Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Regarding an Invitation

 I was initially attempting to post this as a reply to a comment on one of my other posts, inviting me to participate in another site that is "more structured" than Gates of Vienna.  But it is a bit long to fit in the reply section, so I suppose I'll just make it another post.

I tend to be more unstructured in my contributions to the Counter-Jihad, my "structured" thoughts start from the position of examining the essential question of what constitutes existence, and thus would be of limited interest to anyone else who is not interested in the ontological priority of evil relative to good.

Also, the particular structure of the 4freedoms site you mention is entirely incompatible with my thinking.  I should not feel free to express myself on such a site.  This can be seen at once by a quick examination of where I stand in relation to the four principles which presumably correspond to the site's name.

"1. Freedom of Speech: any speech allowed - except that advocating the end of free speech"

I could never participate in any discussion about free speech that did not allow such a self-contradictory premise to be challenged.  For one thing, I do not regard freedom of speech as an end in itself, but merely as a means towards the end of permitting people to be fully accountable for their own opinions.  This means that I am not opposed to entertaining arguments over the possibility of any better mechanism to allow people total responsibility for their own beliefs.  Also, if freedom of speech is really to be an axiom, then it absolutely must include freedom to advocate the end of free speech, if only to develop the countervailing argument.

"2. Freedom of Election: any party allowed - except one advocating the end of democracy"

This is not completely repugnant on logical grounds, but it is wholly unsatisfactory to me as I regard Rule of Law as infinitely superior to simple democracy as a basis for proper government.  From my point of view, democratic processes are simply a means of emulating the outcome of a contest of sovereignty with minimal resort to the chaos and bloodshed which would attend actual war between competing factions.  Since any democracy will inevitably come to a violent end when the outcomes of popular elections are sufficiently divorced from the will of those who actually hold the sovereign power of feeding and defending the nation, unlimited commitment to the principle of democracy will inevitably lead to the most sanguinary and destructive kind of conflict.  To abandon the freedom to advocate limiting democracy before that point is reached is rather like prohibiting the use of brakes on automobiles...yes, they rather subvert the whole exercise, but they are rather necessary.

"3. Freedom from Discrimination:  all citizens are equally protected by secular law"

This is actually not terribly long as citizenship is very narrowly defined to include only those persons who substantially contribute to the sovereignty of the nation by provision of its fundamental needs.  But I find such a narrow definition of citizenship to be unsatisfactory and thus would prefer a society in which nearly everyone can be a citizen but where the laws are structured such that those who make significant contributions to the welfare of society are better protected than those who detract from the welfare of society.  This may not be what the foregoing freedom means...but it is hard to say what else it might mean.  The principle of the Rule of Law helps to protect and ensure freedom (though not equally, the freedom of some need and receive little protection from the Rule of Law, the freedom of others much), but that is evidently not what is meant here.  If Rule of Law is applied equally, some will be more protected than others (for instance, laws against murder tend to protect the less physically violent more than they protect those prone to such violence).  Anything that would protect everyone equally would have to be applied unequally, and would not be the Rule of Law.

"4. Freedom from Religion:  religion is only exempted from legal purview in the private sphere"  I cannot see how this principle is even remotely compatible with the other four.  Given that I do not wholly accept any of them as far as I can best interpret them, this might not be an absolute rejection in itself.  But as it does happen, I fully support the right of people of any religious persuasion (other than Satanism and Atheism, which are both explicitly anti-religious in character) to fully express their own beliefs in the public sphere, form political organizations and vote in elections based on their religious affiliation, and to appeal for the protection of the laws all without any legal discrimination against them as a result of their religious beliefs and affiliations.  I do not support unlimited freedom of anyone to violate or denigrate the religious beliefs of others (which is why anti-religions such as Satanism and Atheism cannot receive the same freedoms), but as long as contrary expressions are based on positive beliefs rather than simple denigration of others I would not wish to involve legal distinctions between different opinions regardless of whether they are of a public or private character.

