Friday, October 31, 2014

The Economy: "The Biggest Financial Heist in History"

"The Biggest Financial Heist in History"
by Bill Bonner

"If Mr. Market is afraid, he is putting on a brave face. The Fed's QE ended on Wednesday. On Thursday, the Dow rose 221 points.  This is good news for Janet Yellen. She must think she has made a clean getaway. She has fled the scene of the biggest financial heist in history with no cops in sight. They're not even aware a crime has been committed! This grand larceny involved $3.6 trillion. Counterfeit – every dollar of it. Not a penny of it was ever honestly earned or earnestly saved... or dug out of the dirt and turned into coins. 

No... We're talking about the crime of the century... committed in broad daylight... with millions of witnesses. But hardly a single soul understood what was going on. 

We begin by asking: How many TVs, luxury apartments, spaghetti dinners and parking places are there? 

Answer: We have no idea. But it's not an infinite number. And every one of them has a price. Who gets them? The people with the money. 

Next question: Who has the money? We don't know that either. But the Fed fabricated $3.6 trillion over the last five years... and every penny ended up in someone's hands. Follow the money. You will find out what happened.

The Great Deformation: On our desk are two great books. One is David Stockman's "The Great Deformation." The other is Vivek Kaul's "Easy Money." Both describe the same phenomenon but from different points of view. 

Stockman was present at the creation, so to speak. He was President Reagan's budget director when the Republican Party ran off the rails and veered sharply toward deficits and activism.  Stockman fought hard to stop it, battling Dick Cheney and the neocons, and he lost. He wrote a book about the wreck, "The Triumph of Politics." 

The title tells the tale. Politics won out over sound fiscal principles. "Deficits don't matter," said Cheney. Which means debt doesn't matter. And if debt doesn't matter, what kind of world do we live in? But thenceforth, neither Republican nor Democratic administrations stood in the way of the great credit bubble. 

Stockman was soon out of a job on Capitol Hill. He went to Wall Street, where he witnessed, firsthand, the other side of the Great Deformation.  With an almost infinite amount of credit to work with, Wall Street quickly rose to the challenge. It peddled debt to everyone – governments, corporations and households. 

Americans took the bait. From President Reagan's first inauguration until 2014, they spent, on average, about $1 trillion more a year than they earned. Their lifestyles – and Wall Street's earnings – came to depend on it. From about 10% of total corporate earnings in the 1960s and 1970s, Wall Street's share rose to 40% by 2007. And bonuses rose into the millions... as hedge fund managers and bankers pushed the old industrial tycoons out of their stately Greenwich, Connecticut, homes. 

Stockman knows the story intimately. He lived it. He tells it in detail in his book. About which more anon...

Numskulls and Knaves: Let's turn to Kaul... We met him in India. He is a writer with a deep knowledge of and keen interest in political economy. In his book, he generously credits our visit with having "opened up a whole new world" to him. This is a reflection more on the world he lived in than on our ability to open it up. Kaul – a literate, intelligent commentator for India's largest economic journals – was unaware that there was another way to understand what was going on. 

We take it for granted that the financial authorities – in practically every major economy save Deutschland – are either numskulls or knaves... and probably both.  We have been observing their handiwork... poking at it... turning it over with a stick... and beating on it for 15 years. We forget that most people really have no idea how it works. And why should they? Central bank monetary policy is as mysterious as the virgin birth or the exact chemical formula for Spam, as far as they are concerned. 

Kaul takes a longer and broader view of how it all came about. The feds – led by those in the US – have created an immense bubble, with total worldwide debt now over $100 trillion. 

This was not done overnight. It was more than 30 years ago when the US federal government began running deficits year after year. It was almost 50 years ago that the dollar's golden anchor was given the heave-ho, leaving the world to float on a sea of paper money. And it was 65 years since the top of the last bond bull market. These trends – so long, so deep and so pervasive – have convinced most people that our financial world is "normal." Won't they be surprised when they find out how strange and transitory it really is! 

"Various experts have come up with various reasons behind the financial crisis," writes Kaul. "Some feel the crisis was because Wall Street was greedy. But then the question to ask is: When was Wall Street not greedy? And given this, why didn't financial crises happen all the time?" They didn't happen all the time because never before in the history of man have the entire world's finances been so distorted by debt. 

