Illiteracy and racial dysfunction…
Current U.S. Census Bureau figures show 22.3 percent of American citizens live below the poverty line. That equates to 69,520,000 Americans. They cannot secure a livable-wage job in order to pay for food, home, medical care and basic living in this country.
Within 37 years, demographic experts project an additional 100 million legal immigrants flowing into the United States of America. They expect to arrive from Africa, Indonesia, India, China, the Middle East, Mexico, Central America, South America and many of the poverty-stricken countries of the world. Their impact on America: they will force the addition, in sheer numbers, of an additional population enough to duplicate our 20 top metropolitan cities in the U.S. in 2013.
(Source: Pew Research Center, U.S. Population Projections by Fogel/Martin and the U.S. Census Bureau document those demographic facts.)
But what most Americans fail to understand stems from the fact that world human population expires at 57 million annually. Humans not only replace 57 million people, but also add an additional 80 million, net gain, to the planet annually. Total: 7.1 billion people in 2013. That’s 137 million new babies that need to be watered, fed, housed, warmed, medicated and educated annually. Unfortunately, those countries with those fecundity rates cannot educate that many new children annually. They lack teachers, books, supplies and schools. Tragically, over 10 million children starve to death annually. (Source: United Nations Population figures.)
The tragedy of America’s 1965 immigration bill added 100 million immigrants within 40 years; then, the 1986 amnesty accelerated the speed of the onslaught and now the proposed S744 amnesty bill expects to add another 100 million immigrants within 35 years or less. Those desperate immigrants will pour into America at 200,000 every 30 days, along with their birth rates, diversity visas and chain-migration.
This five-minute video presents an example of illiteracy and what it costs you as this woman birthed 15 kids on welfare:
Why do you think those countries around the world suffer misery and starvation within their societies? What causes it? Why can’t they duplicate Western skills for filling grocery stores to the brim with food like you see all across America? Answer: illiteracy, lack of intellectual horsepower, cultural poverty, lack of water and arable land.
Unfortunately, we inject those factors into the USA at blinding speed. The new amnesty provides for two million, that’s 2,000,000 million third world immigrants annually. They average 900,000 births annually, which equals 9 million in 10 years. That’s a total of 2.9 million legal immigrants annually. (Source: Dr. Steven Camorata, www.cis.org) When you look at S744, you see 250,000 green cards annually and many more visas on all levels. We could see that 100 million accelerate our population even faster than the predicated 37 years to rush from 316 million to 438 million.
Along the way, we lack the funds, the teachers, the schools, the resources and the languages to teach the endless millions of kids inundating our failing school systems. Over 85 languages create linguistic chaos in my Denver, Colorado school system with minimum of 50 percent dropout rates and as high as 67 percent. Detroit, Michigan runs 76 percent dropout rates as reported by Brian Williams at NBC Nightly News.
We face colossal cultural and educational dysfunction. What one factor drives failed states around the world? Answer: illiteracy.
With over 42 million Americans who cannot read, write or perform simple math, we face enormous challenges that we will not be able to solve. Some 48.1 million Americans subsist on food stamps today. They cannot work, function, feed or house themselves. Do any of us possess any idea what the next 100 million immigrants will mean as to food stamps, section 8 housing, welfare and medical care? How will we cope with their languages?
(Source: Tyler Durden, www.zerohedge.com, “23 percent of Americans illiterate.”)
Racial and linguistic segregation across America
When people lack education, but see wealth on TV, they react. When they can’t attain it, they shoplift, steal cars, form gangs and dwell in underworld ethnic enclaves. You can see it in most failed countries in the world.
Today in Jackson, Mississippi, with a 90 percent African-American population, they elected a mayor who promotes changing five southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina into a separate Republic of New Black Afrika.
Journalist Andrea Ryan wrote, “Raising his fist in a black power salute during his swearing in, the newly elected mayor of Jackson, Mississippi was true to his character as a former leader of the black supremacy group, Republic of New Afrika. The group is dedicated to transforming five of the Southern states into an independent socialist black nation. Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, born in Detroit as Edwin Finley Taliaferro, is a radical activist, and co-founder of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. He’s, also, being praised by the Nation of Islam, who wrote in their publication, Final Call, that ‘the seeds of a black nation are already taking root in Mississippi.’
In Detroit, Michigan, now 93 percent Black and Middle Eastern population, Muslims expect to dominate that population as their numbers grow in the USA from their current seven million to well over 20 million by 2050. They possess the capacity to use the U.S. Constitution to install Sharia Law by voting power of the majority. At some point, another Mayor Chokwe Lumumba could rise out of the ashes of Detroit to lead it toward a separate state or country.
In the UK, France and Belgium, Sharia Law Muslims thugs prowl the streets to beat up on anyone uninformed enough to visit during the night. Last month, in London, England, ten Sharia “police”, caught on video, beat an American boy senseless and disfigured his face because he walked into the “no go zone” in the Muslim sector. France features over 70 “no go zones” dominated by Muslims.
Solid estimates in the USA show 22 Islamic “villages” guarded and walled off from public scrutiny in Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan and Oregon.
In Los Angeles, the legal and illegal Mexican-Latino population overwhelms schools, housing, hospitals and food stamp stores. California features four million illegal migrants and most of them work underground or with forged papers. They defraud food stamp and housing welfare rolls. Spanish fast becomes THE language of southern California. Unfortunately, they fled Mexico where the average child drops out of school by sixth grade. They repeat that cultural practice in California. At some point, a Spanish Chokwe Lumumba will rise out of the quagmire of Los Angeles to lead that arena into a satellite state of Mexico.
Short video on “EBT” (Electronic Benefits Transfer) food stamp cards paid for by your tax dollars to feed illiterate Americans who even ship the food to other countries. A rapper shows how to use them, steal them, trade them and defraud with them:
What does this all add up to in our country?
- A first world country cannot continue at that level of excellence in the face of illiteracy and intellectual dysfunction.
- A first world country cannot maintain its culture, language and educational levels of excellence by injecting itself with multiple languages, cultures and cultural illiteracy.
- One look at the United Kingdom, France, Norway, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Belgium and Holland offers a depressing look at the final outcome of mass immigration from disparate cultures and failed-states worldwide.
- Multiculturalism, illiteracy and multi-lingualism do not, cannot and will not maintain America as a cohesive, viable, educated and first world civilization.
- Since it’s not working in 2013, how will it work with another 100 million added immigrants within 37 year? Answer: it will not!
This video brings this entire Western world nightmare into sharper focus:
“Immigration by the numbers—off the chart” by Roy Beck
This 10 minute demonstration shows Americans the results of unending mass immigration on the quality of life and sustainability for future generations: in a few words, “Mind boggling!” www.NumbersUSA.org
Our situation will not become any prettier as we discuss the exhaustion of oil, resources and arable land in the next part of this series.
Then-Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson devised what has proven to be a brilliant strategy in which to silence and neuter America’s churches. His bill, which created the 501c3 tax-exempt corporation status for churches back in 1954, has, over the decades, effectively muted America’s pulpits. The vast majority of churches today are thoroughly and completely intimidated by the threat of losing their tax-exempt status under the 501c3 section of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). As a result, the vast majority of pastors are unwilling to address virtually any issue from the pulpit that could be deemed as political.
Add to the fear of losing tax-exempt status the egregiously slavish interpretation of Romans 13–that Christians and churches must submit to civil government no matter what–and a very legitimate argument can be made that Mr. Johnson not only silenced and neutered America’s churches, but that he has, in effect, turned them into agents of the state. More and more, the federal government is using pastors and churches to promote its big-government agenda.
Most readers are familiar with how FEMA created a program called “Clergy Response Teams” several years ago. Under this program, tens of thousands of pastors were instructed on how to assist the federal government in the event of a “national emergency.” Pastors were encouraged to teach Bible lessons from Romans 13 in which church members were told that God instructs them to always submit to civil authority unconditionally. They were taught to encourage their congregants to turn in their firearms and to be willing to relocate to government-provided shelters if that is what the government told them to do. The last report I read noted that these Clergy Response Teams have been established in over 1,300 counties in the United States. For those readers who are even casually acquainted with history, is this straight out of the Nazi handbook, or what? Now we learn that churches are being used to help the federal government promote and sell Obamacare.
According to TheBlaze.com, “Community organizers are joining pastors across the country to educate and help parishioners sign up for Obamacare. The coordinated initiative, called ‘Health Care from the Pulpit,’ is being implemented by Enroll America, a non-profit with the goal of maximizing ‘the number of uninsured Americans who enroll in health coverage made available by the Affordable Care Act.’
“The program has already reached a number of churches across the nation. In Jacksonville, Fla, Pastor John Newman is among those who invited community organizers from the group to his church to talk about the cost of Obamacare and the enrollment process.
“During the event, Enroll America invited congregants to fill out cards with basic information about themselves or people they knew who might be in need of health care, WJXT-TV [Jacksonville, Florida] reports.
“‘Our pastor, he keeps us real informed and grounded in what’s going on in the community, and he’s always bringing stuff to help us, so I love him for that,’ said one parishioner named Michelle Fletcher.
“Enroll America knows that pastors are trusted members of the community, which is why churches are a focus for education and information on the health care law.
“Through ‘Health Care from the Pulpit,’ the organization is working with faith leaders to ensure that people hear about availability–and with a captive audience in the pews, the move makes logistical sense.
“‘Pastors are trusted messengers. They’ll be able to get the story across, they’ll be able to relate to that story and they’ll be able to ask people to enroll in health insurance,’ Enroll America organizer Anthony Penna told WJXT.
“From Oct. 25-27, the organization launched its pulpit program as part of the Get Covered America campaign. Enroll America pledged to help churches who wish to enroll congregants or provide people in the community with information and resources.
“A press release from Oct. 22 on the Get Covered America website further explains the purpose of the in-church events.
“‘The “Treat Yourself to Coverage Weekend” will also engage dozens of faith groups for the first nationwide push of “Health Care in the Pulpit,” GetCovered America’s faith engagement program,’ it reads. “Working with a diverse group of faith and lay leaders, Get Covered America will host over 50 events across the country to further engage the faith community in education about enrollment in the marketplace.”
“Other initiatives are bringing churches into the Obamacare fold as well. Dr. Michael Minor, pastor of Oak Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Hernando, Miss., was recently given a federal grant to help enroll individuals in the health care program.
“Through the $317,742 fund, Minor will work with Cover Mississippi, a cohort of advocacy groups organized by the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program. He has already put together a group of 75 to 100 ‘navigators’ (trainers) around the state to provide information and access to Obamacare. While his efforts are unaffiliated with Enroll America, they serve as another example of a church getting involved in the health care roll-out.”
Think about it: before a bill becomes law, pastors are forbidden to address it from the pulpit, because it would be “interfering in politics–a violation of the separation of church and state;” but after a bill becomes law it is now the obligation and duty of pastors to support (and promote) it, because it is now the Biblical thing to do, per Romans 13. Was Johnson a diabolical genius, or what?
By the way, I strongly urge readers to purchase the book on Romans 13 that was co-authored by me and my constitutional attorney son, entitled, “Romans 13: The True Meaning of Submission.” This book shatters the misinterpretation of Romans 13: that Christians are commanded by God to submit to the state no matter what. The Apostle Paul was not introducing a new topic in Romans 13–not at all. The subject is covered throughout the scriptures. This book needs to be read by every pastor and Christian in the country. Order Romans 13: The True Meaning of Submission here:
Or order my 4-message video series on “The True Meaning of Romans 13″(on one DVD)
In the same manner that the Nazi government co-opted the churches of Germany, the federal government in Washington, D.C., is co-opting the churches of America today. During the rise of the Third Reich, Germany’s pastors and churches were taught the same misinterpretation of Romans 13 that pastors and churches in America are now being taught. And in the same way that Hitler used Germany’s pastors and churches to promote his big-government socialist agenda, America’s pastors and churches today are being used to promote the big-government socialist agenda emanating from Washington, D.C. Mr. Bush used the churches to promote the FEMA Clergy Response Teams, and now Mr. Obama is using the churches to promote the federal government’s socialized health care system.
I remind readers that during the Hitler years, the vast majority of German pastors and churches enthusiastically embraced the Nazi agenda even to the point of flying Nazi flags and giving the Nazi salute during the worship services in Germany’s churches. But who among us remembers the names of any of these pathetic pastors? Yet, we do remember (as does history itself) the names of plucky pastors such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Niemoller who led the spiritual opposition to Hitler’s encroachment into the church.
Instead of the federal government’s draconian “Clergy Response Teams,” we need to resurrect Bonhoeffer’s band of heroes, which was known as the “Pastors’ Emergency League.” This was a group of German pastors dedicated to resisting the Nazi agenda–especially inside the church. The creed of Bonhoeffer’s Pastors’ Emergency League was:
1. To renew their allegiance to the Scriptures.
2. To resist those who attack the Scriptures.
3. To give material and financial aid to those who suffered through repressive laws or violence.
4. To repudiate the Nazi cause.
Bonhoeffer’s Pastors’ Emergency League soon became a nationwide movement called, the “Confessing Church.” In his masterful book, “Hitler’s Cross,” Erwin Lutzer summarizes the creed of the Confessing Church as being, “No human sovereign should rule over the church; it must be under the Word of God to fulfill its role.” (Page134)
Lutzer also noted that the Confessing Church soon realized that “blind obedience, even in matters that belong to the state, might be a violation of the Christian mandate.” (Ibid)
Lutzer further wrote, “Many of our Christian heroes were lawbreakers. Whether it was John Bunyan, who sat in a Bedford jail for his preaching, Richard Wurmbrand, who was beaten for teaching the Bible in Communist Romania, Christians have always insisted that there is a law higher than that of the state.” (Ibid)
And, again, to quote Lutzer: “[I]f we say that we will always obey the state, the state becomes our God.” (Ibid)
The brave Bonhoeffer rightly said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” He also said, “We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the
The names of the cowardly and compliant pastors who succumbed to Hitler’s ignominious intimidation are forever lost, while the names of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Niemoller will live forever.
