Monday, December 19, 2011

The War Prayer by Mark Twain

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fulttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory with stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener.
It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.
Sunday morning came -- next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams -- visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender!
Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation:
God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest,
Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!
Then came the "long" prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory --
An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord and God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"
The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside -- which the startled minister did -- and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:
"I come from the Throne -- bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- excpet he pause and think. "God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, and the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this -- keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon your neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain on your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse on some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.
"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned by God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the pastor -- and also you in your hearts -- fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard the words 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory -- must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!
"Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth into battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended in the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames in summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it --
For our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimmage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!
We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.
(After a pause.) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits."
It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party need to come together

This little graphic seems too simple to be ignored. How could it be that the neither the readers of Newsmax, nor the readers of Mother Jones see the obvious area of convergence where the goals of regular people, both from the left and the right come together.

It is instructive that the mainstream media does its best to keep the two groups separate and at each others throats. Who benefits when the Tea Partiers and the Occupiers blame each other and sling invectives across the divide? "Stupid teabaggers", "Dirty hippy, communists", etc....

And all the while, Jamie Dimon and John McCain and Barack Obama are laughing their asses off. It is time that Americans realize that in the higher reaches of the power elites, the distinctions between left and right are meaningless. Among the elites, what matters is that corporations can use the government to make money and government can use corporations to maintain power.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ron Paul should come out ferociously in favor of investigations and prosecutions of the 1000s of cases of fraud committed during the banking fiasco.

The Occupy movement is an organically assembled group of Americans that are truly pissed off. And they have every reason to be angry. The United States has become the dominion of the 1% and the rest of us are taking it on the chin. The government pays no attention to the electorate. For instance, the great majority of Americans were against each of the various the bailouts of the banks both nationally and even more, internationally. But the government and the Fed simply don't care. They do what they please. And what the government pleases, is whatever the big international banks want. What the big banks have wanted is lots of cheap money, so the Fed doubled the money supply after 2003 and it keeps pumping more new money into the economy today.
That easy money did what unlimited easy money always does. It led to malinvestment and fraud. The frauds led to the collapse of the financial system and to a serious recession in the real economy. Thanks to that criminal behavior and irresponsibility, the unemployment rate is way over 10%, the real value of wages is going down and the cost of living is going up. At the same time, the income of people that work in "Financial Industry" has multiplied. This is all the result of the meltdown caused by easy money from the bankers over the last 15 years.
The good people on the streets demonstrating as part of the OWS movement, see the effects of the criminal rackets, ie: the Primary Dealer banks, but they don't seem to see that it only happens because the banks are protected by the very government that is supposed to regulate them. The OWS are confused as to what needs to be done, they think that empowering the government that protects the banks and giving that government new regulatory powers will rein in the criminal activity. That's crazy. Ron Paul should show the OWS people that regulation and bureacracy are not the answer, what is missing is the rule of law. This is an opportunity to use populism as it should be used, to promote real and positive change. Let's put the criminals in jail! If Ron shares this message his support will grow.
He should show that the Too-Big-To-Fail banks' entire business plan is based on fraud. For instance, JC Morgan has a big stack of silver ingots that it has bought as the manager of the SLV etf. You buy shares in SLV and Morgan buys more silver. But Morgan uses that same stack of silver to short silver in the futures market, driving the price down and ripping off their own customers in SLV. That is a crime. Millions of crimes have gone unpunished. They haven't even been investigated! Another for instance: Goldman and others built CDOs and other mortgage backed securities with what they called "dog vomit", sold them as AAA bonds and then bought Credit Default Swaps betting against their own products and made billions. That is fraud. Fraud is crime. The bankers are criminals. 
If Paul would go to the Wall Street and speak to the OWS crowd and tell them that regulation is NOT the answer, but hiring Bill Black and 1000 assistants to investigate corporate crime IS the answer, he would get a huge boost in support and publicity. And once elected it is what he should do! What's to lose? I don't see that the Wall Street bankers are going to be voting for Dr. Paul anyway.

Please write the Paul campaign and suggest that he makes this an issue. Post this () on twitter. Send the link to Jack Hunter on twitter. This is a great opportunity for the good doctor.

Bill Black, interviewed at Occupy Wall Street

Bill Black, interviewed by Bill Moyers in 2009

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mutually Assured Destruction vs Mutually Assured Respect

This old man is shaping his ideas into a whole new paradigm for America and the world. We have tried war and debt. Every President since Coolidge has been a war President. Every one has added debt.

It is time to try peace and sound economics. It is time to give this old man a shot.