Since I could not possibly feel free to express myself fully under the restrictions imposed by any one of these "freedoms", I seriously doubt I could make any serious contribution to any site that required my compliance with all four of them.  Nor would I find much interest in saying anything that I could say without transgressing those "freedoms".

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Blast from the Past...well, from the Past, if not a Blast.

I wrote this several years ago.  It was, to some degree, my first serious attempt at political advocacy.

An American Military

By Richard Chiu June 7, 2006

In this time of international conflict, which threatens democracies around the world, our nation questions its current ability to meet the military commitments we've undertaken. Even while we struggle to control government spending, our military is increasing financial incentives for enlistment. On the other hand, we've stretched deployments and delayed separation for currently serving soldiers, borrowing from both our near term effectiveness and our long term ability to recruit. There have even been suggestions from legislators that it would be necessary to reinstitute the draft. Such a measure cannot be considered as a serious option. Modern military science has definitively proven that imposing a draft actually decreases a military's long term effectiveness. It reduces the commitment of the soldier in the field, it decreases support for the war at home, it taxes police forces and logistics without providing any significant increase in combat power. But the current shortage of troops requires better solutions than telling ourselves (and the world) that we just can't do it.

I have long seen a fundamental--and unacceptable--irony in the classic phrase so often used in connection with the American military, "We're here to defend democracy, not to practice it." However true those words were when first spoken on the field, however true they remain when oft repeated to new recruits and disillusioned veterans, I do not believe that they need to be true for an American fighting force. When we look at the reasons why our military has difficulty recruiting sufficient numbers of combat troops to meet our military commitments, one point stands out above all others. The current organization of the military is entirely at odds with the American way of life. Most Americans like traveling abroad, many will pay money to subject themselves to privation and danger, but no American likes to be constrained to blindly follow orders. Yet that is the very foundation of our current system of military command.

Our military, like most modern militaries, is heavily based on the Prussian model. Sadly, the demands of war-fighting technology at the time of the American Revolution favored the Prussian model, and its superiority in that conflict seems to have settled the question in the minds of American military institutions ever since. Though well suited to the model of warfare in which the individual soldier was merely a glorified pack animal capable of discharging a weapon in the general direction of the enemy and responding to the simplest of commands to act in concert, and doubly well suited to the social model in which the servant class was merely a sort of free range chattel of the nobility, it has little utility in a modern army and no place at all in the vital institutions of a democracy. Modern marketing campaigns and increased protections against abusive officers notwithstanding, our military forces are still no place for the native lover of freedom. They are demanding even for the born conformist. If one can assert that our military is in danger of failing because of a lack of manpower, no other disincentive to service can compare to its fundamental organization.

One of the current solutions to our shortage of soldiers, increasing financial benefits, does absolutely nothing to ameliorate this. The other, unilaterally extending enlistments and stretching active deployments, obviously exacerbates the problem. Whatever the material comforts we offer our soldiers, we treat them like indentured servants. It isn't surprising that Americans, particularly those who love their personal freedoms, fail to enlist even when they can see that their country needs them. To appeal to their mercenary impulse is merely insulting. Though our soldiers certainly deserve compensation for their valor and service, that is hardly the reason that men give their lives to the cause of freedom. To deny them even what little right of self-determination remains after enlistment by changing the conditions of the service contract unilaterally is absurd when continued recruitment depends on volunteers.

Our soldiers are there to protect the nation, but they are still citizens of a democracy. They are raised and schooled as citizens, and being suddenly deprived of many of the rights of American citizenship is a real hardship. While the hardships of danger and privation are inherent parts of military service in time of war, it is not a historical reality that the hardship of being demoted from citizen to slave is necessary to an effective military. Our military takes enormous pains to reduce our soldiers' exposure to danger and to make sure that they are well supplied. But we've made comparatively little advance in making those same soldiers feel that they are still members of the democracy they protect. In many ways, we've actually regressed. Some may blame much of this on the excessive self-indulgence of the larger society. I have no disagreement with such observations, but it has no relevance to the issue. I believe that American needs its citizens to have freedom, whether they use it to fight for their nation or to indulge themselves.