In fact, are not the vast majority of highly revered Hebrew and Christian heroes the ones who RESISTED the power of the state when it became tyrannical? From Abram who resisted the “kings of the nations;” to Gideon; to Samson; to Queen Esther; to the prophet Micaiah; to Daniel; to Shadrach Meshach, and Abednego; to Simon Peter, who told civil leaders, “We ought to obey God rather than men;” to William Tyndale; to John Hus; to John Wycliffe; to John Bunyan; to Savonarola; to Martin Luther; to Dietrich Bonhoeffer; and to Jonas Clark, the names history regards most fondly are the names of men who RESISTED the power of the state when it attempted to interfere with man’s duty and devotion to God.
However, what do we see today? We see pastors and churches once again becoming the pawns of evil men in government. Pastors are not so much messengers of God and watchmen on the wall as much as they are agents of the state. They are not so much shepherds who fight and give their lives for the sheep as much as they are facilitators of the wolves who seek to prey on the sheep. And in modern history, the seed of this compromise and complacency began in 1954 when Lyndon Johnson introduced the devilish 501c3 tax-exempt corporation status for churches.
I am absolutely convinced–now more than ever–that America will never experience any sort of spiritual awakening until pastors and Christians abandon the 501c3 government churches and repudiate the devilish doctrine of unlimited obedience to Caesar. Until we return the Church to its rightful owner, Jesus Christ, the tentacles of oppression and tyranny will continue to strangle our land and our liberties.
The government shutdown and a looming sunset on a temporary funding boost from the 2009 stimulus make November 1 an ominous date for Americans who rely on the federal food stamp program, some of whom would need to look elsewhere for help.
Food stamps are fully paid for through October, according to a shutdown plan released by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) on October 1. The plan outlined what would happen to federal nutrition programs once the government closed absent a funding agreement from Congress.
A $2 billion contingency fund exists for states that need administrative assistance should the shutdown last beyond November 1.
The supplemental nutrition assistance program, known as SNAP, is available to low-income Americans who need help purchasing food. It is funded by the federal government though the USDA, although it is administered by individual states.
The federal government shutdown that began on October 1 has put a spotlight on the program and other federal nutrition initiatives that Americans increasingly rely on for support.
Recipients and providers are beginning to receive more direct notices of what awaits, should the shutdown not be resolved by next month.
In Utah, Fox News 13 in Salt Lake City reported that a local provider recently received a letter from the USDA sticking to the November 1 cut-off date.
“This is going to create a huge hardship for the people we serve here in our food pantry,” Bill Tibbits, Associate Director at Crossroads Urban Center, told Fox News 13.
“What this means [is] if there’s not a deal, if Congress doesn’t reach a deal to get federal government back up and running, in Utah about 100,000 families won’t get food stamp benefit,” added Tibbits.
The USDA letter says in part, “in the interest of preserving maximum flexibility, we are directing states to hold their November issuance files and delay transmission to state electronic benefit transfer vendors until further notice.”
Regardless of whether the shutdown is resolved by November, a temporary boost in SNAP funding associated with the 2009 federal stimulus program will sunset on October 31.
The stimulus, or American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, added $45.2 billion to the SNAP budget, increasing benefits from $588 a month to $668 for an average household of four.
Upon the sunset, a family of four will see a five percent cut to benefits, according to AP.
That cut comes out to average less than $1.40 per person per meal in fiscal year 2014, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
One in seven – or 47 million – Americans receive SNAP benefits. Around half of those are children and teenagers. Mississippi is the state with the highest number of recipients – 22 percent of its population is enrolled in the program.
Census figures reported in September showed that in 2012, around 15 percent of Americans lived at or under the poverty level, which is $23,550 yearly income for a family of four.
The US House voted in September to cut SNAP funding by $39 billion over the next decade. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that such a level of cuts would cause up to 3.8 million people to lose food stamp benefits in 2014.
The Senate had previously voted to cut $4 billion to the program in that time period.
Another major federal nutrition program, WIC (Women, Infants and Children), is also set to shut down around November 1, based on USDA projections, and will not receive further funding. However, the USDA told Education Week that some states are capable of prolonging current funding.
“USDA is working with WIC state agencies to use all available funding resources to provide benefits to participants. [Food and Nutrition Service] will be allocating both contingency and carryover funds to state agencies for use in operating their FY 2014 WIC program, in addition to other available funds. Should a lapse extend through late October, federal WIC funding may not be sufficient to cover benefits,” the USDA’s Bruce Alexander said.
Trying to rebound off the ropes, where it has been pummeled for the past several decades, The United Auto Workers (UAW) has launched an aggressive organizing campaign in the South, in line with an AFL-CIO resolution emphasizing organizing there, where unionization rates are weak across the board.
As reported in The New York Times, the UAW has taken an international approach where union members in Brazil are picketing Nissan dealerships, a U.S. UAW contingent is traveling to South Africa to embarrass Nissan over its antiunion policies, and a similar campaign is underway in Tokyo and Paris.
Actor Danny Glover, has been persuaded to visit college campuses to recruit students to help in the union drive, and community groups are being organized, which include the NAACP, to help as well.
All of these measures are positive steps. Because of globalization and the ease in which industries can escape to anti-worker environments, private sector unions have suffered serious setbacks since the early 1980s. But globalization can be countered.
For example and most importantly, because it is leaning on international support, the UAW has rightly felt obligated to return the favor. In 2010 the UAW demonstrated outside a Hyundai center near Detroit to support the striking workers in Korea. By helping the Korean workers win higher wages, the UAW reduces the incentive for auto industries to flee to Korea.
By repeating this strategy in all other countries with auto manufacturing, globalization in the auto sector could be forced to a standstill. Instead of workers from different countries competing against one another in a race to the bottom – where the goal is to accept lower wages in order to attract business – by adopting the principle of solidarity, workers around the world can begin to raise their standard of living and all rise together.
In this way we could begin to reverse the steady transfer of income from working people to corporations. As The New York Times reported (U.S. Companies Thrive As Workers Fall Behind, 2013): “…wages and salary income in 2012 amounted to 44 percent of G.D.P., the lowest at any time since 1929, which is as far back as the data goes…The flip side of that is that corporate profits after taxes amounted to a record 9.7 percent of G.D.P. Each of the last three years has been higher than the earlier record high, of 9.1 percent, which was set in 1929.”
The UAW’s effort to connect to students and community organizations has the potential to change the balance of forces. Corporations want good public relations. They invest in huge amounts of money to run one-page ads to tout how much money they contribute to local schools or how much they care for the environment. They know more than most of us that public opinion can be a powerful weapon because it serves as the foundation for culture, and a culture conducive to business interests is a huge money-saver for them.
By turning to the community in order to conduct a campaign of shame, the UAW can begin to change culture in a pro-worker direction, which, of course, would benefit most people. But this turn will have to embrace more than a cultural dimension in order to take hold; the union will have to actually champion causes that will benefit the community, for example, by demanding that corporations pay their fair share of taxes so that schools and social services can be properly funded. Those kinds of gains would amount to what are called, “game changers.”
But the UAW will have to overcome some of its missteps if it wants to succeed. In 2007 they accepted a contract that included a $14 per hour salary for new hires, thereby creating a yawning chasm between their pay and that of the current workforce. What this means is that the workers at that time voted in favor of reduced wages for other workers, not for themselves, which inevitably produces animosity between the two groups. But only solidarity can save the union at this point, so in the next contract the union must champion the wages of the newcomers over their more senior coworkers in order to reduce the wage-gap between them.
Secondly, UAW President Bob King has adopted a somewhat contradictory theoretical and strategic framework that needs adjusting. Labor Notes quotes him as saying: “We have completely discarded the ‘us versus them’ mentality.” But Labor Notes went on to note that Gary Walkowicz, who ran against King in the last election for president, doesn’t think that will work and quoted him as saying: “If we want to convince the people in the non-union plants, we have to fight,” he said. “Turn back the concessions and give people a reason to want to join the UAW.” Of course he is right.
In his interview with Labor Notes, King offered this justification: “If workers have a larger voice they produce a better product,” In this way he hopes to promote employers’ success while rejecting “an adversarial work environment.”
There is usually a grain of truth in what people say, and King can boast of his grain, but he fails to capture the larger picture. His partnership philosophy is taking place within the context of capitalism, which radiates in all directions a culture of competition, self-interest and greed. In such a climate corporations are unable to distinguish between the highest good and the highest profit. Their number one concern is always their rate of profit. King’s philosophy will work only under limited conditions that have on the whole disappeared: if the company cannot move to a non-union location elsewhere and make a higher profit, then it will accept the partnership. But just as foxes are programmed to eat chickens, corporations are programmed to maximize profits, and genteel gestures will have little impact on this instinctive reaction. Unless globalization is brought to an abrupt halt, at least as it is currently practiced, King’s auto companies will move to greener pastures.
The “partnership” philosophy, which was trumpeted by John Sweeney, former head of the AFL-CIO, had disastrous consequences. Labor suffered some of its greatest defeats and watched its membership plummet.
Instead of turning to the corporations for partners, the UAW will need to redouble their efforts to build partnerships both domestically and internationally in order to organize a powerful movement of all those who are the victims of corporate policies. When the world’s population, that is overwhelmingly against corporate policies that impoverish workers and trash the environment, is organized, the balance of forces will shift and real change will be possible.
I could barely make out Barack Obama’s Syria speech to the nation on my old car radio as I negotiated the narrow curves of Route 79 on the western banks of the Mississippi River in central Missouri last Tuesday night. What I could hear sounded very much like more of Obama’s by now standard if stunning arch-mendacity.
“To Take This Debate to Congress”
Looking at the speech transcript and video online recently, my suspicions were richly confirmed. Speaking from the end of the same long red carpet where George W. Bush delivered his demented announcement of the invasion of Iraq, Obama claimed that he has turned to Congress for authorization to use force against Syria because “I’m…the President of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy” and “believe[s]…it [is] right, in the absence of a direct or imminent threat to our security, to take this debate to Congress.”
That is certainly a lie. He did no such thing in the case of Libya, subjected to a five-week U.S. bombing campaign (though it posed no “direct or imminent threat to [Americans’] security”) because he didn’t have to, politically. This time it’s different, as the liberalMiddle East historian Juan Cole has explained: “Obama did not need Congress in the case of Libya. He had the Arab League, the UN Security Council, and NATO…But [he has] became more and more isolated [on Syria]. The Arab League declined to call for intervention… Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and other Arab countries forthrightly denounced the idea of foreign military intervention in Syria, a very different stance than many of them took in 2011 with regard to Libya…Then NATO declined to get involved, with Poland, Belgium, and others expressing reluctance…Then the British Parliament followed suit.” Failure to garner any meaningful fig leaf of formal international support is why Obama ran to Congress this time.
“I Possess the Authority”
Obama claimed he has gone to Congress “even though I possess the authority to order military strikes.” The former “liberal” constitutional law professor with a degree from Harvard Law certainly knows that the U.S. Constitution grants war-making authority in Congress alone. He should know further that it is thoroughly criminal under international law for him to attack any sovereign nation in the absence of any direct or imminent threat to the U.S.
Claims of Humanitarian Concern
Obama’s claim to be moved to act by civilian deaths in Syria, citing the horrors of “children writhing in pain, and going still on a cold hospital floor.” This claim is contradicted by the grim determination with which he has regularly murdered innocent civilians (including large numbers of women and children) in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and elsewhere – “collateral damage” in the dirty global war on/of terror he inherited from Cheney-Bush and then expanded. One horrific example – neither the first nor the last among many – occurred in the May of 2009. That’s when U.S. air-strikes killed 140 civilians in Bola Boluk, a village in western Afghanistan’s Farah Province. Ninety-three of the dead villagers torn apart by U.S. explosives were children. Just 22 were males 18 years or older. Villagers brought tractor trailers full of the pieces of human bodies to the provincial governor’s office to prove that the casualties had occurred. “Everyone at the governor’s office was crying, watching that shocking scene,” one observer reported.”
The initial response of the Obama administration and Pentagon to this appalling incident (one of many mass civilian-butchering U.S. aerial killings in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other parts of the Muslim world under Obama) was to absurdly blame the civilian deaths on “Taliban grenades.” Obama’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed “regret” about the loss of innocent life, but the administration refused to issue an apology or acknowledge U.S. responsibility for the blasting apart of civilian bodies in Farah Province.
The matter was quickly dropped and forgotten, sent down George Orwell’s memory hole, with deep media complicity, as the Pentagon wrote checks to the Afghan government to give families a couple thousand dollars per corpse. The U.S. subsequently conducted a dubious “investigation” that reduced the civilian body count drastically and blamed the Taliban for putting civilians in the way of U.S. bombs.
There have been many crimes like Bola Boluk under Obama. People who command glass houses of a sociopathic, mass-murderous empire should not expect to be taken seriously when throw “humanitarian” stones at other butchers.
If Obama is so dismayed by the spectacle of a government “killing its own people,” why is he not calling for missile strikes against the military dictatorship in Egypt, which recently slaughtered hundreds if not thousands of civilians to stop popular protests against the regime? Is it okay to kill your own civilians as long as you are a U.S.-allied regime and/or do the killing with “conventional” weapons?
But why does Obama think we should believe that he can advance humanitarian goals by lobbying cruise missiles at anyone? Two days after Obama’s speech, the New York Times published an Opinion-Editorial from Russian president Vladimir Putin. “The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders,” Putin reasonably observed. “A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.”
