Here we go again.
Last week, the country’s biggest mortgage lenders scored a couple of key victories that will allow them to ease lending standards, crank out more toxic assets, and inflate another housing bubble. Here’s what’s going on.
On Monday, the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Mel Watt, announced that Fannie and Freddie would slash the minimum down-payment requirement on mortgages from 5 percent to 3 percent while making loans more available to people with spotty credit. If this all sounds hauntingly familiar, it should. It was less than 7 years ago that shoddy lending practices blew up the financial system precipitating the deepest slump since the Great Depression. Now Watt wants to repeat that catastrophe by pumping up another credit bubble. Here’s the story from the Washington Post:
“When it comes to taking out a mortgage, two factors can stand in the way: the price of the mortgage,…and the borrower’s credit profile.”
On Monday, the head of the agency that oversees the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac outlined … how he plans to make it easier for borrowers on both fronts. Mel Watt, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, did not give exact timing on the initiatives. But most of them are designed to encourage the industry to extend mortgages to a broader swath of borrowers.
Here’s what Watt said about his plans in a speech at the Mortgage Bankers Association annual convention in Las Vegas:
Saving enough money for a downpayment is often cited as the toughest hurdle for first-time buyers in particular. Watt said that Fannie and Freddie are working to develop “sensible and responsible” guidelines that will allow them to buy mortgages with down payments as low as 3 percent, instead of the 5 percent minimum that both institutions currently require.”
Does Watt really want to “encourage the industry to extend mortgages to a broader swath of borrowers” or is this just another scam to enrich bankers at the expense of the public? It might be worth noting at this point that Watt’s political history casts doubt on his real objectives. According to Open Secrets, among the Top 20 contributors to Watt’s 2009-2010 campaign were Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citigroup Inc., Bank of New York Mellon, American bankers Association, US Bancorp, and The National Association of Realtors. (“Top 20 Contributors, 2009-2010“, Open Secrets)
Man oh man, this guy’s got all of Wall Street rooting for him. Why is that, I wonder? Is it because he’s faithfully executing his office and defending the public’s interests or is it because he’s a reliable stooge who brings home the bacon for fatcat bankers and their brood?
This is such a farce, isn’t it? I mean, c’mon, do you really think that the big banks make political contributions out of the kindness of their heart or because they want something in return? And do you really think that a guy who is supported by Goldman Sachs has your “best interests” in mind? Don’t make me laugh.
The reason that Obama picked Watt was because he knew he could be trusted to do whatever Wall Street wanted, and that’s precisely what he’s doing. Smaller down payments and looser underwriting are just the beginning; teaser rates, balloon payments, and liars loans are bound to follow. In fact, there’s a funny story about credit scores in the Washington Post that explains what’s really going on behind the scenes. See if you can figure it out:
“Most housing advocates agree that a bigger bang for the buck would come from having lenders lower the unusually high credit scores that they’re now demanding from borrowers.
After the housing market tanked, Fannie and Freddie forced the industry to buy back billions of dollars in loans. In a bid to protect themselves from further financial penalties, lenders reacted by imposing credit scores that exceed what Fannie and Freddie require. Housing experts say the push to hold lenders accountable for loose lending practices of the past steered the industry toward the highest-quality borrowers, undermining the mission of Fannie and Freddie to serve the broader population, including low- to moderate- income borrowers.
Today, the average credit score on a loan backed by Fannie and Freddie is close to 745, versus about 710 in the early 2000s, according to Moody’s Analytics. And lenders say they won’t ease up until the government clarifies rules that dictate when Fannie and Freddie can take action against them.” (Washington Post)
Can you see what’s going on? The banks have been requiring higher credit scores than Fannie or Freddie.
But why? After all, the banks are in the lending business, so the more loans they issue the more money they make, right?
Right. But the banks don’t care about the short-term dough. They’d rather withhold credit and slow the economy in order to blackmail the government into doing what they want.
And what do they want?
They want looser regulations and they want to know that Fannie and Freddie aren’t going to demand their money back (“put backs”) when they sell them crappy mortgages that won’t get repaid. You see, the banks figure that once they’ve off-loaded a loan to Fannie and Freddie, their job is done. So, if the mortgage blows up two months later, they don’t think they should have to pay for it. They want the taxpayer to pay for it. That’s what they’ve been whining about for the last 5 years. And that’s what Watt is trying to fix for them. Here’s the story from Dave Dayen:
“Watt signaled to mortgage bankers that they can loosen their underwriting standards, and that Fannie and Freddie will purchase the loans anyway, without much recourse if they turn sour. The lending industry welcomed the announcement as a way to ease uncertainty and boost home purchases, a key indicator for the economy. But it’s actually a surrender to the incorrect idea that expanding risky lending can create economic growth.
Watt’s remarks come amid a concerted effort by the mortgage industry to roll back regulations meant to prevent the type of housing market that nearly obliterated the economy in 2008. Bankers have complained to the media that the oppressive hand of government prevents them from lending to anyone with less-than-perfect credit. Average borrower credit scores are historically high, and lenders make even eligible borrowers jump through enough hoops to garner publicity. Why, even Ben Bernanke can’t get a refinance done! (Actually, he could, and fairly easily, but the anecdote serves the industry’s argument.)
(“The Mortgage Industry Is Strangling the Housing Market and Blaming the Government“, Dave Dayen, The New Republic)
Can you see what a fraud this is? 6 years have passed since Lehman crashed and the scum-sucking bankers are still fighting tooth-and-nail to unwind the meager provisions that have been put in place to avoid another system-shattering disaster. It’s crazy. These guys should all be in Gitmo pounding rocks and instead they’re setting the regulatory agenda. Explain that to me? And this whole thing about blackmailing the government because they don’t want to be held responsible for the bad mortgages they sold to the GSE’s is particularly irritating. Here’s more from Dave Dayen:
“After the housing market tanked, Fannie and Freddie forced the industry to buy back billions of dollars in loans. In a bid to protect themselves from further financial penalties, lenders reacted by imposing credit scores that exceed what Fannie and Freddie require. ….And lenders say they won’t ease up until the government clarifies rules that dictate when Fannie and Freddie can take action against them.”
So the industry has engaged in an insidious tactic: tightening lending well beyond required standards, and then claiming the GSEs make it impossible for them to do business. For example, Fannie and Freddie require a minimum 680 credit score to purchase most loans, but lenders are setting their targets at 740. They are rejecting eligible borrowers….so they can profit much more from a regulation-free zone down the line.
So, I ask you, dear reader; is that blackmail or is it blackmail?
And what does Watt mean when he talks about “developing sensible and responsible guidelines’ that will allow them (borrowers) to buy mortgages with down payments as low as 3 percent”?
What a joke. Using traditional underwriting standards, (the likes of which had been used for the entire post-war period until we handed the system over to the banks) a lender would require a 10 or 20 percent down, decent credit scores, and a job. The only reason Watt wants to wave those requirements is so the banks can fire-up the old credit engine and dump more crap-ass mortgages on Uncle Sam. That’s the whole thing in a nutshell. It’s infuriating!
Let me fill you in on a little secret: Down payments matter! In fact, people who put more down on a home (who have “more skin in the game”) are much less likely to default. According to David Battany, executive vice president of PennyMac, “there is a strong correlation between down payments to mortgage default. The risk of default almost doubles with every 1%.”
Economist Dean Baker says the same thing in a recent blog post:
“The delinquency rate, which closely follows the default rate, is several times higher for people who put 5 percent or less down on a house than for people who put 20 percent or more down.
Contrary to what some folks seem to believe, getting moderate income people into a home that they subsequently lose to foreclosure or a distressed sale is not an effective way for them to build wealth, even if it does help build the wealth of the banks.”
(“Low Down Payment Mortgages Have Much Higher Default Rates“, Dean Baker, CEPR)
Now take a look at this chart from Dr. Housing Bubble which helps to illustrate the dangers of low down payments in terms of increased delinquencies:
Data on mortgage delinquencies by downpayment. Source: Felix Salmon
“When the mortgage industry starts complaining about the 14 million people who would be denied the chance to buy a qualified mortgage if they don’t have a 5% downpayment, it’s worth remembering that qualified mortgages for people who don’t have a 5% downpayment have a delinquency rate of 16% over the course of the whole housing cycle.” (“Why a sizable down payment is important“, Dr. Housing Bubble)
So despite what Watt thinks, higher down payments mean fewer defaults, fewer foreclosures, fewer shocks to the market, and greater financial stability.
And here’s something else that Watt should mull over: The housing market isn’t broken and doesn’t need to be fixed. It’s doing just fine, thank you very much. First of all, sales and prices are already above their historic trend. Check it out from economist Dean Baker:
“If we compare total sales (new and existing homes) with sales in the pre-bubble years 1993-1995, they would actually be somewhat higher today, even after adjusting for population growth. While there may be an issue of many people being unable to qualify for mortgages because of their credit history, this does not appear to be having a negative effect on the state of market. Prices are already about 20 percent above their trend levels.” (“Total Home Sales Are At or Above Trend“, Dean Baker, CEPR)
Got it? Sales and prices are ALREADY where they should be, so there’s no need to lower down payments and ease credit to start another orgy of speculation. We don’t need that.
Second, the quality of today’s mortgages ARE BETTER THAN EVER, so why mess with success? Take a look at this from Black Knight Financial Services and you’ll see what I mean:
“Today, the Data and Analytics division of Black Knight Financial Services … released its November Mortgage Monitor Report, which found that loans originated in 2013 are proving to be the best-performing mortgages on record…..
“Looking at the most current mortgage origination data, several points become clear,” said Herb Blecher, senior vice president of Black Knight Financial Services’ Data & Analytics division. “First is that heightened credit standards have resulted in this year being the best-performing vintage on record. Even adjusting for some of these changes, such as credit scores and loan-to-values, we are seeing total delinquencies for 2013 loans at extremely low levels across every product category.”
Okay, so sales and prices are fine and mortgage quality is excellent. So why not leave the bloody system alone? As the saying goes: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
But you know why they’re going to keep tinkering with the housing market. Everyone knows why. It’s because the banks can’t inflate another big-honking credit bubble unless they churn out zillions of shi**y mortgages that they offload onto Fannie and Freddie. That’s just the name of the game: Grind out the product (mortgages), pack it into sausages (securities and bonds), leverage up to your eyeballs (borrow as much as humanly possible), and dump the junk-paper on yield-chasing baboons who think they’re buying triple A “risk free” bonds.
Garbage in, garbage out. Isn’t this how the banks make their money?
You bet it is, and in that regard things have gotten a helluva a lot scarier since last Wednesday’s announcement that the banks are NOT going to be required to hold any capital against the securities they create from bundles of mortgages.
You read that right. According to the New York Times: “there will be no risk retention to speak of, at least on residential mortgage loans that are securitized.”
But how can that be, after all, it wasn’t subprime mortgages that blew up the financial system (subprime mortgages only totaled $1.5 at their peak), but the nearly $10 trillion in subprime infected mortgage-backed securities (MBS) that stopped trading in the secondary market after a French Bank stopped taking redemptions in July 2007. (a full year before the crisis brought down Lehman Brothers) . That’s what brought the whole rattling financial system to a grinding halt. Clearly, if the banks had had a stake in those shabby MBS— that is, if they were required to set aside 5 or 10 percent capital as insurance in the event that some of these toxic assets went south– then the whole financial collapse could have been avoided, right?
Right. It could have been avoided. But the banks don’t want to hold any capital against their stockpile of rancid assets, in fact, they don’t want to use their own freaking money at all, which is why 90 percent of all mortgages are financed by Uncle Sugar. It’s because the banks are just as broke as they were in 2008 when the system went off the cliff. Here’s a summary from the New York Times:
“Once upon a time, those who made loans would profit only if the loan were paid back. If the borrower defaulted, the lender would suffer.
That idea must have seemed quaint in 2005, as the mortgage lending boom reached a peak on the back of mushrooming private securitizations of mortgages, which were intended to transfer the risk away from those who made the loans to investors with no real knowledge of what was going on.
Less well remembered is that there was a raft of real estate securitizations once before, in the 1920s. The securities were not as complicated, but they had the same goal — making it possible for lenders to profit without risking capital.
The Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 set out to clean that up. Now, there would be “risk retention.” Lenders would have to have “skin in the game.” Not 100 percent of the risk, as in the old days when banks made mortgage loans and retained them until they were paid back, but enough to make the banks care whether the loans were repaid.
At least that was the idea. The details were left to regulators, and it took more than four years for them to settle on the details, which they did this week.
The result is that there will be no risk retention to speak of, at least on residential mortgage loans that are securitized.
“…..Under Dodd-Frank, the general rule was to be that if a lender wanted to securitize mortgages, that lender had to keep at least 5 percent of the risk…….But when the final rule was adopted this week, that idea was dropped.” (“Banks Again Avoid Having Any Skin in the Game”, New York Times)
No skin in the game, you say?
That means the taxpayer is accepting 100 percent of the risk. How fair is that?
Let’s review: The banks used to lend money to creditworthy borrowers and keep the loans on their books.
They don’t do that anymore, in fact, they’re not really banks at all, they’re just intermediaries who sell their loans to the USG or investors.
This arrangement has changed the incentives structure. Now the goal is quantity not quality. “How many loans can I churn-out and dump on Uncle Sam or mutual funds etc.” That’s how bankers think now. That’s the objective.
Regulations are bad because regulations stipulate that loans must be of a certain quality, which reduces the volume of loans and shrinks profits. (Can’t have that!) Therefore, the banks must use their money to hand-pick their own regulators (“You’re doin’ a heckuva job, Mel”) and ferociously lobby against any rules that limit their ability to issue credit to anyone who can fog a mirror. Now you understand how modern-day banking works.
It would be hard to imagine a more corrupt system.
Conspiracy theorists, those who look for the facts, ignoring the pressure of jeers, flawed appeals to authority, and intimidation, are the sanest among us. The steady migration of investigative journalists, who turn their backs on more lucrative employment, is only one indication of this.
In a recent article, Scientific Study Reveals Conspiracy Theorists The Most Sane Of All, the author, J. D. Hayes, cites a recent study, published July 2013, by psychologists Michael J. Wood and Karen M. Douglas of the University of Kent in the UK. It was entitled “‘What about Building 7?’ A Social Psychological Study of Online Discussion of 9/11 Conspiracy Theories.”
Their conclusion is that, contrary to those mainstream media stereotypes, “conspiracy theorists” appear to be more sane than people who accept official versions of controversial and contested events.
Attempts to demonize our perception on conspiracy theorists erects barriers to protect those whose profits are endangered by the truth.
These techniques for manufacturing opinion were outlined by Edward Bernays, whose book, “Propaganda,” asserts those who rule should use the trust accorded them in exactly this way.
Interestingly, Leo Strauss, whose political philosophy is in alignment with Bernays, asserted the same opinion. Strauss’ work was largely adopted by those who call themselves NeoConservatives who are anything but Conservative.
