Wednesday, August 30, 2006
The Hive Mind
Utah is "the most culturally communistic society I'm aware of in the English-speaking world," commented Michael Humiston, a brilliant family rights attorney who lives in Heber City.
That's a remarkable assessment coming from a politically conservative man who was born and raised in Utah as an active Mormon (albeit one who -- last time I saw him, at least -- wore his straight, waist-length hair in a ponytail).
During the mid-1980s, Humiston studied abroad behind the Iron Curtain as part of a student exchange program. Upon returning to Utah, he noticed some uncanny similarities between the collectivist societies of eastern Europe and the most Republican state in the Union.
"From practically the time they're old enough to speak, most Utahns are taught reflexive deference to constituted authority, and to seek the security of collective
action rather than the necessity of independent thinking," Humiston told me during an interview in Milwaukee for a cover story I wrote several years ago. "They are indoctrinated in the belief that obedience is the first law of heaven, and that dutiful obedience sanctifies actions that would otherwise be morally unacceptable. These attitudes and inclinations are all very widespread in some eastern societies, and of course they're the foundation of most Communist regimes. But it's somewhat unusual to find them in cultures growing out of the Anglo-Saxon tradition, and Utah is the worst case I can think of."
Humiston's speciality is defending parents targeted by the Child "Protection" bureacracy, and the collectivist traits he describes have caused him no small amount of frustration. Many of his clients "simply find it impossible to believe that people exercising authority would actually mean to do them harm, especially when those officials belong to The Church." (In Utah, only when referring to one church are people expected to use a definite article.)
Utah's variant of collectivism has been displayed to good advantage in recent days.
Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson is both a liberal Democrat and an ex-Mormon, which means that in the eyes of most Utahns he is a twice-damned infidel. Anderson, to his considerable credit, organized a protest rally today in anticipation of tomorrow's arrival of the Wee Decider to emit a batch of lies about the Iraq war in an address to the national convention of the American Legion.
Rocky's rally was deprived of its marquee attraction, Cindy Sheehan, who was recently hospitalized and couldn't attend. The prospect of Sheehan visiting Salt Lake to confront the Bushling was too much for Utah Republicans to abide.
Accordingly, a few days ago the Utah Republican Party urged its members "to call Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and tell him they disapprove of his scheduled participation Wednesday in an anti-war rally preceding a visit by President Bush," reported the Deseret Morning News. "The party put out radio ads Monday asking people to call Anderson and `tell him to stop embarrassing Utah.' The mayor's office had received 183 calls by late afternoon.
The purpose of this campaign, explained Jeff Hartley, Mullah of the Utah Republican Party, was to impress on Anderson the fact that his opposition to Bush "doesn't represent the majority of Utahns' opinions" -- and therefore, presumably, he should simply shut up.
It's the will of the Collective, the consensus within the Hive Mind.
Hartley and the Utah GOP also paid for radio advertisements denouncing Cindy Sheehan's supposedly "anti-American" views, and condemning her for trying "to convince you that America should retreat."
If we're advancing toward the abyss, then retreat is the only rational option. And given that the Iraq war, the offspring of deliberate deception, is making our country less secure, retreat is a patriotic imperative.
But even listening to such views, much less considering them on their merits, is anathema to people suckled on the truism, "When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done."
To reinforce this message, the Deseret Morning News -- the journalistic organ of the Mormon Church -- gave prominent space on Monday to a guest op-ed written by war widow Collete Gourley entitled "Rocky is on the side of terrorists."
"I am ashamed to have Rocky Anderson representing this great city," wrote Mrs. Gourley. "He is a waste of space and energy. To think that he is protesting my husband's commander in chief makes me extremely irritated. I wholeheartedly agree with [the parents of Utah war casualty] Cpl. Adam Galvez's ... when they said that he [Mayor Anderson] is partly responsible for the deaths of our soldiers. As far as I'm concerned, it's either black or white — there is no gray area here. You are either in support of our military troops, or you are on the terrorists' side. I think Rocky has made it clear what side he is on."
While duly recognizing the loss suffered by Mrs. Goulette and her family, I must confess to some amazement that she directs her rage at someone who laments the death of her husband in an unnecessary war, rather than at the lying president who sent her husband abroad to die. And the language she employs stops just short of a literal fatwa against Anderson, whom she describes as useless at best and treasonous at worst, and directly implicated in the death of our soldiers.
In a house editorial last week, the Deseret News (whose editor, John Hughes -- no, not that John Hughes -- is a former undersecretary general of the United Nations and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations)came as close as it comfortably could to a literal recitation of the "when our leaders speak, the thinking has been done" formula.
"Regardless of whether the United States was justified in invading Iraq," opined the paper, "the military [must] stay there until the region is stabilized." Bush's critics "can argue ad nauseam that the president started this war under false pretenses," continues the paper, this is "wrong" and "irrelevant," even though it is
true that Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction.... In any event, the nation can't turn back the clock and undo the war...."
Truth is "irrelevant," facts are "irrelevant," moral misgivings about a disastrous war are "irrelevant"; all that matters is obedience uber alles.
Thus decrees the voice of the Collective, speaking the will of the Hive Mind.
What will happen if, as the paper urges, we "Stay the course in Iraq"?
Some pregnant hints were provided in the following day's Deseret News house editorial, bearing the tin-eared headline "Military Recruiting Challenging."
"Never before has warfare been so complex," began the piece, written in the artlessly coy style of a singles bar Lothario trying to coax a prospective conquest down a very predictable path. "Never before, in a volunteer Armed Services, has the Army lowered the recruitment bar so low — all in the name of meeting recruiting goals in the face of a grueling war and a healthy job market at home."
After reviewing th increasingly dismal and desperate condition of current volunteer recruitment efforts, the editorial reached its inevitable destination:
"Can, in this economy, the military maintain its recruiting goals? More important, will Congress be forced into reinstituting a draft? Something's got to give to ensure the military can continue to entice the best and brightest to serve this country in an increasingly challenging season of warfare."
Of course, the most obvious and necessary "thing" that should "give" would be the demands of constant foreign wars, which would immediately solve the problems described in the editorial. But suggesting as much -- nay, even allowing such a thought the luxury of the most transient appearance in the theater of one's mind -- would be to question the leader. Such things simply aren't done in Utah.
Thus speaks the Collective, the voice of the Hive Mind.
Utah is a somewhat special case. None of the other affiliates of the United State (to use the very appropriate term coined by the insightful folks over at The Last Ditch) displays such a near-identity between an authoritarian church and the ruling political party. Mormons are bound by covenant to "sustain" their prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, the recipient of a Presidential Medal of Freedom from Bush and a public supporter of Bush's wars.
So as far as most Mormon Republicans are concerned, Iraq is, quite literally, a holy war, its divine imprimatur nullifying any constitutional, moral, or legal objections.
The leaders have spoken. The thinking has been done.
But it shouldn't be thought that this heresy is confined to Mormon-dominated Utah. Variations on the same theme are taught at Mega-churches from California to Florida, and on the Sunday before the fifth anniversary of 9-11, pulpits across the land will resound with sermons enjoining the same docile, dutiful obedience to the Dear Leader, preparing young Christians for their future role as sacrificial offerings on the altar of the Warfare State.
Thus speaks the Collective, the voice of the Hive Mind.
But we must remember that resistance isn't futile.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Free Janet Gregory!
Ladies and gentlemen, behold the face of the internal enemy from whom the heroic Feds are gallantly protecting us.
69-year-old Janet Gregory, during a flight from Cleveland, committed the supposed crime of cleaning and polishing her nails en route to Charlotte, North Carolina last Friday. How she had managed to smuggle the contraband onto the plane is unclear, but what is known is that this elderly lady, assuming that she lived in a free country, simply refused to turn over her private property when instructed to do so during the flight.
Somehow, the plane managed to reach its destination safely in spite of Mrs. Gregory's rebellion.
On arriving at the airport, the matronly rebel was surrounded by the "authorities" -- the catc-all title used to describe the tax-fattened parasites who stare at us with "cold, dead alien eyes" and exploit any opportunity to make our lives miserable -- and arrested. She was arrested and dragged away, kicking and screaming, thereby giving agents of the regime the pretext to charge her with "real" crimes: Kicking a TSA agent (which should be considered a moral and civic duty, not a crime), resisting arrest, and "communicating threats."