Debt is what Wall Street sold. Debt is what Washington wanted. And debt is how the elite transferred wealth from the public to themselves. Janet Yellen et al transferred $3.6 trillion from the public (where else could it come from?) to a very special elite: holders of financial assets. They are richer. The public is poorer. And it looks as though she has gotten away with it. But the crisis of 2008-09 was not the end of the debt bubble story. It was the beginning." 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Greg Hunter, “Weekly News Wrap-up, 10/31/2014”

“Weekly News Wrap-up, 10/31/2014”
By Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com 

"The Ebola circus continues, and the Obama Administration officials look like clowns. Let’s just take a look at a few of the headlines. “Health System Not Prepared for Ebola” is a headline from the AP, and that is in stark contrast to what we have been told. “Small clusters could overwhelm the system” is what the article says. So, this begs the question of why no quarantine? Some governors in places like New Jersey, New York and Illinois think quarantine is the way to go.  It is scientific technique on how to contain infectious disease, but that is not what the Obama Administration thinks. Some in the MSM think the same thing.  This opinion piece says the decision by these governors is “hasty” and “adds to the Ebola problem.” Really? Well, that is not what the Pentagon thinks because it is “isolating troops back from Africa for 21 days.” Some of the talking points are downright bogus. They say things like we should treat these returning health care workers like “conquering heroes.” Who is going to think these folks are “heroes” if they come back and infect people? Africa’s best chance of beating this is if America stays strong and uninfected. If America is consumed by Ebola, or even the fear of Ebola, West Africa hasn’t got a chance.

The Federal Reserve supposedly ended its QE program this week. That is where they printed money to buy bonds to hold interest rates down. So, what’s going to hold interest rates down now? Are they just going to put all this Federal debt out for bids and let the market set the interest rates? Can the Federal government, home buyers, car buyers, credit card holders and the overall economy afford higher rates? You’ve got to be kidding. Gregory Mannarino of TradersChoice.net says the Fed can’t just say it wants low interest rates. It has to do something to keep them low. Mannarino thinks the Fed is now going to force the big banks that got all this QE to buy Treasury and other government debt.  Mannarino told me that he thinks the Fed is going to continue to print money to finance another form of QE. He says the money printing has not ended and will never end. The Fed is just going to call it something else. The Fed also says the economy and employment have improved, and the third quarter had a 3.5% growth rate. John Williams of ShadowStats.com says the 3.5% growth rate is “Happy election eve numbers” and says it was boosted by “guessed at trade numbers and defense spending.” Williams says look for a downside revision. If the economy was really that good, would we have nearly 93 million people not in the workforce? There are 46 million people on food stamps, and half of Americans make less than $28,000 a year. Would mortgage applications be hitting 19 year lows? Would former Fed Head Alan Greenspan be warning about “turmoil” in the economy because of ending QE? Oh, and “Maestro” Greenspan is also telling people to buy gold? Let that sink in, Greenspan is telling people to buy gold!!

Violence appears to be flaring up in Israel again. An Israeli was shot at the famous Temple Mount religious site, also known as the al-Aqsa Mosque. The site was closed down after the shooting of an Israeli right-wing activist.  Now, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is calling for a “day of rage.” Violence is expected.

Finally, I just received notification that my health care provider is going to raise my premium again for next year by about a $100 bucks a month. My health care has gone up by about 60% since Obama Care was signed into law. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina says that it’s going up because not enough young people have signed up. I have no problem with Blue Cross and Blue Shield.  Health care costs money, especially with a bad law. Health care was supposed to be cheaper because of Obama Care, but for most people—it’s not. Multiply those increases by millions of policyholders and you can imagine what is going to happen to the economy. What really gripes me is the Democrats lied as a party to get this economy killing plan passed."

Join Greg Hunter as he analyzes these stories and more in the Weekly News Wrap-Up.

“I Pledge Allegiance...”

“I Pledge Allegiance...”
by The Dissident Dad 

“Remember those weird kids who didn’t say the Pledge of Allegiance in school? They either sat down or just stood up silently. I sure do. Most likely for religious reasons, but I remember thinking to myself as a kid that it was wrong not to say the pledge aloud with the rest of us. As I got older in my teenage years, I even felt that those kids were not being respectful.

Some adults may even give them the old, “well, if you don’t like it then you can leave” routine that is mentioned every time a minority opts out of the majority’s way of doing things.

Homeschooling my children will really make this a non-issue; however, my nieces were reciting the American Pledge of Allegiance the other day while playing with my children. In fact, here in Texas the kids recite both the American and Texas Pledge of Allegiance before class. After hearing them recite it, and of course remembering the 2,500 or so times I said it in my lifetime, I started to think about the purpose and real meaning of this pledge that millions of school-aged children recite every morning Monday through Friday.

A pledge, of course, is a vow, an oath, or a commitment. Allegiance is defined as loyalty, devotion, and obedience. In fact, the antonyms for allegiance are treachery and disloyalty.

