Sunday, April 20, 2014

An Old Song for a Sleepy Easter Sunday


Being a Pagan myself, I know how the dying-and-reborn-god motif is much older than Christianity, but also being a long-time Wobbly, I can't help but look around and remember a fitting old Ewan MacColl song, as I heard Phil Ochs sing it many years ago.

The Ballad Of The Carpenter

By Ewan MacColl

 Jesus was a working man, 
 A hero as you shall hear.
 Born in the slums of Bethlehem 
 At the turning of the year. (2X)

 When Jesus was a little wee lad.
 The streets rang with his name,
 For he argued with the aldermen
 And he put them all to shame.

 He became a wandering journeyman
 And he wandered far and wide,
 And he saw how wealth and poverty
 Lived always side by side.
 
 He said, "Come all you working men,
 You farmers and weavers, too.
 If you will only organize,
 This world belongs to you."

 When the rich men heard what the carpenter had done,
 To the Roman troops they ran,
 Saying "Put this rebel Jesus down,
 He's a menace to god and man."

 Jesus walked among the poor,
 For the poor were his own kind,
 And they wouldn't let the cops get close enough
 To take him from behind.

 So they hired one of the traitor's guild,
 And a stool-pigeon was he.
 He sold his brother to the butcher's men
 For a fistful of silver money.
 
 When Jesus lay in the prison cell,
 They beat him and offered him bribes
 To desert the cause of the working folk
 And work for the rich men's tribe.

 The commander of the occupying troops
 Only laughed, and then he said:
 "There's a cross to spare on Calvary Hill.
 By the weekend he'll be dead." 

 The sweat stood out upon his brow
 And the blood was in his eye, 
 As they nailed his body to the Roman cross
 And they laughed as they watched him die.

 Two thousand years have passed and gone, 
 And many a hero too,
 But the dream of this poor carpenter
 Remains in the hands of you. 
 
Happy Easter Sunday, everybody. 

--Leslie <;)))><  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Beginning Is Near



--Leslie <;)))><


For anyone who missed the story, because the national news media have been avoiding it, the Bundy Ranch incident is only the tip of the iceberg..

First, the Bundy ranch was founded in 1870, long before the Bureau of Land Management was created, back in the days when the open range was called "the commons" because it was open to common usage by all the ranchers in the county.  When Nevada became a state, the grazing rights of existing ranchers were "grandfathered" into the state laws, and ranchers were charged only a small usage fee by the state government.  When the BLM was formed, it took over much of those public lands – and has kept claiming more and more of the state wilderness lands – whereupon it threw out the grandfathered rights of the locals, charged its own grazing fees, and subsequently kept raising them.  These fees have driven several ranchers out of business, so that today the Bundy ranch is the only ranch left in the county. 

Now, in recent years, the BLM has begun closing off those "commons" altogether to use by ranchers, hunters, fisherman, even campers – but not by big corporations, even foreign ones.  The current excuse is the popular claim of Protecting the Environment, but the BLM has a truly terrible track-record at that, allotting "environmental waivers" to politicians' cronies which allow for the killing of those same species of plants and animals that provided the excuse.  In the case of Bundy's ranch, the animal-of-excuse is the Desert Tortoise – which, in fact, is not endangered at all;  it's found in abundance in lands south and east of Nevada, such as the states of Arizona and New Mexico, not to mention Mexico itself.  Now consider:
"- Harry Reid killed more Tortoises in cahoots with Brightsource Solar and jailed buddy Harvey Whittemore than Bundy Ranch.

"- Reid helped Whittemore procure environmental waivers for the Coyote Springs golf and residential development. Reid was happy to let Brightsource cover 8,300 acres of tortoise land of the 42,000-acre Coyote Springs. These included powerline changes and most importantly, a land swap with BLM of Desert Tortoise land."   (source: http://www.dailypaul.com/316556/harry-reids-connection-to-bundy-ranch-siege)

As a "small miner" (fewer than 10 claims) myself (see: Fanhaven), in filing my papers every year with the BLM, I've been made aware of the federal government's growing tendency to close off public lands to citizen use and sell them to the highest bidder.  This trend began well back in the Bush administration, if not before, but has accelerated under Obama.  So has the tendency to grab private land under any handy excuse.

