Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sage Advice From Mrs. Benazir Bhutto, May She Rest In Peace

When the United States aligns with dictatorships and totalitarian regimes, it compromises the basic democratic principles of its foundation -- namely, life, liberty and justice for all. Dictatorships such as Musharraf's suppress individual rights and freedoms and empower the most extreme elements of society. Oppressed citizens, unable to represent themselves through other means, often turn to extremism and religious fundamentalism.

From her book, "A False Choice for Pakistan"

Islamo-Fascist or Neocon-Fascist?

Our Middle Eastern foreign policy is being written and put into practice in order to strengthen the state structures of the United States and Israel. It is not being designed or run for the benefit of Americans, Israelis and certainly not for promoting peace in the Near East. Our current foreign policy in the Middle East supposedly dates from after 9/11, 2001 but the truth is that our actions since the Twin Towers fell coincide perfectly with the program drawn up by the new American Century before the year 2000.

The principal “neoconservatives” of today drew up this program. Here is a list of the members of the New American Century: Dick Cheney, Norman Podhoretz, Elliott Abrams, Gary Bauer, William J. Bennett, Jeb Bush, Eliot A. Cohen, Donald Rumsfeld, Vin Weber, George Weigel, Paul Wolfowitz, Aaron Friedberg, Frank Gaffney, Fred C. Ikle, I. Lewis Libby, Donald Kagan, Zalmay Khalilzad, Dan Quayle, Peter W. Rodman, Stephen P. Rosen, Henry S. Rowen, Midge Decter, Paula Dobriansky, Steve Forbes, Francis Fukuyama.

Do you recognize the policymakers of the Bush doctrine in that list? They are all there: Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz and Podhoretz. The policies laid out by these men and women in 2000 was to change the Middle East by using American military power to overthrow a regime in the area and convert that country to Democracy. Read it, amazingly their papers are still posted on the website. But now that their grand experiment hasn’t come off quite as well as planned, they have changed course and identified an enemy. They need an enemy to continue to fuel the war machine, since the Democracy idea hasn’t panned out. The enemy is “Islamo-fascism”.

So now all of the movers and shakers behind the neoconservative Middle Eastern foreign policy have taken to referring to the “war against Islamo-fascism”. After the sparkling results of elections in Egypt, Palestine and Lebanon that empowered the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah and Hamas, the neocons seem to be shelving the Democracy justification for war. Instead they are painting the Islamist movement as fascist.

But what we are seeing is not a political-economic movement like fascism was in Italy and Germany. It is not a nationalist grab for power. The Islamist movement today is something much more ancient and motivated by deeper sentiment. Whereas the Nazis may have dreamed that their movement might become something as powerful and all encompassing as a religion, it was not and never could be. Islam does not have to dream of becoming a religion that motivates its adherents to sacrifice; it is that religion. And it controls the actions of its adherents in a completely different way than National Socialism does. Fascism controls the population through fear of the state apparatus and coercion, Islam controls the population through fear of God and faith.

Unlike fascism, Islam is ancient. It is designed in such a way as to produce warriors and religious scholars. It does not envision economic development; it actually leads its adherents away from industry. Industry is seen as somewhat unclean. Commerce is better, but the pinnacle that man can reach on earth is the ghazi warrior or the saintly cleric and sometimes both occupations in one man as in the case of the prophet himself. Industry was often left to non-Muslims.

Fascism is a modern political construct designed to strengthen the governmental apparatus in all areas of endeavor until it is the only power in a State. It means to control all aspects of people’s lives through the threat of punishment at a very terrestrial level. It is designed to work together with corporations and make them dependent on the state until the two fuse into one integrated system. It is designed to produce wealth for the powerful and to keep its people complaisant. It is a modern institution.

Islam’s idea of a worldwide Caliphate is certainly not similar to the Nazi dream of the Third Reich. The Muslims’ vision of the Caliphate is a loose federation of very devout Muslims who band together for religious and jihadi wars. Their cooperation is expected because of their shared faith; a complex state organization of coercive secret police and continual propaganda is not necessary in the Caliphate. This is true in theory, but it was also proven true under the powerful caliphates whether they were Umayyad, Abbasid, or Ottoman.

So, I find the term fascist a very bad fit for the Islamist movement that has been killing non-Muslims and working for world domination for the last 1400 years. That all took place more than 1300 before there was a concept of state controlled corporatism or fascism. Was Mehmet II a Nazi? Suleiman the Magnificent, was he a Nazi? Were the ghazis fascists? Of course that is absurd, they predated the Nazis by centuries. The Islamist radicals today are a continuation of the ghazi tradition, not an Arab version of the SS. Therefore the designation Islamo-fascist is inaccurate and is employed for purposes of effecting public opinion, or in other words: propaganda.

That brings me to the last and most uncomfortable point. If there is a resurgence of fascism in the world and it is not in the Islamist movements around the world, where is it? Where do we see state and corporate propaganda that creates enemies from whole cloth and loads the populace with fear and senseless nationalism?

Isn’t it ironic that the very people that employ the term fascist are the ones that evidence every characteristic of being that very thing?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

What Does Freedom Really Mean? by Dr. Ron Paul

What Does Freedom Really Mean?

Few Americans understand that all government action is inherently coercive. If nothing else, government action requires taxes. If taxes were freely paid, they wouldn’t be called taxes, they’d be called donations. If we intend to use the word freedom in an honest way, we should have the simple integrity to give it real meaning: Freedom is living without government coercion. So when a politician talks about freedom for this group or that, ask yourself whether he is advocating more government action or less.

By Ron Paul

“…man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.” - Ronald Reagan

12/26/07 "ICH" -- - We’ve all heard the words democracy and freedom used countless times, especially in the context of our invasion of Iraq. They are used interchangeably in modern political discourse, yet their true meanings are very different.

George Orwell wrote about “meaningless words” that are endlessly repeated in the political arena*. Words like “freedom,” “democracy,” and “justice,” Orwell explained, have been abused so long that their original meanings have been eviscerated. In Orwell’s view, political words were “Often used in a consciously dishonest way.” Without precise meanings behind words, politicians and elites can obscure reality and condition people to reflexively associate certain words with positive or negative perceptions. In other words, unpleasant facts can be hidden behind purposely meaningless language. As a result, Americans have been conditioned to accept the word “democracy” as a synonym for freedom, and thus to believe that democracy is unquestionably good.

The problem is that democracy is not freedom. Democracy is simply majoritarianism, which is inherently incompatible with real freedom. Our founding fathers clearly understood this, as evidenced not only by our republican constitutional system, but also by their writings in the Federalist Papers and elsewhere. James Madison cautioned that under a democratic government, “There is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual.” John Adams argued that democracies merely grant revocable rights to citizens depending on the whims of the masses, while a republic exists to secure and protect pre-existing rights. Yet how many Americans know that the word “democracy” is found neither in the Constitution nor the Declaration of Independence, our very founding documents?

A truly democratic election in Iraq, without U.S. interference and U.S. puppet candidates, almost certainly would result in the creation of a Shiite theocracy. Shiite majority rule in Iraq might well mean the complete political, economic, and social subjugation of the minority Kurd and Sunni Arab populations. Such an outcome would be democratic, but would it be free? Would the Kurds and Sunnis consider themselves free? The administration talks about democracy in Iraq, but is it prepared to accept a democratically-elected Iraqi government no matter what its attitude toward the U.S. occupation? Hardly. For all our talk about freedom and democracy, the truth is we have no idea whether Iraqis will be free in the future. They’re certainly not free while a foreign army occupies their country. The real test is not whether Iraq adopts a democratic, pro-western government, but rather whether ordinary Iraqis can lead their personal, religious, social, and business lives without interference from government.

Simply put, freedom is the absence of government coercion. Our Founding Fathers understood this, and created the least coercive government in the history of the world. The Constitution established a very limited, decentralized government to provide national defense and little else. States, not the federal government, were charged with protecting individuals against criminal force and fraud. For the first time, a government was created solely to protect the rights, liberties, and property of its citizens. Any government coercion beyond that necessary to secure those rights was forbidden, both through the Bill of Rights and the doctrine of strictly enumerated powers. This reflected the founders’ belief that democratic government could be as tyrannical as any King.

Few Americans understand that all government action is inherently coercive. If nothing else, government action requires taxes. If taxes were freely paid, they wouldn’t be called taxes, they’d be called donations. If we intend to use the word freedom in an honest way, we should have the simple integrity to give it real meaning: Freedom is living without government coercion. So when a politician talks about freedom for this group or that, ask yourself whether he is advocating more government action or less.

The political left equates freedom with liberation from material wants, always via a large and benevolent government that exists to create equality on earth. To modern liberals, men are free only when the laws of economics and scarcity are suspended, the landlord is rebuffed, the doctor presents no bill, and groceries are given away. But philosopher Ayn Rand (and many others before her) demolished this argument by explaining how such “freedom” for some is possible only when government takes freedoms away from others. In other words, government claims on the lives and property of those who are expected to provide housing, medical care, food, etc. for others are coercive– and thus incompatible with freedom. “Liberalism,” which once stood for civil, political, and economic liberties, has become a synonym for omnipotent coercive government.

