Mao Zedong’s most famous aphorism could well be, “Revolution is not a dinner party.” But perhaps he should have said, “Revolution is a dinner party where the main course is human flesh.” Here’s one gripping episode from Frank Dikötter’s The Tragedy of Liberation.
In April 1948, the communists advanced towards Changchun itself. Led by Lin Biao, a gaunt man who had trained at the Whampoa Military Academy, they laid siege to the city. Lin was considered one of the best battlefield commanders and a brilliant strategist. He was also ruthless. When he realised that Zheng Dongguo, the defending commander in Changchun, would not capitulate, he ordered the city to be starved into surrender. On 30 May 1948 came his command: ‘Turn Changchun into a city of death.’
Inside Changchun were some 500,000 civilians, many of them refugees who had fled the communist advance and were trapped in their journey south to Beijing after the railway lines had been cut. A hundred thousand nationalist troops were also garrisoned inside the city. Curfew was imposed almost immediately, keeping people indoors from eight at night to five in the morning. All able-bodied men were made to dig trenches. Nobody was allowed to leave. People who refused to be searched by sentries were liable to be shot on the spot. Yet an air of goodwill still prevailed in the first weeks of the siege, as emergency supplies were dropped by air. Some of the well-to-do even established a Changchun Mobilisation Committee, supplying sweets and cigarettes, comforting the wounded and setting up tea stalls for the men.
But soon the situation deteriorated. Changchun became an isolated island, beleaguered by 200,000 communist troops who dug tunnel defences and cut off the underground water supply to the city. Two dozen anti-aircraft guns and heavy artillery bombarded the city all day long, concentrating their fire on government buildings. The nationalists built three defensive lines of pillboxes around Changchun. Between the nationalists and the communists lay a vast no man’s land soon taken over by bandits.
On 12 June 1948 Chiang Kai-shek cabled an order reversing the ban on people leaving the city. Even without enemy fire, his planes could not possibly parachute in enough supplies to meet the needs of an entire city. But the anti-aircraft artillery of the communists forced them to fly at an altitude of 3,000 metres. Many of the airdrops landed outside the area controlled by the nationalists. In order to prevent a famine, the nationalists encouraged the populace to head for the countryside. Once they had left they were not allowed back, as they could not be fed…
Few ever made it past the communist lines. Lin Biao had placed a sentry every 50 metres along barbed wire and trenches 4 metres deep. Every exit was blocked. He reported back to Mao: ‘We don’t allow the refugees to leave and exhort them to turn back. This method was very effective in the beginning, but later the famine got worse, and starving civilians would leave the city in droves at all times of day and night, and after we turned them down they started gathering in the area between our troops and the enemy.’
What was the point of this cruelty? Victory:
By the end of June, some 30,000 people were caught in the area between the communists, who would not allow them to pass, and the nationalists, who refused to let them back in the city. Hundreds dried every day. Two months later, more than 150,000 civilians were pressed inside the death zone, reduced to eating grass and leaves, doomed to slow starvation.
Soldiers absconded throughout the siege. Unlike the civilians who were driven back, they were welcomed by the communists and promised good food and lenient treatment.
And victory was indeed achieved:
Hailed in China’s history books as a decisive victory in the battle of Manchuria, the fall of Changchun came at huge cost, as an estimated 160,000 civilians were starved to death inside the area besieged by the communists. ‘Changchun was like Hiroshima,’ wrote Zhang Zhenglong, a lieutenant in the People’s Liberation Army who documented the siege. ‘The casualties were about the same. Hiroshima took nine seconds; Changchun took five months.’
Yes, I realize most of the “teachers” were also force-fed the same lies and they are just passing along what they were taught. But once someone points out why they are mistaken, and they dig their heels in, well, that’s just wrong.
Of course, they want to keep that paycheck coming, and speaking the truth would end the gravy-train– if they could live with themselves while holding such a “job”.
