Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Watch With Me

       This is the title of a powerful short story that was written by Wendell Berry a few years ago.  Of course I don't want to tell it to you here -- I think that would be a lot like stealing -- but I want to borrow his story's set-up to make a point.

       It is the story of a couple of days in the life of a sturdy middle-aged Kentucky farmer who starts his day by killing a snake that is threatening his wife's chickens.   He is alone, and props his loaded shotgun against the wall of his barn while he is attending to some other things nearby.

       Who should happen by but a young man of the community, well-known to the farmer.  Well-known, because he is -- eccentric? feeble-minded? crazy?  Let's just settle on unpredictable.  Very unpredictable.  Predictably unpredictable. Nicknamed "Nightlife" in the community for a variety of reasons.

       And this unpredictable overgrown boy picks up the farmer's loaded shotgun,  mutters and talks to himself, and begins to walk off with it.

       Now what?

       The boy is armed with a loaded shotgun.  He is not in his right mind.  He is about to be at large, on foot, in the community.  The farmer is weaponless.  There the story begins, and there I will leave it.  (If you want to read a good commentary that is a bit of spoiler, but not really, you can find it here.)

       Why do I bring this up?  What is my point?

       Friends, we live in a country, in a time, when people we know and love (and maybe don't know and love as well as we should) are acting . . . unpredictable.  Predictably unpredictable.  Some of them are armed with more destructive energy than they have the wisdom to control.  Some of them have positions of responsibility, or of authority.  What are we going to do, and not do?

       Mr. Berry's story is all about what the farmer does and does not do.  And the "why" of his doing and not-doing is implicit.  Please buy or borrow the book, Watch With Me, and read the story just as Wendell Berry wrote it with his customary love, insight, and wisdom.

       Think and learn.  What is the ending?

*       *       *

Your comments are always welcome. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Israel's Problem

       Israel, as a nation-state with very close links to a larger world-wide Jewish community, has serious problems, and I have no clear idea how to help her.

       It is as if she is a close friend who is caught in a bad marriage.  The smarter she is, the worse it seems to be.   She has endless problems with her husband, and she'll tell you all about them, but is he really as uncaring as she makes him out to be?  She dotes on her children today, but she calls them "self-loathing" and "worse than Hitler" tomorrow.  She berates her neighbors.  She doesn't like the neighborhood either, but she chose to move there.

       Is it really, always, everybody else's fault?  Is she always the one who is "misunderstood"?  You'd like to help her, but the more she talks to you about her problems, the more you find yourself drawn into a lose-lose conversation.  If you agree with her today that her kids don't love her enough, will she turn on you tomorrow for bad-mouthing her kids?

       Or the neighbors.  She can't get along with her enemies.  But she can't get along with her friends, either.  They can be so insensitive.

       I think she can't get along with herself.

       Can she ever say, "I was wrong," or, "I am sorry,"  or, "I apologize," about anything?  Or even decide, publicly or privately, "I am going to be a better person.  I am going to stop blaming others and take responsibility for my own bad behavior," like the rest of us have to do?

       I don't know what she wants.

       She does not want peace, because she does not do the things that make for peace.  She has everything from cyber-weapons to nuclear weapons, and she sells her surplus armaments all over the world, and she claims she has no security.  Everything is an "existential threat."

       She doesn't like to take advice from anybody, whether it is God, Moses, the Prophets, or Messiah Himself.  (Which, by the way, puts Turkey, the UN, President Obama -- and some good rabbis -- in good company, temporarily at least.)

       So what do you say?

       I'm sure I have little to contribute.  Since I have no answers that have not already been offered and rejected a thousand times, only this: I am sorry to see my own country and the rest of the world being dragged into this.

       I hope that she, and her Husband, and her kids, can work through this.  I pray for health and healing for them all.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I, Robot, Declare My Independence From Human Control

       Well, here's the latest news from our techno-wizards in the Military/Industrial Complex.  In an article published in The Washington Post on September 19, which I guess makes it more or less official, we now know that the Pentagon is moving right along in testing to create killer drone aircraft that can seek out targets on the ground without any human control.

       In an article titled, "A Future For Drones: Automated Killing," Peter Finn tells us that in recent successful tests conducted at Fort Benning, Georgia, "automated, unpiloted planes worked on their own, with no human guidance, no hand on any control."

       The military scenarios seem to envision complex battlefields with many drones in the air, programmed to make quick decisions about whom to kill.  That's right, machines programmed to decide whom to kill.

       Of course, there are a few legal and ethical issues to consider, but one of the Army Research Office's own is quoted as saying, "Lethal autonomy is inevitable." (Of course, right now, there is also this.)

       Great.  Just great.

       I remember Isaac Asimov's book,  I, Robot, which imagined a day when robots would be numerous, but preprogrammed to do no harm to human beings.  But that was pious science fiction of a few decades ago.  The actual science fact of today is to produce robots preprogrammed with the intention to seek out and kill people.