And by way of illustrating the point I made previously about the fact that we no longer have independent state and local law enforcement bodies in the USSA, the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Department dutifully imprisoned Mrs. Gregory and posted her photo on its website, as if it were a prize trophy of some kind.
At 9-11+Five Years, Osama bin Laden remains at large, but the public can sleep soundly knowing that JANET GREGORY is behind bars.
This isn't the first time that the TSA -- a squalid assortment of thieves and perverts, seasoned lightly with a handful of decent but misguided careerists -- has brought the hammer down on an outraged grandmother.
Almost exactly two years ago, 62-year-old Appleton, Wisconsin resident Phyllis Dintenfass and her husband were passing through security prior to a flight at Appleton's Outagamie County Regional Airport. Something Mrs. Dintenfass was wearing repeatedly triggered metal detectors, and the retired schoolteacher was taken to a "secondary screening area" by a TSA supervisor named Anita Gostisha. Mrs. Dintenfass put up no resistance as Gostisha used an electronic "wand" to scan for metal objects.
But Dintenfass -- as would any woman with so much as a scintilla of self-respect -- rebelled when Gostisha used the back of her hands to check the area beneath Dintenfass's breasts. According to Dintenfass, her reaction was to mimic the unwanted and uninvited physical contact while exclaiming, "How would you like it if I did that to you?"
In her account of the incident, Gostisha claims that the middle-aged woman -- who was described by those who knew her as harmless and not given to violence of any kind -- "slammed her against the wall," which would be an entirely appropriate reaction to what reasonable people would consider a sexual assault. Dintenfass flatly denies shoving the TSA official, and since her accuser works for the regime, we can assume that she's a liar.
But since Dintenfass's accuser wears the costume and bears the insignia of the criminals who rule us, her person is sanctified, and severe punishment must be meted out against mere commoners who defile it through unauthorized contact.
Dintenfass was arrested and charged with "assaulting" a federal official. A federal jury found her guilty of that supposed crime on July 26. She was eventually sentenced to a year of probation and 100 hours of "community service."
Federal prosecutor Tim Funnell lisped that Mrs. Dintenfass "punished Anita Gostisha for doing her job." U.S. Attorney Steven Bispukic insisted that TSA officers, who perform a "vital function" are "entitled to protection from assault."
Here's a picture of the "assailant," whose hobbies -- when she isn't leaving helpless agents of the Leviathan palsied with terror, that is -- include making beaded jewelry.
Note well that the charges against Dintenfass constitute an official acknowledgment from federal attorneys that the invasive, degrading physical contact regularly inflicted on air travelers by the TSA's airport molesters is a form of "punishment" and "assault."
In his book The Tyranny of Good Intentions, Paul Craig Roberts points out that under the regime now ruling us there are two classes of people: Those whom the law does not restrain -- the political class and those who serve it -- and those whom the law does not protect -- the hoi polloi, of whom Mrs. Gregory and Mrs. Dintenfass are perfect examples.
These cases also illustrate the unforunate truth of the oft-repeated maxim that because of the supposedly ubiquitous threat of terrorism, "We're all Israelis now."
In fact, the ever-escalating war against the personal dignity of air travelers suggests a refinement to that formula: The Feds are Israelis, the rest of us are Palestinians.
Referring once again to Richard Ben Cramer's valuable book How Israel Lost, I share the author's description of the quotidian indignities visited on Palestinians at security checkpoints.
"I know of one school headmaster, a dignified older man, who passed the same checkpoint every morning, and was made to undress -- not once but often -- and stand naked while his students passed by," writes Cramer. "This was richly humorous -- that old man was (formerly) so conscious of the honor of his position."
"The simple rule is, there are no rules -- or no rules that were the same rules yesterday," continues Cramer in describing the security restrictions on those living under Israeli occupation. "The function of the checkpoints is to show who's boss."
He goes on to describe how he asked an Israeli soldier newly arrived from Russia -- who, like most such immigrants, is almost certainly not Jewish -- why it was considered important to stop people who obviously were neither criminals nor potential terrorists.
The shtarker replied: "Because the bad attitude -- you know? If they are acting like they are good, and we are the bad one. Then, you must show them control."
That's the whole point of checkpoints, whether established at the entrance to Gaza or at airports in Charlotte, North Carolina and Appleton, Wisconsin. The State simply has to teach the rest of us who's in control.
In its treatment of Janet Gregory and Phyllis Dintenfass, the regime under which we love displays its true nature. And the stolid, ignorant indifference of the public to such outrages is equally revealing. Solzhenitsyn would be disgusted by us, albeit not surprised:
"And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?... The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If...if...We didn't love freedom enough. And even more—we had no awareness of the real situation.... We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”
True, we're not living under a full-blown American Cheka yet. But if we don't love freedom enough to rebel at the treatment of frail, elderly women like Janet Gregory, we don't deserve what etoliated freedoms we still exercise, and will richly deserve everything that's coming to us.
Monday, August 28, 2006
The Fatal Embrace, Revisited
While chatting several years ago with my good friend Bob Unger -- a talented and passionate man blessed with weapons-grade wit and a total lack of inhibitions in dealing with ignorant people – the conversation turned, as it often does for us, to the subject of Judaism.
An Orthodox Jew from Great Neck, New York, Bob is often given to expressing opinions of Reformed and Liberal Jews that I simply cannot repeat, and find occasionally difficult to listen to. (Imagine a wittier Michael Savage in a really bad mood, and you'll get some sense of what I'm trying to describe.) As I said, he's a passionate and uninhibited guy. In any case, Bob was well into the second stanza of his harangue when I tentatively dipped my toe into the topic.
“If I can be permitted to venture a poorly informed opinion,” I began, “which is the only kind I can offer on the subject, it seems to me that the basic problem is that too many Jewish people define their identity with reference to Seinfeld, rather than to Sinai.”
“Yes! That's it exactly!” Bob replied.
Knowing that by doing so I am slam-dancing where Angels fear to tread, I'd like to expand on that insight – such as it is – by offering the following exercise in defining two kinds of Judaism, as well as Zionism:
Religious (Torah) Judaism is based on the worship of God.
Cultural Judaism is the worship of a collective – the Jewish people, corporately.
Zionism is the worship of a state.
The second category is where we would locate Seinfeld-defined Jewish people. The third category, unfortunately, has almost entirely subsumed the first two. And therein lies the real mortal danger to Jews, and to many millions of other innocent people, since the worship of the state in any form always involves blood sacrifices – and the worship of the particular State of Israel may exact a blood tax the likes of which we've never seen.
What about the first category?
Although most religious Jews are Zionists or at least favorably inclined toward the movement, there are a few, even today, who reject the premises on which the modern State of Israel was built. One example is Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, an Orthodox Jew who lives in Jerusalem, as have his ancestors for eleven generations.
Yehuda, whose surname means, roughly, “silken gold,” is founder and head of Zaka, a nonprofit group of Orthodox volunteers who collect and care for the bodies – even the most fragmentary remains – of those killed in terror bombings, as well as car bombings and other tragedies. This gruesome and dangerous task is considered a mitzvah, a good deed mandated by the scriptures.
When Israel's hi-tech bubble burst earlier this decade at about the same time the most recent Palestinian Intifada began, Zaka's work became “one of Israel's few growth industries,” wryly commented Richard Ben Cramer in his compulsively readable book How Israel Lost. What makes this all the more remarkable is the fact that Meshi-Zahav, like many others in Zaka, are haredim (“the fearful ones”) – pious Jews who regard the modern, secular, socialist state of Israel to be an abomination before God.
Yehuda's ancestors didn't need to be gathered to Jerusalem; they returned to the city many generations ago “not as Zionists – they came before the Zionists – simply as Jews,” notes Cramer. Yehuda grew up in an Orthodox neighborhood “as a Jew, not an Israeli,” surrounded by devout people who “would have nothing to do with the Godless little Denmark or Sweden that Labour Zionism seemed to be creating in this place that should have been (and was in God's eyes) holy. In fact, Meshi came of age as an enemy of the state.”
As do all decent people everywhere, of course.
Yehuda regards the much-contested Holy Land as the divinely appointed inheritance of Jews, perhaps because, unlike retail-store clerics like John Hagee and his ilk (I call them “Men of the Polyester,” rather than “Men of the Cloth”), Yehuda has read and understands the contingent nature of the promises found in Deuteronomy 11 and elsewhere.
