Power, Privacy, and the U.S. Constitution

Tuesday, July 31, 2018
Hall of the States (FOX News)
Washington, DC

President Donald Trump has recently nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, setting off another predictably partisan battle over a Supreme Court nominee.

One thing we won’t get is a justice that rules according to the text of the Constitution, since the Federal Government exercises powers so wildly beyond the scope of the constitution, that any attempt to enforce the document as written would set off a constitutional crisis.

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/etc: Please stop enabling

One of the most painful legacies of UNIX’s long gestation is the mess of scripts, configuration files, and databases we affectionately call “/etc”. Binaries go in “/bin”, libraries belong in “/lib”, user directories expand out under “/home”, and if something doesn’t fit? Where does it go? “/etc”.

Of course, “/etc” isn’t really the overflow directory that its name would imply. “/config” would be a far better choice, more accurately reflecting the nature of its contents, but like so much of the data contained within it, its name suggests a lack of organization rather a coherent collection of configuration settings. While the rest of the filesystem has moved on to SQL, the user account database is still stored in colon-separated fields. Cisco routers can snapshot a running network configuration to be restored on reboot, but the best we can do is fiddle the interfaces file, then reboot to take the changes live. Or adjust the interface settings by hand and wait for the next reboot to see if the network comes up right. Our name service is configured in /etc/hosts, or /etc/resolv.conf, or /etc/network, or /etc/dnsmasq.d, or /etc/systemd, or wherever the next package maintainer decides to put it. Nor can you simply save a system’s configuration by making a copy of /etc, because there’s plenty of non-configuration information there, mostly system scripts.

What a mess.

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An Open Letter to Surfing the Nations

My name is Brent Baccala. Some of you know me only as the man in the white robe holding the sign that reads “Surfing the Nations is a Fraud”. I don’t particularly like the sign, but it’s been given to me by God. I’d rather just stand in front of Surfer’s Church with a microphone and preach, but Tom Bower will not allow that to happen. Let me explain, briefly, my history with STN, tell you what has happened over the last month, and summarize the message that I wish you to hear.

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Give up everything you have

“In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”

Luke 14:33

How are we to understand this passage? First, note that Jesus is talking about discipleship, not salvation. Salvation is being saved from sin and evil, it is deliverance from destruction. A disciple is a convinced adherent of Jesus Christ, who accepts and assists in spreading his doctrines (the definitions are from the Merriam-Webster dictionary). The difference is that you might be able to enter heaven (salvation) without becoming a disciple of Christ. More on that later.

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Enter through the narrow gate

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Matthew 7:13-14

How are we to understand this passage? It certainly doesn’t read as a ringing endorsement of democracy! Indeed, the Bible warns us to be wary of populist thinking, and indicates that most people in this world are headed for destruction.

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So we lost.

We had debated for months over whether to represent ourselves or to use our court appointed attorneys. At first, I expected to go pro se, partly because I only met Bryon Collins on the day before the trial was scheduled to start in August. John had initially expected to let Justin Tapp represent him, but in the weeks approaching our new, February court date had strongly advocated for self-representation. That was fine with me, and for the same reasons – Christ promised that when called before courts, we, not our lawyers, will be given the words to say.

    “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

    (Luke 12:11-12)

Mistakes were made, but overall I was pleased with our conduct. We three prayed together on every break in the court proceedings, and I’d rather go through a trial like that than with the most experienced barristers that have every argued in Old Bailey.

Another big decision was to opt for a jury trial. I now believe that this was a mistake. Why did I want a jury? I had this naive belief in a jury trial as a fundamental Constitutional right protecting us from an overarching government. I now suspect that a jury trial is simply trial by the majority, and that if you’re trying to win an unpopular cause on a technical legal right, you’re better advised to opt for the bench trial. I have to admit that I never seriously considered a bench trial and never really prayed about it, even though John was advocating for one.

Freedom of speech is limited in the courtroom. We pretty much allowed the prosecution to do whatever they wanted for two days to present their case; why couldn’t we just be given two or three days to present ours? When is freedom of speech more important than for a defendant in a courtroom?