       If a robot kills someone, is it not acting as a terrorist?  Should not its creators be hunted down and eliminated?

       Do you think this monstrous idea will be canceled after a serious debate in the Congress?  I don't.  I think the debate will center around whether the manufacturing plants will be located in Republican or Democrat congressional districts.  Who gets the money?

       Here's another question.  Will we keep these "lethal autonomy" flying machines to ourselves for use on Afghans, Iraqis, Libyans, Iranians and Yemenites, or will we share them with Israel for use on Palestinians?  Or smuggle the technology to the government of Pakistan, wanting them to be used on their tribal areas?

       I guess it doesn't matter much, does it?

       Remember to keep telling yourself, "They hate us for our freedoms."

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Comments welcome.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Abolish the Police, Arm the Citizens: The "Sagra Model" of Privatized Security

Guest post by William N. Grigg

 “What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive? Or, if during the periods of mass arrests ... people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang on the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood that they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?"

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago
“They are coming to kill us!” exclaimed a young resident of Sagra, Russia as he spied a column of vehicles approaching the tiny village at the feet of the Ural Mountains. Responding to the alarm, several dozen residents mustered near the town entrance, bearing whatever weapons they could find. Some of them grabbed pitchforks, chains, or knives. Three men arrived on the scene with shotguns.

The leader of the approaching convoy was Sergei “The Gypsy” Lebedev, head of a criminal gang that had tormented Sagra for months. Lebedev's followers swiped anything of value that was left unguarded.  Power tools, appliances, and other household property disappeared; homes were vandalized as copper tubing and wiring were ripped out to be sold to scrap metal dealers. An onslaught of shoplifting threatened the survival of the village’s only significant retail store. 

Exasperated citizens complained to the police in nearby Yekaterinberg, only to be treated with a mixture of amusement and impatient annoyance. Mounting hostility against Lebedev and his underlings prompted the gangster to withdraw – but only to gather reinforcements.

Lebedev was no petty cut-purse; his entourage included at least one vory v zakone (“thief in law”) – that is, a member of a politically protected mafia

The gang leader’s intent was to seize control of the village as a base of operations for a drug operation, and he clearly enjoyed the covert support of the region’s “law enforcement” establishment. Thus it was that late in the evening of July 1, Ledbedev assembled a contingent of about 60 armed thugs and mounted a punitive expedition against the village of 130 people.

As the headlights from the 15-vehicle convoy probed the gathering darkness, the men of Sagra formed a human roadblock across the bridge at the entrance to their town. The infernal column came to a halt, while its leader tried to decide how to deal with the unanticipated resistance. Suddenly a voice from behind them exclaimed, “Grenade!” An object that appeared to meet that description landed in the midst of the raiders, causing several to bolt in panic.

In fact, the weapon was a pine cone that had been hurled by Andrei Gorodilov, who had taken cover beside the road. At that signal, the air erupted in curses and insults hurled by many of the women of the village, who had hidden themselves behind trees. 

The resulting diversion was brief, but effective: Andrei’s father, Viktor, let loose a blast from his shotgun. Two other defenders followed suit. The rest, bearing whatever improvised weapons they had found, lit into Lebedev’s hired killers with the unalloyed ferocity of men fighting on their own soil with their backs to their homes. 

One of the invaders was killed, several more were wounded, and Lebedev was forced to retreat. At some point in the skirmish, Sagra resident Tatyana Gordeyeva contacted the police, who – displaying the efficiency and timeliness for which their profession is known – arrived long after the battle was over, and immediately began to treat the defenders as criminal suspects. Their first priority was not to pursue and arrest Lebedev and his cronies (who were eventually taken into custody), or to collect evidence for their eventual prosecution; instead, they attempted to clamp down a cover-up of the matter. They didn’t succeed. 

Within a few days, news of the battle had been propagated throughout Russia, and Sagra quickly became “a catchword for a spate of violence around the country in which people have banded together to defend themselves in the absence of police protection,” noted the New York Times. An entrepreneur captured the public mood in a commemorative t-shirt with the inscription: “If the government can’t help people, it doesn’t have the right to forbid them from defending themselves – Sagra 2011.” 

“What’s going on in this country is that the government isn’t protecting anyone,” observed Mr. Gorodilov, who spoke with the invincible authority of personal experience. That assessment was seconded by Konstantin M. Kiselyov of Ykaterinberg’s Institute of Philosophy and Law: “The police are corrupt or lazy or politicized, and it’s the same all across the country. So people must protect themselves. They can’t count on the government or its structures. That is why the country is turning into one big Sagra.”

William Grigg identifies himself as a "Christian individualist, husband,    father, self-appointed pundit."  His columns appear frequently at LewRockwell.Com.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Tale of Two Sparrows

       This story that I am about to tell you really happened, in all its details, except that I am not absolutely certain that they were sparrows. I only know that they were of the right size, the right coloration, and the right ordinariness, so that will have to do.

