Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Federal Reserve: That 'Money Tree' You Warned Your Kids About

My dad told me that money trees don't exist. I teach my kids additionally that our family having a money tree would be grossly unfair, because it would allow us an economic advantage over other Americans. It would be the equivalent of counterfeiting.

I've now begun to teach my kids, though, that a money tree actually does exist in America, and it accrues to its owners a much worse unfair advantage than I told them about. This money tree is called the Federal Reserve. Another 'family' of sorts, one that we're not allowed to know very much about, has, because of exclusive access to their money tree, a gigantically unfair advantage over the rest of Americans.

The Fed money tree is the major reason for the continually increasing divide between rich and poor in the United States. That

The Federal Reserve attempts, in the most current manifestation of its chicanery, to drag Congress into its schemes only to diversify the culpability for the current crisis.

is one money tree that ought to be cut down, and its stump drilled and burned.

What's the most common issue that married couples argue about? Finances. Financial problems lead to mental and physical abuse, contribute to the breakup of families, and sometimes even lead to murder and suicide.

It was that way during the American Revolution as well. Alan Stang told Sam Bushman yesterday on the Liberty Roundtable radio program that family strife and abuse skyrocketed during the War for Independence. It was, quite naturally, assumed that this had occurred because there was a war going on. Ironically, however, the problem was later discovered to be directly related to the irresponsible printing of the Contential Dollar in an effort to finance the war; when America's debt problem was eventually brought under control, Stang says, family strife subsided dramatically. This came both as a very pleasant surprise and a great learning experience to the early Americans.

We have a similar but much worse problem now. Families are so

Families are so burdened by financial issues that they scarcely have time to wonder what hit them. What him them is The Cabal of the Money-Hungry Priests of Financial Oppression.

burdened by financial issues that they scarcely have time to wonder what hit them. What him them is The Cabal of the Money-Hungry Priests of Financial Oppression. The Federal Reserve is our modern day irresponsible printer of money, on a scale never dreamed of those who were attempting to foster a land of liberty. The Federal Reserve knows clearly that what it purveys is a destruction of liberty. The Federal Reserve is that one money tree that we've all told our children is a disgrace to the idea of fairness.

Why do we let it continue? For the sanity of our families and our nation, it has got to stop.

It would be bad enough if the Fed were only as irresponsible as the American government in the 1770's. However, to make matters infinitely worse, the Federal Reserve is a private company that profits from the money that it prints.

Whenever the Federal Government determines that a new issuance of money is in order (and even more often when it does not) the Federal Reserve issues the directive that the money be put into circulation. Most of the time the Fed cannot resist the fact that its members and their friends will profit most from the new money, so it concocts sob stories and schemes in an attempt to legitimize this highway robbery perpetrated on the American people. Members of the Fed, their families, and their friends enjoy and profit from the quintessence of insider trading.

Their children get the best in education and luxury, while yours get either the Alternative Minimum Tax or the Earned Income Tax Credit.

By the time each new batch


Their children get the best in education and luxury, while yours get either the Alternative Minimum Tax or the Earned Income Tax Credit.

of money trickles down to the poorest segment of society, this new money has not only lost the value it had at its beginning, but it has diluted the value of the rest of the money supply. This is evidenced by the general increase in the prices of everything.

The Fed's inflationary policies hurt the poor the worst. The wages of labor never keep up with inflation. The rich, who are longest able to tread the waters of an ever deepening economic crisis, are able to augment their incomes from sources other than wages. The poor have little or no opportunity to diversify their sources of income in this manner. Sadly, it's becoming harder for those in the middle class to 'tread water' anymore either.

The Federal Reserve is a private company, which is nearly independent of and has very little responsibility toward the US government. It has never been audited. It has engineered bailouts without so much as giving a how-do-you-do to the United States Congress. It attempts, in the most current manifestation of its chicanery, to drag Congress into its schemes only to diversify the culpability for the current crisis.

If the government were to take back its Constitutional responsibility

The Fed concocts sob stories and schemes in an attempt to legitimize the highway robbery it perpetrates against the American people. Members of the Fed, their families, and their friends enjoy and profit from the quintessence of insider trading.

to coin money and regulate its value, at least Americans would have an opportunity to throw the purveyors of fiscal skulduggery out of office.

More than any other entity, the Federal Reserve is responsible for the financial turmoil that the United States is experiencing today. Ron Paul points out that
From the Great Depression, to the stagflation of the seventies, to the burst of the dotcom bubble last year, every economic downturn suffered by the country over the last 80 years can be traced to Federal Reserve policy.
The Fed has not only failed to effectively perform the task that it was assigned by a cabal of Congressmen on a cold, dark December 23rd night in 1913. It has made matters much worse. You and I have come to hate each other for it.