Selective History and Terrible Weapons
In his discussion of the past horrors of chemical weapons (by European powers during World War I and by the Nazi holocaust) last Tuesday night, Obama deleted the United States’ vicious deployment of dioxin during the Vietnam War. That example of chemical warfare caused an explosion of birth defects among other terrible results in Southeast Asia. The president also failed to mention that Washington helped Saddam Hussein use nerve gas against Iranian soldiers and the U.S. Marines used white phosphorous in their massive assaults on the civilian population of Fallujah, Iraq in November of 2004.
Will Obama threaten Tel Aviv with cruise missiles for using white phosphorous against Palestinian civilians in Gaza? Of course not: the Palestinians are officially unworthy victims, like the East Timorese and countless others who have been killed and tortured by governments that are allied with the inherently good United States and therefore officially incapable (like the U.S.) of crimes against humanity.
Obama painted out Syria as a rogue state because it has not signed a treaty against chemical weapons like “189 governments that represent 98 percent of humanity.” He did not mention that Syria’s neighbors Syria and Egypt (both U.S. allies) have also not signed the treaty.
Obama had nothing to say, of course, about the even greater dreadfulness of nuclear and radioactive ordnance. The U.S. stands alone in having incinerated and poisoned civilians with atomic weapons – quite unnecessarily in August of 1945. And thanks to America’s deployment of depleted uranium in Iraq, the toxic legacy of the U.S. attacks on Fallujah was worse was that of the atom-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. An epidemic of cancer, leukemia, and birth defects quickly followed in Fallujah.[5A]
“We Know the Assad Regime was Responsible”
“We know,” Obama said, “the Assad regime was responsible” for the Syrian chemical weapons attack of August 21, 2013. Not so. The proof offered by the president, a former lawyer, was hardly impressive. It contained nothing remotely like a smoking gun. Obama made no attempt to disprove other theories of what might have happened, including some German journalists’ finding that the attack was conducted by a rogue Syrian officer acting without Assad’s approval. Nor did he address what left commentator Glen Ford rightly calls “credible reports (everybody’s reports are more credible than the Americans) that rebels under U.S. allied control were told to prepare to go on the offensive following an American retaliation to chemical attack that would be blamed on Assad’s forces.”
“No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria,” Putin wrote in his Times editorial: “But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with [Islamic] fundamentalists.” That is a reasonable judgment.
Nobody should doubt the monstrosity of the Assad regime, but Obama’s proof of Assad’s culpability for the attack in questions amounts pretty much to this: “because I say so.”
“These Things Happened:” The Memory Hole
“When dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other way until those horrifying pictures fade from memory,” Obama said. “But these things happened. The facts cannot be denied.”
An interesting thing to hear from an American president! “From the end of World War Two through the present, the U.S. Empire has caused “the extinction and suffering of countless human beings. The United States,” William Blum Pilger noted eight years ago, “attempted to overthrow fifty governments, many of them democracies, and to crush thirty popular movements fighting tyrannical regimes. In the process, twenty-five countries were bombed, causing the loss of several million lives and the despair of millions more.”
The leading American imperial crimes include a massive U.S. assault on the peasant nation of Vietnam – an epic attack that killed 3 million Indochinese – and the illegal invasion of oil-rich Mesopotamia, whose terrible human consequences (including at least 2 million Iraqis dying prematurely) remain essentially unmentionable in “mainstream” (dominant) U.S. media. Chemical weapons were deployed in both of these grand imperial transgressions.
Over these decades, the U.S. has been what Noam Chomsky calls “ a rogue state, the leading rogue state, radically violating international law, refusing to accept international convention” and even maintaining “self-authorization to commit genocide.”
Is it any wonder that, as Putin noted in the Times, “Millions around the world …see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan ‘you’re either with us or against us’” (emphasis added).
“The Anchor of Global Security”
There should be little surprise that knowledgeable observers the world over cringe and/or roll their eyes when U.S. presidents say things like this, from Obama’s Tuesday night address:”My fellow Americans, for nearly seven decades, the United States has been the anchor of global security…The burdens of leadership are often heavy, but the world is a better place because we have borne them” (emphasis added).
That is a blatant lie, as Obama surely knows. Tell it to the survivors of the millions who have been snuffed out by rogue state America, consistently identified by the global populace for many years as the leading threat to peace and security in the world. Tell it to the people of Chile. Two days ago they commemorated the 40th anniversary of their 9/11 – the September 11, 1973 coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of socialist president Salvador Allende. The coup was assisted and supported by Washington, determined to install a vicious military dictatorship that executed thousands of leftists and others and became a leading center of international terror. The U.S. would not permit the continued existence of democratic socialist government in “our hemisphere.”
What would Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., say about Obama’s claim that the U.S. has been “the anchor of global security” since World War II? In 1967, well within the timeframe of Obama’s sweeping historical claim, King identified the U.S. as “the leading purveyor of violence in the world today.” The Vietnamese, King said, “must see Americans as strange liberators” as they “languish under our bombs….as we he herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps. They know they must move or be destroyed by bombs. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops [with chemical weapons]. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals, with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one ‘Vietcong’-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them – mostly children…” 
Looking at the historical literature on the Cuban Missile Crisis and subsequent moment of supreme nuclear danger, a living King (who would be 84 today had he not been assassinated or perhaps executed inside “the anchor of global security” exactly one year to the day after publicly declaring his opposition to the Vietnam War at the Riverside Church in New York City) today might also like to mention (among other things) the remarkable degree to which the Ahabs of Washington have been willing to risk global thermonuclear war (very barely averted in October 1962) in their quest for unchallenged global supremacy.
“It Never Happened”
But in the U.S, and indeed across much of the West, the record of ongoing, mass-murderous American criminality is airbrushed out of the official history and mass culture. It is tossed down Orwell’s memory hole, consistent with Big Brother’s dictum in Nineteen Eighty Four: “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” As Harold Pinter noted in his biting acceptance of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Literature, the reigning Western cultural authorities behave as if U.S. crimes simply did not occur. When it comes to America’s transgression against civilized norms and international law, “nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening,” Pinter added, “it never happened. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.” Dominant U.S.-led Western cultural codes mandate that the only victims meriting acknowledgement and compassion are those assaulted by officially designated enemies. The larger number victimized by the U.S. and its clients and allies (e.g., the Palestinians suffering under Israeli occupation and apartheid) do not qualify for sympathy or even existence. They don’t exist. The crimes against them didn’t take place.
Detour and Lost Cool
Eleven minutes into his war speech, Obama had to strangely shift gears and acknowledge the need to delay his hoped-for war vote in light of Russia and Syria’s last-minute proposal to demolish Syria’s chemical weapons under international supervision and control. He tried to save militaristic face by attributing the Russian and Syrian move to his threatened use of force. He seemed to expect his listeners to preposterously believe that a peaceful, diplomatic, and international solution is his idea. Obama wants us to think that the United Nations route was his preferred path all along.
That’s nonsense. Obama is an aggressive commander of a rogue military state that prefers force and unilateral action in the names of unimpeded hegemony and “American exceptionalism.” He and many of his fellow fake-humanitarian cruise missile liberal imperialists have been itching for a bigger war in the Middle East, one that will let him attack the great regional enemy Iran and wrap the remainder of his lame-duck presidency in the splendor of war-fed patriotism.
Like the British Parliament’s vote against attacking Syria, Putin and Assad’s peace gambit is a great humiliation for Obama. It knocked more stuffing out of his failing fake-humanitarian effort to rally a reluctant, war-weary citizenry plagued by massive domestic problems (including remarkably durable “homeland” poverty and unemployment alongside stunning, New Gilded Age levels of inequality that have only increased under Obama’s supposedly progressive presidency) behind another expensive imperial campaign.
Expect the defeated president to do his best to get the nation back on a unilateral war footing. For now, he has been defeated not simply by other politicians but also by public opinion – by the citizenry in whose name he claims to speak. Imagine that. Along the way, Barack “The Empire’s New Clothes” Obama may well have lost his public cool, the swagger in his step, once and for all. Syria may prove his undoing –the moment when the outwardly nice and smooth-talking “leader” is most clearly revealed for what he really is: a cold-blooded sociopath and pathological liar. That’s long overdue, but its better late than never.
Paul Street (email@example.com) is the author of many books, including The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power (2010), Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (2008), Crashing the Tea Party (2011), and They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy (Paradigm Publishers, forthcoming in January 2014).
2. Carlotta Gall and Taimoor Shah, “Civilian Deaths Imperil Support for Afghan War,” New York Times, May 6, 2009.
3. Gall and Shah, “Civilian Deaths;”
4. Paul Street, “Niebuhr Lives, Civilians Die in the Age of Obama,” ZNet (June 15, 2009), read athttp://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/21701. By contrast around the same time in 2009, there was a brief media frenzy over a very different occurrence, enough to elicit a full apology and to fire a White House official. The problem was that the White House had scared New Yorkers with an ill-advised Air Force One photo-soot flyover of Manhattan that reminded people below of 9/11. SeeChristina Boyle, “President Obama Calls Air Force One Flyover ‘Mistake’ After Low-Flying Plane Terrifies New York,” New York Daily News, April 28, 2009; Michel Muskai, “Presidential Plane’s Photo-Op Over New York Coast as Much as $357,000,” Los Angeles Times, May 9, 2009; Peter Nicholas, “Louis Caldera Resigns Over Air Force One Flyover Fiasco,” Los Angeles Time, May 9, 2009.
5. Vladimir Putin, A Plea for Caution From Russia,” New York Times, September 12, 2013.
5A. Patrick Cockburn, “Toxic Legacy of U.S. Assault on Fallujah ‘Worse Than Hiroshima,” The Independent, July 24, 2010,http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/toxic-legacy-of-us-assault-on-fallujah-worse-than-hiroshima-2034065.html; “Fallujah More Radioactive Than Hiroshima,” RT, uploaded on July 29, 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWIy9-cfMIo. A useful history of U.S. use and encouragement of chemical and biological weapons at home and abroad can be found in William Blum,Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (Monroe. ME: Common Courage, 2005), 136-160.
6. Glen Ford, “Obama’s Humiliating Defeat,” Black Agenda Report (September 11, 2013),http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/obama%E2%80%99s-humiliating-defeat
7. Blum, Rogue State, 1-2. Honduras and Libya must (at the very least) be added to the list of countries where the U.S. has acted to overthrow governments since Blum wrote. Libya and Somalia must (at the least) added to the list of countries bombed by the U.S.
8 Noam Chomsky, “Instead of Illegal Threat to Syria, U.S. Should Back Chemical Weapons Ban in All Nations,” Democracy Now! (September 11, 2013), http://www.democracynow.org/2013/9/11/chomsky_instead_of_illegal_threat_to
9. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Beyond Vietnam – a Time to Break the Silence” (Riverside Church, New York City, April 4, 1967), audio recording at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k29PAUSyrlA
10. Noam Chomsky, Address to Left Forum, New York City, 2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yvHMtgac0Q
11.Quoted in John Pilger, Freedom Next Time: Resisting the Empire (New York: Nation Books, 2007), 4.
Via Z Net
What is it that makes young men, reasonably well educated, in good health and nice looking, with long lives ahead of them, use powerful explosives to murder complete strangers because of political beliefs?
I’m speaking about American military personnel of course, on the ground, in the air, or directing drones from an office in Nevada.
Do not the survivors of US attacks in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya and elsewhere, and their loved ones, ask such a question?
The survivors and loved ones in Boston have their answer – America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
That’s what Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving Boston bomber has said in custody, and there’s no reason to doubt that he means it, nor the dozens of others in the past two decades who have carried out terrorist attacks against American targets and expressed anger toward US foreign policy. 1 Both Tsarnaev brothers had expressed such opinions before the attack as well. 2 The Marathon bombing took place just days after a deadly US attack in Afghanistan killed 17 civilians, including 12 children, as but one example of countless similar horrors from recent years. “Oh”, an American says, “but those are accidents. What terrorists do is on purpose. It’s cold-blooded murder.”
But if the American military sends out a bombing mission on Monday which kills multiple innocent civilians, and then the military announces: “Sorry, that was an accident.” And then on Tuesday the American military sends out a bombing mission which kills multiple innocent civilians, and then the military announces: “Sorry, that was an accident.” And then on Wednesday the American military sends out a bombing mission which kills multiple innocent civilians, and the military then announces: “Sorry, that was an accident.” … Thursday … Friday … How long before the American military loses the right to say it was an accident?
Terrorism is essentially an act of propaganda, to draw attention to a cause. The 9-11 perpetrators attacked famous symbols of American military and economic power. Traditionally, perpetrators would phone in their message to a local media outlet beforehand, but today, in this highly-surveilled society, with cameras and electronic monitoring at a science-fiction level, that’s much more difficult to do without being detected; even finding a public payphone can be near impossible.
From what has been reported, the older brother, Tamerlan, regarded US foreign policy also as being anti-Islam, as do many other Muslims. I think this misreads Washington’s intentions. The American Empire is not anti-Islam. It’s anti-only those who present serious barriers to the Empire’s plan for world domination.
The United States has had close relations with Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar, amongst other Islamic states. And in recent years the US has gone to great lengths to overthrow the leading secular states of the Mideast – Iraq, Libya and Syria.
Moreover, it’s questionable that Washington is even against terrorism per se, but rather only those terrorists who are not allies of the empire. There has been, for example, a lengthy and infamous history of tolerance, and often outright support, for numerous anti-Castro terrorists, even when their terrorist acts were committed in the United States. Hundreds of anti-Castro and other Latin American terrorists have been given haven in the US over the years. The United States has also provided support to terrorists in Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Kosovo, Bosnia, Iran, Libya, and Syria, including those with known connections to al Qaeda, to further foreign policy goals more important than fighting terrorism.
