decided to fight the lawsuit on the grounds that the site itself did not actually post the material, but that a forum user did, and therefore rather than file a lawsuit Righthaven should have served the site with a DMCA takedown notice. So in this case, we see that this company operating on behalf of the Las Vegas Review-Journal has actually gone well beyond what the AP did two summers ago. They aren't even bothering with take-down notices, they are going straight for the lawsuit. It is also interesting to note that this representative of the media has gone after one of the largest alternative subject matter forums on the internet, where open-minded free-thinking is highly valued (even if critically scrutinized.)

In another case, one of the above-mentioned forum's primary competitors has also been the subject of an action by a company representing Reuters news service, the AP of the British-influenced world. Again coming under fire is a forum on alternative subject matter where open-minded free-thinking is courted (even if dreadfully manipulated.) That case is part of a campaign launched in March by California-based Attributor with their FairShare Guardian model. In one 30-day scan with this new model, they found 75,000 sites with copies of un-licensed articles. Rather than suing them in court, Attributor offers discussion on syndication, in which they can pretty much demand any price they want for the syndication rights from the alleged violator. If negotiations fail, they will contact ad agencies doing business with the site. In the case of the specific site mentioned here already, the ad agencies did indeed pull their ads, the site's primary revenue stream for covering operating costs. Attributor also notifies search engines and web hosts, who are obligated under the DMCA to take down material they know to be in violation. So in essence, these forums are forced to pay the licensing fee for what might otherwise be considered fair-use, or be shut down entirely.

Now we finally see a pattern emerging. First, the somewhat failed attempt by AP to shutter blogs and websites that they had zeroed in on for whatever reason. Now we see on one hand a venture to force settlements that will likely shut down many thousands of blogs and websites. And on the other hand, we see due-process completely circumvented by a company demanding what can be assumed to be exorbitant licensing fees, and also sure to shut down thousands, even hundreds of thousands of websites. But can all this really be seen as a measure to protect profits? Certainly not when you consider that these blogs and websites are what drive traffic to these news sources in the first place. So then, this really isn't about profits so much as consolidation. One doesn't need a hundred-thousand blogs directing traffic to a few news sites, if a huge chunk of the web is shut right down entirely, and traffic can be directed through a few select mainstream social networking sites. This is about control, not profits. Controlling what you see, how you see it, and even the discussions you have about it. Bloggers are being forced to report the news under the terms dictated by licensing agreements, and whatever fine print that might entail aside from kicking up a fee as if news reporting were some mafia cartel. That is not free speech. This is about controlling our collective memory by editing and pulling articles and by preventing accessibility to archived copies of original stories floating around on the web. And that folks, is the real heart of the matter. Digital book burning. Remove our collective memory, mold the present, and dictate the future.

Whoa now. Maybe that's a bit of a jump there. A few select very powerful media monopolies shutting down the internet piece by piece? Sounds like a bit of a stretch into conspiracy-theory land there, no? Surely the government would have something to say about this, would step in to defend liberty and the Constitution? We have been like Gunny Hartman in the movie Full Metal Jacket here, rummaging through the unlocked footlocker of internet dirty laundry to “just see if anything's missing here.” And suddenly we find the jelly donut. Or better yet, that something is indeed missing. Something big. Something along the lines of 73,000 blogs shut down in a single day, with the flip of a switch. Here we get a good look at the relationship between business and the government.

On July 9 of this year, Toronto-based Blogetry.com, an internet blogging platform and Wordpress host-provider with approximately 73,000 clients, went dark. Less than a week later, Ipbfree.com, a site used to create web message boards, suddenly went offline. The shutdowns came with no notice, no pending legal action, and no explanation at all for some considerable time. Since then, some information has come out about the shut-down of Blogetry.com, so we are going to focus on that, as the information surrounding the Ipbfree.com seems to be far more scattered and less reliable. It should be noted that no direct correlation between the two events has been confirmed at this point, but there were some interesting similarities between the two events. Both said they were shut down by outside influence and not coming back, that the user-generated content violated no copyright laws, and that those who ordered the closures were legally bound to non-disclosure.

Initial speculation was that the shutdowns were part of a sweep by movie or record companies cracking down on illegal downloads and hosting of related files, with the support of the Obama Administration who has vowed to support the entertainment companies. It was not an unreasonable conclusion to reach, as these shutdowns came right on the heels of a number of scattered seizures by the Department of Justice along with Immigration and Customs Enforcement of assets and websites related to alleged illegal file-sharing, as part of an ongoing initiative called “Operation: In Our Sights.” So there we are back to the beginning of this article, with the “menace of digital piracy” that we have all been hearing about for years. One sure-fire method for Federal agents to conduct a “witch-hunt” by going after alleged pirates.

Other speculation was that perhaps there was child pornography involved. Another fantastic boogie man to get the people all riled up while being the perfect cover for officials to go right ahead and do just about anything they please. Now please understand, MSMR in no way is trying to make light of child pornography, or excuse the activities of deranged persons involved in that garbage in any way, but having to articulate that point goes to show just what a raw nerve there is there in society for the powers that be to poke at when they want to distract us. Even when they yell pedophile, we still have the right, nay, the obligation to question authority. But in cases of illegal file-sharing, and even in cases of illegal pornography, due process must still be applied. No agency has the right to arbitraliy march in and shut down a whole chunk of the internet. There is a lot of legal wrangling that can sometimes go on for years to get a specific website shutdown, much less an entire server of 73,000 clients. The DMCA protects internet service providers from liability of user content, as pointed out in the case mentioned earlier with Righthaven. Not to mention the fact that these sorts of takedowns are usually very public affairs, with publicity being exploited as a deterrent as much as possible.
In these cases, the cloak of secrecy is disturbing to say the least. As it turns out, the owner of Blogetry.com was just as confused as his clients, and tried repeatedly to contact his web-host BurstNet, before their first enigmatic reply. In a message to owner Alexander Yusupov they stated, “We are limited as to the details we can provide to you, but note that this was a critical matter and the only available option to us was to immediately deactivate the server.” In another message they went on to say, “Please note that this was not a typical case, in which suspension and notification would be the norm. This was a critical matter brought to our attention by law enforcement officials. We had to immediately remove the server. “ They refused to give him any more information though, and would not even disclose the law-enforcement agency involved. Nor did they disclose the agency to CNET news, when they were granted an interview with BurstNet VP, Benjamin Arcus. The VP did disclose however, that the service was terminated at the direction of a law-enforcement agency that he could not reveal, and that it was not a copyright issue. So this wasn't about digital pirates after all?