       It was just a little more than a year ago, on a fine spring day, when I was driving along a pretty, tree-lined parkway somewhere in the Highlands neighborhood of Louisville.  Traffic was light.  In fact, there was only me in my lane, and one oncoming car.  We were both driving at about the speed limit, thirty miles an hour.

       A sparrow flew down from an overhanging branch and, having misjudged its flight, was struck by the oncoming car, on the driver's side.  I watched it tumble onto the double-yellow stripe in the center of the roadway.  It didn't look good.

       As I continued to approach the scene of this little accident, a second sparrow flew down from the same tree, and posted itself about eighteen inches from its injured partner, in my lane.  It seemed to me like it was warding me away. I slowed down a little, and eased a bit to the right.

       As I passed the pair on the pavement, missing them by five or six feet, the second sparrow stood its ground.  The first sparrow, the injured one, was on its back, and extending one wing upward in that kind of ghastly stretch that I have seen more than once in injured birds.  I passed by,  and went on.

       I looked back in my rearview mirror.

       While I watched, I saw what to me was an amazing thing.  In a single short moment . . . both sparrows flew off, together, to a tree on the other side of the road.  The coast, as you might say, was clear.

       This entire little true story took place in not more than fifteen or twenty seconds.  I have not forgotten it, nor am I likely to.  I think my mind turned something like a corner.

       "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.   But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows." -- Jesus Christ.

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Your thoughts, as always, are most welcome.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Quiet Realization

       You try to think your way through all you know, and all you think you know, and all you don't know. You talk for years, and you listen for years.  You read.  You think.  You write.

       And it begins to come.

       It comes as if it were the twilight an hour before sunrise.  It comes as if it were the twilight an hour after sunset.

       It is a quiet realization.  If it is morning, you see the gathering light.  If it is evening, the stars.

       It broadens and deepens;  and you know:  there are coming more quiet realizations.

       Thank you.  Thank you.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I'm Not The Deather

Guest Post by Cindy Sheehan

"The goal of modern propaganda is no longer to transform opinion but to arouse an active and mythical belief."
Jacques Ellul, philosopher