A wholesale, top-down restructuring of the military has begun, but will not be complete for many years, and will address relatively few of the issues that make military service unattractive to those who most appreciate and love American freedom and democracy. Indeed, much of the impetus behind this restructuring was the idea that our military wouldn't need to fight a decisive war or occupy the defeated nations afterwards. While the thinking of our leaders and the geopolitical reality has changed, the basic aim of the plans to streamline our military is an unchanged fact. This is one of the major reasons that our current deployments have forced a pause in that restructuring. And none of this changes the fundamental relationship of the new recruit to the military organization and the society our military exists to defend.

So just how are we to improve recruiting when the fundamental nature of military service is so unattractive to Americans? How can we meet our goals of streamlining the military but retain the capability to field enough force to wage a major war and meet our international obligations in occupied areas? I propose that it would be possible and desirable to supplement our existing military forces with units composed of free American citizens who will: 
  • a)Choose their own commanders rather than being assigned to the command of strangers,
  • b)Choose the conflicts in which they will serve,
  • c)Choose when they will be separated from continued military service,
  • d)Subject to the articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, as they apply to all military forces serving alongside regular U.S. military forces. 
It seems obvious that any military force organized on the principles enumerated above will be radically different from our existing ideas about service in the armed forces. Certainly, the first reaction of anyone familiar with the organization of our existing military would be that if the armed forces were to give their enlisted soldiers the liberty of choosing their own commanders, postings, and separation dates, the military would cease to function almost entirely. I have no dispute with such a view, as I share it. The way that our current armed forces are recruited, trained, organized, and disciplined, it is naturally impossible to allow individual soldiers the freedoms that are basic to other Americans.

However, I do not allow that it is impossible to design an independent military force that could embody these principles, merely because the current organization of our military cannot allow such freedom. Though it may be commonly believed that maintaining discipline and order in a force is impossible without severely infringing the liberty of the individual soldier, this belief seems to rest more on historical precedent than on logical argument. Yet a broader view of history is replete with examples of effective forces which were entirely voluntary. My ideas for the design of such a force may not owe everything to historical examples, but I do not believe the judgment of history dooms the concept to failure.

There are specific features of our existing military are incompatible with providing greater freedom to its own soldiers, either fundamentally or functionally. The centralization and hierarchy of our armed forces cannot be supported by a fully voluntary rank and file. It would be meaningless to be allowed to choose your own commander if all the commanders were constrained to transmit the direct orders of a single authority, and that central authority would be meaningless if it had no control over the various commanders and their units. A somewhat different concern arises if we look at the way that the military currently handles recruitment incentives along with training and equipping new enlistees. The entire program is based on the assumption that the soldier is legally obligated to serve out a specified term, without any question of refusing unattractive assignments or quitting. On the other hand, many important necessities for a volunteer force are already established as part of the ongoing modernization of our military. It is recognized as an axiom of modern military theory that volunteers are more effective and impose lower logistical costs than conscripts. This holds true for soldiers who volunteer for specific missions rather than being constrained by their orders to carry out duties with which they may not agree. Both the demands of modern war and the needs of dealing with a force drawn from a population used to liberty have given the military some experience in the methods of command which are compatible with a truly volunteer force.

Our current military is also experienced in working alongside forces that are not under the direct command of any U.S. military agency. It would not be necessary or even desirable to implement any sweeping changes in the existing military before establishing a new model for military service supplementary to the existing system. I see little reason to believe that the regular U.S. military forces would find it impossible to work alongside independent military units composed of American citizens rather than foreign nationals. Even in the experimental stages, such an independent force would be genuinely supplemental rather than representing any diversion of needed resources.

If we accept that an American force could be organizationally independent of the existing military yet work with our current armed forces, we can make it possible for such a force to be composed of units independent of each other. Each unit would be cooperating with the regular armed forces, they would not need to have any hierarchy of command amongst themselves. Each unit could be responsible for its own organization and recruitment, under the command of its own officers, with the provision that no person could be compelled to serve. These units could also be responsible for their own training and basic equipment such as uniforms and individual armament. Such units would form a type of militia, to be drawn on at need.