If We Are To Be An Empire, Then Let’s Do It Right

The US Empire embarked on another Imperial war for oil five months ago and the Empire botched the job again, just like it botched the job in Iraq. The Imperial legates and our client Principalities couldn't finish the job, even with unlimited resources and unchallenged air power. Mr. Gaddafi is still with us and seems to be reorganizing. He has made it clear that he will now target ports and oil facilities. So, Libya is going to go up in flames again as Gaddafi loyalists turn into the resistance, and the Empire's associate petroleum companies may not be able to abscond with the oil for months or even years.

Why do our wars cost so much and produce so little benefit? It is because the Empire insists on pretending that it is not after resources, that it is not an Empire. The Empire seems to believe its own lies, that it is motivated by humanitarian concerns. But if the ruling elites in the Empire believe their own lies, they are alone in that belief. No one else with any idea of what is going on believes the Empire’s lies. Outside of the USA, it is clear to everyone that the Empire is after resources and is intent on controlling the Muslim world through client kings and bases for the legions from Carthage to Memphis and from Tyre to Bactria.

But all this war and conniving drains the Imperial Treasury of great torrents of wealth that purchase weapons systems that serve no function in these wars, in maintaining garrisons that do not pacify the natives, but rather sharpen their resolve to fight back. This Empire is bleeding to death as the wealth of the productive part drains into the Bactrian sands. That is not the way to go about Empire. Empire is not supposed to produce debt and poverty for the victors. It is supposed to amass wealth for the conqueror. It is not supposed to leave the conqueror bankrupt. If you're going to be an Empire, be proud to be Empire, be proud to plunder under the Eagles!

So, I just wish that the powers-that-be would be honest about their intentions. If they were honest imperialists, at least they might not drive us to economic ruin. If the goal is to go steal the oil, just say so and go steal the damn oil! If Muammar and his people don’t like it, crucify a couple thousand of them along the Libyan coast road the way that Crassus did on the road to Rome. Do you think that Trajan successfully marched through the Parthian Empire to the Persian Gulf telling reporters that he was there to "protect civilians"? No, he was clear and direct. He was there to conquer! Did Caesar incorporate Gaul into the Empire by spending too much money and housing his legions in air-conditioned tents? No, his legions were expected to fight and kill and work and sweat and only get paid if they captured enough slaves and loot for Caesar to pay them! Did Gaius Verres make sure to spread Imperial Treasure among all the Sicilians so that they would accept the Roman presence? Heck no! He stole everything that wasn’t bolted to the floor. (Well, not exactly. He stole the stuff that was bolted down too.)

If we are to be an Empire we need to change a few things:

- 1. Go after the resources openly so that all Imperial citizens can benefit. Make sure that a substantial part of the loot gets paid into the Treasury.
- 2. Eliminate local resistance with proven methods such as putting entire cities to the sword or mass crucifixions. Caesar’s innovation of cutting the hands off of all the men in a Gallic city that defied Roman domination and then spreading these cripples to all parts of Gaul was quite effective in curbing resistance.
- 3. Immediately upon pacification, send in the tax collectors and squeeze the people till they bleed. We want loot. Pay up or die.

That Roman form of Empire is actually more honest than what the US Empire is doing, and it would benefit most Americans. The US Empire as it is today only benefits a tiny elite power group in the USA while it kills hundreds of thousands of innocent people and beggars everyone else. And this happens in a democracy! That just shows that a democracy made up of mostly ignorant, brainwashed voters is one of the worst forms of government imaginable. The current Empire is bankrupting the USA, destroying the economy and engendering global resentment, while making billions of dollars for a few, well-connected companies and individuals. That’s crazy.

If we’re going to survive as an Empire, we’d better learn to make it pay. If we can’t stomach the violence and immorality of that, if we can’t rein in the security state parasites and steal resources for all Americans, then we have no business comporting ourselves as an Empire. In that case we need to deconstruct the Security State (empire), cut the Federal Budget by 60% and decentralize the US of A into small enough polities for the citizens to be able to overpower the special interests. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

From 37 Banks to 4 in 20 years

Click on the chart for a bigger image.

If we have banking regulators, why do they allow the banks to consolidate to the point where they are "too big to fail"?

Banking regulation no longer works because the Federal government has been completely captured by a small number of hyper-large corporations. This explains why these banks were all bailed out against the wishes of more than 55% of Americans. It explains why we continue to make incredibly expensive weapons systems that are designed for the Cold War, which has been over for twenty years. It explains why our government coerces other countries to legalize GMO seeds, leading to thousands of deaths by suicide.

The giant corporations in cahoots with the giant Federal government is a recipe for economic collapse and the loss of individual liberty. We have to change the American mentality. The answer is very small government and very little regulation. The Federal government is too large to respond to the American people. And there is no way that will change. The only hope for freedom and sanity is to dismember the Federal government, rescind the 17th amendment and give power back to the States. Then we need to start eliminating regulations on everything.