The opinion shared was that those in power are justified to lie, cheat and steal to keep and increase their power. The Kochs use these techniques in business and politically.
The use of the term, “Conspiracy Theory” increased rapidly in the wake of the JFK assassination due to its pejorative use in the MSM. This worked to stifle questions already being raised.
The issue which underlies the article by William Saletan, Conspiracy Theorists Aren’t Really Skeptics attempts to validate intellectual bullying, a logical extension of the philosophies of Bernays and Strauss. You don’t get more MSM than the Washington Post.
In the original formulation of American society those in positions of authority were morally and ethically obligated to explain themselves. The facts were to be available to all. Journalists investigated and reported the truth, as they saw it. This changed.
Saletan raised the issue of human psychology but failed to mention a perplexing issue which has long troubled us. This is the presence of those without conscience. For most of the 20th Century therapists believed these individuals could change, the problem was psychological. Today we know this is a neurological issue.
Advances in neurobiology have brought objective understanding. Now, thousands of criminals have been identified as psychopaths using an fMRI. The scan identified malfunctions in areas of the amygdala, which is now known to be associated with conscience, empathy, and compassion.
According to Dr. Robert Hare, serial murderers and con-men are always psychopaths. But Hare has also noted many who are also psychopathic are not violent and well able to control their impulses to gain far more expansive goals.
These individuals are highly intelligent. At any time there are 20,000 psychopaths with I.Q.s over 180 at large in the United States.
It would be instructive to see test results from MRI scans done on Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and their cadre.
The cost of psychopathy has been calculated at around 360 billion a year – in the US. This does not include the highly intelligent ones which, clearly cost far more, given the impact of Cheney and company on America. Could the people who so desperately wanted torture as a tool be emotionally normal?
Today, experts believe the explanation for the financial meltdown now ongoing can be explained by the concentration of psychopathic individuals in corporations, finance and government.
The characteristics of the condition include calloused unconcern for others. This accounts for the oil companies which routinely externalize their costs, leaving those harmed by the toxic waste they cause, to struggle and die.
Those without conscience, willing to lie for their own profit, have long been with us. But today they can avoid the troublesome issue of having their actions known and understood. They have learned to spin.
To ensure this continues they must continue manufacturing public opinion about their previous actions. This is why they began using the term, “Conspiracy Theory.” They work vigorously to ensure the facts remain hidden.
Refusing to accept the officially mandated opinion on any subject, be in the JFK assassination or whether or not to give your child pharmaceuticals as treatment for ADHD has been used to categorize individuals who refuse to accept predigested conclusions as crazy, stupid or paranoid. When this happens, rest assured, some corporation’s profits could be impacted.
This is a form of control intended to intimidate and inject fear. It also marginalizes vast numbers of people, keeping them in fear so they can be controlled.
To that end they, I call them Greedvilleins, also use our love of each other, country, loyalty, and trust, to manipulate us into wars which profit them and place us in perpetual debt.
If you limit what is acceptable to hold as opinions and deny people full access to the facts you destroy the trust basis of our society. Emotionally normal people are not comfortable when they cannot trust those around them.
These are rational responses to existing conditions.
What is insane is trusting psychopaths. Yet these are now common in finance and government. You can be sure they will routinely act with a sublime lack of conscience, for your freedom, your assets and your very life.
To cope with these conditions many still refuse to think about it, thus avoiding extreme anxiety. Others, for instance those who look for the facts, and are demeaned as “conspiracy theorists.”
The presence of highly intelligent psychopaths among us, who generally avoid being prosecuted, is one of these explanations.
Saladan’s article passes today as investigative journalism. It pays well and explains why so many truly honest journalists left to work in the alternative media.
When I started my radio talk show back in 1994–and for the next six years hosting the show–I was considered a hero by conservatives everywhere. Between my leadership position with the Moral Majority back in the 1980s and my radio talk show in the 1990s, I walked shoulder-to-shoulder with practically every notable conservative leader, including Christian leaders, one could think of. I traveled the country speaking with, and for, the most visible conservative leaders in America. I became friends with a host of U.S. congressmen and senators, not to mention several State governors. I even sat at the “king’s table” with President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush. I was one of the “darlings” of conservatism. Just about anybody who was anybody was a guest on my show.
I only mention all of that so readers can understand my background–along with the “rest of the story” that brought me to where I am today.
Back in those days, I fell right in lock-step with the left-right paradigm: Republicans were good; Democrats were bad. And even if the Republican was downright bad, he wasn’t as bad as the Democrat. That doctrine was sacrosanct and unassailable. And I believed that malarkey as much as anyone.
I started smelling a rat in 1996 when the GOP anointed Bob Dole as the next “conservative” Republican who was going to lead us to the Promised Land. I knew Dole well enough: he was anything but a conservative. In fact, he joined the likes of Richard Nixon and now John Boehner who say that they have never read the Republican Party platform. Boehner has gone so far as to say that he doesn’t know anybody who has read it. He probably told the truth there. The vast majority of Republican leaders in Washington, D.C., have not read it, don’t care what it says, and give no heed to it. I knew in my heart that Bob Dole would be a horrible President, and that he would NOT give a hoot in hades about obeying the Constitution. Plus, I had developed a great respect for and friendship with Pat Buchanan, who was an ardent conservative constitutionalist. So, I was supporting Pat’s presidential candidacy.
There is so much I would love to tell you about the rest of that primary, but let me fast forward to the end of the season. Toward the end of that 1996 GOP primary season, the congressman that my radio talk show was largely responsible for helping get elected, Joe Scarborough, came to me and pleaded, saying, “Chuck, I’m the only Republican congressman to not have already endorsed Dole. I’ve held out for as long as I can. Pat can’t win the nomination. It’s over. Dole will be the candidate. We have to rally behind Dole in order to beat Bill Clinton. You have to help me.”
I caved. For the sake of “party unity” and “defeating Bill Clinton,” I totally capitulated. Remember the sacred doctrine: Republicans are always good guys, and Democrats are always bad guys. And if even if the Republican is a bad guy he is not as bad as the Democrat.
So, there I was, standing next to Senator Bob Dole and Congressman Joe Scarborough at a press conference at the General Aviation office at the Pensacola, Florida, regional airport publicly endorsing the Republican Bob Dole for President of the United States. Albeit, I was still wearing my Pat Buchanan lapel pin. My defiance wasn’t dead, only crippled.
As I walked to my car after the press conference, I felt sick. I mean, totally and thoroughly sick. I had betrayed my convictions and my conscience, and I knew it. I vowed then and there that I would never again support a candidate—any candidate, no matter what his or her party label–for any public office that I did not believe in my heart would at least be faithful to the essential principles of liberty upon which our country was built.
For the next four years I marched forward with my radio talk show extolling the principles of liberty as loudly as I knew how. Mind you, the bitter taste of my compromise stayed in my mouth. It never went away. Still hasn’t. In addition, the next four years afforded me great opportunity to awaken to a host of truths, including the truth that both major parties in Washington, D.C., were actually not all that different. I came to realize that what Pat Buchanan had said was really true: “There are not two political parties in Washington, D.C., just two wings of the same bird of prey.”
One of the highlights of that awakening came when I interviewed David Schippers, who was the lead counsel for the House Judiciary Committee in the Bill Clinton impeachment hearings. He told me that as he pleaded with Republican leaders in the Senate (Trent Lott, Ted Stevens, etc.) to look at the evidence that his legal team had gathered, one of the “good guy” Republican senators said, “David, we don’t care if you have a video tape of the President raping a woman, then standing up and shooting her dead, we are not going to vote to remove this President from office.”
Schippers, a lifelong Democrat, was absolutely stunned. You can imagine. Schippers was a tough, no-nonsense, right-is-right, law-and-order kind of guy. He was the guy who took on the Chicago mafia–and won. He was an honest Democrat who was willing to unveil the criminality of a corrupt Democrat. Now he was watching a group of Republican senators in Washington, D.C., make the mafia look like good guys.
Schippers wrote a book of the whole sordid ordeal called, “Sellout: The Inside Story of President Clinton’s Impeachment.” It was published by Regnery Publishing. If you’ve never read it, you should do so immediately. The real story will shock you. And you will discover that, no, the Republicans are NOT always good guys–or even the “lesser of two evils.”
Enter the 2000 presidential elections. By now, my eyes were much wider open than they had been four years ago. But when G.W. Bush first ran for President, he said all of the right things. He said he was pro-life, pro-Constitution, pro-liberty, pro-less government, pro-Bill of Rights, etc. So in 2000, I supported G.W.
I’m still doing my radio talk show (and by now I was writing this column); I’m still a conservative hero; I’m still basking in the “success” of being a conservative Republican “darling.”
But that’s when the fun started! It didn’t take very long to realize that G.W. Bush was as phony as a three dollar bill. He was no “conservative.” He was not pro-liberty, pro-Bill of Rights or anything of the kind. G.W. Bush was Bill Clinton on steroids! Bill Clinton tried to pass what became known as the USA Patriot Act, but couldn’t get it done. Bush passed it with ease. He signed the Military Commissions Act into law; he gave America an unconstitutional national police force known as the Department of Homeland Security. Bill Clinton never attempted and could never have accomplished such things. G.W. Bush introduced the “preemptive war” doctrine to America. He invaded nations that had absolutely NOTHING to do with 9/11. He signed a law authorizing U.S. federal agents–or even military troops–to seize American citizens on U.S. soil and incarcerate them indefinitely without a subpoena or court order of any kind, without habeas corpus, without legal counsel, or any other requirement of justice guaranteed in our Bill of Rights. In truth, everything that Barack Obama is using today to abuse the power of the presidency, he borrowed from G.W. Bush.
So, by 2002 and 2003, and with the bitter taste of Bob Dole still gagging me, I made a decision: I will no longer protect and support Republicans for the sake of “party unity” or for the sake of “he’s not as bad as the Democrat.” No! In truth, it dawned on me that many times Republicans were WORSE than Democrats. From now on I was going to be faithful to my convictions and to the truth as I understood it.
Many of these “pragmatic political scientists” view politics as nothing more than mathematical formulas, test tube experiments, and lab rats. They will support and endorse any formula, no matter how evil the immediate process might be, in order to obtain their supposed “greater good” objective. They recognize absolutely nothing moral or immoral as it relates to politics. It is just “science.” Nothing is right; nothing is wrong; it’s all about putting in the right formulas in order to obtain some lofty, utopian, long-term objective.
In theological terms, the above is called “moral relativism.” In philosophical terms, it is called, “the end justifies the means.” In military terms, it is called, “might makes right.” In business terms, it is called, “what’s good for General Motors is good for America.” And it’s all a bunch of horse manure!
Republican shills will accept practically any evil committed by Republicans under the rubric of the “lesser of two evils” mantra. Democrat apologists will do the same for their fellow Democrats. In truth, party loyalists from both the Republican and Democrat parties in Washington, D.C., are giving America the royal SHAFT.
Our first and greatest president, George Washington, tried to warn us about this danger in his masterful “Farewell Address.” Washington said that the “spirit of party” (meaning, the preoccupation with, and loyalty to, political parties) was our “worst enemy.” He said it was “sharpened by the spirit of revenge,” and that it “perpetuated the most horrid enormities.” He said that the “spirit of party” led to “a more formal and permanent despotism.” He said the leaders of political parties would be elevated “on the ruins of public liberty.” He said it is “the interest and duty of wise people to discourage and restrain it.”
Washington went on to say that the “spirit of party” “agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms.” He said it “opens the door to foreign influence and corruption.” He said the “force of public opinion” must always “mitigate and assuage it.” Then, Washington ended this section of the address saying, “A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest instead of warming it should consume.”
Every warning George Washington gave us concerning the “spirit of party” has come true in modern America. Party hacks place more loyalty to doing what is good for their party than doing what is good for their country. In many respects, their preoccupation with party partisanship has become their own worst enemy, just as Washington warned. These party shills constantly demonstrate the “spirit of revenge.” In the name of fighting FUTURE despotism, party hacks constantly surrender to an IMMEDIATE and “more formal and permanent despotism.” Party members are “elevated [elected] on the ruins of public liberty.” Party shills are constantly agitating “the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms [especially about how bad the other party’s candidate is].” Party shills stand back and say nothing when their party opens the door to “foreign influence and corruption.” Again, to them, party is more important than country.
The fascination with “political science” demonstrated by party hacks reveals a complete lack of moral conscience. Remember, to party hacks, nothing is right or wrong, only better or worse. Their mantra is, “Our party is better; their party is worse.” And virtually every moral and constitutional malfeasance committed by the favored party member is justified under this mantra.
Thus, Bill Clinton’s repeated perjuries could take the Office of The President of The United States to the brink of disgrace and ruin and, yet, he could still be thought a hero by Democrats. And G.W. Bush’s unconstitutional wars and assaults against the Bill of Rights could take the American people to the brink of totalitarian government and, yet, he could still be thought a hero by Republicans.
Needless to say, when I started telling the truth about G.W. Bush on my radio talk show (just as I had done when Clinton was in office), the “darling” luster quickly vanished. Suddenly, where I was once a hero, now I was a villain. Where I was once a man with great conviction and honor, now I was considered extremist–or even evil. But I was standing for the exact same principles and ideals I had always stood for. But because I was no longer loyal to the “spirit of party,” I became a political outcast. George Washington was exactly right!
As most readers know, I went on to run for President of the United States after Ron Paul was defeated in the Republican primaries in 2008. There was no way in hades I was going to pull another Bob Dole poison pill out of the GOP Big Pharma pill box and vote for the Neocon John McCain. So, when hundreds of Pat Buchanan/Ron Paul conservatives asked me to help keep the voice of constitutional government alive in the 2008 presidential campaign by seeking the presidential nomination of the Constitution Party, I did just that. And as far as I know, I am the only candidate for President that Ron Paul publicly endorsed since Ronald Reagan.
And, no, I didn’t vote for the Neocon Mitt Romney in 2012. And I won’t vote for any Neocon candidate in 2014. And should the GOP nominate another Neocon for President in 2016, I won’t vote for him either.
The liberties of the American people protected in the Bill of Rights are not test tube rats to be scientifically dissected and analyzed by party hacks, who love to call themselves political scientists. Our liberties and freedoms are not subject to the pragmatic “lesser evil” agendas of party shills–be they Democrats or Republicans.
We have been trading Democrats for Republicans and vice versa for as long as any of us can remember. And where has it gotten us? I realize that compromise is necessary in many aspects of politics–but NOT when it comes to the fundamental tenets of the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence. Compromise of those fundamental tenets is not compromise at all; it is appeasement and the worst kind of surrender. And to support those who commit such crimes in the name of party partisanship is the worst kind of patriotism.
Here is the problem. The political scientists and hacks among us do NOT recognize in any way, shape, manner or form, the SPIRITUAL warfare that we face. They do not recognize the spirit of darkness that governs in high places. They cannot recognize nor comprehend that the Evil One can just as easily accomplish his devilish purposes through a Republican office-holder as he can through a Democrat office-holder. Even many professing Christians seem to suffer from this myopia. It seems lost to them that there could be very powerful people who are masters at manipulating “conservative Republicans” and “liberal Democrats” alike for their own wicked and evil purposes. Well, there are; and they do. To single out one party as inherently “worse” and another party as inheritably “better” is the height of naiveté.
