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Invictus2017

Living on the edge of a volcano

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I grew up in a liberal Democratic home but, oddly, my mother was a science fiction reader with Heinlein in her collection.  I became a libertarian, but later became disillusioned with libertarianism.  In 1983, a co-worker introduced me to Ayn Rand via The Fountainhead and I quickly read everything I could find.  I pretty much stopped reading Objectivist literature by the mid 90's; I had concluded that I was getting nothing further of value from it.

In the 90's, I spent a lot of time talking to people online and offline, probing their responses to libertarian and Objectivist ideas and doing lots of debating.  This persuaded me that, for the most part, I was wasting my time.  To simplify:  What passes for child rearing in America (and, I presume, elsewhere), is a form of abuse that causes most people to be literally unable to be rational about freedom.  What they needed was not rational argument, but therapy.  I wasn't willing to invest the effort, so I simply walked away from the persuasion game.

All this time, I had bought the myth that America is a free country, founded on the principles of individual rights and limited government.  But I got a rude awakening.

In 2003, I was arrested for a crime I didn't commit.  Too poor to hire my own lawyer, I was given a public defender.  He pressured me to plead guilty to the crime but, naturally, I refused.  So he and the prosecutor colluded to have me plead guilty to a different crime, one the prosecutor knew I hadn't committed and my lawyer should have known I hadn't committed.  My lawyer came to me and told me that I had committed this different crime and I, being held without bail in a prison with no legal materials to review, had no choice but to take his word for it.  So, I pleaded guilty.

Except I didn't.  To properly enter a plea, I had to have been correctly informed as to what it took to violate the law.  But my lawyer had misinformed me about that.  Moreover, I had to admit to actions that constituted a crime.  But the actions I admitted to did not constitute a crime.  Both lawyers had to know have known it, but both solemnly affirmed to the judge that there was nothing wrong with my plea.

Eventually, I reached a prison where there were legal materials.  I got the records of my case and discovered what had been done to me.  I filed my habeas corpus petition.  Two plus years later, I discovered that it had been denied.  The judge had simply ignored the law and refused to hear my side of the case.  The appeals court and then the supreme court also refused to hear my case.

I ended up spending nearly a decade in prison for a crime that I not only didn't commit, but which the government knew I hadn't committed.

Having motivation and lots of spare time, I studied the law in detail.  I learned that what happened to me was not a fluke, it is the way the system normally works.  Innocence is no longer of relevance in America's legal system.  The pursuit of justice has devolved into a mechanical process that acts on the presumption of guilt.  Only those who have money, publicity, or the luck to draw honest and competent lawyers and/or judges can hope to see justice; the rest might as well resign themselves to a good screwing.

During the course of my legal research, I stumbled on how things got this way.  It all began in 1824, with a supreme court case, Gibbons v. Ogden.  It's a seemingly unimportant case, a dispute over who -- the federal government or a state government -- had the authority to grant monopolies over the use of rivers.  (A word of warning to anyone who wants to read the case:  Unlike modern cases, whose text consists solely of the opinion of the court, the older supreme court cases are generally prefixed with arguments from the lawyers.  Be sure that what you read is actually the court's opinion.)

In reaching its conclusions, the supreme court said that, except in the case of an unresolvable ambiguity in the text of the constitution, courts were to construe the powers granted to the government using nothing but the words of the constitution as their guide.  The courts were forbidden to examine the arguments and principles enunciated by those who wrote the constitution.  If, for example, the constitution granted the government the right to regulate interstate commerce, then anything that could be construed as interstate commerce was up for regulation, and never mind whether the founder's had a different idea.. This is in sharp contrast to the supreme court's rulings on rights, in which the court has routinely ruled that the rights in the constitution must be limited by what those who put them in had intended.

I read a lot more than this one case, of course, but theyonly served to reinforce what I had learned:  In short, the supreme court abrogated the founders' intent to create a limited government, substituting instead the possibility -- since realized -- of a government of essentially unlimited power, with the "right" to constrain its "citizens"  -- now actually subjects -- to serve its own needs.

