Monday, December 26, 2016

The Arrival of Name and Blackeneth

You should never argue with a crazy ma-ma-ma-ma-man,

You oughtta know by now…

– Billy Joel, Movin’ Out

“ ‘And so it was in those days,’ said Brother Reader:

that the princes of Earth had hardened their hearts against the Law of the Lord, and of their pride there was no end. And each of them thought within himself that it was better for all to be destroyed than for the will of other princes to prevail over his. For the mighty of the Earth did contend among themselves for supreme power over all; by stealth, treachery and deceit they did seek to rule...”

– Walter M. Miller, A Canticle for Leibowitz, “Fiat Lux

Donald Trump created a bit of a stir over the last few days with some tweets expressing his desire to expand and modernize the U.S. nuclear weapon arsenal. As his aides tried to downplay his words, he countered by offering additional words of “explanation” which increased the alarm of his hearers. Among the things he said are the following:

  • He intends to “greatly” expand the number of warheads and delivery systems.
  • He does not care whether this action provokes a renewed arms race between the United States and other nations. In his words, “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.” And as his soon-to-be White House spokesman said, “I think it’s putting every nation on notice that the United States is going to reassert its position in the globe.”
  • Some have recalled his earlier assertions that the United States should not necessarily prevent other nations from acquiring nuclear weapons, and that they should no longer expect to rely on the United States for protection from nuclear threats. (See this and this.)

While the Donald’s words contain plenty of cause for alarm, I have to say that I don’t necessarily view his words in the same way as some of the alarmed voices see them. For many of these voices are the voices of regretful players on the losing end of empire who have pointed to the stabilizing role the United States has played for several decades as the center of empire. Their lament that this stabilizing role is about to come to an end seem to me to be a veiled plea for that empire to continue, a veiled justification of that empire. But while it is quite true that the United States has played a pivotal role in nuclear non-proliferation, and while the work that has been done in that role has been unquestionably good, it is also true that the United States has made a lot of people suffer by reason of its imperialism. Most of those sufferers have been citizens of the “developing world,” a world kept in a continual state of brokenness in order that five percent of the world’s population might consume over 40 percent of the world’s resources. It won’t hurt my ego at all if someone else assumes the role of global leadership for a while – provided, of course, that the next leader is sane, rational and moral.

Trump is not sane, rational or moral. I agree with the alarmists that the Donald’s words are cause for great alarm – for the following reasons.

First, his intention to “greatly strengthen and expand [the U.S.] nuclear capability” would almost certainly be a direct repudiation of the second pillar of the international Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (or NPT) which was ratified in 1970, and to which the United States was one of the signatories. (It seems that Russia may already have repudiated the second pillar.) There is no doubt that the NPT has made the world safer by greatly reducing the risk of nuclear war. Yet even now, there are non-nuclear nations which have long-standing frustrations with the five major nuclear powers (the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France) because of the refusal of the major powers to adhere to the same standard of behavior to which they hold the non-nuclear nations. A decision by the United States to abandon disarmament in favor of increasing the total count of weapons would provide these other nations with ample justification for turning their own backs on the NPT.

Second, the tone of Mr. Trump’s nuke language, combined with many of his previous statements, shows his need to approach his interactions with other nations as the dominator with the biggest stick, rather than as a humble, genuine peacemaker seeking the greatest good for all. This is not likely to go over very well in the world at large, many of whose nations may soon come to feel themselves to be under existential threat because of the actions and attitudes of our incoming Narcissist-In-Chief. And when people feel that their very lives are threatened, they will be prepared to fight back. Maybe that’s why the Donald, who campaigned on an ostensibly isolationist platform, is nonetheless seeking to drastically expand U.S. military spending, and to eliminate budget caps on future military spending. The U.S. military budget is already bigger than the next fifteen largest national military budgets combined. If Trump really is a peacenik, why do we need more troops and hardware?

Third, the creation of a global political climate in which nations felt that they were not significant or were vulnerable to domination unless they each had nuclear weapons would produce the same results on an international level that the massive promotion of gun ownership has had in the United States. (See this also.) The U.S. is not safer as a result of massively increased gun ownership and concealed or open carry laws. Instead, we have found that certain kinds of hotheads gravitate toward gun ownership, and that the fact that these people have guns has greatly increased the chances that the guns will be used – and not for good purpose! How do you feel about having a world of nuclear-armed nations whose leaders say things like, “Why do we make [nukes] if we’re not going to use them?”, or, “You want to be unpredictable [in your potential use of nuclear weapons]”? (Quotes paraphrased from source cited in paragraph.)

Fourth, Mr. Trump has promised to build a “serious missile defense system” to protect the United States from nuclear threats. Perhaps he is hoping that the U.S. could hide itself behind such a system.  However, intercepting nuclear missiles is much harder than it has been made to seem by proponents of missile defense systems.  There are three stages in the flight of a ballistic nuclear missile where the missile could be intercepted by a defense system: boost, ballistic and reentry. But trying to intercept a missile during the reentry phase is, in many respects, waiting until it’s too late. And U.S. attempts to build systems that could intercept a missile during the boost and ballistic phases have uniformly failed. (See this, this, and this.) Is Trump promising to build a system that would actually and reliably work against a modern ICBM? Fuhgeddaboudit.

To me, Trump’s recent military statements can be taken in two ways. First, I think he will treat the United States – with all of its various peoples – as nothing more than a narcissistic extension of himself. Now that he has, by means of a rigged election, graduated to the biggest of the big leagues, he will try to display the biggest persona of them all. At present he receives a great deal of narcissistic supply from his association with Vladimir Putin, who has distinguished himself as another Big Man on a Big Stage. But I suspect that there is also in Trump a feeling of rivalry and envy in his association with Putin and with Russia – an envy with Freudian overtones. A buildup of the U.S. military may be one way by which Trump seeks to resolve that envy and prove to himself that he is the bigger man. Indeed, there are already signs of instability in the relationship between these two narcissists, as indicated in Trump’s response to the thoughts expressed toward him in a recent letter from Putin: “In response to Mr. Putin’s letter, Mr. Trump said that a failure by either side to ‘live up to these thoughts’ would require the United States to ‘travel an alternative path.’” I remember reading how last year, Mr. Putin publicly lectured the West concerning American intervention in the Mideast, pointedly asking, “Do you realize what you’ve done?” However, Mr. Putin’s solution to American imperialism has been to support the political ambitions of a man who is morally unfit to be the President of the United States. Therefore Putin’s “cure” will almost certainly be worse than the disease for which it was intended. A day may soon arrive in which other heads of state pointedly ask Putin, “Do you realize what you’ve done?”

(I used to have a great deal of respect for Putin and his version of Russia, but unfortunately, his mask has slipped. Even though many of his criticisms of the West have validity, I no longer view him as the doctor to be writing prescriptions for anything.)

The second way to look at Trump is to see that deliberately sowing consternation (and confusion) is part of his overall style. He seems to take great pride in being unpredictable. Indeed, he seems to see this unpredictability as a strength. Others don’t necessarily agree. (See this, this and this.) I also have a few thoughts on Mr. Trump and unpredictability, which I will disclose in a future post. In that post, we’ll be climbing back out onto the skinny branches again.