In fact, in many ways an “in the dark” Republican is MORE DANGEROUS than an “in the dark” Democrat, because the Republican is operating under the ruse of “light.” An enemy who wears the uniform of a friend is more dangerous than an enemy who wears the uniform of an enemy. That’s why G.W. Bush got away with a whole lot more than Bill Clinton did. And that’s why Mitt Romney would have gotten away with a whole lot more than Barack Obama has. And that’s why your local Neocon Republican congressional or senatorial candidate will get away with a whole lot more than your local Democrat candidate.
I made my decision as I walked away from a press conference with Bob Dole back in 1996. Somehow, in that short walk from the press room to my car, I came to agree with George Washington; and I traded the “spirit of party” for the “Spirit of ’76.” And I’ve never looked back.
It is ironic that John Fund claims some kind of victory by pointing out a highly marginal way of stealing a few votes via the unusual opportunity of finding unused ballots. In his recent article, James O’Keefe Strikes Again, the back slapping was thick and gleeful.
James O’Keefe, again, scored a media event in these last days before the coming election. This time he was not dressed up in his pimp dudes, but he should have been.
The election would have to extraordinarily close for this kind of voter fraud to matter. Argument like these are like blaming the national debt on shop lifting by senior citizens. It happens, but it is rare.
The Big Game is being run by the Number Two Man on Fund’s own speed dial, Karl Rove. Stealing Elections was essential if the Number One Man on Fund’s speed dial in the same period, Dick Cheney, of Halliburton, was to win and so become even richer. The three are linked by common interests as well as a solid and long term friendship. They scratch each other’s backs, as the expression goes.
When John beats up a woman, or otherwise misbehaves, they are there for him.
Fund, having made himself a kind of a ‘reputation’ for pimping the idea of Voter Fraud lays it on thick and cheesy in his article.
The other side, located in Colorado, make themselves look pathetic because a NeoCon had to give them this exciting idea – and these twits golly gosh, gee’d all over James O’Keefe instead of showing him the door.
Franklin’s state director, Meredith Hicks, told O’Keefe that committing voter fraud using unused ballots was perfectly okay. “That’s not even lying or stealing, if someone throws out the ballot. If you want to fill it out you should do it,” she told O’Keefe on tape.
Note: Cheating is always wrong. It destroys trust in the integrity of the entire electoral process and is repulsive in anyone.
That said, can’t you see this woman rooting round in people’s trash cans looking for those ballots? How would you know when they would appear? Many of these ballots will end up in the trash, but only after election day. “Oh. Never mind, that was yesterday.” Others will be used as grocery lists, book marks, made into paper airplanes and other purposes for which they were not intended. Some will also be used for voting.
Really, it makes you cringe.
There is a magnitude of difference between this level of electoral dishonesty and the Big Game. That is where the real money is and this article is evidence John Fund is still Pimping for the same folks who profited by murdering a million and a half Iraqis, killing off babies doomed by the effects of DU to short and horrible lives, and other war crimes galore. Remember Bush and his administration’s excitement over ‘rendering’ people?
You can’t say Fund is not consistent. So are No. One SpeedDial and No. Two SpeedDial.
To get the money you have to win the election and if you are Dick Cheney or George Bush you can’t win unless you cheat.
Rove is not into retail, he is all about Whole Selling out America with Ballot Fraud via cool electronics. He has made millions this way. Cheney, No. Two SpeedDial, made billions.
Fund and Friends are all Pimps. They should dress the role.
American journalist Serena Shim was beheaded — and “not with a sword but a cement truck,” to paraphrase T.S. Elliott.
Right before she lost her head in a brutal “accidental” collision with a cement truck the size of a freight train, Shim had reported that not only was Turkey supplying ISIS foreign fighters and terrorists from such places as Pakistan and Chechnya with weapons and material, but Turkey was also spiriting wounded ISIS terrorists back over the Syrian border into Turkey, hidden in NGO aid trucks, so they could be treated in Turkish hospitals.
Turkish Intelligence is highly suspected of setting up this tragic hit on Shim, hoping to silence her — but its actions have backfired and all it has really accomplished is to make the whole world put Turkey under a microscope, asking questions about Shim’s bloody death and the role that the Turkish intelligence agency played in this beheading.
“Turkey. how could you have sunk so low?” the whole world now asks.
“Hey, it was easy,” Turkey replies. “What else could we do?” What else could Turkey do indeed — when the usual crew of polished and professional American and Israeli neo-con con-men (not to be mistaken for actual honest, hardworking and sorely hoodwinked Americans and Israelis) simply showed up at its doorstep, waved their magic wands over Turkish president Erdogan’s head and promised to get him the old Ottoman Empire back if only he would attack Syria. (Or else.)
And then with his eyes dazzled by dreams of glittering booty, Erdogan fell for the con — hook, line and sinker. Of course he did. And then he opened Pandora’s box and let ISIS in.
According to Middle East expert Judith Bello, the Washington Post published a map “of the flow of 15,000 fighters flowing into Syria from more than 80 nations, hardly the foot soldiers of a civil war. Most of these fighters have entered Syria through Turkey.”
A sorry cancer-like epidemic of death, destruction and deceit has spread over the Middle East in the last few decades. And Turkey, the “Sick Man of Europe,” has been the latest nation to catch it.
Welcome to the cancer ward, President Erdogan.
On Thanksgiving this year, Turkey will obviously have nothing to be thankful for, what with ISIS sitting at its table and expecting its dinner — unless Turkey starts “chemotherapy” immediately. My prescription for Turkey? “Stop messing around with ISIS, stop believing the empty promises of American and Israeli neo-con-men, and start behaving in Turkey’s citizens’ best interests instead.”
Turkey has been trying to join the European Union for years now. But who wants a Turkey in the EU that has already proven itself to be just another Middle Eastern “soiled dove” for American and Israeli con-men? Erdogan has thrown the baby out with the bathwater here.
Just because Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Yemen, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have all been diagnosed with the kind of fuzzy thinking that can only be caused by cancer of the part of the brain that governs common sense and self-preservation, this doesn’t mean that Turkey has to waste away too. Beheading a journalist is common in these other neo-con infected countries. But one would expect that a sophisticated and modern country like Turkey, a potential member of the EU even, might be immune. But apparently not.
President Erdogan, what were you THINKING!
PS: Looks like the average American and Israeli isn’t immune from catching the cancer of stupid thinking either. If we aren’t a lot more careful and watchful and vigilant than we are right now, then we too may soon be contracting this Turkish and Middle Eastern disease — and then watch our own journalists get beheaded too.
“…that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”
– James Truslow Adams, The Epic of America (1931)
The American Dream has been defined many ways by writers of both poetic and prosaic bent, but its essentials tend to involve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (or property, depending on your source).
The Declaration of Independence, upon which an entire nation was radically brought into existence, asserts that not only are all men created equal but that this is a “self-evident” truth. By this “unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,” a contract was agreed to, that their union would be founded on this principle. Thus, America was endowed with its dream at the moment of its conception: the freedom to succeed.
The United States has promoted a self-congratulating exceptionalism for decades, waving its Declaration and Constitution in the faces of other sovereign nations as if the latter had never considered such concepts. Our capital F “Freedom” sets us apart from the rest of the world, as the political rhetoric has repeated ad nauseam, no matter the freedoms enjoyed by democracies on almost every continent. And yet our basic freedom, the freedom to succeed, America’s contractual promise, has been shrinking for thirty years.
The freedom to succeed transcends economic systems but it is most potently expressed by capitalist gains. The ability to go “from rags to riches” is ingrained in this nation’s ethos and there is nothing intrinsically immoral about that goal. However, the current state of American inequality reveals a very real and expanding gap between the rich and poor that betrays the foundational endowment of this Union. When the freedom to succeed is denied every citizen, their equality is equally denied.
Recently, the Pew Research Center released a poll on what international citizens consider the greatest threat to the planet. Conducted between March 17 and June 5 of this year, the survey received answers from 48,643 respondents in 44 countries. In the U.S. and Europe, the growing gap between the rich and the poor was overwhelmingly considered the greatest danger to world prosperity. Over a quarter of Americans ranked “Inequality” as number one, above Religious & ethnic hatred, Pollution, Nuclear weapons and Infectious diseases.
This is hardly startling news considering that the median net worth of American households fell by 35 percent ($106,591 to $68,839) between 2005 and 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It is, however, disturbing that inequality remains so prevalent five years after the Great Recession.
Capitalism is not the problem. The problem is that we have let inequality advance in this country so gradually that its obviousness is masked by its familiarity. Below, I outline eight facts about inequality in America that every American should know.
1) 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined. This ratio has been verified by Politifact and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. To put it into context, last year the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that there were over 316 million people living in the United States. That means 400 Americans have more money than over 158 million of their fellow citizens. Their net worth is over$2 trillion, which is approximate to the Gross Domestic Product of Russia.
One explanation for the vast discrepancy in wealth is the definition of “worth,” which includes everything a person or household owns. This means savings and property but also mortgages, bills and debt. Poorer households can owe so much in debt that they possess a negative net worth.
2) America has the second-highest level of income inequality, after Chile. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development studies thirty-four developed countries and ranks them both before and after taxes and government transfers take effect (government transfers include Social Security, income tax credit and unemployment insurance). Before taxes and government transfers, America ranks tenth in income inequality. After taxes and transfers, it ranks second. Whereas its developed peers reduce inequality through government programs, the United States’ government exacerbates it.
3) The current state of inequality can be traced back to 1979. After the Stock Market Crash of 1929, the gap between the rich and the poor began to narrow. For fifty years, wages differed between the upper- and working-classes, but a robust middle-class took shape and there remained ample opportunity for working-class individuals to ascend.
In his book, “The Great Divergence,” journalist Timothy Noah traced today’s inequality to the beginning of the 1980s and the widening gap between the middle- and upper-classes. This gap was influenced by the following factors: the failure of American schools to prepare students for new technology; poor immigration policies that favor unskilled workers and drive down the price of already low-income labor; federally-mandated minimum wage that has failed to keep pace with inflation; and the decline of labor unions.
4) Non-union wages are also affected by the decline of unions. The Economic Policy Institute claims that 20 percent of the growth in the wage gap between high-school-educated and college-educated men can be attributed to deunionization.
Between 1978 and 2011, union representation for blue-collar and high-school educated workers declined by more than half. This has also diminished the “union wage effect,” whereby the existence of unions (more than 40 percent of blue-collar workers were union members in 1978) was enough to boost wages in non-union jobs – in high school graduates by as much as 8.2 percent. Not only did unions protect lower- and middle-class workers from unfair wages, they also established norms and practices that were then adopted by non-union employers. Two prime examples are employee pensions and healthcare.
Today, about 13 percent of workers belong to unions, which has reduced their bargaining power and influence.
5) There is less opportunity for intergenerational mobility. In December 2011, President Obama spoke at Osawatomie High School in Kansas. He was very clear about the prospects of the poor in today’s United States:
“[O]ver the last few decades, the rungs on the ladder of opportunity have grown farther and farther apart, and the middle class has shrunk. You know, a few years after World War II, a child who was born into poverty had a slightly better than 50-50 chance of becoming middle class as an adult. By 1980, that chance had fallen to around 40 percent. And if the trend of rising inequality over the last few decades continues, it’s estimated that a child born today will only have a one-in-three chance of making it to the middle class – 33 percent.”
As refreshing as that honesty is, Obama promised no fix beyond $1 trillion in spending cuts and a need to work toward an “innovation economy.”
In a speech one month later, Obama’s Chairman of Economic Advisers, Alan Krueger, elaborated on the dire state of America’s shrinking middle-class. The contraction, he stated, could partially be attributed to “skill-biased technical change”: work activities that have become automated over time, reducing the need for unskilled labor and favoring those with analytical training. He also highlighted the 50 year decline in tax rates for the top 0.1 percent, increased competition from overseas workers, and a lack of educational equality for children. Poor children are denied the private tutors, college prep and business network of family and friends available to their wealthier peers, which locks them into the class they are born into.
6) Tax cuts to the wealthiest have not improved the economy or created more jobs. Krueger also revealed that the tax cuts of the 2000s for top earners did not improve the economy any better than they did in the 1990s (meanwhile, income growth was stronger for lower- and middle-class families in the 1990s than in the last forty years).
Tax rates for the top income earners in America peaked in 1945 at 66.4 percent. Following decades of gradual reductions, they have since been cut in half. During the same time, the payroll tax has increased since the 1950s and individual income tax has bounced between 40-50 percent through the present day. Conversely, corporate tax declined from above 30 percent in the 1950s to under 10 percent in 2011.
All of these tax cuts are made ostensibly to improve the economy and create jobs. However, the National Bureau of Economic Research has concluded that it is young companies, “regardless of their size,” that are the real job creators in America. Tax cuts to the wealthiest do not create jobs.
7) Incomes for the top 1% have increased (but the top 0.01% make even more). Between 1979 and 2007, the average incomes of the 1 percent increased 241 percent. Compare that to 19 percent growth for the middle fifth of America and 11 percent for the bottom fifth. Put another way, in 1980 the average American CEO earned forty-two times as much as his average worker. In 2001, he earned 531 times as much.
Average income across the 1 percent is actually stratified into widely disparate echelons. Compare the $29,840 average income for the bottom 90 percent to the $161,139 of the top 10 percent. Compare the $1 million average income of the top 1 percent to the $2.8 million of the top 0.1 percent. Yet both still pale beside the $23 million average income of the top 0.01 percent.
If those numbers seem a bit overwhelming, Politizane has created a video that illustrates this staggering inequality:
8) The majority of Congress does not feel your pain. Empowered by the Constitution to represent their constituents, United States Congress members are, for the first time in history, mostly millionaires. The 2012 financial disclosure information of the 534 current Congress men and women reveals that over half of them have a net worth of $1 million or more.
After the past seven facts it is difficult to read this last one and believe that these 268 legislators have the best interests of the remaining 99 percent at heart. But if that is too presumptuous a leap, it is not too bold to say that wealthier donors, lobbyists and special interest groups enjoy greater access to these lawmakers than the average American.
In January, Congress failed to extend emergency benefits for unemployment, leaving 1.3 million people without federal aid. Congress then went on a weeklong recess that kept them from debating the issue until the end of the month. The bill was too divisive for Republicans and Democrats to reach an agreement on, though unemployment was then above 7 percent nationally.
Thankfully, the unemployed have their Congress working for them. And at $174,000 annual pay, those representatives are sure to return from their vacations committed to fresh solutions.
When I saw the movie “Saving Mr. Banks” during one of my interminably-long plane rides back from Syria, I liked it so much that I actually went out and bought a copy of the 1964 “Mary Poppins” Disney classic it was based on — the one with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke frolicking across the rooftops of London.