The political right equates freedom with national greatness brought about through military strength. Like the left, modern conservatives favor an all-powerful central state– but for militarism, corporatism, and faith-based welfarism. Unlike the Taft-Goldwater conservatives of yesteryear, today’s Republicans are eager to expand government spending, increase the federal police apparatus, and intervene militarily around the world. The last tenuous links between conservatives and support for smaller government have been severed. “Conservatism,” which once meant respect for tradition and distrust of active government, has transformed into big-government utopian grandiosity.

Orwell certainly was right about the use of meaningless words in politics. If we hope to remain free, we must cut through the fog and attach concrete meanings to the words politicians use to deceive us. We must reassert that America is a republic, not a democracy, and remind ourselves that the Constitution places limits on government that no majority can overrule. We must resist any use of the word “freedom” to describe state action. We must reject the current meaningless designations of “liberals” and “conservatives,” in favor of an accurate term for both: statists.

Every politician on earth claims to support freedom. The problem is so few of them understand the simple meaning of the word.

We Are All Prisoners Now by Paul Craig Roberts

"They’re locking them up today
They’re throwing away the key
I wonder who it’ll be tomorrow, you or me?"
~ The Red Telephone (LOVE, 1967)

At Christmas time it has been my habit to write a column in remembrance of the many innocent people in prisons whose lives have been stolen by the US criminal justice (sic) system that is as inhumane as it is indifferent to justice. Usually I retell the cases of William Strong and Christophe Gaynor, two men framed in the state of Virginia by prosecutors and judges as wicked and corrupt as any who served Hitler or Stalin.

This year is different. All Americans are now imprisoned in a world of lies and deception created by the Bush Regime and the two complicit parties of Congress, by federal judges too timid or ignorant to recognize a rogue regime running roughshod over the Constitution, by a bought and paid for media that serves as propagandists for a regime of war criminals, and by a public who have forsaken their Founding Fathers.

Americans are also imprisoned by fear, a false fear created by the hoax of "terrorism." It has turned out that headline terrorist events since 9/11 have been orchestrated by the US government. For example, the alleged terrorist plot to blow up Chicago’s Sears Tower was the brainchild of an FBI agent who searched out a few disaffected people to give lip service to the plot devised by the FBI agent. He arrested his victims, whose trial ended in acquittal and mistrial.

Raising doubts among Americans about the government is not a strong point of the corporate media. Americans live in a world of propaganda designed to secure their acquiescence to war crimes, torture, searches and police state measures, military aggression, hegemony and oppression, while portraying Americans (and Israelis) as the salt of the earth who are threatened by Muslims who hate their "freedom and democracy."

Americans cling to this "truth" while the Bush regime and a complicit Congress destroy the Bill of Rights and engineer the theft of elections.

Freedom and democracy in America have been reduced to no-fly lists, spying without warrants, arrests without warrants or evidence, permanent detention despite the constitutional protection of habeas corpus, torture despite the prohibition against self-incrimination – the list goes on and on.

In today’s fearful America, a US Senator, whose elder brothers were (1) a military hero killed in action, (2) a President of the United States assassinated in office, (3) an Attorney General of the United States and likely president except he was assassinated like his brother, can find himself on the no-fly list. Present and former high government officials, with top secret security clearances, cannot fly with a tube of toothpaste or a bottle of water despite the absence of any evidence that extreme measures imposed by "airport security" makes flying safer.

Elderly American citizens with walkers and young mothers with children are meticulously searched because US Homeland Security cannot tell the difference between an American citizen and a terrorist.

All Americans should note the ominous implications of the inability of Homeland Security to distinguish an American citizen from a terrorist.

When Airport Security cannot differentiate a US Marine General recipient of the Medal of Honor from a terrorist, Americans have all the information they need to know.

Any and every American can be arrested by unaccountable authority, held indefinitely without charges and tortured until he or she can no longer stand the abuse and confesses.

This predicament, which can now befall any American, is our reward for our stupidity, our indifference, our gullibility, and our lack of compassion for anyone but ourselves.

Some Americans have begun to comprehend the tremendous financial costs of the "war on terror." But few understand the cost to American liberty. Last October a Democrat-sponsored bill, "Prevention of Violent Radicalism and Homegrown Terrorism," passed the House of Representatives 404 to 6.

Only six members of the House voted against tyrannical legislation that would destroy freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and that would mandate 18 months of congressional hearings to discover Americans with "extreme" views who could be preemptively arrested.

What better indication that the US Constitution has lost its authority when elected representatives closest to the people pass a bill that permits the Bill of Rights to be overturned by the subjective opinion of members of an "Extremist Belief Commission" and Homeland Security bureaucrats? Clearly, Americans face no greater threat than the government in Washington.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Real Men Must Rebel

The role of a real man is to set aside his desires and become a husband and father. Willing acceptance of these responsibilities defines maturation in a man. Until the boy has reflected at length on these duties he will balk at all or part of them and continue, like a child, to protect his “rights”, his toys and his free time. If the man is never in an atmosphere of quiet that facilitates a process of reflection he may never progress to the stage of maturation where he finds fulfillment in the well being and happiness of his family, instead he will continue to selfishly pursue childish pleasures.

A young man does not come to this acceptance from one moment to the next, but rather it occurs gradually through meditation. This way a man learns to cherish not his rights but rather his responsibilities. The real man is the leader and protector of his family, and his willing acceptance of this role, rather than his resignation to it, incites him to put the welfare of his wife and children before his own. An adult man embraces these responsibilities through the love he feels for his family and the love he feels for God.

An adult man does not worry about obtaining and protecting his toys and free time because the benefits of his adulthood show them to be childish and chimerical things that leave him empty. He prefers the respect of his wife, children and community. He prefers to pray with a clear conscience, knowing that although he stumbles on his journey, he puts the needs of others ahead of his own and is a true leader, humbly trying to do his God given duty.

In our modern American culture, moments of quiet are few and far between. We are taught to surround ourselves with “entertainment” every waking moment of the day. We are taught to take great pride in being busy as if perpetual movement is a goal in itself.  Meditation and quiet reflection are seen as strange, deviant behavior. We are pelted with advertising on the radio, TV, billboards and internet that teach us to consume, in fact they teach us to define ourselves by which products we consume. We are educated to be selfish and greedy and we are tempted to drug ourselves with permanent entertainment so that we do not think about our responsibilities or the nature of God and our role in His creation.

A young man must confront this modern culture, turn off the noise and find the space, time and tranquility to reflect on his role and purpose in life. This is how he will mature and become a good father and husband. This was historically easy to do, but today in order to become an adult he must first rebel against this culture that teaches consumerism, feminism and the constant and selfish pursuit of happiness. Maybe we should challenge men to be rebels, to confront and denounce the establishment. Perhaps we need to incite them to throw off the chains of all this worldly garbage and redefine themselves. If a man accepts the paradigm of modern America he will not mature, he will not receive respect and he will feel unfulfilled. He has to extinguish the noise around himself long enough to hear the voice of reason. What we crave as men is respect and today to earn respect we must follow the example of Christ and rebel.

Mother Theresa of Calcutta taught us the following:
The fruit of silence is prayer
The fruit of prayer is faith
The fruit of faith is love
The fruit of love is service
The fruit of service is peace

To follow this guide is to rebel against the modern world. To follow this guide is to grow up. So, look for quiet, be honest and be humble. Do not believe easily what the noise blares into your ears; question authority and follow the example of the greatest rebel of all time: Jesus Christ.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

3 de Mayo - por Francisco Goya - Un comentario sobre la barbaridad sin sentido

War Is A Racket - A speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC.

WAR is a racket. It always has been

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?

Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few – the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.

And what is this bill?

This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.

For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out.

Again they are choosing sides. France and Russia met and agreed to stand side by side. Italy and Austria hurried to make a similar agreement. Poland and Germany cast sheep's eyes at each other, forgetting for the nonce [one unique occasion], their dispute over the Polish Corridor.

The assassination of King Alexander of Jugoslavia [Yugoslavia] complicated matters. Jugoslavia and Hungary, long bitter enemies, were almost at each other's throats. Italy was ready to jump in. But France was waiting. So was Czechoslovakia. All of them are looking ahead to war. Not the people – not those who fight and pay and die – only those who foment wars and remain safely at home to profit.

There are 40,000,000 men under arms in the world today, and our statesmen and diplomats have the temerity to say that war is not in the making.

Hell's bells! Are these 40,000,000 men being trained to be dancers?

Not in Italy, to be sure. Premier Mussolini knows what they are being trained for. He, at least, is frank enough to speak out. Only the other day, Il Duce in "International Conciliation," the publication of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said:

"And above all, Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace... War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the people who have the courage to meet it."

Undoubtedly Mussolini means exactly what he says. His well-trained army, his great fleet of planes, and even his navy are ready for war – anxious for it, apparently. His recent stand at the side of Hungary in the latter's dispute with Jugoslavia showed that. And the hurried mobilization of his troops on the Austrian border after the assassination of Dollfuss showed it too. There are others in Europe too whose sabre rattling presages war, sooner or later.

Herr Hitler, with his rearming Germany and his constant demands for more and more arms, is an equal if not greater menace to peace. France only recently increased the term of military service for its youth from a year to eighteen months.