Aggressiveness, insecurity, unpredictability, and nukes – oh, my!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

When The First Amendment Is Revoked

A troubling development has surfaced in the preparations being made by the Trump team to seize the White House which they "won" in a rigged election this past November.  It appears that the Trump team issued a list of 74 questions to Department of Energy personnel, asking them to identify which employees and contractors worked on climate change initiatives under President Obama.  Among the items in the questionnaire are the following:
  • "Can you provide a list of all Department of Energy employees or contractors who have attended any Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon meetings?  Can you provide a list of when those meetings were and any materials distributed at those meetings, emails associated with those meetings, or materials created by Department employees or contractors in anticipation or as a result of those meetings?"
  • "Can you provide a list of Department employees or contractors who attended any of the Conference of the Parties (under the UNFCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change)) in the last five years?"
  • "Which programs within DOE are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama's Climate Action Plan?"
  • "Can you provide a list of the top twenty salaried employees of the lab, with total remuneration and the portion funded by DOE?"
  • "Can you provide a list of current professional society memberships of lab staff?"
  • "Can you provide a list of all other positions currently held by lab staff, paid and unpaid, including faculties, boards, and consultancies?"

These questions are being asked by the transition team of a President-elect who has vowed to dismantle Obama's climate action policies and who has publicly said that "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive."  It is therefore understandable that the scientists in the Department of Energy are looking at the questionnaire from the incoming Administration in the same way that a flock of chickens might look at a fox who is asking for each chicken's name and address.

However, the point of my post today is not to argue whether climate change is real, or whether, if real, it is being caused by human activity.  (On these two points, the science is indisputable.  As to the consequences we are now reaping, see this, this, and this for instance.)  My point is, rather, whether the scientists who are seeking to do objective, fact-based work at the DOE have good reason to be worried about what a hostile incoming Administration might try to do to them.  For it is well known that Donald Trump is a classic narcissist, and we can also be reasonably certain that most of his inner circle shares his disease.  One of the rules for survival in proximity to a narcissist is this: Don't ever disagree with him.  If you break that rule, be prepared for retaliation.  And if the narcissist not only controls your employment, but also knows all your professional associations and positions held outside of your regular employment, he can majorly ruin your chances of finding any kind of employment in your particular field.  There are many stories around just now of people whose careers were ruined by narcissists or bullies. 

So it will be interesting to see how dissenting scientists fare in the DOE under a Trump administration.  That will tell us how the Trump administration will respond to dissent in general.  Early reports are not encouraging, as seen here, here and here, for example.  I think that it is very likely that we will have to endure an extremely thin-skinned President who is determined to live in the narcissistic bubble of his own fantasy, a President who will explode in narcissistic rage at any fact, reality or person who dares to burst that bubble.  He will be Nixon on steroids.

And for that reason, I think it is prudent for those of us who will have to live under such a President to consider two of Gene Sharp's Methods of Nonviolent Action (from his book How Nonviolent Struggle Works), under the heading of Social Intervention: creating alternative social institutions, and creating alternative communication systems.  What is more, these alternative social institutions and alternative communication networks must be tough, survivable, and able to function even when they are denied access to the resources available to official institutions and communication networks.  It might be a very good idea to ask how you would form a network of people you can rely on when your power to form networks is being interdicted by the State.  It might be a good idea to ask how you can communicate with a wider audience or an audience spread over a wide geographic area when you can't use Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Blogger, or any other electronic Web-based social media - either because access to these media is denied, or because dissenters who try to use them might wind up getting arrested.  Message in a bottle, anyone?

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Present The Grinch Gave Himself

The post-election "fallout" is getting interesting...First, may God bless Jill Stein for forcing the issue of Donald Trump's illegitimate election victory.  Unfortunately, there are not enough independent recount observers to guarantee a fair recount.  It appears from some reports that Donald Trump's supporters have succeeded in seriously gumming up the works in a number of recount efforts, and have succeeded in getting recounts halted in at least one state.  It also appears that both the CIA and FBI are reporting unmistakable evidence of Russian involvement in influencing the outcome of this election.  However, the Donald remains closed to any such evidence.  Therefore, he is about to enter his Presidency without a shred of any legitimacy in the hearts and minds of a majority of Americans.  That's skating on some thin ice, if you ask me.  Let's see how long he lasts before the ice cracks.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Black Hole At The Imperial Center

Warning: This will be a blatantly spiritual post, so you can decide whether you are interested enough in that subject to keep reading.  I will begin with an analogy from astronomy.  Observations of stellar motion near galactic cores explain much about what holds galaxies together.  Scientists who have observed such cores have gleaned a great deal of information about a thing that can be observed only indirectly, namely, the super-massive black hole that lies at the heart of a typical galaxy.  Those observations have enabled them to estimate the probable mass of many black holes at galactic centers and the radius of their event horizons.

Here's a question: can observations of empire tell what lies at the center of earthly empires?

A clue came to me recently.  For the last several months I've been listening to audio recordings of the Bible that I downloaded from the LibriVox website.  For some reason, I found myself obsessively listening to various readings of the Book of Daniel for several days last month, and that led me to an effort to try to figure the book out.  I am not going to give you some grand exposition today, but I will comment on a couple of things that I noticed.

First, the main theme of Daniel seems to be summarized in Daniel 4:17 - that God Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He will, and sets up over it the lowest of men - and that one day, all earthly kingdoms and their kings will be superseded by a King from Heaven whose reign will be over all, and will never end.

But before that everlasting Kingdom comes, there will be one last earthly empire.  That empire will rule the earth for a time, and will be evil.  One interesting observation is the power and motivation behind that last empire, whose ruler will "do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers' fathers."  (Daniel 11:24)  In other words, he will be an exceptional conqueror having an extraordinary degree of cunning.  What will be the secret of his success?  This: "He will not regard the gods of his fathers, or the desire of women, or regard any god, for he will magnify himself above all.  But in his place he will honor a god of fortresses, a god whom his fathers did not know; with gold, silver and with precious stones and pleasant things.  He will deal with the strongest fortresses by the help of a a foreign god; he will give great honor to those who acknowledge him and will cause them to rule over the many, and will parcel out land for a price."  (Daniel 11:37-39, various translations)

To put it plainly, behind the empire of the final earthly king will be the worship of a "god of fortresses..."  In other words, the power and foundation of this empire will be from an occult source.  This is also indicated in Daniel 8:23-24, "And in the latter period of their kingdom, when the transgressors have finished, a king will arise strong of face and skilled in ambiguous speech (or intrigue, or enigmas).  And his power will be mighty, but not by his power (emphasis added), and he will destroy (or corrupt) to an extraordinary degree and prosper and perform his will; he will destroy (or corrupt) mighty men and the people of the saints.  And through his shrewdness he will cause deceit to succeed by his influence..."