While I’ve spoken about this many times, it keeps coming up so I figured I would do a formal analysis. I’m well-aware this will have no impact on those who use this tactic to avoid discussion, such as lawyers and bureaucrats; this is for those who may be victims of this pernicious method of shouting down a valid argument. Ironically, as will be shown, it’s those screeching “frivolous” that are usually raising a truly frivolous argument. Yelling frivolous is a distraction technique, don’t be fooled by it.
Anyone who has ever challenged the legitimacy of government and the application of their sacred writ, called “laws,” will be familiar with this tactic. When the accuser admittedly has no evidence, they just start shouting “frivolous argument” as if that magically creates facts to support their claim.
What is a frivolous argument? There are usually two constants, it’s not just an argument lacking in merit or arbitrarily denied by a traffic court judge: “An appeal [argument] is not frivolous just because it has no merit” Applied Business Software, Inc. v. Pacific Mortgage Exchange, Inc., 164 Cal. App. 4th 1108, it must also be brought in bad faith:
“frivolous. So clearly and palpably bad and insufficient as to require no argument or illustration to show the character as indicative of bad faith upon a bare inspection…Strong v Sproul, 53 NY 497, 499.” Ballentine’s Law Dictionary, 3rd Ed., page 503.
Black’s Law Dictionary adds to this (also quoting Strong v Sproul):
“…where it does not controvert the material points of the opposite pleading, and is presumably interposed for mere purposes of delay or to embarrass the opponent…” 4th Ed, page 796.
A frivolous argument has three elements:
doesn’t controvert the material points; and
is brought in bad faith.
Now let’s look at an argument I wrote that’s been labeled “frivolous” by an administrative law judge in California and see if it meets this criteria.
“…the legal claims made against me have no factual support, the FTB knows this, and is proceeding against me anyway.” The legal claim referenced is the claim the laws apply because the target of the assessment is physically in California or has a California source of money. The FTB argues their laws created an obligation, it’s a foundational claim.
We know this because several agents told us, this includes counsel for the FTB. When asked for the facts they relied on, they admittedly had nothing, counsel admitted this was an assumption (video below). Those are the facts my argument is based on, the argument follows directly from the facts.
1. Does the claim have merit? Yes; the FTB and IRS operate under the same presumption, they admit it; they claim their laws apply, gives them jurisdiction and creates obligations.
My argument is based on their admissions they don’t have evidence and don’t need evidence to support their claim. So with the FTB claim, where they admit they have no evidence and the foundation of their assessment is an assumption, there is solid factual support. Therefore, the argument is valid, it has merit because the facts support it.
The FTB and IRS are required to have evidence to support their assessments; lacking a foundational basis is referred to as a “naked assessment” to wit:
“The determination of tax due then may be one “without rational foundation and excessive,” and not properly subject to the usual rule with respect to the burden of proof in tax cases. Helvering v. Taylor, 293 US 507.” United States v. Janis, 428 U.S. 433.
The challenge is based on this principle, while my challenge is not spelled out in this or other cases I’m aware of, the legal principle is what’s relevant. The FTB’s assessment is “without rational foundation” by their own admissions.
The argument has merit because it is based on a sound legal principle, supported by the agents’ own admissions.
2. Does it “controvert the material points” made by the FTB or IRS? Yes; by their own admission they operate under the presumption the laws apply because you’re physically in California or have a California source of money; and by their own admission they have no evidence, it’s an assumption. It’s logical and consistent with the facts.
3. Is it brought in bad faith? No; it’s based on facts, and a sound legal principle that “controverts the material points” raised by the FTB or IRS. It’s a logically, legally, and factually consistent argument.
None of the three elements of a “frivolous argument” are present proving the argument is not frivolous; it may be wrong, but it’s not frivolous. It’s possible the facts as alleged are not true, but that is what a hearing is for, to determine if the alleged facts are true. In the above video you can hear the agent admit the assessment’s foundation, the applicability of the laws, is an assumption. An assumption is not a “rational foundation.”