Crazy when you think about it, right? Do we really want our kids pledging obedience and loyalty to the U.S. federal government? Especially when the pledge itself is masked with a lie. I mean, it ends with, “with liberty and justice for all.” Now that’s a crock of s**t right there. Not one arrest in the financial sector for the 2008 crisis, not one investigation into the 2003 Iraq invasion where no WMDs were found, and a complete cover-up of the events on 9/11, i.e., Building 7. Liberty and justice for all… how about we ask Edward Snowden about that? His patriotic actions were described as treachery and disloyalty.

Nationalism and blind patriotism is crucial in keeping a population dumbed-down and ignorant, which is why if you think about it, pledging allegiance to the government we have today is truly a backwards thing to do. Teaching it to a small child is particularly degrading.

As a dad who is proud of my own liberty, this makes life tough sometimes. Do I teach my kids the truth or go with the flow? On the surface it seems black and white, but it’s not. Teaching your children about certain truths that make them the odd kid out is not exactly what a parent wants for their child. My wife and I are constantly turning to each other and asking ourselves, should we make a stand on this? Because if we do, it might make it hard for the kids.

A great example comes from a friend of mine with an 11-year-old son who stood up on 9/11 at school and countered the teacher’s lesson for the anniversary and told her about the Loose Change version. It was awkward to say the least. To simply question the events of 9/11 go against the state’s religion of nationalism, so for an 11-year-old boy to bring it up in a classroom…you can imagine the trouble it caused.

Teaching my children about the oligarchs and the current state of our leaders in government is not something that I take lightly. I realize that some of our core values, like the belief in liberty, respect for all life, and individual sovereignty will make them the odd kid out sometimes.

Being surrounded by people who have been taught, just as I was, to pledge allegiance to the state, is the unfortunate reality we are all confronted with. something that is so deeply engrained that the best I can do is teach my children to think for themselves and decide on their own. Figuring out how to best teach my children the danger of such blind allegiance is without a doubt the most difficult task I face as a father.”

Satire: “Obama Urged to Apologize for Anti-Fear Remark”

“Obama Urged to Apologize for Anti-Fear Remark”
by Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)— “President Obama is coming under increasing pressure to apologize for a controversial remark that he made on Tuesday, in which he said that the nation’s Ebola policy should be based on facts rather than fear. While the anti-fear tenor of Mr. Obama’s comment was offensive enough to some, the President made matters worse by suggesting that science would play the leading role in guiding the nation’s Ebola protocols—a role that many Americans believe should be played by fear.

Across the country, Democratic candidates have sought to distance themselves from the President’s incendiary statement, especially in states like North Carolina, where science and facts have record-low approval ratings. Carol Foyler, a Democratic consultant in Colorado, said that she was “smacking my head” at the President’s divisive comment. “He’s unpopular enough as it is,” she said. “Aligning yourself with science and facts is a surefire way to alienate millions of Americans.”

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Musical Interlude: Afshin, “Prayer of Change”

Afshin, “Prayer of Change”

"A Look to the Heavens"; "Why Do We Look to the Stars?"

"Distorted galaxy NGC 2442 can be found in the southern constellation of the flying fish, (Piscis) Volans. Located about 50 million light-years away, the galaxy's two spiral arms extending from a pronounced central bar give it a hook-shaped appearance. This deep color image also shows the arms' obscuring dust lanes, young blue star clusters and reddish star forming regions surrounding a core of yellowish light from an older population of stars.

But the star forming regions seem more concentrated along the drawn-out (right side) spiral arm. The distorted structure is likely the result of an ancient close encounter with the smaller galaxy seen near the top left of this field of view. The two interacting galaxies are separated by about 150,000 light-years at the estimated distance of NGC 2442."
- http://www.antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap090228.html

"Why Do We Look to the Stars?"

"The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation of a distant memory, as if we were falling from a great height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.

For as long as there has been humans we have searched for our place in the cosmos. Where are we? Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a hum-drum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people. This perspective is a courageous continuation of our penchant for constructing and testing mental models of the skies; the Sun as a red-hot stone, the stars as a celestial flame, the Galaxy as the backbone of night.
The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home. In a cosmic perspective, most human concerns seem insignificant, even petty. And yet our species is young and curious and brave and shows much promise. In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the Cosmos and our place within it, explorations that are exhilarating to consider. They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival. I believe our future depends powerfully on how well we understand this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky. Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere."
- Carl Sagan

History: “The Charge of the Light Brigade"