Thinking of these passages led me to formulate a hypothetical question: what if the power and foundation of every earthly empire throughout history has come from an occult source?  This seems especially likely if the empire was an extraordinarily violent and successful conqueror, and/or a severe and cruel oppressor.  What if, moreover, every conspiracy to create an earthly empire has an occult inspiration?  Where would one look for evidence to confirm or contradict such a hypothesis?  Over the last few weeks, I have been looking at the last five hundred years of the history of the Global North (Europe, the Five Eyes, and Russia), and I came up with some very interesting findings.  I will divide those findings into "historical imperial examples" and "present-day conspiratorial examples."

Under the heading of "historical imperial examples" were some obvious cases, such as Nazi Germany under the reign of Hitler.  (See this, this, this, and this for instance.  However, the author of the last source cited seems to hint that occult fascinations merely colored, and did not cause, certain aspects of National Socialism.)  There is also the case of Italy under Benito Mussolini, whose reign was influenced to some degree by occultist Julius Evola, who was also virulently racist,  According to one source, his writings have had a major impact on the development of the global far right.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

There is also at least one questionable example, namely that of Napoleon Bonaparte of France.  The limited investigation I have done has turned up no hard link to the occult in Napoleon's empire.  However, he is an ambiguous character who proclaimed his allegiance to several religions in order to facilitate his rule over the diverse peoples he conquered.

But there is also an unexpected example, namely that of Elizabethan England, where the Queen had a court astrologer and advisor named John Dee who was also the inspiration and architect of the formation of the British Empire.  Throughout his adult life he had a strong and increasing fascination with the occult (which is one thing actually that led to his eventual ruin).  There is also the example of Cecil Rhodes, who, according to Carroll Quigley, was the mastermind behind attempts by certain wealthy British interests to reconquer some of the possessions lost by the British Empire.  According to Quigley, one of the institutions arising from the activities of Mr. Rhodes is the Society for Psychical Research (The Anglo-American Establishment, p. 32).

There is also the example of the United States, if one cares to take the time to find reputable and scholarly articles concerning the faith of the Founding Fathers.  (Hint: most of them were not fundamentalist Christians.  See this also.)  Note also the significant role played by secret societies in American history. (See this and this for instance.)  Lastly, consider the hidden agenda and esotericism of certain examples of American-made religion, such as Mormonism and Dominionism.  And there is the example of Federal funding for research into the use of psychic phenomena for military purposes!

Under the heading of "present-day conspiratorial examples", the biggest and most obvious case I found was Russia and its involvement with the burgeoning far-right, white supremacist movements now at work in the Global North.  Those who are intimately familiar with Russian culture know of the prominent role of the occult in pre-revolutionary Russia, as well as the Soviet research in attempts to use psychic phenomena for Soviet governmental objectives.  (See this, for instance.)  But what is even more interesting is the place of the occult in the resurgence of post-collapse Russian society and of post-collapse Russian geopolitical strategy.  Consider, for instance, Aleksandr Dugin, the chief architect of modern Russian geopolitical strategy.  Consider the occult roots of his political philosophy, and of Dugin's fascism.  (See this and this also.)  Dugin, it seems, wants to build a global empire centered on and run by Russia.  Indeed, he believes that Russia without empire would cease to exist.

And part of his strategy (a strategy we have seen implemented quite effectively over the last two years) involves the financing and political support of far-right groups in Europe and the United States.  (For an example of involvement in Europe, see this.)

I would also say that the widespread evidence of occult involvement in the global far-right groups today transcends any individual country.  It is truly an international phenomenon.  (See this, this and this for instance.)  There is evidence, moreover, that these far-right groups are actively creating a white supremacist youth culture.  (See this, this and this also.)

So then, based on my initial findings, I think I can state that the answer to my initial hypothetical question is most likely "Yes, the foundation of earthly empires and imperialist conspiracies is occult."  Therefore I submit that thus we who are members of those people groups who have been oppressed and exploited by the Global North for the last five centuries or so can begin to understand the power and motives behind the cruelty dealt to us by our oppressors.  And we can begin to estimate the future trajectory of our oppressors, as well as understanding how we should respond to the oppression dealt to us.

As a Christian, I boldly state that our response must not be to attempt to wield the same power now wielded against us by our oppressors!  For those who wield that kind of power run the risk of losing their souls "on singularly unfavorable terms" (to quote C.S. Lewis), regardless of the earthly results they achieve.  Rather, for the Christian, it is much more relevant that, "...for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we for Him, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we through Him."  (1 Corinthians 8:6)  And, "A glorious throne on high from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary.  O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake Thee will be put to shame..." (Jeremiah 17:12-13). 

My assessment also agrees with the words of Soong-Chan Rah in his book Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice In Troubled Times, where he says, "American Christians operate under the delusion that success and power provide the answer to the world's problems.  In Scripture, we see that powers and principalities are not necessarily a positive expression.  Moses stands against the powers and principalities of his time.  The prophets boldly speak against the powers, including their own king.  Jesus rejects the temptation of secular power.  Ephesians 6 portrays powers and principalities as demonic forces.  Should we seek the same type of power that the world seeks?"

Some readers may be curious as to the results which can be expected from the seeking of occult power by the far-right supremacist groups I have cited.  Some may also be curious as to the timing of the final end of the trajectory of these supremacists.  I will not comment on such matters today.  (I think I have spent quite enough time behind a keyboard this weekend!  And some of you who read today may be thinking, "He's really climbed far out onto the skinny branches with this post!")  However, I will end with a sociological question.

The quest for empire is essentially a quest for power, and the bigger the imperial dream, the greater is the underlying thirst for power.  The empires of the 19th and 20th centuries enjoyed exponentially greater power than any empires that preceded them, thanks to the Industrial Revolution and the resources - particularly, energy resources - that supplied that revolution.  Now those resources are coming to an end, and their end signals a mortal threat to the narcissistic quest for imperial power by those who have long enjoyed the fruits of that power.  Could it be that the surging interest in the occult in the Global North - especially among the supremacist elements - signifies a desperate search for another kind of (blatantly evil) power?  And will the quest for that power intensify in the months ahead?

Friday, December 2, 2016

Please Don't Buy Anything Except Gasoline and Food This Holiday Season

To those who are regular readers of this blog, I extend a hearty "Thank You!"  I'd also like to ask a huge favor.  As I consider this holiday season of 2016, I think of the relatives of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, John Crawford, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Sandra Bland, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, and many other people murdered by the police over the last several years.  These relatives won't have a Merry Christmas.  Neither will those of us who have been disenfranchised by crooked voter suppression laws, hackable electronic voting machines, and other implements of election fraud.  In fact, I would wager that by the end of 2017, almost no one in this country will be able to enjoy a Merry Christmas. 

This state of affairs is very un-satisfying, especially to those of us who feel particularly powerless just now.  Yet there is always power in nonviolent resistance, and there are many techniques of nonviolent resistance.  Please join me this holiday season in implementing one such tactic - namely, a boycott of holiday shopping.  Let's send a painful message to those who now own our country.  Thank you very much.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

A Thinking Cap for Resisters

In the wake of Donald Trump's ill-gotten capture of the Presidency, it has been mildly interesting to see mainstream television entertainers pleading with Americans to give Donald a chance.  I guess it's only fitting that among his flying monkeys should be people who make a living by acting silly or by pretending to be what they are not.  The Donald fits right in with them, as the former star of a cheesy "reality" TV series.  Those who study dysfunctional family dynamics will also recognize the parallels between the people begging us to give the Donald a chance and those members of dysfunctional families who cover and make excuses for those members of their own families who are the actual cause of family dysfunction. 