John wanted to read from the U.S. Constitution and was not allowed to do so. The prosecution had argued and won in pre-trial motions that the law was constitutional, and didn’t want that issue reopened before the jury. This despite the text of the law itself referencing the First Amendment! Only when the jury sent a note, an hour into their deliberation, requesting a copy of the First Amendment, was one at last provided to them!

Charles Tice’s blog post describing our protest was ruled irrelevant, a video presentation of Occupy news clips was suppressed, and I didn’t even try to introduce any of my speeches from Occupy, as the prosecution had already indicated that they would object. I wanted to use these to demonstrate I had tried just about every tactic I could think of to resurrect and lead Occupy. I had written a book, I had given speeches, I had sent press releases, I had talked to the man on street.

For me, the biggest disappointment was not being allowed to read excepts from my book, Icarus Wing, which not only presented the political and religious philosophy that I advocate, but also might have gone a long ways to shed the aura of “worthless bum” and replaced it with “author”.

Yet enough evidence did get in, I thought, that the jury could understand why we were there. I even thanked the prosecution, in my closing argument, for letting it in! John hammered on homeless issues throughout the trial, and of my writings, both the Alaska Blog and My Confession were admitted into evidence. John had eloquently presented his plans for a free campground on the abandoned native hospital grounds, and I had testified unambiguously about my plans – lead 100,000 Christians north to Alaska, vote ourselves into power in Juneau, take Alaska, and secede from the union.

I might not have expounded enough on why such drastic action is needed. Capitalism is an immoral philosophy that rejects Gospel commandments like “Give to anyone who asks” (Luke 6:30) and “You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matthew 6:24). Business is based on turning people away if they can’t pay, and no philosophy has preached the service of money louder than capitalism.

“Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor…” (Mark 10:21) Try it! Live the way you’re taught by Christ! See how you’re treated! Devout Christians are persecuted in this country, and if America won’t repent, than Alaska should secede! 100,000 Christians coming to Alaska would be nice; better would be Alaskans living as Christians.

By the end of the trial, both the prosecution and the defense had moved far afield from the First Amendment issues at hand. For our part, we had focused much attention on Cynthia Franklin’s role in orchestrating the May 17 raid and this dicey question of whether the police were concealing their actions under some screwball definition of the word “protest”. The municipal prosecutor, on the other hand, had insinuated during her cross examination of John that he didn’t work, was a full time protester, and that the parks were for the enjoyment of people who worked jobs and paid taxes. By her final rebuttal, she was appealing directly to the jury to oppose my Christian Revolution, asking them “What about people who aren’t Christians?” None of this was relevant to the legal questions at stake – was this First Amendment speech, and were our actions on May 17th reasonable? I suspect that Judge Motyka saw through all of this, but the jury bit and ultimately convicted us on a red herring offered to them by the prosecutor – that at the exact instant the police arrived on May 17th, we weren’t actively protesting. John was drinking a beer, Margie was relieving herself in the bushes, and I was coming back from the liquor store.

A dangerous precedent is now well established. Overnight political demonstrations in the Municipality of Anchorage are de facto illegal. Tienanmen Square, were it reenacted in Delaney Park, would be put down by APD.

I seek nothing less than the peaceful overthrow of this country’s capitalist leadership. “The majority” stand behind a counter with a huge rack of food behind them, refuse to feed anyone who can’t pay, and when you put a sign in front of them that says “Give to anyone who asks, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back (Luke 6:30)”, they convict you for trespassing because at the moment the police showed up to arrest you, you were sipping a Budweiser instead of holding the sign, chanting. The prosecutor repeatedly suggested that we wouldn’t have been arrested if we had been chanting.

That’s what we needed! A good chant!

“Down with capitalism! Down with capitalism! Down with capitalism!”

Too fanatical for you? OK, I have to a walk a fine line here. I have preach the Gospel without sounding like a religious fanatic. Unlike Occupy, this isn’t a leaderless movement. Our leader is Jesus Christ.