Yes, all over, nations are camping in their arms. The mad dogs of Europe are on the loose. In the Orient the maneuvering is more adroit. Back in 1904, when Russia and Japan fought, we kicked out our old friends the Russians and backed Japan. Then our very generous international bankers were financing Japan. Now the trend is to poison us against the Japanese. What does the "open door" policy to China mean to us? Our trade with China is about $90,000,000 a year. Or the Philippine Islands? We have spent about $600,000,000 in the Philippines in thirty-five years and we (our bankers and industrialists and speculators) have private investments there of less than $200,000,000.

Then, to save that China trade of about $90,000,000, or to protect these private investments of less than $200,000,000 in the Philippines, we would be all stirred up to hate Japan and go to war – a war that might well cost us tens of billions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of lives of Americans, and many more hundreds of thousands of physically maimed and mentally unbalanced men.

Of course, for this loss, there would be a compensating profit – fortunes would be made. Millions and billions of dollars would be piled up. By a few. Munitions makers. Bankers. Ship builders. Manufacturers. Meat packers. Speculators. They would fare well.

Yes, they are getting ready for another war. Why shouldn't they? It pays high dividends.

But what does it profit the men who are killed? What does it profit their mothers and sisters, their wives and their sweethearts? What does it profit their children?

What does it profit anyone except the very few to whom war means huge profits?

Yes, and what does it profit the nation?

Take our own case. Until 1898 we didn't own a bit of territory outside the mainland of North America. At that time our national debt was a little more than $1,000,000,000. Then we became "internationally minded." We forgot, or shunted aside, the advice of the Father of our country. We forgot George Washington's warning about "entangling alliances." We went to war. We acquired outside territory. At the end of the World War period, as a direct result of our fiddling in international affairs, our national debt had jumped to over $25,000,000,000. Our total favorable trade balance during the twenty-five-year period was about $24,000,000,000. Therefore, on a purely bookkeeping basis, we ran a little behind year for year, and that foreign trade might well have been ours without the wars.

It would have been far cheaper (not to say safer) for the average American who pays the bills to stay out of foreign entanglements. For a very few this racket, like bootlegging and other underworld rackets, brings fancy profits, but the cost of operations is always transferred to the people – who do not profit.



The World War, rather our brief participation in it, has cost the United States some $52,000,000,000. Figure it out. That means $400 to every American man, woman, and child. And we haven't paid the debt yet. We are paying it, our children will pay it, and our children's children probably still will be paying the cost of that war.

The normal profits of a business concern in the United States are six, eight, ten, and sometimes twelve percent. But war-time profits – ah! that is another matter – twenty, sixty, one hundred, three hundred, and even eighteen hundred per cent – the sky is the limit. All that traffic will bear. Uncle Sam has the money. Let's get it.

Of course, it isn't put that crudely in war time. It is dressed into speeches about patriotism, love of country, and "we must all put our shoulders to the wheel," but the profits jump and leap and skyrocket – and are safely pocketed. Let's just take a few examples:

Take our friends the du Ponts, the powder people – didn't one of them testify before a Senate committee recently that their powder won the war? Or saved the world for democracy? Or something? How did they do in the war? They were a patriotic corporation. Well, the average earnings of the du Ponts for the period 1910 to 1914 were $6,000,000 a year. It wasn't much, but the du Ponts managed to get along on it. Now let's look at their average yearly profit during the war years, 1914 to 1918. Fifty-eight million dollars a year profit we find! Nearly ten times that of normal times, and the profits of normal times were pretty good. An increase in profits of more than 950 per cent.

Take one of our little steel companies that patriotically shunted aside the making of rails and girders and bridges to manufacture war materials. Well, their 1910-1914 yearly earnings averaged $6,000,000. Then came the war. And, like loyal citizens, Bethlehem Steel promptly turned to munitions making. Did their profits jump – or did they let Uncle Sam in for a bargain? Well, their 1914-1918 average was $49,000,000 a year!

Or, let's take United States Steel. The normal earnings during the five-year period prior to the war were $105,000,000 a year. Not bad. Then along came the war and up went the profits. The average yearly profit for the period 1914-1918 was $240,000,000. Not bad.

There you have some of the steel and powder earnings. Let's look at something else. A little copper, perhaps. That always does well in war times.

Anaconda, for instance. Average yearly earnings during the pre-war years 1910-1914 of $10,000,000. During the war years 1914-1918 profits leaped to $34,000,000 per year.

Or Utah Copper. Average of $5,000,000 per year during the 1910-1914 period. Jumped to an average of $21,000,000 yearly profits for the war period.

Let's group these five, with three smaller companies. The total yearly average profits of the pre-war period 1910-1914 were $137,480,000. Then along came the war. The average yearly profits for this group skyrocketed to $408,300,000.

A little increase in profits of approximately 200 per cent.

Does war pay? It paid them. But they aren't the only ones. There are still others. Let's take leather.

For the three-year period before the war the total profits of Central Leather Company were $3,500,000. That was approximately $1,167,000 a year. Well, in 1916 Central Leather returned a profit of $15,000,000, a small increase of 1,100 per cent. That's all. The General Chemical Company averaged a profit for the three years before the war of a little over $800,000 a year. Came the war, and the profits jumped to $12,000,000. a leap of 1,400 per cent.

International Nickel Company – and you can't have a war without nickel – showed an increase in profits from a mere average of $4,000,000 a year to $73,000,000 yearly. Not bad? An increase of more than 1,700 per cent.

American Sugar Refining Company averaged $2,000,000 a year for the three years before the war. In 1916 a profit of $6,000,000 was recorded.

Listen to Senate Document No. 259. The Sixty-Fifth Congress, reporting on corporate earnings and government revenues. Considering the profits of 122 meat packers, 153 cotton manufacturers, 299 garment makers, 49 steel plants, and 340 coal producers during the war. Profits under 25 per cent were exceptional. For instance the coal companies made between 100 per cent and 7,856 per cent on their capital stock during the war. The Chicago packers doubled and tripled their earnings.

And let us not forget the bankers who financed the great war. If anyone had the cream of the profits it was the bankers. Being partnerships rather than incorporated organizations, they do not have to report to stockholders. And their profits were as secret as they were immense. How the bankers made their millions and their billions I do not know, because those little secrets never become public – even before a Senate investigatory body.

But here's how some of the other patriotic industrialists and speculators chiseled their way into war profits.

Take the shoe people. They like war. It brings business with abnormal profits. They made huge profits on sales abroad to our allies. Perhaps, like the munitions manufacturers and armament makers, they also sold to the enemy. For a dollar is a dollar whether it comes from Germany or from France. But they did well by Uncle Sam too. For instance, they sold Uncle Sam 35,000,000 pairs of hobnailed service shoes. There were 4,000,000 soldiers. Eight pairs, and more, to a soldier. My regiment during the war had only one pair to a soldier. Some of these shoes probably are still in existence. They were good shoes. But when the war was over Uncle Sam has a matter of 25,000,000 pairs left over. Bought – and paid for. Profits recorded and pocketed.

There was still lots of leather left. So the leather people sold your Uncle Sam hundreds of thousands of McClellan saddles for the cavalry. But there wasn't any American cavalry overseas! Somebody had to get rid of this leather, however. Somebody had to make a profit in it – so we had a lot of McClellan saddles. And we probably have those yet.

Also somebody had a lot of mosquito netting. They sold your Uncle Sam 20,000,000 mosquito nets for the use of the soldiers overseas. I suppose the boys were expected to put it over them as they tried to sleep in muddy trenches – one hand scratching cooties on their backs and the other making passes at scurrying rats. Well, not one of these mosquito nets ever got to France!

Anyhow, these thoughtful manufacturers wanted to make sure that no soldier would be without his mosquito net, so 40,000,000 additional yards of mosquito netting were sold to Uncle Sam.

There were pretty good profits in mosquito netting in those days, even if there were no mosquitoes in France. I suppose, if the war had lasted just a little longer, the enterprising mosquito netting manufacturers would have sold your Uncle Sam a couple of consignments of mosquitoes to plant in France so that more mosquito netting would be in order.

Airplane and engine manufacturers felt they, too, should get their just profits out of this war. Why not? Everybody else was getting theirs. So $1,000,000,000 – count them if you live long enough – was spent by Uncle Sam in building airplane engines that never left the ground! Not one plane, or motor, out of the billion dollars worth ordered, ever got into a battle in France. Just the same the manufacturers made their little profit of 30, 100, or perhaps 300 per cent.

Undershirts for soldiers cost 14¢ [cents] to make and uncle Sam paid 30¢ to 40¢ each for them – a nice little profit for the undershirt manufacturer. And the stocking manufacturer and the uniform manufacturers and the cap manufacturers and the steel helmet manufacturers – all got theirs.

Why, when the war was over some 4,000,000 sets of equipment – knapsacks and the things that go to fill them – crammed warehouses on this side. Now they are being scrapped because the regulations have changed the contents. But the manufacturers collected their wartime profits on them – and they will do it all over again the next time.

There were lots of brilliant ideas for profit making during the war.