The concept of deploying American paramilitaries abroad is bound to cause concern in some quarters. Indeed, it is not uncommon for certain parties to consider our existing military morally comparable (or even inferior) to suicide bombers and terrorists. While little can be done to ally such extreme suspicion of persons who would volunteer for military service, the differences between an American militia and criminal paramilitary forces deserves careful consideration. The first point that must be understood is that militia forces do not inherently violate the Geneva Conventions or any other laws of war. There is no reason that militia would necessarily be involved in committing atrocities, perfidy and other offenses related to impersonating non-combatants or other militaries, or in attacks on civilians and destruction of non-military targets. Further, there is no bar to militia being recognized as authorized combatants fighting on behalf of a nation in its interests. As long as such units are forbidden to engage in war crimes and are held responsible by a recognized authority, they do not undermine either the spirit or letter of the laws of war.

The fact that our enemies have, in current and past conflicts, often been irregular forces that did not qualify as legal combatants shouldn't lead us to conflate the idea of irregular forces with illegal combatants. It should be remembered that regular forces can also become illegal combatants under the relevant provisions of the laws of war. It is an established principle of international law that soldiers cannot justify the commission of war crimes on the basis that the laws of their own nation compel them to follow orders. So following a model of military organization in which the soldier is not free to refuse orders does nothing to enhance compliance with the laws of war.

A more serious concern is over how we are to ensure the quality and character of militia soldiers both prior to deployment and while in a conflict area. It is also necessary to consider the practical necessities of logistic and financial support for deployed militia, as well as to clarify issues of responsibility for soldiers thus deployed.

The U.S. military already has various standards that are applied when considering how (and whether) to integrate foreign paramilitary forces. Applying a similar program stateside to assess the combat readiness and commitment of American militia units would be a necessity. However, this program would have the advantage of using U.S. based training facilities. This program would not seek to train the militia units, it would only be to assess whether they had been properly trained on the use of their weapons, tactical movement and operations, physical fitness, the basic provisions and implications of the UCMJ as applied to the militia, and such concepts as the Rules of Engagement and the Geneva Conventions. While it is not impossible that eventually the military might allow militia units to use its training facilities on favorable terms, the basic independence of both the regular military and militia units should be preserved.

Militia units that demonstrated a basic level of readiness as infantry units could be offered deployments, based on the current military needs of the nation and the capacity of the unit. Acceptance of such deployments would depend on the individual members of the unit, based on their own assessment of the validity of the military need against their personal needs. While it would probably be usual to offer basic pay incentives and necessary logistic support to offset the financial hardships attendant on deployment, the chief motivation would be, as it always must be in time of war, the defense of their nation.

A central element of this concept is that militia units would deploy with their chosen officers. These officers would undertake to coordinate activities with the regular U.S. military and to take actions consistent with the mission for which they were deployed. They would be responsible for the activities of the militia unit as a whole and for suspending/separating individuals that were unwilling to abide by the mission accepted by the unit. It seems likely that in the initial phases of developing such a program, many of these officers would have to be regular officers assigned to recruit militia units. However, during their service as militia commanders, they would need to adapt to a command style in which they would exercise no power of compulsion over their soldiers, other than the authority to unilaterally separate a soldier from the unit. They would probably also need to be attached to a short command chain with a formal mission of promoting development of the militia concept, rather than being under the direct command of superior officers in the theater of service. This would allow commanders to gain experience in working with militia commanders who would not be under the command of any officers of the regular military.
If a regular officer desired the assistance of any militia units, the request would be made to all militia units available for that duty. Of those that volunteered, the regular officer would select whichever units seemed best suited to the mission. The regular military would be responsible for arranging any additional equipment, intelligence, transportation, etc. deemed necessary to the mission (just as the logistic demands of deployment were handled). While this level of cooperation may seem unlikely to the militarily inexperienced, it is no more difficult than what is already required to allow units from different branches to cooperate. It is true that interservice rivalry will probably be evident between the regular branches of service and militia units. But our military (both considered as a whole and in its various branches) has a long tradition of dealing successfully with this particular problem. The jokes told in the Air Force and Navy about the Marines and Army (and vice versa) will be a fair preview of how members of the militia and regular forces will likely regard one another. Though such rivalries can present real difficulties, our military has proven capable of overcoming them.