The latest news coming out now is that the secret agency was actually the FBI. BurstNet has also reversed themselves and is now stating that it was their own choice to terminate the server, and that the FBI had nothing to do with the decision. So apparently BurstNet was not in fact restricted to this “only available option” as they had stated, but freely and willingly chose to terminate the server of their own accord, and have tried to justify the unprecedented action by leveling an accusation against Blogetry that there was a history of abuses, though the FBI has not accused Alexander Yusupov of any wrong-doing. What is being reported now is that the bureau had merely requested “voluntary emergency disclosure of information" regarding links to bomb-making instructions and an al-Qaeda hit-list of Americans which appeared on as many as one Blogetry hosted blog. Ah-ha! And there we have another boogie man folks. The ubiquitous yet imaginary al-Qaeda. (You will remember in a previous article here at MSMR where we pointed out that al-Qaeda is actually a government generated fabrication.) Mention al-Qaeda, bomb, or terrorist, and the FBI can instantly shut down 73,000 free-speech platforms without any due-process or oversight whatsoever because of what may have been one single alleged offender. In the post 9/11 era there is nothing “voluntary” about what is expected during an “emergency.” BurstNet has stated that they cannot restore any Blogetry data, even with the offending material removed. All of those blogs are just gone, completely wiped out. Of course we are supposed to believe BurstNet's revised position now, that they did not cave in under pressure by the FBI in the face of some alleged terrorist threat, and that they wiped out 73,000 blogs because of two alleged previous violations of their policies by Blogetry.. It doesn't seem that it really makes much difference anyhow at this point. Either BurstNet threw themselves under the bus, doing irreparable damage to their credibility and the future of their business to cover for the FBI, or they were in fact the ones who decided to pull the plug as they are stating now, making themselves the bane of free-speech advocates around the globe.

When all is said and done, it is now abundantly clear that these companies and government agencies working in concert, have begun dismantling large swaths of the internet this summer, with a three-pronged assault on liberty, through lawsuits, through cutting financing, and through direct action by blocking and terminating access to the internet. Make no mistake about it folks, this is the burning of books in the digital age. The only question is if you are going to accept the excuses ever-ready at the hand despots the world over, and then bow down to the march of the jack-boot, while gleefully chanting the rhetoric that it is all for our safety, all for our children, all for our own good as we spiral down into the pit of totalitarianism. This is it, our last chance, the end game. There is nothing else left for them to take, but these last bastions of free expression and liberty, where the news can be pondered and debated without censorship, where we can collect our memories and look back to them to see what our tomorrow has come to. Do not forget what you have read here today. Remember the burning of the books.

“Where they burn books, they will ultimately also burn people”

~Heinrich Heine

Here's to hoping that no one gets sued over this, but here are links to related material and articles:

July 15, 2010

Electronic Surveillance of Your Fat

No, this is not a joke. Universal adoption of electronic health records (EHRs), as outlined in the 2009 stimulus law, must now include a yearly updated BMI, or Body Mass Index rating. But really, that's just the tip of the iceberg. It is suddenly becoming all too apparent what the real meaning behind the universal healthcare law really is. It has nothing to do with making sure everyone who needs care, gets the care they need. It has nothing to do with making sure everyone has little or no cost insurance. It has nothing to do with regulating costs, or cutting waste. It has everything to do with making sure every last man, woman, and child has the parameters of their physical being tagged and profiled for a government database exchange.

Before we get off and running here though, it should be pointed out that the new healthcare laws passed under the Obama administration are not as partisan as the partisans would have you believe, or most mainstream media sources for that matter, but there were a few nuggets of truth left out there for us to find. Most folks are completely unaware of the fact that the Obama health insurance requirement was taken from the GOP. (That story has since been pulled from a few different media websites, but is still available linked there for the time-being.) Digging deeper, we can see that this government program to profile and tag each and every one of us has roots going back to at least 2004. This excerpt can be found on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website:
On April 27, 2004, President Bush issued Executive Order (EO) 13335 “to provide leadership for the development and nationwide implementation of an interoperable health information technology infrastructure to improve the quality and efficiency of health care.” EO 13335 established the position of a National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (IT) within the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services...The timeframe of the Plan is 2008-2012.
How convenient for politics sake that the plan didn't go into affect until his last year in office. Another example of how the illusion of partisan politics in the U.S. is maintained, and how policy is dictated from behind the closed doors of groups like the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, and the Bilderberg group. No one paid any attention to some backwater little Executive Order that the press never even picked up on at all, surprise surprise, yet it was laying out the foundation and infrastructure for a liberal successor who would take on the mantle of healthcare reform. When Obama entered office, the economy was at the forefront of the public's mind, but the truth of the matter is that the President of the United States actually has very little influence over the economy going back even to the years of FDR and the Great Depression. Still, it was the perfect political cover for Obama's healthcare reform initiatives.

The February 2009 stimulus bill, which subsequently became law, included a provision to create an “Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology," called for that coordinator to create a national database and for that person to create a plan for “the utilization of an electronic health record (EHR) for each person in the United States by 2014.” Of course, they can't make electronic health records for everyone in the U.S. if everyone in the U.S. isn't seen by a doctor or healthcare professional of some sort. So clearly it was very important for Obama, and the agenda, to pass a bill that would require everyone to have healthcare insurance, thereby guaranteeing that every person in America would get at least the "once over" by a drug-pushing doctor. And although every last Republican made a good political circus side-show by voting against a bill that they had first drafted, it was a shoe-in and all according to plan.

Well now that we have gotten all of that cleared up, the title of this piece seems quite over-simplified. Truthfully, it was from the start. BMI does not measure fat directly, but is really a height to weight ratio calculation. Someone who has high bone density or muscle mass may be in perfect health and still have a high BMI rating, but according to the Centers for Disease Control, who will be a primary consumer of this data, "BMI provides a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems." The military also uses this criteria. Someone who joins the Army may be in great physical shape, but have muscle mass that will deny them entry or cause them to fail inspection. That's right, it's possible to be Army too strong. So it seems that the government wants us all to fit a fairly specific set of parameters, or at least to be flagged for falling outside of those parameters for whatever reason.

If you have not done so already, be sure to read the article "Let them Eat Cake!" and the Boiling Frog Syndrome relating to obesity and public health. For now though, let's continue and look at what else has just become law...
“Electronically record, retrieve, and transmit syndrome based public health surveillance information to public health agencies,” the regulations read.
That Orwellian quotation stands in stark contrast, appearing to be an outright contradiction in fact, to what was being said when the stimulus bill was being passed in February of last year. On the website of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) the question was posed in the FAQ section if the government would have access these electronic health records. The answer was an unambiguous sounding, "No. Federal law makes your medical records--whether they’re on paper or in a computer--confidential to you and your health provider.” But clearly, there most certainly is some ambiguity there that has yet to be explained.