One very versatile patriot sold Uncle Sam twelve dozen 48-inch wrenches. Oh, they were very nice wrenches. The only trouble was that there was only one nut ever made that was large enough for these wrenches. That is the one that holds the turbines at Niagara Falls. Well, after Uncle Sam had bought them and the manufacturer had pocketed the profit, the wrenches were put on freight cars and shunted all around the United States in an effort to find a use for them. When the Armistice was signed it was indeed a sad blow to the wrench manufacturer. He was just about to make some nuts to fit the wrenches. Then he planned to sell these, too, to your Uncle Sam.

Still another had the brilliant idea that colonels shouldn't ride in automobiles, nor should they even ride on horseback. One has probably seen a picture of Andy Jackson riding in a buckboard. Well, some 6,000 buckboards were sold to Uncle Sam for the use of colonels! Not one of them was used. But the buckboard manufacturer got his war profit.

The shipbuilders felt they should come in on some of it, too. They built a lot of ships that made a lot of profit. More than $3,000,000,000 worth. Some of the ships were all right. But $635,000,000 worth of them were made of wood and wouldn't float! The seams opened up – and they sank. We paid for them, though. And somebody pocketed the profits.

It has been estimated by statisticians and economists and researchers that the war cost your Uncle Sam $52,000,000,000. Of this sum, $39,000,000,000 was expended in the actual war itself. This expenditure yielded $16,000,000,000 in profits. That is how the 21,000 billionaires and millionaires got that way. This $16,000,000,000 profits is not to be sneezed at. It is quite a tidy sum. And it went to a very few.

The Senate (Nye) committee probe of the munitions industry and its wartime profits, despite its sensational disclosures, hardly has scratched the surface.

Even so, it has had some effect. The State Department has been studying "for some time" methods of keeping out of war. The War Department suddenly decides it has a wonderful plan to spring. The Administration names a committee – with the War and Navy Departments ably represented under the chairmanship of a Wall Street speculator – to limit profits in war time. To what extent isn't suggested. Hmmm. Possibly the profits of 300 and 600 and 1,600 per cent of those who turned blood into gold in the World War would be limited to some smaller figure.

Apparently, however, the plan does not call for any limitation of losses – that is, the losses of those who fight the war. As far as I have been able to ascertain there is nothing in the scheme to limit a soldier to the loss of but one eye, or one arm, or to limit his wounds to one or two or three. Or to limit the loss of life.

There is nothing in this scheme, apparently, that says not more than 12 per cent of a regiment shall be wounded in battle, or that not more than 7 per cent in a division shall be killed.

Of course, the committee cannot be bothered with such trifling matters.



Who provides the profits – these nice little profits of 20, 100, 300, 1,500 and 1,800 per cent? We all pay them – in taxation. We paid the bankers their profits when we bought Liberty Bonds at $100.00 and sold them back at $84 or $86 to the bankers. These bankers collected $100 plus. It was a simple manipulation. The bankers control the security marts. It was easy for them to depress the price of these bonds. Then all of us – the people – got frightened and sold the bonds at $84 or $86. The bankers bought them. Then these same bankers stimulated a boom and government bonds went to par – and above. Then the bankers collected their profits.

But the soldier pays the biggest part of the bill.

If you don't believe this, visit the American cemeteries on the battlefields abroad. Or visit any of the veteran's hospitals in the United States. On a tour of the country, in the midst of which I am at the time of this writing, I have visited eighteen government hospitals for veterans. In them are a total of about 50,000 destroyed men – men who were the pick of the nation eighteen years ago. The very able chief surgeon at the government hospital; at Milwaukee, where there are 3,800 of the living dead, told me that mortality among veterans is three times as great as among those who stayed at home.

Boys with a normal viewpoint were taken out of the fields and offices and factories and classrooms and put into the ranks. There they were remolded; they were made over; they were made to "about face"; to regard murder as the order of the day. They were put shoulder to shoulder and, through mass psychology, they were entirely changed. We used them for a couple of years and trained them to think nothing at all of killing or of being killed.

Then, suddenly, we discharged them and told them to make another "about face" ! This time they had to do their own readjustment, sans [without] mass psychology, sans officers' aid and advice and sans nation-wide propaganda. We didn't need them any more. So we scattered them about without any "three-minute" or "Liberty Loan" speeches or parades. Many, too many, of these fine young boys are eventually destroyed, mentally, because they could not make that final "about face" alone.

In the government hospital in Marion, Indiana, 1,800 of these boys are in pens! Five hundred of them in a barracks with steel bars and wires all around outside the buildings and on the porches. These already have been mentally destroyed. These boys don't even look like human beings. Oh, the looks on their faces! Physically, they are in good shape; mentally, they are gone.

There are thousands and thousands of these cases, and more and more are coming in all the time. The tremendous excitement of the war, the sudden cutting off of that excitement – the young boys couldn't stand it.

That's a part of the bill. So much for the dead – they have paid their part of the war profits. So much for the mentally and physically wounded – they are paying now their share of the war profits. But the others paid, too – they paid with heartbreaks when they tore themselves away from their firesides and their families to don the uniform of Uncle Sam – on which a profit had been made. They paid another part in the training camps where they were regimented and drilled while others took their jobs and their places in the lives of their communities. The paid for it in the trenches where they shot and were shot; where they were hungry for days at a time; where they slept in the mud and the cold and in the rain – with the moans and shrieks of the dying for a horrible lullaby.

But don't forget – the soldier paid part of the dollars and cents bill too.

Up to and including the Spanish-American War, we had a prize system, and soldiers and sailors fought for money. During the Civil War they were paid bonuses, in many instances, before they went into service. The government, or states, paid as high as $1,200 for an enlistment. In the Spanish-American War they gave prize money. When we captured any vessels, the soldiers all got their share – at least, they were supposed to. Then it was found that we could reduce the cost of wars by taking all the prize money and keeping it, but conscripting [drafting] the soldier anyway. Then soldiers couldn't bargain for their labor, Everyone else could bargain, but the soldier couldn't.

Napoleon once said,

"All men are enamored of decorations...they positively hunger for them."

So by developing the Napoleonic system – the medal business – the government learned it could get soldiers for less money, because the boys liked to be decorated. Until the Civil War there were no medals. Then the Congressional Medal of Honor was handed out. It made enlistments easier. After the Civil War no new medals were issued until the Spanish-American War.

In the World War, we used propaganda to make the boys accept conscription. They were made to feel ashamed if they didn't join the army.

So vicious was this war propaganda that even God was brought into it. With few exceptions our clergymen joined in the clamor to kill, kill, kill. To kill the Germans. God is on our is His will that the Germans be killed.

And in Germany, the good pastors called upon the Germans to kill the please the same God. That was a part of the general propaganda, built up to make people war conscious and murder conscious.

Beautiful ideals were painted for our boys who were sent out to die. This was the "war to end all wars." This was the "war to make the world safe for democracy." No one mentioned to them, as they marched away, that their going and their dying would mean huge war profits. No one told these American soldiers that they might be shot down by bullets made by their own brothers here. No one told them that the ships on which they were going to cross might be torpedoed by submarines built with United States patents. They were just told it was to be a "glorious adventure."

Thus, having stuffed patriotism down their throats, it was decided to make them help pay for the war, too. So, we gave them the large salary of $30 a month.

All they had to do for this munificent sum was to leave their dear ones behind, give up their jobs, lie in swampy trenches, eat canned willy (when they could get it) and kill and kill and kill...and be killed.

But wait!

Half of that wage (just a little more than a riveter in a shipyard or a laborer in a munitions factory safe at home made in a day) was promptly taken from him to support his dependents, so that they would not become a charge upon his community. Then we made him pay what amounted to accident insurance – something the employer pays for in an enlightened state – and that cost him $6 a month. He had less than $9 a month left.

Then, the most crowning insolence of all – he was virtually blackjacked into paying for his own ammunition, clothing, and food by being made to buy Liberty Bonds. Most soldiers got no money at all on pay days.

We made them buy Liberty Bonds at $100 and then we bought them back – when they came back from the war and couldn't find work – at $84 and $86. And the soldiers bought about $2,000,000,000 worth of these bonds!

Yes, the soldier pays the greater part of the bill. His family pays too. They pay it in the same heart-break that he does. As he suffers, they suffer. At nights, as he lay in the trenches and watched shrapnel burst about him, they lay home in their beds and tossed sleeplessly – his father, his mother, his wife, his sisters, his brothers, his sons, and his daughters.

When he returned home minus an eye, or minus a leg or with his mind broken, they suffered too – as much as and even sometimes more than he. Yes, and they, too, contributed their dollars to the profits of the munitions makers and bankers and shipbuilders and the manufacturers and the speculators made. They, too, bought Liberty Bonds and contributed to the profit of the bankers after the Armistice in the hocus-pocus of manipulated Liberty Bond prices.

And even now the families of the wounded men and of the mentally broken and those who never were able to readjust themselves are still suffering and still paying.



WELL, it's a racket, all right.

A few profit – and the many pay. But there is a way to stop it. You can't end it by disarmament conferences. You can't eliminate it by peace parleys at Geneva. Well-meaning but impractical groups can't wipe it out by resolutions. It can be smashed effectively only by taking the profit out of war.