Released from prison, I was expected to be a good little slavey, subordinating my life to the desires of arbitrary government officials.  Needless to say, I did nothing of the sort.  I have twice now returned to court and what happened then has only reinforced my conclusions.  I have now had five new appointed lawyers.  All five agreed that I had been royally screwed when I was originally prosecuted.  Three of them flatly refused to do anything about it.  The other two said they would challenge the conviction, but managed to screw things up so thoroughly that they never even got to make the challenge.

(I probably should mention here that I'm only describing the "high" points of my experience.  A thorough description would require a book. A book that only the masochistic would read.)

My examination of Americans and their government has persuaded me that the American experiment has failed.  What was good about America has not entirely disappeared, but it continues to exist largely by inertia, aided by the Herculean efforts of those who do value limited government and individual rights.  I give it perhaps 30 years before American has become either a dictatorship or an anarchy.

The government has totally destroyed my life.   Each time I was released from prison, it was under conditions that would have guaranteed my return to prison within a few months, regardless of what actions I took.  So I walked away and am now, for the third time, a fugitive.  (I do my netting via Tor proxies, BTW.)  I own nothing to this government or to the society that has enacted and supports it.  I do not support it, I reject its right to exist.  Nor am I fool enough to try to change it, neither by persuasion nor by violence.

All that is left to me is to leave it.  But to where?

That's for a later post.

Edited by Invictus2017
some nits I missed in my last read

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27 minutes ago, Invictus2017 said:

I grew up in a liberal Democratic home but, oddly, my mother was a science fiction reader with Heinlein in her collection.

Amazing story you've shared.

Interestingly, I also grew up in a liberal Democratic home... and my mother had as her two favorite books: Stranger in a Strange Land; and The Fountainhead.

27 minutes ago, Invictus2017 said:

(I probably should mention here that I'm only describing the "high" points of my experience.  A thorough description would require a book. A book that only the masochistic would read.)

Forgive me if I'm being presumptuous, but...

Based on what I've read of yours thus far, I have to say that I think you're a fantastic writer. Extraordinarily lucid. I hope you write your book someday.

27 minutes ago, Invictus2017 said:

So I walked away and am now, for the third time, a fugitive.  (I do my netting via Tor proxies, BTW.)  I own nothing to this government or to the society that has enacted and supports it.  I do not support it, I reject its right to exist.  Nor am I fool enough to try to change it, neither by persuasion nor by violence.

I don't know the details of your situation sufficiently to comment on it much, but I hope you find some happy means of resolution.

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I have no reason to believe or doubt what you have to say, so I hold my mind in a state of superposition... you could be lying, or you could be telling the truth, and only further information would inform me as to reality. If I may ask, what are the details of the crime? I imagine that you have revealed all that you are comfortable with, but a crime to require 10+ years of prison time would have to be rather severe.

My only personal experience with the legal system has been negative, so part of me does suspect that a such a blatant, repeated travesty of justice could occur to you. In many cases, the innocent have been locked away for years for crimes they didn't commit in this country. Innocence until proven guilty is a difficult standard that only the most objective of judges and juries could uphold. Unfortunately, the founders envisioned a far more enlightened society to be able to uphold the value of objective reason. We have failed them in many respects.

The interstate commerce clause is one of the founders' biggest mistakes, that they did not very clearly and unambiguously delegate specific sorts of interstate commerce which could be regulated, and when. They assumed, naively, that nobody could ever misconstrue their words. They had just fought a war to establish a new sort of country, so how could there be any ambiguity? But now, over 200 years later, we have come to not only resemble, but are in many respects worse than King George's government. King George didn't have the NSA to spy on his subjects. He didn't pat down travelers on ships like the TSA does. He did not have a massive bureaucracy at his disposal to collect every penny of tax he could, as the IRS is.