In the event that, for whatever reason, the overall performance of a militia unit in the field was unacceptable, that unit would be separated as a whole, reverting to the status of American civilians. Were a disaster worthy of investigation to occur, responsibility would lie with each individual according to the actions that individual was established to have taken. If the disaster were shown to have resulted from the supply of flawed intelligence, provisions, ordnance, etc. by the regular forces, then the responsible parties would be disciplined under military law. If the disaster were shown to have resulted from illegal (rather than merely incorrect) actions on the part of any militia, those individuals would be tried either by court martial or by civilian law, consistent with the UCMJ.

In essence, American militia units would be much like the various paramilitaries on which U.S. military efforts have often depended. The key differences would be their American origin and their potential to sustain our nation's force requirements on a long term basis and in any conflict vital to the interests of American citizens.

While I recognize that this idea may seem very novel, the arguments that I see in its favor seem very compelling, whilst all arguments against it seem to be based mainly on the simple historical fact that we haven't done things that way in "a long time". And yet, our military has continued to do things this way, fighting alongside patriotic and freedom loving citizens of other nations. It's just been a long time since we had a serious place for patriotic and freedom loving Americans to serve alongside our regular forces.

Copyright © 2006 by Richard Chiu

And eventually I decided to just freelance.

I recently began commenting on Gates of Vienna, a Counter-Jihad site which I have followed for some time.  Sadly, my actual first comment was lost to cyberspace, and I don't really recall what it was anyway.  I suppose it was a kind of introduction.  This was partly to pass time as I tried to forward the judicial proceedings arising from my attempts to hold the police accountable for their actions towards me in regards to my assertion that those that assert the authority to publish and enforce the law must obey it themselves.  But it is also because a critical element of the Counter-Jihad is rediscovering the essential greatness of Western Civilization, which consists of the elevation of the dignity and freedom of the individual in the context of a society ruled by law rather than arbitrary whims of the powerful.

Then I tried Petitioning the Government

I am prone to regard the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment as being of more direct value to the government than to those citizens who exercise them. As a cyberneticist, I look at the issue in terms of the issue of feedback provided which allows an entity to correctly interpret the effects of current actions so as to modify them to maximum benefit. The citizen who lacks any right to free speech can find alternate (and probably more effective) means of "expression" in a purely cathartic sense, but the government deprived of the honest opinions of law-abiding citizens is crippled in its ability to estimate the effect of its activities. In theory, this could be an intellectually interesting discussion centered on pure cybernetics. But circumstances have dictated that this note will concern itself with a more concrete description of an
illustrative incident.

A few weeks ago, I noticed a link posted by a friend here on facebook which related to the FBI's interest in "Sovereign Citizens". The page to which this link led has been changed considerably, and most of the details which I here particularly describe were removed. But I can assure you that there was such a page, and my experiences over the last two weeks prove it.

This page described some features of the "Sovereign Citizen" movement, which would seem to be an extreme form of libertarianism. It described the characteristic political views of "Sovereign Citizens" at some length, and mentioned several (three, if I recall) instances where persons acting under this political motivation had "scammed" members of the public out of some thousands of dollars by selling literature promoting the idea that some law-enforcement activities of the Federal government were illegitimate or illegal (the description of the politics of "Sovereign Citizens" has apparently been shortened, and the financial losses to their 'scams' appears to have been inflated into the rather unspecific "millions of dollars" since I first viewed the page). The final part of the page was the most alarming, as it contained an invitation for all law-abiding citizens to report any persons with political opinions matching this "dangerous criminal" profile, along with a internet reply form for that exact purpose.