“If things don't change here, I don't need the land,” Yehuda points out. “I can be a Jew anywhere. We had a contract with God years ago, that this land belongs to Jews. Then, we started to break the rules. That's why the Palestinian is taking over now.”
Many commentators insist that Israel's current predicament is an outgrowth of the acquisition of the Territories in 1967. Yehuda disagrees.
“The problem isn't '67. It was 1948. That is when we turned away from the law of the Torah, and tried to replace it with the laws of a state. The people of Israel got the Torah in Sinai without one centimeter of land.... Three thousand years ago, we got those laws – and now, instead, we are depending on one hundred and twenty Knesset members. Some of them are following Torah, some of them are not. Some of them are Russians, and we don't even know if they're Jews – so what can you expect?”
That last comment is, to say the least, provocative, especially in light of the efforts by “Rev.” Hagee and his associates to promote Russian immigration to Israel, whether or not the new arrivals are religious Jews, or Jews in any sense honest people would recognize. This is helping to build and strengthen the Israeli state, certainly, but it is also helping to fortify that nation's large, brutal, sophisticated, and expanding network of criminal syndicates – a subject that will be dealt with here in (hopefully) adequate depth some other time.
The influx of immigrants from the Former Soviet Union is changing the character of Israel, to be sure, but Yehuda's key point is that the state was never what he would consider to be truly Jewish to begin with. My above-mentioned friend Bob Unger once made the same point to me in characteristically memorable fashion: “Suppose that after America's War for Independence, our first president had been Benedict Arnold. That's pretty much what's happened to Israel.”
Cramer points out, as if by way of elaborating on Unger's point, that “Orthodox Judaism, the rabbis and yeshivas, were Zionism's first enemy.” This is because most of the founders of Israel “were atheists (or damn near – you could call them, perhaps, pugnacious secularists) who didn't want their modern utopia muddled up with any rabbinic mumbo jumbo.”
Theodor Herzl himself, Cramer continues, “wrote of the future homeland as a nation where the rabbis would be confined to their synagogues,” and in the decades leading up to the founding of Israel “Zionist agitators weren't calling for a Jewish State, but a `Hebrew State' (so their movement would never be confused with religion).” And the Israeli Declaration of Statehood pointedly contained “a promise to be faithful to the charter of the UN” but the document's only reference to God – a line about “faith in Almighty God” found in the last paragraph of the draft -- “was rewritten by the Provisional Council of State to the acceptably vague compromise -- `trust in the Rock of Israel.'”
Yes, “the Rock of Israel” is among the Bible's names for the God of Abraham. However, in context and practice, the expression was meant by Israel's founders to be the State itself – and that meaning is certainly shared by most of Israel's contemporary partisans.
It is difficult to overstate the contempt for religious Jews that animated many of Israel's founders. A vignette in Amos Elon's 1971 book The Israelis: Founders and Sons describes the annual ritual followed by one group of Zionist pioneers: Each year on Yom Kippur, the holiest date in the Jewish calendar, during which religious Jews (and even those Jews who are the equivalent of Christmas-Easter churchgoers) fast, this group of obnoxious socialists would gorge themselves on ham sandwiches, a repast that in their case could be construed as cannibalism.
Regrettably, it is that strain of Zionism – contempt for Judaism as an expression of duty to God, coupled with fanatical worship of the State – that defines Israel today, and dictates the priorities of its supporters. And the State's priorities are all bound up in prolonging the tragedy of the Occupation, which provides a perpetual emergency on which the State has grown obese.
Not surprisingly, the most brutal element of the Israeli State's apparatus of coercion – which is being used against both Palestinians and religious Jewish settlers – has recruited heavily from recent immigrants from Russia and the Former Soviet Union. According to a study conducted by Israel's Minister of Diaspora Affairs, two-thirds of the most recent arrivals in Israel were not Jewish.
Writes Cramer, describing a neighborhood familiar from his annual visits to Israel: “My market in Tel Aviv was half Russian stalls and stores, with hams hanging over the counter, and signs (some in Russian only) decorated with dancing pigs.” The Russians brought in (once again, with the financial assistance from John Hagee and similar paragons of piety) to boost the Israeli population “quickly earned a reputation as the most brutal badass checkpoint soldiers available.... [Y]ou could sum up the matter [thus]: It didn't matter if the Russians were Jews – because the mission of Israel had changed again – from the rescue of the Jewish people, to the rescue of the Jewish's state's occupation.”
It is always and ever thus: Wherever the State exists, it will eventually re-order society's priorities to make its own preservation the central organizing principle. In the case of Israel, the tragedy is compounded by the fact that the Israeli State is literally destroying Jewish identity as it was understood for millennia – that of a group of people “living apart” under God's law.
Dissident Israeli investigative journalist Barry Chamish has reached that conclusion. Asked by his friends why he's promoting non-service in the IDF, Chamish unabashedly writes that the “Israeli establishment, finally, must be felled.” That establishment, he points out, is the direct descendant of Israel's anti-Judaic founders, who “cooperated in the deaths of millions of European Jews to get their dream state. Lately, they bemired the state in still another war during which twice as many of the Israeli dead proportionately were the religious of Yesha, still too blind and patriotic to understand that they died for their very worst enemies” -- that is, the secular leftist Establishment running the Israeli State.
With only the slightest of modifications, Chamish's description applies equally well to America's Religious Right, as well.
Although I don't know if Chamish has read The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State by Professor Benjamin Ginsberg of Johns Hopkins University, his conclusions certainly resonate with Ginsberg's findings, to wit: It is statism – not Christianity – that lies at the root of historic anti-Semitism.
In previous eras, Ginsberg explains, Jews were socially marginalized people whose status led them "to seek the protection of the state.” Indeed, under the malign influence of Spinoza and others of his kidney, an explicitly statist variety of pseudo-Judaism was developed that defined the State as both pater (father) and soter (savior). Accordingly, he continues: “Over the past several centuries ... Jews have played a major role in the strengthening of existing states and in efforts to supplant established regimes with new ones." In many states, he continues, "Jews were crucial in building and staffing institutions of extraction, coercion, administration, and mobilization.... [T]hese relationships between Jews and the state have been the chief catalysts for organized anti-Semitism."
Digested into simple terms, Ginsberg’s compelling thesis is that time and again, Jews have sought to build state power in order to protect themselves from persecution – only to engender the hostility of those whose prosperity and liberties suffer at the hands of the state. And time and again, the state turned its wrath on the same Jewish advisers and agents that had worked so diligently to expand its powers.
Despite this utterly predictable outcome, Ginsberg observes, "Jews often continued to look to the state for protection even when it was the state itself that was the source of their problems." He cites one particularly tragic example of this "fatal embrace" at work: "[T]o the very end many German Jews could not believe that the German state would fail to protect them from the excesses of Nazi fanatics.”
As the Bush regime, acting under the influence of a group of Trotskyite fanatics bent on global revolution, prepares to expand its Middle East war to Syria and Iran, we can see a horrifying new variation on this “Fatal Embrace.” The US and Israel are involved in a sick and bizarre relationship of mutual exploitation, each using the other as a proxy, and both being controlled by a rootless, globalist elite that cares not at all for the best interests of anyone – American, Israeli, or Arab.
The Israeli campaign in Lebanon was intended as a preliminary round of a war against Iran. It went very badly, and will probably result in the removal of the Omert government (witness the suddenly “discovered” scandal now being used to undermine his image and reputation) and its replacement with a government more suitable to the war agenda.
In the process, those Jews who have relied on the Israeli State to protect them are being set up for what could be the mother of all pogroms. Professor Stephen Zunes of the University of San Francisco describes the relevant factors, and runs the math for us:
“One of the more unsettling aspects of the broad support in Washington for the use of Israel as U.S. proxy in the Middle East is how closely it corresponds to historic anti-Semitism. In past centuries, the ruling elite of European countries would, in return for granting limited religious and cultural autonomy, established certain individuals in the Jewish community as the visible agents of the oppressive social order, such as tax collectors and moneylenders. When the population threatened to rise up against the ruling elite, the rulers could then blame the Jews, channeling the wrath of an exploited people against convenient scapegoats. The resulting pogroms and waves of repression took place throughout the Jewish Diaspora.
Zionists hoped to break this cycle by creating a Jewish nation-state where Jews would no longer be dependent on the ruling elite of a given country. The tragic irony is that, by using Israel to wage proxy war to promote U.S. hegemony in the region, this cycle is being perpetuated on a global scale. This latest orgy of American-inspired Israeli violence has led to a dangerous upsurge in anti-Semitism in the Middle East and throughout the world.”