If it’s obvious it’s not a frivolous argument, then why do tax agents and their lawyers (with and without black robes) insist it is and threaten thousands in sanctions? Because they have a vested interest in the system taking property by force (taxation). They are the ones raising an argument that has no rational foundation and is brought in bad faith. I’ve had tax agents claim they don’t need evidence. That’s frivolous, not pointing out their claim lacks factual support.
What they are really saying is just challenging their foundational claim is somehow a frivolous argument or calling out their frivolous argument is itself frivolous. That is proof of bad faith.
What they do is strawman the actual position claiming:
“Appellant’s inquiry is entirely nonsensical, and while we are unsure of the exact import of this statement, it appears to be based on the meritless contention that California does not have jurisdiction to impose a personal income tax on appellant.”
No, the contention is: the FTB admitted their foundational claim is the constitution applies because there was California source of money. When asked for evidence, they admittedly had none and agreed it was an assumption. We have never made the above claim, this is done to justify ignoring the actual issue. They know what the actual issue is because the “entirely nonsensical” argument is cited just before the above quote:
“Moreover, in her briefs, appellant states that she had previously contacted FTB staff and [FTB counsel] regarding the proposed assessments at issue, and that these individuals failed to provide evidence that the “constitution” applied to her.”
First, the claim is not “entirely nonsensical” it’s based on the FTB’s own admissions and used as an insult, they also use “legalistic gibberish.” What this administrative law judge really thinks is frivolous, is challenging the FTB’s claim the laws apply to appellant. Questioning the FTB’s legal claim is the frivolous argument to him. This cow is so sacred to this bureaucrat he’s threatening a five-thousand dollar sanction for just questioning it and pointing out it’s admittedly an assumption. Like the pope admitting he just assumes the gods are real and anyone quoting him is raising a frivolous argument. By the way, this is the same bureaucrat allowing the FTB to lie with impunity in their pleadings. No bias there I guess.
Some claim the courts have already ruled the argument frivolous for decades as if that changes anything, it doesn’t. Because just as this ALJ is wrong, so are the courts for the reasons above.
It must also be noted they are not addressing this actual argument in those cases, just like the ALJ does here. If you look at the cases, the frivolous arguments are all arguments of legal interpretation, not issues of fact. This ALJ cites Appeals of Dauberger (82- SBE-082) 1982, as support; the type of arguments included are: wages not income without meaning of statute, not a taxpayer within meaning of statute, federal reserve notes are not legal tender, and the Fifth Amendment prohibits the requirement to file a tax return. Not a single issue of fact cited as a frivolous argument.
If it’s truly frivolous to challenge this legal claim, then that’s proof the system is rigged. Irrefutable presumptions are unfair and violate due process because they cannot be challenged, there is no defense, even against an assumption, Vlandis v. Kline, 412 US 441. Yes, this is about legislative presumptions, but the principle of fairness is what is relevant because due process requires notice and opportunity to defend at a meaningful hearing, Goldberg v Kelly, 397 US 254 (1970).
It’s not a so-called “frivolous argument” to point out someone’s foundational claim is admittedly an assumption, it’s a statement of fact.
So when they start chanting frivolous, call them on it, ask them what makes an argument frivolous and not just wrong. Ask them to point out what part of the argument is false; because the underlying facts are not and since the conclusion is drawn directly from the facts, the conclusion is accurate.
The argument the FTB or IRS has failed to support their claim the constitution applies, has merit because 1) it is based on their own admissions, 2) it controverts material points because they admit to not having evidence, and 3) because it’s based on a sound legal principle and the FTB’s own admissions, there is no bad faith.
Regardless of the chants from lawyers and bureaucrats, the argument is not frivolous.
It’s as predictable as the equinox: school starts in the fall and bullying catches society’s attention anew.