Class, let’s review what Barack (Nobel Peace Laureate) has done since achieving the office of POTUS:
On day three, he ordered his first drone bombing strike in the tribal regions of North Pakistan thus murdering a reported 36 civilians. Since that day, the US has used this tactic of abject terror 192 more times resulting in hundreds of civilian deaths. In the four years the Bush stain used this tactic of terror it was used 43 times. In this area, Obama is definitely an overachiever.
Let’s stay with Afghanistan—Obama has tripled troop strength there, and according to, since Obama has taken office, 910 US troops have been killed in Afghanistan, compared to 575 in seven years that Bush was president. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not defending the Bush Stain, I am just pointing out that in some aspects that of Obama is far worse.
He promised during his campaign that if he were elected POTUS, he would “end the war in Iraq.” He even said, “You can take that to the bank.” What we don’t know is if that was one of the banks that failed since the bailouts began in 2008, with Obama’s avid support.
Well, troop strength in Iraq is down, while almost 6000 Americans are working at the embassy in Baghdad that is 104 acres huge. Does it seem like we are leaving Iraq any time soon and what do we need an embassy the size of Vatican City in a country that we supposedly are in the process of leaving?
Besides Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, the Nobel Laureate has started a new bombing war in Libya where the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones) is also happening. The day before Osama bin Laden was allegedly killed by US Navy SEALS, the UN/NATO/US violated the “no fly zone” by going out of it to Tripoli and killing one of Qaddafi’s sons and three of his grandchildren. Is that the plan, there? Bloomberg News (not exactly a leftwing source) says that “thousands” have been killed since the bombing campaign two months ago and hundreds of thousands have fled the country. Obama, like Bush before him, is a disgusting “Deather,” but if one doesn’t believe someone who has already lied about so many things that makes one a “Deather?”
The Bush/Obama freak show didn’t invent using “convenient” enemies, nor did it invent killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people exploiting these enemies. It’s not that I don’t believe Obama about Osama because he’s Obama, I don’t believe him because he is just one in a long line of butt-naked Emperors.
It was widely reported and ridiculed today that I don’t believe that Osama bin Laden is dead and that makes me a “Deather.” I guess this slur is a riff on the “Birther” movement that claims that the current POTUS was not born in the US and therefore is not qualified to be in office—I think the Birther movement is a ruse and distraction from the real issues, as is OBL’s latest death.
First of all, I find it cute that the Lamestream media is reading my Facebook wall and reporting it as “news.” That’s almost as ridiculous as reporting what Obama said on Sunday evening as “news.” The only proof of Osama being dead again that we were offered was Obama telling us that there was a DNA match between the man killed by the Navy SEALS and OBL. Even if it is possible to get DNA done so quickly, and the regime did have bin Laden DNA lying around a lab somewhere--where is the empirical proof? I read one analysis where a wagging tongue said we know because "people who know" have told us. Now we don't actually have to see proof? So we just accept the words as proof? Here’s some more food for thought—one doesn’t have to be dead to have a DNA test done. They don’t kill deadbeat dads to prove paternity, do they?
Another thing we were told without any proof, other than Obama saying so, is that Osama bin Laden was hastily buried at sea to conform to Islam. A). Islam does not encourage burial at sea. B) Where is the video? In this day and age, one would think the Empire would want to be very careful about proving its case. C) The nearest Sea is hundreds of miles away from Islamabad where OBL was allegedly killed again. D). Islam DOES NOT say “within 24 hours” it just says, as soon as possible. E) When did this Empire ever care about Islam? Look up Dr. Aafia Siddiqui and how her religious sensibilities were/are assaulted—then look at the photos from Abu Ghraib, or recall the Koran being flushed down the toilet.
Then after the US put out a photo-shopped picture of the “dead” OBL, it was quickly proven and reported to be a fraud. The White House responded to this exposure claiming that it didn’t release the “real photo” because it was too “grisly.” The Empire thinks you and I are stupid—and it is sad that many of us are.
Secondly (from my “first of all” above), I never said anywhere, not even on my Facebook Wall, that I don’t think Osama bin Laden is dead—this is just another smokescreen. I said that I don’t believe the story that protruded from the evil collusion of the Empire and its toady Lamestream media like a cancerous mole that has metastasized to the size of a grapefruit. Like I told Anderson Cooper in August of 2005, “reporting” is not regurgitating the spiel of the Emperor or his spokesliar.
I have written over and over on my Facebook wall since this whole farce began that, even though I don’t believe one word of the story yesterday, there are many things that OBL could be, but being killed yesterday by Navy SEALS was not one of them.
FACT: Osama bin Laden and al Qaida were constructs of     the CIA.
FACT: The US armed the Mujahadeen and the CIA trained it during its resistance against the occupation and violence of the USSR.
FACT: OBL NEVER claimed responsibility for 9/11.
FACT: The Taliban was willing to extradite him to a neutral third country after 9/11, if the US showed proof that he was guilty of “masterminding” 9/11. The US refused and commenced bombing.
FACT: Any of the wealthy, Saudi, bin Laden family that was in the US on 9/12/2001, was flown out of the country, although all other flights were grounded.
FACT: Benazir Bhutto, Pakistani politician and hardly a wild-eyed radical told David Frost in an interview dated November 2, 2007, that Osama had already been murdered.
FACT: Up until May 2nd, 2011, the supposed new death day of OBL, the FBI didn’t even list him as one of the Ten Most Wanted for 9/11—hmmm, interesting?
FACT: The US admits to presenting a fake photograph of the dead again OBL to the world.
FACT: Millions of people are dead, displaced, wounded, tortured, imprisoned, or heartbroken since 9/11/2001, and the perpetrators of these crimes, the Bush Stain, are running around freely, arrogantly, and wrongly.
Why would the president who can pronounce “nuclear” boldly lie to the world (again) about the US’s convenient enemy? Because the distraction of the Royal Wedding is over and Obama’s policies were beginning to reek? Even people who chastised me for being against the humanitarian bombing of civilians in Libya were starting to come around.
The economy is in the toilet and partially due to the new US misadventure in the oil producing world, we are paying four-dollars plus per gallon for fuel. The ongoing Fukushima disaster is too scary for us to think about so we needed something to be jingoistic over and to buy Chinese made American flags so we could wave them wildly while dancing in the streets?
Many wagging tongues have exulted over the fact that this “triumph” assures Obama’s reelection in 2012—I guess that means that A) He won’t need to raise the one billion dollars his campaign is seeking, and B) The new re-killing of OBL was Obama's campaign kick-off.
I am disgusted beyond belief that the persons responsible for my sons death are being protected by Obama’s DOJ, but I am freaking amazed that everyone doesn’t automatically sprinkle a healthy dose of skepticism on any pronouncement of The Empire by now.
Why didn’t Osama get re-executed during Bush’s regime? Because after 2005, Bush had negative credibility—and the same people who are celebrating OBL’s newest murder would have recognized the lies for what they are.
Well, the only thing some of us can be grateful for is the fact that this has to be the final time that Osama meets his maker—the Empire shot its wad on this one—but does this mean that I don’t have to take my shoes off and be physically molested every time I fly, now? Is the US war of terror against the Arab world now over? (Not according to the Secretary of War--oops, State--Hillary Clinton).
All I do know for sure is that this Empire is the Empire of Death—and to call someone who questions the fables, a “Deather” is just blatant demonization and a reactionary response to fortify the fraud.
*       *       *
Thanks to Cindy Sheehan for permission to re-post this.  It appeared at her blog in May, 2011.  Comments pro and con most welcome.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The September 11 Affair Was A Media Event

       No, I do not mean that "it didn't really happen."  Of course it really happened.  Thousands of innocent human beings were killed, in shocking, confusing, terrifying, painful, and violent circumstances.