The Bush administration's unique twist on this scenario – which is right out of Ginsberg's analysis of the “Fatal Embrace” -- is to demand a heavily-armed, fully empowered UN “peace force” in Lebanon, supposedly for the protection of both Lebanon and Israel.
Were I of a certain Dispensationalist cast of mind, I might conclude that by helping create the conditions for all nations to gather against Israel, George W. Bush may be auditioning for the role of Anti-Christ.
Not being of that inclination, I'll settle for saying that this is merely a horrifyingly bad idea, one that will almost certainly end in tears, horror, and bloodshed.
But such are the inscrutable ways of the divine State.
Friday, August 25, 2006
"These Are MY Sons!"
Charlie Anderson, a widowed father of six sons, was working on his ranch in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley when the Confederate patrol descended on his property. Displaying the reflexive hospitality of a natural gentleman, Charlie happily permitted Lt. Johnson and his soldiers to help themselves to the family well.
Though both his men and their horses were tired and parched, Captain Johnson hadn’t come to the Anderson Ranch simply to relieve their thirst.
“You have six sons, don’t you, Mr. Anderson?” inquired Johnson.
“Well, does the size of my family have some special interest to you?” responded Anderson, his eyes narrowing in suspicious hostility.
“Matter of fact, it does,” replied Johnson, his genial veneer disintegrating. “We need men. Now, two of these men” – he gestured to the bedraggled soldiers under his command – “are no more than 16. It seems strange to quite a few people around here that none of your sons are in the Army.”
“Well, it don’t seem strange to me, with all the work there is to do around here,” said Anderson, squaring off with the Confederate Army officer. All social pretense now abandoned, Johnson became brutally candid.
“I’ll come right to the point,” he said. “I’ve come here to get 'em.” The grim announcement was greeted with contemptuous laughter from Anderson.
“I say something funny?” Johnson inquired, his face contorted in a smile that displayed an emotion generously removed from amusement.
Anderson favored Johnson with an assessing stare.
“You’re town-bred, ain’t you?” he asked.
“What’s that got to do with…” Johnson began.
“I have five hundred acres of good dirt here. As long as the rains come and the Sun shines, it’ll grow anything I’ve a mind to plant. And we pulled every stump, we’ve cleared every field, and we’ve done it ourselves, without the sweat of a single slave.”
“So?” interjected Johnson, who had neared the limits of his patience.
“So – so can you give me one good reason why I should send my family – that took me a lifetime to raise – down that road like a bunch of damn fools to do somebody else’s fighting?”
“Virginia needs all of her sons, Mr. Anderson,” said Johnson, quietly – as if that pious declaration would dissolve any remaining resistance. It had precisely the opposite effect.
“That might be so,” Anderson allowed, his voice assuming the quiet resolve of a patient man approaching the border of righteous lethal violence. “But these are my sons! Mine! They don’t belong to the state! When they were babies, I never saw the state coming around here with a spare tit. We never asked anything of the state, and never expected anything. We do our own living, and thanks to no man for the right. But … seein’ as you’re so worried about it – I’ll tell you, if any of my boys thinks this war is right, and wants to join in – he’s free to do it.”
The Confederate patrol moved on from the Anderson Ranch without securing a single recruit.
About a decade ago, several of my friends asked what I thought of the Mel Gibson (forgive me – is it legal to make a favorable public reference to him, or would that leave me subject to prosecution?) film The Patriot. In each case I replied that I considered it to be a very good movie with an exceptionally good soundtrack, but that I had liked it better in the 1965 version called Shenandoah, starring James “Don't Call Me Jimmy” Stewart in the role of Charlie Anderson.
The two films are set in different wars and are separated by many details of plot and characterization, but the stories they tell are essentially identical: The widowed patriarch of a large southern family, after doing everything he could to protect his children from a war he wanted to avoid, is drawn irresistibly into the conflict after one of his sons is captured. Of the two, I consider Shenandoah the stronger and more poignant version, largely on the strength of its astonishingly perceptive anti-State message.
"When are you going to take this war seriously, Anderson?" inquired Lt. Johnson shortly before the exchange described above.
"Now let me tell you something Johnson, before you get on my wrong side," Anderson replied, the ground beginning to shake in anticipatory tremors of his impending eruption. "My corn I take seriously, because it's mine. And my potatoes and tomatoes and my fence I take note of because they're mine. But this war is not mine and I don't take note of it."
During a visit to the grave of his wife Martha, who -- unlike him -- was a devoted Christian believer, Charlie speaks the unvarnished truth about the State's defining abomination, war:
"I don't even know what to say to you any more, Martha. There's not much I can tell you about this war. It's like all wars, I guess. The undertakers are winning. And the politicians who talk about the glory of it. And the old men who talk about the need of it. And the soldiers, well, they just wanna go home."
Shenandoah came out in 1965, twenty years after the end of the Sacred Crusade To Save the Soviet Union and Create the United Nations, and at about the same time that our country was lied into Vietnam. It was adapted for Broadway ten years later, as the Communists consolidated their hold on Southeast Asia -- the outcome that 500,000 Americans had died for the supposed purpose of preventing.
Last spring the musical version was staged at Ford's Theater in the Imperial Capital with Scott Bakula (last seen as the oddly inept and non-charismatic Captain Jonathan Archer in the drab and forgettable Star Trek: Enterprise) miscast as Charlie Anderson.
And as one would expect of anything offered for public consumption in Washington, the
newest version of Shenandoah was subtly recalibrated to conform to the Imperial Party line.
Witness these comments from a review of the play published last April:
"What is worth fighting for? A way of life? A piece of land? Family safety? This question, as relevant to post-Sept.11 America as it was during the Civil War, is the basis for `Shenandoah'.... This war [the War of Northern Aggression] has nothing to do with them, [Charlie] Anderson says. His interest lies solely with the acres that he has cleared and cultivated. He put the farm together with his own hands; he doesn't owe anybody anything. Let the rest of the world bleed and die. As long as his family is safe, Charlie Anderson will turn his back. Then his youngest son, mistakenly identified as a Confederate soldier, is captured by the Yankees. Now Anderson is involved.... The problem is that Charlie Anderson's concerns are completely selfish. As long as his property is not destroyed or his family hurt, Anderson doesn't care what happens to anybody else. He's not standing on principle; he's just looking out for No. 1."
That assessment is what my kids would call a great big pile of "Number Two."
That reviewer, who has the soul of a Stalin-era Soviet drama critic, juxtaposes Anderson's supposed "selfishness" in refusing to let the Confederate press gang steal his sons (and later, beating with his fists a group of Scalawags who had come to plunder his livestock for the Bluebellies) with "Mr. Civic Responsibility" -- that is, the man Anderson didn't become, a dutiful statist drone willing to accept with docility whatever impositions the Almighty State saw fit to inflict on himself and his family.
In the collectivist lexicon, it is "selfish" for a father to protect his sons when the State seeks to abduct them to kill and die on its behalf.
It is likewise "selfish" for a property owner to protect his land and goods, legally acquired and developed through his own exertions, when the State seeks to waste them in the murderous folly of war.
Charlie Anderson, as portrayed by Brigadier General James Stewart (a World War II combat veteran who most likely wouldn't have taken the role if he didn't understand and share the character's views, at least to some extent), embodies precisely the opposite of selfishness. With all due respect (whatever amount that might be) to Randians who consider Anderson an Objectivist Archetype, the character was actually a portrait in the noblest form of altruism: Selfless paternal devotion to hearth, home, and particularly children.
He was a uxorious husband, even after the loss of his wife; a stern but palpably loving father who was willing to fight and die to protect his children, but -- and here's the important part -- wanted nothing to do with the death of other people's sons. He despised both chattel slavery as practiced in the South, and the industrialized slaughter practiced by Lincoln's regime (Lincoln and his regime were the descendants of the Jacobins, and the progenitors of the Bolsheviks).
Many of those who fought in the War Betweeen the States, particularly on the Southern side, were men like Charlie Anderson: Their allegiance, which has been described as telluric ("earthy" or "of the soil") patriotism, was to particular people and specific places, not to grand abstractions like "Union" or even "The Cause," as the expression was understood by the South.