Forget what you have been trained to believe. Regulations do not "level the playing field", instead regulations always benefit the largest corporation and punish the small. In fact many regulations are written by the large corporations that were supposedly going to be regulated. That is the case of the Dodd Frank bill which was supposed to clean up banking and Wall street, but has been used to protect the big banks because it was written by them and they know how to operate all the loopholes. America's Safe Food legislation was written by Monsanto's chief attorney. FDA regulations are written by ex-drug company attorneys and scientists.

More regulations is NOT the answer. Less government IS the answer

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Big Gangster and the Little Gangster — Gaddafi and NATO

There is more and more explicit news showing that Gaddafi worked closely with the CIA from 2002 onwards. Gaddafi — the little gangster — blundered by letting the U.S. — the big gangster — get too close. The U.S. had been keeping the pressure on Gaddafi for decades. He wanted out from that pressure. Being a long-lived ruler, a socialist, a nationalist, an African, and reaching an older age, he actually wanted, in his own dominating way, to do some good for Libyans, and he had to get out from under U.S. pressure to do that. He renounced nuclear ambitions and got into bed with the CIA. This he calculated would help him control Libya and keep the lid on the jihad-minded groups that wanted to overthrow him.

Gaddafi blundered. Such benevolence toward Libyans and independence from the West, and ideas of raising Libya's share of oil revenues, and ideas of pan-African unity and currency (even golden), and ideas of closer ties with non-western nations, didn't sit well with the Big Gangster and its NATO clique of satellite gangsters who always had painted him as a dangerous clown and resented his presence. The West requires conformity. It gets very uncomfortable with independent visions, independent visionaries, neutrals, and political systems, persons, and groups that do not link into and fall under its control system and alliances. The Arab Spring provided the opportunity for the Western gangsters to disgrace themselves fully and publicly and dislodge Gaddafi.

All the little gangsters of this world are taking note. Chavez is bringing his gold back home. Others will be far more wary of letting assets pile up in Western banks where they can be frozen and stolen. The other bigger gangsters of this world like Russia, India, and China will not fail to draw the appropriate lessons from this episode either, inasmuch as it occurred under a Democrat and follows hard upon the heels of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan instigated by Republicans and supported by both parties.

Thanks to for this precise little article.

Edit: There is another article about Libya that I find very interesting. This article is very much longer and is written by an African from an African perspective. It reflects a Muammar Gaddafi that is very different from the Gaddafi that is portrayed in the Western press. Here is the article:

Why the West Want the Fall of Muammar Gaddafi…Analysis by Jean-Paul Pougala

As long as we are looking into Gaddafi, Libya, Al Qaeda and NATO please watch this interview of Pepe Escobar from the Asia Times as he talks about the reality in Libya. Pepe is interviewed by Alex Jones, who is not otherwise given space on this blog, but what Pepe has to say is important

Thursday, September 1, 2011

What if?

Speech before the US House of Representatives, 02/12/09

Madame Speaker,

I have a few questions for my colleagues.

What if we wake up one day and realize that the terrorist threat is a predictable consequence of our meddling in the affairs of others?

What if propping up repressive regimes in the Middle East endangers both the United States and Israel?

What if occupying countries like Iraq and Afghanistan - and bombing Pakistan - is directly related to the hatred directed toward us and has nothing to do with being free and prosperous?

What if someday it dawns on us that losing over 5,000 American military personnel in the Middle East since 9/11 is not a fair trade-off for the loss of nearly 3,000 American citizens, no matter how many Iraqi, Pakistani, and Afghan people are killed or displaced?

What if we finally decide that torture, even if called enhanced interrogation techniques, is self-destructive and produces no useful information - and that contracting it out to a third world nation is just as evil?

What if it is finally realized that war and military spending is always destructive to the economy?

What if all wartime spending is paid for through the deceitful and evil process of inflating and borrowing?

What if we finally see that wartime conditions always undermine personal liberty?

What if conservatives, who preach small government, wake up and realize that our interventionist foreign policy provides the greatest incentive to expand the government?

What if conservatives understood once again that their only logical position is to reject military intervention and managing an empire throughout the world?

What if the American people woke up and understood that the official reasons for going to war are almost always based on lies and promoted by war propaganda in order to serve special interests?

What if we as a nation came to realize that the quest for empire eventually destroys all great nations?

What if Obama has no intention of leaving Iraq?

What if a military draft is being planned for the wars that will spread if our foreign policy is not changed?

What if the American people learn the truth: that our foreign policy has nothing to do with national security and that it never changes from one administration to the next?

What if war and preparation for war is a racket serving the special interests?

What if President Obama is completely wrong about Afghanistan and it turns out worse than Iraq and Vietnam put together?

What if Christianity actually teaches peace and not preventive wars of aggression?