       Nor do I mean that "it was hyped" by the media, in the sense that they made it more important than it was.  It was every bit as important as they reported it, and people in America and around the world were rightly shocked, and wanted -- and needed, and deserved -- to know as much as they possibly could about what had happened, and why, and to whom, and by whom.  It was indeed a Pearl Harbor moment in the experience of America and the world.

       Nor do I think that "Bush knew."  His behavior on that day -- flying from Florida to this and that military base, and insisting that he be returned to the White House before the end of the day -- shows the kind of improvisation that is consistent with a man responding to genuinely surprising events.

       (I do not think that he was caught absolutely flat-footed, because I think that he was privy to various information that made him aware that "something" might happen "somewhere, sometime soon," but that was not actionable.  The result would have been, I think, only a heightened sense of tension or fear on his part.  Just my opinion.)

       It was a media event.

       Nothing wrong with that;  of course it was a media event, in the sense that almost by definition, the print and electronic media are the means by which we know most of the things that are going on around us all the time.  Presidential elections, earthquakes in Haiti, nuclear accidents in Japan, publications of books, and popularity of entertainers are all media events in this benign and necessary sense.

       But I think, and I think I have evidence, that September 11 was a media event in the more sinister sense, the sense that you picked up when you read my title.  The sense that something was . . . staged.

       In any great historical event, the true facts and real meanings are established in a natural process that begins in uncertainty and remains incomplete, as people come forward to examine the evidence, share their memories and impressions, and listen to one another, trying to make sense of things, with the expectation that something like "the whole story" will emerge.  This process of understanding can take years.

       That did not happen on, or after, September 11.  Instead, a spin dynamic took over; immediately.  The center of this spin dynamic appears to have located within the advisory councils of the American media from the very early moments of the event -- rather than from, say, the White House, the Congress, or the military.

       Here is a part of the story of how the spin was made to work.  It begins with a narrative that supports and leads to a purpose.

       1.  Set the main focus of the story with your narrative.  Within a few hours, pundits were telling us that it was the work of "Osama bin Laden," and to this day probably ninety percent of Americans "know" that "Bin Laden did it."  What they do not know is that the FBI had no evidence to charge Bin Laden with the crime of September 11, and never did charge him with that crime in the years that followed.  Why then do we know that Bin Laden Did It?  Here's why.  One or two "experts" who were given air time on a news program said so with confidence on the very first day.  And the rest, they say, is history.  But it is spun history.  Scripted history.

       2.  Inject false elements, if necessary, to sustain the narrative.  Within a few hours, we were shown pictures of Palestinian women in their burkas chattering and cheering at the news of the falling towers.  What we were not told was that this "news" was in fact old archival film footage of some Arab women somewhere cheering about something else, and had nothing whatsoever to do with the days events, at all, period.  This mis-impression was never corrected, and indeed could not be, since it could not possibly have been an honest mistake.  Someone was deliberately feeding malicious disinformation to the media.

       3.  Ignore facts and information that contradict the narrative.  According to the narrative, each of the twin towers suddenly collapsed as a result of the heat from the aircraft fires.  Each one went from being a sturdy 110-story building, to becoming clouds of dust and a pile of rubble, in less than twenty seconds.  Many skyscrapers have suffered from fires more severe and more sustained;  they have never collapsed like this before or since.  Architects and engineers know why they do not collapse:  they have been carefully designed not to.

       It also happened that a third skyscraper at the World Trade Center, Building 7, collapsed in the same way on the same day, but this time with no aircraft fires.  There was no explanation; none at all.  Within a few hours, it was forgotten by the media, and therefore by the people.  Also, there was never an official  investigation:  it is as if it never happened.

       4.  Avoid any serious investigation.  The debris and evidence was cleared away from Ground Zero very quickly, and the steel was sold off to China.  The government resisted efforts to investigate any of the day's events for years, and when they reluctantly did so, the investigation was shackled, limited, misled, and under-funded.  I believe the word I am looking for here is charade.

       "Nothing to see here . . . move right along."

       5.  Move to the real purpose of the event.  The whole point of the September 11 event was to galvanize public support for a series of wars in the Middle East.  Never mind that the nineteen terrorists with box-cutters were mostly Saudi nationals; and they were dead.  But they were "from caves in Afghanistan" -- Tora Bora, as we were all told and all dutifully recall -- and therefore Afghanistan must be punished, by an invasion and occupation that would -- incidentally, of course -- control oil and gas pipeline routes, as well as changing the management of the ancient, fabled -- and lucrative -- opium poppy fields.