Under one or more of the harsh anti-terrorist laws enacted in the United States in recent years, President Obama could be charged with serious crimes for allowing the United States to fight on the same side as al Qaeda-linked terrorists in Libya and Syria and for funding and supplying these groups. Others in the United States have been imprisoned for a lot less.
As a striking example of how Washington has put its imperialist agenda before anything else, we can consider the case of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an Afghan warlord whose followers first gained attention in the 1980s by throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil. This is how these horrible men spent their time when they were not screaming “Death to America”. CIA and State Department officials called Hekmatyar “scary,” “vicious,” “a fascist,” “definite dictatorship material”. 3 This did not prevent the United States government from showering the man with large amounts of aid to fight against the Soviet-supported government of Afghanistan. 4 Hekmatyar is still a prominent warlord in Afghanistan.
A similar example is that of Luis Posada who masterminded the bombing of a Cuban airline in 1976, killing 73 civilians. He has lived a free man in Florida for many years.
USA Today reported a few months ago about a rebel fighter in Syria who told the newspaper in an interview: “The afterlife is the only thing that matters to me, and I can only reach it by waging jihad.” 5 Tamerlan Tsarnaev may have chosen to have a shootout with the Boston police as an act of suicide; to die waging jihad, although questions remain about exactly how he died. In any event, I think it’s safe to say that the authorities wanted to capture the brothers alive to be able to question them.
It would be most interesting to be present the moment after a jihadist dies and discovers, with great shock, that there’s no afterlife. Of course, by definition, there would have to be an afterlife for him to discover that there’s no afterlife. On the other hand, a non-believer would likely be thrilled to find out that he was wrong.
Let us hope that the distinguished statesmen, military officers, and corporate leaders who own and rule America find out in this life that to put an end to anti-American terrorism they’re going to have to learn to live without unending war against the world. There’s no other defense against a couple of fanatic young men with backpacks. Just calling them insane or evil doesn’t tell you enough; it may tell you nothing.
But this change in consciousness in the elite is going to be extremely difficult, as difficult as it appears to be for the parents of the two boys to accept their sons’ guilt. Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, stated after the Boston attack: “The American global domination project is bound to generate all kinds of resistance in the post-colonial world. In some respects, the United States has been fortunate not to experience worse blowbacks … We should be asking ourselves at this moment, ‘How many canaries will have to die before we awaken from our geopolitical fantasy of global domination?’” 6
Officials in Canada and Britain as well as US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice have called for Falk to be fired. 7
President Kennedy’s speech, half a century ago
I don’t know how many times in the 50 years since President John F. Kennedy made his much celebrated 1963 speech at American University in Washington, DC. 8 I’ve heard or read that if only he had lived he would have put a quick end to the war in Vietnam instead of it continuing for ten more terrible years, and that the Cold War might have ended 25 years sooner than it did. With the 50th anniversary coming up June 13 we can expect to hear a lot more of the same, so I’d like to jump the gun and offer a counter-view.
Let us re-examine our attitude toward the Soviet Union. It is discouraging to think that their leaders may actually believe what their propagandists write. It is discouraging to read a recent authoritative Soviet text on Military Strategy and find, on page after page, wholly baseless and incredible claims such as the allegation that “American imperialist circles are preparing to unleash different types of war … that there is a very real threat of a preventative war being unleashed by American imperialists against the Soviet Union” … [and that] the political aims – and I quote – “of the American imperialists are to enslave economically and politically the European and other capitalist countries … [and] to achieve world domination … by means of aggressive war.”
It is indeed refreshing that an American president would utter a thought such as: “It is discouraging to think that their leaders may actually believe what their propagandists write.” This is what radicals in every country wonder about their leaders, not least in the United States. For example, “incredible claims such as the allegation that ‘American imperialist circles are preparing to unleash different types of war’.”
In Kennedy’s short time in office the United States had unleashed many different types of war, from attempts to overthrow governments and suppress political movements to assassination attempts against leaders and actual military combat – one or more of these in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, British Guiana, Iraq, Congo, Haiti, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Cuba and Brazil. This is all in addition to the normal and routine CIA subversion of countries all over the world map. Did Kennedy really believe that the Soviet claims were “incredible”?
And did he really doubt that that the driving force behind US foreign policy was “world domination”? How else did he explain all the above interventions (which have continued non-stop into the 21st century)? If the president thought that the Russians were talking nonsense when they accused the US of seeking world domination, why didn’t he then disavow the incessant US government and media warnings about the “International Communist Conspiracy”? Or at least provide a rigorous definition of the term and present good evidence of its veracity.
Quoting further: “Our military forces are committed to peace and disciplined in self-restraint.” No comment.
“We are unwilling to impose our system on any unwilling people.” Unless of course the people foolishly insist on some form of socialist alternative. Ask the people of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, British Guiana and Cuba, just to name some of those in Kennedy’s time.
“At the same time we seek to keep peace inside the non-Communist world, where many nations, all of them our friends …” American presidents have been speaking of “our friends” for many years. What they all mean, but never say, is that “our friends” are government and corporate leaders whom we keep in power through any means necessary – the dictators, the kings, the oligarchs, the torturers – not the masses of the population, particularly those with a measure of education.
“Our efforts in West New Guinea, in the Congo, in the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent, have been persistent and patient despite criticism from both sides.”
Persistent, yes. Patient, often. But moral, fostering human rights, democracy, civil liberties, self-determination, not fawning over Israel … ? As but one glaring example, the assassination of Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, perhaps the last chance for a decent life for the people of that painfully downtrodden land; planned by the CIA under Eisenhower, but executed under Kennedy.
“The Communist drive to impose their political and economic system on others is the primary cause of world tension today. For there can be no doubt that, if all nations could refrain from interfering in the self-determination of others, the peace would be much more assured.”
See all of the above for this piece of hypocrisy. And so, if no nation interfered in the affairs of any other nation, there would be no wars. Brilliant. If everybody became rich there would be no poverty. If everybody learned to read there would be no illiteracy.
“The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war.”
So … Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Cuba, and literally dozens of other countries then, later, and now, all the way up to Libya in 2012 … they all invaded the United States first? Remarkable.
And this was the man who was going to end the war in Vietnam very soon after being re-elected the following year? Lord help us.
This is not to put George W. Bush down. That’s too easy, and I’ve done it many times. No, this is to counter the current trend to rehabilitate the man and his Iraqi horror show, which partly coincides with the opening of his presidential library in Texas. At the dedication ceremony, President Obama spoke of Bush’s “compassion and generosity” and declared that: “He is a good man.” The word “Iraq” did not pass his lips. The closest he came at all was saying “So even as we Americans may at times disagree on matters of foreign policy, we share a profound respect and reverence for the men and women of our military and their families.” 9 Should morality be that flexible? Even for a politician? Obama could have just called in sick.
At the January 31 congressional hearing on the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense, Senator John McCain ripped into him for his critique of the Iraq war:
“The question is, were you right or were you wrong?” McCain demanded, pressing Hagel on why he opposed Bush’s decision to send 20,000 additional troops to Iraq in the so-called ‘surge’.
“I’m not going to give you a yes-or-no answer. I think it’s far more complicated than that,” Hagel responded. He said he would await the “judgment of history.”
Glaring at Hagel, McCain ended the exchange with a bitter rejoinder: “I think history has already made a judgment about the surge, sir, and you are on the wrong side of it.” 10
Before the revisionist history of the surge gets chiseled into marble, let me repeat part of what I wrote in this report at the time, December 2007:
The American progress is measured by a decrease in violence, the White House has decided – a daily holocaust has been cut back to a daily multiple catastrophe. And who’s keeping the count? Why, the same good people who have been regularly feeding us a lie for the past five years about the number of Iraqi deaths, completely ignoring the epidemiological studies. A recent analysis by the Washington Post left the administration’s claim pretty much in tatters. The article opened with: “The U.S. military’s claim that violence has decreased sharply in Iraq in recent months has come under scrutiny from many experts within and outside the government, who contend that some of the underlying statistics are questionable and selectively ignore negative trends.”
To the extent that there may have been a reduction in violence, we must also keep in mind that, thanks to this lovely little war, there are several million Iraqis either dead, wounded, in exile abroad, or in bursting American and Iraqi prisons. So the number of potential victims and killers has been greatly reduced. Moreover, extensive ethnic cleansing has taken place in Iraq (another good indication of progress, n’est-ce pas? nicht wahr?) – Sunnis and Shiites are now living more in their own special enclaves than before, none of those stinking mixed communities with their unholy mixed marriages, so violence of the sectarian type has also gone down. On top of all this, US soldiers have been venturing out a lot less (for fear of things like … well, dying), so the violence against our noble lads is also down.
One of the signs of the reduction in violence in Iraq, the administration would like us to believe, is that many Iraqi families are returning from Syria, where they had fled because of the violence. The New York Times, however, reported that “Under intense pressure to show results after months of political stalemate, the [Iraqi] government has continued to publicize figures that exaggerate the movement back to Iraq”; as well as exaggerating “Iraqis’ confidence that the current lull in violence can be sustained.” The count, it turns out, included all Iraqis crossing the border, for whatever reason. A United Nations survey found that 46 percent were leaving Syria because they could not afford to stay; 25 percent said they fell victim to a stricter Syrian visa policy; and only 14 percent said they were returning because they had heard about improved security.
How long can it be before vacation trips to “Exotic Iraq” are flashed across our TVs? “Baghdad’s Beautiful Beaches Beckon”. Just step over the bodies. Indeed, the State Department has recently advertised for a “business development/tourism” expert to work in Baghdad, “with a particular focus on tourism and related services.” 11
Another argument raised again recently to preserve George W.’s legacy is that “He kept us safe”. Hmm … I could swear that he was in the White House around the time of September 11 … What his supporters mean is that Bush’s War on Terrorism was a success because there wasn’t another terrorist attack in the United States after September 11, 2001 while he was in office; as if terrorists killing Americans is acceptable if it’s done abroad. Following the American/Bush strike on Afghanistan in October 2001 there were literally scores of terrorist attacks – including some major ones – against American institutions in the Middle East, South Asia and the Pacific: military, civilian, Christian, and other targets associated with the United States.
Even the claim that the War on Terrorism kept Americans safe at home is questionable. There was no terrorist attack in the United States during the 6 1/2 years prior to the one in September 2001; not since the April 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. It would thus appear that the absence of terrorist attacks in the United States is the norm.
William Blum speaking in Wisconsin, near Minnesota
Saturday, July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. Peacestock is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace in an idyllic location near the Mississippi, just one hour’s drive from the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Peacestock is sponsored by Veterans for Peace, Chapter 115, and has a peace-themed agenda. Kathy Kelly, peace activist extraordinaire, will also speak.
You can camp there and be fed well, meat or vegetarian. Full information at:http://www.peacestockvfp.org 11
- William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, chapters 1 and 2, for cases up to about 2003; later similar cases are numerous; e.g., Glenn Greenwald, “They Hate US for our Occupations”, Salon, October 12, 2010 ↩
- Huffington Post, April 20, 2013; Washington Post, April 21 ↩
- Tim Weiner, Blank Check: The Pentagon’s Black Budget (1990), p.149-50. ↩
- William Blum, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II ↩
- USA Today, December 3, 2012 ↩
- ForeignPolicyJournal.com, April 21, 2013 ↩
- The Telegraph (London), April 25, 2013; Politico.com, April 24 ↩
- Full text of speech ↩
- Remarks by President Obama at Dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library ↩
- Los Angeles Times, February 1, 2013 ↩
- Anti-Empire Report, #52, December 11, 2007 ↩
Andre Pshenichnikov (24) is a most unusual kid. So unusual that he is languishing in Egyptian jail for crossing the border without proper papers. But his story begins earlier. I first heard of him when this young programmer from a Tel Aviv suburb stayed in Deheishe refugee camp near Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. He did not go there to explore Palestinian way of life, or to write for a newspaper; he was not looking for publicity, he did not hide nor emphasize his Israeli identity. He did not act as an activist, marching at demos and enjoying popularity. He just rented a room, worked at a building site or waited tables in a tourist restaurant just like any Palestinian youth of his age in Deheishe, lived with ordinary people on his salary.
Andre did the impossible. He crossed the biggest chasm there is. Imagine a white boy from Philly, picking cotton and living with blacks in a cabin on a Mississippi plantation in the days of Jim Crow. No Freedom Rider went that far. He broke an important taboo: so many Israelis are convinced that the Palestinians would kill them on sight, at first occasion. By his example he refuted this fantasy. He renounced apartheid personally by living with Palestinians.
It did not work out very well: “I was always under suspicion”, – he says. People were hostile to him, excepting a few brave ones. Palestinians did not understand what he was doing there and subtly hinted at it by seizing him and passing him to Israeli security like a hot potato. Israelis charged him with entering the Palestinian Territories – it is forbidden by Israeli law.
He was not cooled off by this setback. He decided to continue his personal crusade – declared that he gives up his Israeli citizenship and asked for a Palestinian one. He’s got no reply from the PNA. Though there are many Israelis who would like to, the PNA does not position itself as an alternative government for the land.
Andre Pshenichnikov (his long last name can be translated as Wheaten) was born in the USSR just before its collapse; his parents took him to Israel. He graduated from Israeli school and served in the Israeli army, but he remained a good, idealistic Russian boy. He failed as a Jew, but passed with honours as a human. It is amazing that such Turgenev-style kids still exist in our pragmatic age, and they still go out to “join the working people”. And the working people still surrender these good-wishers to the security forces, for they could not understand them.