It also seems to contradict this provision...
"Enable a user to electronically record and display patients' insurance eligibility, and submit insurance eligibility queries to public or private payers and receive an eligibility response..."
...when you consider that data like this is being collected as part of the new regulations...
"Enable a user to electronically record, modify, and retrieve the smoking status of a patient. Smoking status types must include: current smoker, former smoker, or never smoked."
So much for fair and equal treatment. What these new laws should have done was make it illegal to even check for insurance information in the first place, until the expense bill is finally sent, and then the insurance information should be provided if the patient does happen to have insurance. Does the mailman get to check what sort of homeowner's insurance you have before he walks through your gate and gets bit in the leg by Bowser? Do you have to provide your auto insurance info to your mechanic? Certainly not. In fact, even at the scene of a minor traffic accident, often times folks will shell out a few hundred bucks to cover damages rather than submit an insurance claim.

The new regulations include the aforementioned calculation of BMI, as well as standard vital signs such as pulse and blood pressure. These records will also be required to include growth charts for patients from 2-20 years old. Any lab work you have ever had done, or medications you have ever taken, must all be included. The new regulations also...
"Enable a user to electronically select, sort, retrieve, and output a list of patients and patients’ clinical information, based on user-defined demographic data, medication list, and specific conditions."
It is no exaggeration to say that the government has now passed all the laws and regulations necessary to tag, profile, categorize and monitor even the most intimate physical and mental details of every last person in the United States. Oh yes, the mental details. Psychiatric well-being is also a public health issue. On a recent visit to her eye doctor, a pleasant, 80-something years young woman found this at the bottom of her visit summary:
Mental Status Exam
Orientation: Oriented to time place and person.
Mood and affect: no depression, anxiety, or agitation.
Since when do ophthalmologists concern themselves with mental health examinations, and then include that in the documentation of a routine visit? Not something this woman had ever seen before, unusual indeed, but sad to say not unexpected in this day and age with new laws like this that will allow "users" to evaluate, analyze, categorize, compute, process, tag and profile the thought processes and every last physical detail of every last American. Are we all supposed to think that this is being done for our own good? To make things better for us? Hmmm, yes, so we've heard. A recurring theme popping up in the articles posted here at the MSMR. Even if we could expect the government to not exploit this data to their own ends, could we really trust them to keep the data secret, safe, secure? Doubtful when you read details in articles with titles like, "Ohio collects millions selling driving records with your personal information."

A recent article posted here at the MSMR questioned the integrity of DNA collection and processing. These new health codes will no doubt make the collection, processing, and dissemination of private DNA information that much easier for whatever purposes, without the individual even knowing about it or requiring their permission. The distribution of any of this information is not a matter of choice by the private individual, but is a matter of government policy that outlines who will and who will not be allowed to access this information. You have no say in the matter. Just as an insurance company can look at your credit score rather than your driving record to determine the rates you will pay for this government mandated service, so too will private companies be looking into our genetic coding, our mental health, our physical well being, when they decide to issue an insurance policy, give you a job, rent you an apartment. It's just around the corner now.

There was a time when conspiracy theorists imagined the day would come when we were all forced to take the Mark of the Beast, that we would all be implanted with a biometric chip to relay our health data to the government, and that every facet of our lives would be inspected and controlled. Between the cameras on every street corner and in the skies above, to the statutory undermining of everything the Constitution of the United States once stood for, and now this healthcare reform that will peer into the most minute details of who we are as a person, it seems that no stone has been left unturned, and that we will foot the bill ourselves for our own complete and total enslavement as human beings to this singular fate before us. There is no need to be implanted with some chip, they've already got us by the balls now, and this is not science-fiction.


Citations from this article were taken from here...

Subpart C—Certification Criteria for Health Information Technology

e-CFR data current as of July 14, 2010.

Special thanks to the Lunaticoutpost discussion forum and its members for sharing relevant material that made this article possible.

July 9, 2010

L.A. Touts Serial Killer Arrest to Quash Civil Liberty Concerns (UPDATE)

Today the topic is DNA, with the arrest of Lonnie David Franklin Jr., charged in a string of murders dating back to 1985. Dubbed the Grim Sleeper, for a long stretch of inactivity, a profile was built of a serial killer who preyed on women in south L.A. and dispatched them using the same small caliber pistol each time. Police reportedly recovered DNA evidence from at least two victims, but never had a person to match it to. That was until Mr. Franklin's son was convicted on a weapons charge. His son's DNA was entered into a database where it was then processed by California's familial DNA search program, which then led to the identification and arrest of Mr. Franklin. Seems like a win for the good guys right? Science being used to get an evil person of the street, simple as that?

Not quite. It wouldn't be the first time that science has been wrong. Police already bungled the investigation once and arrested the wrong person based on ballistics evidence. They had termed that arrest to be a "solid case" as well. No wonder victims' families are cautiously optimistic this time around. Former governor and state Attorney General Jerry Brown has no such reservations however, boldly stating, "This arrest provides proof positive that familial DNA searches must be a part of law enforcement's crime-fighting arsenal. Although the adoption of this new state policy was unprecedented and controversial, in certain cases, it is the only way to bring a dangerous killer to justice."

So much for the presumption of innocence.

How does one go about implementing a totalitarian police state in a free country? Say it's for our own good of course. Whenever the police and prosecutors want to move the goalposts ever closer to state dictatorship over every facet of our lives, they tell us it is for our own good, for our own safety, to protect us from evil things, and then march out before us some heinous criminal who "might never have been caught if it weren't for..." whatever new law or technology they are trying to implement. They raise a rabble by selling fear and vengeance to silence those who might question yet another violation of the liberty spelled out by the nation's founding fathers. Most folks go ahead and fall right in line with the agenda. After all, no one wants to side with some brutal killer, even if it means saying goodbye to the last few essential rights we have. In this way, we not only hand over our liberty and everything it means to be an American, but we demand it!

No doubt there are many draconian dragnet fishing expeditions the police could go on that would bring up results. Like calling every citizen out of their houses and onto the street at 1 a.m. to submit to a DNA test and a retina scan perhaps. The only real question here is, where does one draw the line? Clearly, the police and prosecutors see no line to be crossed and won't be happy until everyone in America is swabbed for DNA and implanted with a microchip to monitor every movement and thought process. Maybe we should just go ahead and put everyone in prison right now, to be on the safe side. It isn't enough that we already keep more people in prison than any other country in the world. (The U.S. has less than 5% of the world's total population, but 25% of the world total prison population.) For now though, it is time to push this agenda of the presumption of guilt by association.