I, too, suspect that the United States will be a dictatorship or will collapse within 30 years. Our massive debt and shrinking freedoms virtually guarantee a civil war or some form of societal collapse. I am encouraged by Trump's election, if only because it proves that a preponderance of the American electorate truly believes in draining the swamp, securing the borders, lowering taxes, and restoring our healthcare as it was before Obama got his grubby hands on it. I'm sure many of my fellow Objectivist travelers would disagree with me, and there were plenty of so-called Objectivist articles explaining how Trump's election heralded a dictatorship. We do still have the inertia, as you said, of the American sense of life. I hold a tepid attitude towards Trump, and we will have to wait and see how his presidency shakes out. As for liberal democratic areas like the ones that you lived in, though, many of them will continue to deteriorate

Evil can only exist when good men do nothing. There is a massive awakening which is occurring in this country, along with the antifa and BLM anarchist rioters you see in the streets. Good people are starting to realize their power. I must be an optimist because that is the only way that I can still live in this country and not become clinically depressed.

I hope that you find the justice that you seek.

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8 hours ago, DonAthos said:
Quote

(I probably should mention here that I'm only describing the "high" points of my experience.  A thorough description would require a book. A book that only the masochistic would read.)

Forgive me if I'm being presumptuous, but...

Based on what I've read of yours thus far, I have to say that I think you're a fantastic writer. Extraordinarily lucid. I hope you write your book someday.

I'm in my 60's.  I have symptoms that suggest some sort of heart disease.  My circumstances do not permit me to seek health care.  I'm not going to waste whatever time I have left on writing that book.  Especially since doing so would likely do no more than entertain.
 

9 hours ago, DonAthos said:

I don't know the details of your situation sufficiently to comment on it much, but I hope you find some happy means of resolution.

The government will never admit its evil.  At best a competent lawyer might convince it to admit to a "mistake".  But the competent lawyers who actually care are swamped with cases worse than mine.  They're unlikely to take my case, not so long as there are so many people illegally convicted who remain behind bars.

While I'm competent to handle my case myself, my experience and the experience of others has persuaded me that doing so would be a waste of time.   The courts simply do not want to hear from pro se petitioners, and are likely to -- as they did to me -- predetermine the outcome and not in the petitioner's favor.  (Check out why Richard Posner retired from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.)

There is a possible happy resolution, but it does not involve my trying to persuade Leviathan to not eat me....
 

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10 hours ago, CartsBeforeHorses said:

I have no reason to believe or doubt what you have to say, so I hold my mind in a state of superposition... you could be lying, or you could be telling the truth, and only further information would inform me as to reality.

As a matter of benevolence, I assume that I am being told the truth unless there is evidence to the contrary.

10 hours ago, CartsBeforeHorses said:

If I may ask, what are the details of the crime? I imagine that you have revealed all that you are comfortable with

I could tell you the statute I was convicted under.  However, I can't tell you the details of the "crime", as I was never accused of actions that were a violation of that statute.

In any case, I'm writing about myself, not the unfounded statements of government agents (and others).  I have no intention of becoming a mouthpiece for those criminals.  If I discuss details at all, it will be in the context of a complete explication of what happened, supported by publicly available documentary evidence.  Until then, I will stick to giving just enough information to explain my motives and thinking.

10 hours ago, CartsBeforeHorses said:

The interstate commerce clause is one of the founders' biggest mistakes, that they did not very clearly and unambiguously delegate specific sorts of interstate commerce which could be regulated, and when. They assumed, naively, that nobody could ever misconstrue their words.

The founders assumed that anyone interpreting the constitution would take into account the founders' intentions in writing it.  The supreme court didn't misconstrue the words of the commerce clause, it explicitly chose to take them out of context.  There's nothing the founders could have done about that.

Be that as it may, I'm reasonably sure that the founders didn't intend by that clause to regulate specific sorts of interstate commerce.  The context of that clause was that, under the Articles of Confederacy, states manipulated interstate commerce to advantage themselves at the expense of other states.  The founders' presumed intent was to give the federal government the authority to put a stop to such behavior.