Some young kids are positively influenced by what they witness in their military service. The occupation is so brutal, that it comes as a shock – and this shock causes them to reject the Israeli official thinking. After army service they emigrate or withdraw from public life; some go further. Andre Pshenichnikov, a Soviet-born son of a Russian Christian mother, was unable to understand his Zionist-brainwashed comrades who humiliate Palestinians at checkpoints, arrest the men and insult the women, or shoot Palestinian children for sport. That’s why he went to Deheishe.
His left-wing pro-Palestinian friends invited him to a conference in Cairo. The police took away his passport – the reckless kid hastily stepped over the Egyptian border without documents, with just a few newspaper clippings about himself. If he thought he’d get a hero welcome, he was wrong. The Egyptians arrested him and sentenced him to two years of prison, though such a crime usually is published by a fine, or a week of detention. To them he was just another dubious Israeli. Perhaps the Israeli secret services have requested of their Egyptian colleagues to keep Andre under wraps as long as possible. His sincere idealistic desire to support Palestinians to such a degree was understood neither in Deheishe nor in Sinai. It is tragic that people who cross lines make others extremely suspicious. This was the case with German anti-Nazis in the WWII: people often weren’t sure what to make of them, but they were the bedrock of post-war change.
Such kids are necessary if we want to undo the apartheid in Palestine/Israel. They should be promoted by Arab governments, not locked up. There are too few Israelis and/or Jews who live amongst native Palestinians. A few Israelis, men (Uri Davis) and women (Neta Golan), got married over the Green line. Amira Haas lived in Gaza and Ramallah, but she wrote for the Haaretz. Bigger part of my life passed in Palestinian seaside town of Jaffa, but it is a traditionally cosmopolitan city under Israeli rule, and many Israelis, artists and writers, live there. Andre did an important step.
Now Andre’s mother country, Russia, has learned of his fate and decided to help her hitherto lost son. The PNA should do more to help him out, and so can our friends and friends of Palestine in Egypt and elsewhere. Let him be free! Though his actions were reckless, his intentions were noble, and we need such people.
While I’m generally no fan of new laws, a law that prohibits stupid laws is a definite exception. And that’s just what the great state of Mississippi is giving us by passing legislation that would prohibit localities from limiting food portion sizes, forcing restaurants to list calorie counts on menus, and banning the inclusion of toys with meals. The bill was inspired by Little Big Gulp (the man some still call Mayor Michael Bloomberg), whose current mission is to ensure that human life may not be endangered via imprudent use of fat, sugar, or bullets but only abortion.
The Mississippi legislation, which has been dubbed the “anti-Bloomberg bill,” isn’t just symbolic. When mayors such as Little Big Gulp (LBG) conjure up a new way to torment people for their own good, one of their aims — often stated — is to “set an example for the rest of the nation.” And it works. Other politicians with more brazenness than brains will also go full nanny state and commit what is the worst of copycat crimes. Thankfully, MS has decided to prevent this with a bill that its governor is expected to sign.
As for LBG, he isn’t just a tyrannical nanny stater, but a rather dull one. Banning large sodas will have as much of an effect upon obesity as prohibiting a bayonet mount on an AR-15 will have upon murder. Large sodas have simply become the latest scapegoat, just as SUV’s were with respect to glo-bull warming and Saturday Night Specials once were with crime. Even if you could keep a given gun out of criminals’ hands — which you cannot — they could just as easily use a different firearm; their problem is criminality, not their current method or tools for committing crimes. Likewise, obesity is generally caused a lifestyle, not one particular food.
In fact, how great a factor are sugary drinks, anyway? It isn’t unusual for a fat person to get a diet soda — and use it to wash down a piece of chocolate cake or bag of chips. After all, diet drinks are readily available and boast great taste, but we can’t say the same for diet cake and chips. Moreover, having that low-cal soda can make a person feel better about eating the junk, as he can then rationalize that he’s being proactive with respect to his weight in some way.
In reality, I think it’s people such as me who are more likely to imbibe sugary drinks. I’m 6’1”, 180, and I’ll confess to a can-a-day Coke habit (and you’ll have to pry that heavenly nectar from my cold, dead hands, LBG). And what of the lower-income folks who buy large drinks at a theater with the intent of sharing them with the whole family? I know money is no object to Daddy Warbucks LBG, but some people have to try to economize.
Worse still is the hypocrisy. Arianna Huffington was campaigning against the SUV some years back while buzzing around on private jets and using more energy than any 10 average Americans. Gabby Giffords’ husband just bought an AR-15, and many pro-gun-control politicians have been found to be pro-gun ownership when it comes to themselves. And while we may not find LBG in a dark room somewhere suckin’ on a Big Gulp like an Obama crony on the government teat, I’ve already mentioned his support for abortion. And how pro-death is he? Well, he once allegedly responded to a female underling who had just announced her pregnancy by saying, “Kill it!” Imagine, this from a man who recently said about his intent to use taxpayer money to fight for his soda ban in court, “I’ve got to defend my children, and yours, and do what’s right to save lives.” Billions of dollars and no brains.
But it doesn’t take a big mind to enable big government. As to this, we should be mindful of a warning C.S. Lewis issued long ago:
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
No doubt. Just as there will always be murder and hence always a call for more gun control, there will be obesity as long as there’s prosperity. And this is why the LBGs of the world will torment us without end. For dare you emerge from the womb, you’ll be the government’s till the tomb.
On the front of the March 11, 2013 cover of Time Magazine, legless athlete Oscar Pistorius stands like a physical specimen held up by his prosthetic legs. The title reads, “Man, superman, gunman: Oscar Pistorius and South Africa’s culture of violence,” by Alex Perry.
“Don’t keep sweeping your troubles under the rug for someday you’ll trip over it.” Taylor Wapaha
While reading the article, I felt overwhelmed by the statistics: South Africa # 6 in the world for gun killings, 88 percent rise in home robberies in the past five years and total racial separation. Black poverty skyrocketed after the end of apartheid. Two surveys found: “…28 percent of men admitted to being rapists and 46 percent of victims were less than 16 years of age, 23 percent under 11 and 9 percent under six years old. Out of 3.5 million residents of Cape Town, 2.1 million live in shacks without toilets or running water.”
“In the townships, vigilante beatings and killings are the norm,” wrote Time writer Alex Perry. “South Africa’s private security industry employs 411,000 people, more than double the number of police officers. South Africa knows crime as a vast stretch of lawlessness covering an area twice the size of Texas. As much as $50 billion annually is lost to graft and crime.”
Much of Africa comprises dictators and unimaginable human brutality toward women. When you include the Muslim world’s honor killings of 5,000 women killed by fathers, brothers and husbands annually, you get a sick feeling in your stomach. While the world “rapes” Africa for its natural resources, its human residents suffer indescribable misery from Cape Town to Cairo. Note Egypt’s internal revolution, Syria killing of over 70,000 and Libya’s ongoing war, Somalia’s starving people, Sudan, etc.
What about human nature in America?
In my Denver Post, another equally disturbing article appeared by Lisa Wirthman: “I felt like I was dying inside.” (February 24, 2013) The rape victim said, “I was paralyzed by flashbacks, nightmares and anxiety attacks.”
Domestic violence in America:
- One in four U.S. adult women is a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime. A woman in America suffers a violent attack every 15 seconds 24/7. Four million abuse cases annually.
- Three women are killed by a current or former intimate partner each day in America.
(Source: Centers for Disease Control)
In America in the 21st century in a highly educated society: rape and brutality continue without pause.
In the meantime, our country brutalized and killed countless people in Iraq in a war started by George W. Bush via the fabrication of “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” David Brown, Washington Post staff writer said, “A team of American and Iraqi epidemiologists estimates that 655,000 more people have died in Iraq since coalition forces arrived in March 2003 than would have died if the invasion had not occurred.”
When it comes to mechanized violence, our U.S. Military killed over 2.1 million men, women and children in Vietnam. The total deaths from the 11 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan may total over one million human beings. How can our U.S. Congress act with such arrogance and self-righteousness to continue those wars for so long with so much cost and so much death? Yet, we sweep it under the rug and out of our minds.
War on Mother Nature succeeding
While we spend so much money on the “War on Terror”; “War on Poverty”; “War on Drugs” and other such “wars”, we fail dramatically. Ten years of war in Iraq did absolutely nothing whatsoever to protect the United States of America. Instead, it ravaged a sovereign society and flooded our country with tens of thousands of Muslim refugees. Same with Afghanistan!
Notwithstanding, our “War on Mother Nature” proceeds with blinding speed. We humans, in the blink of 50 years and the invention of plastic, managed to create the 100 million ton Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the size of Texas, floating 1,000 miles off San Francisco. It kills millions of marine and avian life annually. We have done nothing to stop adding to it. No deposit-return laws worldwide—no nothing.
(Unfathomable billions of pieces of plastic washing throughout the oceans, lakes, seas, rivers and streams of the world—all created by humans around the planet.) Photo by www.thewritefuture.com
“The world’s navies and commercial shipping fleets make a significant contribution, throwing some 639,000 plastic containers overboard every day, along with their other litter,” said ocean reporter Richard Grant. “But after a few more years of sampling ocean water in the gyre and near the mouths of Los Angeles streams, Moore concluded that 80 per cent of marine plastic was discarded on land. There are now 46,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometer of the world’s oceans, killing a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals each year.”
(Endless plastic trash washes up on beaches around the world and kills wildlife by the millions.) Photo bywww.thewritefuture.com
In an Associated Press article by Verena Dobnic, “River of trash”, (March 3, 2013) she reports, “Just across the East river from midtown Manhattan’s shimmering skyscrapers sits one of the nation’s most polluted neighborhoods, fouled by generations of industrial waste, overflow from the city’s sewage system and an underground oil leak bigger than the Exxon Valdez spill. Oily, rainbow-slick water is filled with soda cans, plastic bottles, raw sewage and decaying food. Ditched vehicles are stuck in the mud. What was once a watershed is now a sewage shed. Today, the creek’s bottom is lined with 15 foot thick layer of petroleum-based pollutants that scientists have dubbed “black mayonnaise.”
(Wildlife eat the plastic trash that eventually kills them.) Photo by www.thewritefuture.com
With endless poisons injected into our rivers, the Mississippi River creates a 10,000 mile square dead-zone at its mouth. The Yangtze, Ganges and other great rivers create 20,000 square mile dead zones at their mouths. Yet, we humans do absolutely nothing to clean up our messes all over the planet.
I’ve tried for 40 years to get Peter Coors of Coors Brewing to support a 10 cent deposit return law in Colorado. Instead, his money killed our deposit-return efforts in Colorado in 1974 and 1988. Why do men and women with money and power in this country—do nothing for the good of our environment? Why do the men and women of our U.S. Congress do absolutely nothing for the good of our natural world?
What would solve so many of the aforementioned problems? Answer: first and foremost—education to create responsible citizens who care about their world, loving families, jobs, stable communities, recreation and a healthy natural world. Is it asking too much for our leaders to work for the betterment of our lives rather than endless wars, profits over humanity and destruction of planet?
In the end, with another 3.1 billion people projected to be added to this planet within the next 37 years, is there any hope for civility, care about our planet and care about our fellow human beings?
When a group or organization seeks to establish any social policy, it helps tremendously if that group remains honest in their endeavor. If its members are forced to lie, tell half-truths or use manipulative tactics in order to fool the masses into accepting its initiative, then the initiative at its very core is not worth consideration. Propaganda is not simply political rhetoric or editorial fervor; it is the art of deceiving people into adopting the ideology you want them to espouse. It is not about convincing people of the truth; it is about convincing people that fallacy is truth.
Nothing embodies this disturbing reality of cultural dialogue more than the ill-conceived movement toward gun control in America.
It isn’t that gun control proponents are impossible to talk to in a rational manner; most gun control activists have an almost fanatical cult-like inability to listen to reason. It isn’t that they are so desperate to paint themselves as “intellectually superior” to 2nd Amendment advocates; intellectual idiocy is a plague upon many ideological groups. What really strikes me as astonishing is the vast and embarrassing lengths to which gun grabbers in particular will go to in order to deny facts and obfuscate history.
I have seen jaw-dropping acts of journalistic debauchery and blatant disregard for reality since the gun debate exploded in the wake of Sandy Hook. I have seen past precedents rewritten in order to falsely diminish gun rights arguments. I have seen dishonest and volatile tactics used to misdirect discussion and attack the character, rather than the position, of those who defend the 2nd Amendment. I have seen gun grabbers use unbelievable acts of deception that border on clinically sociopathic in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
A perfect example has been the assertion by gun control proponents that despotic regimes do not disarm their populations before committing genocide. This primarily stems from the rationalization that the Third Reich did not exactly introduce gun control measures, rather it used measures that were already in existence. Gun grabbers are willing to cherry pick historical references in defense of Adolf Hitler in order to get their way. Sadly, they seem to forget that Hitler’s gun control policies of 1938 disarmed the Jewish people as his “Final Solution” was being implemented. Apparently, gun grabbers do not count the Jews as German citizens victimized by disarmament.
The Nazis did deregulate some firearms as gun grabbers argue, but what they don’t mention is that this deregulation was designed to benefit only those citizens who proved to be loyal to the Nazi Party. Hitler was happy to arm those who swore fealty to the Reich.
In one of the latest instances of gun grabber duplicity and disinformation, I came across an opinion piece by Henry Blodget, the CEO and editor-in-chief of Business Insider and a regular on Yahoo’s “Daily Ticker,” entitled “Finally A Gun Is Used To Stop A Crime Instead Of Killing Innocent People.”
Blodget is primarily an economic analyst, as I am, and is not exactly an unintelligent louse. He is well aware of the proper methods of research and how to present a debate point with tangible evidence. He should know better than to publish a piece with so many inconsistencies and broken pretenses. However, it presents an important opportunity to examine the cognitive dissonance of media gun grabbers and their attempts to influence the populace.