By the war's end, as Jeffrey Hummel has documented in his splendid study Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men, both the Federal and Confederate governments had degenerated into plunder-fueled engines of tyranny and corruption. War, whatever its stated objectives, always emancipates the State, to the detriment of liberty.
Unassailably noble as the Southern cause was (it is never justifiable to murder people because they no longer want to be part of your club), the Confederate government imposed conscription before the Union resorted to it, and its program involved not only the impressment of men but the seizure of property as well as the creation of what Karl Marx called "industrial armies."
As someone who proudly displays a Confederate Battle Flag in his home, I offer that acknowledgment with some regret. On more than a few occasions as I have denounced conscription in the company of people whose views I almost entirely share, the Southern example has been cited to justify the proposition that in some desperate circumstances conscription has to be allowed.
But my respect for the South doesn't leave me inclined to emulate their errors. Nor does it nullify the central moral argument against conscription: The State has no right to force people to kill and die on its behalf, and any government that cannot inspire volunteer efforts in its defense not only deserves to die, it must die. If the State can seize individuals through a draft, it can do anything else it pleases to anyone of its choosing, anytime it sees fit to do so.
As I have noted elsewhere, Lincoln's draft was hailed by the New York Times in a July 13, 1863 house editorial ("The Conscription a Great National Benefit")precisely because it removed all restraints on government power.
"It is a national blessing that the Conscription has been imposed," declared this psalm in praise of the deified State. "It is a matter of prime concern that it should now be settled, once for all, whether this Government is or is not strong enough to compel military service in its defense." Up until that point, "the popular mind had scarcely bethought itself for a moment that the power of an unlimited Conscription was … one of the living powers of the government in time of war. The general notion was that Conscription was a feature that belonged exclusively to despotic Governments…."
However, under the draft, "not only the property, but the personal military service of every ablebodied citizen is at the command of the national authorities, constitutionally exercised…. The Government is the people’s Government…. When it is once understood that our national authority has the right under the Constitution, to every dollar and every right arm in the country for its protection, and that the great people recognize and stand by that right, thenceforward, for all time to come, this Republic will command a respect, both at home and abroad, far beyond any ever accorded to it before."
Pay careful attention to the order of priorities described above: The State has the right to every increment of wealth we possess, and every drop of blood in our veins, "for its protection."
That's what conscription means.
That's why it is utterly un-Godly, documentably un-Constitutional, and morally impermissible.
That's why any parent who doesn't do everything he can to prevent the impending imposition of universal conscription is "worse than an infidel" (I Timothy 5:8).
Charlie Anderson, as portrayed by Stewart, was passionately anti-war, but not a pacifist. The same is true of millions of American parents, myself among them. I have no desire to kill or injure another human being, and pray that God grants me the blessing of finishing my life without staining my hands with human blood.
That being said, this must be also:
I would kill and die in defense of my country, but I wouldn't shed a paper cut's worth of human blood to defend the pack of degenerate gangsters who presume to call themselves "our" government. And as a Christian father it is my duty to prevent harm from descending on the family God has entrusted to me, if it resides within my power to do so.
There are only a few circumstances in which God authorizes us to kill, but in those circumstances, killing is mandatory. If I were to permit lethal harm to come to any member of my family when I could prevent it, I would be implicated in the blood guilt of that crime. This is why I will not, and cannot, permit the government to conscript my children for any reason.
I would kill any member of any armed gang who would violate the sanctity of my home for the purpose of abducting one of our children. It doesn't matter what exalted title he would possess, or what tricked-out gang colors that gang-banger would wear. That principle, as John Locke would say, applies equally to both private sector gangs and those who operate under the supposed authority of the state.
It's quite simple: If you threaten my kids, I'll hurt you. If you try to kidnap them from me, I'll kill you. Capice?
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
The Madness That Is "War Patriotism"
John Witmer's lifeless body was returned to the tiny town of Colombiana, Pennsylvania on October 10, 1918. Those gathered to receive the 21-year-old's mortal remains included his father Dan, his siblings, and his would-be fiancee, Nola, all of whom were members of a local Mennonite community.
Like thousands of others who shared his faith, John had been kidnapped at gunpoint from his family farm by the World War I-era draft. The local draft board had turned down John's appeal for Conscientious Objector status, telling him that once he had enlisted he could seek recognition as a CO and receive a non-combat assignment.
Like nearly everything else originating from a government entity, the draft board's assurance was a lie, of course.
John's refusal to undergo military training forbidden by his religious convictions marked him as a “slacker” in the eyes of the command staff at Camp Sherman, a large training base outside of Columbus, Ohio. The reaction on the part of fellow inductees was immediate and violent, beginning on the train trip to Columbus: When John and a Mennonite friend named Harvey Blosser said grace over their meal, they were immediately singled out as “preacher boys” and treated to a fusillade of profane abuse.
The hostility escalated to physical assaults and even murder attempts before John and Harvey were reassigned to a CO camp, which was essentially a prison, given that the same facility was used to house German prisoners of war. The weather grew colder and influenza began to incubate in Camp Sherman, but John was denied requests for adequate bedding and even dry clothes. Predictably, the young man contracted the Spanish Flu – which had imported to the US because of our foolish involvement in World War I – and died.
John's body was returned in a flag-shrouded coffin – a gesture considered an honor by most Americans, but an affront to his family's religious sensibilities, which didn't permit them to make acts of allegiance to anyone or anything but God. In a sense, wrapping John's body in the US flag was one final proprietary gesture by the government that had stolen the young man from the family who loved him, the community that had raised him, and the young girl who wanted to be his wife.
A crowd had gathered at the train station to witness the arrival of John Witmer's body, and the reaction of his Mennonite family. Most of the spectators knew that the Mennonites didn't support the war; their principled pacifism and insularity had provoked both curiosity and suspicion. The Witmers enjoyed what could be called probationary sympathy from the crowd.
As John's family was about to learn, few things are likelier to provoke sanctimonious violence from war-maddened Americans than a conspicuous lack of enthusiasm for killing foreigners whom the State has designated the “enemy.”
Dan Witmer sadly approached the coffin bearing his son's body and carefully removed the flag. Given his ignorance of proper flag etiquette, it's not surprising that Dan folded the banner as he would a blanket.
This act of perceived, but not intended, sacrilege was too much for the crowd to endure.
“The mood of the onlookers turned from one of sympathy to hostility,” recounts Lily A. Bear in her book Report for Duty.
“Mennonites!” hissed one disgusted onlooker.
“Got what he deserved!” declared another of Dan's dead son.
“Traitor!” bellowed another outraged pseudo-patriot.
Someone hurled a stone that hit John's younger brother in the shoulder. A second stone, missing its target, landed at the feet of the mourning father. John's young sister Mary, puzzled and hurt by this display of murderous hatred, began to cry. After making arrangements for his son's funeral, Dan took his family home.
This was hardly atypical of “war patriotism,” circa 1918. Across in the US, the so-called American Protective League (APL) and similar government-supported cabals of bullies sought to intimidate civilians into buying war bonds and displaying the appropriate “war will” -- when they weren't harassing and terrorizing Americans of German heritage, or acting as a quasi-private secret police.
In many communities, the APL, sometimes aided by the Ku Klux Klan, helped track down and round up those who refused to comply with draft notices.
On at least a few occasions, these effusions of “patriotism” resulted in actual lynchings.
All of this took place in the context of an unnecessary war against a distant European power, Wilhelmine Germany, that posed no conceivable threat to the United States.
There's no better specimen of the murderous irrationality that seized our nation during WWI than the near-pogrom that occurred in Colombiana because a grief-stricken Mennonite father, distracted by the loss of his eldest son, thoughtlessly committed what his war-crazed neighbors considered an act of disrespect toward our flag.
Fast-forward nearly nine decades, and little if anything has changed.
Last May 21, Dale Croydon, who raises beef cattle near Croydon, Iowa, decided to fly his U.S. Flag upside down as a gesture of solidarity with fellow Iowa resident Terri Jones, who lost her son as a result of the Iraq war. Terri's 23-year-old son, Jason Cooper, developed severe psychological problems while serving in Iraq. On July 14, 2005, Jason, plagued by unbearable memories and clearly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, hanged himself.
Since that day, Terri Jones, a member of Gold Star Mothers for Peace, has flown her flag upside down. After reading of her experience, Croydon,a veteran, decided to do likewise. In short order, he found himself on the receiving end of WWI-vintage “patriotic” intimidation and harassment.