“The Charge of the Light Brigade"
 Compiled By CP
.
“All the talk of history is of nothing almost but fighting and killing, and the honor and renown which are bestowed on conquerors, who, for the most part, are mere butchers of mankind, mislead growing youth, who, by these means, come to think slaughter the most laudable business of mankind, and the most heroic of virtue.” - John Locke


“The Charge of the Light Brigade was a charge of British cavalry led by Lord Cardigan against Russian forces during the Battle of Balaclava on 25 October 1854 in the Crimean War. The charge was the result of a miscommunication in such a way that the brigade attempted a much more difficult objective than intended by the overall commander Lord Raglan. Blame for the miscommunication has remained controversial, as the original order itself was vague. The charge produced no decisive gains and resulted in very high casualties, and is best remembered as the subject of the poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, whose lines emphasize the valor of the cavalry in carrying out their orders, even "tho' the soldier knew/Some one had blunder'd".

The charge was made by the Light Brigade of the British cavalry, consisting of the 4th and 13th Light Dragoons, 17th Lancers, and the 8th and 11th Hussars, under the command of Major General the Earl of Cardigan. Together with the Heavy Brigade comprising the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards, the 5th Dragoon Guards, the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons and the Scots Greys, commanded by Major General James Yorke Scarlett, himself a past Commanding Officer of the 5th Dragoon Guards, the two units were the main British cavalry force at the battle. Overall command of the cavalry resided with Lieutenant General the Earl of Lucan. Cardigan and Lucan were brothers-in-law who disliked each other intensely.

Lucan received an order from the army commander Lord Raglan stating that "Lord Raglan wishes the Cavalry to advance rapidly to the front, follow the enemy, and try to prevent the enemy carrying away the guns. Troop Horse Artillery may accompany. French Cavalry is on your left. Immediate." Raglan in fact wished the cavalry to prevent the Russians taking away the naval guns from the redoubts that they had captured on the reverse side of the Causeway Heights, the hill forming the south side of the valley. Raglan could see what was happening from his high vantage-point on the west of the valley, but Lucan and the cavalry were unaware of what was going on owing to the lie of the land where they were drawn up. The order was drafted by Brigadier Richard Airey and was carried by Captain Louis Edward Nolan, who carried the further oral instruction that the cavalry was to attack immediately. When Lucan asked what guns were referred to, Nolan is said to have indicated, by a wide sweep of his arm, not the Causeway redoubts but the mass of Russian guns in a redoubt at the end of the valley, around a mile away. His reasons for the misdirection are unclear, as he was killed in the ensuing battle.

In response to the order, Lucan instructed Cardigan to lead 673 (some sources state 661; another 607 cavalrymen straight into the valley between the Fedyukhin Heights and the Causeway Heights, famously dubbed the "Valley of Death" by the poet Tennyson. The opposing Russian forces were commanded by Pavel Liprandi and included approximately 20 battalions of infantry supported by over fifty artillery pieces. These forces were deployed on both sides and at the opposite end of the valley. Lucan himself was to follow with the Heavy Brigade.

The Light Brigade set off down the valley with Cardigan out in front leading the charge. Almost at once Nolan was seen to rush across the front, passing in front of Cardigan. It may be that he then realized the charge was aimed at the wrong target and was attempting to stop or turn the brigade, but he was killed by an artillery shell and the cavalry continued on its course. Despite withering fire from three sides that devastated their force on the ride, the Light Brigade was able to engage the Russian forces at the end of the valley and force them back from the redoubt, but it suffered heavy casualties and was soon forced to retire. The surviving Russian artillerymen returned to their guns and opened fire once again, with grape and canister, indiscriminately at the mêlée of friend and foe before them. Lucan failed to provide any support for Cardigan, and it was speculated that he was motivated by an enmity for his brother-in-law that had lasted some 30 years and had been intensified during the campaign up to that point. The troops of the Heavy Brigade entered the mouth of the valley but did not advance further. Lucan's subsequent explanation was that he saw no point in having a second brigade mown down and that he was best positioned where he was to render assistance to Light Brigade survivors returning from the charge. The French light cavalry, the Chasseurs d'Afrique, was more effective in that it cleared the Fedyukhin Heights of the two half batteries of guns, two infantry battalions and Cossacks to ensure the Light Brigade would not be hit by fire from that flank and later provided cover for the remaining elements of the Light Brigade as they withdrew. War correspondent William Russell, who witnessed the battle, declared "our Light Brigade was annihilated by their own rashness, and by the brutality of a ferocious enemy.”
As popularized by Hollywood...
"The Charge of The Light Brigade" (1936), starring Errol Flynn.
Balaclava, Crimean War period 1853-1856.
Apologies for poor quality.
"The Charge of the Light Brigade"
- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

“Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!’ he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.”