Blodget is asserting that private firearms ownership is not a practical means of self-defense, that instances of self-defense are rare and that this view diminishes the “need” for 2ndAmendment protections. He goes on to proclaim:
“In practice, unfortunately, the guns that good guys own to protect themselves from bad guys too often end up killing the good guys’ kids or wives or the good guys themselves (either via suicide, accident, or, in some cases, because they’re grabbed by the bad guys and used against the good guys). Or, as in the case of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, the guns kill people who the good guys think are bad guys but who aren’t actually bad guys…”
Blodget never actually qualifies any of the notions contained in this statement. He never provides any statistics on wives and children of good guys being shot. Also, I was not aware that the Trayvon Martin case had already been decided and that Trayvon was found not to be the aggressor. Does Blodget have a crystal ball?
Blodget starts off his anti-gun tirade very poorly with several unqualified statements that he never answers for. This is highly common among gun grabbers; they feel so righteous (overzealous) in their cause that they feel no regret in spouting baseless conclusions with the presumption that their audience will never question their logic.
Blodget then focuses on a single event as an example of the “rarity” of successful gun defense. This instance involved the death of a teen who held a gun on a reserve police officer and high school basketball coach. The coach pulled his own personal weapon and fired in defense. Blodget uses some strategic omissions in his description of the event. For instance, he fails to mention that the coach was 70 years old, and that perhaps owning a gun was indeed his only practical means of protecting himself and his players against two young thugs, one of whom obtained a firearm illegally (as most criminals do. According to the FBI, only 8 percent of guns used in a crime are purchased legally at a gun store).
Blodget also uses the smiling image of one of the attackers at the top of his article, as if we should feel sorry for him. Perhaps I’m just coldhearted, but the death of a violent offender at the hands of his intended victim does not bring a tear to my eye.
The fact that he uses this particular instance of gun defense was, of course, strategic. A teen died, and both the attacker and the defender were armed with guns. He means us to see the event as a tragedy caused by the very existence of civilian firearms ownership. Blodget somehow overlooks the thousands upon thousands of other self defense stories out there in which gun ownership saved lives…
What about the story of student Chris Boise, who used an AR-15 to ward off two armed assailants breaking into his apartment. The criminals ran at the sight of his weapon:
What about an Atlanta mother of 9-year-old twins who shot and killed an assailant with a previous record of battery breaking into her home. A police officer on scene after the event noted that “she handled her first shooting better than he did…”
How about the 1997 incident at a High School in Pearl, Mississippi, in which a 16 year old murdered his mother, then went to school with a rifle and opened fire (sound familiar), shooting several and killing two. The student was subdued by the Vice Principle, who had to run to his care to grab his .45 Colt (Note that when a staff member of a school is armed, the body count of these attacks goes way down):
And why not mention the man who entered a Golden Food Market in Richmond, Virginia opening fire at employees and customers, only to be shot down by a conceal carrying citizen:
These are just a few of the numerous instances of gun defense across the U.S. that the mainstream media likes to ignore. Blodget had all of these examples at his disposal. He could have written a fair and honest editorial, but he didn’t.
After Blodget presents his carefully picked gun defense story, he then makes these three points:
“First, and most importantly, the gun used for protection in this case would be perfectly legal under the proposed new gun-control laws. The proposed laws ban military-grade assault weapons and massive ammo clips, not handguns. And assuming the coach did not have a criminal record, he would still be a legal gun owner.
The bottom line is that no mainstream politician in the current gun control debate is talking about banning the kind of gun used in this incident…”
To which proposed gun law is Blodget referring? Many gun grabbers are suggesting that theNew York SAFE Act model be applied nationwide. The SAFE Act makes any weapon that can hold magazines of more than seven rounds illegal. Some lawmakers, like Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), have openly suggested a total ban of all firearms that includes confiscation. So, depending on which laws are passed, the coach may not have survived the attack unless, like the criminal, he obtained a weapon illegally.
“…Second, the coach was a trained police officer. He knew very well how to carry, handle, and use his handgun. And the fact that he used it effectively under the extreme shock and pressure of being robbed at gunpoint shows how well trained he was.”
The coach was a reserve police officer, but this is irrelevant to the incident. Aspiring police officers qualify in the firearms segment of their training using a mere 50 to 60 rounds during scenarios that are taught in even the most rudimentary civilian courses, which often use hundreds of rounds during qualifications. Police officers do not get magical training. In fact, many officers are forced to attend civilian-run training facilities in order to get more time and more complex experience. Civilian combat weapons enthusiasts are often far better prepared for a violent situation than the average law enforcement official.
The reason Blodget fixates on the police status of the victim is because, like most gun grabbers, he is a statist. In his mind, a designated state official is given credence by the government and is, therefore, somehow a superhero with amazing gun-wielding powers that us poor civilian mortals could never hope to master. This naïve sentiment is displayed by many a gun grabber who has never actually owned or fired a gun in his life.
“Third, this incident could easily have turned out differently–as many similar incidents do. If the coach had been a bit slower or clumsier in pulling his own gun, the attackers could have shot and killed all three of the victims before they had a chance to defend themselves. (In the wild west, when everyone carried guns, it wasn’t always the bad guys that got shot.)”
Yes, and a comet could fall from the sky and roast the Earth. Hypothetically, anything could go wrong at any moment, yet, thousands of Americans defend themselves each year with a firearm without killing innocent bystanders or being too slow or clumsy on the draw. Why should gun owners abandon their rights just because some people cannot control their personal fears?
Finally, how much better are an unarmed victim’s chances of survival? Is Blodget really trying to insinuate being armed does not increase a victim’s ability to defend himself unless he happens to be a cop on a government salary? If faced with a gun- or knife-wielding attacker who threatened him or his family, would Blodget turn down the use of a firearm if available? Would he try to shoot the perpetrator, or would he fall to his knees and beg for mercy?
The only tangible evidence that Blodget uses to buttress his opinion that self-defense is not a viable argument for gun ownership is a single FBI statistic on justifiable homicides. Justifiable homicide is a gray area of law, and the number of instances recorded by the FBI in no way reflects the actual frequency in which guns are used in self-defense.
By exploiting this one statistic, Blodget knowingly disregards the fact that many gun defense situations do not end in the death of the attacker. He also disregards the number of criminals who run at the sight of an armed target, as well as the number of crimes that are prevented completely because the criminal is not certain whether his targets are armed.
Most police departments do not keep accurate records of attempted crimes which were thwarted by armed citizens. The only sources of such statistics are surveys held by various organizations and institutions. Blodget quickly dismisses the widely disseminated survey by criminology professor Gary Kleck, which shows that there are far more instances of guns used to thwart crime than guns used to perpetrate crime. Blodget claims that the study is “old and highly flawed because it used a small number of people as a test group”, all common assertions by gun control fanatics. The study was held in 1994 (hardly ages ago), and surveyed 5000 households.
A recent Reuter/Ipsos poll used widely by gun grabbers claimed that 74% of Americans support an assault weapons ban, yet their survey only involved 559 people with far less oversight than Kleck’s study. The hypocritical nature of the anti-gun mindset is revealed again…
Vehement gun control advocate and criminologist Marvin Wolfgang made this comment on Kleck’s study:
“What troubles me is the article by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz. The reason I am troubled is that they have provided an almost clear-cut case of methodologically sound research in support of something I have theoretically opposed for years, namely, the use of a gun in defense against a criminal perpetrator.”
He went on to say that a conflicting National Crime Victimization Survey (also used widely by gun grabbers) did not contradict the Kleck study, and that the argument of “too few participants” was unfounded:
“I do not like their conclusions that having a gun can be useful, but I cannot fault their methodology. They have tried earnestly to meet all objections in advance and have done exceedingly well. … The usual criticisms of survey research, such as that done by Kleck and Gertz, also apply to their research. The problems of small numbers and extrapolating from relatively small samples to the universe are common criticisms of all survey research, including theirs. I did not mention this specifically in my printed comments because I thought that this was obvious; within the specific limitations of their research is what I meant by a lack of criticism methodologically.”
According to survey data from a 2000 study published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminologyentitled ‘Measuring Civilian Defensive Firearm Use: A Methodological Experiment’, U.S. civilians use guns to defend themselves and others from crime at least 989,883 times per year. This is a conservative estimate compared to Kleck’s 2.5 million, but it is still a far larger number than the amount of annual homicides by gun. The argument that gun murders outweigh gun defense is a defective one. Blodget knows it, which is why he dances his way around so many viable pieces of evidence. He is not interested in the facts, only promoting his own twisted worldview.
Violent crimes (assault, burglary, rape, etc.) have skyrocketed in countries like the U.K. and Australia where stringent gun control has been enacted, simply because criminals know that because of government controls the odds of running into an armed victim are slim. Gun grabbers like Blodget do not care about this, though. They are not actually interested in saving lives. What they are interested in is imposing their ideologies on the rest of us.
If the only drive of anti-gun advocates was a sincere concern for public safety, they would not feel the need to misrepresent the facts and lie outright in order to convince others. Those who use disinformation to their benefit are acting on much darker emotional impulses and biases, like fear and malevolence. Their goal is not to find the truth, but to “win”. Their goal is not to encourage understanding, but to destroy their political enemies.
The most enticing motive for the average yuppie within the gun control society is not their hatred of guns per say, but their hatred of gun culture. Being worshipers of the establishment, they do not like our defiance of socialization, collectivism, and the corrupt state in general. They do not like our methodologies of decentralization and independence. They do not like that we have the ability to crush their skewed arguments with ease. And, they do not like that we have the physical capability of denying their pursuit of power. Gun control is not just a war on guns; it is a war on traditionally conservative Americans, our heritage, our beliefs, and our principles. It is a war the gun grabbers will lose.
Source: Brandon Smith | Alt-Market
DAMASCUS — One powerful image from Damascus that has become seared into this observers mind these days is when I walk by a Western Union office. Most of them remain open despite the brutal US-led sanctions which in their pervasive effects target almost entirely the civilian population. But all Western Union offices were closed last Thursday and Friday due to heavy snowfall, which some say is the deepest here for more than a quarter century. Still, some Syrians braved the extreme cold and could be seen huddled outside some branches, evidently in vain hope that they might open and their families might eat.
One of the few economic lifelines not yet cut by the ever strangling, profoundly immoral and illegal US-led sanctions, with their throat-hold tightening around the civilian population in Syria in order to achieve regime change, “WU” as it’s known, has become, for some, literally a lifesaver. This is because its money transfer service is still allowing family and friends from abroad to send in assistance to Syria for their desperate families caught up in this regional contest between Resistance and a return to Western hegemony.
Peering in the window or stepping inside a Western Union outlet in Damascus reminds this observer of scenes from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange or a European bourse wherein traders wave pieces of paper or other objects trying to get the attention of someone. But in Syria, those trying to submit their ten digit Money Control Transfer Number (MTCN) numbers and ID’s in order to collect cash, are not wearing clothes from the fashion houses. Rather, given the frigid temperatures and lack of mazot (heating oil that 90% of the population here relies on for heat) they are tightly bundled. Women and kids generally wrapped tight in thick head scarves.
Last week, this observer went into the Western Union office in central Damascus to collect some cash sent from Canada for a family that had managed to escape from Aleppo. The place was packed but orderly. I smiled to myself as I thought about my own country when sometimes during a Black Friday type sale, the scene of waiting in queue collapses into yelling, insults, fights, throwing objects, threats, all to save a few dollars or get one’s hands on the soon to be trashed “must have” sale item.
The stressed but committed staff behind the WU counter could not give assurance how long I would have to wait, but graciously did agree to take my passport and I could return later. On arriving after about three hours, my MCTN # had just been processed and I was in and out fast. I can’t imagine that I will see a yellow and black Western Union sign ever again without thinking about US sanctions targeting the Syrian civilian population.
An historical irony is that it was a Syrian gentlemen, Mr. Hiram Sibley, one of the thousands of Syrians who emigrated to the United States in the mid-19th Century (the first and largest Arab migration then and since came from Syria) who in 1851 established the New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company with the goal of creating one great telegraph system with unified and efficient operations. Four years later, Western Union was born and became an American icon, and thirty three years on it was one of the top ten companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange the day it opened in 1888.
The reason Western Union is able to avoid the US-led sanctions that include medicines and food (White House claims to the contrary notwithstanding), is quite simply that the US Treasury Department cannot easily face the domestic American political fallout from curtailing Western Union anywhere.
According to a July 2012 US Senate Banking Committee memo, were Treasury to be seen as tampering with Western Union’s $7 billion annual revenues, there would be a significant problem. Already there are growing complaints from US businesses flooding the White House & Congress claiming that sanctions imposed on Syria are costing American businesses hundreds of millions of dollars in lost profits—even more regarding US sanctions on Iran. So to date, the Office of Financial Assets Control (OFAC) at Treasury has kept its hands off Western Union and this is good for Syrian civilians.
For these reasons a thin lifeline—a reed really—exists for many in Syria with families and friends abroad able to use WU’s “Money in Minutes” to help them. It’s a relatively small factor in the larger Syrian crisis but it does help many.
Much more significant than Western Union remaining open, and the subject of much current criticism here, is the lack of assistance to Syria’s severely sanctioned civilian population from the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, neither of which lack officials who are wringing their hands in public these days, in mock anguish it is claimed, over their brothers and co-religionists “victimization.”