It’s not as though bullying stops over the summer break, but then it is usually left-over momentum from the previous school year.
“Back to school” recharges it.
Schools decry bullying, often getting the community involved. It’s a halfhearted effort at best. Schools can’t eliminate bullying without undermining their own system since it’s based on authoritarianism — socially accepted bullying.
The dictionary says a bully is anyone who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate someone weaker, usually to force them to do what the bully wants.
Who, other than an insecure person with little self-worth, would behave this way? Whether it’s the schoolyard bully, the authoritarian teacher or principal, the politician or the politicians’ badged “muscle,” if you choose to push others around — literally or figuratively — to force them to do what you want, you can’t think very highly of yourself.
I pity bullies, even as I hope their victims fight back hard enough to make the bullies reconsider their poor life choices.
Fighting back is the only cure for bullying. The victims must fight back, and shouldn’t be penalized for doing so. Yet this is the solution no one in an official capacity, who claims to oppose bullying, is willing to accept.
Forcing victims to rely on someone else to solve the problem for them is also bullying. It doesn’t teach responsibility and won’t build confident character for facing life’s other struggles. Encourage the victim to stand firm. Back them up if you’re concerned about their safety, but don’t tolerate anyone who treats fighting back against a bully the same as bullying.
Some bullied kids have gone on to strike out in tragic, angry ways at those who didn’t bully them — themselves or other innocents. I suspect this is because healthy ways of fighting back were forbidden.
The frustration must build to intolerable levels, finally snapping in the worst possible way.
The victim, because of his lack of competence in dealing with bullies, becomes a bully. Or a mass-murderer.
It’s no excuse, but it is predictable.
You can create a monster by being monstrous to someone. Forbidding self-defense or turning a blind eye to officially sanctioned forms of bullying is monstrous. Society ends up paying the price for official cowardice.
Bullying is a problem. It won’t be solved by ignoring the solution or by making the social environment worse for its victims.
This year I wasn’t going to mention “9/11”. And I didn’t on that anniversary. I thought I had blogged about my own experiences of that day years ago, but apparently, I never have. Ammo.com had sent me their article on the event, and I wrote back saying I wasn’t going to mention it this year. But I guess I will after all. Just a little late.
In 2001 I was living in north-eastern Pennsylvania (“NEPA”), working in a small shop which built custom picture frames and framed art for Manhattan art galleries. New York City was about an hour and a half away, according to those who went there (I never did).
The shop sent a truck into NYC every Tuesday and Wednesday evening to deliver frames and framed art and pick up our work for the next week. Our schedule was always tight. On the morning of September 11, we were all working like we did any other morning.
A couple of people had radios at their work tables and one of them announced that she had just heard that a plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center. I commented that it was an odd coincidence that such an emergency (a “9-1-1“) happened on 9/11. I had a radio in the room where I packaged the finished frames and art for the truck (my main job), so I turned it on to see what they were saying.
There wasn’t really much real news about it– they would just talk about “the accident” between songs, speculating on what went wrong and what kind of plane it was (there were differing reports).
Then they came back on and said a plane had just hit the second tower. I said to co-workers “that wasn’t an accident”. We all immediately suspected terrorism. Later they said a plane had hit the Pentagon and more planes had possibly been hijacked; they made it sound like there was a swarm of them (because at that point they just didn’t know anything)– and that there was one “missing” somewhere over PA. I got a little nervous. We were in the middle of nowhere– literally in a cornfield– but as it turned out, Pennsylvania fields weren’t completely safe either.
The radio stopped even trying to play music and went to constant commentary and reports from the scenes.
I was completely stunned to hear when the towers fell, one after the other– I hadn’t believed it possible. Only a little more than a year earlier I had gotten my only glimpses of them (and the Statue of Liberty) as I flew into, and then back out of, the airport in Newark, NJ, on my first trip to PA. To think that they were now gone was unbelievable.