"Senator Jim DeMint took to the pages of the Washington Post this morning to raise the alarm about a planned, 10 million acre Western land grab by the Obama administration.

"According to the memo, around 380,000 acres of BLM and private land in Colorado would be subject to a 'conservation designation' under the National Monument designation of the 1906 Antiquities Act. The Vermillion Basin, northwest of Craig, and the Alpine Triangle near Ouray are listed in the memo. This designation would close the areas off to multi-use activities including, mining, hunting, grazing, oil and gas development and recreational activities."  (source: http://cofarmbureaublog.wordpress.com/2010/03/04/leaked-memo-uncovers-administration-land-grab/)

So, Harry Reid appointed an old friend to head the BLM, and began squeezing out the local ranchers – in order to sell the land to a solar-electric company based in China and backed by the Chinese government.  The last rancher left, Cliven Bundy, fought back against the BLM's squeeze for the last 20 years by challenging the BLM's policy of ignoring Nevada's grandfathered grazing rights, and he offered to pay his fees instead to the county government, at the old Nevada rates.  He also tried to take his case to court and settle it there. 

The BLM refused to go to court, but simply waited until Bundy's cattle were grazing on BLM land, and then "confiscated" – i.e., stole – them.  The BLM also sent its own police to Bundy's ranch to seize everything else he owned.  That was when the neighbors, the local "militia", several sheriffs (though not the sheriff of his own county), and volunteers from all over the state moved in. A local pilot found the "secret" government location where Bundy's cattle were being held, and radioed the coordinates to Bundy and his friends.  The federal government, through the FAA, declared the area a "no-fly" zone, but by then the word was out.  When the BLM's agents moved in, they were faced with a crowd of protesters – many of them armed – who outnumbered them, and wouldn't let them proceed.  The federal government tried to cut off local communications by shutting down the cell-phone towers near Bundy Ranch, but the protesters maintained communications through land-lines, the Internet, CB and Ham radio.  Local news media covered the whole confrontation, and the reports got onto the Internet, and went viral.  The BLM, faced with the possibility of starting a bloodbath that would immediately make the 6 o'clock news and the Internet, backed down and agreed to return Bundy's cattle.  (source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHzQu3jxP1A)



The BLM refused to go to court, but simply waited until Bundy's cattle were grazing on BLM land, and then "confiscated" – i.e., stole – them.  The BLM also sent its own police to Bundy's ranch to seize everything else he owned.  That was when the neighbors, the local "militia", several sheriffs (though not the sheriff of his own county), and volunteers from all over the state moved in. A local pilot found the "secret" government location where Bundy's cattle were being held, and radioed the coordinates to Bundy and his friends.  The federal government, through the FAA, declared the area a "no-fly" zone, but by then the word was out.  When the BLM's agents moved in, they were faced with a crowd of protesters – many of them armed – who outnumbered them, and wouldn't let them proceed.  The federal government tried to cut off local communications by shutting down the cell-phone towers near Bundy Ranch, but the protesters maintained communications through land-lines, the Internet, CB and Ham radio.  Local news media covered the whole confrontation, and the reports got onto the Internet, and went viral.  The BLM, faced with the possibility of starting a bloodbath that would immediately make the 6 o'clock news and the Internet, backed down and agreed to return Bundy's cattle.  (source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHzQu3jxP1A)

The BLM, of course, isn't going to stop there. 

"Despite being forced to release hundreds of seized cattle after an astounding standoff on Saturday, the Bureau of Land Management has vowed to continue its pursuit of Cliven Bundy, asserting that no deal has been made to cease its case against the Nevada cattle rancher.

"Despite Clark County Sheriff Douglas Gillespie announcing on Saturday that the BLM had agreed to cease its operation against Bundy, the BLM now asserts that it played no part in the deal and will continue to pursue Bundy 'administratively and judicially' for the $1 million in grazing fees it claims Bundy owes the feds.