There is no opposition in this country. Nobody opposes the majority. In China, nobody opposes communism. In America, nobody opposes democracy. There are those of us who oppose this country’s leadership, won’t work for capitalists, won’t get the hell out, and strive peacefully for an end to capitalist rule. You never hear our speeches. You can find mine on freesoft.org, but you never see them on TV.

Homelessness is a policy masquerading as a problem. Somehow this society manages to house their cripples, their elderly, even their convicts! The majority builds prisons to house convicted criminals, but throws people away homeless on the streets if they won’t work.

Why would anybody “fix” homelessness? Why would anybody care about John Martin’s cause? Homelessness is a deliberate tactic used to force people to work. There is little meaningful freedom of speech or freedom of assembly for the homeless. You might as well ask for freedom of speech for incarcerated convicts.

Next time I’m in the park, when the police show up, I’ll grab a sign with scripture on it, and start chanting “Down with capitalism!” We’ll see if the CAP officers call Mark Rein and say “Sarge, we can’t arrest this guy! He’s protesting!”

    There is no magic system of government that produces freedom, liberty, equality, human rights, civil liberties and economic opportunity apart from God! The modern attempt, in the name of religious pluralism, to detach God into a Sunday morning exercise is an experiment doomed to failure. No government programs, no matter how well managed, can mitigate a fundamentally immoral society. No economic system, no matter how competitive, will reward hard work if subjugation is the only way to obtain it. Likewise, a society of people dedicated to God, with a healthy dose of genuine disciples, needs little in the way of governance, because God is the leader.

    The choice is not between a free, peaceful, democratic, secular society and an oppressive, fanatic, conquering theocracy. The choice is between an oppressive, fanatic, conquering democracy and peaceful, Godly leadership.

    A Christian political party must be formed. Its primary process can include rallies and speeches, general assemblies and town hall meetings, yet the ultimate selection of a party ticket must be carried out by the most select Christian disciples, using all our techniques of discernment, all of the prophetic gifts and spiritual resources at our disposal. There can be no primary election. Once that slate of candidates has been prepared, it will be presented to the populace in a general election, to be accepted or rejected in favor of other candidates. If the disciples do our jobs, then the electorate should be pleasantly surprised to find us nominating quality leaders who will effectively guide the nation.

    (excerpted from Defense Exhibit B-U)

None of this is protected speech. We weren’t chanting.

Winter Protest

Yesterday we were back in court for oral arguments on the pre-trial motions. Judge Motyka ended the hearing by saying that he’d take it under advisement and rule in two to three weeks. I’d spent Friday afternoon with a sign on Town Square, but haven’t been back this week.

What, then, is Occupy? What are we trying to achieve?

Definition of revolution

Occupy is a revolution. Occupy seeks to achieve an anti-capitalist revolution in the United States.

Christian Revolution

It has to be a Christian Revolution, though. Only God can lead an opposition against a government determined to use S.W.A.T. teams to break up grassroots street demonstrations. It’s not enough to be against something, either. We have to state what we’re for.

First and foremost, Godly leadership. Governors, legislators, executives, business owners, men and women who kneel before God and seek to know and do his will. Everyone, ideally, should become a disciple of Christ! I’d love to see a world where every man, woman, and child commits their lives wholeheartedly to God. Failing that, at least the leadership should be Godly.

You can not serve God and money

I’d like to provide free housing, free food, free energy, free transportation, free technology, free education. Why?

Luke 6:30

I can’t do it myself! I want to live in a society where people choose to give all of these things voluntarily. How do we pay for it all? Not through taxes! Not through borrowing! Only by voluntary charity, by gifting our time, our money, our resources. That’s a big change from what we’ve got now. That’s a revolution!

…and if the United States won’t go for it?

Alaskan Independance

How do we achieve this? By bringing 100,000 people up here from down south and wining the 2014 election.

Occupy Alaska

The next step is to win this court case. I want to obtain a court order prohibiting the police from evicting political demonstrators from Town Square, then build up an opposition camp that can’t be ignored by the media, and start pitching a simple line:

“Come to Alaska. Come to Alaska. We’re occupying Alaska. Just come to Alaska.”