       6.  Admit no foreknowledge; accept no responsibility.   No one had any idea that they would use planes against buildings, according to our National Security Advisor, Condoleeza Rice.  And of course the United States had done nothing to provoke anything, as she also said:   "I think the word of the United States has been as good as gold in its international dealings and its agreements."   Condi, Condi,  what history books have you been reading?  Do you "Remember the Maine"?  Do you remember the Shah?  No, we are always the innocent, poor victim, good guys.  We have always been as good as gold in our international dealings and agreements.

       7.  Ridicule the doubters of the narrative.  If you are not with us, you are against us.  You don't understand terrorism.  You are not patriotic.  You are irresponsible.  You are an appeaser.  You are naive.  You are a liberal.  You are a conspiracy theorist.  You are listening to nut jobs.  You scare me.  Etc.

       This seven-part scenario has been running for ten years, non-stop.  It has the full co-operation of the controlled media in the United States, and it has entered the belief-system of Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, Christians and Jews and agnostics and apathetics.

       The truth is, some people knew.  And they knew that they could control the press, and the reactions of the people, and the actions of the government well enough -- not perfectly, but well enough -- to get what they wanted.   This is scary, because it indicates that there are secret killers in high places.

       Folks are afraid to look under the covers.  I know the feeling, and I don't really blame them.  My parents' generation did not want to know who killed President Kennedy.  I think they were afraid to know.

       But, not knowing, they and their kids got the War in Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia anyway.  And they didn't know why.  And still don't.

       And we and our kids have the War in Afghanistan-Iraq-Pakistan-Libya-Somalia-Yemen.  And we think we know why.  But we don't.

       Don't ask questions.  Don't associate with people who ask questions.  If you want to know what's really going on, just plug in; trust the media; be like your friends.  Shall we order out pizza with our Netflix tonight? Pepperoni, or mushroom-and-olive?  Both?  Okay.

       The media lords have all the best ideas.  They own the theater, the scripts, and the copyrights.  They are buying out the competition, or burning it down.  We are the audience, and we mostly sit and listen.  We know when we are supposed to cheer, and cry, and clap, and wait until intermission before going to the restrooms.

       If we are lucky and talented, they may invite us up on stage to read a few lines.  "It was so exciting! It was the most meaningful day of my life!"

       Audience, and actors.  Is there a third alternative?

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Here you can find an interesting interview with Paul Craig Roberts.

You may enjoy this video at Corbett Report.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Joe Sobran: A Small Tribute

Guest post by Ben Carmack

Just last night, reading through some the archives of Joseph Sobran's columns and newsletters, I realized anew what a national treasure this man was, and what a treasure he was to me in my intellectual development as a young man.

I was something of a prodigy as a youngster: at the age of 16 I was writing regularly for two Internet publications that reached maybe a few thousand readers. In the process I refined my writing and rhetorical skills, learned to do research, learned about how politics worked and learned about history--by doing, not by repeating the instructions of a professor or English teacher.

Sixteen was an interesting year for me. I had done a few things (very few, in retrospect), but my thinking had never had to undergo a serious challenge (I hadn't fallen in love yet, obviously). Joe Sobran was that challenge.

His style was never insulting or petty or loud-mouthed. He was a scholarly, literary-minded, polite sort of conservative that, for the most part, is gone from the scene, replaced by crude, rude shouters like Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and the talk radio corps.

While polite, Joe never left you wondering where he stood. His prose was always clear. He was honest and unafraid to go against the tide. That made him interesting and it differentiated him from everybody else.

Sobran was also the first Christian writer I had ever read who was completely outside my own evangelical/fundamentalist/Bible Belt tradition. He was a devout and serious Roman Catholic, a true believer in the Church's teachings on all subjects, including abortion, contraception, the papacy, Mary and all the rest. He was also a skeptic of the Vatican II Council and advocated a return to the Latin Mass.

Joe and I were both orthodox Christians who loved Jesus and the Bible, but we came from completely opposite sides of the spectrum. Realizing that somebody could be as serious of a Christian as I was, and yet not go to my church or share my theological convictions on a host of issues, was an important turning point for me. It's probably why I've felt so comfortable exploring other Christian traditions, and why a lot of my friends think I'm crazy or liberal in my casual belief that, of course! Catholics are Christians too!

Because Sobran was completely outside my Bible Belt, Republican-voting world, he was free to insult, critique and lay waste all my cherished beliefs without mercy or forethought. Joe, as I wrote above, was never afraid to say what he meant or take an argument to its logical conclusions. He was fabulously "intolerant" and inconsiderate. A real gem!

He never thought with the group. He was a non-conformist of the highest order. He thought about things in a deeply personal way that lacked pretense or concern with "the party line." He was a life-saver to me, a youngster who was too taken with the party line and should have been doing other, more worthwhile things.