"Since Bundy has steadfastly refused to pay the fee, offering instead to pay it to Clark County, the feds will have no option other than to send armed men to arrest Bundy or restart the operation to confiscate his cattle. Such action will then prompt thousands of Americans to rally to Bundy’s defense just as they did last week, threatening another standoff."   (source: http://www.prisonplanet.com/blm-flip-flops-no-deal-on-dropping-actions-against-bundy.html)

Meanwhile, in other states, popular resistance is growing.  In Utah, a collection of county sheriffs and state legislators are pushing a state bill to limit the local powers of the BLM and the Forestry Service. 

"Multiple rural county sheriffs from Utah testified Thursday about the abusive use of police power by Bureau of Land Management rangers or forest protection officers with the U.S. Forest Service.

"They are asserting it is time to rein in the authority the agencies should have never been allowed to exercise.

"Sheriffs from San Juan, Kane and Garfield counties spoke in favor of HB155, sponsored by Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, which proposes to limit BLM rangers and forest protection officers from exercising police power over state and local laws unless someone's safety is at risk or federal contracts are in place with local police agencies."  (source: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865574454/Lawmakers-Utah-sheriffs-want-to-rein-in-renegade-BLM-Forest-Service-officers.html?pg=all)

Meanwhile, in Connecticutt, the state police have backed away from the legislature's insistence, and sworn in public not to confiscate anybody's guns. 
 
"The new head of the state police, Dora Schriro, says she knows her troopers will live up to their oath to serve and protect. She wants to make very clear that the talk of confiscation is nonsense.  'There’s no plan in place nor has there been any execution of a plan where we would, for example, go door-to-door and be actively involved in the confiscation of weapons,' says Schriro, who took over as Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection at the end of January."  (source:  http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/investigations/No-Door-to-Door-Gun-Confiscations-State-251346661.html)

More emphatically, in New York, not only have citizens refused to comply with the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement act, but several sheriffs and state police have complained that the law is unconstitutional, unenforceable, and they'll refuse to even try to enforce it. 

"It was unclear how many of New York's gun owners were complying with today's deadline. The Safe Act exempts officials from disclosing information about the registry. To date, state police have declined to release aggregate numbers that could show compliance rates throughout the state.

"…many elected sheriffs have said they would not enforce
parts of the law.  Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh said he would refer tips
about illegal possessions of assault weapons to the state police.

"The union representing state troopers also has criticized the laws."  (source: http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2014/04/ny_safe_acts_change_of_repeal_near_impossible_say_two_lawmakers_critical_of_the.html)

In other words, the seed of resistance has sprouted – resistance to unconstitutional federal and state laws – and it's growing.  Thanks to revelations about Reid's connection to the Chinese solar company, that resistance is not just on the political right, either.  The federal and state governments really should have the sense to back off while the opposition is still at the "resistance" stage.  Otherwise, this could be the beginning of a real – and not necessarily nonviolent – revolution. 
 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

An Open Letter to the Libertarian Party




Friends, you can change history if you start now.

Understand that I've studied the history of the LP, from 'way back at its beginning in the Objectivist movement, through Murray Rothbard's historic convention in New York City, through the long pull to get the LP on the ballot in every state, up to the last election -- when the NeoCons' shabby treatment of Ron Paul and his followers drove the last small-l libertarians out of the GOP in disgust.  Believe me, I sympathize – and I've been sympathizing for a very long time.

I've seen for myself that the majority of American voters are disgusted with both of the Big Two parties, and with good reason.  From the Republicans' war on women's rights to the Democrats' idiot "globalism", and the blithe indifference both of them show to the Constitution, the Big Two have listened only to themselves and their flacks so long that they've completely lost touch with the American people.  In an age when any citizen can get on the Internet and research damn-near any subject, it's political suicide to think that the voters are so stupid, or even ignorant, as to not know that the US is becoming an economic and political oligarchy, that the squabbles between the Republicans and Democrats resemble a replay of the War of the Roses, with the Koch brothers funding one side and George Soros backing the other.  The citizens are disgusted with the lot of them, and tired of voting for the lesser of two evils.  It's time for a change, indeed.

You could be that. 