The only way to smash this racket is to conscript capital and industry and labor before the nations manhood can be conscripted. One month before the Government can conscript the young men of the nation – it must conscript capital and industry and labor. Let the officers and the directors and the high-powered executives of our armament factories and our munitions makers and our shipbuilders and our airplane builders and the manufacturers of all the other things that provide profit in war time as well as the bankers and the speculators, be conscripted – to get $30 a month, the same wage as the lads in the trenches get.

Let the workers in these plants get the same wages – all the workers, all presidents, all executives, all directors, all managers, all bankers –

yes, and all generals and all admirals and all officers and all politicians and all government office holders – everyone in the nation be restricted to a total monthly income not to exceed that paid to the soldier in the trenches!

Let all these kings and tycoons and masters of business and all those workers in industry and all our senators and governors and majors pay half of their monthly $30 wage to their families and pay war risk insurance and buy Liberty Bonds.

Why shouldn't they?

They aren't running any risk of being killed or of having their bodies mangled or their minds shattered. They aren't sleeping in muddy trenches. They aren't hungry. The soldiers are!

Give capital and industry and labor thirty days to think it over and you will find, by that time, there will be no war. That will smash the war racket – that and nothing else.

Maybe I am a little too optimistic. Capital still has some say. So capital won't permit the taking of the profit out of war until the people – those who do the suffering and still pay the price – make up their minds that those they elect to office shall do their bidding, and not that of the profiteers.

Another step necessary in this fight to smash the war racket is the limited plebiscite to determine whether a war should be declared. A plebiscite not of all the voters but merely of those who would be called upon to do the fighting and dying. There wouldn't be very much sense in having a 76-year-old president of a munitions factory or the flat-footed head of an international banking firm or the cross-eyed manager of a uniform manufacturing plant – all of whom see visions of tremendous profits in the event of war – voting on whether the nation should go to war or not. They never would be called upon to shoulder arms – to sleep in a trench and to be shot. Only those who would be called upon to risk their lives for their country should have the privilege of voting to determine whether the nation should go to war.

There is ample precedent for restricting the voting to those affected. Many of our states have restrictions on those permitted to vote. In most, it is necessary to be able to read and write before you may vote. In some, you must own property. It would be a simple matter each year for the men coming of military age to register in their communities as they did in the draft during the World War and be examined physically. Those who could pass and who would therefore be called upon to bear arms in the event of war would be eligible to vote in a limited plebiscite. They should be the ones to have the power to decide – and not a Congress few of whose members are within the age limit and fewer still of whom are in physical condition to bear arms. Only those who must suffer should have the right to vote.

A third step in this business of smashing the war racket is to make certain that our military forces are truly forces for defense only.

At each session of Congress the question of further naval appropriations comes up. The swivel-chair admirals of Washington (and there are always a lot of them) are very adroit lobbyists. And they are smart. They don't shout that "We need a lot of battleships to war on this nation or that nation." Oh no. First of all, they let it be known that America is menaced by a great naval power. Almost any day, these admirals will tell you, the great fleet of this supposed enemy will strike suddenly and annihilate 125,000,000 people. Just like that. Then they begin to cry for a larger navy. For what? To fight the enemy? Oh my, no. Oh, no. For defense purposes only.

Then, incidentally, they announce maneuvers in the Pacific. For defense. Uh, huh.

The Pacific is a great big ocean. We have a tremendous coastline on the Pacific. Will the maneuvers be off the coast, two or three hundred miles? Oh, no. The maneuvers will be two thousand, yes, perhaps even thirty-five hundred miles, off the coast.

The Japanese, a proud people, of course will be pleased beyond expression to see the united States fleet so close to Nippon's shores. Even as pleased as would be the residents of California were they to dimly discern through the morning mist, the Japanese fleet playing at war games off Los Angeles.

The ships of our navy, it can be seen, should be specifically limited, by law, to within 200 miles of our coastline. Had that been the law in 1898 the Maine would never have gone to Havana Harbor. She never would have been blown up. There would have been no war with Spain with its attendant loss of life. Two hundred miles is ample, in the opinion of experts, for defense purposes. Our nation cannot start an offensive war if its ships can't go further than 200 miles from the coastline. Planes might be permitted to go as far as 500 miles from the coast for purposes of reconnaissance. And the army should never leave the territorial limits of our nation.

To summarize: Three steps must be taken to smash the war racket.

We must take the profit out of war.

We must permit the youth of the land who would bear arms to decide whether or not there should be war.

We must limit our military forces to home defense purposes.



I am not a fool as to believe that war is a thing of the past. I know the people do not want war, but there is no use in saying we cannot be pushed into another war.

Looking back, Woodrow Wilson was re-elected president in 1916 on a platform that he had "kept us out of war" and on the implied promise that he would "keep us out of war." Yet, five months later he asked Congress to declare war on Germany.

In that five-month interval the people had not been asked whether they had changed their minds. The 4,000,000 young men who put on uniforms and marched or sailed away were not asked whether they wanted to go forth to suffer and die.

Then what caused our government to change its mind so suddenly?


An allied commission, it may be recalled, came over shortly before the war declaration and called on the President. The President summoned a group of advisers. The head of the commission spoke. Stripped of its diplomatic language, this is what he told the President and his group:

"There is no use kidding ourselves any longer. The cause of the allies is lost. We now owe you (American bankers, American munitions makers, American manufacturers, American speculators, American exporters) five or six billion dollars.

If we lose (and without the help of the United States we must lose) we, England, France and Italy, cannot pay back this money...and Germany won't.


Had secrecy been outlawed as far as war negotiations were concerned, and had the press been invited to be present at that conference, or had radio been available to broadcast the proceedings, America never would have entered the World War. But this conference, like all war discussions, was shrouded in utmost secrecy. When our boys were sent off to war they were told it was a "war to make the world safe for democracy" and a "war to end all wars."

Well, eighteen years after, the world has less of democracy than it had then. Besides, what business is it of ours whether Russia or Germany or England or France or Italy or Austria live under democracies or monarchies? Whether they are Fascists or Communists? Our problem is to preserve our own democracy.

And very little, if anything, has been accomplished to assure us that the World War was really the war to end all wars.

Yes, we have had disarmament conferences and limitations of arms conferences. They don't mean a thing. One has just failed; the results of another have been nullified. We send our professional soldiers and our sailors and our politicians and our diplomats to these conferences. And what happens?

The professional soldiers and sailors don't want to disarm. No admiral wants to be without a ship. No general wants to be without a command. Both mean men without jobs. They are not for disarmament. They cannot be for limitations of arms. And at all these conferences, lurking in the background but all-powerful, just the same, are the sinister agents of those who profit by war. They see to it that these conferences do not disarm or seriously limit armaments.

The chief aim of any power at any of these conferences has not been to achieve disarmament to prevent war but rather to get more armament for itself and less for any potential foe.

There is only one way to disarm with any semblance of practicability. That is for all nations to get together and scrap every ship, every gun, every rifle, every tank, every war plane. Even this, if it were possible, would not be enough.

The next war, according to experts, will be fought not with battleships, not by artillery, not with rifles and not with machine guns. It will be fought with deadly chemicals and gases.

Secretly each nation is studying and perfecting newer and ghastlier means of annihilating its foes wholesale. Yes, ships will continue to be built, for the shipbuilders must make their profits. And guns still will be manufactured and powder and rifles will be made, for the munitions makers must make their huge profits. And the soldiers, of course, must wear uniforms, for the manufacturer must make their war profits too.

But victory or defeat will be determined by the skill and ingenuity of our scientists.

If we put them to work making poison gas and more and more fiendish mechanical and explosive instruments of destruction, they will have no time for the constructive job of building greater prosperity for all peoples. By putting them to this useful job, we can all make more money out of peace than we can out of war – even the munitions makers.


Smedley Darlington Butler

Major General - United States Marine Corps [Retired]

Born West Chester, Pa., July 30, 1881

Educated Haverford School

Married Ethel C. Peters, of Philadelphia, June 30, 1905

Awarded two congressional medals of honor, for capture of Vera Cruz, Mexico, 1914,
and for capture of Ft. Riviere, Haiti, 1917

Distinguished service medal, 1919

Retired Oct. 1, 1931

On leave of absence to act as director of Department of Safety, Philadelphia, 1932

Lecturer - 1930's

Republican Candidate for Senate, 1932

Died at Naval Hospital, Philadelphia, June 21, 1940

For more information about Major General Smedley Butler, contact the United States Marine Corps.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Combatants For Peace

For years I thought that war has a place in the toolbox of nations in certain situations. The wisdom of age has given me a different insight; war should always be avoided. Self defense, or national defense in a just war may be necessary in very rare circumstances, unfortunately our government seems to legislate regularly with very rare circumstances in mind. Modern Americans in general think of the exception more frequently then we think of the norm. That leads to curtailment of our freedom and it leads to war. I believe that war is never in the best interests of the average man.