The problem is that ever since it was announced that the Donald "won" the Electoral College (with only 25 percent of all people in America of voting age supporting him!), he has had chance after chance to show that he is capable of sane, moral, just and fair leadership.  And every day he has failed the test in one way or another.  Asking the majority of people of voting age in this country to give him a chance sounds a bit like a violent and/or substance-abusing husband asking his wife to give him another chance even when there is no evidence that the husband has begun to do the hard work of repentance.  Those of us who are being asked to "give him a chance" are therefore being asked to ignore the lessons of pattern recognition, to ignore the data points supplied by the trajectory of Donald's life from way back in the day up to the present, to expect that a man who has enthusiastically pursued a course of selfishness and petty evil and has shown no sign of changing his course will suddenly be a different person tomorrow.

Those of us who have to live in this country under a Trump presidency would do well to avoid having any hopeful illusions about him.  I think it would be reasonable to assume that the Donald will try to do just about everything he threatened to do during his campaign.  (The leaders of some of the countries which the Donald threatened during his campaign are assuming that very thing, and have begun to issue warnings that if the new administration revokes certain treaties and agreements, or re-imposes certain sanctions, there will be consequences.)  I think it is also reasonable to assume that many of the more objectionable types who have latched onto Trump and to whom he pandered during his campaign are an accurate reflection of his character.  This means that a large number of us will be targeted for suffering, repression, denial of equal protection, false imprisonment, economic discrimination and threat of physical violence by these types.

Therefore, it will be necessary for us to resist.  Resistance, moreover, is not optional.  If we don't resist, we will suffer for sure.  If we do resist, we may still suffer - but we might also win.

Moreover, the resistance must be nonviolent.  There are ethical and moral reasons for this, especially for those of us who are Christians.  (No, this is not the time for so-called "Christian patriots" to bust out their hardware and their ammo.  If you're in that crowd, grab a clue from Luke 3:14.  By the way, the translation I quoted renders this verse exactly as it is written in the Greek, so don't try to weasel out of it.)

But there are also very pragmatic reasons why the resistance must be entirely nonviolent.  A number of those reasons have been captured in the work of Maria J. Stephan of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, and by and Erica Chenoweth of Wesleyan University.  In a 2008 paper titled, "Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict," Chenoweth and Stephan examined a large number of nonviolent resistance efforts which took place over the last hundred years or so, and discovered the shocking fact that nonviolent resistance movements had a success rate of over 50 percent.  Violent resistance movements, on the other hand, had a success rate of only 26 percent.  In addition, societies which experienced successful nonviolent resistance tended to be much more stable and peaceful afterward than those societies which experienced violent revolution or civil war.  Chenoweth and Stephan have expanded their findings and published them in a book, and there are other researchers who have confirmed their findings as well.

The goal of nonviolent resistance is not necessarily to persuade an oppressive, powerful and violent opponent to "listen to its better angels."  After all, it may not have any "better angels!"  Rather, the goal is to deprive the opponent of its ability to continue its oppression by removing the sources of power of that oppression.

As for the strategy and tactics of nonviolent resistance, there are a number of sources.  (See this and this, for instance.)  One source I have been enjoying over the last few days is How Nonviolent Struggle Works, by Gene Sharp of the Albert Einstein InstitutionHow Nonviolent Struggle Works is a short, easy-to-read condensation of a much longer book by Mr. Sharp, who has written several lengthy books on the subject.  If you see yourself as a resister in these days, and you're wondering what to do, Mr. Sharp's short book would be a good place to start.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Seventy-Five Percent

Well, well.  The last few weeks have been quite a headache indeed, or to say it in Spanish, dolor de cabeza.  I hope that snatch of foreign language managed to burst a few blood vessels in some of the redneck types who voted for Trump.  What is interesting is that many media mouthpieces (including a number in the alt-media who should know better) are painting Trump's capture of the White House as some sort of populist phenomenon.  Such spewings are typical of people who can't do basic math and who find facts to be inconvenient.  If you find yourself in that crowd, let me help you out tonight.  I'm going to give you a few straight-up numbers.

First, the number of people of voting age in the United States was 247,773,709 in July 2015, according to the Federal Register.  Of this number, 62,210,612 popular votes so far went to Trump.  That means that Trump is the choice of only 25.1 percent of all people of voting age.  Secondly, Hillary Clinton leads Trump in the popular vote by over 2 million persons. Third, there are widespread reports of voter suppression in many of the states which Trump "won."  (See this, this, this, this and this for instance.)  Note also the huge contradiction between exit polls and "official" vote tallies in the first source cited in the parentheses.  This means that if the election had actually been a fair and accurate representation of the will of the people of the United States, Hillary Clinton would likely have won by a decisive margin.  Trump is not particularly popular; therefore his capture of the White House is not a populist phenomenon, but a sign that the arch-narcissist Trump and his backers have taken a dump on the electoral process.  Goodbye, democracy.  It was a nice illusion while it lasted.

Now comes the reckoning for the mess these people have begun to make.  And I already have some idea of the kind of mess they are likely to make.  I am thinking particularly of a parable from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 18, namely, the parable of the unrighteous judge, who is described thus: "In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man."  It is interesting to note these two characteristics of the judge: first, that he refused to acknowledge any moral restraint higher than himself to which he was answerable ("a judge...who did not fear God..."); and secondly, that he refused to acknowledge any relational restraint by which he might be bound in his dealings with others ("a judge...who did not respect man...").  The characteristic of many people who are like this judge is that although they don't acknowledge moral or relational restraints, they do at first recognize and acknowledge what I call "technical" restraints - that is, the restraints imposed on them by physical reality itself.  But as they continue in their career of evil, they cease to recognize even these restraints.  That process has already begun in Trump and company, ever eager to emphasize their feelings over actual facts.

A day may come, however, when they come to appreciate the following lines from Tolkien: "I wish I had known all this before," said Pippin. "I had no notion of what I was doing."  "Oh yes, you had," said Gandalf. "You knew you were behaving wrongly and foolishly; and you told yourself so, though you did not listen. I did not tell you all this before, because it is only by musing on all that has happened that I have at last understood, even as we ride together. But if I had spoken sooner, it would not have lessened your desire, or made it easier to resist. On the contrary! No, the burned hand teaches best. After that advice about fire goes to the heart."  Or, to put it another way, the outworkings of damnation do eventually catch up with every soul or nation that insists on being damnable.

Meanwhile, I ought to explain my absence from blogging over the last few months.  It has been partly because of busy-ness, partly because after finishing grad school, the thought of sitting in front of a computer has been mildly distasteful.  But the biggest reason has been that as I have watched the unfolding of events in the United States over the last few months, it has seemed that the best use I could make of my time was to devote myself to prayer.  I still feel that way.  However, I may also blog some more in the next few months - particularly about some concrete steps I will be taking to help disadvantaged people who must live in the age of Trump.  One thing I won't be doing is buying anything for Christmas.  Feel free to join me in a year-end shopping boycott if you'd like.  You'll save yourself quite a bit of holiday stress!