Maybe, just maybe they happened to be right this time, and nabbed a viscous serial killer. That is no guarantee of future results. What it does guarantee is that suspicion will be cast on many innocent people simply because they are related to someone who was once arrested. (14 states hold DNA records on people who are arrested, regardless of whether or not they are actually innocent or convicted.) Folks will be plucked from their daily lives and then dragged in for interrogation. In some instances they will be held indefinitely without a lawyer, as is becoming more customary in many cases. (In another recent case, police held two men suspected of setting booby-traps against police officers in an L.A. suburb for five days without charges. It is not known whether or not they were given access to a lawyer during that time.) They will be subject to every sort of threat and coercion that the police can muster in a closed room, free from the prying eyes of the public or a lawyer, not only to force them to confess but to submit to their own DNA testing as well. (The Supreme Court has ruled that police may now continue an interrogation, without a lawyer present, even after the "right" has been invoked and a lawyer requested.)

Perhaps some folks would be willing to subject themselves to such an ordeal, and face the idea of going to prison as an innocent person, in the name of public safety. Especially since it is only being used against the most dangerous sort of criminals, right? Wrong. In one of the first cases of its kind, police in Denver, Colorado used familial DNA to catch a person who had broken into a car to steal $1.40 in change. But the problems with this sort of evidence do not end there. Aside from the fact that DNA science itself it not as foolproof as late night dramas would have the public believing, this familiar DNA search is extremely biased against men and blacks. Because black Americans constitute a larger portion of people arrested by police, this means that the black population as a whole, regardless of any criminal activity, will be genetically profiled to a much larger degree than other races. Furthermore, females cannot be accurately identified with familial DNA profiling. as this technology is based on mapping Y chromosomes.

Aside from presumption of guilt over innocence, guilt by association, racial and sexist bias, the undermining of Constitutional values, and a whole host of other concerns that are now being overlooked with the arrest of this man said to be a prolific serial killer, there is also the concern of how this may impact family relations. What will this do to family and personal privacy in regards to adoption, children born of affairs or incest, transgendered persons, estrangement, etcetera? How will this play out when it comes to twins? All of these concerns are being brushed aside in a public outcry of support for the invasion of our own rights, disguised as justice. How many innocents will be persecuted, how many lives turned upside down, for the extremely rare instance that a deranged maniac is actually caught based on this technology?

Raising these questions though, will not be popular at all now, and the media is helping to ensure that. A CNN article pulls at the heart strings by specifying one victim over all the others, since she was only 18. The old "it's for the children" propaganda being played there with some subtlety. Southern California Public Radio had this to say...

"The familial DNA search had been criticized as an invasion of privacy but now that it’s yielded amazing results, should it [be] used without hesitation?"

How can the question even be asked before a conviction is brought? An arrest is certainly no "amazing result" at the cost of privacy and the violation of liberty. According to the National Research Council of National Academies who advises the government on scientific matters, these sort of databases should never have been created in the first place, noting "serious issues of privacy and fairness." Of course, the warnings will go unheeded as they always do, drowned out by the mass of short-sighted, historically forgetful, fearful and vengeful citizens so easily manipulated into knee-jerk reactions. Another sad day for liberty, and another victory for tyranny. All in the name of public safety.

"Those who would trade in their freedom for their protection deserve neither." ~Benjamin Franklin

7/10/10 UPDATE:

Reports out today show that suspect Lonnie David Franklin Jr. was arrested at least 15 times in the past four decades, but was never sent to prison and never had a DNA sample taken in recent arrests. He was arrested for serious crimes including burglary, car theft, firearms possession and assaults, but despite recommendations of probation officers, he was still never sent to prison or had a DNA sample taken. So clearly, this familial DNA technology is not, in fact, "...the only way to bring a dangerous killer to justice," as stated by Attorney General Jerry Brown. Now the public is supposed to submit to even more infringement upon their own rights and liberty because the government can't even use the tools it already has effectively? Tell us Mister Brown, how is your incompetence, "proof-positive" as you put it, "that familial DNA searches must be a part of law enforcement's crime-fighting arsenal" when you and your office let this man go free time and time again? According to the Associate Press article on Yahoo News, one of his victims was killed in 2003 when Mr. Franklin should have been in jail for stealing a car, but was instead released early.

Of course, some will use these revelations to endorse a "build more prisons, get tough on crime" agenda once again. Sure, give even more money and power to those who don't even know how to do their job. Feed the incompetence. The answer is not more jails and stiffer sentences. It's about picking and choosing the battles. Rather than keeping a bunch of people locked up for selling some marijuana, maybe the government should let them out and make room for the real criminals. Violent repeat offenders with multiple felony convictions. And in the bigger picture, maybe the leadership of this nation should get things on track economically so that folks don't become so desperate that they feel they have to resort to crime in the first place. That would certainly help to smoke out the real maniacs, if they weren't camouflaged by so many would-be regular folks being persecuted as arch-criminals just for trying to survive on mean streets.

Back to the topic of DNA specifically, there is another troubling aspect of this case. The manner in which they collected the DNA sample from the suspect. As reported by the same AP article linked above, "An undercover officer pretending to be a waiter in Los Angeles collected tableware, napkins, glasses and pizza crust at a restaurant where Franklin ate, allowing detectives to obtain a DNA match."

By what right do the police clandestinely collect DNA material from a citizen? They had no other evidence linking this man specifically to any of the killings, or even to the familial DNA sample taken from his son. They had no reason to suspect him specifically, other than a hunch. They had no way of knowing if Mr. Franklin was indeed his son's genetic father. Nor could they be certain that it wasn't any number of other people with a similar DNA profile. This reeks of typical police fishing expeditions under the guise of "you match the description" just because he happened to be a black man related to a felon.

So it seems now that the police can take anyone's DNA sample at will, so long as they have a hunch that you might be a criminal. A very dangerous precedent indeed in what was once a free country, where people had inviolable rights to privacy. How long before police are putting citizens up against the wall for a cavity search and a genital swab, just because they happened to be in a ten block radius of a crime scene? But of course, no one complains about it right now, because police got the big fish on their expedition this time, as they trampled all over the Constitution. What happens though, when they start spending more of your tax dollars hand over fist on these expeditions, coming up short more often than not, or for something as petty as $1.40 in change, leaving a trail of wrecked homes and lives behind them? If the police could just go in and secretly take Mr. Franklin's DNA at will, who is to say they won't simply start doing this to everyone at will? What is to stop crooked cops like murderous Louis Eppolito and Steven Caracappa from taking your DNA evidence and planting it on a murder victim? How would crooked cops like them even be caught once they have their manipulative hands on the Holy Grail of evidence? What is to stop a lab from making mistakes, or even being willfully fraudulent in their findings with your DNA in hand? There's an old adage that the founding fathers no doubt knew. "Never trust someone who doesn't trust you." They certainly trusted no government, and saw it only as a necessary evil, meant to be limited in every respect possible.
"It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others: or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own.
Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty."
~Thomas Jefferson

July 6, 2010

Placating the People

Confidence in our leadership is at an all time low. Poverty levels have never been higher. Personal liberty and freedom have never been more suppressed than they are right now in this country. The people are pissed off. But instead of addressing the root causes of our woes, the politicians take handouts from, and do the bidding of the very powers that have been exploiting the people for years, while running this entire country right into the ground. Tax-dollar handouts for corporate welfare while the people starve to death on nutritionally void food-like products that the corporations push on us and make premium profits from. Bank bailouts while people are losing their homes to those same banks that created our fiscal woes to begin with, and again posting record profits. All the while the people fight amongst themselves over non-issues that have no impact on the wholesale raping of this nation, divided by illusory and antiquated notions of political polarity. All of the politicians have their hands in the cookie jar, scraping at the bottom, yet we have buffoons like this trying to lead us to believe that he will be the one to make a difference...