Yes, there is an increasing divide between the rich and the poor in this country. It is exacerbated and facilitated by self-serving fiscal policies of the Federal Reserve.

Call your Congressional representatives and ask them to support Ron Paul's drive to abolish the Federal Reserve. The sanity of your family is at stake.

And so is your freedom.




Thursday, September 25, 2008

$700 Billion Bailout: Utah's Congressional Delegation is Up a Creek Without a Clue

Yesterday, each member of the Utah Congressional delegation told the Deseret News that they would have to wait and see whether the $700 billion bailout is good for the people of America. The scheme is clearly not good for the United States in the long term--let's just get that out of the way once and for all. For those without conflicts of interest under the current circumstances, it doesn't take long to determine that it's not good for the short term either.

When foxes that are guarding the henhouse are given the additional task of delivering the eggs, the eggs invariably get delivered to the wrong place.

How can any bailout solution possibly be

While we ride out the greatest economic turbulence since the Great Depression, Americans will have a good long opportunity to contemplate just where obeisance to the faux capitalism of the modern-day Robber Gadiantons has gotten us. Maybe those reflections will help us overcome the addiction of electing members of the Gadianton board of directors to Congress and the Imperial Presidency.

good for the general welfare of the American people when any bailout solution will be administered by the people who caused the problem allegedly requiring the bailout in the first place.

President Bush made a weak, weak case to the American people last night that we need to hurry and get this bailout package through Congress so that he can sign it. David McAlvany calls Bush's pressure tactics "the tyranny of urgency". This 'fix' is not urgent. But Utah's congressional delegation is seeing it that way.

In yesterday's Deseret News, every member of the Utah Congressional delegation demonstrated his cowardice in the face of establishment pressure by having NOT clearly expressed his opposition to a bailout package that will undoubtedly be dispensed by the greedy in government to their greedy friends in the financial sector, regardless

Congress needs to develop a backbone and tell the money changers that they'll have no part of this further fleecing of the American public. Otherwise, the irrelevance of Congress will be essentially complete.

of paeans to protection against golden parachutes.

Of Utah's five August leaders, outgoing Congressman Chris Cannon put the smallest foot in his mouth:
We need a solution to this problem, but it would be a huge mistake to craft this legislation in some backroom. The American people deserve to know what's going on...
Ron Paul, a man of growing prominence in America (in part because he is now safely out of the running for President) said recently that the market will always ultimately win out over the planners. He's right, because in every instance of economic failure in the past 100 years, including the Soviet meltdown and the emergence and spread of the US bailout virus, it is the fault of the planners for the failure. Cannon would have been better off to have said "We need a solution to this problem, and the solution is to let the planners fail and the market make its natural correction."

Senator Robert Bennett, of Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac fame, further indicated his inability to grasp the problem when he said
I agree with the need for action, because a meltdown on Wall Street would have huge repercussions on Main Street and our broader economy for years.
This is the same man who said last week that the worst was already over and that our economy would be robust in less than a year. He needs to be fired.

Similarly, Orrin Hatch has overstayed his electoral welcome in Washington, having become more enamored of the establishment than the people who voted for him. He said
Before committing my vote to the plan...I need to become satisfied that this is the best alternative...to prevent taxpayer funds from being wasted.
Note to Senator Hatch: This taxpayer used to pride himself on the 'fact' that he was out of debt. It's hard, in good conscience, however, to make this claim anymore when just this one bailout scheme will put my family of 7 further into debt by a minimum of $17,500. For being convinced before the fact that stealing more of my money is not causing "taxpayer funds [to be] wasted.", you have and deserve my profound disrespect.

An overwhelming majority of Americans oppose further taxation

Note to Senator Hatch: For being convinced before the fact that stealing more of my money is not causing "taxpayer funds [to be] wasted.", you have and deserve my profound disrespect.

to cover the sins of the few. Plan B, then, is to include credit card debts, student loans, and even car loans in the already sour pot; it is a shift of the propaganda machine into overdrive in an effort to increase the popularity of a still sinister scheme.

From the simple perspective that those who will dispense the bailout money cannot be trusted to dispense it fairly, Congress must oppose the plan. Then, while we ride out the greatest economic turbulence since the Great Depression, Americans will have a good long opportunity to contemplate just where obeisance to the faux capitalism of the modern-day Robber Baron Gadiantons has gotten us. Maybe those reflections will help us overcome the addiction of electing members of the Gadianton board of directors to Congress and the Imperial Presidency.

Integrity in government is a necessity that is far more urgent than any bailout. Congress needs to develop a backbone and tell the money changers that they'll have no part of this further fleecing of the American public. Otherwise, the irrelevance of Congress will be essentially complete.




Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Financial Orgy: Wall Street, The White House, and Certain Members of Congress

Recent Wall Street thief Henry Paulson is so conflicted in the latest US economic mess that he should step down as Treasury Secretary. He has proven to have only his interest and the interests of his Wall Street friends at heart. Bush is putting on the thumbscrews for Congress to be an accomplice to a $700 billion theft. And Senator Barack Obama, having freshly profited from the spoils of a financial market run amok, blames only Republicans for the mayhem.

Latest Bailout Fraught with Problems

In the year that Henry Paulson left Wall Street--2006--he received $40 million in earnings. Professional athletes don't make that

Are the noses of Obama voters so enamored by the smell of their candidate's behind that nothing can dissuade them from voting for him?

much money in one year, and they don't steal it from us, either. Now that Paulson's in the Bush administration, he's pressing hard to help his friends in the finance sector. So is President Bush.
Democrats demanded that the [$700 billion bailout] measure limit pay packages for executives of companies helped by the biggest financial rescue since the Great Depression. The administration was balking at that...

President Bush prodded Congress during the day to pass the rescue plan quickly, declaring, "The whole world is watching."
The whole world was watching when we hastily passed the monster known as the USA PATRIOT act as well. It's much harder to fix something than it is to break it, and the Bush/Paulson plan will pulverize an already broken economic system.

It's absurd how the executive branch operates--first it engineers a bailout and then it forces congress to act because "the whole world is watching".

Congress should not flinch. Congress should deny the bailout and let this economy correct itself. We have had far too many interferences by government in the economic sector, which have encouraged financial sector greed and become the primary cause of the problem that we are currently wallowing in.

Because this plan stinks anyway.
...in a fresh sign of a challenging road ahead, Sen. Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the top Banking Committee Republican, blasted the emerging plan as "neither workable nor comprehensive."

"In my judgment, it would be foolish to waste massive sums of taxpayer funds testing an idea that has been hastily crafted and may actually cause the government to revert to an inadequate strategy of ad hoc bailouts," Shelby said.

Lawmakers on both extremes of the political spectrum assailed the plan as a massive, poorly conceived bailout. Conservative House Republicans and liberal House Democrats both [and] huddled privately to express their concerns.
Thinking members of congress rightly are concerned that little is being done to punish those at the top of the financial pyramid--who, like Henry Paulson, are primarily to blame for the mess we're in. No wonder Paulson is against the idea of limiting 'executive windfalls'.
Lawmakers in both parties appeared to be coalescing around the idea that executive compensation limits should be part of the bailout, although Paulson is said to be concerned that such curbs would discourage companies from participating.
Once we were plagued by Communist infiltrators of the federal government. Now infiltrators are being inserted into the beltway from the financial sector. But this time hardly anybody cares about the problem. When Abraham Lincoln predicted that if America died it would be by suicide, I have a hunch that he was thinking about people like Henry Paulson.

A Couple More People That Obama Should Distance Himself From

How is it that an allegedly clean and upstanding Barack Obama happens to associate with dirty good for nothing thieves and terroristson a regular basis? Obama has gotten pretty good at distancing himself from a plethora of people because he claims not to have known of their previous bad dealings. Now we can add two more to the list.

In the midst of the greatest American financial

Once we were plagued by Communist infiltrators of the federal government. Now infiltrators are being inserted into the beltway from the financial sector. But this time hardly anybody cares about the problem.

crisis since the Great Depression, two of Obama's economic advisors have been shown to have illegally profited during and leading up to the current collapse. Yet Franklin Raines and James Johnson are still advisers to Barack Obama, and they are still not in jail.

Of the current economic mess, Obama
...linked the turmoil that's rocked Wall Street to federal spending he said has soared out of control during the Bush administration. That type of spending, he said, is sure to continue if McCain is elected to the White House.

"We cannot give a blank check to Washington with no oversight and accountability, when no oversight and accountability is what got us into this mess in the first place," said Obama.

Obama has benefitted handsomely from the lack of oversight and accountability, not only from the federal government, but from the American people. Do you think he will jettison Raines and Johnson like he has a host of others. Don't count on it. He knows who butters his bread.

Are the noses of Obama voters so enamored by the smell of their candidate's behind that nothing can dissuade them from voting for him?




Saturday, September 20, 2008

The "D" Word: Gordon B. Hinckley is Looking Pretty Prophetic About Now...

Ten years ago, President Gordon B Hinckley told members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to get their houses in order and begin to get out of debt, because we might be headed for a depression. Few have listened. It looks like, ten years later, that President Hinckley's warning was rather prophetic.

In October 1998, President Hinckley said
So many of our people are living on the very edge of their incomes. In fact, some are living on borrowings.

We have witnessed in recent weeks wide and fearsome swings in the markets of the world. The economy is a fragile thing. A stumble in the economy in Jakarta or Moscow can immediately affect the entire world. It can eventually reach down to each of us as individuals. There is a portent of stormy weather ahead to which we had better give heed.
Financial forecasters are

The assets shrink, but the debt doesn't. [Unfortunately], this is privatizing gains and socializing losses. And there is something very wrong about that.

Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times Marketwatch

now saying that we are in for a financial fall at least as bad as the Soviet collapse of 1989 and likely as bad or worse than the Great Depression.

Gordon B. Hinckley warned us to live within our means. Some of us took it to heart, while others thought "Tisk, tisk. We are living within our means."

President Hinckley related some sobering statistics in 1998:
I repeat, I hope we will never again see such a depression. But I am troubled by the huge consumer installment debt which hangs over the people of the nation, including our own people. In March 1997 that debt totaled $1.2 trillion, which represented a 7 percent increase over the previous year.

In December of 1997, 55 to 60 million households in the United States carried credit card balances. These balances averaged more than $7,000 and cost $1,000 per year in interest and fees. Consumer debt as a percentage of disposable income rose from 16.3 percent in 1993 to 19.3 percent in 1996.

Everyone knows that every dollar borrowed carries with it the penalty of paying interest. When money cannot be repaid, then bankruptcy follows.
Those statistics are far worse now. President Hinckley didn't live to see a new Great Depression,

while Gordon B. Hinckley was telling us to get our houses in order, we were instead listening to the financial lender who convinced us that we could qualify for twice the house we knew we could afford.

but it looks like we did.

The biggest problem with the bailouts is that the supposed free marketeers believe in privatizing gains when things are good, but socializing losses when stormy weather hits. Imagine what Republicans would be saying if a Democrat administration had just socialized Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and AIG.

Floyd Norris of the New York Times called it "21st Century Socialism". Gretchen Morgenson of New York Times Marketwatch said on Bill Moyers journal
The assets shrink, but the debt doesn't. Ad so you have to pay that debt back, and that's a difficult thing to do.
It's that simple. But while Gordon B. Hinckley was telling us to get our houses in order, we were instead listening to the financial lender who convinced us that we could qualify for twice the house we knew we could afford.

It took ten years for it to happen. But don't say that someone didn't warn you about it. I don't need to tell you that you're dumb if you didn't listen.




Thursday, September 18, 2008

AIG Bailout: Some Still Don't Know That The Economic Party is Over

At least a few people are admitting that the party's just about over. But a lot of people are living like it's not even close. The lower-tier presidential candidates are pointing out that the economy is on fire, but the mainstream dunderhead candidates have hardly noticed. Meanwhile, the richer are getting richer--at your expense.

David Lieberman of USA Today said this this morning:
The years of easy money were fun while they lasted. Banks and credit card providers were so flush with cash that they could help virtually anyone - including many who had trouble juggling their bills - pay for whatever they wanted. But the party's over.

We've entered a period of tight credit - which could mean jobs lost, retirement plans pruned, college deferred and lifestyles diminished.

Across the nation, Americans know that something's wrong.
Finally. Somebody noticed. Who caused all this...?

The current campaign season is a clear indication that neither of the mainstream parties have any idea how to fix the economic sinkhole that we're falling into. All Barack Obama and John McCain know how to do is run around and call each other names--You don't have enough experience! You have too many houses!! You don't know how to use e-mail!!! Do to--I invented the Blackberry!!!!


The Republicans.

And the Democrats.

Are you really still voting for McCain or Obama? Silly person.

The current campaign season is a clear indication that neither of the mainstream parties even pretend to have any idea how to fix the economic sinkhole that we're falling into. All Barack Obama and John McCain know how to do is run around and call each other names--You don't have enough experience! You have too many houses!! You don't know how to use e-mail!!! Do to--I invented the Blackberry!!!! Meanwhile the US

Do you know somebody at the Fed that I can take to dinner--so we can engineer my own personal bailout??

economic brush fire has become a conflagration, and nearly everyone pretends not to notice.

When the Bush Administration lied its way into the occupation of Iraq, it was confident that its sojourn there would be a short cake walk. The deceptive smiles that occupied Bush war hawks' faces are still painted there some five years hence. It is with this same hubris that Washington insiders are now saying that the economy is just fine. Let this be a warning to all you voters that there needs to be a house-cleaning inside the beltway.

My economic outlook used to be like most people's outlook about Congress versus their congressman: my economy is just great, but everyone else's sure sucks! Now I'm noticing that my economy sucks too. My father-in-law put 4 kids through college at the same time--without using financial aid. Me...? Wish me an immense amount of luck with my 3 at a time. Either that or do you know somebody at the Fed that I can take to dinner--so we can engineer my own personal bailout??

A day after pulling the rescue trampoline away as Lehman Brothers plummeted to the pavement, the Fed decided that rescuing American International Group was much more important. It is now being stated that the $85 billion lifeline for AIG will be far too small, but apparently it's too late. The Federal Reserve now owns 79.9% of AIG as collateral. And I used to think that the rich weren't getting richer with ill-gotten booty. It's now getting more and more obvious (more and more quickly, like a snowball rolling downhill) that these capitalists are giving capitalism a bad name.