That is absolutely the case in the 60-year war between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The war kills average people and ruins average lives. The heads of state, the power brokers and foreign advisers do not suffer from the conflict. To the contrary, the conflict gives purpose to their positions of power; it builds their strength to the detriment of the soldiers and combatants, the shopkeepers and innocent civilians. So the powerful people that talk endlessly about a “peace plan” that would put an end to the terrorism imposed on Jews and Palestinians have no real motivation to stop the killing. It is the average people who suffer from the violence and the misunderstanding who must put an end to the dance of death.

I came upon this website and found that there is an organization in Israel and Palestine made up of ex IDF soldiers and ex Palestinian combatants. They speak with personal experience of the disastrous policies that have perpetuated the war between the Jews and the Palestinian Muslims and Christians in the Holy land. These men are giving speeches and sharing their views of dialogue and interaction. They are convincing the people on the street that the killing and the occupation must end. They have put on many events and have a calendar full of future events. They are affecting policy in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. With hope they may begin to have a counterbalancing effect among Washington politicians to AIPAC, Podhoretz and the rest of the Zionist warmongers.

I hope that anyone reading this will browse through their website and listen to their testimonies. I hope that you will see it in your heart to donate to this most worthy cause.

Combatants For Peace

Remarks on Violent Radicalization & Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, HR 1955 by Congressman Ron Paul

Before the House of Representatives, December 5, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I regret that I was unavoidably out of town on October 23, 2007, when a vote was taken on HR 1955, the Violent Radicalization & Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act. Had I been able to vote, I would have voted against this misguided and dangerous piece of legislation. This legislation focuses the weight of the US government inward toward its own citizens under the guise of protecting us against "violent radicalization."

I would like to note that this legislation was brought to the floor for a vote under suspension of regular order. These so-called "suspension" bills are meant to be non-controversial, thereby negating the need for the more complete and open debate allowed under regular order. It is difficult for me to believe that none of my colleagues in Congress view HR 1955, with its troubling civil liberties implications, as "non-controversial."

There are many causes for concern in HR 1955. The legislation specifically singles out the Internet for "facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process" in the United States. Such language may well be the first step toward US government regulation of what we are allowed to access on the Internet. Are we, for our own good, to be subjected to the kind of governmental control of the Internet that we see in unfree societies? This bill certainly sets us on that course.

This seems to be an unwise and dangerous solution in search of a real problem. Previous acts of ideologically motivated violence, though rare, have been resolved successfully using law enforcement techniques, existing laws against violence, and our court system. Even if there were a surge of "violent radicalization" – a claim for which there is no evidence – there is no reason to believe that our criminal justice system is so flawed and weak as to be incapable of trying and punishing those who perpetrate violent acts.

This legislation will set up a new government bureaucracy to monitor and further study the as-yet undemonstrated pressing problem of homegrown terrorism and radicalization. It will no doubt prove to be another bureaucracy that artificially inflates problems so as to guarantee its future existence and funding. But it may do so at great further expense to our civil liberties. What disturbs me most about this legislation is that it leaves the door wide open for the broadest definition of what constitutes "radicalization." Could otherwise nonviolent anti-tax, anti-war, or anti-abortion groups fall under the watchful eye of this new government commission? Assurances otherwise in this legislation are unconvincing.

In addition, this legislation will create a Department of Homeland Security-established university-based body to further study radicalization and to "contribute to the establishment of training, written materials, information, analytical assistance and professional resources to aid in combating violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism." I wonder whether this is really a legitimate role for institutes of higher learning in a free society.

Legislation such as this demands heavy-handed governmental action against American citizens where no crime has been committed. It is yet another attack on our Constitutionally protected civil liberties. It is my sincere hope that we will reject such approaches to security, which will fail at their stated goal at a great cost to our way of life.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Perils of Economic Ignorance by Dr. Ron Paul

Last week in this column I wrote of a perfect economic storm facing America, caused by a federal government that spends, borrows, and prints so much money that our dollars are eroding in value at an alarming rate. Year after year our federal government spends beyond its revenues, prints new money to pay its debts, and borrows hundreds of billions abroad in the form of Treasury obligations that someday must be paid. With too many dollars and debt instruments in circulation, and no political will in Washington to cut spending, we've created a monster. Our perceived prosperity depends on keeping the great debt and credit engine pumping, but the only way to attract new lenders to fuel the engine is higher interest rates. At some point one of two things must happen: either the party in Washington ends, or the supremacy of the dollar as the world's reserve currency ends. It's a sobering thought, but a choice must be made.

How did this happen? How did we get to such a state? The answer is found in the nature of politics itself. The truth is that many politicians and voters essentially believe in a free lunch. They believe in a free lunch because they don't understand basic economics, and therefore assume government can spend us into prosperity. This is the fallacy that pervades American politics today.

I believe one of the greatest threats facing this nation is the willful economic ignorance of the political class. Many of our elected officials at every level have no understanding of economics whatsoever, yet they wield tremendous power over our economy through taxes, regulations, and countless other costs associated with government. They spend your money with little or no thought given to the economic consequences of their actions. It is indeed a tribute to the American entrepreneurial spirit that we have enjoyed such prosperity over the decades; clearly it is in spite of government policies rather than because of them.

I certainly have seen firsthand a great deal of economic ignorance in Congress over the years. Few members pay any attention whatsoever to the Federal Reserve Bank, despite the tremendous impact Fed policy has on their constituents. Even many members of the banking and finance committees have little or no knowledge of monetary policy. Perhaps this is why so many in Congress seem to believe we can all become rich by printing new dollars, or that we can make 2 + 2 = 5 by taking money from some people and giving it to others.

We cannot suspend the laws of economics or the principles of human action any more than we can suspend the laws of physics. Yet this is precisely what Congress attempts to do time and time again, no matter how many times history proves them wrong or economists easily demonstrate the harms caused by a certain policy.

I strongly recommend that every American acquire some basic knowledge of economics, monetary policy, and the intersection of politics with the economy. No formal classroom is required; a desire to read and learn will suffice. There are countless important books to consider, but the following are an excellent starting point: The Law by Frédéric Bastiat; Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt; What has Government Done to our Money? by Murray Rothbard; The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek; and Economics for Real People by Gene Callahan.

If you simply read and comprehend these relatively short texts, you will know far more than most educated people about economics and government. You certainly will develop a far greater understanding of how supposedly benevolent government policies destroy prosperity. If you care about the future of this country, arm yourself with knowledge and fight back against economic ignorance. We disregard economics and history at our own peril.

March 27, 2006

Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Christmas Bees

March 2006
It was our first Christmas in the new house that we built on the wooded hillside over the beach on Reloncaví Bay. It felt as though we were camping out inside, since there was still no varnish on the redwood sheeted walls and the ceilings were just beams and insulation. There were bare light bulbs hanging on wires where later rustic iron lamps would brighten up cold dark winter nights in July. There weren’t even any interior doors in the house yet. Personal privacy depended on each person respecting the intimacy of the rest.

The house was a big three story log affair. Actually the bottom floor was mostly a basement, only on the front did it have doors or windows. That was because the house was built on a slope so as to have the best view of the bay, the islands and the Cordillera of the Andes. Behind the house there was still an ugly pit where mud had been pumped and bucketed out of a little swamp. A trickle of clear water seeped out of the ground there and found its way under the house into a concrete pipe and then out from under the front of the house to join a stream that ran right below the terrace on the beach side of the house.

The kitchen door opened out the back over the mud pit and one hundred feet further back was the foot of a big wooded bluff that rose steeply to three hundred feet above sea level. In order to use this back door I had cobbled together a rather precarious porch using leftovers from the rest of the construction. The construction budget was empty and a real porch would have to wait for next year. Whatever more could be bought would have to go for lamps, doors, ceilings and other details that my wife considered important.

When I got up early on Christmas morning, I opened the back door and stepped out into the warm green light of sunrise in summertime, to find that I wasn’t the only one who approved of porches. There were bees, honeybees, flying around and lighting on the porch. At first I noticed five or six, but quickly the porch began to fill up with beautiful little bees. “Well Merry Christmas, little friends. Have you come to bless our house?” I asked them. They answered affirmatively by arriving en masse. Now there were thousands of bees on the porch. They formed little roiling balls on the floor and the handrail. This was a swarm and they were looking for a new home.

It so happened that I had a couple of empty wooden nail boxes in the basement. They looked like bee boxes; maybe these bees would get the hint and enter a nail box. So I went and got a box and cut a little hole for a door. I picked up a waste piece of plywood to serve as a lid and went upstairs and out on the back porch. There were many more bees then before. I didn’t know much about bees at that time (I still don’t know much, but I know more than I did then). However, I was pretty sure that this was the moment, that either I would get the bees to make the nail box their home or the queen would fly out of the milling group, up into the woods trailing her thousands of minions and they would be gone.

So I set the box down and with a piece of shingle began to scoop up bees and deposit them into the box. Only because these were blessed Christmas bees did I avoid being severely stung. But although they didn’t sting me my loading system didn’t work very well. The bees didn’t want to stay put in the box and soon there were bees flying everywhere and crawling out of the box and all over me and all over the porch. Then I remembered that we had a jar of honey in the cupboard. I don’t know how I knew that this was the solution to my bee problem; the idea somehow had popped into my head of its own volition.