That commercial is a shameful exploitation of the people's discontent, across the political spectrum. He makes a mockery of the sacrifice of the founding fathers, while trying to placate people who are fed up, courting their votes for his own personal political gain. This isn't a damned game Mr. Rick Barber. That is not a make-believe Congressional office, and the problems of this nation are not going to be solved with costumes and toy guns. But fools like him will think that his tough talk has the ring of a legitimate call to arms, when nothing could be further from the truth.

Meanwhile, on the Left, the best they can come up with is Keith Olberman calling the commercial treason...

Barber is no revolutionary Mr. Olberman. He is a spineless dog barking loud, aspiring to be a lobbyist whore, pretending to be a revolutionary, while dressing up his campaign like a prison-bitch on the prowl for a pack of smokes. But Mr. Olberman, there was a lot more to the Revolution than the right to vote. Propping up that moron as if he were some sort of real threat to the establishment only enhances the myth, and the notion that we the people actually have any real choice anymore.

No matter who we vote for, we are voting for another tool who will do the bidding of the highest bidder, and the back-room-deal overlords who paved the way into office. We legitimize the evil being perpetrated in our names. But maybe we really should just be thankful that the Tea Party activists are a bunch of simple-minded hicks, proud of their own ignorance, and not genuine revolutionaries...

I would hate to think what sort of country this would be if they had their way. All those people fighting against healthcare reform for all the wrong reasons, calling it socialism, as if that were a dirty word. Socialist healthcare reform might have actually been the way to go. Put doctors on the government payroll and make hospitals government institutions, just like our military and police. Regulate costs, salaries, malpractice settlements, give equality to patient care, etcetera. But of course you never hear a Republican call our military socialist, or suggest spending cuts even when the Pentagon admits to losing $2.3 trillion. Not spent that much mind you, not put that money into black ops. Just "lost" more than a third of our entire national debt! (Our debt was about $5.7T at that time.) Oh, you never heard about that?

But the fact of the matter is that Obama's healthcare plan was never socialist at all. There is no real government control mandated in the healthcare reform, other than forcing you to buy private insurance. Hospital workers are not going to become government employees. We aren't going to get affordable insurance at the same rate that a neighbor pays, much less no cost healthcare like they have in Britain. That would be socialism. Instead, in true totalitarian fashion, we are being forced to participate in state-sanctioned corporatism. That's fascism folks. An amalgamation of collectivism and corporate oligarchy. When the state own the companies, that's communism. When the companies own the state, that's fascism. So here is the Right, blaming the Left for what amounts to instituting an extreme Right-wing policy. What do the Republicans do when they want to pass a blatantly fascist bill catering to their corporate handlers? Have a Democrat do it and call it Communism. Might be funny if it weren't actually true...

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Obama promised that the closing of Guantanamo prison would be one of his first acts in office. Still hasn't happened. Obama promised to end the war, instead he is using the Bush "surge strategy" in Afghanistan now, where we have almost a hundred thousand troops as the war debt goes stratospheric. Instead of repealing the draconian infringements on our liberty instituted by the Patriot Act and similar measures, the police-state is ratcheted down even tighter every time someone farts in an airport. He promised change, I don't see any change at all. Yet the simple-minded Tea-Party crowd would have you believe that he is the African chairman Mao. He is no communist, socialist, or even a proper liberal except to the extent that is caters to corporate interests. He is a fascist, the same as his predecessor. A predecessor who failed to tow the party line and do a damn thing about securing the border, where a very real war has been unfolding for more than a decade, because he was only a conservative so far as it pandered to his corporate friends and secret society brothers. The two party system is a sham, but the perfect tool to incrementally implement the point by point tenets of a fascist totalitarian state, which takes elements of both left and right to forge its totalitarian grip on power. Here we are frogs in a pot on the stove, boiling away, arguing about whether the water should be blue or red. We root for our candidates the way we would a football team, rather than on the merits of their platform and their integrity as people to follow through on their campaign promises, and then we flip the channel over to American Idol.

Placating the people is the last stop, the last job, the last bit of usefulness these politicians can squeeze out of their existence before finally becoming the rubber-stamp legislative bodies we read about in history books, and poke fun at when it is in places like North Korea. The police-state is here, and soon the last vestiges of the old republic will be swept away, to thunderous applause. History, it seems, has taught us nothing.

July 4, 2010

U.S. Federal Authority is Martial Law

In this piece I will be providing documentation which shows that the United States of America’s Constitution, as prescribed by the nation’s founders, no longer has direct authority, and that the nation operates under a declared state of martial law. While it is true that the Constitution is referenced, and still alive in spirit to some extent, it is also true that it no longer binds effective governance in legitimacy. Sovereignty has been stripped from the people.

Let us begin with looking at what it means to be a free and self-determined people.

The Concept of Secession in Early America

The Declaration of Independence, by the thirteen colonies which went on to became the first, united, states of America , was more than a notice of secession. It was a rebuke of colonial title and subject status, with the formal dissolution of the recognition of such a relationship. While it could be argued that the colonies had no such right to do so, the founding fathers heralded the values of freedom, liberty, and self-determination as being the basis of such right.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that amongst these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter, or abolish it.” - Declaration of Independence 

Having just freed themselves from tyranny in a hard-won military contest, it is hard to imagine that the founding fathers would have done much to make such action illegal, or to restrict the recognition of sovereignty they had just achieved at so high a cost. Secession from the rule of monarchy was finally complete when King George III formally relinquished all authority over his former colonies by 1783.