"The Land Of Dreams..."

“Father, O father! what do we here
In this land of unbelief and fear?
The Land of Dreams is better far,
Above the light of the morning star.”

- William Blake, “The Land of Dreams”

"Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda..."

 "It is what it is, and it was what it was. 
Don’t fret the could-haves because if it should-have, it would-have."
- Unknown

Chet Raymo, "Know Thyself"

"Know Thyself"
by Chet Raymo

"The ancient Greek aphorism, attributed to Socrates and others. Good advice, I'm sure. If only we knew what it means. Is it the same as the "examination of conscience" we were asked to perform as young Catholics? "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned." Well, yes, it is good to ask ourselves if we have lived up to our highest moral aspirations. But surely "Know thyself" means more than that.

Does it mean to be aware of our self-awareness? That is to say, not to act impulsively, but reflectively. Thoreau's "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." Or perhaps it means to apply the method of scientia to the problem of consciousness, treat the mind like a fish that can be dissected at the lab bench, watch the brain flickering on the display of a scanning machine as the subject is stimulated with love, sex, fear, music, pain. Neuroscience. Daniel Dennet's book audaciously titled "Consciousness Explained."

There is a line from a poem by Jane Hirshfield, in which she questions herself: "A knife cannot cut itself open, yet you ask me both to be you and to know you."

Is it hopeless then? Is there an essential absurdity in a thing knowing itself? Does knowing necessarily imply a knower more complex than the thing known? Is it possible that we might fully understand, say, the neurology of the sea slug Aplysia, that favorite subject of experimental neurobiologists with only 20,000 central nerve cells, big nerve cells, ten times bigger than human neurons, but not the workings of the human brain, with its 100 billion nerve cells, each one connected to thousands of others?

Hirshfield's poem is titled "Instant Glimpsable Only For An Instant." Perhaps that is the best we can do. To know ourselves in those fleeting moments of recognition than come now and then, often unbidden, sometimes as the result of a chance encounter with beauty or with ugliness, sometimes bidden out of the silence and solitude of meditation - a flash upon on one's inward eye that is, perhaps, all the ancients were asking for when they asked us to "know ourselves."

The Poet: T.S. Eliot, "The Four Quartets"

"The Four Quartets"
by T.S. Eliot 

"I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

The Daily "Near You?"

Barkerville, Ontario, Canada. Thanks for stopping by.

“Guess How Much America's War Against Isis Costs Every Single Day?”

“Guess How Much America's War Against Isis Costs Every Single Day?”
by AFP

“The Pentagon has revised its estimate of the cost of the US air war in Iraq and Syria, saying the price tag for the campaign against the Islamic State group comes to about $8.3 million a day. Since air strikes began on August 8, the campaign — which has involved about 6,600 sorties by US and allied aircraft — has cost $580 million, said Pentagon spokesman Commander Bill Urban.

The Defense Department had previously put the average daily cost of the military operation at more than $7 million a day. The higher figure reflected the increased pace of air strikes and related flights, a defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP. But independent analysts say the Defense Department is underestimating the genuine cost of the war effort, which began in mid-June with the deployment of hundreds of US troops to secure the American embassy in Baghdad and to advise the Iraqi army.

Some former budget officials and outside experts estimate the cost of the war has already exceeded a billion dollars, and that it could rise to several billion dollars in a year’s time. Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments projected the war could cost $2.4 to $3.8 billion a year, in an analysis issued on September 29. If the intensity of the bombing raids is expanded, the air war could cost as much as $4.2 to $6.8 billion per year, according to Harrison’s report.

One of the biggest drains on the budget for the air war are the large number of surveillance and reconnaissance flights that bombing raids require, analysts say. The campaign, dubbed “Operation Inherent Resolve,” has seen thousands of spy flights and aerial refueling runs. The cost of flying the spy planes range from about $1,000 an hour for Predator and Reaper drones to $7,000 an hour for high-altitude Global Hawk drones, or as much as $22,000 per hour for E-8 J-STAR (Joint Surveillance Target Radar Attack System) aircraft.

Funds for the air war are coming out of the Pentagon’s de facto war budget, the Overseas Contingency Operations fund. Separate from the regular defense “base” budget, the OCO fund is often portrayed as a “credit card” to cover the costs of wars. Congress increased the OCO budget to about $85 billion for last fiscal year, ending September 30. The proposed fund for the new fiscal year 2015 is due to drop to $54 billion.”
Meanwhile...
"There Are 80,000 Homeless Kids in New York City"

Defend this, I dare you...
- CP

"How It Really Is"

"The Trouble Is..."