For proof, look at my home state of Arizona, which is supposed to be a "red" state.  It's an open secret here that voters registered Independent or Libertarian outnumber the registered Republicans and Democrats put together.  If the LP could put up a good candidate and platform, you could sweep the state next election.

So where's that candidate?  Where's that platform?  Why aren't you out stumping already, seeing that the next election is just two and a half years away? 

Gotta start early, folks, if you want the mention of you to get around;  remember how the media have been doing their best to muffle you with silence for the last 40 years.  Come up with candidates for every office, in every state, put together reasonable platform-planks for all of them, and send them out to stump at every available public gathering – and especially on the Internet.  Most of Ron Paul's entire campaign, fundraising and all, was done on the Internet.  Advertise! 

I can even recommend a single graphic that would go equally well on flyers, bumper stickers, and the occasional – when you can afford it – billboard.  At the top are a stylized donkey and elephant squared off, above them is printed a variation on the famous quote from Shakespeare: "A plague on both their houses".  Below that, in a different color: "Had enough?  Vote Libertarian", and under that an equally stylized porcupine.  That's enough.  You can do everything else by personal appearances and the Internet.  But do it!

The Big Two are afraid you'll do exactly that, as you can tell by their more recent antics.  The Dems are trying, all over TV, to slander you as "hopped up Conservatives", and the Repubs are trying to false-flag you (or make themselves look better, or possibly even take over the LP) by sending out some of their sleazier members claiming to be you.  They wouldn't waste the effort – and money – if they didn't think you might be serious contenders.

These tactics can be countered.  First, tighten your membership requirements – make everyone sign a pledge which clearly states your ideology, and hand out membership cards with photos and computerized ID strips, programmed by the best hackers you can find so that they can't be faked.  Second, do a serious purge;  throw out the con-artists, false-flag saboteurs and every last Conservative – and I trust you can find who they are.  Deactivate their membership cards, with an embedded explanation, and make certain they can't get valid new cards.  Do not make the mistake the GOP made back in the '60s – of welcoming the Conservatives to get more votes.  Look what happened to the Republicans as a result.  That way lies ruin. 

Third, point out – loudly—that Libertarians are not the na├»ve Objectivists they started out as, 40 years ago, and technically you're not even "right-wingers";  you're off in a direction of your own.  Especially, make it clear that you're not anti-union;  the First Amendment protects the rights of citizens "peaceably to assemble to seek redress of grievances", and that certainly covers grievances against bosses as well as against politicians.  As Karl Hess once put it, the labor union (and, nowadays, the consumers' union) is the naturally evolved check and balance on the power of the employer.  Make it clear that you have no objection to honest unions, and point out some examples – such as the ILGWU, the IWW, the Railway Brotherhood, and so on.  Also mention the Consumers' Union, which has done more to protect consumers than whole departments of the federal government.

In point of historical fact, the National Labor Relations Board and the federal labor laws were not created just at the request of the unions.  The labor wars of the 1930s were real shooting wars, and the workingmen had more guns – and often better shooters.  The last thing the corporate or company bosses want is to face off against the labor force – not to mention the consumers – with no government buffer between them.  If both sides were put into that position, they'd both have the sense to tiptoe around each other and be very polite.  Remind the voters that you support the whole Bill of Rights, including the 2nd Amendment.

About the inevitable question of the Affordable Care Act, you can claim – quite honestly – that the original bill was a 2900-page, sloppy, tangled, bureaucratic nightmare of a bill which nobody in Congress even read before they voted on it.  Claim that you want Congress to do what they should have done in the first place: go over the bill page by page, paragraph by paragraph, line by line, with a ruthless red pencil – and throw out all the cute little inclusions of pork, corruption and bloated bureaucracy that it contains.  There's no reason any bill should need more than 100 pages, at most, to accomplish its purpose.

If asked about the hot potato of abortion, you could do a lot worse than to take Ron Paul's brilliant cop-out: that the more controversial a topic is, the more it needs to be decided at the local level – not just state by state, but city by city – and the citizens themselves must decide it, by referendum.  That's the democratic way, after all (and it will neatly get you off the hook).  You can use the same tactic with the questions of gun-control and immigration reform.