“I went to the local Case equipment dealer and bought some parts, and the salesman comes out and asked me why I was flying the flag upside down,” Croydon told The Progressive. “So I explained it to him.”
The salesman, apparently more eager to profess proper reverence for the State than to treat a customer with respect, replied: “I've lost all respect for you. I'll buy you a one-way ticket anywhere you want to go out of the country,” according to Croydon's entirely believable account.
“The mail carrier left me a personal note” of rebuke for his protest, Croydon continues. After a local TV reporter did a story about Croydon's protest, the rural farmer was charged with “disorderly conduct.: He was hauled before a magistrate on July 6. Terri Jones was in the courtroom to offer moral support.
But some purported patriots are not placated by the prospect of prosecuting Croydon for his political views.
“Any scout snipers live in Croydon, Iowa???” inquired a message posted on leatherneck.com, a web community for Marine veterans. “If the flag is flying upside down, it means he's in trouble, right?” wrote another poster. “I think we Marines should show up and get him `out' of trouble.” “Corn hole 'm,” chipped in a third hero.
One poster, who proudly claims “the God-given title Marine,” as if that admittedly honorable title were bestowed by direct revelation from The Almighty, denounced Croydon for supposedly breaking the law by displaying his flag upside down and insisted that his protest was tantamount to treason.
“I would have NO trouble pulling the trigger at firing squad or dropping the door on the gallows against a traitor or against one of this countries [sic] citizens or one deemed by this country to be a terrorist foe,” he wrote.
Granted, since this chest-thumper recalls enlisting some 33 years ago, it's more likely that the only PT he's had since the first term of the Clinton administration has consisted of 16 ounce curls at the local VFW post. And the same is likely true of most of the others who have casually endorsed the punishment of anti-war views through assassination.
That guy and his ilk are bold as Achilles when they're talking about taking down a middle-aged farmer in rural Iowa. I doubt they'd be quite as frisky if they were dealing with any of the thousands of disillusioned Marines who are mustering out of the Corps after serving in Iraq.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Why Not a Dozen Planets (or More)? (Updated Aug. 23)
Commentators not otherwise noted for interest in celestial matters, or for devotion to long-established conventions, are performing cadenzas of alarm over the prospect of expanding the Solar System's roster of planets to an even dozen ... so far.
[UPDATE -- Here's a piece from the New York Times yesterday that gives a rundown on the upcoming IAU vote on the definition of "planet."]
For years, since the discovery of the Kuiper Belt -- a distant collection of frozen objects occupying the hintermost known portions of the Solar System -- some retromingent people have been lobbying to reclassify Pluto as a "Kuiper Belt Object" (KPO) rather than a planet. Pluto has a wildly eccentric orbit, titled radically out of the plane of the ecliptic, that brings it within the orbit of Neptune; it is smaller than any of the nine classic planets, and also several moons as well (including Luna); its major satellite, Charon, is nearly as large (two other miniscule Plutonian satellites were recently discovered, Nix and Hydra).
What this tells me is that Pluto is a strange little world. It is spherical and, despite being tiny, apparently has a very weak methane atmosphere, which means it's not an asteroid (although it conceivably could be a VERY large comet, if something -- say, a relatively near pass by a massive object, such as a neutron star, were to budge it sun-ward). It essays an independent orbit around the sun, which means it's not a moon. It has a small seraglio of moons.
It's a planet, albeit a weird one. Deal with it.
Ah, but astronomers have recently discovered several other KPOs, two of which -- Sedna and Quoaor -- are of comparable size to Pluto; the other, 2003 UB313, nickamed "Xena," is larger (and comes equipped with its own satellite, nicknamed Gabrielle, which demonstrates that professional astronomers can be fan-boys, too). Like Pluto, Xena follows a bizarre trajectory that brings it nearly as close to the sun as Neptune.
Advocates of demoting Pluto insist that Xena's discovery strengthens their case by making Pluto less distinctive. I believe the opposite is the case: Xena demonstrates that Pluto is a representative of what could be a large cohort of rocky trans-Neptunian planets awaiting discovery.
"But this would be awful," keen Pluto's detractors. "There might be scores of things out in the Kuiper Belt that could qualify as planets!"
Yes, indeed. And, therefore...?
The International Astronomical Union, seeking to palliate everybody and succeeding in doing exactly the opposite, has suggested a new standard for Planet-hood that would include Pluto and Xena, as well as Ceres, the largest and most spherical of the "minor planets" (also known as asteroids) between Mars and Jupiter. But it would also include Charon, Pluto's satellite, since the barycenter of Charon's orbit is outside Pluto's planetary mass. This would mean that Pluto and Charon are part of a double-planet system.(Oddly enough, there's a similar relationship between the Sun and Jupiter as well.)
Oh, but this would ruin the settled symmetry of the Solar System as most of us learned it. It would mean revising textbooks. The prospect of additional discoveries would mean we might never have closure!
Again I say: Cool.
I grant that this is a controversy over classification, rather than a reactionary refusal to accept new knowledge. But it seems to me that a lot of the negative reaction to the IAU's proposed definition is inspired by a reflexive aversion to admitting that the model of the Solar System that's been taught for decades has been woefully inadequate.
But it's not as if Xena just materialized out in trans-Neptunian space for the mischievous purpose of making all of our Astronomy textbooks obsolete.
Or ... did it?
As I've mentioned elsewhere, I'm an incorrigible sci-fi geek. This explains, but by no means does it justify, my affection for a really bad mid-1970s British series called "Space:1999," which chronicled the adventures of a small band of scientists stranded on the moon after a massive atomic explosion hurled it from earth orbit. As that premise illustrates, this was science-optional sci-fi. Be that as it may...
The illustration above is a shot of the planet "Meta," as depicted in the pilot episode of "Space:1999." Its discovery in the distant depths of the Solar System was the cause of some controversy. It apparently wandered close enough to be caught by the Sun's gravity.
The illustration below --
-- is an Artist's conception of Xena, the newly discovered trans-Plutonian planet, that just wandered close enough to be detected by ground-based telescopes. Its discovery in the distant depths of the Solar System has been the cause of some controversy. And the artist who created that depiction seems to have been a fan of "Space:1999," too.
There's no real point to this, of course, beyond reflecting on the majesty and mystery of the universe God created for us, and expressing frustration over the petty politics of those who seem more concerned about keeping tidy lists than celebrating the wonders of creation.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)
I would be very interested to hear from current and former law enforcement officers about this documentary from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group seeking to end the "War on Drugs." [Note: please click on the boxed area to view the video; as an Unfrozen Caveman Blogger the technology is new and frightening to me, and I'm still learning to post video links.] As one of them points out, ending the drug war wouldn't end the drug problem -- the small but desperate element in our society addicted to narcotics, which, according to this group, has remained unchanged, in proportionate terms, since the first federal anti-narcotics law was passed in 1914. But it would do a great deal to reduce violent crime and the metastasizing corruption within police agencies nation-wide.
Of the many fascinating and impressive people I've been privileged to meet, one of the most accomplished is former DEA undercover agent (and now best-selling author) Mike Levine, author of Deep Cover, The Big White Lie, and other remarkable exposes of the so-called War on Drugs. Levine, who has been critically wounded in dangerous counter-drug duty; he enlisted in the "Drug War" after his younger brother fell prey to heroin.
Shortly before 9-11, I visited Levine in his home in upstate New York to interview him on-camera for various documentary projects. He told me about his experiences as "Drug Czar" for Cape Cod, leading what had been a very successful effort to reduce casual drug use and small-time retail narcotics dealing -- only to be cashiered because the program's success was undermining the community's efforts to get federal subsidies and donations from government-connected groups like the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.
The entire purpose of the "War on Drugs," Levine came to understand late in his career and as he told me quite candidly, is to make some politically connected people very wealthy, expand the power of the federal government, and provide a pretext for social control.
Like the disenchanted former police officers, judges, and prosecutors who have created LEAP, Levine invested decades of his life in that cynical and futile "war," and now wants the public to understand just how badly we've been deceived.
Although it shouldn't be necessary to say so, let me make it clear that I neither use narcotics -- I don't even like to take aspirin -- nor do I support drug use in any way. I don't smoke and, as someone of Irish-Mexican ancestry I'm a six-pack away from being a raging alcoholic, so I don't drink at all. (In His mercy, God apparently has made me severely aversive to alcoholic beverages of any kind; I can't so much as stand the smell of them.)