Claiming solidarity with the Syrian people, on November 12, 2011 the Arab League suspended the membership of Syria (Lebanon and Yemen voted no and Iraq abstained) and cancelled its monitoring mission in Syria on January 28, 2012. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation suspended Syria’s membership on May 15, 2012 at a summit of Muslim leaders in Mecca. Saudi Arabia, the summit’s host, has led all Arab League and OIC calls for the Syrian rebel opposition to be armed, which Foreign Minister Saud al-Fasial described in February and since as “an excellent idea.”
By their actions, the OIC and the Arab League are themselves sanctioning the Syrian people in brutal forms and doing nothing to object to the immoral and illegal aspects of the American sanctions. Both organizations stand accused of abandoning their charters in order to maintain profitable relations with NATO countries as they funnel large sums of money and weapons to various militias inside Syria. It is their “agents,” the jihadist groups, who have turned on the Syrian civilian population increasingly resorting to theft, kidnapping for ransom, rape, sale of children, and killing hundreds according to UN agencies.
In one poignant interview near Omayyad Square the other day, a solemn, long bearded Sunni Sheik told this observer that the American sanctions are also directly targeting Islam because the sanctions constitute an attack on Islamic values. When pressed for specifics, he reluctantly replied, “Because your countries sanctions are impoverishing our people and forcing our Muslim women into prostitution. These sanctions are also flooding the streets with Muslim beggars, both adults and children. I am sure you have seen them, here in Damascus, across Syria and in bordering countries. But the claimed protectors of our holy sites are silent and shed only insincere tears in public. But if they resisted these sanctions they could defeat them. What is required in a 1970’s type Arab boycott of American and western companies until these anti-Muslim sanctions are lifted.”
The honorable gentleman has a point.
The Arab League’s recent ministerial-level meeting held in Cairo was called to focus on the Syrian refugees file. But the rather pathetic quick one day deliberations ignored the causes of the suffering of the civilian population as well as the fact that most of the 22 countries comprising the Arab League have been a main cause behind the displacement of the Syrian civilian population. Both the AL and the OIC stand accused here in Syria of participation in the sanctions which are decimating the Syrian people’s livelihood. Some AL and OIC officials are shedding crocodile tears about the miserable living conditions of the Syrian refugees “in spite of spending millions on recruiting mercenaries and salifi-takfiries, training them and purchasing weapons for the terrorists,” the Sheik explained.
One frustrated American NGO director, affiliated loosely with the World Food Program, expressed her frustration: “If these organizations (AL and OIC) wanted to aid Syrian refugees they should stop supplying the gunmen with weapons and money and stop inciting sedition in Syria.”
The Arab League Secretary General, Nabil al-Arabi, still does not get it.
He used last week’s Arab League session to insist on foreign intervention and regime change, renewing the AL demand that the UN Security Council deploy international forces in Syria.
The Lebanese Foreign Minister, Adnan Mansour, offered his views of the Syrian refugee’s displacement. Notable causations, he claimed, are the flow of weapons and money into Syria, the entry of foreign gunmen and not joining a political dialogue. To his credit, Mansour called on the AL and OIC to “shoulder their responsibilities towards the refugees through ensuring their humanitarian, medical, livelihood, educational and services requirements in order to ease their daily suffering.”
As for the Kuwaiti Minister, he considered that the US-led sanctions were not a problem but rather that the suffering of the Syrian people was caused by the failure of the UN Security Council to meet the demands of the AL for immediate military intervention in Syria. He also insisted that Kuwait has mobilized all its resources to ensure that financial and relief resources alleviated the suffering of the Syrian refugees.
To date, the Syrian refugees, victims of US led and AL-OIC complicity, have not received any of the assistance Kuwait, the Arab League or the Organization of the Islamic Conference has promised. Rather, these organizations appear to be propping up the US-led sanctions.
Meanwhile, according to officials, Syria’s government has just authorized the UN World Food Program to extend its reach in the country where 2.5 million people are suffering from hunger. Ertharin Cousin, spokeswoman of the WFP, announced on Tuesday that Syria is allowing the organization to work with local aid groups to reach more of those in need. To boost the number of people receiving emergency assistance, the Syrian government last week drew up a list of 110 local NGOs authorized to participate in the aid effort.
WFP is working closely with the Syrian Arab Republic Red Crescent Society (SARCS) which, thanks to more than 9000 volunteers, are operating the following facilities to serve every Syrian and Palestinian without consideration of sect or political views: Damascus 15, Damascus countryside 68, Suwayda 2, Homs 71, Idelb 2, Aleppo 185, al-Raqqah 52, al-Hasakah 52, Dayr al-Zawr 4, and Quneitra 12.
Unlike the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, SARCS, the World Food Program, and more than 40 other NGO’s can be observed any day of the week confronting and attempting to ameliorate the profoundly immoral and illegal US-led sanctions — manifold actions, not crocodile tears — in aid of the civilian population of Syria.
When I’ve written about our listing mis-education system, my focus has mainly been on rampant political correctness, on how students learn few of the right things partially because of emphasis on teaching the wrong things. Yet there’s another problem: in some cases the teachers couldn’t teach the right things even if they wanted to — they don’t know them.
Professor Walter Williams treated this in his latest syndicated column, “Dishonest Educators.” He introduces the topic by talking about the fairly recent cheating scandals in places such as Atlanta, Philadelphia, Houston, New York, Detroit, and other large cities (in areas that, not coincidentally, also have high rates of vote fraud and other criminality). These are shocking instances in which teachers would commit transgressions such as reading answers aloud in class during the National Assessment of Educational Progress test. How did they justify this? Well, Williams quotes one teacher who told a fellow “educator,” “I had to give your kids, or your students, the answers because they’re dumb as hell.”
But it seems the kids aren’t the only ones. Now we learn that some teachers in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi paid surrogates between $1,500 and $3,000 to take the Praxis exam for them, the passing of which is necessary for teacher certification in 40 states. And how challenging is this test that some would fork over a few grand to a ringer sit-in? Williams describes a couple of representative questions, writing:
Here’s a practice Praxis I math question: Which of the following is equal to a quarter-million — 40,000, 250,000, 2,500,000, 1/4,000,000 or 4/1,000,000? The test taker is asked to click on the correct answer. A practice writing skills question is to identify the error in the following sentence: “The club members agreed that each would contribute ten days of voluntary work annually each year at the local hospital.” The test taker is supposed to point out that “annually each year” is redundant.
Forget about the fact that adults would find such questions challenging; it’s a sad statement about our society that we’d set the bar for teacher certification so low in the first place. I had to think: how young was I when I didn’t know the answers to the above two questions? Ten? Nine? Maybe even eight? Idiocracy has arrived.
Professor Williams also touches on a third rail of American social commentary, mentioning that most of the teachers hiring the surrogates are likely black — and that most of the surrogates may very well be white. Now, before anyone thinks of “Summerizing” Williams (not as I have. Rather, this refers to application of the kind of politically correct social pressure that drove Larry Summers from Harvard), know that he is black himself. And his point in addressing race is that our leftist mis-educators’ tolerance of low-information black teachers puts the lie to their claim that they care about blacks. After all, as he writes in his closing line, “If they [the teachers] manage to get through the mockery of teacher certification, at what schools do you think they will teach?”
But never fear, Dr. Williams. I’m sure these molders of young minds are well versed in afro-centrism, critical-race theory, and the principles of white privilege.
As of November of 2012, a mind-numbing 47.7 million Americans subsist on taxpayer-funded food stamps. One in seven Americans cannot feed himself or herself with a job or work of any kind. What constitutes the irony to this national tragedy? Answer: our U.S. Congress imports 100,000 legal immigrants into the USA with green cards every 30 days.
No matter how much poverty and unemployment blacks, whites and Hispanic Americans suffer– the leaders of this country continually pound more humans into the mix without pause. At the same time, food banks go belly up with bare shelves. Over 13 million American children live in destitute poverty and cannot secure three square meals per day.
While Congress supports our enormous military spending into the trillions of dollars and two 10 year long wars that devour (ed) money—it fails to create jobs and feed our poorest. It fails the fundamental rights of our own citizens to work and eat.
The gross statistics created by our U.S. Congress: (Source:hubpages.com)
#1 According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”
#3 Right now, one out of every seven Americans is on food stamps and one out of every four American children is on food stamps.
#4 It is projected that half of all American children will be on food stamps at least once before they turn 18 years of age.
#5 According to new numbers that were just released by the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans living in poverty increased to a new all-time record high of 49.7 million last year.
#6 The number of Americans living in poverty has increased by about 6 million over the past four years.
#7Today, about one out of every four workers in the United States brings home wages that are at or below the federal poverty level.
#8According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate for children living in the United States is about 22 percent.
#9 Overall, approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are living in homes that are either considered to be either “low income” or impoverished.
#10 In the United States today, close to 100 million Americans are considered to be either “poor” or “near poor”.
#11 One university study estimates that child poverty costs the U.S. economy 500 billion dollars each year.
#12 Households that are led by a single mother have a 31.6 percent poverty rate.
#13 In 2010, 42 percent of all single mothers in the United States were on food stamps.
Once you research the numbers, you cannot help but look to your own U.S. Senators and House reps and see failure, duplicity and corruption. No excuses! How could men and women who are supposed to represent American citizens continually leave American citizens in the grips of poverty, joblessness and homelessness?
Some kind of moral, ethical and spiritual wrong grows in the nation’s capitol all the way up to the president. American citizens become its victims.
Do you think there is any chance of it changing and becoming better as that same U.S. Congress adds over 3.1 million immigrants every year on our way to adding 100 million immigrants within the next 38 years?
This summer while bicycling 3,400 miles across America from New Port Beach, Oregon to Washington DC, I met hundreds of Americans, tourists and bicycle travelers. I heard the craziest conversations in coffee houses and diners. You will be hearing some of their stories in the coming months. The ride:http://www.wusa9.com/news/
While traveling at 12 miles per hour, I really “see and feel” the landscape. I become part of it. I mesh with Mother Nature in a physical, mental and spiritual dance. Hard to describe, but it’s exquisite on multiple levels. When it’s hot, I sweat like a horse. When it’s cold, I pedal to keep warm. When it’s raining, I become a duck on a bike. It takes “true grit” to pedal a bicycle long distances.
You could say that the mountain passes that I climbed “etched” lots of memories into my thighs. Some call it “hard work” while I call it “hard play.” Many commented that it would be easier to ride on the flats of the Midwest. I responded that I would rather climb mountains to enjoy their rugged wildness.
My friend John Muir said, “Camp out among the grass and gentians of glacier meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of Nature’s darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” There is something special about bicycle travel that encapsulates Americans’ imaginations. I tried to capture my adventure in words:
“If the roar of a wave crashes beyond your campsite, you might call that adventure. When coyotes howl outside your tent–that may be adventure. When the wind rips at your tent pegs—that too, may be called adventure. While you’re sweating like a horse in a climb over a 12,000 foot pass, that’s adventure. When a howling headwind presses your lips against your teeth, you’re facing a mighty adventure. If you’re drenched from head to toe in sweat as you pedal across a desert, that’s adventure. If you’re pressing through a howling rainstorm, you’re soaked in adventure. But that’s not what makes an adventure. It’s your willingness to struggle through it, to present yourself at the doorstep of Nature. No more greater joy can come from life than to live inside the ‘moment’ of an adventure. It may be a momentary ‘high’, a stranger that changes your life, an animal that delights you or frightens you, a struggle where you triumphed, or even failed, yet you braved the challenge. Those moments present you uncommon experiences that give your life eternal expectation. That’s adventure!” Frosty Wooldridge How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World www.
But more than adventure greeted me on my journey across America. When you travel the blue and red highways of our country, you get to meet “Norman Rockwell America” or better yet, you get to meet “Andy and Barney of Mayberry RFD America.”
Kids in parks ran up to our loaded bicycles. They took pictures and wanted to touch our cycles and gear. Their parents introduced themselves. They snapped pictures with their smart phones of my sign “Across America” and immediately visited my website on adventure. They thanked us for keeping the “Spirit of Adventure” alive. They marveled at our journey.
In those towns, we thrilled to the architecture from 1880 to 1910 on the fronts of the buildings. We walked into some 120 year old post offices still operating. We ate breakfasts at old fashioned diners with real “down home” cooking. I fondly recall eating at the One Street Down Restaurant in Redmond, Oregon. Best oat meal and pancakes in the country. Another stop in Pinedale, Wyoming at the Rock Rabbit Restaurant served blue berry pancakes and omelets to fight for! But more than the food, the town folks enthralled us. Everybody shared their stories.
After riding through Hannibal, Missouri to visit Mark Twain’s former haunts, I pedaled down Old Route 66 along the Mississippi River. On my ride through Cincinnati, I picked up Route 50 to pedal through a bucolic hamlet named Milford, Ohio.
On the edge of town, I noticed a rusted 1950 Schwinn bicycle with flared handle bars. In the front basket, purple and white petunias exploded into the morning sunshine. On the rear rack, another basket of flowers curled their way through its back spokes and covered the seat. “Good grief!” I muttered. “That’s beautiful!”
On the back staked into the ground, a sign read, “Bikes in Bloom”.
I snapped a few pictures and figured that would be the end of it. But as I traveled down that 120 year old Main Street in Milford, Ohio, I noticed a bicycle in bloom in front of every merchant store front. I discovered incredibly beautiful bikes of every description decked out in flowers. I witnessed yarn woven into the shape of a Pac Man on the front wheels, rhinestone ropes curled around top tubes and yarned up seats and cranks. Big bikes in flowers and little bikes in flowers. The entire Main Street exploded in flowers and bicycles.
Every year, Milford, a cross roads for touring bicyclists, features “Bikes in Bloom” as a friendly competition of all the merchants. Tourists, locals and cyclists enjoy community, creativity and fellowship. I marveled at the beauty. Half way through town and 25 pictures later, I stopped at Bishop’s Bicycle Shop. What a blast! I met a bunch of long distance touring riders working there with Kelly, Chris and Jim. After a great stop, I continued on my way across America with vivid memories and an idea.