What if diplomacy is found to be superior to bombs and bribes in protecting America?

What happens if my concerns are completely unfounded - nothing!

What happens if my concerns are justified and ignored - nothing good!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Letter to the editor on the tenth anniversary of the beginning of the Endless War

A friend and I edit a news aggregator/discussion site called EndlessWar at One of the site's participants, Mr. blobbohen commented that we need to do more than grumble about the NeedlessWars and do something. He wrote the letter that you see below.

Why don't you copy this letter onto Word, edit it to your liking, print and sign it, put it in a stamped envelope, write the address of your local paper's letters to the editor on the front of the envelope and send it in. How many letters can we get printed in one weekend?

Please let us know if you get this letter (with or without your edits) published and send us the link if you do.


Chris Ferrell

September 4th 2011

To the Editor

Memory fades. The September 11th attacks will be a decade old next week, but they continue to affect the fate of the United States to this very day. The wars of the United States continue to rage on in Afghanistan and Iraq, and they appear to have left the minds of most Americans. I rarely hear of anyone my age (or any age for that matter) speak of our presence in our Middle Eastern wars. This letter seeks to break the current attitude of indifference that now spans this country regarding its foreign occupations.

The United States government, pondering to stay in Iraq possibly beyond 2011 and in Afghanistan as long as 2024, appears poised to fulfill in an even greater capacity the role of a military industrial complex, a vast system grimly warned of by Eisenhower in his final address. It is at this point that certain questions beg to be asked: can our country afford this? Can we rationally put more money and soldiers' lives into two wars without any clear sign of an end? These are the kind of questions that matter when you are talking about something like the debt ceiling. These are the kind of questions you ask when you're talking about what kind of country you live in: one that cares about where it's money is going and what kind of danger that its soldiers face, or a country that is indifferent and disinterested about both subjects. Which one are we supposed to be?

I am not concerned about sounding depressing or unpatriotic because those are accusations that are to be leveled at the apathetic and politically oblivious. From what I understand of this country's history there was a time when, during the Vietnam War, there were body counts on the news every night. We were very aware of the death that was occurring where the gunfire was, with protests against being drafted and jail-time for those that refused to go when their number was up. But that is not the case now. We are at war, one of which is the longest war we have ever waged in our entire history, and absolutely no one is talking about it- outside of government officials, anyway. That is not an unfair generalization because it is true. Bleakly true.

Countries like Egypt and Tunisia have shown that they can liberate themselves. So I know where I stand on these issues of war: the combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan must end, now and in full. Ignoring our military is the best way to demoralize it- so I refrain from doing that. I support soldiers by demanding that they be brought home.

Our country is broke and bankrupt of innovation whether you blame Obama, Bush, or Congress as a whole. But it is not beyond redemption. Endless war need not exist if this country does not want it to.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Jon Stewart Comments on the Media's Attempts To Make Ron Paul Invisible

It is truly incredible how the mainstream media has decided en masse to completely ignore and marginalize Ron Paul. Watch Stewart rip the media to shreds. And donate to Paul's campaign, because he certainly can't count on the media to spread his message of fiscal responsibility, non-interventionist foreign policy, sound money and personal liberty.

Here is Dr. Paul's new campaign ad. Your donations will put this on TV around the country.

Update - Has the Media Suppressed Ron Paul's Coverage?

Immediately after her noteworthy victory in the Iowa Presidential Straw Poll August 13, Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann managed to book herself on all five major Sunday national television political talk shows. But Ron Paul, who finished in a virtual statistical tie with Bachmann — just 152 votes and less than a one-percent difference — was booked on none of them. Zero.

Then there was the headline on the straw-poll results that — when moved over to — became this: "Michele Bachmann wins Ames Straw Poll, Tim Pawlenty gets third."

Umm, isn't something missing there?

Read the rest of the article

Monday, August 15, 2011

Each one of us is a perfect creation

"God beholds you individually, whoever you are. He calls you by your name. He sees you and understands you, as He made you. He knows what is in you, all your own peculiar feelings and thoughts, your dispositions and likings, your strength, your weakness.

He views you in your day of rejoicing, and your day of sorrow. He sympathises in your hopes and your temptations. He interests Himself in all your anxieties and remembrances, all the rising and failings of your spirit. He has numbered the very hairs of your head and the height of your stature.

He compasses you round and bears you in His arms; He takes you up and sets you down. He notes your very countenance, whether smiling or in tears, whether healthful or sickly. He looks tenderly upon your hands and your feet; He hears your voice, the beating of your heart, and your very breathing.

You do not love yourself better than He loves you. You cannot shrink from pain more than He dislikes your bearing it; and if He puts it on you, it is as you would put it on yourself, if you would be wise, for a greater good afterwards....