The reply form itself has since been removed, and the request for information has been altered to read "if you have information on any suspicious activities or crimes, please contact us." But I did reply to the form that existed previously according to the previous directive to report persons with certain political opinions. Time and my ongoing battles with spamware have ensured that I do not have a verbatim copy of my exact reply, but I can reconstruct the main elements.

Firstly, I declared that, while I had distinct disagreements with the ideas of "Sovereign Citizens" as they were described, I was myself suspicious of the Constitutionality of certain actions of the Federal government, particularly the FBI posting a page that essentially declared certain political opinions criminal and encouraged the general population to report on their neighbors for the"crime" of having certain political opinions. Thus, in accordance with their directives I was forced to report myself. I also referred to several of the Constitutionally protected rights of American citizens, including the rights specified in the First and Second Amendments of the Constitution, including the rights of political speech and self-defense (which is not merely stated as a right, but as an indispensable responsibility of those citizens who would preserve a free nation).

I specifically mentioned a recent pattern of "investigative" activity on the part of the FBI which involved having an informant suggest various criminal activities to persons who had not committed any actual crimes, and then arresting them for "conspiracy" to commit what only the FBI informant had so much as suggested they do. I said that if I were to form a militia, it would be necessary for us to have such an informant in order for us to invent any plans for violence. It would seem a reasonable person would understand the implicit idea that any group I might form would not come up with such ideas on our own, even though this was not explicitly stated as far as I recall.

I again referenced my belief in the intrinsic right of self-defense against overt aggression, and closed with a statement that those who chose to abuse their positions of trust in the government to the destruction of the Constitution would be in jeopardy of losing their souls, and that I personally regarded this as not only commensurate with the justice of God, but also personally beneficial to myself. I fully acknowledge that the manner in which I expressed this final sentiment was both unorthodox and extremely sarcastic, perhaps to the point that most people would have difficulty understanding the history of the idea expressed. Indeed, the entire tone of my missive was characterized by the spiteful feeling that prolonged exposure to evidence of tyranny can sometimes produce in the hearts of those who love freedom. I am not proud of how insulting I can be when gentler persuasions fail, but I do acknowledge that what I wrote was very hurtful and calculated to harass and distress those to whom it was addressed.

Even so, while I hoped to make a distinct impression of my displeasure, perhaps sufficient to motivate an angry 'cease and desist' message to my e-mail (which I provided with the invitation that the FBI discuss the matter if they had any difficulty understanding my initial message) or even through regular mail, I had little hope that there would be any real change. I didn't even expect them to alter their offensive "Sovereign Citizen" threat reporting page in the least particular.

It turns out that I was naive to thus limit my expectations.

On the Wednesday of April the 21st, I retired from my usual internet activities for a midday nap (to which habit I am prone). I awoke at the urging of my mother, who informed me that the FBI wished to talk to me. It is unclear whether or not the FBI were actually present, the persons I encountered were mostly local police, both uniformed and plain-clothed. They had crowded into the dining room in sufficient numbers to cause some degree of congestion (particularly given the need to keep their assault rifles pointed downwards--towards the basement apartment where my brother's family lives), but the exact number of officers present is difficult to say with any certainty beyond my impression that there were well over a half-dozen of them, and perhaps a full dozen. I asked the first plain-clothed man I met whether he was with the FBI, he denied this and identified himself as a member of the local police. I was puzzled (and somewhat disappointed) by this evident lack of proper coordination, since nobody volunteered to identify themselves by name or distinct authority. However, I was interested in discussing the issue of the FBI's "Sovereign Citizen" threat reporting page, and both sleepy and naive enough to believe that such was the actual intention of those present, as they stated.