I can’t remember how long it was before we got the first reports of the plane crash in southwestern PA, but it was a while.
At some point during the confusion, they announced that all flights had been grounded country-wide. That didn’t seem real, either.
Our manager updated us and said he hadn’t heard from, or been able to contact, any of our customers. The lines were either down or overwhelmed– maybe both. We were working blind. He said to keep working as though the truck was going out… for now.
On lunch break, some of us went outside to eat. I looked up and saw no contrails at all in the sky. Something I had never seen before in that area– there were always planes visible in the sky. I told my co-workers to look up at the sky and make a mental picture because they’d probably never see that again.
Soon we got word from some source unrelated to our customers that no trucks were being allowed into Manhatten. The trucks weren’t going anywhere that day. Or the next.
The mood at work was somber. And we were worried about our jobs.
As it turned out that was the last day I worked until the 13th of December (our workweeks always started on Thursday).
On a tangent: It’s almost callous to admit, but those 3 months I was unemployed were some of the most fun months of my entire life. Karaoke ’til 2AM when the bar closed– then the huge after-party at a friend’s house… 5 days per week. Going to bed at 8 in the morning– if at all. Much debauchery.
Soon after I got called back to work we started getting damaged art to re-frame from buildings next door to the WTC. Truckloads of it– anything that they thought could be salvaged. The broken frames all had a thick layer (an inch or more deep) of fluffy gray “dust” on (and especially behind) them. (I was as careful as I could be to not breathe it and to keep my hands clean, but I did save some.) The glass was shattered and the plexiglass was cracked. Some of the art had been pierced by flying debris. We kept the art at our shop until the insurance was all settled, then we began the repairs. We delivered the first repaired pieces back to NYC on September 10th or 11th (I don’t remember exactly) of 2002.
The US Navy confirms that three online videos showing two military air encounters with what it calls “unexplained aerial phenomena,” and the rest of us call “unidentified flying objects” are authentic, Popular Mechanics reports.
The videos are interesting, and some might find them disturbing. What’s more disturbing to me is that the Navy thinks they’re none of our business 15, or even four, years later (the incidents occurred in 2004 and 2015).
Pentagon spokesperson Susan Gough tells The Black Vault website, “[t]he videos were never officially released to the general public by the DoD and should still be withheld.”
The videos aren’t classified. They just haven’t been “cleared for public release.”
No such long-term category as “not cleared for public release” should exist with respect to information generated or acquired by government.
There are legal standards for “classifying” information as “confidential,” “secret,” or “top secret” based on supposed degrees of damage to national security disclosure of that information might cause.
I’m personally against allowing the state to keep secrets at all. They claim to work for us. If we’re really their bosses, we should get to look over their shoulders any time we please.
Of course, that won’t happen. But given the fact that the classification system does exist, there should also be a non-negotiable time limit within which any given piece of information must either be classified or made available to the public.
I’m not referring to deniable requests for information filed under the Freedom of Information Act. All government information not classified within 30 days of its creation or acquisition should be stored in databases that the public can search at will.
UFOs have been a matter of intense public interest since at least as far back as the 1947 Roswell incident, which still spawns rumors of alien craft and corpses held in secret government facilities.
I don’t know, and am not going to claim to know, whether we’re being visited by extraterrestrials and if so what they’re up to while they’re here. I don’t have strong opinions on which sighting and abduction stories are true and which aren’t. I’m just exactly smart enough to understand that I don’t have the information I’d need to reach such conclusions.
What I do know is that it shouldn’t be the government’s prerogative to conceal such information from the rest of us indefinitely, tell us tall tales about weather balloons and swamp gas, and offer lame “national security” excuses when caught out.
Nor are UFOs the only subject this problem touches on. The post-World War Two national security state has developed a culture of general secrecy that we accommodate at our peril. Concealing information from the public should be incredibly difficult, not a matter of course.