God has created you to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to you which He has not committed to another. You have your mission -- you may never know it in this life but you shall be told it in the next.

You are a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created you for naught. You shall do good, you shall do His work. You shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in your own place while not intending it if you do but keep His commandments.

Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me -- still He knows what He is about.

May the Lord support us all the day long, till the shades lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done.

Then in His mercy may He give us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last."

John Henry Newman

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Eisenhower and Petraeus and Butler

General Smedley Butler

General Dwight Eisenhower

General David Petraeus

What differentiates the images of these three generals? And what does it have to say about modesty and real character? Which of these three men would you NOT want to put in charge of a secret, shadow army?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Careful With THE REASON

I always try to caution anyone looking for the reason behind any Federal policy or program. The Federal government acts outwardly like an empire, but the machinations behind closed doors in the Imperial capitol are much more complex than the will of Caesar. But, every day I read the reason behind something at least once. It is often amplified by writing the real reason. The articles that pretend to uncover the real reason usually touch one of many forces behind some asinine governmental action. But in order for there to be single, hidden reason behind Obamacare, or the Global War On Terror™, or the bank bailouts there would have to be an incredible behind-the-scenes organization of thousands that is capable of maintaining its deliberations and communication perfectly secret. That is but the most obvious of the reasons (small r) that THE REASON is a truly stupid notion.

As designed, the American political process is complex, in practice in the 21st century it is infinitely more complex than designed. The President does not rule by decree. As Ludwig von Mises explains in "Human Action", even a dictator rules only with the consent of the governed. And the President is, even today, somewhat constrained by the Constitution to make laws and obtain funding through the Congress. Nor is the President's rule simply a question of getting a majority of Congress behind him. The President must align divers powerful interests before he ever goes to Congress, or decides that he has enough power to ignore Congress.

In the American power structure there are legal, institutional interests, such as the Congress, court system, state legislatures and the Departments of the administration. We can know some of what they do. We know the legislation that they are discussing, we can see some of the court cases that are being adjudicated. We can read the reports that are published by all the different Departments and Offices and Administrations within the Federal leviathan.

There are also semi-legal institutions such as registered lobbies. The lobbies write many more laws than do the Congress because the lobbies have more resources, more professionals and more motivation to write good laws. (good for them, that is). The lobbies control the money that Congressmen and especially Senators need to be re-elected. The lobbies have become the real constituency of the US Senate. The lobbiest-Congressman conversations are not transparent. We the people have no idea what is talked about there.

Then there are extra-legal powerful interests. The most important extra-legal power groups are the big corporations acting through public employees. Americans are much more constrained and manipulated by regulations than by laws. Those regulations are written by bureaucrats who are frequently eyeing a lucrative job with one of the biggest corporations in the field that the bureaucrat is entrusted to regulate. But bureaucrats don't just write regulations, they also have great influence over law. When politicians decide to make a new law and they do not enlist a lobby to write it, then the politicians usually must count on bureaucrats to give them the data that will inform the new law. Bureaucrats can determine the nature of the law by carefully selecting the information that they provide or conceal. They have tremendous influence over the actions of government.

The media is another extra-legal source of real political power. The larger the medium, the more its opinions and desires are taken into consideration. FOX News has more weight in Washington than does (unfortunately). Editorials in important papers can change the course of what the government does. But media does not only influence government, it also aids the government by being its propagandists. The mainstream American media never challenges the primary precepts of the status quo in American government, and they actively broadcast lies designed to confuse and frighten Americans into malleability.

All this mess is woven together in an extremely complicated, dynamic and treacherous network. Decisions are only enacted when enough actors with enough influence push in the same direction. This does not mean that these interests are aligned on other issues, or that their motives to align on the issue in question are similar. But the interests that always seem to be pushing away from the consensus get marginalized and their power wanes. Power in Washington comes through networking and from making successful accords and partnerships. The art of the deal is the ability to align enough interests to get your agenda moving.

A small fraction of this network or matrix is visible. Congress holds some public discussions. The President announces his ideas for the future. Political pundits pontificate in the media. But most of the application of power and influence happens out of the public eye. For instance, we will never hear the discussions between Pfizer and upper level civil "servants" at the FDA, although these discussions are key to how drugs are regulated in America. The Secretary of Labor may suggest in a cabinet meeting that unemployment will spike if we end the wars, but we won't know that until years later when someone writes a memoir. The general that writes papers about possible alternative military strategies for the White House is counting on a job from Lockheed when he retires, but only he knows that the position is already waiting for him. AIPAC representatives dine with a Congressman and offer money and veiled threats for her support. These are examples to show that the hidden applications of influence are probably more powerful than the visible ones.