On questions of foreign policy, it gets a little tougher.  You cannot, after all, play Free Enterprise with people who are playing Economic Warfare with you;  you have to play Economic Warfare right back at them, and play it well, in order to avoid other and worse forms of war.  Both political lefties and righties will cheer if you promise to bring all the troops home, close the vast majority of those foreign military bases, quit pretending to be the cops of the world, and stop getting involved in unnecessary and questionable wars.  The lefties will cheer if you promise to break up the military-industrial complex – which is the only beneficiary of bad wars – and the righties won't dare to disagree.  Beyond that, just say that the US should be friendly to its proven friends, neutral to its neutrals, and hostile to its proven enemies – and try to avoid naming specific countries.   

Finally, hammer on the fact that the Government Accountancy Office has spent the last four years combing through the federal bureaucracy and has found more than 1500 departments and sub-departments that are redundant, unnecessary, do nothing but waste the taxpayers' money, and need to be abolished – and neither of the Big Two parties has acted on the GAO's recommendations.  But you will.

Do all this, and yes, you'll sweep an unprecedented number of seats – including federal ones – in the 2016 election.  Take it from an old friend who's had lots of experience in grassroots politics, newspaper editing and labor organizing. 

Am I personally a member of the LP?  Oh, no (though I've been registered Libertarian for the longest time), and you really don't want me to be – not for a few years, and several successful elections, anyway.  I'm well known as a shameless Anarchist, and most of the voters aren't willing to go that far – yet. 

Good hunting.

--Leslie Fish  <;)))>< 

Monday, March 24, 2014

FREEDOM, LIBERTY AND INDEPENDENCE

by Leslie Fish <;)))><


Those are three different words for a reason;  the differences between them are subtle, but important.

'Freedom' , according to Merriam-Webster's Reliable Book, is the state of being 'free': not restrained, not taxed, not priced, not attached or bound, and having liberty or independence.  It implies both action ("winning free", "breaking free", etc.) and some nearby hostility or threat of enslavement against which one must be watchful and fiercely defensive.

'Liberty' is also the state or quality of being free, with a hint of going beyond normal limits, but its implications are more tranquil or confident.  It carries no associated sense of threat, but assumes that being free to do as you like is one's natural state, and that any attempt to restrain one's liberty is a bizarre oddity.

'Independence' – again, the state of being free – has wider implications: of not being governed or bound by another, but also "not requiring or relying on something or somebody else", and "not easily influenced" – in other words, self-reliant.

It's historically notable that the rebels of the American Revolution used the words 'independence' and 'liberty' more than 'freedom'.  This reveals that the colonials assumed they had already been living in 'liberty' when the British government began trying to take it away.  They were already used to personal 'independence';  the vast majority of Americans then were at least subsistence farmers, or had small businesses usually connected with farming, which meant that the one tactic Britain could never use against them was to try to starve them into submission.  The common self-reliance of the average citizen is what gave them the capability of winning the war, as well as the attitude that made them rebel in the first place.  Americans were used to providing necessities for themselves, and even a few luxuries (such as silverware), and when Britain began leeching away too much of their hard-made wealth they could reasonably ask themselves what America really needed Britain for.

Independence, being the exact opposite of interdependence, is clearly a threat to the "Peace of Dives", which relies for its success on everybody being indebted to, and reliant on, everybody else.  The idea of personal independence – self-reliance and freedom, right down to the level of the individual – is anathema to the Globalist political campaign, and to political and financial organizations supporting it.  This accounts for such apparently unconnected phenomena as NAFTA, gun-control laws, financial institutions refusing to make small loans (or making them at outrageous interest), the EPA banning children's lemonade stands, various governments trying to control the Internet, and Monsanto suing small farmers into bankruptcy for even accidental possession of "patented" food-plants.  Yes, Globalism is the attempt to create a single planetary government, with a single world-wide economy made up of an aristocracy of giant industries, with no individual variation allowed – all in the name of world peace. 
 
It can't be done, of course, and even the attempt is already creating a self-reliance backlash.