And much to my surprise, I discovered that Mary Poppins might have been one of the world’s first hippies. Who woulda thought! And what was even more amazing is that Mary Poppins was one of the first people to warn us about the dangers and perfidy of big bankers and big banks.
And fortunately for those of us living here in America one hundred years later, Elizabeth Warren has now become the new Mary Poppins — also warning us about the dangers and perfidy of big bankers and big banks.
If only Americans would start paying attention to Elizabeth Warren as much as they paid attention to Julie Andrews!
“Hey, Elizabeth!” I also want to shout on the rooftops like Dick VanDyke, “voters aren’t listening to you!” Maybe if Disney studios made a movie about you too? Then maybe voters would finally start to listen.
According to Warren, the American middle class has been absolutely decimated by the banking and credit-card lobbies.
And yet voters still keep falling for all those glossy ads and happy lies that still keep getting pro-big-bank candidates elected to the White House and Congress even though voters can clearly see that they themselves are losing their jobs, having their homes repossessed, becoming slaves to their student loans and getting ripped off bigtime by credit-card debt. But then I guess that those syrupy ads actually do prove that “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” after all.
In the heroic country of Iceland, their well-informed voters have vigorously fought back against bankster greed and have even re-written their constitution in order to make lending-bubbles and bank fraud illegal.
But in America, the opposite happens. Here in America our very own government, the very one that bank lobbyists have chosen for us to elect, is handing over billions of our very own hard-earned dollars to big banks just as fast as it can. And Congress is always writing new bankruptcy laws that favor banksters over the middle class every time. Mary Poppins would be livid, of course, but nobody else seems to even notice these days — except for Elizabeth Warren.
And even the Federal Reserve is dancing over the rooftops in glee as it too gives away our money to the banksters just as fast as it possibly can, singing “Step in Time” as gleefully hands over giant bags of taxpayers’ money to Chase, Bank of America, CitiBank and Goldman Sachs.
Plus the Senate just vetoed a bill that would have given students a break from paying up to 12% interest on their college loans too. According to Warren, “This isn’t complicated. It’s a choice – a choice that raises a fundamental question about who the United States Senate works for. Does it work for those who can hire armies of lawyers and lobbyists to protect tax loopholes for billionaires and profits for the big banks? Or does it work for those who work hard, play by the rules, and are trying to build a future for themselves and their families?”
Not to mention the hidden (and not-so-hidden) fees that banks gleefully charge us customers for no reason at all.
To try to completely understand how banksters and their toadies in Congress and the Department of Justice are robbing the rest of us blind, you just gotta watch this video of Bill Moyers interviewing bank-fraud expert Thomas K. Black. Seriously. You really should watch this: http://vimeo.com/107916659
In this video, Black describes how Obama was elected by the banking industry and how Obama has totally paid back his debt to the banksters by handing them all “get out of jail free” cards. Is being elected president really worth selling us Americans out to the banksters? Apparently so.
“There’s no threat to capitalism like capitalists,” continues Black. “They are destroying its underpinnings. And when dishonest people gain an advantage in the marketplace, bad ethics drive good ethics out. This is why we need the rule of law.” Doesn’t Thomas K. Black sound just like Dick VanDyke, er, I mean Burt the Chimney Sweep here — as Black proposes that it’s high time to sweep clean our banks.
And now let’s talk about America’s ratings on the so-called “Misery Index”. Apparently America rates higher on the misery charts now than it ever has, even back in the Great Depression — and probably even as high as did Mary Poppins’s 1910 London. Thanks a lot, banksters.
Isn’t it time that American voters finally join up with Elizabeth Warren and Mary Poppins — and tell big banks and banksters to go “fly a kite!”
PS: Speaking of money, look how much of it is being spent in the Middle East — and not here at home where it is needed!
According to a recent blog-post at thehill.com, the first official estimates of the ISIS price tag from the Pentagon showed that, “the costs of intervention between mid-June and late-August was $7.5 million per day. At that rate, the U.S. has spent $850 million on operations against ISIS as of October 8, adding up to about $2.74 billion per year. The Pentagon has since revised the estimate up to as high as $10 million per day, or $3.65 billion per year. In reality, both of those numbers are quite likely to be underestimates of what’s to come.”
Looks like the US military is just as bad as the US banksters when it comes to cleaning out America’s pocketbooks — after they both have put us to sleep with false promises and false news https://www.youtube.com/watch?
What we Americans really need to do these days is to once again take Mary Poppins’s advice and “Stay Awake”! https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Bill Johnson is no stranger to controversy. For one thing, he claims to be an apostle, as in the unique position held by the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. He was given this high honor by C. Peter Wagner who holds many titles himself, including president of Global Harvest Ministries, chancellor of Wagner Leadership Institute, convening apostle of theNew Apostolic Roundtable, and my personal favorite: presiding apostle of International Coalition of Apostles (ICA). So for the purpose of this article I’ll dub him Presiding Apostle Peter or PA Peter for short. What’s important to know about him is that he’s sort of like the pope of the “new apostolic-prophetic movement.”
Following is ICA’s definition of modern day apostle:
An apostle is a Christian leader gifted, taught, commissioned, and sent by God with the authority to establish the foundational government of the church within an assigned sphere of ministry by hearing what the Spirit is saying to the churches and by setting things in order accordingly for the growth and maturity of the church.
What role do the so-called apostles play? There are a couple of tasks, says PA Peter. First, apostles are to “set things in order” and “they’re to assure that the body of Christ is operating on the basis of sound, biblical doctrine.”
Sound biblical doctrine my Aunt Fanny!
PA Peter and his self-proclaimed apostles and prophets are out-and-out false teachers! These men and women (yes, there are women apostles) are well aware that accusations of heresy have been leveled against them by a large number of highly regarded orthodox Bible scholars and still they continue the pretense.
In this two part series you’ll discover the many twists and turns the new apostolic-prophetic movement has taken over the years and why those of us who are in an online discernment ministry believe it is a clear and present danger to the Body of Christ, thus we will continue warning the brethren. (Acts 20:31)
Now, keep in mind that the men and women involved in this heretical movement are sincere in their belief that they’re in the same league as the Old Testament prophets and the Lord’s hand-picked disciples who later became the Twelve Apostles. The leaders have convinced their followers that the office of apostleship is not reserved for a select few, as the Bible teaches. Moreover, they’ve led people to believe that Christ is once again choosing apostles and prophets to preside over His Church. Listen to Got Questions’ dire warning:
Those claiming the office of apostle seek authority equal to, or at least rivaling, the authority of the original twelve apostles. There is absolutely no biblical evidence to support such an understanding of the role of apostle today. This would fit with the New Testament’s warning against false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:13).
So – if it’s true that Christ is giving authority to a select few apostles and prophets why, pray tell, would our Lord give it to individuals who possess questionable character? I’ll have more on this in a moment.
Suffice it to say C. Peter Wagner and Bill Johnson believe that the Lord has given them the authority to rule over the Church. So – if it’s also true that the so-called apostles arecalled by Christ to form a government to control the Church and that they will hold Church leaders accountable then who, pray tell, is going to hold them accountable?
Without getting too far afield, since the new apostolic-prophetic movement’s inception it has been referred to in a number of different ways, i.e. Dominionism…Latter Rain…Joel’s Army…Manifest[ed] Sons of God…Kingdom Now…Charismatic Renewal…Positive Confession and a few others. Its current handle, New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), was coined by Presiding Apostle Peter in the 1990s. He “reinvigorated the Latter Rain/Manifest Sons of God false prophecies about a great endtime revival accompanied by signs and wonders.” As I said, NAR leaders teach that God is restoring the lost offices of church governance – and they are His chosen ones to bring it to fruition!
Do not be surprised:
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,;and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths 2 Timothy 4:3
In Paul’s final warning to the Church he never suggested that they embrace new movements. On the contrary, he warned that they would not listen to the truth. CommentatorMatthew Poole clarifies:
Having itching ears; for their ears itch, and they must have those that will scratch them. The disease of lust in their souls brings forth an itch in their ears, that they will have a mind to hear only such as will by scratching please them.
Shall they heap to themselves teachers, will be finding out teachers, not according to God’s, but to their own hearts; and there will be plenty of them to be found, they shall heap them up, choosing them without any judgment, regarding nothing but whether they will not be smart upon their lusts. (emphasis in original)
Paul’s message throughout his entire letter was that the church must “follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me” (1:13); “guard the good deposit entrusted to you (1:14); “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2:2).
Unity Over Doctrine
Now to Bill Johnson, head pastor of Bethel Church (BC). BC’s leadership holds to the theology of the Word of Faith (WoF) movement. WoF doctrine teaches the occult belief that:
He [God] framed the world with His words. You can’t build without substance. He took words — faith-Filled words were God’s substance. Here, essentially, is what God did. God filled His words with faith. He used His words as containers to hold His faith and contain that spiritual force and transport it out there into the vast darkness by saying ‘Light be!’ That’s the way God transported His faith causing creation and transformation. (Source)
One word: unscriptural!
BC also has its roots in the early1980s movement dubbed by C. Peter Wagner the Third Wave (TW).
Following is an excerpt from Apologetics Index. What they’ve laid out here should help prevent people from getting drawn into TW:
[D]istinctives of the Third Wave movement include — but are not limited to — the following:
- The baptism with the Holy Spirit is identified with conversion. This is unlike other Pentecostal movements, in which the baptism with the Spirit is either a separate and/or a recurring experience.
- the belief that the spiritual gifts are valid for today; that Christians can ask for, receive and learn how to use these spiritual gifts (and become better at using them with practice.
- the belief that the primary use of the spiritual gifts is for ministry in the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit – both to bless and heal those inside the church and to minister to those outside the church (“Power Evangelism.”). This ministry includes healing the sick, casting out demons, prophesying, etcetera.
- active promotion of unity — sometimes at any cost (e.g. the Toronto Blessing Movement ‘s acceptance of certain Word-Faith teachers. “Unity over doctrine“
- the belief that people, Christians included, can be possessed (or ‘demonized’ — or ‘oppressed,’ something seen as a lesser form of possession) by evil spirits with or without their consent
- the belief that objects or places can project evil influence and act as conduits for demonic oppression
- the belief that traumatic events, either in our lives or in our ancestral past, can make us particularly vulnerable to demonic influence, possession or oppression
- the belief that some Christians — using appropriate spiritual gifts — can identify and cast out demonic spirits
- a general acceptance of Kingdom Now theology, which has led to the practice of so-called ‘Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare‘ or SLSW — an unbiblical concept in which Christians identify (through ‘spiritual mapping‘) and then target (with SLSW) ‘Territorial Spirits.’ (all links are AI’s) (Source)
WoF and TW leaders are false teachers. (You’ll find the names of these as well as many other false teachers on my website.) Over the years self-proclaimed apostles and prophets have managed to coax undiscerning individuals to involve themselves in some of the strangest physical manifestations imaginable. Those who participate in church services where “signs and wonders” take place like to blame their crude behavior on the Holy Spirit. Now, try to imagine giants of the faith such as John, Peter, James or even Paul “drunk in the spirit,” crawling on all fours barking like a dog, clucking like a chicken, jerking and twitching, rolling on the floor, laughing themselves into a convulsive state. People involved in NAR have done these things in the past and continue them to this day. When I think about it, it really wouldn’t surprise me to witness Apostle Bill on all fours, nose in the air, howling like a wolf. But I digress.
Two Super Apostles Restore A Fraud
During the alleged Lakeland Outpouring aka Lakeland Revival in Florida, a story hit the news that put NAR evangelist Todd Bentley in a bad light. It was revealed that that the rock-star evangelist was in an adulterous relationship with a female intern – and suddenly all hell broke loose. In my column “We have had enough of false prophets” I scrutinized the NAR’s leaders and pointed out that Apostle Bill,
calls those who exposed Todd Bentley as a false prophet “sharks.” He also says:
“I’ll never blame the opponents [sharks] of this outpouring for Todd’s choices [sin]. However, it had a greater effect on the outcome than any of his critics will likely own up to in this lifetime. History proves this.”
Apostle Bill and fellow apostate – oops! — apostle-prophet Rick Joyner decided to involve themselves in Bentley’s “restoration process.” Just so you know, Rick Joyner’s the founder and Executive Director of MorningStar Publications and Ministries and is a big promoter of the “new breed” of apostles and prophets.
Both Bill Johnson and Rick Joyner, who are seasoned apostle-prophets, claim to hold the title “Super-Apostle” and/or “Super-Prophet” which is comparable to holding the high office of cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church. Chew on that for a moment. As an aside I should mention that some “Super-Apostles” have been accused of using cultic mind control techniques on those they prey upon.
Listen to Apostle Rick pontificate about how he sees himself:
Even though I have not been able to go to journalism school, or even Bible school, in many ways I would not trade my education for anyone’s. Like Paul, I can say that what I received I did not receive from men.
I mean, really, are we supposed to believe him? And why would we?
Now, back to Bentley. Bringing this man under submission took place following his divorce and after he married the Proverbs 7 woman, who, by the way, wasn’t the only woman he had an extra marital affair with. Apostle Bill was well aware that the fraud-evangelist had had a prior dalliance. Both “Super-Apostles” knew that he was drunk during his Lakeland stage act yet they chose to return him to ministry. But, then, no one has ever accused NAR leaders of doing much of anything by The Book.
Todd Bentley is no more qualified for ministry than is disgraced televangelist/prosperity preacher Jim Bakker, who was incarcerated for fleecing the flock (fraud). After his release from prison, what did Bakker do? Still craving attention, he returned to public ministry.
So – how should churches handle a person in a leadership role when he/she brings shame on the Name of our Lord Jesus? I’ve already addressed this topic in my column entitledDoes the Bible Really Say We’re Not to Judge? In a nutshell the biblical way to handle it is for the church hierarchy to apply an appropriate level of discipline necessary to bring the person to true repentance. Church leaders who have a “moral failing” must publically repent of his/her sin against God. They then must seek spiritual guidance and accountability and move out of the limelight altogether. Once the person’s restored, he/she’s most often encouraged to serve the Lord behind the scenes. Sadly, this hasn’t been the case with Todd Bentley. And the reason for this is that the self-appointed Super Apostles Bill and Rick found it in their hearts—not in the Bible—to reinstate the man to public ministry.
I’ll close part 1 with a plea from a genuine apostle:
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. (Romans 16:17-18)
Part 2 coming up!
Strange Fire Conference Q&A—Phil Johnson interviews John MacArthur
The New Age Propensities of Bethel Church’s Bill Johnson–By John Lanagan
- Peter Wagner launches WLI Seattle, Sonrise Chapel, Feb. 3, 2008–Around 54:00 into the session, Wagner responds to a question during the Q&A. He tells the audience that when the Holy Spirit stopped revealing things through the written Word, He kept on revealing new things to us through the “Rhema Word.” He claims that the Holy Spirit still speaks to us today by giving us information that you cannot find in the 66 books of the Bible, info that the Bible doesn’t address, but it’s not contradictory.