So there is no ONE REASON behind anything that happens in DC. I think that one of the reasons that so many people believe in THE REASON is that they can only see a fraction of the myriad deals and interchanges of support that impel government action. The reasons that are given to the public through spokesmen and through the media to explain government actions are often clearly untrue or just absurd. That leads to the search for THE REAL REASON. But its just not that simple.

One thing is certain, if we are to have any control over government, it needs to be more transparent. But that will not happen by working through the system. The system is designed by the powerful to keep us out of the loop. And that's why we all need to support these wonderful people.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Panqueques de Papas

In honor of Rachel Corrie and all brave antiwar activists.

The key to this recipe is to have potatoes with a relatively low water content. Most American potatoes are irrigated and are full of water. They suck. If you're in the USA, try the gold or yukon gold variety. They aren't so watery.

5 medium potatoes
2 eggs, beaten
less than 1/4 cup of flour
salt and pepper to taste
10 grams of butter
5 ml. cooking oil

lots of homemade plum jam

Peel and coarsely grate 5 medium sized potatoes into a colander. Pour cold water over the grated potato to rinse off the starch. Now squeeze as much water out of the grated potatoes as possible.

Transfer potatoes to a bowl and add the beaten eggs, the flour and the salt and pepper. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Heat a heavy sauté pan and put in half of the oil and butter. Spoon the potato mixture into the hot pan on medium heat. Each pancake should be the diameter of the palm of your hand. Flatten the pancakes with the back of the spoon to about 1.5 cm. thick. Let them brown slowly about 3 or 4 minutes, turn and brown the other side.

Serve hot with homemade jam. Spread lots of jam on the pancakes, especially if the jam is good.

We usually serve the pancakes on a summer weekend with the doors and windows open to hear the chucao call from the woods and see the trees revel in the morning sun.

Eat these pancakes with fried eggs from country (free-range) hens. Factory eggs are watery and the taste bad. Find a farmer whose hens wander around and eat grass and bugs like they should. The yolks will be a deep yellow and the whites will be firm. Don't cook them too long! The yolks have to be runny to mix in with the pancakes.

Friday, July 1, 2011

For Everyone Else, There's Wikileaks

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free,
it expects what never was and never will be...
Thomas Jefferson

What Does it Cost to Change the World? from Wikileaks

Liberty and secrecy do not co-exist. When governments hold information secret from the electorate, liberty and Constitutional government are in jeopardy. When governments discuss and craft policy in secret from the electorate, liberty and Constitutional government are already on the run. When governments constrain our representatives from telling us what they know, liberty and Constitutional government have been truncated. When laws are made that are secret from the people, then liberty and Constitutional government are already dead. All that is left are institutions that maintain a pretext of government by the people. Remember that after Octavian made himself Juilius Caesar Augustus and ruled by decree, that the institutions of the Senate and the Tribunes were still in place, however they were only for show. Our Congress also exists for show, all important decisions are made by the unitary President and unelected bureaucrats. We are not privy to the conversations that lead to those decisions.

In order to recover liberty we must stop the secrecy under which our government operates. According to the Christian Science Monitor, the Federal government is generating around 560 million pages of documents marked secret or above every year! It is ridiculous to think that we can control OUR government if we have no idea what it is doing and what it knows. Free society must operate without secrets.

Since the Federal government (or the Empire, if you prefer) will not allow us "consumers" access to the information that it uses to make decisions on war, spending, regulations, dirty tricks or selling guns to the Mexican drugs mafia, we are blind and dependent on the US media which has been shown to cooperate with the government to keep the electorate in the dark.

But this is true in every country where the government rules without citizen participation in the decision making process. The Egyptians knew, viscerally, that Mubarak and his minions were as corrupt as Papa Doc Duvalier, but they didn't have any concrete evidence and they were afraid to organize. Those who complained too much went to jail. The same was true in Tunisia under Mr. Ben Ali and in every other country in the mideast and many other places as well. But a ray of truth broke through the cloud cover of secrecy when the hero, Bradley Manning copied some 600,000 secret US State Dept. files onto a Lady Gaga CD and posted those files onto the Wikileaks confidential upload site.

The Arab spring is an avalanche which was set into motion when Tunisians, Egyptians, Jordanians and their neighbors began to read documents that confirmed their suspicions. They read those documents on Wikileaks. Information is freedom. The US government does not want you to have information, therefore the US government does not want you to be free. Period. Full stop.

Support Wikileaks with money and with pressure on the government to abandon its persecution of Julian Assange.

And support Bradley Manning who opened the curtain a tiny bit and gave us a glimpse of the cynical men and women who decide your destiny in secret.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Freedom is singular and it means liberty, freedoms are a list of government authorized prerogatives

I have had the advantage of spending most of twenty years outside the USA from 1987 until the end of 2005. I still spend half of the year outside of the States, but during the 90s and the first half of the 00s, I only came to the States for a week or two each year. So I saw the transformations that the USA has undergone like a disjointed slide show rather than a continuous movie. Perhaps that is why so many things that the rest of my countrymen accept without question seem alien to me.