“His Britannic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and independent states, that he treats with them as such, and for himself, his heirs, and successors, relinquishes all claims to the government, propriety, and territorial rights of the same and every part thereof.” -Article One, Paris Peace Treaty

Note that the King did not recognize a single State, or single sovereignty, but each one independently. Of course we know that the founding fathers did intend to bring unity to the thirteen former colonies with a federal form of government, but they were also quite wary of too much power being consolidated in some monolithic central government, too much akin to a monarchy. This is evident in the Second Amendment and the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution, where measures to check the power of the federal government were adopted.

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State , the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” -Second Amendment

Let us ignore the debate in modern times as to the right of the individual to keep and bear arms, and focus on the right of the State. It seems clear enough by the wording here that at the very least, it is the right, if not the duty of a free state , to secure their freedom as a state, with arms. Not as a franchise of the federal system, but as a free state . Sovereignty of the State is clearly expressed here. Who might we reasonably expect would pose a threat to the freedom of one State? Another State perhaps, but it seems far more reasonable that the threat envisioned by the authors of the Second Amendment was that of an oppressive central government. While they may have also envisioned the need for States to maintain a militia to be used in cooperation against a common foreign enemy, such a meaning was neither explicitly stated, nor clearly implied. In fact, New England states refused to send their quota of militia to fight the British in the War of 1812, and even went so far as to threaten secession at the Hartford Convention, even creating a new flag. Also, there was then, the possibility of an outright Federal military, which we now have today, though this was frowned upon at the time, again out of fears of a strong central government.

As stated without ambiguity, the Second Amendment clearly was meant to protect the security and freedom of an individual and sovereign State. It truly does speak for itself, as does the Tenth Amendment.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
-Tenth Amendment

There are those who may argue that by ratifying the Constitution, the States dissolved their right to secede from the federal union, as a part of their obligation to that union and to the other States. But if that union were to infringe upon the sovereign rights of any State, by availing itself of powers not delegated to it by the Constitution, would not the obligation by the State to the union then be dissolved, as the original agreement had been already violated? Would not the usurpation of power by any one district, or by the Federal government, be considered an act of aggression, and a clear affront to the liberty of the State?

Speaking on the outright banning of the right to secede, James Madison stated on May 31st in 1787:

“A Union of the States containing such an ingredient seemed to provide for its own destruction. The use of force against a State, would look more like a declaration of war, than an infliction of punishment, and would probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might be bound.”


In an article published as a part of a compilation known as The Federalist, Alexander Hamilton concluded:

“When the sword is once drawn the passions of men observe no bounds of moderation. The suggestions of wounded pride, the instigations of resentment, would be apt to carry the States against which the arms of the Union were exerted, to any extreme to avenge the affront, or to avoid the disgrace of submission. The first war of this kind would probably terminate in a dissolution of the Union.”

Wikipedia-The Federalist

During debate at the New York State Convention in Poughkeespie, Hamilton stated:

“To coerce a State would be one of the maddest projects ever devised. No State would ever suffer itself to be used as the instrument of coercing another.”


New York State , along with Virginia and Rhode Island , explicitly stated in writing that they maintained a natural right of secession, when they finally submitted ratification of the Constitution. Because this was considered to be a natural right of states, and because it was understood and agreed upon at the Constitutional Convention (being presided over by one George Washington, a delegate of Virginia), this would be a right of all states. By accepting the ratifications of these three states, and thereby validating them, the other states were guaranteed this right as well, as a matter of course, knowing that a right held by one state must be held by all. (There are a very few specific exceptions.) But really, there was little need to explicitly declare this in writing anyway, because it was indeed the right of the sovereign States already.
Speaking before Congress in December of 1860, President James Buchanan stated:

“The question fairly stated is, Has the Constitution delegated to Congress the power to coerce a State into submission which is attempting to withdraw or has actually withdrawn from the Confederacy? If answered in the affirmative, it must be on the principle that the power has been conferred upon Congress to declare and to make war against a State. After much serious reflection I have arrived at the conclusion that no such power has been delegated to Congress or to any other department of the Federal Government. It is manifest upon an inspection of the Constitution that this is not among the specific and enumerated powers granted to Congress, and it is equally apparent that its exercise is not necessary and proper for carrying into execution any one of these powers. So far from this power having been delegated to Congress, it was expressly refused by the Convention which framed the Constitution.”

Full text at infoplease.com

At this point we have a clear overview of some of wealth of material which is available to support the right and the authority of any one State to secede from the union of the United States of America . It has been said, that before the Civil War one would say “these are the United States.” Since then, it is said, “this is the United States.”

Secession of the Confederate States of America

The clearest mark for the beginning of the Confederacy is with the secession of South Carolina on the 20th of December in 1860.

“AN ORDINANCE to dissolve the union between the State of South Carolina and other States united with her under the compact entitled 'The Constitution of the United States of America.'
We, the people of the State of South Carolina, in convention assembled, do declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained, That the ordinance adopted by us in convention on the twenty-third day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and also all acts and parts of acts of the General Assembly of this State ratifying amendments of the said Constitution, are hereby repealed; and that the union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under the name of the "United States of America," is hereby dissolved.
Done at Charleston the twentieth day of December, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty.” -Ordinances of Secession

Constitution.org-Ordinances of Secession

But this was not some sudden decision that was made lightly. In fact, it had been years in the making, as is apparent in the preamble of their “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.”

“The people of the State of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, on the 26th day of April, A.D., 1852, declared that the frequent violations of the Constitution of the United States, by the Federal Government, and its encroachments upon the reserved rights of the States, fully justified this State in then withdrawing from the Federal Union; but in deference to the opinions and wishes of the other slaveholding States, she forbore at that time to exercise this right.. Since that time, these encroachments have continued to increase, and further forbearance ceases to be a virtue.

And now the State of South Carolina having resumed her separate and equal place among nations, deems it due to herself, to the remaining United States of America , and to the nations of the world, that she should declare the immediate causes which have led to this act…” -Declarations of Causes of Seceding States


Of course, all of these words all came down to the actual withdrawal of their delegates from the Congress for the United States , which was reported as follows:

“Resignation of the South Carolina Delegation

The Speaker laid before the House on the 24th, a letter signed by Messrs. M'Queen, Bonham, Boyce, and Ashmore, of South Carolina , as follows:

SIR,- We avail ourselves of the earliest opportunity since the official communication of the intelligence, of making known to your honorable body that the people of the State of South Carolina, in their sovereign capacity, have resumed the powers heretofore delegated by them to the Federal Government of the United States, and have thereby dissolved our connection with the House of Representatives.. In taking leave of those with whom we have been associated in a common agency, we, as well as the people of our Commonwealth, desire to do so with a feeling of mutual regard and respect for each other- cherishing the hope that, in our future relations, we may better enjoy that peace and harmony essential to the happiness of a free and enlightened people.