"The trouble is that the stupid people- who constitute the grand overwhelming majority of this and all other nations- do believe and are moulded and convinced by what they get out of a newspaper." 
- Mark Twain, 1873

“Why Would You Support This Government?”

“Why Would You Support This Government?”
 by Karl Denninger

Ready to withdraw your consent yet? There are times when it becomes absolutely impossible to support the remarkably bad judgment often displayed by federal agencies under the control of the current administration- even for those of us who are typically viewed as backers of many of this administration’s policies. The latest installment of frightfully unacceptable government behavior involves a law created in 2000- the “Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000”- granting the IRS the power to seize the bank accounts of those suspected to be terrorists, drug dealers or engaged in other criminal activity, even when no charges have been filed and no convictions achieved.

Note the misdirection- "the current administration." Who passed that law and when? Who was President in 2000? In 2001? 2002? 2003? And on and on. This is just a "current administration" problem? That's a lie.

What's the problem? The IRS seizing money from people who are never charged with a crime, say much less convicted. It's been going on for a long time but suddenly, just now, people notice it and articles show up. I've written on it several times over the years. Look, I'm all for going after money laundering (although we ought to start with the banks that have been caught moving billions for drug gangs yet are simply fined rather than having people go to prison) and other forms of criminal activity.

But this sort of thing is not law enforcement nor prosecution of bad guys. It's pure theft and extortion. It doesn't matter who does it, a thing is what it is. If the government acts in a form and fashion that is felonious, no matter what they call it or how they couch it, why is it that you consent to said government again? Think long and hard on that, folks.”

“Zombies Are Us: The Walking Dead in the American Police State”

“Zombies Are Us: 
The Walking Dead in the American Police State”
By John W. Whitehead

“Fear is a primitive impulse, brainless as hunger, and because the aim of horror fiction is the production of the deepest kinds of fears, the genre tends to reinforce some remarkably uncivilized ideas about self-protection. In the current crop of zombie stories, the prevailing value for the beleaguered survivors is a sort of siege mentality, a vigilance so constant and unremitting that it’s indistinguishable from the purest paranoia." -  Terrence Rafferty, "New York Times"

"Fear and paranoia have become hallmarks of the modern American experience, impacting how we as a nation view the world around us, how we as citizens view each other, and most of all how our government views us. Nowhere is this epidemic of fear and paranoia more aptly mirrored than in the culture’s fascination with zombies, exacerbated by the hit television series "The Walking Dead," in which a small group of Americans attempt to survive in a zombie-ridden, post-apocalyptic world where they’re not only fighting off flesh-eating ghouls but cannibalistic humans.

Zombies have experienced such a surge in popularity in recent years that you don’t have to look very far anymore to find them lurking around every corner: wreaking havoc in movie blockbusters such as "World War Z," running for their lives in 5K charity races, battling corsets in "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," and even putting government agents through their paces in mock military drills arranged by the Dept. of Defense (DOD) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

We’ve been so hounded in recent years with dire warnings about terrorist attacks, Ebola pandemics, economic collapse, environmental disasters, and militarized police, it’s no wonder millions of Americans have turned to zombie fiction as a means of escapism and a way to “envision how we and our own would thrive if everything went to hell and we lost all our societal supports.” As "Time" magazine reporter James Poniewozik phrases it, the “apocalyptic drama lets us face the end of the world once a week and live.”

Writing for the New York Times, Terrence Rafferty notes: "In the case of zombie fiction, you have to wonder whether our 21st-century fascination with these hungry hordes has something to do with a general anxiety, particularly in the West, about the planet’s dwindling resources: a sense that there are too many people out there, with too many urgent needs, and that eventually these encroaching masses, dimly understood but somehow ominous in their collective appetites, will simply consume us. At this awful, pinched moment of history we look into the future and see a tsunami of want bearing down on us, darkening the sky. The zombie is clearly the right monster for this glum mood, but it’s a little disturbing to think that these nonhuman creatures, with their slack, gaping maws, might be serving as metaphors for actual people—undocumented immigrants, say, or the entire populations of developing nations—whose only offense, in most cases, is that their mouths and bellies demand to be filled."

Here’s the curious thing: while zombies may be the personification of our darkest fears, they embody the government’s paranoia about the citizenry as potential threats that need to be monitored, tracked, surveilled, sequestered, deterred, vanquished and rendered impotent. Why else would the government feel the need to monitor our communications, track our movements, criminalize our every action, treat us like suspects, and strip us of any means of defense while equipping its own personnel with an amazing arsenal of weapons?