Back in the 1960s and '70s, it was politically left-wing Hippies who struck out into the 'wilderness' (or at least the countryside) to create independent farming and manufacturing communes.  As with any new mutation or new industry, 90% of them failed – but the few that survived managed to survive well, and have quietly created templates for successors.  It's intriguing that the effort caused the pacifistic Hippies to take up and seriously study the use of firearms.

In the 1980s and '90s, it was politically right-wing Survivalists who struck out into the 'wilderness' (etc.) to create independent 'retreats' (which they would never ever call 'communes').  Besides the same market/evolutionary forces pushing 90% of them into failure, they also faced a concerted legal and propaganda campaign against them – culminating in the attack on the Branch Davidian "compound" in Waco.  The government in particular considered the almost-religiously armed and business-savvy Survivalists more of a threat than the pacifistic and naive Hippies.  Nonetheless, a few survived – sadder and wiser.  Ironically, they learned of necessity to take a serious interest in organic farming and environmental concerns.

Nowadays, in the face of a continuing Depression and the growth of the economic aristocracy – the "1%" – the pro-independence crowd comes from all across the political spectrum.  The left-wingers don't give themselves any particular label, which makes it hard for the media to smear them, and connect only by personal contact or social internet links, which makes it hard for the government to identify them.  The right-wingers tend to call themselves "preppers" – as in "preparing" for disastrous social collapse – and even there the media has difficulty propagandizing against them because the original "prepper" organization, which charges its members to keep personal caches of a year's food, is the large and powerful Mormon church.

What they all have in common is a growing trend toward independence and self-reliance: providing their own defense, food, medicine, communications and – thanks to the explosive growth of 3D printing – manufacturing.  All over the internet (and other nets) one can find information on how to provide these things from the individual level on up.  With aquaponics one can grow food in a studio apartment.  With a small solar-electric or wind-generator system a house can provide its own power.  With a print-on-demand set-up a small publisher can successfully reach buyers anywhere in the world.  With a basic fuel-ethanol kit a small farm can create its own fuel.  And with a small 3-D printer (getting cheaper all the time) a tiny business can make anything from guns to car-parts.
All of these systems are spreading by leaps and bounds. The last time I went to a house-party to sing, all I had to do was mention the words "organic garden" and every guest had a success story to tell and technical advice to give.  The self-reliance movement, for lack of a better label, is spreading faster than any government – even with the NSA spying frantically – can keep track of, let alone curtail.

There is a long-established tradition of independence in American culture, not to mention 'liberty' and 'freedom', too deeply entrenched for the best efforts of the government, the aristocracy and their obedient media to root out.  This, even more than the collapsing Peace of Dives, spells defeat for the Globalist movement and its hopeful riders. As the global economy slides toward worldwide collapse, we'll soon see the financial aristocracy holding all the money but none of the real production – which will be irretrievably  scattered among the independent population.  In the words of Kipling, once again:

"So, though we had plenty of money,
There was nothing our money could buy.
And the gods of the copy-book headings
Said: 'If you don't work, you will die'."


--Leslie <;)))><            

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Interdependence: "The Peace of Dives"

Nearly a century and a half ago, a young Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem called "The Peace of Dives" in which he offered an economic solution to the problem of war.  Remember that Marxism was a new and as yet not disproven theory then, so a young intellectual could understandably be persuaded by the idea that Economics Is Everything;  therefore, wars are fought for economic reasons -- the hopes of defending one's own goodies while snatching the other guy's.  Kipling proposed that the solution was to get every government in the world in debt to each other, giving all of them a claim to each other's goodies, so that one couldn't go to war without having one's goodies destroyed or confiscated.  "Not for Ashdod overthrown will the kings destroy their own", he claimed.

Well, Kipling was a good observer and honest with himself, so in a few years he saw that his theory was wrong;  economics is not humanity's only motivation for anything, and wars are fought for other reasons than getting economic goodies -- as viz. suicide bombers.  Kipling's writings just twenty years later clearly recant the Peace of Dives.

'Tis pity that most of the governments in the world aren't as smart as a 19th-century English poet.