To the Speaker of the House of Representatives. “-Harper’s Weekly (January 5, 1861) 


We know that other states quickly followed suit, with their seemingly rightful reclamation of outright sovereignty, and dissolution of their ties to the federal government of the United States. Mississippi declared their ordinance on the 9th of January 1861, followed then by Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri, and finally then by a group of Kentuckians calling themselves “Convention of the People of Kentucky,” by November of 1861. It should be noted here, that the break from the Union was not entirely clear or precise in many areas. The legitimacy of the Confederate ordinance in Kentucky , for example, is greatly disputed, despite the state being represented as the center star of the Confederate Battle Flag. In another example, forty-eight northwestern counties of Virginia decided to secede from that state, and form their own West Virginia in 1863. It should also be noted here, that secession, up this point in American history, had never been declared illegal, nor ruled un-Constitutional by any body of government.

The End of Constitutional Government, and the Declaration of Martial Law 

On the 27th of March in 1861 Congress adjourned “sin die,” or “without day,” no longer having the required quorum under the Constitution. In other words, having lost the delegates of the seceding states, Congress no longer had the minimum number of required persons to lawfully conduct any official business, except to set a date to reconvene, under Article One of the Constitution. They did not set a date to reconvene, and as a result many have argued that the Congress of the United States of America was thereby dissolved. There are also those who argue that only Congress itself would have the authority to dissolve the body permanently. I find the argument to be moot. The fact is, that the Congress of the United States of America has never reconvened “de jure,” or “by law.” Instead, they have operated by Proclamation of the President of the United States , as shown here, in what is often referred to as Executive Order One:


Whereas the laws of the United States have been for some time past, and now are opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed, in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the Marshals by law,

Now therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution, and the laws, have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth, the militia of the several States of the Union, to the aggregate number of seventy-five thousand, in order to suppress said combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly executed. The details, for this object, will be immediately communicated to the State authorities through the War Department.

I appeal to all loyal citizens to favor, facilitate and aid this effort to maintain the honor, the integrity, and the existence of our National Union, and the perpetuity of popular government; and to redress wrongs already long enough endured.

I deem it proper to say that the first service assigned to the forces hereby called forth will probably be to re-possess the forts, places, and property which have been seized from the Union; and in every event, the utmost care will be observed, consistently with the objects aforesaid, to avoid any devastation, any destruction of, or interference with, property, or any disturbance of peaceful citizens in any part of the country.

And I hereby command the persons composing the combinations aforesaid to disperse, and retire peaceably to their respective abodes within twenty days from this date.

Deeming that the present condition of public affairs presents an extraordinary occasion, I do hereby, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution, convene both Houses of Congress. Senators and Representatives are therefore summoned to assemble at their respective chambers, at 12 o'clock, noon, on Thursday, the fourth day of July, next, then and there to consider and determine, such measures, as, in their wisdom, the public safety, and interest may seem to demand.

In Witness Whereof I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington this fifteenth day of April in the year of our Lord One thousand, Eight hundred and Sixtyone, and of the Independence the United States the Eightyfifth.


By the President:
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.”

The American Presidency Project

As stated in this document, both houses of Congress were ordered to reconvene, by President Lincoln, without the quorum required by the Constitution. The order is dated two days after the surrender of Fort Sumter by Union forces, in South Carolina , and remains in effect to this day.

(The attack on Fort Sumter is often viewed as evidence of aggression on the part of the southerners, but there are a few points to consider here. Union forces had manned the Fort clandestinely, infuriating the Confederates. Nevertheless, they were politely asked now to abandon the Fort which was the key to control of Charleston Harbor . The Union Commander refused. Attempts to re-supply the Union garrison incensed the southerners even further. After all, these Union forces were now viewed as foreign occupiers of sovereign territory, and furthermore, as a threat to trade in the region. They certainly were not welcome there, and eventually, General P.G.T. Beauregard was authorized to forcefully remove the garrison operating under the command of his former artillery instructor, Major Robert Anderson, whom he had also served as an assistant after graduating from West Point . Though it is a little known fact, there were a number of forts that the Union was forced to relinquish to the Confederacy before this notorious battle that is seen as the official start of the Civil War.)

But there is more here, than just the nullification of the Constitution. There is the establishment of a new authority under the Commander-in-Chief, the establishment of martial law, which has replaced the Constitution as the legitimate authority in America.

Washington , April 24, 1863.

The following "Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field," prepared by Francis Lieber, LL.D., and revised by a board of officers, of which Maj. Gen. E. A. Hitchcock is president, having been approved by the President of the United States , he commands that they be published for the information of all concerned.

By order of the Secretary of War:
Assistant Adjutant-General.” 

Here are the first three standing orders under Section I, “Martial law-Military jurisdiction-Military necessity-Retaliation.

“1. A place, district, or country occupied by an enemy stands, in consequence of the occupation, under the martial law of the invading or occupying army, whether any proclamation declaring martial law, or any public warning to the inhabitants, has been issued or not. Martial law is the immediate and direct effect and consequence of occupation or conquest.

The presence of a hostile army proclaims its martial law.

2. Martial law does not cease during the hostile occupation, except by special proclamation, ordered by the commander-in-chief, or by special mention in the treaty of peace concluding the war, when the occupation of a place or territory continues beyond the conclusion of peace as one of the conditions of the same.

3. Martial law in a hostile country consists in the suspension by the occupying military authority of the criminal and civil law, and of the domestic administration and government in the occupied place or territory, and in the substitution of military rule and force for the same, as well as in the dictation of general laws, as far as military necessity requires this suspension, substitution, or dictation.

The commander of the forces may proclaim that the administration of all civil and penal law shall continue either wholly or in part, as in times of peace, unless otherwise ordered by the military authority.” -General Orders No. 100 


Here is a link to another source for the document, which is also known as The Lieber Code of 1863:


So we see here, that martial law does not even have to be declared, to be in effect as the legal authority. Furthermore, we see that only the commander-in-chief has the authority to issue a “special proclamation” which would end the condition of martial law. It is certainly interesting that President Lincoln was assassinated before any such proclamation could be made, or Constitutional authority restored.

We also see that an end to martial law might be brought about by “special mention” in the conclusion of a peace treaty. Here it is also interesting to note that, despite the surrender of General Lee at the Appomattox Courthouse, and the surrender of other top commanders of Confederate forces in the months that followed, no peace treaty was ever signed with the Confederacy. Therefore, though the Confederates were beaten militarily, the war has never ended for the Secessionists. At the same time, the Union never officially recognized that the Confederacy even existed, that the fight had merely been to put down a domestic insurrection, and in a sense, that war with a Confederacy had never really happened at all. Some have argued that with the fall of Richmond , the Confederacy no longer existed and therefore had not the means to surrender, with the leadership dispersed, but the truth is that the Union never recognized the existence of the Confederacy to begin with and therefore could not accept surrender from that which they had never recognized. If they had accepted surrender, then they would have recognized the Confederacy as a legitimate entity to be negotiated with, thereby dooming the legitimacy of Union action against the Confederacy.
The third order, which I have listed here above, would come to be reflected in official acts in the years which followed the Civil War.