The discussion was short and rather confused, due both to the fact that the person (or persons) I was talking to insisted on taking short phrases out of context and asking me what I meant by them (when I had written them several days or perhaps a week before) and the frequent interruptions telling me where to stand or which direction to face (I have an occasionally regrettable tendency to follow instructions unless I have a distinct reason not to do so, part of the reason I replied to the FBI's request for reports on persons with certian kinds of political opinions). However, once they had manuvered me in-between two large officers and had me facing the direction they desired, both officers seized me by the arms. I was informed by a person behind me that I was not under arrest and no warrant had been issued, but that they were going to place me in restraints and take me to another location (the nature of which was not revealed) for further questioning.

I informed them that this was contrary to the law and it was not incumbent on me to comply, which message I reinforced by keeping my arms in front of my body rather than allowing them to be forced behind my back. The response was "let's go high/low" followed by three tasers being employed simultanously up and down my back. At no time was there any suggestion that I had done anything criminal or that there was any authority under the law for such an action. I had not even raised my voice or made any threatening gestures. However, the sudden barrage of taser darts (each taser deploys two) and application of high voltage current limited my ability to continue the discussion.

The first taser shot, striking my upper back, did not register so much as pain as an irresistible but oddly intangible force bending my shoulders back and my spine forward. The next two shots, landing on my lower back, induced a horrible feeling of loss of strength and well-being. I do not know if I retained any ability to speak, certainly it seemed that my upper body was entirely out of my control, the muscles contracting without any intelligent coordination. I cannot recall being able to formulate anything useful to say in any event, and my control of my breathing was rather limited as well. The police at my sides jammed my body forward against a wall, bending my arms back forcefully and applying handcuffs tightly enough to leave scars that are still in the process of healing. Someone began plucking the taser probes from my back, a process they were kind enough to explain. After perhaps a minute of continued uncontrollable muscle tension, it seems my supply of physical energy was exhausted and I partially blacked out, probably due to a combination of hypoxia (my ability to breathe freely having been impaired) and sudden reduction in blood sugar from the involuntary exertions of my body.

In any case, I fell to the floor of the entry hall and seemed to have been stepped on several times, possibly by accident. Either at this time or in the later manipulations of my inert body my left arm was badly strained and bruised so that it was useless for a few days and has still not regained full function, though I expect that the injuries will heal completely given time and care. It seems there were also other insults to my limbs at this time or subsequently, though none of them nearly so disabling or painful. I was eventually lifted by my limbs and carried out the door, most probably the front door of the house due to the location in which I fell to the floor, but I cannot be entirely certain since I could only really rely on my hearing, my other senses being impaired to various degrees.

It was at this point that one of the men present swore and exclaimed that the channel 2 news was on the way, at which there was a noticeable increase in the energy with which those carrying my body pulled on my limbs. I recall distinctly being bitterly entertained by the thought of someone recording this scene on video so that those involved would be exposed to public scrutiny of their actions. However, I had no remaining power for any more tangible resistance to my abductors. They soon reached a vehicle of some sort and stuffed me into what I believe was the rear passenger seat, which was evidently divided in two by a hard barrier. By exercising a degree of calming meditation I was able to bring my need for oxygen within range of what my lungs could supply without any need for conscious control of my breathing. I had my eyes closed both to conserve energy and because I had no reason to suspect there was anything it would be worth the effort of seeing. The vehicle carrying me drove for a relatively short time, and after that it was parked and I was left alone for what seemed like a longer period of time. I still lacked the physical reserves to perform any significant actions, and was tightly handcuffed and (probably) locked in an escape-resistant containment. I thus tried to concentrate on not overtaxing my restricted breathing situation.

Eventually, the door was opened and I was hauled out and placed on a stretcher, where some form of ammonical salts were employed in an effort to either force me into activity or stop my breathing entirely. I did manage to cough weakly, and this was apparently considered sufficient response to admit me to the emergency care facility at the hospital, where I was taken next.