After World War II the governments of the winning countries, shaken by the sheer destructive extent of the war -- not to mention the amazing destructive potential of nuclear weapons -- searched frantically for some means to end war.  One solution they came up with was the United Nations, originally the winners' circle of WWII, hoping it would eventually include all the world's countries and provide a forum where all governments could talk out their differences -- as if all differences could be talked away.  Another solution they came up with was the Peace of Dives, which has since been labelled "Global Interdependence".

The theory is still the same: get all countries financially dependent on each other, in debt to each other, and they won't dare make war on each other.  This theory shares the great Progressive assumption that all people and all cultures are essentially alike, that the only real division between countries is national boundaries, and an interlaced economy can make those irrelevant.  It also assumes that interlaced economies will make all countries equally healthy, wealthy and wise, so there will be no motivation for war.  This explains the NAFTA treaty, the growth of international corporations, and the western countries' willingness to bend over backward appeasing demanding Arab organizations.  It's all in the hope of preventing war.

Hasn't worked very well, has it?

Kipling knew better.  In dozens of his poems and stories he shows the primacy of culture -- the psychology of whole societies -- and how this is the driving engine behind attempts at conquest and war. 

Arab culture, for example, is based on sexism, self-righteousness, envy and spite -- as its history shows.  This is why, when they weren't attempting to conquer their neighbors, Arab countries would fight among themselves -- on any pretext -- until they ran out of money and soldiers.  Note Syria.

The culture of China, for another example, always (at least 3000 years back, anyway) contained a vast arrogance which held that Chinese were as superior to other humans as the gods were superior to them -- as revealed in their common name for China as "The Middle Kingdom": midway between heaven and the rest of the earth.  This has led the rulers of China to play economic warfare with other countries, to its own serious detriment, just to prove their superiority to those "foreign devils".  Note the Opium Wars.

It's true that economic conflicts reliably lead to wars, but the root of those economic conflicts is cultural.  Yes, there are very different cultures in the world, with deep and fundamental differences, and all the economic ties in the world won't stop them from battling until one or the other goes under.  Global interdependence has only made economics into a weapon which hostile cultures can use to damage each other.  Worse, it has created an international aristocracy of the very rich which has a culture of its own -- and that culture shares little or nothing with the cultures of the western democracies.  Recent revelations about the infamous "one percent" have shown us that;  they are no one race or religion or nation, and have no allegiance to any of those, but value only their own class and power. 

Finally, Global Interdependence has created worldwide debt and worldwide economic depression, such as we've seen around the world for the last five years.  No government will admit to this, but the previous decades' orgy of debt has run everyone but the very rich broke;  all those debts have come due, and it turns out that there's nothing solid to pay them with.  Half a century's financial manipulation has manipulated all the money into the pockets of the financial manipulators, with everyone else left dead broke.  The Peace of Dives benefited no one but Dives. 

No doubt the financial aristocrats assume that they can now rule the world as they see fit by doling out the money, but history should advise them otherwise.  Money as receipts of ownership becomes worthless when large numbers of desperate people simply stop recognizing the legitimacy of the receipt, and come after its owners.  Imagine a Russian or French style revolution on a global scale.  "Eat The Rich" just might cease to be a joke.  The Peace of Dives ends in either global feudalism or global war.

The solution is to put an end to Globalism and return to independence -- of each nation, society, town and even household.  It was possible in 1776 and it's even more possible now.  There is a movement afoot to do just that, but it's the subject of a whole 'nother story.

--Leslie <;)))><                           

Monday, February 24, 2014

Corrupting the Word



I was raised in a medical family;  my father and uncle had a clinic attached to the house, my mother was their first assistant/secretary, and most of their friends were doctors or dentists or nurses.  I grew up reading medical journals and medical texts, and learned quite a bit thereby.  I might have gone into medicine myself if I hadn't been so bad at mathematics.  One thing that came to annoy me considerably was the misuse of medical terms, ignorant or otherwise.