10 hours ago, CartsBeforeHorses said:

I am encouraged by Trump's election, if only because it proves that a preponderance of the American electorate truly believes in draining the swamp, securing the borders, lowering taxes, and restoring our healthcare as it was before Obama got his grubby hands on it.

Trump lost the popular vote, his noise to the contrary notwithstanding.

Moreover, the election results do not prove that Americans are rejecting the pre-Trump status quo.

Americans want to "drain the swamp" -- throwing out corporatism so that individual can better batten off government largess. They want to secure the borders -- when all the evidence says that doing so is neither possible nor would have a real effect on the immigration non-problem.  They want to lower taxes -- but not the benefits that the government pays for with those taxes.  And don't get me started on the horrible mess that was American healthcare before Obamacare.  Didnt Peikoff warn us --- in the 80's! -- of where the American health care system was heading?

Obamacare is actually an exemplar of a very common phenomenon.  First, the government meddles where it has no business being.  That causes serious problems which, naturally, the government has to fix.  Repeat ad nauseum -- until the whole thing becomes an unsupportable mess.  Obamacare looks to be the penultimate stage of a government-induced collapse of the healthcare system.  We can only hope that the government will learn its lesson and get out of the healthcare business entirely -- if our name is Pollyanna.

10 hours ago, CartsBeforeHorses said:

....Trump's election heralded a dictatorship.

They got ir wrong -- American is not so far gone that a would-be dictator could take over.  Yet.

11 hours ago, CartsBeforeHorses said:

Evil can only exist when good men do nothing.

Or when they act on bad philosophy, persuaded that evil is good.  That is a more accurate description of what's going wrong in America.

 

11 hours ago, CartsBeforeHorses said:

There is a massive awakening which is occurring in this country

No there is not.  Americans are doing exactly what they've been doing since FDR showed them the way....bleating and grunting for ever growing government handouts and protection.  America cannot reverse course unless and until its people reject entitlements altogether, and decide that each person shall live by his own efforts or not at all.

11 hours ago, CartsBeforeHorses said:

I hope that you find the justice that you seek.

I am not seeking justice, though if it fell into my lap I wouldn't reject it.  But I've already fought that fight and lost miserably.  I will direct my efforts elsewhere.

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1 hour ago, Invictus2017 said:

I could tell you the statute I was convicted under.  However, I can't tell you the details of the "crime", as I was never accused of actions that were a violation of that statute.

What were you told you were under arrest for? I understand how the plea deal was handled all wrong, but the statute in question there isn't the crime you were accused of. I'm just trying to get a better picture of it all.

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My first introduction to the misconduct of government agents and other authority figures occurred in my childhood: I was, among countless other abuses, imprisoned for the "crime" of trying to avoid the incessant bullying I was being subjected to.  Being a science fiction reader, I dreamed of flying off in a space ship.  Later, I learned how impracticable that was, at least for the foreseeable future.

As a libertarian and even after I parted ways with libertarianism, I looked at the various libertarian attempts at creating a free society, motivated by the desire to spend my time among people who valued freedom.  Those attempts all failed.  For the most part, that had to do with the errors (to be charitable) of those involved, but there was also a real problem behind the failures:  no place to put a free society.

I won't go into all the reasons for not trying to put a free society within the borders of an existing country.  Suffice to say, that such a society would have to choose between being a largely military society or compromising with the government that controls their land.  Neither would be conducive to freedom.  Space may someday be cheap enough to get to, but not yet.

The oceans, far from land, are a possibility, but the oceans are an immensely hostile environment.  The Seasteading Institute has looked at this but, frankly, they wimped out, deciding to further a project which allows at most a few hundred people (not enough, by far, for a real society) to live within sight of land -- and under the thumb of its government. And I won't even go into the political philosophy that motivates them.... Anyway, no one has yet proven or disproven that it is possible for a society to survive on the ocean.