How about everyone reading this column all across America create a “Bikes in Bloom” in your own cities, towns and hamlets? I already introduced the idea to my Golden, Colorado city council. I presented photographic examples on an overhead projector like you see attached to this column. They loved it.
Let’s move America toward beauty, flowers, peace, joy and community fellowship. It’s fun, creative and positive on every level. To get more information, check with www.BishopsBicycleShop.com .
In Negative Territory…
“Every major part of the global economy is slowing, and slowing rapidly….Right now, we seem to be in a synchronized global slowdown, and that is very worrisome.” – Mohamed El-Erian, Pimco.
Growing troubles in the eurozone, a slowdown in China and a jobs report that was weaker than the most-pessimistic forecast, sent stocks plunging on Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 275 points on the day while the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ followed the DJIA into the red. All the gains of 2012 have now been erased leaving all the major indices in negative territory.
The global selloff was preceded on Thursday by a revision of first quarter GDP which was slashed from 2.2 percent to 1.9 percent. The US economy is neither growing nor adding jobs. The signs of stagnation–which have spread from manufacturing, to consumer confidence, to GDP, and now to jobs– has ended all talk of a “recovery” and dampened Obama’s prospects for re-election in November.
Payrolls increased by just 69,000 in May, far below the 150,000 that analysts had expected. The unemployment rate rose to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent while revised estimates show that fewer jobs were created in the last 3 months than originally stated. The grim report suggests that the Obama economic recovery has run out of steam just as many economists had predicted. Obama’s unwillingness to follow the advice of top economics advisor, Christina Romer–who recommended a $1.8 trillion stimulus package, instead of the $787 billion that the administration settled on–has probably cost him the election. Obama’s future depends on the condition of the economy, and the economy stinks.
In Europe, troubles in Spain and Greece have touched-off a bank run that’s pushed yields on risk-free assets, like US Treasuries and German bund, to record lows. The German 2-year bund (Schatz) dipped into negative territory on Friday while yields on the benchmark 10-year Treasury declined to 1.44 percent. The yield on the Swiss 10-year has plunged to an astonishing 0.48% is “the lowest ever recorded anywhere.”
Jittery investors are now lending money to the US and German governments’ knowing they’ll get less back in return. (in inflation adjusted terms.) This is the very definition of panic. And their fear is not without foundation, after all, Europe’s wholesale funding market is broken, Spain’s banking system is undercapitalized and teetering, the bank runs are intensifying, and policymakers are unable to agree on a course of action. Political paralysis has made a bad situation worse. Here’s a chart that shows the amount of liquidity the ECB has given to Greece, Spain and Italy via the Target2 program. Target fill the hole that’s been created by capital flight. This is what a modern-day bank run looks like.
The European Commission and the ECB have been unable to stop the bank runs because there is no euro-wide deposit insurance. So, when depositors begin to doubt their country’s future in the EZ, they withdraw their savings and move it to a safer location, like Germany. Here’s more from Reuters:
“Spaniards alarmed by the dire state of their banks moved money abroad in March at a faster rate than at any time since records began in 1990, official figures showed.
The 66.2 billion euros net capital flight occurred before the nationalisation of Spain’s fourth biggest lender, Bankia in May due to massive losses from a burst property bubble….
The European Central Bank stepped up pressure on Thursday for a joint guarantee on bank deposits across the euro zone, saying Europe needed new tools to fight bank runs as the bloc’s debt crisis drives investors to flee risk.” (Reuters)
The eurozone is not sufficiently integrated, fiscally or politically, to deal with the problems it now faces. It does not have a centralized bond market that collectivizes the debts of the member states in order to keep borrowing costs low. Nor is there a mechanism for fiscal transfers to help level the playing field so that account imbalances do not become unmanageable and destructive. EZ managers have rejected the traditional methods for integration and, instead, settled on punitive austerity measures that are designed to purge large deficits through internal devaluation. The process has created record unemployment, severe recession, and widespread social unrest. Still, Brussels persists with the same policy ignoring the fact that it has only deepened the crisis.
The EZ troubles are not difficult to grasp or remedy, in fact, former economic advisor to Barack Obama, Austan Goolsbee explained the problem in an article in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal. Here’s an excerpt:
“At root, the euro-zone problem remains the locking together of very different economies into a monetary union without a way to adjust….Normally, exchange-rate adjustments would reduce this gap…. But without an exchange-rate safety valve you need an alternate way to rebalance economies. Moving, inflating, struggling, or subsidizing are your only choices…(Either) Southern Europe can struggle through the problem—grinding down wages through high unemployment and structural labor-market reforms ….(or) Northern Europe could decide…, that it is willing to permanently subsidize euro-zone countries with low productivity growth. That could be through explicit subsidies or through bailouts and broad-based guarantees.” –A Fiscal Union Won’t Fix the Euro Crisis –The only practical choices are more geographic mobility, inflation, or subsidies” Austan Goolsbee, Wall Street Journal)
There it is in a nutshell. The problem is not particularly hard to understand or to fix, but if it’s ignored or if deficit zealots (like Angela Merkel) feel as though they can apply their own nonsensical remedies (austerity), then the bank runs will gain pace, a wider panic will ensue, and the monetary union will be torn apart, which is what’s happening now.
Goolsbee’s article also provides an interesting breakdown of how fiscal transfers work in the US:
“Last year, the Economist compiled census data from 1990 to 2009 for all 50 U.S. states on the amount of federal spending in each state minus the amount the state’s residents pay in federal taxes. Over 20 years, states like Minnesota and Delaware annually paid in about 10% more of their state GDP than they got back. On the other side, for the last 20 years New Mexico, Mississippi and West Virginia have received annual subsidies of more than 12% of state GDP. While not a perfect measure of subsidy, it conveys the basic point well. These are big. Greece’s entire 2011 deficit, for example, was 9.1% of GDP.”
The reason the US is able to successfully use one currency–despite the fact that some states are more productive and competitive than others– is because the weaker states are subsidized via Pentagon contracts, unemployment benefits, federal infrastructure programs, food stamps etc. These “fiscal transfers” are necessary to make the US-currency union work. The same rule applies to Europe, but EU leaders reject the idea saying that fiscal transfers are tantamount to “financing other governments” which is banned under the Stability and Growth Pact. This is idiocy in the extreme. The fact is, economists and experts have repeatedly explained what needs to be done to make the EZ a viable currency union, but EZ leaders refuse to make the changes. Their obstinance has thrust the 17-member monetary union to brink of annihilation.
In China, the evidence of a slowdown is also beginning to mount. The recession in the eurozone has taken a toll on Chinese exports which has hurt manufacturing and retail sales. (China’s PMI slipped to 50.4 from 53.3 a month earlier.) As the slump in the eurozone deepens, China’s economy will cool even more forcing policymakers to lower reserve requirements while boosting stimulus to increase investment by the state-owned enterprises. The recent signs of capital flight from China has experts worried that the boom-times may be over and that China may be headed for a hard landing. Here’s a clip from economist Tim Duy on the topic:
“…the exodus of cash could indicate that the Chinese story is coming to a close – and that will have significant consequences for the global economy. It is another signal that emerging markets will not be supporting global demand anytime soon. I think .. this story is slipping under the radar while we all have our eyes focused on the farce in Europe. But it could be the real game changer in the global economy.” (“Capital flees China”, Tim Duy, economists view)
China’s industrial production and electricity use are falling fast, while the number of non-performing loans has ballooned to new highs in the last year. Efforts to stimulate the economy have also fallen short as businesses continue to reduce their borrowing to see if demand picks up later in the year. New bank loans have dropped 8% y-o-y, while consumer credit has slowed to a trickle. Here’s more from the Wall Street Journal:
“The lack of confidence is due to the overhang from the last blowout. All of that investment in industrial capacity and real estate is now coming on line. Companies and local governments are finding it difficult to make their new assets generate enough revenue to service the debt. Inventories are piling up, and China is seeing capital flight for the first time in decades….
The worry is that China has gone more than a decade without a painful slowdown. During that time, the government held down interest rates at artificially low levels to encourage investment. Such conditions often precede particularly long and painful contractions.” (“China Is Stimulused Out”, Wall Street Journal)
China, the US, and the eurozone are all running out of gas at the same time. If shares continue to tumble as they have in May, the Federal Reserve will resume its Quantitative Easing (QE3) program to prop up stock prices. But liquidity injections alone will not provide the jolt the real economy needs to increase activity, add jobs or grow. Absent another round of fiscal stimulus, the economy will continue to drift sideways or dip back into recession.
They say “Jolly is the fat man,” but perhaps not when he’s being chased (and, I’m sure, caught) like a Frankenstein monster by the Body Cult crazies. And that is the case today, as it has become fashionable to affront the friendly-fronted.
It seems most anything goes now: bloated houses, bloated egos, bloated libidos, bloated bureaucracies, bloated government – except bloated bellies. And a perusal of the news makes this clear, with a never-ending stream of stories about obesity this and obesity that. For example, headlining Drudge the other day was a piece about how fathead officials in Massachusetts propose to ban school bake sales – even before and after school hours – to combat obesity. This, of course, is just the next step in a progression that has seen localities purge schools of cookies and sodas along with the faith and patriotism that was deemed unhealthful long before.
We also had the San Francisco Stupidvisors, who run the city (into the ground), who banned toys in McDonald’s Happy Meals. Deliciously, the restaurant chain circumvented the law by charging an extra ten cents for those who want the toy. I would’ve really rubbed the health Nazis’ noses in it and made it a penny.
Then there was the 2008 proposal by three legislators in Mississippi – said to be the fattest state in the nation – to prohibit portly people from dining in restaurants. The politicians said they were just trying to make a point with their measure. I wonder, though, given that the vast majority of gun crime (98% in New York City) is committed by blacks and Hispanics, would these bold statesmen seek to “make a point” by proposing to ban those groups from gun stores? Oh, that would be discriminatory? I see.
Although Mississippi Fat Burning never saw its opening day, other Orwellian measures have. For instance, a Missouri judge was accused of delaying an adoption until the prospective father lost weight, and last year Ohio DCFS seized a boy from his parents because he was obese. This, despite the fact that if the president ate like his wife does, the boy would look like Obama’s son.
The irony here is that the health Nazis would have had the over indulgent Ohio mother’s back if she’d ended her boy’s life in the womb. But merely increase the chances of shortening his life by feeding him too many Twinkies? You’re a derelict mother!
You see, when it’s the matter of a body within a body, it’s the bigger body’s “choice.” But when it’s a matter of just a bigger body, you have no choice. My, how the scales of justice tip when you tip the scales.
As for the busybodies – the politicians, gubmint bureaucrats and “public-interest” groups – how do we explain their interest in our health? They really must care, right? About you, about me, about all and sundry. Well, I’d say so but qualify it with a paraphrased Rodney Dangerfield line: “They really care….
About what, I have no idea.”
Of course, there is the “Obesity hurts society” pretext. The argument is that you fatties are burying our healthcare system with a knife and fork, as you cost it more money with your increased health problems.
Except that this is nonsense.
A 2011 study found that the obese and smokers actually cost the healthcare system less because they don’t live as long. And while study leader Pieter Van Baal called the finding a “small surprise,” it’s thoroughly logical. It’s the nonagenarian requiring frequent hospitalization and nursing-home care who rings up the bills, not the epicurean who collapses on his plate of chicken fried steak and cheese-filled French fries at age 61. So you want to save ObamaCare? Get all the different fat groups, copious amounts of sugar and salt and smoke one Al Gore tobacco farm a week.
So are we now left with the notion that the health Nazis really do care? Well, they do, and about what I do have some idea. And I’m going to delve into one little understood phenomenon that drives today’s obsession with health.
You’ll note that the people behind control-freak health measures are never Opus Dei or Southern Baptist Conference types; heck, unless it’s a prohibition against pork, they’re not even Muslims. They are, I’d wager, secularists virtually one and all.
This is no coincidence, but a result of subordinating spiritual health to physical health. A person of faith may believe that he’s enjoined to treat the temple of the soul well, but he will never elevate that imperative over that of caring for the soul itself. He realizes that this life, relative to eternity, is as a drop of water in an ocean – and it is that ocean voyage for which he is mainly preparing. Thus, recognizing the reality of God’s law (morality), he understands that of primary importance is avoiding what has traditionally been labeled sin.
But what about when you don’t believe in an afterlife? This temporal life is then all you see.
And then staying in it for as long as possible can become the most important thing to you.
In fact, it can become obsession.
For where the believer may be mindful of Jesus’ words (I’m paraphrasing) “Do not fear that which just destroys the body; fear that which destroys the soul,” the secularist may believe the body is all there is. This is, I believe, what has bred the Cult of the Body, with all its newly-minted “sins,” such as overeating, failure to exercise, smoking and drinking. Why, we even call taxes on the last two “sin taxes.”
So my answer to those who warn of increasing obesity is, “So?” “But, Duke, don’t you understand? These people will die younger!” Other than mentioning that they won’t die nearly as young as aborted babies, again I say, “So?” We’re all going to die; it’s just a matter of when and how. And when you realize that relative to the ocean, small, medium and large water drops are indistinguishable, you’ll understand my response.
Returning to a lighter note, I’ll have to now limit my keyboard intake lest this article get too fat. Before concluding, however, I’ll say that I do have an idea for putting the health Nazis’ designs on a diet. Since obesity is most prevalent among black women – with 48 percent having, uh, let’s say, generous proportions – cast any and all attacks upon the condition as “racist.” If this tactic works when the matter is police tests, voter ID, immigration and school suspension, perhaps it’ll work with abdominal distension.