For years now, the government has been carrying out military training drills with zombies as the enemy. In 2011, the DOD created a 31-page instruction manual for how to protect America from a terrorist attack carried out by zombie forces. In 2012, the CDC released a guide for surviving a zombie plague. That was followed by training drills for members of the military, police officers and first responders. As journalist Andrea Peyser reports: "Coinciding with Halloween 2012, a five-day national conference was put on by the HALO Corp. in San Diego for more than 1,000 first responders, military personnel and law enforcement types. It included workshops produced by a Hollywood-affiliated firm in…overcoming a zombie invasion. Actors were made up to look like flesh-chomping monsters. The Department of Homeland Security even paid the $1,000 entry fees for an unknown number of participants…"

“Zombie disaster” drills were held in October 2012 and ’13 at California’s Sutter Roseville Medical Center. The exercises allowed medical center staff “to test response to a deadly infectious disease, a mass-casualty event, terrorism event and security procedures.” [In October 2014], REI outdoor-gear stores in Soho and around the country are to hold free classes in zombie preparedness, which the stores have been providing for about three years. The zombie exercises appear to be kitschy and fun—government agents running around trying to put down a zombie rebellion—but what if the zombies in the exercises are us, the citizenry, viewed by those in power as mindless, voracious, zombie hordes?

Consider this: the government started playing around with the idea of using zombies as stand-ins for enemy combatants in its training drills right around the time the Army War College issued its 2008 report, warning that an economic crisis in the U.S. could lead to massive civil unrest that would require the military to intervene and restore order.

That same year, it was revealed that the government had amassed more than 8 million names of Americans considered a threat to national security, to be used “by the military in the event of a national catastrophe, a suspension of the Constitution or the imposition of martial law.” The program’s name, Main Core, refers to the fact that it contains “copies of the ‘main core’ or essence of each item of intelligence information on Americans produced by the FBI and the other agencies of the U.S. intelligence community.”

Also in 2008, the Pentagon launched the Minerva Initiative, a $75 million military-driven research project focused on studying social behavior in order to determine how best to cope with mass civil disobedience or uprisings. The Minerva Initiative has funded projects such as “Who Does Not Become a Terrorist, and Why?” which “conflates peaceful activists with ‘supporters of political violence’ who are different from terrorists only in that they do not embark on ‘armed militancy’ themselves.”

In 2009, the Dept. of Homeland Security issued its reports on Rightwing and Leftwing Extremism, in which the terms “extremist” and “terrorist” were used interchangeably to describe citizens who were disgruntled or anti-government. Meanwhile, a government campaign was underway to spy on Americans’ mail, email and cell phone communications. Recent reports indicate that the U.S. Postal Service has handled more than 150,000 requests by federal and state law enforcement agencies to monitor Americans’ mail, in addition to photographing every piece of mail sent through the postal system.

Noticing a pattern yet? “We the people” or, more appropriately, “we the zombies” are the enemy. So when presented with the Defense Department’s battle plan for defeating an army of the walking dead, you might find yourself giggling over the fact that a taxpayer-funded government bureaucrat actually took the time to research and write about vegetarian zombies, evil magic zombies, chicken zombies, space zombies, bio-engineered weaponized zombies, radiation zombies, symbiant-induced zombies, and pathogenic zombies.

However, I would suggest that you take at face value the DOD’s strategy, outlined in “CONOP 8888,” recognizing that in an age of extreme government paranoia, what you’re really perusing is a training manual for the government in how to put down a citizen uprising or at least an uprising of individuals “infected” with dangerous ideas about freedom. Military strategists seized upon the zombie ruse as a way to avoid upsetting the public should the “fictional training scenario” be mistaken for a real plan. Of course, the tactics and difficulties involved are all too real, beginning with martial law.

As the DOD training manual states: “zombies [read: “activists”] are horribly dangerous to all human life and zombie infections have the potential to seriously undermine national security and economic activities that sustain our way of life. Therefore having a population that is not composed of zombies or at risk from their malign influence is vital to U.S. and Allied national interests.”

So how does the military plan to put down a zombie (a.k.a. disgruntled citizen) uprising? The strategy manual outlines five phases necessary for a counter-offensive: shape, deter, seize initiative, dominate, stabilize and restore civil authority. Here are a few details:

Phase 0 (Shape): Conduct general zombie awareness training. Monitor increased threats (i.e., surveillance). Carry out military drills. Synchronize contingency plans between federal and state agencies. Anticipate and prepare for a breakdown in law and order.