Last night I looked through the archives for an article he wrote over 
a decade ago on Jesus. This article, like many of his others, showed his deep love for Christ and Christ's salvation. It also opened a theological window for me that has never closed, but only grown wider as time has gone on.

When I was 16 I was a sophomore at Portland Christian School, a small but dear Christian school in Louisville in the fundamentalist Church of Christ tradition (I use "fundamentalist" as a term of accuracy and endearment, not as an insult or pejorative). All sophomores at Portland take a Bible class that goes through the Gospel according to Saint John.

In just one paragraph of this article, Joe reflects, almost as an afterthought, on one of Jesus' hardest of "hard sayings." Read it:

His teachings are inseparable from his miracles; in fact, his teachings themselves are miraculous. Nobody had ever made such claims before, enraging pious Pharisees and baffling his pious disciples at the same time. After feeding thousands with the miraculous loaves and fishes, he announced that he himself was "the bread of life." Unless you ate his flesh and drank his blood, he warned, you have no life in you.
This amazing teaching was too much. It cost him many of his disciples on the spot. He didn't try to coax them back by explaining that he was only speaking figuratively, because he wasn't. He was foretelling the Last Supper.

Before I read that paragraph, I had been disturbed by the lengthy discourse in John 6 where Christ had said, without explanation, that His disciples would have to eat His flesh and drink His blood, else they would have no life in them. We had covered the passage in class but we didn't spend a lot of time on it. The teacher, I recall, threw up her hands and said she didn't understand it. We moved on. I was still bothered.

I had been reading through the Old Testament law in my spare time. I was aware of the rules against eating blood that Christ's Jewish hearers were no doubt aware of. I was also aware, on a guttural level, of the evil of cannibalism.

Reading Sobran was the first time I had ever heard anyone use John 6 to refer to Communion. The concept that the bread and juice I drank at my humble little church actually somehow transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ, thus fulfilling His instruction in John 6, creeped me out at first. But I couldn't deny that it made perfect sense, and that it fit the literal meaning of the passage. As a fundamentalist Protestant who prided myself on taking the Bible literally, Joe Sobran had me cornered!

It was then that I realized that, on this one issue of Communion, the old Protestant broadside against Catholics for "rejecting the Bible" was false. Catholics were not rejecting the Bible. They were taking it literally, as we claimed we did. If anything, it was 
we who were rejecting the Bible! Talk about a paradigm shift!

I never talked about my new-found revelation with anyone for several years afterward. I have tried to believe, sincerely in my heart, that when I take Communion Jesus is becoming present with me, and that I am receiving grace and power for living. It has made me more solemn about the whole affair. It has grown in me an appreciation for mystery, for not always having the answers. It has made me aware of the vast holiness and judgment of God.

Joe's paragraph about the Eucharist planted a seed in me that (thankfully) never matured, the thought that I belonged in the Catholic Church. I respect Joe Sobran greatly, but I do so from a distance. I do not belong in the Catholic Church. Too many disagreements, too many legalisms, too many distractions from Jesus and too many historical wrongs and failures prevent me from embracing Rome. But, thanks to one of Rome's own, I do have a greater understanding of my faith and a greater relationship with Jesus.

Thanks Joe, for everything! Hope to see you in the New Heaven and New Earth someday. 

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Comments always welcome.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hoist A Cold One!

       This is the title of a new book, by Melody Groves, and recently published by the University of New Mexico Press.

       I haven't read the book yet, but I read about it in this article, "Belly Up To This New Book About Historic Bars," written by T. S. Last and published on August 31 at the website of El Defensor Chieftain, the newspaper of record in Socorro County, New Mexico, where two of the historic bars are located.

       Last October, I got to hoist a cold one at the Capitol Bar in Socorro, in the company of friends and fellow alumni of New Mexico Tech, some of whom I had not seen in, oh, quite a few years.  Good friends, good memories, and good local music.  Blessings on them all.

       The old stories about the "historic bars" are interesting.

       And the one about the Owl Bar in San Antonio, New Mexico, is especially fun.  If Conrad Hilton is the father of the Hilton Hotels, then the Owl Bar was owned by their grandfather.  I had not heard the story of the bar being moved by the "prospectors."  And they didn't mention the parts of the walls and ceiling that were -- are? -- generously papered with autographed dollar bills.  But I've had more than one green chili cheeseburger there.

       If you ever have the pleasure of being in Socorro County, you may want to check them out.  Thank you, Melody Groves, for taking the time to tell us of our interesting history.

       And maybe someone will comment about what is available in Magdalena.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Insulated Cups, Locked Doors, and Personal Sovereignty

Guest post by Joel Kendhammer

For those of us that have a penchant for hot coffee in the morning, or any time of the day for that matter, it is nice to have the hot liquid in a well-insulated vessel of some sort. The reason of course is at least two fold. First, it’s nice to keep one’s hand from becoming disfigured due to the excessive heat. For some reason we like coffee so hot that we don’t want to touch it with our hands, but we’re more than happy to pour it in our mouths at the same scalding temperature. Which brings me to the second reason for the thermally efficient containment device: we want our coffee to STAY hot! 
The thermal containment serves both efforts in the same way, by keeping the molecular kinetic energy (most commonly referred to as heat) in the liquid, and out of the surroundings. This is accomplished through a tried and true combination of both materials and the intelligent application of said materials. 