I went back into the house and came out with the honey. When I opened the jar the bees immediately became more active, buzzing around in earnest. I tilted the jar and let a big dollop drop heavily into the nail box and quickly put the lid back on the honey, even so I had fifty or sixty little bees all over the jar and on my hands and arms. When I went into the house the bees left me and flew back towards the open window. Eventually they figured out how to exit. I looked out the window to find more bees milling together in the box and around it. I said a little prayer of thanks to the Creator of this incredible, beautiful world we live in and left the bees to themselves.

My son woke up and came downstairs very anxious to tear into his presents. He was six that year; his little sister was just a baby and didn’t know much about Christmas yet. After presents we had breakfast in our new kitchen. It was marvelous, and I believe that may have been the first meal where we felt really at home in our kitchen, in our beautiful, innocent, unspoiled house. After breakfast we went out (cautiously) onto the rickety porch to see the bees. They were all in the box! Every single bee was in that box.

I got some cypress posts and banged a stand together for the box under the eaves of the trees at the foot of the bluff. Then I went back and lifted my precious box very carefully, walked off the porch to the trees and I set the bees down on their stand. There they stayed for years until I moved them to the front of the house where the sunlight warmed the box earlier in the spring. There were plum trees there in the front yard near the beach that yielded very few plums because they were never pollinated before their blossoms fell in early spring. After the bees moved into the orchard we had to support the plum trees or the weight of their fruit would break the branches off.

Those plums were old trees, the deep red fruit was small and neither so juicy nor so sweet as the varieties sold in stores. I always found them to be delicious to eat, but they reached their full potential when they were cooked slowly in a big stock pot, together with lots of sugar. The jam that we made from these plums was the most flavorful jam of all time as well as the most beautiful, when the jam jar caught the sunlight just right on the kitchen table it shone a beautiful ruby red like a giant jewel. That jam was just one of the many blessings that the Christmas bees brought to our family.

Our third child, a precious little girl was born two years after that magical Christmas. The children grew and went to school where they learned to read and write and gossip about musicians and other celebrities. At home they learned that the creation of God is perfect and that every leaf, every flower, every seagull that flies over the beach and every chucao that calls from the underbrush in the forest is a work of art more beautiful and intricate than the greatest paintings of the Renaissance masters. And there were the bees that God had sent to us, tending his garden. The children saw the bees. The kids grew up as part of God’s garden.

The house grew and took life. It was an integral part of the family as we lived in it and learned its personality. A beautiful back porch replaced the rickety one and became the haven for summer lunches. The pit was filled and became a garden full of calla lilies and fuchsias. The iron lamps were installed, the ceilings were sheeted with blond mañio boards. The Christmas bees’ house was also improved with frames for their honeycombs and a little take-off and landing ramp at their front door. The girls and I would sit in the orchard on a sunny summer day and watch the bees come and go with irresistible determination to fulfill their two responsibilities; the fertilization of the flowers in God’s garden and the magical confection of sweet honey. They were not normal bees they were specially blessed.

Honeybees are extraordinary creatures that live and work in harmony. One bee can explain exactly where good flowers and pollen are located to the other bees in the dark of their hive by dancing in a certain pattern, even if the flowers are half of a mile away. To protect the queen and the hive, bees sacrifice themselves for the good of all. The honeybee is a humble servant to all of its brothers and sisters. But God balances all things and therefore as beautiful, clean and productive as is the honeybee, there is a mirror opposite. The hornet or yellow jacket is evil, a thief and assassin. It steals what it eats and it steals the home in which it lives. It produces nothing but death and loss.

- -

Alas, every day isn’t Christmas and we do our best to despoil God’s garden. Life should have been good, but there were problems. I originally went to Chile to build a fishing lodge in the mountains. But a number of years later the decision was made to sell the lodge and my job ended. At that point I had my house and family in Chile and I had to do anything that I could invent or that appeared on the horizon in order to earn a salary that would maintain our standard of living. I worked in logging, and went back and ran the lodge which had been ours. That was humiliating and horrible; it was like being hired as the nanny for your own children by crass and stupid adoptive parents. I built a little plant to manufacture redwood doors. And I followed in the footsteps of countless knuckleheads to lose a bundle as a fish broker. Each job was more uncertain than the last.

My wife and I had always had a difficult marriage. We are very different people and have never been very good at understanding one another. The relationship got worse as my job opportunities became more uncertain and less lucrative, although I’m not certain that there is any relation between the two things. At any rate my wife, who was always rather choleric and vituperative, became more and more displeased with me. I was the cause of all her woes. And I had more and more problems with her family. I am still flabbergasted that a group of people so adept at extending their hands palm up for my money, either directly or indirectly through my wife, somehow loathe me enough to poison my wife against me. Her brothers would quit jobs that I gave them and that they did worse than poorly, and then cadge money from my wife and ask her for a job that they would do even worse than the last one. In the interest of marital relations I gave them endless opportunities to do me wrong. They were quite adept at taking advantage of those opportunities. But my wife would not hear a word of criticism against them and my gripes about her family caused me to suffer long and ugly bouts of screaming insults.

I began to distance myself from God and the church. I am an alcoholic and I was in recovery all this time, but I got closer and closer to a drink. My wife got nastier and nastier to me. In fits of dysfunction she would block me into a room by standing squarely in the doorway and scream insults at me. I pushed her on various occasions and even hit her. The children had to witness the screaming, the swearing and insults, and our boy had to see me lose it and backhand his mother. I felt absolutely trapped. I dreamed of being free to live a happy life, but I was certain that the fate of my children without me would be worse than bleak. I considered my existence with her untenable and dreamed of raising the kids myself. My wife let me know that as a foreigner I had no chance of even seeing the children if I were to separate and a Chilean lawyer collected a fat fee from me in order to agree with her judgment.

So I made a decision, the worst decision possible, I opted for the choice of the alcoholic. I started to drink again. I began to get drunk, stay drunk and cheat on my wife with many women. Our fights became epic, tragic battles that followed a sick pattern, like ballroom dancing in hell. The children suffered terribly. My beautiful older daughter would cry without being able to stop at school. My son had to protect his mother from me when I was drunk. At the same time my wife started to go out with friends; she would drink and stay out all night. This took place off and on for three years. Finally I went to a clinic in Connecticut to which I harbor an enormous gratitude. May God bless Mountainside Clinic and everyone who works there. They reunited me with God and AA and I came out a better person than I’ve ever been. I’ve now been sober for almost three years, but my sins have contaminated everything and everyone around me. My children are happier, but there is something in each of them that is permanently wounded. There are stains on the soul of our house; there are too many bad memories there.

Even so, I noticed the bees again one day a couple of years ago, and noticed that it was early summer and noticed that the world was beautiful. My kids have seen it too. We are living in the light again.

My wife has had a harder time. She can’t seem to forgive me and that causes her terrible bouts of anguish and rage. Her father did her the courtesy to teach that a Chávez never forgives anybody, ever. Forgiveness is for God. People who forgive are just weak. He taught that your most prized possession is your pride. Perhaps my sins were too heinous to be forgiven, but I know that my wife’s life will be better if she forgives me. I had forgiven her and I could see the bees; she didn’t forgive and couldn’t see the bees for what they were. To her they were stinging insects that produced a couple of jars of honey each year. She didn’t remember that they were a gift from God.

Now for the last six months I’ve been working in the States trying to help a wonderful man save marriages in hopes that my labor might balance out some of the damage I have done. This work’s greatest benefit is that it has improved the quality of our marriage greatly. We were learning to get along again and enjoy each other. We took a cruise with my boss during which we found that she and I still truly love one another. Things were looking like we might be able to have a healthy relationship for the first time. After the cruise I went back to work in Wisconsin and she went back home to Chile to tie things up and pack all of our worldly possessions for shipment to Wisconsin.

That is because we had decided as a family to accept the invitation of my new employer to move to the United States, at least for a couple of years. My family was to have packed and sent our things in February, but my wife’s relatives (15 of them at one point) all moved into our house for the summer and she began to change. When I spoke to her on the phone, the loving and beautiful woman began to regress to the hateful untrusting and irrational being that I shudder to think about. Why does this always happen when she is around them?

I decided to go to Chile to find out what happened and what will happen. My wife did not come to meet me at the airport and was very cold the night that I arrived. I tried to talk to her about moving to the States but she just brushed aside the questions and wouldn’t give me a straight answer. I tried to follow my boss’s wise advice and to be a calm voice of reason. I did so that night, although she simply would not listen to reason and instead insulted me imaginatively, graphically and loudly. The next day she took off with our son before noon and said she’d be back in a couple of hours. I was stuck with no way to get to town and couldn’t do anything that I had planned to do. They finally got home at 9:30 that night without having phoned all day. She was irate when I suggested that it was rude to do what she had done. When I asked her about moving to the States she said that if the gardener can’t go with her, she wouldn’t go and neither will the kids. I had explained about fifty times that the only way the old gentleman could go was to initiate a long and expensive process from the USA. But she wouldn’t hear it. Either he goes with her or she doesn’t go and neither do the kids. Then she left me talking alone, turned her back to me and walked away. I lost it and a terrible scene ensued. She took off with the kids although the girls wanted to stay with me. Of course she went to the house of her mother where the sister and brother live.