Absent the last quarter of my life, I probably would have left it at that, supposing that if someone who knew what they were doing was to try to put a free society on the ocean, they'd provide the necessary proof or disproof.  I could live my life and wait for it; if it looked good, I could participate.

What happened to me changed things entirely.  Living in this country means an existence which could be ended at any time by my arrest.  It means being cut off from many of the benefits of a modern society.  Worse, though, is the psychological corrosion induced by living here.  Moving won't help.  Becoming an illegal immigrant elsewhere would not materially change my life.  But no other country is likely to take me legally, at least not any country I would want to live in.  What to do, become a hermit?

Obviously not.

I looked again at the idea of creating a free society somewhere and moving there.  I really didn't like the idea of living on the ocean, given corrosive seawater, major storms, rogue waves, pirates...and government navies.  But another alternative was brought to my attention: the stratosphere.

I've done a lot of back of the envelope calculations and it seems doable.  My baseline is a vehicle capable of carrying 10,000 people with 100 square meters per person for living space, agriculture, commerce, recreation, and so on.  The habitat is, in essence, a large building (316 meters on a side, if square, and 25 meters high) carried by a superstructure 1600 meters in diameter, either a cylinder or a hemisphere, with a volume of 1 billion cubic meters.  The superstructure contains around 8,000 balloons used to provide lift.  It would be capable of floating at 24 km using hydrogen as the lift gas. (Helium is not an option, for a variety of reasons.)

The stratosphere isn't exactly a benign environment.  However, its dangers are  more predictable and mitigatable than those of the oceans.  There are government aircraft, but that's much less of a threat than government navies.

I'm reasonably confident that building such a thing is  within the ability of today's technology.  Financing is likely to be a more difficult challenge.

But there are three other important things.

I'm sure that most Objectivists won't want to hear it, but there's an awful lot of hand-waving in the derivation of its principles.  I'm persuaded that most of them are nevertheless correct, and that almost all of them can be proven correct, but it would be good if this were done explicitly, no hand-waving allowed.  I have in mind something like a wiki, with each principle given a single page, providing a statement of the principle, its derivation and validation, evidence in support, examples, and explanations. Such a thing would provide an unshakable foundation for a free society.

The second is a serious attempt at describing an Objectivism-based government.  What little I've seen suggests that most Objectivists think it would look a lot like early American government was supposed to be, but I seriously doubt that it would.  I think we can look at the American project and learn many lessons (positive: separation of powers, checks and balances, negative: the failures that have led America to where it is), but I don't think it is a good model for a future free society.

The third is a serious attempt at describing an Objectivism-based society.  By this I mean, what sort of social mechanisms ought to exist in such a society?  Let me give a single example:  Any sensible person should see that a society needs a safety net of some kind.  Obviously, the government should not provide that safety net (but what about bankruptcy laws?  that's a kind of safety net), but should there be an actual organization to deal with this, or should it be entirely ad hoc?

I haven't touched on a whole lot of other issues, mostly to ensure that this post comes to an end. :) But I've sketched enough that I can hope that others will be motivated to put some thought into what I propose.

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

What were you told you were under arrest for? I understand how the plea deal was handled all wrong, but the statute in question there isn't the crime you were accused of. I'm just trying to get a better picture of it all.

I answered this in the paragraph immediately after the one you quoted; I said,

2 hours ago, Invictus2017 said:

In any case, I'm writing about myself, not the unfounded statements of government agents (and others).  I have no intention of becoming a mouthpiece for those criminals.  If I discuss details at all, it will be in the context of a complete explication of what happened, supported by publicly available documentary evidence.  Until then, I will stick to giving just enough information to explain my motives and thinking.

When I do explain what I was originally charged with, it will be by posting the actual text of the police reports, along with an extensive annotation.  I will not simply rebroadcast the original accusation -- even in the form of a statutory reference -- without providing the evidence that supports (or rather, doesn't support) that accusation.  I don't commit libel -- and I'm not about to do what would amount to libeling myself.