Why I Must Speak Out Against the NAR and Bethel Church—Tony Miano, host of Cross Encounters radio, discusses, among other things, the music of BC’s music team Jesus Culture (more below). Listen to Tony tell of his Twitter chat with Beni Johnson, Bill’s pastorette wife.
Bill Johnson…scroll down—Apologetics Index
New Apostolic Reformation/Dominionism –On Solid Rock Resources
Bethel Church’s Music & Entertainment:
The Holy Spirit Makes A Movie? I Don’t Think So…—Amy Spreeman
Watch And Weep:
Try this Bethel Redding Snack Pack—My Word Like Fire
You can’t believe a word the United States or its mainstream media say about the current conflict involving The Islamic State (ISIS).
You can’t believe a word France or the United Kingdom say about ISIS.
You can’t believe a word Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, or the United Arab Emirates say about ISIS. Can you say for sure which side of the conflict any of these mideast countries actually finances, arms, or trains, if in fact it’s only one side? Why do they allow their angry young men to join Islamic extremists? Why has NATO-member Turkey allowed so many Islamic extremists to cross into Syria? Is Turkey more concerned with wiping out the Islamic State or the Kurds under siege by ISIS? Are these countries, or the Western powers, more concerned with overthrowing ISIS or overthrowing the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad?
You can’t believe the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels. You can’t even believe that they are moderate. They have their hands in everything, and everyone has their hands in them.
Iran, Hezbollah and Syria have been fighting ISIS or its precursors for years, but the United States refuses to join forces with any of these entities in the struggle. Nor does Washington impose sanctions on any country for supporting ISIS as it quickly did against Russia for its alleged role in Ukraine.
The groundwork for this awful mess of political and religious horrors sweeping through the Middle East was laid – laid deeply – by the United States during 35 years (1979-2014) of overthrowing the secular governments of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. (Adding to the mess in the same period we should not forget the US endlessly bombing Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.) You cannot destroy modern, relatively developed and educated societies, ripping apart the social, political, economic and legal fabric, torturing thousands, killing millions, and expect civilization and human decency to survive.
Particularly crucial in this groundwork was the US decision to essentially throw 400,000 Iraqis with military training, including a full officer corps, out onto the streets of its cities, jobless. It was a formula for creating an insurgency. Humiliated and embittered, some of those men would later join various resistance groups operating against the American military occupation. It’s safe to say that the majority of armored vehicles, weapons, ammunition, and explosives taking lives every minute in the Middle East are stamped “Made in USA”.
And all of Washington’s horses, all of Washington’s men, cannot put this world back together again. The world now knows these places as “failed states”.
Meanwhile, the United States bombs Syria daily, ostensibly because the US is at war with ISIS, but at the same time seriously damaging the oil capacity of the country (a third of the Syrian government’s budget), the government’s military capabilities, its infrastructure, even its granaries, taking countless innocent lives, destroying ancient sites; all making the recovery of an Assad-led Syria, or any Syria, highly unlikely. Washington is undoubtedly looking for ways to devastate Iran as well under the cover of fighting ISIS.
Nothing good can be said about this whole beastly situation. All the options are awful. All the participants, on all sides, are very suspect, if not criminally insane. It may be the end of the world. To which I say … Good riddance. Nice try, humans; in fact, GREAT TRY … but good riddance. ISIS … Ebola … Climate Change … nuclear radiation … The Empire … Which one will do us in first? … Have a nice day.
Is the world actually so much more evil and scary today than it was in the 1950s of my upbringing, for which I grow more nostalgic with each new horror? Or is it that the horrors of today are so much better reported, as we swim in a sea of news and videos?
After seeing several ISIS videos on the Internet, filled with the most disgusting scenes, particularly against women, my thought is this: Give them their own country; everyone who’s in that place now who wants to leave, will be helped to do so; everyone from all over the world who wants to go there will be helped to get there. Once they’re there, they can all do whatever they want, but they can’t leave without going through a rigorous interview at a neighboring border to ascertain whether they’ve recovered their attachment to humanity. However, since very few women, presumably, would go there, the country would not last very long.
The Berlin Wall – Another Cold War Myth
November 9 will mark the 25th anniversary of the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. The extravagant hoopla began months ago in Berlin. In the United States we can expect all the Cold War clichés about The Free World vs. Communist Tyranny to be trotted out and the simple tale of how the wall came to be will be repeated: In 1961, the East Berlin communists built a wall to keep their oppressed citizens from escaping to West Berlin and freedom. Why? Because commies don’t like people to be free, to learn the “truth”. What other reason could there have been?
First of all, before the wall went up in 1961 thousands of East Germans had been commuting to the West for jobs each day and then returning to the East in the evening; many others went back and forth for shopping or other reasons. So they were clearly not being held in the East against their will. Why then was the wall built? There were two major reasons:
1) The West was bedeviling the East with a vigorous campaign of recruiting East German professionals and skilled workers, who had been educated at the expense of the Communist government. This eventually led to a serious labor and production crisis in the East. As one indication of this, the New York Times reported in 1963: “West Berlin suffered economically from the wall by the loss of about 60,000 skilled workmen who had commuted daily from their homes in East Berlin to their places of work in West Berlin.”
It should be noted that in 1999, USA Today reported: “When the Berlin Wall crumbled , East Germans imagined a life of freedom where consumer goods were abundant and hardships would fade. Ten years later, a remarkable 51% say they were happier with communism.” Earlier polls would likely have shown even more than 51% expressing such a sentiment, for in the ten years many of those who remembered life in East Germany with some fondness had passed away; although even 10 years later, in 2009, the Washington Post could report: “Westerners [in Berlin] say they are fed up with the tendency of their eastern counterparts to wax nostalgic about communist times.”
It was in the post-unification period that a new Russian and eastern Europe proverb was born: “Everything the Communists said about Communism was a lie, but everything they said about capitalism turned out to be the truth.”
It should be further noted that the division of Germany into two states in 1949 – setting the stage for 40 years of Cold War hostility – was an American decision, not a Soviet one.
2) During the 1950s, American coldwarriors in West Germany instituted a crude campaign of sabotage and subversion against East Germany designed to throw that country’s economic and administrative machinery out of gear. The CIA and other US intelligence and military services recruited, equipped, trained and financed German activist groups and individuals, of West and East, to carry out actions which ran the spectrum from juvenile delinquency to terrorism; anything to make life difficult for the East German people and weaken their support of the government; anything to make the commies look bad.
It was a remarkable undertaking. The United States and its agents used explosives, arson, short circuiting, and other methods to damage power stations, shipyards, canals, docks, public buildings, gas stations, public transportation, bridges, etc; they derailed freight trains, seriously injuring workers; burned 12 cars of a freight train and destroyed air pressure hoses of others; used acids to damage vital factory machinery; put sand in the turbine of a factory, bringing it to a standstill; set fire to a tile-producing factory; promoted work slow-downs in factories; killed 7,000 cows of a co-operative dairy through poisoning; added soap to powdered milk destined for East German schools; were in possession, when arrested, of a large quantity of the poison cantharidin with which it was planned to produce poisoned cigarettes to kill leading East Germans; set off stink bombs to disrupt political meetings; attempted to disrupt the World Youth Festival in East Berlin by sending out forged invitations, false promises of free bed and board, false notices of cancellations, etc.; carried out attacks on participants with explosives, firebombs, and tire-puncturing equipment; forged and distributed large quantities of food ration cards to cause confusion, shortages and resentment; sent out forged tax notices and other government directives and documents to foster disorganization and inefficiency within industry and unions … all this and much more.
The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, of Washington, DC, conservative coldwarriors, in one of their Cold War International History Project Working Papers (#58, p.9) states: “The open border in Berlin exposed the GDR [East Germany] to massive espionage and subversion and, as the two documents in the appendices show, its closure gave the Communist state greater security.”
Throughout the 1950s, the East Germans and the Soviet Union repeatedly lodged complaints with the Soviets’ erstwhile allies in the West and with the United Nations about specific sabotage and espionage activities and called for the closure of the offices in West Germany they claimed were responsible, and for which they provided names and addresses. Their complaints fell on deaf ears. Inevitably, the East Germans began to tighten up entry into the country from the West, leading eventually to the infamous wall. However, even after the wall was built there was regular, albeit limited, legal emigration from east to west. In 1984, for example, East Germany allowed 40,000 people to leave. In 1985, East German newspapers claimed that more than 20,000 former citizens who had settled in the West wanted to return home after becoming disillusioned with the capitalist system. The West German government said that 14,300 East Germans had gone back over the previous 10 years.
Let’s also not forget that while East Germany completely denazified, in West Germany for more than a decade after the war, the highest government positions in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches contained numerous former and “former” Nazis.
Finally, it must be remembered, that Eastern Europe became communist because Hitler, with the approval of the West, used it as a highway to reach the Soviet Union to wipe out Bolshevism forever, and that the Russians in World War I and II, lost about 40 million people because the West had used this highway to invade Russia. It should not be surprising that after World War II the Soviet Union was determined to close down the highway.
For an additional and very interesting view of the Berlin Wall anniversary, see the article “Humpty Dumpty and the Fall of Berlin’s Wall” by Victor Grossman. Grossman (née Steve Wechsler) fled the US Army in Germany under pressure from McCarthy-era threats and became a journalist and author during his years in the (East) German Democratic Republic. He still lives in Berlin and mails out his “Berlin Bulletin” on German developments on an irregular basis. You can subscribe to it email@example.com. His autobiography: “Crossing the River: a Memoir of the American Left, the Cold War and Life in East Germany” was published by University of Massachusetts Press. He claims to be the only person in the world with diplomas from both Harvard University and Karl Marx University in Leipzig.
Al Franken, the liberal’s darling
I receive a continuous stream of emails from “progressive” organizations asking me to vote for Senator Franken or contribute to his re-election campaign this November, and I don’t even live in Minnesota. Even if I could vote for him, I wouldn’t. No one who was a supporter of the war in Iraq will get my vote unless they unequivocally renounce that support. And I don’t mean renounce it like Hillary Clinton’s nonsense about not having known enough.
Franken, the former Saturday Night Live comedian, would like you to believe that he’s been against the war in Iraq since it began. But he went to Iraq at least four times to entertain the troops. Does that make sense? Why does the military bring entertainers to soldiers? To lift the soldiers’ spirits of course. And why does the military want to lift the soldiers’ spirits? Because a happier soldier does his job better. And what is the soldier’s job? All the charming war crimes and human-rights violations that I and others have documented in great detail for many years. Doesn’t Franken know what American soldiers do for a living?
A year after the US invasion in 2003, Franken criticized the Bush administration because they “failed to send enough troops to do the job right.” What “job” did the man think the troops were sent to do that had not been performed to his standards because of lack of manpower? Did he want them to be more efficient at killing Iraqis who resisted the occupation? The volunteer American troops in Iraq did not even have the defense of having been drafted against their wishes.
Franken has been lifting soldiers’ spirits for a long time. In 2009 he was honored by the United Service Organization (USO) for his ten years of entertaining troops abroad. That includes Kosovo in 1999, as imperialist an occupation as you’ll want to see. He called his USO experience “one of the best things I’ve ever done.” Franken has also spoken at West Point (2005), encouraging the next generation of imperialist warriors. Is this a man to challenge the militarization of America at home and abroad? No more so than Barack Obama.
Tom Hayden wrote this about Franken in 2005 when Franken had a regular program on the Air America radio network: “Is anyone else disappointed with Al Franken’s daily defense of the continued war in Iraq? Not Bush’s version of the war, because that would undermine Air America’s laudable purpose of rallying an anti-Bush audience. But, well, Kerry’s version of the war, one that can be better managed and won, somehow with better body armor and fewer torture cells.”
While in Iraq to entertain the troops, Franken declared that the Bush administration “blew the diplomacy so we didn’t have a real coalition,” then failed to send enough troops to do the job right. “Out of sheer hubris, they have put the lives of these guys in jeopardy.”
Franken was implying that if the United States had been more successful in bribing and threatening other countries to lend their name to the coalition fighting the war in Iraq the United States would have had a better chance of WINNING the war.
Is this the sentiment of someone opposed to the war? Or in support of it? It is the mind of an American liberal in all its beautiful mushiness.
- Derived from William Astore, “Investing in Junk Armies”, TomDispatch, October 14, 2014
- New York Times, June 27, 1963, p.12
- USA Today, October 11, 1999, p.1
- Washington Post, May 12, 2009; see a similar story November 5, 2009
- Carolyn Eisenberg, “Drawing the Line: The American Decision to Divide Germany, 1944-1949” (1996); or see a concise review of this book by Kai Bird in The Nation, December 16, 1996
- See William Blum, “Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II”, p.400, note 8, for a list of sources for the details of the sabotage and subversion.
- The Guardian (London), March 7, 1985
- Washington Post, February 16, 2004
- Star Tribune, Minneapolis, March 26, 2009
- Huffington Post, June 2005
- Washington Post, February 16, 2004
“There was a time when you knew who the bad girls were,” someone close to me once said. “Now you know who the good girls are.”
And I hear that all three of them are beside themselves over today’s state of affairs.
“Lena Dunham: I Was Raped By a ‘Campus Republican,’” the headline reads, introducing the “Girls” star’s story about an alleged sexual assault at the hands of a “mustachioed” conservative undergrad while a student at Ohio’s Oberlin College nearly a decade ago. It’s perhaps a fanciful story, the kind you might expect to read in the National Enquirer or The Sun right after “I Was Impregnated by a Space Alien” and “Loch Ness Monster Found Living in Central Park Lake.” I mean, really, are we supposed to believe this?
That there was a Republican at Oberlin College?
In brief, Dunham says that one day when she was 19 and drunk and high as a kite on Xanax and cocaine, she entered a state of undress to relieve herself in a parking lot right in front her GOP friend. He then, to put it delicately, makes aggressive physical sexual overtures, after which she takes him back to her apartment; at this point, “in an attempt to convince herself that she’d given consent — [she] talks dirty to him as he forces himself on her,” she writes in her newly released memoir, penned at the ripe old age of 27 (of course, she does possess more of a certain kind of experience than any five women three times her age).
Oh, there’s more to the story: when Dunham’s roommate characterized the incident as rape the next day, Dunham laughed. Years later, she pitched a version of the story to her “Girls” collaborators and still didn’t call it rape, though her co-writers would. And now they have her convinced. But, come on, isn’t there something wrong with Dunham’s story?
I mean, I still don’t believe there are Republicans at Oberlin.
Whatever people think about the alleged incident, and whatever the truth is, anything involving Dunham and sex will only enhance her brand and promote her career — as a professional slut.
Yes, that’s what she is. And, yes, I know radio host Rush Limbaugh had mucho problemos because he called Sandra Fluke the s-word. And Limbaugh was wrong to sloppily label her a slut.
Fluke is a professional, too.