I also intend to practice as much non-violent, passive resistance as possible.  Maybe I'll make a bumper sticker which reads, "I BELONG TO THE 75%."  Feel free to join me in passive resistance, if you feel so led.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Wolf's Fear Of The Future

As I think about this present time, I am reminded of special days which I have grown to dislike over the years.  One of those special days is, oddly enough, Christmas.  Don't get me wrong - I am all for people taking time out of the year to celebrate the birth of Christ.  What I choke on is being barraged by holiday music and holiday shopping advertisements from the day after Halloween until the day after New Year's.  Another holiday I am not too fond of is Halloween (although I make sure to dress as a grown-up every year).

But the day which I have come to despise most of all in the United States is Election Day.  Indeed, one of the most annoying aspects of life in the USA just now is the fact that we seem to be in a never-ending election season designed to produce maximal angst and fear among those who have to live through it.  A particularly vexing element of this is having to cut through the games played by wolves who want to bury their real agenda behind a bunch of non-issues.  Today's post will attempt to clarify the real issues at stake in the national elections, at least, as I see them.

Many of those who are campaigning for Donald Trump claim that a Trump presidency would bring world peace by ending American neocon attempts to expand American power throughout the world.  Some of these people seek to paint Hillary Clinton as some sort of war criminal, either because some American operatives died at Benghazi after the U.S. had overthrown the lawful government of Gaddafi, or because Ms. Clinton had a personal Gmail account while she was Secretary of State.  (If having a personal email account is a crime, you may as well throw many of us in jail, because we too have personal email accounts in addition to our work accounts.)  Indeed, there are many mouthpieces trying by every possible means to make Mr. Trump palatable enough to get enough votes to win the Presidency.  (Some of these people have actually tried to use the angle that he is "the lesser of two evils."  They forget that by saying this they are admitting that he is evil.)

But if we take Mr. Trump at face value - especially concerning the statements and speeches which won him the Republican nomination - we see the real motive behind the Trump candidacy, and behind the efforts of the American right wing over the last decades.  These efforts are coming to a head now, in 2016.  For the central issue is the survival of white supremacy and First World hegemony.  Trump and his supporters (along with the Murdoch and Breitbart media empires and American evangelical media) believe that this supremacy and hegemony are in mortal danger of being swept away, especially in the United States.  Thus the candidacy of Trump represents a last-ditch attempt to stop the clock, or better yet, to reverse the clock of world history and to bring the 1950's back as a permanent state of world and national affairs.  The 1950's hold special appeal for these people because these were the days in which white America dominated the world and Americans oppressed whomever they wanted to, without any fear of consequences or resistance.  Americans who enjoyed the privileges of the 1950's grew to believe that they would never have a need for politeness, compromise, consensus, respect of differences, or the need to work harmoniously with others.  And they even remade God into their own image (or for a while, as it seemed), as the God who "gave us this great land and promised us that we should rule the world!"

This has been the real agenda of the Right for a long time.  This is the real agenda of the Right at this present time.  This is what is at stake in the current election.  And on a certain level, this agenda is not only national, but international in scope, although on the international level, there are some differences.  (How many of you know that the far-right movements now at work in Europe are partially financed by Russia?  See this also.  And Russia is financing Trump.)  On the international level, the agenda morphs into an effort to maintain the hegemony of the First World over the rest of the earth, by attempting to arrive at a gentleman's agreement over who is allowed to exercise control over particular "spheres of influence".  The gentleman's agreement is then paid for at the expense of the nonwhite majority world, who get to enjoy continuing to be carved up by First World "spheres of influence" while being excluded from the concentrations of wealth which the nations of the First World have amassed by robbing everyone else blind.

The trouble with establishing such an agenda is that the factors which would cause such an agenda to succeed are now changing very rapidly.  As far as the United States, the most recent census data shows that by 2020, the majority of children in the United States will be nonwhiteFrom 2011 onward, the majority of births in the United States each year have been nonwhite.  Moreover, many of these children are multiracial.  And they do not have the same agenda as the media outlets whose mouthpieces constantly demonize them as "terrorists," "heathen," "criminals" or "savages."  They don't care about Benghazi or emails.  They (and their parents) just want to live their lives in peace.  But because the current masters of American society continue to engage in conversations which the future majority population doesn't care about, the current masters of America risk becoming irrelevant in very short order.  This translates to a loss of power, if by power one means the power to bully, to oppress, to rob, to dominate, to impose oneself and one's culture on others.

The same trends are at work in Europe, which is why many European far-right groups have arisen to try to stop this process.  It could also be argued that this is a motivation for the Russian intervention in Syria.  Don't get me wrong - I think that the attempt by the West to overthrow yet another country should have been stopped.  However, based on things I have learned and sources I have read over the last several months, I don't believe the Russians intervened out of the goodness of their hearts, but rather, to stop the influx of people considered nonwhite into Europe (and potentially, into Russia).

Trump supporters have the misguided hope that perhaps he can reverse the loss of white supremacy in the U.S. - perhaps by a massive increase in police shootings of unarmed black Americans, or perhaps by wholesale, indiscriminate deportation of anyone who looks foreign or has a non-English last name, even if they were born in the U.S.  (Such deportations have happened before in U.S. history, by the way.)  But there is yet another trend at work which cannot be stopped by any political leader on earth.  And that trend is the continued impoverishment and decline of the global industrial economy owned and controlled by the nations of the First World.  For that decline is driven inexorably by the depletion of the resources needed to make that economy run.  Global production of all petroleum products is now past peak.  Coal production is about to peak, if it has not already.  The same is true of many other resources.  This also translates to a loss of power on the part of those who were formerly dominant.  How will the formerly powerful respond to the impending loss of their power?  Their response will show whether they have learned to become decent people or whether they are still wolves.

In closing, I will mention the church service I attended today.  It was at a Vietnamese church which shares a church building with a Hispanic congregation and a Karen (Myanmar/Thai) congregation.  This Vietnamese congregation held a joint Vacation Bible School with their Hispanic brethren this past summer.  Their youth groups have also had joint worship services together.  A couple of Christmases ago, I visited this church and heard some of the Vietnamese children singing Feliz Navidad.  I have also seen some of the Mexican members of the Hispanic church attending the Vietnamese Nativity service.  Today, the Vietnamese pastor was preaching out of Romans 12:6-8, and he was talking about how there is tremendous diversity in humanity.  He also mentioned that in the Body of Christ, that diversity is part of a unity.  (I was also able to see his sermon notes on a church member's iPad, and in his notes the pastor had alluded to the great evil of trying to persecute each other over our differences.)  The pastor and his congregation are not terrorists or criminals, but they have learned how to get along with others and how to be a blessing to others.  Why is it so hard for mainstream America to learn this lesson?  Could it be that America is infected by a terminal case of narcissism?

Friday, September 16, 2016

I Don't Care About Benghazi

There.  I said it.  But why did it need to be said?