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On 10/2/2017 at 12:36 PM, Invictus2017 said:

When I do explain what I was originally charged with, it will be by posting the actual text of the police reports, along with an extensive annotation.  I will not simply rebroadcast the original accusation -- even in the form of a statutory reference -- without providing the evidence that supports (or rather, doesn't support) that accusation.  I don't commit libel -- and I'm not about to do what would amount to libeling myself.

It isn't a lie or false claim to say you were falsely accused of, say, robbery, nor is it even giving legitimacy. I know that these things happen and it is horrendous. You leave it so vague that you focus on a plea deal that didn't work out, but nothing as to why you thought you had to do a plea deal. You already said what you plead guilty to ended up as not a crime, so that sounds like it was moot. Then you were found guilty of the thing you said you didn't do. Was the jury tainted? Was there worthless evidence that the judge told the jury to use? These details don't add up to suggest you were innocent.

Edited by Eiuol

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2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

You leave it so vague that you focus on a plea deal that didn't work out, but nothing as to why you thought you had to do a plea deal. You already said what you plead guilty to ended up as not a crime, so that sounds like it was moot. Then you were found guilty of the thing you said you didn't do. Was the jury tainted? Was there worthless evidence that the judge told the jury to use? These details don't add up to suggest you were innocent.

You misread my post.  I'll try again, with more detail.

During the plea bargaining process, my lawyer (a public defender) suspected that I would not plead guilty to what I had been charged with, as I had told him that I had not done what I was accused of.  So, he went to the prosecutor -- without my knowledge -- and suggested that I plead guilty to a different crime. The prosecutor then wrote my lawyer to say that the facts of the case would not support a plea to that different crime, so I could not plead guilty to it. To make this clear:  The prosecutor said that I had not committed this second crime.

I note that I have since exhaustively researched the law and discovered that the prosecutor was unarguably correct.  I have also discussed what happened with five different lawyers and all have agreed that the prosecutor was correct.

Five days after that letter was sent, I put my foot down and told my lawyer that under no circumstances would I even consider pleading guilty to the original crime.  To make a long story short, he left me, talked to the prosecutor, and returned the same day with a plea offer -- to the very crime that the prosecutor had five days earlier told my lawyer I could not plead guilty to.

My initial response was to reject the proposal, as I did not see how I had committed this different crime.  My lawyer gave me a bogus explanation for how my actions in fact constituted this different crime.  Believing that I was in fact guilty, I agreed to enter a plea to that different crime.

I then went to a plea hearing.  At this plea hearing, I had to do two things.  First, I had to demonstrate that I understood what things I had to have done to in order to be guilty of the crime I was to plead guilty to.  Second, I had to admit to actions that added up to that crime.  I did neither.

 

The reason I did neither is that the prosecutor and my lawyer BS'd the judge into thinking that the things I admitted to were a crime when, in fact, they were not.  The prosecutor did this absolutely knowing that she was lying to the judge.  My lawyer should have known but, I presume, had never bothered to check for himself.  The judge was negligent; she did not actually know the law herself and let herself be led by the lawyers.

 

There was no trial.  There was no evidence put in front of a factfinder.  The entry of my plea was done with a complete denial of due process, perpetrated by a corrupt prosecutor, a willfully blind, if not actually corrupt, defense lawyer, and a negligent judge. Again, this is not just my own opinion.

There are just two ways a person may be legitimately convicted of a crime in this country.  The first is a trial, in which a jury (or sometimes a judge) hears facts and determines that those facts prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime.  The second is by the entry of a guilty plea by a defendant who is fully apprised of the nature of the crime he is pleading guilty to and of how his conduct violated the law.

Neither of them happened in my case.

 

And, in case I wasn't 100% clear, the actions I admitted to at my plea hearing did and do not constitute a crime.  Not the one I thought I was pleading guilty to, nor any other.


 

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