I am very tired of people misusing the word "addiction".  "Addiction" is a precise medical term describing a specific physical phenomenon -- namely, the body's adjustment to regular doses of a foreign substance, to the point where removal of the substance causes a painful readjustment back to normal.  In other words, there is no such thing as a "mental addiction", regardless of what ambitious politicians and their flacks may say.  You can become addicted to morphine, cocaine, alcohol, and even caffeine;  you can not become addicted to marijuana, sex, or video-games.  The mental phenomenon whereby people lust madly after such items or actions is properly called "obsession".  Yes, obsession can also be joined to addiction, which is what really makes the addiction hard to break;  there are countless cases of non-obsessed patients walking away from addictions without a backward glance, but any doctor can tell you the difficulty of weaning a patient away from an obsession.

So why has the term "addiction" been used so sloppily?  My guess is that the accurate term, "obsession", implies that the problem is all in the patient's mind -- which is true -- and that s/he could free themself from it if they really wanted to (which is also true).  In other words, a person with an obsession is responsible, while a person with an addiction is a victim.  Everyone knows that responsible people get sued, while victims get to do the suing.  In our present lawsuit-mad society, this is a serious consideration.

But more to the point, an obsession is a personal problem while an addiction can be manipulated into a social problem -- and from there into a political one.  You can stump up more than money by declaring war on an addiction than an obsession, and the more addictions to raise hysteria about the better.  You can get yourself a political reputation as a great moral crusader by going after a so-called addiction, and ride that hobby-horse into high political office.  Or you can ruin a businessman's product, or a whole industry, by calling it "addictive", thus clearing the market for your own -- or your cronies' -- product (for which the cronies will be grateful at election time).  This is exactly what happened to marijuana, originally called hemp, which was a major industry prior to 1932.

This is why corrupting language is so useful to politicians, big businessmen, and their assorted minions.  Hitler and Stalin were far from the first practitioners of this trick, and our current crop of VIPs will certainly not be the last.      


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Police Pity-Parties



I've known a few honest cops in my life -- a city cop here, a sheriff's deputy there -- and 90% of them quit the job and took up other work instead.  I've also -- having lived in central New Jersey, Chicago, and northern California -- had a thwacking acquaintance with a good many dishonest cops.  I'll admit that 90% o them were not crooked for money but for power, for the fun of making civilians "show proper respect".  I also must say that the ones who were crooked for money often got it by politicking rather than suborning bribes.  For that reason, I'm rather cynical about police department spokesmen and their various claims at budget-review time.

I'm exceedingly tired of hearing police whine about how dangerous their jobs are, and that old cliche about how they have to go down dark alleys at night where Dangerous Criminals might be hiding.  Tsk.

When I hear that hoary old tale, I can't help thinking about the people who have to walk down those same dark alleys -- with no gun, no club, no taser, no tear-gas, no armor, no partner, and no back-up troops waiting in the wings -- every night of their lives, because they live there.  I've lived in poor-working-class neighborhoods like that.  Believe me, the police were very slow to come when called for emergencies there.  Instead, we relied on our neighbors for help, and those neighbors did a damned good job of it -- for the simple reason that they knew it would be their turn to need help soon enough.

As for the fearful-terrible danger of police work, any insurance company can list for you at least ten jobs that are more dangerous -- jobs that are more likely to leave you dead or permanently injured -- than being a cop.  These include:

Farmer (farm machinery and large farm animals are not safe)
Coal Miner (they've died on the job at the rate of one man per shift, per day, per year, for the last century)
Sandhog ('nuff said?)
Hire-Iron Construction Worker (")
Chemical Plant Worker 
Firefighter 
Heavy Equipment Repariman
Professional Football Player  (no kidding!)
High-Wire Electrician
Timber Worker (including sawmill worker and lumberjack)

A little searching can add several more to the list.  I've deliberately left out military jobs, such as paratrooper or Explosive Ordnance Disposal worker;  we're just talking civilians here.  On occasion the media will carry stories of workers at these various jobs going on strike or otherwise agitating for higher pay, or better health insurance, or safer working conditions -- and the tales are inevitably accompanied by the usual grumbles about the greed of uppity workers, and how this will raise prices/taxes/insurance payments for everyone else.

You don't see those grumbles when police departments agitate for higher pay, better benefits or bigger/better equipment, and the reason given is that police work is necessary and -- of course -- dangerous.

Why don't jobs that are equally  necessary (except maybe Pro Football Player) and provably more dangerous get at least the same respect?