Understand what a professional slut is. The designation doesn’t denote anything definitive about nocturnal inter-sheet acrobatics, though professional sluts often do have the practical experience one might expect from someone with their stock-in-trade. Rather, a professional slut is this: “1 a: a woman who uses slutty behavior or the promotion of slut-oriented behavior, ideas or activism to win money, fame, power or influence”1.
- Merriam-Duke-Webster, First Edition.)
No doubt I’m now going to be the bad guy for saying the empress has no clothes. But you tell me: what do you call a young woman who has a penchant for getting naked in front of cameras, promotes decadence and, as the Daily News reported, has had “more failed relationships than Henry VIII” and wrote a memoir in which “[f]ully half of the book is about sex”? If that’s not a slut, what is?
And Fluke? She decided to become the poster girl for free contraception for free sex.
There are many other professional sluts, too. Madonna comes to mind, as does Rihanna, Paz de la Huerta, Margaret Sanger, Rita Ora, Lil Kim, Miley Cyrus, Demi Moore, Kim Kardashian and, well, should I maybe just name the good girls?
The people who take exception to the “slut” label want to retire the word. And I get it. Sluts don’t want to be called sluts any more than thugs want to be called thugs, ambulance chasers want to be called ambulance chasers or liberals want to be called liberals. Heck, given my unfailing humility (of which I’m very proud), I don’t like being called a genius. Yet I tolerate it. But since professional sluts, thugs, and sometimes even liberals make money being what they are, I think we can call them on it.
Of course, sluts never liked being called sluts, but there was a time when they didn’t enjoy the strength numbers bring. Now with the professional slut they can capture a market, get rich, gain influence and have defenders who will visit scorn on those who dare suggest they’re anything but “liberated.” And all these people, taken together, constitute today’s much sought after VD voting bloc.
Just in case you consider this much ado about little, know that it’s actually a matter of all-important truth in labeling. As Chinese sage Confucius wrote 2500 years ago in Analects:
If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be conducted successfully. When affairs cannot be conducted successfully, propriety will not flourish. When propriety does not flourish, punishments will not be properly meted out. When punishments are not properly meted out, the people will not know how to conduct themselves.
Our name for the world’s Lena Dunhams today is not in accordance with the truth of things, and it’s one reason millions of girls do not know how to conduct themselves. Remember that, as a writer once said, stigmas are corollaries of values; if certain things are to be valued, it follows that their opposites will be devalued. I’ll add that proper stigmas are corollaries of “virtues” (which refers to absolutes), and if we’re going to value chastity, modesty and propriety, it follows that sluttishness is going to be devalued — and should be called sluttishness for that reason.
Of course, today’s dominant values are valueless, which is why the Daily News can write something such as this:
Given that Dunham’s story includes therapy when she was in her single digits, ongoing battles with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and more failed relationships than Henry VIII, some readers might be wondering what they can learn from this privileged 28-year-old’s so-called life.
The reality? She’s a walking train wreck created and enabled by a society that’s off the rails.
And here’s the main thing I suspect will be learned from her story: become a professional slut, girls, and perhaps you also can be rich beyond your wildest dreams.
Okay, so what? So what if you’ve just joined ISIS, been given a sword and been sent off to Syria and Iraq. So what if you now have a huge bloody sword in your hand and you’ve just cut off somebody’s head? Big freaking deal. You’re the one that will be going to Hell, not me. But what I want to know is this: Where, exactly, did you get that huge bloody sword in the first place? “Swords R Us”?
From your local “Samurai of the Desert” katana convenience store?
To find out who is really financing, training and supplying ISIS, just check out who is supplying its swords.
“Made in China”? Of course. Isn’t everything these days. But who are the swords being shipped to?
Syrians aren’t supplying the swords. Syrians stand solidly behind Assad — as evidenced by their June elections, and also by the fact that almost all Syrian internal refugees flee to Assad refugee camps, and no one, I repeat, no one ever flees off to ISIS.
Syrians hate ISIS — almost as much as they hate being beheaded! Plus ISIS is still beheading their fathers and mothers and nephews and cousins and aunts. How can you possibly become BFFs with someone like that? Let alone give them more swords so that they can go after your wives and kids too?
According to a new Tweet just sent out from Kurdish Syria, “Hoped American planes will help us. Instead American tanks in the hands of ISIS are killing us.”
And Libya isn’t supplying the swords either. Why? Because Libya itself just had its head handed to it on a platter too — courtesy of the dread Sword of NATO. All that those American-backed “rebels” now in charge of the failed state of Libya are supplying ISIS with currently are some used American rocket launchers and RPGs left over from Benghazi, and a bunch of guys trained by the US to behead Gaddafi.
But perhaps Saudi Arabia is supplying the swords? After all, their state symbol is two swords and a palm tree. But I still don’t understand why the Saudis would do such a dumb thing — buy entire shipments of swords to give to creepy guys hovering right outside their borders? Aren’t the Saudis afraid of blow-back?
Aren’t the Saudi princes afraid that “Behead like a Pirate” day might be coming to Riyadh too?
And isn’t it bad enough already that a bunch of Saudis got their hands on those box-cutters over on the other side of the Atlantic back in 2001 — and just look at all the mischief that caused! Can Saudis really be trusted to play well with swords right in their very own backyards? Saudi Arabia is about to find out.
And how about Turkey? Seen any bloody swords stamped “Made in Istanbul” lately? But why would the Turks want to do that? The blow-back there would be even more immense. You’d have to be crazy to arm a horde of ISIS madmen to go next door and cut off your Syrian neighbors’ heads — no matter how much you hate Syrians. Oops, too late. Turkey has already supplied ISIS with every kind of weapon you can think of — and then naively hired ISIS to be its Neighborhood Watch.
But apparently Turkey thinks that by supplying weapons to ISIS (and also establishing a no-fly zone over Syria) that Syria will fail too and then Turkey will get the Ottoman empire back.
Sorry, Turkey. It’s heads. You lose.
But what about Israel? Did Israeli neo-cons supply all those swords? Who will ever know? Who the freak ever knows what Israeli neo-cons are up to? Certainly not the Jews who first hired them. And definitely not me. Ask the Mossad. But a fly on the wall at Mossad headquarters would probably hear something like this: “Those stupid Americans actually think that we are their only friends in the Middle East. However, before we came along America had no enemies there at all. Good job, guys!” Followed by a high-five.
The nightmare of having ISIS swordsmen let loose to create panic and havoc in the Arab world sounds like an Israeli neo-con wet dream to me.
And what about American neo-cons? Nah. Their most important product is weapons, sure, but they prefer selling Tomahawks rather than swords.
“But Jane,” you might say, “American weapons-manufacturers will sell anything to anyone, even swords to ISIS, if it will make them a buck.” Hell, they’d even sell drones to the Taliban if they thought that money was involved. They’d sell out America in a heartbeat for money. They’d probably even behead their own mothers for a few dollars more.
According to former Austrian general Matthias Ghalem, several years ago Al Qaeda wannabes “signed a financial-military contract to confront upcoming military and security challenges in southern Syria in the future…and that two deputies of Robert Stephen Ford, US former ambassador to Syria, were also present at the meeting…. And according to the Los Angeles Times, since the opening of a new US base in the desert in southwest of Jordan in November 2012, CIA operatives and US special operations troops have covertly trained these militants in groups of 20 to 45 at a time in two-week courses.”
But according to US vice-president Joe Biden, the Saudis are to blame for arming ISIS. Of course they are. But it is American weapons that these ISIS cutthroats are firing — and it is American humvees that ISIS is doing donuts with out in the desert too. So why not brandish American swords as well? American neo-cons suddenly draw a line in the sand against swords? But RPGs are okay?
And then there’s Russia. Russia stood silently by while the “Coalition of the Willing” beheaded Iraq and Libya. Would it really be in their best interests to let Syria and Iran get beheaded next? Or is Russia playing the “Afghanistan Game” with the US instead — wherein America slowly but surely beheads its own economy by trying to put eleven trillion dollars worth of “boots on the ground” all over the freaking world where they don’t belong?
Or did Iran sell ISIS the swords? With the American military-industrial complex and Israeli neo-cons using every trick in the book to try to find an excuse to put Iran’s head on the chopping block for fun and profit even as we speak? I think not.
And a friend of mine just asked me the following question: “Or else could it be that Libya and Syria are/were among the few remaining countries that have resisted the imposition of a central bank associated with the Bank of England/Federal Reserve?” Hadn’t thought of that. Hell, maybe the banksters bought ISIS their swords!
And now we get to the next question. Who the freak would ever even want to behead anyone in the first place? That takes a whole bunch of work. Not to mention all that blood-splatter involved — and with no laundromats in sight either.
You’ve got to be really really angry or crazy or both to cut off someone’s head. So what got these ISIS fruitcakes so pissed off in the first place? Perhaps it might have been all these past 60 or 70 years that they, their parents and their grandparents have spent trying to survive the constant “War on Arabs” by American colonialists and Israeli neo-cons? Perhaps this is what has finally sent them around the bend and into horror-movie mode?
Just be glad that ISIS got their inspiration for weapons from watching the “Walking Dead” and not from watching the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. But I’m sure that the weapons industry would far rather prefer to produce chainsaws than swords. Chainsaws are a bit more profitable to make, more effectively bloody and just a bit less Old School.
“Equal pay for equal work!” the mantra goes. “Women get only 73 cents on a man’s dollar!” These are oft-heard slogans, and we may well hear them again during the fall campaign with the War on Women afoot. Now, going beyond the rhetoric, it’s not widely known but nonetheless true that the intersex pay gap is attributable to different career choices men and women make: women tend to choose less lucrative fields (e.g., soft sciences instead of hard ones), work shorter hours even when “full time,” are more likely to value personal fulfillment and job flexibility over money, are more inclined to take time off, generally have less job tenure and more often decline promotions. But while I’ve examined these factors at length in the past, the topic today is something more fundamental. This is that there would be a problem with even a well-intended equal-pay-for-equal-work scheme:
Hardly anyone knows what equal work is.
And the government hasn’t the foggiest idea.
Recently I mentioned how women tennis players now receive the same prize money as the men at Grand Slam events (Wimbledon; and the US, French and Australian opens) and how this is hailed as a victory for “equality.” Yet since the women still only play best of three sets but the men best of five, this actually means the men must work longer for the same pay. Even this, however, doesn’t truly illuminate the issue: what actually constitutes “equal work” in professional tennis?
I’ll introduce the point with another example. The top 10 female fashion models earned 10 times as much as their male counterparts in 2013. Is this unequal pay for equal work? Not really.
While I don’t know if women models’ job is more labor intensive, I know they don’t get paid because they’re capable of posing, wearing clothing, standing under hot lights or parading down runways. It’s because their “work” helps to satisfy a market — and it satisfies a bigger market than the men’s work does.
Note here that while people today frown upon discrimination based on innate qualities, integral to doing the women models’ work is being female. If the male models were women, they might be able to do the same “work” and satisfy the market equally.
Likewise, does the “work” in tennis directly have to do with number of sets played? As an aspiring 12-year-old tennis nut, I’d sometimes play 10 sets a day under the sweltering summer sun, but no one thought of compensating me and I never felt oppressed. Professional tennis players earn money because they satisfy a market, and the men’s “work” does this more effectively than the women’s. And how would we characterize this more valued work?
It is success on the men’s tour — people want to see the grandest stage in the game.
Thus, the only way a woman in tennis could do work equal to that of Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal is to compete on, and succeed equally on, the ATP Tour. Of course, a woman who could would not only enjoy the same prize money (it’s greater in men’s tennis overall), but would become a sporting sensation and might very well receive endorsements dwarfing the men’s. So her “work” then could actually be greater.
There are endless more mundane examples. A woman gynecologist I know will only hire female assistants because she believes it makes her patients more comfortable. Not only is this an example of why sex discrimination is often justifiable, but what if she was forced to hire a man? If the patients were indeed less comfortable — and, therefore, perhaps less likely to visit her practice — would that man truly be doing “equal work”?
Now consider female police officers. Forget for a moment that standards on forces were long ago lowered to accommodate women based on “disparate impact” theory and that Eric Holder is currently suingthe Pennsylvania State Police for treating women equally. Imagine a study found that people in general, and the criminally inclined in particular, found male officers more imposing and therefore were more likely to mind their p’s and q’s around them. Would, then, even a highly competent female officer be able to perform “equal work”? And if not, and reflecting the phenomenon with fashion models, wouldn’t being male (or at least appearing so, to head the “transgender” argument off at the pass) be integral to the “work” of policing?
What of a female reporter in male athletes’ locker rooms? Not only wouldn’t it be allowed if the sexes were reversed, but if those men were less comfortable and less likely to be forthcoming in their comments — or even if they just had to modify their behavior — could her “work” really be equal to that of a male reporter’s?
Next, my local hardware store provides knowledgeable workers, all men, who render valuable advice on products and how to perform various home repairs. If it was determined that people found a female in that role less credible and were then not quite as likely to buy from the establishment, would even a highly competent woman be able to do “equal work” in that capacity?
What about the little West Indian restaurant, with all-black workers, I loved when I spent a few weeks in Tampa? If hiring a white person made the eatery seem less authentic and negatively affected its appeal, would that individual be able to do “equal work”? The same, of course, could be asked about a black person working in a German restaurant. In these cases race would be integral to the “work.”
And what of a homosexual Boy Scout troop leader? If his presence made parents less likely to enroll their boys in the organization, could he be capable of “equal work”?
Of course, one knee-jerk reaction here is to say that people “shouldn’t” view female cops or hardware specialists, or homosexuals differently than anyone else. But this is a moral argument of questionable morality, as it applies a bias in selectively objecting to market biases. People take little issue with gynecologists or day-care centers that won’t hire men, with male models being paid less or with ethnic restaurants hiring only non-whites. But try only hiring only male cops or employees; compensating a male hardware specialist more handsomely; or, as with Abercrombie a few years back, valuing employees who don’t wear hijabs over those who do. You may have an experience with the DOJ or EEOC that’ll make a dance with the IRS seem pleasant.
We could also talk about how we “should” value work. If we were deific or at least angelic, we would certainly value a mother-of-four’s labors or Mother Teresa’s loving charity more than Facebook and completely devalue rappers’ vulgarity. And even though I earn less than mainstream-press profferers of pablum, I consider my work infinitely more valuable. But flawed though market determinations may be, they’re still the best guide available.
Even within this worldly context, though, some may say there’s more nuance to the matter of work than my examples express. They may contend, for instance, that female police and hardware specialists might have strengths that counterbalance or even outweigh their weaknesses. And guess what?
My examples could possibly be lacking.
And this just buttresses the point: virtually no one — if anyone — can properly assess what constitutes equal work in every situation.
This is yet another reason why the matter of work and pay is none of the government’s business. Are bureaucrats, politicians and judges qualified to determine what equal work might be in the thousands of professions in America? Government isn’t God; it’s not even the market, which can be defined as economic democracy expressed through purchasing decisions. When it intrudes into the economy it’s more like Hitler trumping his generals during WWII and deciding on military strategy: an autocratic agency as incompetent as it is arrogant.