With the surrender of General Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia, the Confederacy was effectively defeated militarily on April 9, 1865. It wasn’t a week later that President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. The assassin made certain that Lincoln would have no part of cleaning up the mess that had been made by the war, no part of the period known as “Reconstruction,” and no chance to reverse the dictatorial assaults he had made against the Constitution, sovereignty, and liberty. Given the gravity of the situation, I dare say that there was far more behind the assassination than we are generally led to believe. It is more than likely, that there were those who desired that this consolidation of power remain in place long after the fighting had ceased. Was this assassination some cunning maneuver by a hidden cabal already in position to seize upon such new powers, or had this really been the root cause of the entire Civil War all along? Was the assassination the coup de grâce of the evident coup d’état? It seems quite likely that it had all been deliberately and clandestinely orchestrated, especially given all that has followed.

At the close of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 18, 1787, a Mrs. Powel anxiously awaited the results, and as Benjamin Franklin emerged from the long task now finished, asked him directly:

"Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?"

"A republic if you can keep it" responded Franklin.

The Reconstruction Acts that came after the war are a clear example of the continuation of martial law, and not Constitutional law. When Congress convened after a long recess in December 1865, they would not seat the representatives of the Southern states, refusing to recognize the legitimacy of their governments. Eventually, the Acts turned the former Confederate States of Virginia , North Carolina , South Carolina , Georgia , Mississippi , Alabama , Louisiana , Florida , Texas and Arkansas into five military districts to be commanded by Army Generals. Republican governments were eventually forced upon the defeated Confederacy, made up of “carpetbaggers,” “scalawags,” and of course “freedmen” instead of the traditional Democrats. While the eventual goal was indeed to restore States’ legislatures and representation in Congress, the Army was given unprecedented authority over all aspects of administration in the rebel states, including politics. An excellent example is found in Section 2 of a supplementary to "An Act to provide for the more efficient Government of the Rebel States."

“And be it further enacted, That the commander of any district named in said act shall have power, subject to the disapproval of the General of the army of the United States, and to have effect till disapproved, whenever in the opinion of such commander the proper administration of said act shall require it, to suspend or remove from office, or from the performance of official duties and the exercise of official powers, any officer or person holding or exercising, or professing to hold or exercise, any civil or military office or duty in such district under any power, election, appointment or authority derived from, or granted by, or claimed under, any so-called State or the government thereof, or any municipal or other division thereof, and upon such suspension or removal such commander, subject to the disapproval of the General as aforesaid, shall have power to provide from time to time for the performance of the said duties of such officer or person so suspended or removed, by the detail of some competent officer or soldier of the army, or by the appointment of some other person, to perform the same, and to fill vacancies occasioned by death, resignation, or otherwise.” -Reconstruction Acts


The rebels would have to submit to much to earn their “entitlement” to be represented in Congress once again. One such concession would be to submit to oaths under certain conditions, with one poignant example being made clear in Section 6 of one supplementary act.

“And be it further enacted, That the true intent and meaning of the oath prescribed in said supplementary act is, (among other things,) that no person who has been a member of the legislature of any State, or who has held any executive or judicial office in any State, whether he has taken an oath to support the Constitution of the United Sates or not, and whether he was holding such office at the commencement of the rebellion, or had held it before, and who has afterwards engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof, is entitled to be registered or to vote; and the words "executive or judicial office in any State" in said oath mentioned shall be construed to include all civil offices created by law for the administration of any general law of a State, or for the administration of justice.” -Reconstruction Acts

This effectively barred anyone who had any significant affiliation with the Confederacy or the Democrats from participating in government.

The states would have to write new constitutions in accordance with that which was prescribed in the initial Reconstruction Act. That constitution would then have to be submitted for the approval of Congress. But even here the imposition of federal authority does not end. Another clause, in the initial Act, which dictates the path back to representation in Congress, is stated in part in Section 5:

“…and when said State, by a vote of its legislature elected under said constitution, shall have adopted the amendment to the Constitution of the United States, proposed by the Thirty-ninth Congress, and known as article fourteen, and when such article shall have become a part of the Constitution of the United States, said State shall be declared entitled to representation in Congress, and senators and representatives shall be admitted there from on their taking the oath prescribed by law…”-Reconstruction Acts 

Entitlement, though admittedly of slightly different meaning perhaps, had been expressly forbidden by the original 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which has now been left out of all modern renderings, and all but forgotten being another casualty of this new imposed order. How can one be “entitled” to rights that were once deemed to be “self-evident” by the founders? And what good is a vote, when you are given but one choice?


With what today is known as the 13th and 14th Amendments, and the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871, the United States was well on its way to fully establishing itself as a corporation acting under an Executive dictatorship enforced by martial law. The establishment of the Federal Reserve Bank, the bankruptcy of the United States in 1933, and the Patriot Act, are all milestones, among others, in the road to absolute dictatorship, and the end of the dream laid out by our forefathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.. The United States today is a corporation, not the sovereign republic that it is imagined to be. According to the US Code Collection, sourced here from the Cornell University Law School, Legal Information Institute:

“(15) “ United States ” means—
(A) a Federal corporation;
(B) an agency, department, commission, board, or other entity of the United States ; or
(C) an instrumentality of the United States .”


It might be argued that President Lincoln was within his Constitutional rights to do whatever he deemed necessary, as the Executive and Commander-in-Chief during a time of national emergency. No such power is stated in the Constitution however, and again I would refer to the Tenth Amendment. Regardless, it is clear that the Constitution has been effectively suspended and superseded since the Civil War, having never been restored to its natural state since that time. All that has followed could only truthfully be thought of, at best, as a Constitutional Dictatorship, with the Constitution cited merely as a reference and not acting as a binding or effective force of legitimate governance. Martial law, is the law.

Quotes from President Lincoln:

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy slavery.”

"I have no purpose directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so... There is physical difference between the two which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position."

"It is still in our power to direct the process of emancipation, and deportation, peaceably, and in such slow degrees, as that the evil will wear off insensibly; and in their places be, pari passu [on an equal basis], filled up by free white laborers."

"Our republican system was meant for a homogeneous people. As long as blacks continue to live with the whites they constitute a threat to the national life. Family life may also collapse and the increase of mixed breed bastards may some day challenge the supremacy of the white man."

Copyright 2010, all rights reserved, used by permission

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