I think we have refused to let the cards fall where they may for far too long, and we've got to start sometime. Let it be now. It was right to let Lehman fail. It was right to let Bear Stearns fail (but they didn't). Now, let AIG fail.

In the wake of our economic disaster, there is more phoney good news, a la: The surge is working!! In this case, mortgage applications were up 33% last week. This is because interest rates are down. This is because the government took over Fannie and Freddie and they want to hedge the economic holocaust until after the next election. This is not good news. This is news that the shysters are still running amok and that hardly anyone has noticed.





Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac Top 10 Includes Barack Obama and Utah Senator Bob Bennett

When Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae folded under government control a few days ago, it was rumored that the CEOs of both institutions were to be receiving a total of $24 million in severance packages. Currently, those payouts have been put on hold, but what about Fannie and Freddie bribes that have been paid to 354 different Senators and Congressmen over the last 19 years? Shouldn't they have to pay those back? Barack Obama, in his short tenure in the Senate, is number 2 on the list of 'bribees'. Utah Senator Robert Bennett, however, is not far behind.

OpenSecrets is reporting that Senator Chris Dodd has taken more in campaign contributions since 1989 from Fannie and Freddie ($165,400) than any other federal government representative. Whether that encompasses 3 or 4 senatorial election cycles, it still means upwards of $40,000 per election has been donated to Dodd by the twin sister shyster financial institutions. Having been elected to the Senate only once, Barack Obama, surprisingly, is 2nd on the list of takers at $126,349. It sounds like the financial whores want Obama to keep quiet about their field day. Interestingly, John McCain has reportedly received only $21,550. And Ron Paul is on the hook for a whopping $3,500 (that is probably an oversight that Paul is attempting to correct).

I was taken to dinner as a City Councilman one time by a

Bob Bennett has been in the Senate long enough. So has Barack Obama. And he's not fit to be president either.

developer who wanted to develop a large tract of land in our city. After the dinner, I found myself feeling beholden to the developer simply as a result of a $15 meal. I didn't like that feeling, and I never did it again. Imagine how beholden Obama, Bennett, and Dodd must feel having been wined and dined with tens of thousands of dollars.

The impending doom of Fannie and Freddie had been known or projected for several years. Yet many thereby-tainted leaders of the United States continued to accept donations from the whorehouse. I think that disqualifies them from the trust that voters must place in them to elect them to federal public office.

Don't you?

Bob Bennett has been in the Senate long enough. So has Barack Obama. And he's not fit to be president either.




Monday, September 15, 2008

Should the US Sell Bunker Buster Bombs to Israel?

CNS News is reporting that US Defense Department intends to sell 1,000 GBU-39 bombs to Israel for $77 million. Congress has thirty days to determine whether it will allow the deal to go through. Is it a good idea?

The specter of Iran is being held up as one reason that we should carry out the sale.
Some believe the bombs could be used in a strike against Iran’s fortified, underground nuclear facilities.

“It is vital to the U.S. national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement.

The Jerusalem Post reported on Monday that the bombs “would likely be used in the event of a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.”
The United States is already minding far too many other countries' business. With a huge outcry from American voters, the Establishment seems to be looking for a way to offload some of that responsibility.

Israel, with its own nuclear arsenal, already has enough ability to keep Iran in check. Even with the crazy Ahmadinejad, who is almost universally reviled in his own country, the chances of Iran foisting an attack on even Israel are very slim.

With the Bush Doctrine of preemption, the chances of Iran getting attacked by the US--or by our little-brother surrogate--are much more likely.
There is some speculation that if Israel were going to attack Iran it would do so after the U.S. elections in November and before the inauguration in January.
All the more reason not to sell bunker busters to Israel.




Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11: May We Never Forget, But May We Also Know Why

The attacks of 9/11 had an interesting, but largely unknown genesis. Have you ever heard of "extraordinary renditions"? Not many people have. In the past 10 years or so, these 'tools' have become a common facet of American foreign policy. In multiple instances, such renditions have become the impetus for retaliation in the third world--what the CIA has come to refer to as "blowback". There is no evidence that any of these CIA renditions have made America any safer, but there is ample evidence that they have made our national security much more precarious, particularly before 9/11.

Extraordinary renditions helped radical Muslims to become more radical and reach the boiling point that we now commemorate as 9/11. Even more unfortunately, such renditions have become far more frequent since the attack 7 years ago today.