Remember the days when an entrepreneur would perfect their whiz kid ideas in a garage and bring them to market? Did Steve Wozniak ever envision the behemoth that Apple would become and the cult camp that worships every new product that flows from their robotic coolie assembly lines? Riots Over Rotten Apple Mania describes an example of the forbidding underbelly of corporatist business model that Apple exemplifies so dramatically. Notwithstanding this record of 21th century sweat factories, do the venture vulture capitalists of Silicon Valley interject added value in the products and services they fund or do this culture of touting IPO offerings simply game a system to print money based upon imaginary dreams?
The Economic Policy Journal article, Silicon Valley Investor Joins The Corporatism March, cites Ron Conway, a Silicon Valley angel investor, who has backed many of the tech companies that we know and love.”
“Conway wrote a piece for Techcrunch where he’s calling for the other Fascism. Remember the Fascist Mussolini from Italy. It was he who said, “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”
“Gone are the days when the tech community can innovate and run their businesses in spite of government. As we saw with the SOPA/PIPA debate, public policy has a direct and significant impact on startups and the investors who support them.
Whether it is regulations that stifle innovation or tax policies that hinder job creation, government has a major role in the success or failure of a startup. It is critically important for the tech community to engage in public policy.”
Silicon Valley companies are not limited to IT development, just as much as investment funding is not wholly occupied from Wall Street firms. The principle is the same wherever the money comes from, as the Rise of the “venture corporatists” explores in an account about John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
“None of the alternative energy sources being developed today – solar, wind, geothermal, or biomass–is close to financial sustainability, which means that the supersize returns V.C. funds depend on will require massive government subsidies, regulations, and mandates… So Doerr has launched an audacious campaign to invest millions in handpicked political candidates and influential political action committees, to push for subsidies and pro-greentech policies and require the government to purchase the kinds of fuels and technologies his startups will be marketing. Since 2000, Doerr and his wife, Ann, have contributed more than $31 million to political candidates and causes.
In essence, Doerr is helping to create the biggest new market the world has seen since the dawn of the oil industry–and asking for taxpayer dollars to do it.”
“Green” alternative energy has more to do with replicating money than producing sustainable energy. Instead of writing code for computer-generated speech, the paradigm at play buys the ambassadors of government policy, circuitously as part of the business plan.
Lachlan Markay sums up the paradox for investors and the public in The Venture Corporatists. “As long as green technology remains not simply an economic venture but a moral one, taxpayers will continue to nobly lose money as politically connected “social entrepreneurs” reap a windfall.”
Here lies the rub. What exactly is the moral imperative? The lament of Alex Shud Bayley in No, I still don’t want to work for Google makes a universal point.
“Since I’ve been out of the Silicon-Valley-centred tech industry, I’ve become increasingly convinced that it’s morally bankrupt and essentially toxic to our society. Companies like Google and Facebook — in common with most public companies — have interests that are frequently in conflict with the wellbeing of — I was going to say their customers or their users, but I’ll say “people” in general, since it’s wider than that. People who use their systems directly, people who don’t — we’re all affected by it, and although some of the outcomes are positive a disturbingly high number of them are negative: the erosion of privacy, of consumer rights, of the public domain and fair use, of meaningful connections between people and a sense of true community, of beauty and care taken in craftsmanship, of our very physical wellbeing. No amount of employee benefits or underfunded Google.org projects can counteract that.”
The notion that Silicon Valley business enterprises automatically advance civilization and improve the human condition is one of the most disturbing viewpoints that have infected the smart phone sect. Placing the blame solely on tech executives avoids the reprehensible relationship that Ron Conway is so eager to exploit.
The article, Why DC And Silicon Valley Don’t Mix Well seems to agree.
“The thing that DC should be most focused on is “fixes to previous government efforts that tried but failed to fix a problem that turned out not to need a regulatory solution.” Other industries seem to want handouts and investments and the like, but you don’t see that much in Silicon Valley.”
However, some executives excel in screwing up a once reliable service. Silicon Valley corporatist companies often fail. The next likely candidate for a downfall is Yahoo. Marissa Mayer’s tenure as CEO may be numbered according to Eric Jackson, founder and managing partner of hedge fund Ironfire Capital.
“Jackson says that since Mayer took over she has spent $2 billion buying companies and that most of those acquisitions have been for naught.
“Can you name any other acquisition Yahoo has made besides Tumblr? If not, what does that say about them?” Jackson writes at Forbes. “If these small acquisitions were mostly talent-driven as characterized by management, why was it necessary to spend, say, $30 million to hire 3 people from a dying company? Was this really the best use of shareholder capital? Yahoo should not [be] responsible for bailing out VCs from their failed investments. This isn’t TARP.”
Deplorably, many tech corporatists are mismanaged like Yahoo. Divesting a significant portion of Yahoo’s stake at the Alibaba IPO, raises a much needed current valuation, but what does this transaction do to improve the service? The Corporatists only care about tapping the rigged markets for immediate gain.
In Joshua 1:8 God said: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.” So, what exactly did God have in mind when He told Joshua to meditate on His word? Well we can be certain of one thing. The Lord was not suggesting that Joshua sit in the lotus position and repeat a mantra until he attained altered states of consciousness. “These help bring one into states other than normal waking consciousness, in which a person becomes open to mystical experience, the spirit realm, or cosmic consciousness,” warns Bill Muehlenberg.
The sort of meditation God had in mind was not Eastern meditation. He has made it clear that His people are not to adopt pagan practices and those who do are out of His will. The purpose of eastern-style meditation is to “seek the God within.” That’s pantheism, brethren. People who hold this view believe that God is all and all is God. “A tree is God, a rock is God, an animal is God, the sky is God, the sun is God, you are God, etc.” The biblical view is that God is separate from His creation. Genesis 1:1-30
More on biblical meditation in a moment, but first…
Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” There’s been a huge misunderstanding in the Christian community as to what this verse means. Let’s take a look at noted Bible teacher Kay Arthur’s Precept Ministries International (PMI) website to see if she has it right:
Can you remember the last time you sat in total silence except for the sounds of nature – listening intently to hear the voice of God. It is time to:
Be still and know that I am God. – Psalm 46:10
Be still (cease striving)
Rest, relax, chill out, stop fighting, drop your weapons
Know that I am God
Learn that I am God, or “see that I am God”, “Get to know me better”
God is telling His children who are living in a busy world to stop, get quiet so that they can listen and get to know Him. It is only in stillness, the quiet, that we can hear the voice of God. (Bold PMI’s – Source)
Ken Silva penned a piece Kay Arthur With Erroneous Contemplative Interpretation of Psalm 46:10, which is where I came across the above quote. It could be a coincidence that right after Silva wrote his blog post and upbraided Kay for her erroneous teaching on Psalm 46:10, PMI’s webmaster changed the paragraph that begins with God is telling His children to As children of God, who are living in a busy world, we need to stop, get quiet and listen for His voice as we read His Word. God most often speaks in that small still voice. (Bold mine)
So, was Kay Arthur correct in explaining what be still means in context? Not according to Ken Silva:
This passage isn’t about any kind of meditation; and it has absolutely nothing to do with sitting in some lotus position and subjectively trying to “hear” God’s voice in creeping crickets or inner burblings of bellies. Rather, this is a firm admonition and warning for all nations—particularly His people Israel—to stop worrying and to recognize God’s sovereignty. (Source)
What do Bible scholars say the meaning is? One source, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, states, among other things, that be still is “the idea of leaving matters with God, or of being without anxiety about the issue.” (Source – follow this link to discover what several Bible scholars say the meaning of be still is)
A growing number of low-information evangelicals (low-information people with high-profile power and/or influence — LIEs) endorse meditation, or what’s known ascontemplative/centering prayer (CP). This is bad news for the evangelical community as it’s easily provable that CP has its roots in paganism. In spite of this well-known fact, many LIE-celebs continue to lead people into eastern-style meditation. Yes, you read that right. Eastern, as in Buddhism. Now, some of you are thinking, “Seriously? Christian leaders are pointing people to Buddhism?” Bingo!
Unfortunately many LIEs promote problematic pagan practices even though God is adamant when He says:
When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations theLord your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God, for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do this. (Deut. 18:9-14)
There’s no question that God’s warning to Israel still pertains today. His people are not to indulge in pagan idolatry. This means that Christians who practice a form of meditation that brings him/her into the alpha state is actually defying the God they profess their love for! That alone should scare the bejeebers out of believers who take that approach to prayer. And it matters not what the reason is — even if it’s to go “deeper with God.”
Biblical meditation always includes a fully engaged mind. Listen to Professor of Philosophy Doug Groothuis’ advice on biblical prayer:
The biblical concept of prayer assumes that rational and meaningful communication between God and humans is possible. There is no summons to suspend rational judgment even when prayer through the Holy Spirit is ‘with groans that words cannot express’ (Rom. 8:26).
The manner in which the Christian shall meditate on it day and night is through the reading and study of the Bible.
Space does not allow for a comprehensive explanation of Eastern mysticism. For several years I’ve blogged on the encroachment of mysticism into the visible Church. For those who wish to learn more on this subject, my articles can be read here.
Christian Meditation Made Clear
Now to the subject at hand — biblical prayer. It’s important that born again believers begin each day with the Lord. What we call “quiet time” involves finding a place to read and pray where there are no distractions — so turn off that cell phone! Before reading, ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate your mind and reveal truth. Also ask Him to help you make the biblical principles you’re learning meaningful and practical in your life. In Charles Spurgeon’s sermon “Pray Without Ceasing,” he asks four important questions:
What do these words imply? Secondly, What do they actually mean? Thirdly, How shall we obey them? And, fourthly, Why should WE especially obey them?
These are the sort of questions we should be asking as we read our bibles. We must stop and ponder what God has spoken through the words on the page. It may be necessary to read a passage repeatedly, reflect on it, analyze it, and listen while the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth. (John 16:13)
And always consider the context! Apologist Greg Koukl explains how this is done:
I read the paragraph, not just the verse. I take stock of the relevant material above and below. Since the context frames the verse and gives it specific meaning, I let it tell me what’s going on.
Context, context, context!
Because many Christians lead busy lives they fail to put aside time to spend with the Lord. In point of fact, data shows that most believers spend very little time in their bibles — but there is certainly a whole lotta prayin’ goin’ on. In this fast food nation in which we live Christians continually fire off bullet prayers hoping God will answer them quickly. Especially if they want the God who grants their wishes to see to it that they find a parking space at the mall during the Christmas rush or stop a torrential downpour when they’re sitting in the stands at an outdoor sporting event.
Now, don’t get me wrong. God loves it when His people pray umpteen times a day. Moreover, we’re commanded to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thes. 5:17) We’re also commanded to abide in Christ:
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5).
So, not only are we to begin our day with the Lord reading His word and praying, we’re also to abide in (stay around) Christ throughout the day for the reason that there’s an ongoing relationship between the Vine and the branches. Got Questions reminds us:
We need to fill our minds constantly with the things of God; God should always be on our mind, and everything we do should be done with reference to Him (Colossians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 10:31).
When we fail to abide in Christ—fill our minds with the things of God–the fruit we bear, no matter how appealing it appears, is not off Christ’s vine! In other words, it’s doneapart from Him.
There’s a story in Luke 10:38 of two sisters, Mary and Martha, who thought differently about how to serve their Master. When Jesus came to their home Martha stayed in the kitchen preparing food for their guests. She had developed her own agenda for serving Christ. Martha became vexed that Mary wasn’t helping with the meal. What was her sister doing that caused Martha’s consternation? She was sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to His words.
It’s certainly no crime to prepare a nice meal for a guest; however, we must remember that we are children of God before we’re servants of God. Like Mary, we must take time to sit at our Lord’s feet. Martha was so busy serving Jesus that she neglected Him!
Have I hit a nerve?
If your prayers are mainly the bullet variety then it would be wise to develop the biblical model of praying. Biblical prayer is intended for praise, confession and repentance, thanksgiving and asking for others. In our quiet time with the Lord we find His love. Through prayer believers are conformed to God’s will.
Prayer isn’t meant to be an esoteric experience. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that we are to go into altered states of consciousness to commune with God. As I said above, biblical meditation does not seek the “God within.” This is the purpose of those who cling to Eastern religion and New Age spirituality!
The Christian who truly wishes to please God will let “the words of [your] mouth and the meditation of [your] heart be acceptable in [the LORD’s] sight …” (Psalm 19:14paraphrased)
Contemplative Prayer links—On Solid Rock Resources
New Age “Spirituality” links—On Solid Rock Resources
Occult links—On Solid Rock Resources
CBS is premiering a new TV show called “Stalker” this October, and this program is fierce and scary as hell — all about a bunch of creepy guys who go around stalking their prey mercilessly.
But what is the exact definition of a stalker? “A person who harasses or persecutes someone with unwanted and obsessive attention.” Further, “Any unwanted contact between two people that directly or indirectly communicates a threat or places the victim in fear can be considered stalking.”
I personally know of two insanely obsessive examples of stalking at its worst.
In one case, the unwanted and illegal harassment has gone on for years and involves relentless fear-producing acts of violence so intense that it is like being in a horror movie. Home invasions in the middle of the night. Masked attackers brandishing weapons. Harassing phone calls. False lies and accusations. Family members followed and stalked.
Imagine your worst nightmare and multiply it by a thousand — and then imagine this horror going on for three years. Imagine going to the authorities and begging for help but having no one believe you or even listen to you!
And of course you immediately realize that I’m talking about President Obama’s strange and evil obsession with stalking Syria. And Obama continues to stalk Syria even now — and with deadly intent. And it appears that Syria is helpless against her attacker.
Or not. Not if everyone in America gets on the phone and calls the White House and says, “America sees you. We know what you do. Stop stalking Syria.”
And the second case of stalking? Just as bad as the first — with evil intent and malice aforehand. Ukraine is also being stalked. Home invasions. Planes being shot down. Fear-inducing jack-boot visits in the middle of the night. Lots of blood. Lots and lots and lots of blood.
In CBS’s online preview of “Stalker,” Maggie Q states that stalkers are motivated by “rejection, jealousy and revenge”. Well, Syria and Ukraine have both rejected Obama’s demands for a dance — so that is probably the cause.
But exactly why have Syria and Ukraine rejected Obama’s offer? Because they both saw what happened to Libya when Obama took her to the prom! Obama tortured and raped her while John McCain, Lindsey Graham and John Bolton held her down.
And Obama learned his grisly stalking techniques from the masters. First he watched Bush and Cheney stalk, torture and rape Afghanistan. Then he watched Bush and Cheney stalk, torture and rape Iraq.
“But, Jane,” you might ask, “why are you being so hard on President Obama?” http://dgibbs.faculty.arizona.
Why? Why? Because even if all this psychopathic stalking is actually being orchestrated by Wall Street and War Street or the military-industrial complex or the wingnuts and war-hawks in Congress or even the PNAC and Dick Cheney — all of these stalking nightmares are still happening on Obama’s watch.