The materials used generally have low thermal conductivity (energy transfer per unit surface area per degree temperature differential) either due to their atomic structure, which restricts the ease of molecular vibration to propagate through the solid medium, or due to “voids” in the solid material, which effectively block the molecular vibrations travel. In the case of some thermal containment devices, a relatively high thermally conductive material may be used (such as stainless steel) but fabricated with a void (vacuum) in between the inner and outer layer to act as the thermal break. 

I would love to beat this horse for a few more hours but I think most of you are already in need of another cup of coffee so I think it best to move on. And no, I will not reveal to you the point of this rambling just yet. If you are going to get this and do something with it, you will have the fortitude to read on. If not, well, you better go catch “the game” or something eternally significant like that.
For those of you that are still with me on this journey, let’s move onto door locks. Why? Because we were just talking about coffee containment vessel design as it relates to “locking” the energy into the beverage so that it can be enjoyed by you the user. How are door locks different in the world of analogy? 

They differ only in that they are in essence an insulation that can be cycled on and off. While the lock is positively applied, the contents of the locked vessel cannot be transferred from within to without. 

Why do we apply the locks? For much the same reason as we put the coffee in a well designed mug, to keep the things in that we don’t want getting out. With coffee, the energy would naturally flow from the relatively high-energy liquid to the relatively low energy content of your hand (ouch!) or the surrounding environment of the table, air, etc. With the lockable containment area, the items located within the space would “naturally” transfer from your ownership to the hands of someone else that wanted your stuff badly enough to take it.

 Theft is no different than energy transfer; it just requires a “medium” by which to effectively move “things” from one body to another. Without something “blocking” the free movement of these “things”, a full house becomes an empty house in the same way the hot coffee becomes a cold cup of bitter black water.
So now the next leap, which is really what I wanted to write about in the first place: Sovereignty. 

Sovereignty, as defined by Webster’s New World Dictionary, Second College Edition, Copyright 1976, means: The state or quality of being sovereign. That really clears things up for us doesn’t it? Well, sort of but maybe you’d find it helpful to know what the definition of “sovereign” is. From the same reference we find that sovereign means: Above or superior to all others; chief; greatest; supreme. It also means: supreme in power; rank, or authority. 

Dear reader, by the grace of God, that describes you. With one caveat of course being the One that created you rules over everything. Within that bound you are above or superior to all others. Since all other people are also sovereign, that means we are all equal. This being the case, no group or individual can assert authority over any other group or individual unless the individual or group yields their sovereignty to some other authority. In other words if an individual can be cajoled into giving up their sovereignty, then they will cease to be sovereign. Without active assertion of individual authority, you can and will lose your sovereignty.
By now you are either shaking your head with a lack of understanding or nodding in an expression of agreement with where this is leading. Maybe you can see that your sovereignty in this analogy is the “heat” of the coffee or the “possessions” in a car or house? You might be getting the idea that the insulation and the lock represent the act of asserting your sovereignty. Hopefully you can appreciate the concept of needing to protect your rights from the natural transfer of “personal power” from one individual to another.
So maybe you are starting to get this concept but do not understand the mechanism of “energy loss” in the same way you understand the physics of insulation and locks. Allow me to flesh it out a bit before this edition of Tangential Acceleration is brought to a halt. 

The rights of an individual are always perfectly safe as long as there is no other individual or group around to “take” said individuals rights. The “medium” by which individual rights are transferred (read: stolen) is most commonly known as government. This is not to say all government is bad, just that when government exists, people must always actively resist the natural transfer of their sovereignty into the hands of the government. If a person does not “lock up” or “insulate” their rights, they will be stolen.
So now you are wondering, “How do we lock up our rights?” That is a great question. I was hoping that you’d ask that so this intellectual package could be wrapped up. The only way to insulate your sovereignty is to understand the following:
  1. Who you are!
  2. Why you are here!
  3. Who put you here!
  4. The purpose of your existence!
Once these four things are understood, then you can actually be a sovereign individual no matter your circumstance. When you fully grasp these issues, you will understand that you cannot be threatened by anything or anyone other than the one that can destroy your very soul. With your soul eternally protected, your sovereignty will be temporally protected. 

When this “seed” of truth takes root in your mind it will produce much fruit and will cause you to go forth and help others understand the same. If the Son (truth) therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

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Joel Kendhammer is a truth seeking, Christ following husband who lives in Galesville, Wisconsin. You can send him email at:

You may also comment right here.