It's called Patriot's Day now. Some of the LDS Scout troops put up flags in their LDS ward neighborhoods

America is much more imperiled than it was seven years ago. So in all our not forgetting what happened on 9/11, let us also come to know why it happened in the first place.

to commemorate it. Our ward doesn't. We don't put up flags on Pearl Harbor Day, either. But more importantly, in retrospect, this day didn't have to be. The most frustrating thing about 9/11 is that a careful reading of US foreign policy history makes it clear that the atrocities of September 11, 2001 came about as reactions to US foreign policy lunacy.

In his book, Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic, Chalmers Johnson tells us about some cases of blowback that most of us don't even know about. We have been conditioned to see these events as unprovoked attacks. However,

None of the recent attacks on American interests have been without deep provocation.

none of the recent attacks on American interests have been without deep provocation. Nearly every such retaliation is related to largely secret "extraordinary renditions", funded by that significant portion of the CIA's budget that not even very many members of Congress know about.

US Embassy Bombings in 1998

...between 1995 and 1998 the CIA carried out a series of renditions aimed particularly at Islamic freedom fighters working in the Balkans...Virually [all of these captives] were killed after being delivered into Egyptian hands. Predictably, enough, these kidnappings generated blowback, although ordinary Americans did not [know] because the actions that provoked the retaliation were, of course, kept totally secret. [A few] days later, al-Qaeda blew up the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania with a loss of 224 lives.

Nemesis, pp. 122-123
But it gets worse.

The USS Cole Attack


Johnson continues:
The U.S. renditions continued with the CIA and FBI carrying out some two dozen of them in 1999 and 2000. These, in turn, helped provoke the attacks on the navy destroyer USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden on October 12, 2000.

Within days of the September 11, 2001 attacks, President Bush expanded the original finding Bill Clinton had signed, giving the CIA authority to act without case-by-case approval from Washington.

Nemesis, p. 123
Also

When we come to know such facts, it's critical that we step outside our American selves for a moment. Imagine if the KGB were to infiltrate America and begin 'disappearing' people...

kept more secret since 9/11, Johnson says, is the number of renditions that are still occurring, but based on NY Times articles and a story on 60 Minutes, it's safe to say that they number in the hundreds.

We don't know much about these things, and we therefore don't have much of an opinion about them, because they've never happened to us. But these things are happening.

When we come to know such facts, it's critical that we step outside our American selves for a moment. If the KGB were to infiltrate America and begin 'disappearing' people to countries we-don't-know-where, for generic reasons of sponsoring or engaging in terrorism. How would you feel? Would you might actually even feel like the United States were being occupied?

That's why it's critical that we care when it happens to other people. As Voltaire said, "Those who can make you believe absurdities can [eventually] make you commit atrocities."

I always have, do, and will continue to love my country very much. But my country has been hijacked. It unnerves me, therefore, that we are still broadly supporting two groups of people (the McCain and Obama campagins) that had a lot to do with that hijacking.

America is much more imperiled than it was seven years ago. So in all our not forgetting what happened on 9/11, let us also come to know why it happened in the first place.




Monday, September 08, 2008

In the Which I Try Not to Violently Retch While Analyzing John McCain's Acceptance Speech

John McCain served two terms in the United States House of Representatives before being elected to the Senate in 1986, which, since then has been the extent of his career. You'd never know he'd served at all if all you had to go on was his acceptance speech the other night. It was a tidy little way of shifting any sort of blame from the "we" he used so often to a ubiquitous and vague "them".

I thought little kids got past the "it's not my fault" stage when they finally grew up.

At least Obama doesn't have the audacity to stand

Did you catch it the other night? McCain told us, "I've been helping the Federal Government to screw you for the last 20-some-odd years, but that's about to change!!!"

out and say "I've been helping the Federal Government to screw you for the last 20-some-odd years, but that's about to change!!!" McCain's speech began somewhat thusly:
"You're worried about keeping your job or finding a new one, and are struggling to put food on the table and stay in your home," McCain said. "All you ever asked of government is to stand on your side, not in your way. And that's just what I intend to do: stand on your side and fight for your future."
Ah, so is that why he voted for the Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae bailout, putting Average Joe American on the hook for yet another 250 billion dollars--so I can put more food on my table?

John McCain is that same John McCain, deluded by the "they're just little brown people" syndrome, who thinks it okay that we keep a presence in Iraq for the next hundred years, because that's what we're doing in Japan, Germany, and South Korea. Tell me again why we're still in Japan, Germany, and South Korea?
"I've been called a maverick -- someone who marches to the beat of his own drum. Sometimes it's meant as a compliment and sometimes it's not," he said to restrained applause. "What it really means is I understand who I work for. I don't work for a party. I don't work for a special interest. I don't work for myself. I work for you."
Awesome! So when are you going to invite us over to one of those who-knows-how-many mansions you own that we helped you build?

John McCain is that same John

You lost that trust a long time ago, Kilroy. You must think that the American people are stupid.