Many people have written about the campaign of Donald Trump that his campaign is entirely self-financed and that he is thus a self-made populist phenomenon.  People who say such things conveniently neglect the fact that Mr. Trump is getting a lot of free publicity both from the American mainstream media (which is by now almost wholly owned by a handful of pathological people) and by well-placed members of foreign governments (among which is the government of Russia).

One big source of publicity for Mr. Trump is the Republican-controlled Congress, which has been trying very hard now for the last few years to make the American people outraged over the deaths of some American ambassadors to Libya, and to blame their deaths on a supposed failure on the part of the American State Department to provide them with adequate protection.  But here's the thing.  First, the U.S. overthrew the government of Libya in a totally un-justified act of aggression in 2011.  NATO bombed Libya back to the Stone Age and turned millions of Libyans into refugees who have since been allowed to drown in the Mediterranean Sea or die of exposure in refugee camps in their desperate bid for asylum in Europe.  So it's hard for me to get worked up over American operatives suffering a bit of collateral damage in their bid to make Libya an American possession.

But the attempt to stir up outrage over Benghazi stinks even more when one considers that the attack has all the makings of a false flag operation, complete with assigning of blame to "Islamic militants" tied to ISIS and Al-Qaeda.  The fact that the Republicans are attempting to use Benghazi as a rallying cry shows that they are just as neocon as they accuse the Democrats of being.  And the fact that the Republicans have no remorse for the Libyans whose lives have been wrecked by American aggression, along with the record of all the things Donald Trump has said over the last few years shows the real motivation of the Republicans and of all who support Trump: to establish a world and a nation subject to white supremacy, a world which continues to be victimized by the rich, the powerful and the privileged.  What I care about is what these people intend to do to the rest of us - not only to the nonwhite, but to everyone who is poor enough to be counted as prey by these people.  I care that the U.S. is in danger of being ruled by a maniacally malignant man who is desperately looking for a scapegoated group onto whom he can vomit his hostility.  Excuse me while I gag.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

A Brief History of COINTELPRO in America

Another week, another mass shooting in America.  (Actually, there were several, but only one managed to be selected as worthy of national news coverage.)  I overheard a couple of co-workers yesterday talking about what happened in Dallas on Thursday night.  They were eyeing me during their undertone conversation, so, having no TV and blissfully unaware of Thursday's events, I strolled over cheerfully and asked, "What's up?"  They proceeded to tell me, and to offer a number of opinions regarding how American society should view both Black lives and police lives.  My next words must have shocked them.  "Have you ever heard of a false flag operation?" I asked.

From the looks on their faces, I could tell that this was not a possibility they had considered, even though one of them acknowledged that he knew what the term means.  I consider this to be a shocking failure of our outlets of culture and media to inform adults who have the right to vote, who live in what is supposedly the "most powerful country on earth," and who therefore should be much better informed.  Consider this post to be my attempt to rectify this deficiency.

I want to begin by introducing a potentially unfamiliar term to you.  According to Wikipedia, COINTELPRO "was a series of covert, and at times, illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting and disrupting domestic political organizations."  The COINTELPRO operation was conceived under FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.  Note the words, "discrediting" and "disrupting."  If you read the Wikipedia article, you can see the United States from the 1950's to the 1970's as a nation whose favored members enjoyed the greatest privilege the world had ever seen - yet that privilege was built on the backs of those peoples of the world who had been violently oppressed in order to build that privilege.  So the favored members of American society lived in a great deal of insecurity and felt horribly threatened by the presence of any voices challenging their privilege and the oppression on which that privilege had been built.  They were frightened by those voices which were asking for a more equitable life for all.  COINTELPRO was designed by the FBI and others as a way to discredit and neutralize the voices of those who protested the oppressive order set up by the United States and other First World nations.  Read how COINTELPRO especially targeted the leaders of the Black Civil Rights Movement in the 1960's.  One of the tactics of COINTELPRO was the use of agents provocateurs, paid police agents used to attempt to incite protest organizations to engage in illegal activity so that law enforcement would have a justification for arrests.

One thing to note: there is at least one case on record of undercover police being implicated in staging violence by protesters against police during a political rally.  I am sure there are many more cases that can may be discovered by an enterprising researcher.  I leave that as an exercise for the reader.  (You might start here, here, here, here, or here.  Goodness gracious, I think I've done a lot of the work for you!)

Now a funny thing happened in the 1970's.  In 1971, the Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI managed to break into an FBI office, and stole several files which contained records of the COINTELPRO operation.  (See this also.)  They then dutifully leaked these records to the press.  Many press outlets refused to publish the leaked documents, but they eventually were widely circulated, and the FBI was forced to ostensibly "end" COINTELPRO.  But like many things that are evil (including sewage leaks), the basic mechanisms of COINTELPRO never really ended.  They just went underground.  (See what was done in the 1980's to environmental protest groups, for instance.)  Indeed, the Wikipedia article cited at the beginning of this post shows that from 1980 onward (and especially during the presidency of George W. Bush), there has been a sharp revival of COINTELPRO-like operations.

As far as the Dallas sniper incident, note the following details:
  • Not only were police shot, but protesters as well.  (How very similar to what happened in Maidan in the Ukraine just before the Western backed coup that plunged that country into civil war.)  
  • Initial reports stated that several snipers were involved, and a number of Black men were arrested.  However, the official police story against these men fell apart, and the official narrative was changed to implicate only one man, who, of course, "died in a gun battle with police" after managing to fire on police from several positions in a superhuman feat of mobility.
  • Police responders and media were conveniently on scene to provide an instant high-drama "response" to the incident.
  • The man who has been implicated as the lone sniper is conveniently very dead right now, and therefore cannot stand trial.
  • The dead man was implicated in less than 24 hours after the incident, in contrast to the many unreported mass shootings (defined as shootings in which four or more people are hit), in which police don't find a perpetrator for days or weeks. 
  • The dead man's race and supposed political ideology were used to attempt to implicate and scapegoat entire group of people in order to justify the ongoing oppression and violence practiced by a dominant majority against this group.
In the details of the list I have presented are similarities with a number of high-profile incidents over the last two years, including the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the Paris Massacre, the San Bernardino shootings, and the Orlando nightclub shootings.   The official narrative of these incidents has been mercilessly picked apart by a growing spectrum of people who are tired of being oppressed and especially tired of a dominant society which seems bent on finding ongoing excuses to continue the oppression and scapegoating.  So it is not surprising that one of the leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement is identifying the Dallas shooting (and similar incidents which have taken place in other parts of the United States in the last two days) as a false flag operation.

I agree with her.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Zombies of London

 Image taken from The Dreadful Story of Pauline and the Matches, Heinrich Hoffman, 1858.

(I offer my apologies in advance to Warren Zevon.)

One of the ways in which personality-disordered people sometimes garner lots of attention to themselves is by committing suicide in a slow, dramatic way.  Imagine, for instance, someone climbing in broad daylight to the very top of the arch of the Fremont Bridge in Portland, Oregon, while wearing a bright fluorescent lime-green clown suit.  Picture him swaying precariously over the Willamette River while screaming his intentions through a bullhorn to all and sundry for an hour or so.  Then, after traffic has shut down in both directions, while drivers are out of their cars staring raptly skyward, and news crews swarm like bugs in helicopters all around the bridge, watch him jump off and make the biggest (and last) splash of his entire life as he hits the water.