In assessing the social damage done by various intoxicants and controlled substances, it's difficult for me to see how marijuana, for example, is deadlier than beer. It seems to me that most of the damage done by narcotics is the result of prohibition: The artificially high profits of "drug lords"; the corruption of federal, state, and local law enforcement bodies; the militarization of law enforcement, and the corresponding assaults on the Bill of Rights.... Those problems, it seems to me, could all be mitigated by de-federalizing the so-called drug war, if not ending prohibition outright.
Am I wrong?
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Will Grigg's Birch Blog -- The Lost Episodes
A brief preface is in order.
On June 22, I published a Birch Blog entitled "Phony Immigration Debate vs. Real Police State Threat." Within hours it had been, um, misplaced, and never appeared in that space again -- even though it had been forwarded throughout the Blogosphere, and was reproduced in its entirety on Alex Jones's "Prison Planet" newssite.
"Where did it go?" more than one puzzled Birch Blog reader inquired of me. "Why was it deleted?" I knew where it had gone, and had been told why it was disposed of, and beyond those acknowledgements I'm really not at liberty to discuss the matter.
Just this afternoon (Sunday, August 20) I came across an old copy of the essay, minus the hyperlinks (many of which probably expired anyway). In blogging, as in invasive surgery, it's a good idea to keep all of the parts, a practice I followed sporadically at best. What follows is the first of what may be a few installments from the "Lost Episode" Birch Blog file. Bear in mind that apart from the links, I've reproduced it as it was originally published, typos and all.
Although it should be obvious, I'll say it anyway: I don't support open borders. But as North Korea demonstrates, solving the problem of illegal immigration is not the summum bonum of a free society. What I attempted to do was to demonstrate how this issue was being exploited by the architects of the emerging garrison state, and how the entire conservative movement - without so much as a single exception - is falling for the deception.
Will Grigg's Birch Blog, Thursday, June 22, 2006, 12:25 PM
To understand the patent phoniness of the Republican debate over
immigration, and the very real evil that is behind it, we must resort to
the language of professional "wrestling" -- an undertaking nearly as
fraudulent, but nowhere near as malicious or corrupt, as politics.
In wrestling, a "work" is a staged event in which the outcome is
foreordained - the participant ("competitor" isn't the right word)
designed the winner will prevail in order to advance the intended storyline.
A work stands in contrast to a "shoot": In the words of the great Lou
Thesz, whose career included both, in a shoot the wrestlers are fighting for
"money, marbles, or chalk" -- that is, they're involved in a real match
for tangible stakes.
Since the 1930s, very few pro "wrestling" matches have been "shoots."
Promoters learned that it was more profitable to control process through
which champions and contenders were chosen, thereby cultivating marketable
personalities that could attract crowds across large territories.
Although "works" could often involve real bloodletting and injury (this is
sometimes called a "work-shoot"), they are always exercises in controlled
mayhem, with a scripted outcome.
Apart from what occasionally happens in a few smaller regional promotions,
the people running the steroid-enhanced soap opera that is Pro Wrestling
keep it untainted by authentic competition. The objective is to devise and
promote audience-grabbing "angles," or storylines.
The same is true of the malignant - and increasingly murderous - farce
that is American politics.
The only political objective the Bush regime cares about right now is to
preserve the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, where
impeachment proceedings or serious investigations (albeit of an
undisguised partisan variety) may erupt should the Democrats take control.
To that end, the Republican Party is preparing for a multi-city tag-team
"Battle Royale" pitting House "conservatives" against Senate "moderates"
Over the issue of immigration.
As USA Today puts it: "The congressional immigration debate took on the trappings of a national political campaign ... as each side planned a series of made-for-media events across the country to highlight the pros and cons of granting illegal immigrants a chance at citizenship.... The dueling
hearings are unusual because both the House and Senate have already passed
legislation. Normally, the next step would be a House-Senate conference
committee to reconcile differences between the bills. That now will be put
off while both sides take their case to the public over the summer."
The Los Angeles Times plays up what wrestling fans would call the "Heel turn" taken by either George W. Bush or the House Republicans: "The unorthodox plan by House Republicans for a series of hearings on
immigration policy represents an aggressive effort by hard-line critics of illegal
immigration to reassert control over the emotional debate - and wrest it from President Bush - as this year's elections approach."
Anybody familiar with pro wrestling knows that if the apparent outcome of
a "worked" match defies expectations, it will be reversed through an outrageous and unfair development.
For instance, the "referee" may be temporarily knocked unconscious,
missing the pinfall by which the Babyface (good guy) wins the match, only to be
dramatically roused from his stupor long enough to award the victory to
Or perhaps the match will degenerate into what is called a "schmazz" -- an
ending in which the good guy appears to win, as wrestlers from the contending camps pour into the ring, hurling chairs and other objects at each other in what appears to be a chaotic melee. Of course, that apparent victory is reversed on further review.
For promoters looking to create and exploit "heat" among the audience, either of those outcomes is desirable, since it reinforces the image of the Babyface as the innocently wronged champion.
This is exactly the image House Republicans are trying to sell to the
conservative public - in order to advance the White House's objectives: No
impeachment or serious inquiry into administration wrongdoing, and
eventual enactment of amnesty in some form.
Write this prediction down in ink: If the Republicans succeed in using the issue of border enforcement to retain control over Congress, we will get amnesty anyway - maybe in a lame-duck session, most likely no later than a year from now.
How can I say this with such assuredness?
Easy: That's the position staked out in the most recent manifesto issued
by the self-appointed leaders of "respectable" conservatism.
The "open letter" from the Hudson Institute, signed by a bevy of faux
conservatives - from William F. Buckley to Bill Bennett to David Horowitz
(as well as the occasional misled legitimate conservative, such as Phyllis
Schlafly) - declares:
"We favor what Newt Gingrich has described as `sequencing.' First border
and interior enforcement must be funded, operational, implemented, and proven
successful - and only then can we debate the status of current illegal
immigrants, or at least the need for new guest worker programs."
In principle, this differs not at all from George W. Bush's approach,
which is to enhance border enforcement - and then nullify it by granting amnesty
and tearing down our border with Mexico through the Security and
One thing we see here is that Gingrich - though abundantly disgraced and
in bad odor with legitimate conservatives - hasn't lost his mojo as a judas
Back in 1994, when the grassroots were in full rebellion against both the
Clinton administration and the Washington Establishment, Gingrich cobbled together a "Contract With America" intended to nationalize the congressional elections. The idea was to impose message discipline on Republican candidates - to take untamed populist conservatives and break them to the saddle of the Beltway GOP leadership.
And immediately after the Republican victory in November, Gingrich and Senate GOP leader Bob Dole sold the grassroots out by holding a lame-duck session to approve US membership in the World Trade Organization,
opposition to which was exactly the kind of issue that propelled Republican
congressional candidates to victory at the polls. Gingrich and Dole made
sure that the debate over the WTO ended before the new Congress could
This is exactly the type of perfidy we're dealing with here - and the
conservative movement, without exception, is falling for it. Which makes
me think that the movement is being led by the kind of people who are
surprised when the results of WWE events aren't reported in the sports section.
The details of the current sell-out differ from the 1994 edition, of
For instance, rather than being a hands-on political player, Gingrich is a
presumptive presidential candidate and GOP dogmatist without portfolio.
And it's possible, given the extent to which the Republican congressional
leadership has turned their party into a support mechanism for Bush's
authoritarian personality cult, that no lame duck session would be
But the fact remains that a Republican victory in November will mean
amnesty in some form for illegal immigrants, a renewed push for merger with
Mexico, and - most importantly - an even more vigorous drive to build a domestic
garrison state on a permanent war footing.
In fact, the Hudson Institute manifesto makes that pretty clear:
"We are in the middle of a global war on terror.... Today, we need proof
that enforcement (both at the border and in the interior) is successful
before anything else happens."
A step-to-the-side translation of this would be: Build the police state
first, and then we can talk about amnesty.
Militarizing the border would certainly go a long way toward that
For a long time our would-be rulers have been looking for an issue that
could entice people into surrendering their freedoms: The threat of
Communism, the scourge of narcotics, the menace of international
terrorism.... They seem to identified the threat of illegal immigration as
just the thing they've been searching for. Right now, tens of millions of
conservatives, including many who have been suspicious about the Patriot
(sic) Act and similar measures, appear willing to submit to invasive,
militarized enforcement measures in order to curb illegal immigration.