McCain who received top billing on the McCain/Feingold Campaign Finance Reform law--yes that same campaign finance law that has seen, since its inception, incumbent re-election rates rise to a figure approaching 100 percent.

In his speech McCain also said
We lost the trust of the American people when some Republicans gave in to the temptations of corruption.
He's right. They did. But...would that corruption and loss of trust happen to be related to Jack Abramoff, who is tied to at least $100,000 in donations to the McCain campaign?

Would that corruption and loss of trust have anything to do with the creation of The Enron Loophole by advisers to a certain presidential candidate?
"Let me offer an advance warning to the old, big-spending, do-nothing, me-first, country-second crowd," McCain said. "Change is coming."
In a day where celebrity means nearly everything, why should we be surprised that "big-spending, do-nothing, me-first" McCain is trying to 'out-rockstar' Barack Obama?
We lost their trust when we valued our power over our principles. We're going to change that. We're going to recover the people's trust by standing up again for the values Americans admire.
You lost that trust a long time ago, Kilroy. You must think that the American people are stupid enough to sit there and believe that you had nothing to do with the loss of that trust.

FDR was an idiot to trust Joe Stalin. So was Truman. Wall Street was dumb enough to enter an adulterous relationship with Hitler. Not that McCain has personally overseen the killing of millions of people, but he does think we're doing a bang-up job in Iraq. We have historical precedent for what happens when we trust someone who is clearly untrustworthy. And it is the ugliest of specters.

Oops! I just lost my lunch.




Sunday, September 07, 2008

Race, Divorce, Depression, Homosexuality, and the Non-Missionary: I Need to Get Better at “Different”

Sometimes it seems to me that I and other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a hard time accepting those who are different than we are. We often expect others to naturally understand a culture that is completely foreign to them, and to accept the reproof of our “loving scorn” when they don’t measure up to the culture's norms. Elder Marlin K. Jensen, a member of the Church’s Quorums of Seventy, reminded us that Christ wouldn't act this way.

Ten years ago, Elder Jensen spent some time publicly explaining that good members of the Church can belong to a variety of political parties(Salt Lake Tribune: "GOP Dominance Troubles Church"). Elder Jensen is a Democrat, and he has become one of the examples in life that I would like to emulate. It seems to me (I thought as I listened to Elder Jensen's talk this morning) that somehow those who are of the Democrat persuasion, despite (or because of?) the fact that they often urge more governmental support for the poor and needy, have a more developed ability to see the importance of caring for and understanding those who are "different".

In a similar way, a Democrat friend of mine at work got me thinking about this tendency as we talked politics for a few minutes last week. Today, reinforcing that point in my mind as he spoke to a gathering of 135 LDS Stakes in Utah and Wasatch counties, Elder Jensen helped me to see, in a way that I have never noticed before, that I, a Republican-turning-Independent, am not nearly as good at “different” as I should be.

I’ve had many good contemporary examples, the best of which was my dad. My father, even though he was very popular during his high school and college years and throughout his adult life, was always seen as a champion of the weak, the less fortunate, and the less popular. His experiences in the military and in politics helped him to be comfortable around all kinds of people. Following his tragic death in 1986, a man his age confided in me that my father’s example and caring during high school had made a critical difference in his life, and that he owed his life successes in large part to the concerns of my father—his friend. It’s too bad, then, that I haven’t learned to be a little bit better at “different”.

Customs and morĂ©s in the LDS Church are personally painful enough when we don’t live up to their inherent ideals--we don't need anyone else to remind us with the "loving scorn" of their faux righteous indignation. Elder Jensen listed some of those ideals: the young man who chooses not to serve a mission, the racial minority, the family that has been reconfigured due to divorce, the individual who suffers from bouts of depression, and those who have violently conflicted feelings due to their inclinations of same-gender attraction—all of us at some time or other feel the pain and failure of not measuring up, but that pain can become unbearable when the love or respect of others is withheld because of that failure--real or perceived.

Perhaps due to the fact that members of the LDS Church are commanded to (eventually) become perfect, we have a tendency to avoid, or even shun, those things and people that aren’t themselves perfect. Forgetting that we, as much as those we shun, are not only entitled to the atoning help of Jesus Christ but are required to seek it for our imperfections, our resulting insensitivity to the “different” can provoke in others the feelings of worthlessness, capitulation, and self-abandonment.

The Scriptures teach us that Christ does everything for the benefit of the world. Elder Jensen stated that Christ never did say or do anything to injure the feelings of the weak, no matter how vile their shortcomings may have been.

The young girl described in a currently popular song by Augustana reminds us how often we forget to be kind and compassionate to “different”.
In the light of the sun, is there anyone? Oh it has begun...
Oh dear you look so lost, eyes are red and tears are shed,
This world you must've crossed... you said...