For instance, when I left the States to live in South America, most of the cars on the road were used. Shiny new cars made up a small percentage of the vehicles that one saw around town or on the freeway, and then in stagger steps, due to my periodic trips north, I saw the mix of vehicles change. It was very noticeable from my perspective. In steps I saw old cars disappear and ever bigger, ever shinier and more expensive and newer cars outnumbered older, used cars. After a couple more stagger steps there were almost no older, used cars at all.

I thought, what does this mean? Are people really making that much more money? Is this really the age of prosperity for everyone? But I noticed another trend in stagger steps on my periodic short trips back to the land where I was born. My slide show view of America revealed that credit scores had become almost a definition of net worth, or even a definition of personal merit. How and why did credit scores get to be so important all of a sudden? Well, given that the importance of credit scores and the percentage of new cars dovetailed perfectly, the conclusion was pretty obvious: people were not necessarily making any more money, they were just all going into debt, and what mattered to them was their ability to take on even more debt.

From my viewpoint, a number of transformations to the American panorama look very surprising, but the Americans haven’t had my slide show view and don’t seem to notice the changes. One transformation that drives me crazy is the change in number of that essential American word: Freedom. Throughout the history of America, freedom has always been expressed in the singular.

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.

Mr. Lincoln did not speak of freedoms. He spoke of freedom.

Freedom can be preserved only if it is treated as a supreme principle, which must not be sacrificed for particular advantages.

Mr. Hayek, who certainly understood the topic, did not speak of freedoms. He used the singular.

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.

Perhaps, Mr. Reagan, we didn’t manage to pass freedom on to the next generation because over the last twenty years, freedom has been replaced with freedoms. Freedoms imply something very different than freedom. George Dubya Bush spoke of freedoms almost daily, although he couldn’t pronounce the word very well. When he said it, it came out sounding like freedomsh. So what’s the difference between freedom and freedoms?

Freedom is an overarching state of being. It is a natural God-given right to owe no homage to any man or to any government. Under freedom every man is a king and no man is a king. Under freedom the government fears and obeys the voters, when freedom is in wane, the voters learn to fear and obey the government. Freedom touches and encompasses everything. It applies to our ability to move about the city, state and country. It informs our ability to do business as we wish, where we wish and with whom we wish. Freedom gives us the right to live as we will without having to comply with any codes of conduct. The only caveat to our freedom is that our actions cannot impinge on the freedom of others. As a free man I can do what I will, as long as it does not harm or restrain any of my fellows.

Freedoms, on the other hand, are enumerated rights. Freedoms are granted by the government and each is limited in scope and easily revoked upon the whim of the government. When the President speaks of defending our freedoms, what does he mean? Does he want to defend my natural right to do what I will as long as it doesn’t harm others? Apparently not, because if what I want to do is to smoke a marijuana cigarette, the presidents laws will threaten me with violence and lock me up. If I care to build a restaurant on a second floor balcony over looking the street that does not have an elevator, than the government will close it because I have violated the freedoms of a person who cannot walk up the stairs. Apparently the freedoms of that person trump mine, and the state uses violence or its threat to take away my freedom so that another may decide what I do with my property. That’s not freedom. Its freedoms.

As a country we now exercise one of our freedoms to go and kill people on the other side of the world who never did anything to us and never could. And we are told that defends our freedoms. In order for our freedoms to be properly defended we do have to give up the right to habeus corpus, we also have to give up the right to have private conversations, we have to give up the right to have our property inviolate without a court order. It seems to me that while I was in Chile, Americans traded in their freedom for a short list of freedoms.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Biggest Threat To Freedom is War

"Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."

James Madison

Stop the wars! Close the foreign bases!

The threats to America are not solved by the wars and the overseas military presence, they are caused by the wars and the overseas military presence.

What did Smedley Butler, America's greatest war hero, have to say about war? He said "War is a racket"

If you value freedom, if you want government to stop the fraud and live within its means, then this election cycle vote for an antiwar candidate. So far only two antiwar candidates have announced: Gary Johnson, ex-governor of New Mexico and Ron Paul, the champion of the Constitution.

Donate to one of these men. Get off your butt and volunteer to work in their campaigns. Get the word out that our freedom depends on ending the Endless War.

And God bless you all.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ron Paul 2012: In Defense of Liberty

Doctor Paul needs to be careful. As he gets closer to winning the election I fear for his safety and for the future of our Republic.

Tom Woods says at 2:50 of this video "This is just going to shake the establishment. They do not want this guy running for President". Its funny now, but honestly if it looks like Dr. Paul is going to win the Republican Primary, I think that his life will be in danger. And the assassin will not be a nutcase like John Hinkley, but rather a CIA or contract murderer.