That's how Great Britain seems to me in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.  While I have been following the rise of far-right racist ultranationalism in Europe over the last few years, I hadn't been watching Britain very closely.  Much of what I know has been hastily gleaned from news over the last two weeks.  Many of you may know far more.  Yet things have played out pretty much as I might have expected, and the British are now getting their very own taste of the outworkings of damnation.

Here's what I know so far:
  • The breeding ground of the Brexit campaign consisted of the frustrations of many Britons who were experiencing the loss of the standard of living that had been promised to them under a "free market", capitalist economy.  They felt that their country was at the mercy of a foreign bureaucracy over which they had no control.  In this, as an observer in the USA, I'd have to agree somewhat with them.
  • That frustration was fed and amplified by the fomenting and encouragement of completely unrealistic racial and national pride, violent racism and dangerous xenophobia.  Immigrants - especially the dark-skinned, and especially the Muslim - were targeted and blamed for the unraveling of the British working class and middle class.  (But surprisingly, that blaming extended to the targeting and blaming of white Eastern Europeans as well.)
  • The cheerleaders of the campaign to scapegoat immigrants - the same who championed the entire Brexit campaign - were a handful of doofus fly-by-nighters, among whom were Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, and Nigel Farage.  They played a classic scapegoating game of the type seen in textbook cases of dysfunctional families where the family member who is causing the greatest damage manages to deflect blame onto a family member who has no logical connection to the suffering which the family is experiencing.  Farage, Gove, and Johnson are members of Britain's wealthiest class, and it is the predatory policies which this class has championed, not only in Britain, but worldwide, which are causing the suffering now being experienced by ordinary Britons.  (For an example of predatory policies, try looking up the word "austerity" and the phrase "income inequality.")
  • It is also coming out now that many of the claims made by these men during the Brexit campaign were in fact lies.  Indeed, Nigel Farage has admitted that some of his claims were false.  I think he feels free to admit this because he feels that his victory is now secure.  Also, the Brexit campaign led directly to the murder of a British member of Parliament in a killing that had a distinctively American style, as a gun was used by a disgruntled Angry White Male to do the killing.
Among the biggest lies told by the Brexit champions was that leaving the European Union was the guaranteed ticket to the revival of the British standard of living and the revival of British national strength.  Why is this a lie?  According to the World Factbook published and maintained by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Britain is a net importer of almost every commodity and resource which it needs.  For instance, British agriculture is able to supply only 60 percent of Britain's nutritional needs.  British manufacturing accounts for only 10 percent of British economic output.  Britain is running a net trade deficit.  Britain has been a net energy importer since 2005.  (Read what the Energy Watch Group of Germany had to say about British oil, gas and coal reserves in its 2013 report on fossil and nuclear fuels.  And note that the situation for Britain is worse now than in 2013.)  By far, the main sector of the British economy is the service sector, which accounts for 83.5 percent of British GDP.  Central to the British service sector is the financial "industry", comprised of banking, insurance and business services.  According to the Factbook, the United Kingdom has, until now, enjoyed a position as "the central location for European financial services."

And now that enjoyable position, and all that depends on it, has all gone up in smoke, set on fire by the architects of the Brexit.  Other nations are already re-thinking their reliance on British financial services.  The British pound has already suffered a drastic decline.  The Brexit architects have, in the space of two weeks, already shown themselves to be incapable of governing a country.  (Hey, man, if your feet can't reach the pedals, you shouldn't be behind the wheel.)  The Brexit is already threatening a serious increase in trouble for an economy that was already in trouble.  (See this, this and this, for instance.)  And the Brexit vote has fractured the British body politic - perhaps incurably.  Britain is about to find out in a hurry that it is no autarky, no self-sufficient paradise.

I know that Schadenfreude is a sin, yet there is something in me right now that feels more than a little satisfaction.  It is a dark satisfaction, the kind that a researcher or scientist might feel when reality validates a theoretical model, even though that model has predicted something horrible.  For the troubles that Britain has gotten itself into are a direct validation of Galatians 6:7 - "Don't be deceived. God is not mocked.  For whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption..."  It is also bitingly funny (more bite than a very strong and bitter cup of espresso!) to think of how the Brexit champions will cope with the damage they've done, now that they are running out of scapegoats.  Think of the doofus right here in the USA who is pulling similar scapegoating stunts in a bid to capture the White House this November.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Bag of Smashed Chips

News is like cheaply made clothes, sometimes - it's flashy and new for a week, then starts to fade alarmingly, and before you know it, there's a hole in your trousers at the knees.  So it is with the Orlando shooting and the uses certain people tried to make of it.  I was fully intending to write a long expose of the uses which the campaign of Donald Trump was trying to make of the shooting (although I wasn't really looking forward to the task; there are a lot of weeds yet to chop down in the backyard and I'm tired).  But events have taken a turn which seems to have resolved a great deal of what I was going to say.

It is well known that the campaign of Donald Trump has made the scapegoating of minorities and immigrants of color a central feature of its strategy for winning the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.  In this, Trump has mirrored many European leaders, who, faced with the inevitable loss of the wealth and power of their respective nations, have sought to blame that loss on a supposed overwhelming influx of supposedly savage, half-human invaders commonly known as "immigrants" and "refugees."  It is well-known that Europe and the United States created that flood of immigrants and refugees by smashing the home countries of those refugees into bits and digesting those bits for food. 

(To channel an old, rather dumb sci-fi TV series, "They say there's no devil, Jim, but there is...right out of hell!  I saw it!...It destroys planets, chops them into rubble...")

A central feature of that smashing has been the use of scapegoating to justify the smashing and the resultant inhumane treatment of the smashed populations.  A central feature of that scapegoating has been the portrayal of the target populations as fanatically, destructively insane people controlled by some ideologically insane organization which wants to attack the West solely because it "hates our freedoms!!!", and which we must therefore smash and attack first.  Thus we have forced the populations we want to smash and loot to serve as mirrors reflecting back to our eyes a Doomsday Machine which the West is actually guilty of being.  But to perpetuate the lie we have told ourselves about ourselves and about the populations we have decided to target, we have invented bogeymen which are supposed to represent the populations we have targeted.  Thus ISIS has come into being, just as Al-Qaeda came into being, and has served the same purpose for us that we caused Al-Qaeda to serve until Al-Qaeda outlived its usefulness.

ISIS was used as a justification for attempting to smash Syria - but a funny thing happened along the way.  A large number of Syrians, Libyans and North Africans became refugees and fled to the countries of Europe to escape the smashing, and to be fed some of the crumbs of the loot which Europe and the United States had stolen from them at gunpoint.  Europe - pure as the wind-driven snow and special, oh, so special - could not tolerate having dark-skinned, unchurched refugees in their midst, so a number of rather inexplicable incidents started to occur in Europe over the last year and a half - none of which made any strategic or tactical sense, and all of which were blamed on "ISIS agents masquerading as refugees."  (See this and this for a catalogue of some of these incidents.)