You don't know me, you don't even care, oh yeah,
She said
You don't know me, and you don't wear my chains...
We're pretty good at teaching our children how to behave around “different”. The children’s primary song, I’ll Walk with You, quoted by Elder Jensen, says in part:
If you don’t walk as most people do,
Some people walk away from you,
But I won’t! I won’t!
If you don’t talk as most people do,
Some people talk and laugh at you,
But I won’t! I won’t!
I’ll walk with you. I’ll talk with you.
That’s how I’ll show my love for you.
Jesus walked away from none.
He gave his love to ev’ryone.
So I will! I will!
Maybe the Church needs to develop a six-week primary course for adults!!

Elder Jensen began his talk by telling us about his mentally challenged brother, Gary, who never got past a 6-year-old mentality. Regularly, because of this, Gary was unfortunately the butt of varying levels of cruel jokes. As I thought about this story, I thought back about my childhood and how, because I was often a friend to the less popular, that I didn’t really ever break into the ranks of the uber-popular. That was okay with me, though, and it still is.

It seems I’ve still got a way to go, but maybe I am a bit better at “different” than I thought. Actually, it might be simply because I didn’t pay attention to the notion that it was.




Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sarah Palin: Death Knell for 3rd-Party Resurgence in '08?

When I heard that John McCain had picked Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate, my first reaction was: "That's a good choice." I don't know why, because the only things I knew about her were that she's the Alaska governor, and that she's in favor of producing oil from the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge. The more I think about it, however, the choice of Palin appears to be a calculated attack against the millions who are thinking about voting 3rd party this election. Based on how everyone has gone ga-ga since Palin's speech last night, the calculation may have succeeded. If so, we are Bozo's (with no offense intended to Governor Palin).

Since Palin's selection by McCain,

Don't be seduced by the attractiveness of Sarah Palin into voting for a snake.

here's what else I've found out about her:
  • She was born in Idaho.
  • She's a former beauty queen, and according to the media (or maybe just Glenn Beck), she's very very very "hot".
  • She has a child with Down's Syndrome.
  • She has an unmarried daughter who is pregnant.
  • Her husband quit his job for BP after 17 years, but just before BP began negotiations over oil with the Alaskan state government.
  • She is a hockey mom
That is entirely enough information on which to base a decision as to whether she'd make a good vice president, right?

Hopefully Republican

Sarah Palin may be a great person. But the problem is...

John McCain is still John McCain.

party convention goers are not reflective of the US population. Because they swooned. Maybe they're trying to keep up with the "rock-star-struck" Democrats.

This is the year that millions of voters need to vote 3rd party. I hope those millions of voters are smarter than to have let McCain scuttle that.

Obama picked Joe Biden because of his weakness--foreign policy experience. McCain seems to have picked Palin largely because of his weakness--outward attractiveness to the electorate. Unfortunately,

Obama picked Joe Biden because of his weakness--foreign policy experience. McCain seems to have picked Palin largely because of his weakness--outward attractiveness to the electorate. Unfortunately, the seduction seems to be working.

the seduction seems to be working.

Sarah Palin may be a great person. I personally think she is, from what little I know, and from the little bit I listened to her speech from last night. But the problem is...

John McCain is still John McCain.

Don't be seduced by the attractiveness of Sarah Palin into voting for a snake.




Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Michael Moore on Hurricane Gustav: The Epitome of What's Wrong with Political Debate in America

I initially thought someone was joking when they told me about this one. I find no mention of it, let alone outrage against it, on MediaMatters.com. Dozens of people have died in the wake of Hurricane Gustav, yet Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann find it funny that Gustav put a damper on Republicans' plans to hold their convention.

If Rush Limbaugh had

If Rush Limbaugh had said something like this, media outlets would be outraged at the insensitivity. And rightly so. However, this story was not even noticed by the larger media.

said something like this, MediaMatters and many other media outlets would be outraged at the insensitivity. And rightly so. However, a look on MediaMatters, USA Today, New York Times, and Washington Post indicates that the story was not even noticed.

Watch for yourself what Michael Moore an Keith Olbermann were laughing about on Olberman's show the other night.



The problem with political discussion

Michael Moore (and Keith Olbermann for that matter) epitomize the filth that now masquerades as American political discussion.

in America is that hardly anyone ever makes an attempt to see the other person's point of view. Not very many people would be caught dead admitting that one's political adversary is ever correct. Rush Limbaugh is perhaps more guilty of it than anyone. However, Keith Olbermann has more than once claimed to be above that fray. Yet Olbermann raised no protest whatsoever when Moore used the dead and displaced as a backdrop for his macabre humor.

As soon as Moore made his comment, Olbermann should have ended the interview in disgust. But he didn't. He just laughed.

Michael Moore (and Keith Olbermann for that matter) epitomize the filth that now masquerades as American political discussion.

Don't you think we have the ability to be better than this?