Maybe that sounds paranoid, but think about this, will the defense contractors, the generals waiting to retire to big bucks in Washington think tanks, the CIA and NSA just quietly let Dr. Paul disassemble the Empire?

Watch your back old man. May God protect you from all harm. May His mantle cover you and keep you safe from the enemies of freedom.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Jack Hunter and Judge Napolitano: The similarity between neocons like Bill Kristol and liberal internationalists like Obama and Hillary Clinton

Here's what I think. A lot of America's conservatives aren't very bright. They are easily led around by anyone who can use the right symbols and key words. I mean politicians like the team of McCain/Palin that ran for the White House against the Peace Laureate, and their followers. They have good intentions. They know that they want small government and individual liberty but they have been sold the patently absurd notion that America faces multiple existential dangers from around the world that require half of all the world's expenditure on war and intelligence. Its absurd. Ridiculous. Suicide terrorists do not and could not ever pose an existential danger to the USA even if they were armed with an atomic weapon, which could never happen anyway.

The USA also faces no existential danger from any organized military in the world and could not even if American expenditures dropped to $100 Billion a year on defense/intelligence. We have an ocean to the east and the west, Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. We have aircraft, missiles, ships, submarines and satellites that can see any incursion into our territory and blow it out of the sky or the water long before it reaches our country. (Not our Homeland. We are not Nazis for goodness sakes).

So the conservatives have been snowed into a militaristic orthodoxy against their best interests. Who has done this? Two parties have done this. From the practical, financial side it has been the Military Industrial Complex that Eisenhower warned us about. But the MIC was missing something important, and that was the intellectual angle. There needed to be intellectual support for the Permanent War State. And that was provided by the Straussian neocons.

The neoconservative movement was initiated by men who purposely and consciously abandoned leftist, socialist policies to convince America's conservatives that had already been softened up by the pro-CIA Bill Buckley, that what was needed was a big military and a worldwide presence. They invented the dangers posed by the collapsing Soviet Empire in the '80s that convinced the US to support and arm the mujehaddin that then became the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Now they continue to point out terrible existential dangers posed by bearded men in turbans. Bill Kristol is the dean of this group and he continues to convince conservatives to support unlimited war and unlimited war spending.


So what does this rant have to do with the video that I hope you watched? It is this: no one should be surprised that Bill Kristol, Hillary and Barack are all on the same page. They come from the same place. All three are statists. All three believe in big government. Bill Kristol has identified himself as a big-government conservative, which is an oxymoron. Anyone who thinks Kristol is any kind of conservative is just a regular moron without the oxy.

It is natural for people who believe that the state is a force for good to desire to apply the force of the state to any and all problems. The progressive pragmatists in this administration want to solve problems, and not just our own problems. They want to solve everybody's problems and that leads them to use force. It leads them to kill people for their own good. And, not surprisingly, it leads them into perfect alignment with Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer and Dick Cheney. They have the same world-view and they are natural allies.

The real right, that is what intellectuals are still left after the pogroms of the last twenty years, needs to use this budding alliance between Kristol and the administration - between neocons and progressives - to show that the Permanent War State is NOT conservative and must be abandoned.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snatched From The Jaws Of The Mighty Puelo - Update

Following is a link to an update of the post about saving our cabin from the fury of the mighty Puelo. Before going on I would like to mention with great sadness that the Puelo River recently killed another two people in December. Víctor Alegría and Patricio Vera left Puerto Urrutía on the Puelo to return home to Segundo Corral in early December. There are no roads for motor vehicles, so these experienced cowboys headed home to Segundo Corral on horseback, but something happened when they crossed the Ventisquero branch of the Puelo and they were lost. The crossing is only about two miles from our cabin. Alegría and Vera's horses showed up at a neighbor's house later that day and people began to search for the two men. The police arrived the next day and then the Navy, both with divers. Mr. Vera's body was found the next day in the Ventisquero, but Mr. Alegría's body wasn't found for another two weeks. By that time the government had given up and private divers found Mr. Alegría. Please say a prayer for these two fine, innocent men.

I personally know eleven people that have died in the Puelo River. The river and its valley are beautiful beyond description. At least in part that is because the river and valley are untamed. They are as free as the people who live in its valley. Freedom is not without danger. The reaction of the "civilized" is to tame that which is dangerous, but that leaves us without freedom. Freedom requires us to take care of ourselves and sometimes we fail to do so. The consequences can be fatal. I'll take freedom anyway, and so did Alegría and Vera, may they rest in peace.


Here is La Salavada with my family, a cousin, a neighbor and the workmen that helped us rebuild. Here's the link to the update.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

War - Edwin Starr

Where are the protests against war today? What has happened to our musicians and artists?