If the CIA, the American military-industrial complex, the PNAC war hawks, the Pentagon and even the White House and Congress can get so deeply involved in stalking and tormenting and threatening and bullying other countries throughout the world — and apparently get away with it too, then what’s to keep these evil stalkers from saying to themselves, “Hmmm. Let’s stalk Americans next.” My blood runs cold at the thought.
Where is Maggie Q when we need her!
From journalist David Swanson: “In violation of the Constitution, our Constitutional scholar president, in violation of the UN Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact, our Nobel Peace Laureate president, in compliance with the stated desire of ISIS that the United States help it grow by attacking it, President Barack ‘don’t-do-stupid-stuff’ Obama has just attacked another country and no good can come of it.
“He’s attacked the opponents of the Syrian regime he said needed to be attacked a year ago, and done so in defense of Iraqis who just held a demonstration opposing such U.S. action. The world needs actual aid and serious support for the rule of law, diplomacy, and good government. So-called ‘military aid’ doesn’t aid anyone, and the U.S. public’s willingness to stand for more of it being offered in our name has been greatly overestimated.”
From Judy Bello of the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars: “On Democracy Now, Vijay Prashad just pointed out that the US airstrikes on Syria are more symbolic than otherwise. They are destroying a lot of infrastructure in Raqqa around Aleppo and Dier Ezzor. But they aren’t attacking ISIS’ hardened positions and forward positions around Kobani on the Turkish Border. There are also reports that ISIS has abandoned its bunkers in Raqqa and moved into residential areas so US bombing merely destroyed the buildings and bystanders.” http://www.democracynow.org/
Ever since serious protest broke out in Ukraine in February the Western mainstream media, particularly in the United States, has seriously downplayed the fact that the usual suspects – the US/European Union/NATO triumvirate – have been on the same side as the neo-Nazis. In the US it’s been virtually unmentionable. I’m sure that a poll taken in the United States on this issue would reveal near universal ignorance of the numerous neo-Nazi actions, including publicly calling for death to “Russians, Communists and Jews”. But in the past week the dirty little secret has somehow poked its head out from behind the curtain a bit.
On September 9 NBCnews.com reported that “German TV shows Nazi symbols on helmets of Ukraine soldiers”. The German station showed pictures of a soldier wearing a combat helmet with the “SS runes” of Hitler’s infamous black-uniformed elite corps. (Runes are the letters of an alphabet used by ancient Germanic peoples.) A second soldier was shown with a swastika on his helmet.
On the 13th, the Washington Post showed a photo of the sleeping quarter of a member of the Azov Battalion, one of the Ukrainian paramilitary units fighting the pro-Russian separatists. On the wall above the bed is a large swastika. Not to worry, the Post quoted the platoon leader stating that the soldiers embrace symbols and espouse extremist notions as part of some kind of “romantic” idea.
Yet, it is Russian president Vladimir Putin who is compared to Adolf Hitler by everyone from Prince Charles to Princess Hillary because of the incorporation of Crimea as part of Russia. On this question Putin has stated:
The Crimean authorities have relied on the well-known Kosovo precedent, a precedent our Western partners created themselves, with their own hands, so to speak. In a situation absolutely similar to the Crimean one, they deemed Kosovo’s secession from Serbia to be legitimate, arguing everywhere that no permission from the country’s central authorities was required for the unilateral declaration of independence. The UN’s international court, based on Paragraph 2 of Article 1 of the UN Charter, agreed with that, and in its decision of 22 July 2010 noted the following, and I quote verbatim: No general prohibition may be inferred from the practice of the Security Council with regard to unilateral declarations of independence.
Putin as Hitler is dwarfed by the stories of Putin as invader (Vlad the Impaler?). For months the Western media has been beating the drums about Russia having (actually) invaded Ukraine. I recommend reading: “How Can You Tell Whether Russia has Invaded Ukraine?” by Dmitry Orlov
And keep in mind the NATO encirclement of Russia. Imagine Russia setting up military bases in Canada and Mexico, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Remember what a Soviet base in Cuba led to.
Has the United States ever set a bad example?
Ever since that fateful day of September 11, 2001, the primary public relations goal of the United States has been to discredit the idea that somehow America had it coming because of its numerous political and military acts of aggression. Here’s everyone’s favorite hero, George W. Bush, speaking a month after 9-11:
“How do I respond when I see that in some Islamic countries there is vitriolic hatred for America? I’ll tell you how I respond: I’m amazed. I’m amazed that there’s such misunderstanding of what our country is about that people would hate us. I am – like most Americans, I just can’t believe it because I know how good we are.”
Thank you, George. Now take your pills.
I and other historians of US foreign policy have documented at length the statements of anti-American terrorists who have made it explicitly clear that their actions were in retaliation for Washington’s decades of international abominations. But American officials and media routinely ignore this evidence and cling to the party line that terrorists are simply cruel and crazed by religion; which many of them indeed are, but that doesn’t change the political and historical facts.
This American mindset appears to be alive and well. At least four hostages held in Syria recently by Islamic State militants, including US journalist James Foley, were waterboarded during their captivity. The Washington Post quoted a US official: “ISIL is a group that routinely crucifies and beheads people. To suggest that there is any correlation between ISIL’s brutality and past U.S. actions is ridiculous and feeds into their twisted propaganda.”
The Post, however, may have actually evolved a bit, adding that the “Islamic State militants … appeared to model the technique on the CIA’s use of waterboarding to interrogate suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.”
Talk given by William Blum at a Teach-In on US Foreign Policy, American University, Washington, DC, September 6, 2014
Each of you I’m sure has met many people who support American foreign policy, with whom you’ve argued and argued. You point out one horror after another, from Vietnam to Iraq. From god-awful bombings and invasions to violations of international law and torture. And nothing helps. Nothing moves this person.
Now why is that? Are these people just stupid? I think a better answer is that they have certain preconceptions. Consciously or unconsciously, they have certain basic beliefs about the United States and its foreign policy, and if you don’t deal with these basic beliefs you may as well be talking to a stone wall.
The most basic of these basic beliefs, I think, is a deeply-held conviction that no matter what the United States does abroad, no matter how bad it may look, no matter what horror may result, the government of the United States means well. American leaders may make mistakes, they may blunder, they may lie, they may even on the odd occasion cause more harm than good, but they do mean well. Their intentions are always honorable, even noble. Of that the great majority of Americans are certain.
Frances Fitzgerald, in her famous study of American school textbooks, summarized the message of these books: “The United States has been a kind of Salvation Army to the rest of the world: throughout history it had done little but dispense benefits to poor, ignorant, and diseased countries. The U.S. always acted in a disinterested fashion, always from the highest of motives; it gave, never took.”
And Americans genuinely wonder why the rest of the world can’t see how benevolent and self-sacrificing America has been. Even many people who take part in the anti-war movement have a hard time shaking off some of this mindset; they march to spur America – the America they love and worship and trust – they march to spur this noble America back onto its path of goodness.
Many of the citizens fall for US government propaganda justifying its military actions as often and as naively as Charlie Brown falling for Lucy’s football.
The American people are very much like the children of a Mafia boss who do not know what their father does for a living, and don’t want to know, but then wonder why someone just threw a firebomb through the living room window.
This basic belief in America’s good intentions is often linked to “American exceptionalism”. Let’s look at how exceptional US foreign policy has been. Since the end of World War 2, the United States has:
- Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected.
- Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.
- Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.
- Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.
- Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.
- Led the world in torture; not only the torture performed directly by Americans upon foreigners, but providing torture equipment, torture manuals, lists of people to be tortured, and in-person guidance by American teachers, especially in Latin America.
This is indeed exceptional. No other country in all of history comes anywhere close to such a record.
So the next time you’re up against a stone wall … ask the person what the United States would have to do in its foreign policy to lose his support. What for this person would finally be TOO MUCH. If the person mentions something really bad, chances are the United States has already done it, perhaps repeatedly.
Keep in mind that our precious homeland, above all, seeks to dominate the world. For economic reasons, nationalistic reasons, ideological, Christian, and for other reasons, world hegemony has long been America’s bottom line. And let’s not forget the powerful Executive Branch officials whose salaries, promotions, agency budgets and future well-paying private sector jobs depend upon perpetual war. These leaders are not especially concerned about the consequences for the world of their wars. They’re not necessarily bad people; but they’re amoral, like a sociopath is.
Take the Middle East and South Asia. The people in those areas have suffered horribly because of Islamic fundamentalism. What they desperately need are secular governments, which have respect for different religions. And such governments were actually instituted in the recent past. But what has been the fate of those governments?
Well, in the late 1970s through much of the 1980s, Afghanistan had a secular government that was relatively progressive, with full rights for women, which is hard to believe, isn’t it? But even a Pentagon report of the time testified to the actuality of women’s rights in Afghanistan. And what happened to that government? The United States overthrew it, allowing the Taliban to come to power. So keep that in mind the next time you hear an American official say that we have to remain in Afghanistan for the sake of women’s rights.
After Afghanistan came Iraq, another secular society, under Saddam Hussein. And the United States overthrew that government as well, and now the country is overrun by crazed and bloody jihadists and fundamentalists of all kinds; and women who are not covered up are running a serious risk.
Next came Libya; again, a secular country, under Moammar Gaddafi, who, like Saddam Hussein, had a tyrant side to him but could in important ways be benevolent and do marvelous things for Libya and Africa. To name just one example, Libya had a high ranking on the United Nation’s Human Development Index. So, of course, the United States overthrew that government as well. In 2011, with the help of NATO we bombed the people of Libya almost every day for more than six months. And, once again, this led to messianic jihadists having a field day. How it will all turn out for the people of Libya, only God knows, or perhaps Allah.
And for the past three years, the United States has been doing its best to overthrow the secular government of Syria. And guess what? Syria is now a playground and battleground for all manner of ultra militant fundamentalists, including everyone’s new favorite, IS, the Islamic State. The rise of IS owes a lot to what the US has done in Iraq, Libya, and Syria in recent years.
We can add to this marvelous list the case of the former Yugoslavia, another secular government that was overthrown by the United States, in the form of NATO, in 1999, giving rise to the creation of the largely-Muslim state of Kosovo, run by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The KLA was considered a terrorist organization by the US, the UK and France for years, with numerous reports of the KLA being armed and trained by al-Qaeda, in al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan, and even having members of al-Qaeda in KLA ranks fighting against the Serbs of Yugoslavia. Washington’s main concern was dealing a blow to Serbia, widely known as “the last communist government in Europe”.
The KLA became renowned for their torture, their trafficking in women, heroin, and human body parts; another charming client of the empire.
Someone looking down upon all this from outer space could be forgiven for thinking that the United States is an Islamic power doing its best to spread the word – Allah Akbar!
But what, you might wonder, did each of these overthrown governments have in common that made them a target of Washington’s wrath? The answer is that they could not easily be controlled by the empire; they refused to be client states; they were nationalistic; in a word, they were independent; a serious crime in the eyes of the empire.
So mention all this as well to our hypothetical supporter of US foreign policy and see whether he still believes that the United States means well. If he wonders how long it’s been this way, point out to him that it would be difficult to name a single brutal dictatorship of the second half of the 20th Century that was not supported by the United States; not only supported, but often put into power and kept in power against the wishes of the population. And in recent years as well, Washington has supported very repressive governments, such as Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Indonesia, Egypt, Colombia, Qatar, and Israel.
And what do American leaders think of their own record? Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was probably speaking for the whole private club of our foreign-policy leadership when she wrote in 2000 that in the pursuit of its national security the United States no longer needed to be guided by “notions of international law and norms” or “institutions like the United Nations” because America was “on the right side of history.”
Let me remind you of Daniel Ellsberg’s conclusion about the US in Vietnam: “It wasn’t that we were on the wrong side; we were the wrong side.”
Well, far from being on the right side of history, we have in fact fought – I mean actually engaged in warfare – on the same side as al Qaeda and their offspring on several occasions, beginning with Afghanistan in the 1980s and 90s in support of the Islamic Moujahedeen, or Holy Warriors.
The US then gave military assistance, including bombing support, to Bosnia and Kosovo, both of which were being supported by al Qaeda in the Yugoslav conflicts of the early 1990s.
In Libya, in 2011, Washington and the Jihadists shared a common enemy, Gaddafi, and as mentioned, the US bombed the people of Libya for more than six months, allowing jihadists to take over parts of the country; and they’re now fighting for the remaining parts. These wartime allies showed their gratitude to Washington by assassinating the US ambassador and three other Americans, apparently CIA, in the city of Benghazi.
Then, for some years in the mid and late 2000s, the United States backed Islamic militants in the Caucasus region of Russia, an area that has seen more than its share of religious terror going back to the Chechnyan actions of the 1990s.
Finally, in Syria, in attempting to overthrow the Assad government, the US has fought on the same side as several varieties of Islamic militants. That makes six occasions of the US being wartime allies of jihadist forces.
I realize that I have fed you an awful lot of negativity about what America has done to the world, and maybe it’s been kind of hard for some of you to swallow. But my purpose has been to try to loosen the grip on your intellect and your emotions that you’ve been raised with – or to help you to help others to loosen that grip – the grip that assures you that your beloved America means well. US foreign policy will not make much sense to you as long as you believe that its intentions are noble; as long as you ignore the consistent pattern of seeking world domination, which is a national compulsion of very long standing, known previously under other names such as Manifest Destiny, the American Century, American exceptionalism, globalization, or, as Madeleine Albright put it, “the indispensable nation” … while others less kind have used the term “imperialist”.
In this context I can’t resist giving the example of Bill Clinton. While president, in 1995, he was moved to say: “Whatever we may think about the political decisions of the Vietnam era, the brave Americans who fought and died there had noble motives. They fought for the freedom and the independence of the Vietnamese people.” Yes, that’s really the way our leaders talk. But who knows what they really believe?
It is my hope that many of you who are not now activists against the empire and its wars will join the anti-war movement as I did in 1965 against the war in Vietnam. It’s what radicalized me and so many others. When I hear from people of a certain age about what began the process of losing their faith that the United States means well, it’s Vietnam that far and away is given as the main cause. I think that if the American powers-that-be had known in advance how their “Oh what a lovely war” was going to turn out they might not have made their mammoth historical blunder. Their invasion of Iraq in 2003 indicates that no Vietnam lesson had been learned at that point, but our continuing protest against war and threatened war in Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, and elsewhere may have – may have! – finally made a dent in the awful war mentality. I invite you all to join our movement. Thank you.
- NBC News, “German TV Shows Nazi Symbols on Helmets of Ukraine Soldiers”, September 6 2014
- BBC, March 18, 2014
- Information Clearinghouse, “How Can You Tell Whether Russia has Invaded Ukraine?”, September 1 2014
- Boston Globe, October 12, 2001
- See, for example, William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower(2005), chapter 1
- Washington Post, August 28, 2014
- Foreign Affairs magazine (Council on Foreign Relations), January/February 2000