As I said, these incidents made no tactical or strategic sense if they were actually perpetrated by Muslims trying to destroy the West, for the same reason that if you are actually trying to kill a bear, it makes no sense to do nothing more than hit him across the snout with a hickory switch.  All that does is make the bear mad at you.  But these incidents made perfect sense if their purpose was to rouse Europe and the United States into taking drastic steps toward fascism - steps like trying ever harder to find some justification for invading Syria and any other Muslim or African country they could get their hands on, and closing their borders to refugees in order to "protect themselves" from further attack.

So in the wake of supposed Muslim attacks by "ISIS", a bunch of European nations closed their borders to immigrants (especially dark-skinned immigrants) and refugees, and the United States followed suit - especially in Southern states.  And a few incidents occurred right here in the USA in order to add momentum to the push by certain elements in this country to preserve a pure "American paradise" that did not have to share its ill-gotten gains with the people it had robbed at gunpoint and smashed.

But another funny thing started to happen.  An increasing number of people began to view all the supposed attacks by ISIS as false-flag operations, self-wounding operations carried out by well-placed Americans in order to gain sympathy for their narcissistic agenda.  (I have spent several months looking at Uncle Sam as a narcissistic personality, but really, the more I think about it, there is also more than a hint of borderline personality disorder at work in the mainstream American psyche.)  Now things are at the point where whenever a supposed "ISIS attack" is publicized by the American mainstream media, it is met by a growing and deafening chorus of skeptics like me who are shouting "False Flag!"  And mainstream media outlets - which at first ignored us, then made light of us - are now having to take time to answer us seriously.  (See this for instance.)  But that is not helping them, because the fact that they must now take serious time for serious answers means that people are now having to seriously consider our arguments.  The fact that we must now be taken seriously means that we have won a victory.

The result of that is that many of the associations between Omar Mateen and ISIS which were made by the mainstream media in the first few days after the Orlando nightclub shooting have been carefully and quietly scrubbed from the ongoing narrative of that shooting.  To associate that incident with ISIS is to give one's credibility the kiss of death. 

And Donald Trump - who has become the American embodiment of all the right-wing, racist intolerance which has revived in Europe - has found that the Orlando shooting has not helped him.  Rather, his insane remarks in the wake of the shooting have actually hurt him.  (See this, this and this.)

Meanwhile, this weekend we are seeing in Britain the sort of consequences which begin to unfold when a bunch of people who think they are All That And A Bag Of Chips cut themselves off from the rest of the world.  What if that sort of people wins control of the United States this November?

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A June Commentary on the Flux of Election-Year Events

I noticed this week that someone posted a recent comment on my post, "The Breakup of Pathological Spaces."  I also noticed two other things: first, that my site traffic has recently gone through the roof, and second, that my commenter made a few violations of my comment policy.  The first violation was in posting anonymously.  (Normally, I don't publish anonymous comments.  Google ID or equivalent is required.)  The second was in throwing some profanity into his (her?) comment.  I only publish comments that are written in family-friendly language.  Call me old-fashioned, or a "prude", but I have my reasons, and no one has been able to talk me out of them.

However, when someone puts up a spirited disagreement with one of my posts, I am strongly tempted to give them a hearing, even if they violate my policies.  So I have decided to reproduce Mr. (Mrs.?  Ms.?) Anonymous' comment below (with some minor edits):

"A rather foolish contortion of NPD to fit your "America so evil" narrative. On another note, calling what happened in Orlando a false flag is disgraceful to us gays (yes I am gay, and a liberty-lover just the same), I really should be commenting on that post but alas its to the same end. How can you honestly imply American culture is at-large more narcissistic, more sociopathic than the self-righteous dogmatism of Islam, which could [care] less about the freedoms of women, gays, any free thinking person, of freedom of spirit and heart? Sure the power elites ripping the world to shreds are sociopathic slime, but western individualism is not simply narcissism. Collectivism is at the heart of all governmental evil in this world. Baffles me to think people are still defending muslims who hide their immorality, sadism and vitriol behind their [garbage] religion, playing the victim at every corner until they're in every corner of western civilization because of the white man's pathological on..."

(Here Blogger cut off the rest of the comment.  Anonymous, whoever you are, if you want to finish your thought, feel free to submit the rest of what you wanted to say - subject to my comment policy, of course!)

But for now, I have a few answers to the comment from Anonymous.  As to the assertion I have made that mainstream American culture is increasingly narcissistic and sociopathic, just look at how widely the ideals of selfishness are preached nowadays - through the mouths of entire political parties (Republicans and parties to the right of them); through mainstream American evangelicalism which venerates predatory capitalism, American exceptionalism and white supremacy; and  a "press" which is no longer free, but wholly owned by a handful of sick rich people (Rupert Murdoch being one of them) who want to reproduce their disease in as much of their audience as possible.  (Ever heard of Ayn Rand?)

As for the assertion that calling Orlando a false flag is disrespectful to the victims, there are people who for years have called 9/11 a false flag, yet these people meant no disrespect to those victims.  False flag operations do hurt people - that I acknowledge.  Yet the attempt to investigate the question of why a thing happened must rest on a truthful examination of facts, because it is the body of facts which determines why things happen and who the perpetrators are.  Asking "Why" is not disrespectful to the victims, nor is it disrespectful to pay careful attention to who benefits from a thing that has happened or what use (political and otherwise) is being made of that thing.  Your statement about being disgraceful is a non sequitur.

Lastly, regarding Islam, let me tell you something.  I am a Biblical Christian, and not a Muslim.  I will never convert to Islam.  However, I think that Islam has been set up as a convenient scapegoat for decades, complete with its convenient stereotype of the typical Muslim as some emotional, crazed, violent fanatic who goes around killing people solely because he "hates their freedoms!!!!!"  You are a self-professed homosexual, and yet it is ironic that you are spouting the same sort of stereotyped cliches that the American Religious Right spouted after 9/11.  (Here are two books to check out: The Blood of the Moon, and Islam Unveiled.  The latter book must have set a world speed record for being written and published within a few short months after the 9/11 attacks.  (It was published on January 1, 2002!)  Rather odd, considering that for a long time, the typical time to publish a book from the finishing of the author's manuscript was two years.)

A closer look at the reality of Islam in the world today - if you actually care to take a look - will reveal a much more diverse body of practitioners than you may have realized.  You will understand that there are divisions within Islam that are very similar in many ways to the denominations of Christianity.  You would also have discovered a host of Islamic countries where the values of community and hospitality are so deeply ingrained in the culture that Western visitors are blown away by the kindnesses they receive.  (Check out some bicycle touring blogs if you don't believe me - like "To Catch A Rainbow (Somewhere In Iran)", "Iran Alborz Mountains", and TravellingTwo.)

Anonymous, you've been living in a toxic bubble of American propaganda for too long.  Step away from the Kool-Aid, please...

For the rest of my readers, my next blog post will describe the ways in which the campaign of Donald Trump has been using the Orlando mass shooting.