This fits nicely into the "angle" being scripted by the GOP, as well. As
long as we're talking about immigration, we're not paying attention as the
Bush regime builds the Reich around us.
No matter what tumult or conflict is orchestrated for our consumption over
the next several months, the public has to remember: This isn't a real
debate, it's a "work," and the angle it is advancing will end with the
extinction of our existence as a constitutional republic.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Support Your Local Police (State)?!?
Roughly a dozen years ago, my colleagues and I at The New American magazine (please subscribe) published a seminal special issue entitled "Toward A Police State."
At the time of its publication, less than a year had passed since the Waco holocaust, and the Clinton administration was moving quickly to centralize and militarize law enforcement and to place new restrictions on personal firearms ownership. The concerns expressed in our special issue resonated with those of millions of reasonable and law-abiding Americans.
Almost exactly a year later, the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City was bombed by a deranged former federal employee named Timothy McVeigh (and "others unknown" who remain at large), resulting in another escalation in the campaign to consolidate and militarize law enforcement.
Little need be said about the quantum leap in the direction of the garrison state that occurred after September 11, the Day Everything Changed. Under the reign of Bush the Dumber, the president claims the right to set aside all constitutional and due process guarantees by invoking his supposed powers as a "war president."
This purportedly includes the power to imprison people without trial, to order torture or assassinations, to conduct open-ended surveillance without warrants or judicial review, and -- if legislation pending before Congress passes -- to mobilize the National Guard of the various states without consulation with, or a request from, governors or state legislatures.
The placid indifference with which the flying public has accepted new travel restrictions will abet additional invasions of privacy and impositions on personal dignity. In the likely event of another terrorist attack, it's likely that we will see the country go into lock-down, as at least a few Homeland Security officials have indicated.
But even before a precipitating event of that sort, it's worthwhile to ask -- in a phrase that comes easily to the lips of my offspring anytime we take a trip longer than ten minutes' duration -- "Are we there yet?" Are will still headed "Toward A Police State," or have we arrived?
Much to my discomfiture, some of my esteemed colleagues seem to believe that our progress in the direction of the Garrison State is a bit like Zeno's paradox of Achilles and the tortoise: Somehow, as my associates appear to see it, we're constantly moving toward that destination, yet we keep sub-dividing our course into an infinite number of segments, meaning that we're always almost there, yet never arriving.
From this perspective, we still enjoy the luxury of multiple "layers of strength" that have not yet been entirely destroyed, and our rights are still protected by the resiliency of our republican institutions, whatever tragic state of disrepair they may be in.
As Papa Hemingway might put it, "Isn't it pretty to think so?"
Adult citizens who are devoted to freedom and capable of taking principled action to protect (or, in our case, restore) it deserve nothing less than the unalloyed truth.
Here it is.
1) We no longer have local police agencies in our country.
Our "local" police are affiliates of a nationalized, militarized "Homeland Security" Leviathan.
How do we know this?
The Feds have admitted as much in the case of Josh Wolf, a 24-year-old video blogger imprisoned on August 1 for refusing to turn over a portion of footage he shot during last year's tumultuous street protests during the G-8 summit in San Francisco. The Feds claim that Wolf, who may spend nearly a year in prison, possesses footage of a police car being set on fire. Wolf insists that he doesn't have the footage the Feds are seeking, and that under California's very liberal journalist shield law, he's not required to turn over his confidential, unpublished material. A Federal District Court Judge ignored Wolf's argument and incarcerated him in a detention center in Dublin, California for contempt.
The alleged assault on a San Francisco police car is a municipal matter, and the California shield law is obviously a question of state law. Why is this being dealt with in a federal court?
As Time magazine points out:
"The Feds say they have jurisdiction over the case because the police car is partly U.S. government property since the SFPD receives federal anti-terrorism money."
The Feds aren't claiming that the regime paid for the specific cars that were reportedly destroyed, only that the police department receives some quantity of Homeland Security funding.
What this means, in principle, is that any police agency in any community that receives a dime of federal Homeland Security money is effectively an appendage of the Heimatsicherheitsdienst; they are effectively "sleeper cells" of the garrison state that can be activated and turned against the public whenever the regime sees fit to do so.
The familiar admonition to "Support Your Local Police" has always included the indispensable corollary, "keep them independent" -- meaning free from central government control and subsidy, which are exactly the same thing. Unless they are funded by and accountable to the communities in which they exist, police agencies are little better than armed gangs or armies of occupation.
The approach taken by the Feds in the case of Josh Wolf illustrates that we've crossed the crucial threshold. The regime sees local police forces as franchises of the emerging garrison state. We should do likewise, at least unless and until the situation changes dramatically (which would require no less than the abolition of the Department of Homeland Security).
2)The regime is now prepared to authorize the police to conduct undisguised plunder against the public they supposedly protect and serve.
Several installments of my now-defunct Birch Blog described how police departments nation-wide have been transformed into shakedown agencies for cash-hungry state and municipal governments. Conscientious police officers (and there are certainly more than a few worthy of that description) have been disgusted to learn that their primary role is not to protect lives, property, and individual rights, but to collect revenue for increasingly degenerate and insulated local governments. (And once again, given the ubiquity of federal subsidy, those governments are "local" only in the sense of geography.)
I've also commented on the unfathomably corrupt practice of "forfeiture," inflicted on us -- like so many other abominations -- in the name of the so-called "War on Drugs."
When police departments manipulate circumstances to maximize profit-generating traffic citations, they're not enforcing the law; they're preying on the public.
When law enforcement agencies can seize and "forfeit" property belonging to people who are never prosecuted for crimes of any sort, they've ceased to be police, and have mutated into a criminal syndicate.
Just yesterday, the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit handed down a decision ruling that "possession of a large sum of money" by a motorist "is `strong evidence' of a connection to drug activity."
The case in question involved Manuel Gonzolez, a Latino who was stopped in May 2003 by Nebraska State Police while speeding on I-80. Concealed in a cooler in the back seat was $124,700 in cash. It is uncontested that the police found (as summarized in a dissenting opinion) that "no drugs, drug paraphernalia, or drug records were recovered" from the car, that Gonzolez had no record of drug-related crime, nor was "there any indication the manner in which the currency was bundled was indicative of drug use or distribution."
Yes, a drug-sniffing dog "alerted" to the large quantity of cash, indicating that it contained narcotics residue. However, as Supreme Court Justice David Souter recently pointed out, most of the cash in circulation contains minute amounts of drug residue.
Gonzolez was never accused of a crime, but the State Police "forfeited" his money nonetheless. At trial a federal district court found, quite propely, that the state had not established by a "preponderance of evidence," that the money was connected to drug activity.
The Feds, of course, appealed. The Eighth Circuit, quite predictably, reversed the lower court's decision, not on a point of law or procedure -- which is the proper function of an appellate court -- but by overturning the lower court's view of the facts. While "an innocent traveler might theoretically carry more than $100,000 in cash across country and seek to conceal funds from would-be theives," as Gonzolez explained to the thieves in uniform who robbed him, "we" -- the Eighth Circuit Court -- "have adopted the common-sense view" that such conduct "supports a connection between money and drug trafficking."
In other words: If you're carrying large amounts of cash, and you try to conceal it, the police can take it from you without charging you with a crime. This is because the money (and other property, such as cars, boats, and homes) is prosecuted and found guilty, not the individual who owns it.
Thus the name of the case involving Manuel Gonzolez is "United States of America vs. $124,700 in U.S. Currency"(.pdf) -- just one of a large and growing body of decisions in which the forfeited property is found "guilty" and stolen from innocent people.
This is obviously, and literally, higway robbery. But -- here's the more important point -- it's also a form of centralization of police power through bribery.
One happy assumption behind the "Support Your Local Police" concept is that, when the balloon goes up and the hammer comes down, state and local police and sheriffs would, if necessary, turn their guns on the Feds to protect the innocent people in their communities.
There are many decent, honorable, self-sacrificing individual law enforcement officers who would do this. I am blessed to know more than a few who meet that description. I appreciate them and pray for them often. They are all the more valuable for being so rare.
It's quite simple: Washington controls the police through subsidy, and cements their loyalty through bribes -- the most lucrative being the huge bonanzas they can collect through forfeiture.
So when the regime turns its guns on the public, as it inevitably will, how many police agencies and individual officers would be willing to turn their backs on the regime?
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