The sequence of events in the emergency room is somewhat unclear due to my lack of sufficient resources to deal with them. It is clear to me that some person claiming to be acting on behalf of the FBI attempted to represent me to the medical staff as a dangerous criminal deserving of no special care or sympathy. It is hard to posit a certain impression of their initial attitude, but it did seem at the time as though they were initially disposed to believe my abductor's characterization of the situation. However, after this person (and perhaps others, it is hard to be certain even of this given my state at the time) attempted to interrogate me in an apparent effort to extract some incriminating confession or other, the attitude of the medical staff seemed much better disposed towards me. This may have been due to their hearing more of the actual circumstances behind the situation (including, I believe, my persuading the government officials present to read the actual text of what I had written), or to my evidently pathetic degree of injury and danger (the interview was interrupted occasionally by spasms in my torso which prevented my breathing, and I noted that my heart-rate was over 180 bpm when I became sufficiently aware to note it myself, it was probably much higher at other points). In either case (or both), the emergency staff treated me very well thereafter, and I was a bit sorry to leave their company later that night. The conversations I had with them served as pleasant distraction from the difficult experience I have yet to fully understand, and at some times helped to validate my confusion and reassure me that my mental state was not so deficient as I might have been tempted to suppose.

I recall one particular exchange with a pleasant woman, I cannot recall her exact description (and perhaps it would be unwise to do so). I described shortly the FBI threat reporting page which had instigated this entire sequence of events, and my sharp feeling of distress that the FBI was criminalizing political opinions. She responded by saying that she thought of herself as being a sovereign citizen, someone who retained certain rights which the government had no authority to infringe. I was able to laugh as I warned her not to tell the FBI such a thing. It helped me feel a sense of perspective and gain some confidence that my viewpoint was at least understandable to others. It was emblematic of the way that the care I received in the ICU improved my sense of connection to my country as a nation of people who retain the aspiration and appreciation for freedom to think and speak without fear of illegal and unconstitutional retribution being exacted by the powerful.

Late that night, I was transferred to another part of the hospital, initially on the pretext that I would have an opportunity to further discuss the nature of my posited offense and the supposed justification for the actions taken against me. It may be a measure of my appetite for debate that this actually appealed to me, given my physical condition at the time. It is probable that I also wished for answers, or even vindication. But the long ride in a wheelchair turned out to be sufficiently tiring (and the hour sufficiently late) that I had little complaint when the plan changed to a shower (seated in a waterproof chair) and bed. I maintained my wakefulness long enough to review a summarized patient orientation, drank some more fluids (I believe I drank a few quarts of liquid that day in the aftermath of the assault), and then I managed a few hours of sleep at a time, waking to deal with physical problems as they arose and then return to sleep as possible.

Morning would bring me to a new chapter in my adventure. And there are insights of that night which I have not fully addressed. But notwithstanding that the story does not end here, nor is it even complete in detail up to this point, this is where this note ends.


P.S. This was originally published as a Note on FaceBook.

In the Beginning

There was a Xanga blog.  Okay, that wasn't the beginning, but it was a while ago.  And while it was not the beginning, it began by mentioning the beginning.

I'll start at the beginning.  Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a soldier fighting for justice.  Various things happened, and when I was free of various other obligations I went ahead and joined the U.S. Army.  There were bits I found less than satisfactory, but overall I was pretty enthused.  When I separated, I had cause to reflect on the nature of my military experience and to consider the system as a whole, and came to the conclusion that our military is very poorly designed, particularly for the defense of a free society.
For a long time I simply resisted the impulse to rejoin the military, flawed as it is.  I would occasionally try to explain what I felt was wrong with it and how it could be made better, but only to family and close aquaintances.  As I've gotten more experience about the way the world works, it occurs to me that I was being unnecessarily fatalistic.  I never tried suggesting ways of improving the military to anyone who could actually do anything about it.  And yet...because of my fatalism in general, I've also never gotten any experience in petitioning my representatives, also known as "being a kook."
So here I am, looking for advice on kook letter writing in general and refinement of my ideas for restructuring the military to depend partly (or even primarily) on guys who love freedom enough to put their lives on the line for it, even if they love it too much to give it up for years so they can serve under officers they don't know for causes they didn't choose.