I spent a bad night with no sleep, finally the day dawned and I got up. I kneeled and prayed that God give me a sign. I prayed for over an hour. I asked to know what had happened and to know how to proceed. I asked what I should do if my wife continued with her stubborn resolve to stay with the children in Chile. I asked Him to show me what is wrong, to show me why my wife changed again. I didn’t get an answer so I got up and walked outside.

I walked out the front porch and down the steps with no destination in mind. I wandered around the raspberries and currant bushes and strolled towards the beach. Then I noticed that the ground was covered with rotting plums under the trees. Even with all those people here all summer, no-one had bothered to pick the plums or make jam. And then I saw the home of our Christmas bees.

There should have been intense, continuous movement in and out of the hive. There was none. I walked closer and heard no buzzing from inside the box. It looked dead. I felt all the energy and hope that I had left leave me like a long, last exhale. I stood looking without breathing for a long moment. Then I saw a couple of yellow jackets crawl out of the box with their hideous radioactive yellow bodies. My Christmas bees were gone. There were vile, poisonous yellow jackets feeding on the Christmas bees’ labor. I almost cried. But what did it mean? Did it mean they were dead?


No, it meant that the bees had given up fighting against long odds, and they had gone somewhere that promised a brighter future for their offspring, somewhere free of the predation of the thieving yellow jackets. Their queen had to believe that it would be better somewhere else, or she would not organize the hive and the bees would not go anywhere. But since she never leaves the hive she must trust the bees that inform her that there is a better place. If she didn’t believe them, didn’t believe that there was a better place, they might all stay and be beggared to starvation by the hornets. The key was to convince the queen with the truth, with patience and humility. Some bee or bees had done that and had danced honestly and humbly in front of the queen to show her where there was a better place. She believed the dancer and led the hive to their new home.

May God bless them wherever they are and may He send them back to us when we return to Panitao years from now, because we aren’t going to live there for a long time.

I swallowed my stupid pride and imitated the humble, patient bees. I took the time to dance well in front of the queen. I danced humbly; I explained with great patience and finally she decided that she will gather the children and follow me to where there are more flowers and fewer hornets far to the north.

Glory be to God.

November 2007

My beautiful wife is in Chile as I write. She left the cold of Wisconsin two weeks ago and won’t be back for another two weeks. I am here in Green Bay with my two girls and Shark the idiot golden retriever. We are getting by without my wife, but it feels odd and not quite right. It is cold outside and the wind is screeching; blowing empty water bottles and odd trash from somewhere into the yard of our rented house. Green Bay is where we live now, but it will never be home. The girls and I just talked to our wife/mother by voice over Messenger. She has been dealing with a year and a half of accumulated problems, each of which has its own constituency by now. She is tired and irascible, but underneath she is thrilled to be at our home.

It is wonderful to call her and send messages because we love each other again. She and I and our boy and the girls have all learned to love each other like never before. We are doing what we have to do and we are helping people. The girls are studying here with us, ice-skating and singing. Alan just finished High School in Puerto Montt. He’s living with his grandmother. It is all working out, but we feel like the Israelites in Egypt. We want to go home.

It was warm in Puerto Montt today. It wouldn’t seem warm to most people, but a native of Seattle would understand. She said that the chucao was calling from the woods behind the house, the wire-tailed rayadito is nesting under the eaves next to our big bedroom window again, and the swallows are flying their racetrack pattern down from the house, through the rose bushes, past my stately sequoia, over the poultry barn, behind the empty bee hive and the plum trees and then swoop to ground level, over the lawn and speed back up the hill to the house to complete another lap. The gulls were calling from the beach and two pelicans flew gliding ponderously over the waves in front of our gate.

I say she is thrilled to be at our home, not that she is thrilled to be home. She said that without her family with her she feels like she is looking at a movie, it just doesn’t feel real. She won’t be home until we are all there. Oh, how we want to go home.
So I asked my wife if there were bees in the rose bushes and the fuchsias. She said that there were some, not many but she saw a couple.
Are there any bees in the plum trees?
Are there any bees in the hive? …

No, there are no bees in the hive. … Yet.

I hope that the bees go home soon, because when they do, I’m going to pack up the idiot dog all of our Chilean furniture and these lovely people and we are going to go home. Until then, like the Israelites, we will try to do God’s bidding here in exile.


Angel Crucificada

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Faithful Citizenship by Kent C. Bois

Over the past couple of years I have experienced growing frustration with the lack of Catholic influence in the political arena. I am told our vote has a tremendous effect on the outcome of presidential elections. If this is the case then why is abortion on demand still legal, why can’t we have vouchers or tax credits to home school or to use at schools outside the public system? Why are Christian values of life and family, peace and common decency attacked so often in public? It’s getting to the point where it is illegal to express our faith based, moral convictions publicly. We are not even supposed to pray publicly in Jesus’ name any more. Most importantly where are the politicians who will lead the way in supporting what we hold dear? Why must we vote for the lesser of two evils?

One cause of the breach between Catholic aspirations and what actually transpires is the failure of our Church here in America to provide clear and strong leadership, to teach the faith and exhort us to exercise it as Catholic citizens. Have you ever heard a homily encouraging you to vote for politicians who support moral positions? That it is your duty? The ‘Lay Faithful’s’ duty is to take our faith into our communities, work places and even into politics. That’s right I said politics. Our religion is not a private matter! Atheists, gay marriage proponents and abortion advocates do not have the moral high ground. We have just as much right to advocate for what we believe in as they do. We have just as much right to speak out and support legislation which reflects our deepest beliefs and values as they do. Yet we allow them to silence us, our Church, and many of our Cardinals, Bishops and Priests as well. How do they do that? There are probably many ways but let me reflect on one.

There is an attitude or an idea that I think most of us are familiar with: the so-called separation of Church and State. I hear it used all the time and I’m sick of it. The erroneous understanding of our Constitution and the shameless perpetuation of this lie have convinced many if not most Americans that religion is supposed to be a private matter. That religious convictions and beliefs are not supposed to inform us as we legislate the laws of our country. NONSENSE! This understanding of the Constitution is contrary to historical usage and just plain stupid.

First the so called separation of church and state is not in the Constitution. To the contrary, it is based on a quote of Thomas Jefferson to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut. He wrote that there was a, "wall of separation between the church and the state." Why did he say this? He told them this because they were afraid. Of what, you ask? They were afraid that the government would infringe on their freedom to worship. The separation or wall that Jefferson wrote about was to let them know that the Constitution had been written to protect Religion from the State. Let me say that again because it sounds so good: to protect Religion from the State.

See for more.
But let me add what the Constitution does say.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Both the free exercise clause and the establishment clause place restrictions on the government concerning laws they pass or interfering with religion. No restrictions are placed on religions except perhaps that a religious denomination cannot become the state religion.”

Is this amazing? Our Constitution restricts government! Next time you here separation of church and state use the above quote.

Now lets get down to business. Mr. Joe Healy, an engineer, did some amazing homework using the document, Faithful Citizenship, on his blog defend life. He took the criteria listed in Faithful Citizenship, assigned points to "intrinsically evil" positions and other important issues. Higher points were given for intrinsically evil issues and lesser points for other issues. He then looked at the voting records or stated positions of all the presidential candidates, including Allan Keyes, and added up the points to see which candidates come closest to reflecting a truly Catholic position on these very important issues. Remember our faith is supposed to inform not just what we believe but how we act. So what were the results?
1. Ron Paul (R): 99 points
2. Alan Keyes (R): 70 (not on the ballot in all states)
3. Mike Huckabee (R): 69
4. Duncan Hunter (R): 50
5. Tom Tancredo (R): 48
6. John McCain (R): 36
7. Chris Dodd (D): 25
8. Dennis Kucinich (D): 22
9. Mitt Romney (R): 10
10. Joe Biden (D): 5
11. Fred Thompson (R): 4
12. Hillary Clinton (D): (-11)
13. John Edwards (D): (-13)
14. Bill Richardson (D): (-15)
15. Barack Obama (D): (-15)
16. Rudy Giuliani (R): (-28)
The following quote from Mr. Healy will help to qualify these results.
“My analysis is not perfect, but I think it gives a good relative scale of all of the candidates against important Catholic social issues.”
I’m guessing these results are a surprise to many. What I am hoping is that you will take this very seriously. Fr. Frank Pavone praised the work of the Bishops in giving us Faithful Citizenship. Although it may not be as clear and strong in pointing the way as some might like. Mr. Healy’s work has connected the dots in an explicit and powerful way.

Finally do not be afraid to be 100% Catholic in the public arena. We aren’t second class citizens. We all know there are serious problems in our country, morally and economically. We also know that our current politicians are doing nothing to effect real change. Why do we keep voting the same politicians back into office? Don’t you think that bringing our faith back into public life will have an overwhelmingly positive effect on our country? I do. Don’t be embarrassed by your faith. Vote and vote for the candidate that your conscience informed by your faith will best lead this country. Hint they’re not the front runners. Primaries are coming up soon make your vote count. In closing I would like to share a prayer by the Protestant minister Derek Prince, “Lord give us leaders such that it will be for Your glory to give us victory through them.”

God Bless America