Phase 1 (Deter): Recognize that zombies cannot be deterred or reasoned with. Carry out training drills to discourage other countries from developing or deploying attack zombies and publicly reinforce the government’s ability to combat a zombie threat. Initiate intelligence sharing between federal and state agencies. Assist the Dept. of Homeland Security in identifying or discouraging immigrants from areas where zombie-related diseases originate.

Phase 2 (Seize initiative): Recall all military personal to their duty stations. Fortify all military outposts. Deploy air and ground forces for at least 35 days. Carry out confidence-building measures with nuclear-armed peers such as Russia and China to ensure they do not misinterpret the government’s zombie countermeasures as preparations for war. Establish quarantine zones. Distribute explosion-resistant protective equipment. Place the military on red alert. Begin limited scale military operations to combat zombie threats. Carry out combat operations against zombie populations within the United States that were “previously” U.S. citizens.

Phase 3 (Dominate): Lock down all military bases for 30 days. Shelter all essential government personnel for at least 40 days. Equip all government agents with military protective gear. Issue orders for military to kill all non-human life on sight. Initiate bomber and missile strikes against targeted sources of zombie infection, including the infrastructure. Burn all zombie corpses. Deploy military to lock down the beaches and waterways.

Phase 4 (Stabilize): Send out recon teams to check for remaining threats and survey the status of basic services (water, power, sewage infrastructure, air, and lines of communication). Execute a counter-zombie ISR plan to ID holdout pockets of zombie resistance. Use all military resources to target any remaining regions of zombie holdouts and influence. Continue all actions from the Dominate phase.

Phase 5 (Restore civil authority): Deploy military personnel to assist any surviving civil authorities in disaster zones. Reconstitute combat capabilities at various military bases. Prepare to redeploy military forces to attack surviving zombie holdouts. Restore basic services in disaster areas.

Notice the similarities? Surveillance. Military drills. Awareness training. Militarized police forces. Martial law. What’s amazing is that the government is not being covert about any of this. As I point out in my book, "A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State," it’s all out in the open, for all to see, read and learn from.

If there is any lesson to be learned, it is simply this: whether the threat to national security comes in the form of actual terrorists, imaginary zombies or disgruntled American citizens infected with dangerous ideas about freedom, the government’s response to such threats remains the same: detect, deter and annihilate.

It’s time to wake up, America, before you end up with a bullet to the head—the only proven means of killing a zombie.”

Musical Interlude: Kevin Kern, “Another Realm”

Kevin Kern, “Another Realm” 

"Once We Believe..."



"We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals
that deep inside us something is valuable,
worth listening to, worthy of our touch, sacred to our touch.
Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder,
spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit."

- e.e. cummings, (1894-1962)

"Look To This Day!"

“Look to this day! For it is the very life of life.
In its brief course lie all the verities and realities of your existence:
The bliss of growth, the glory of action, the splendor of beauty;
Today, well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.”
- Kalidasa

"The Ripe Olive..."

"Mark how fleeting and paltry is the estate of man- yesterday in embryo, tomorrow a mummy or ashes. So for the hairsbreadth of time assigned to thee, live rationally, and part with life cheerfully, as drops the ripe olive, extolling the season that bore it and the tree that matured it."
 - Marcus Antoninus Aurelius

"Be Like The Bird..."

"What matter if this base, unjust life
Cast you naked and disarmed?
If the ground breaks beneath your step,
Have you not your soul?
Your soul! You fly away,
Escape to realms refined,
Beyond all sadness and whimpering.
Be like the bird which on frail branches balanced
A moment sits and sings;
He feels them tremble, but he sings unshaken,
Knowing he has wings."
– Victor Hugo

"Just For Today..."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Musical Interlude: Suzanne Ciani, "Go Gently"

Suzanne Ciani, "Go Gently"

Musical Interlude: Amethystium, “Tinuviel”

Amethystium, “Tinuviel”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Almost every object in the above photograph is a galaxy. The Coma Cluster of Galaxies pictured above is one of the densest clusters known - it contains thousands of galaxies. Each of these galaxies houses billions of stars - just as our own Milky Way Galaxy does. Although nearby when compared to most other clusters, light from the Coma Cluster still takes hundreds of millions of years to reach us.
 Click image for larger size.
In fact, the Coma Cluster is so big it takes light millions of years just to go from one side to the other! Most galaxies in Coma and other clusters are ellipticals, while most galaxies outside of clusters are spirals. The nature of Coma's X-ray emission is still being investigated."

"The Time Will Pass..."

“Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something
stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; 
we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.”
- Earl Nightingale

Chet Raymo, "Dust"

"Dust"
by Chet Raymo

"In Chekhov's play "The Three Sisters" sister Masha refuses "to live and not know why the cranes fly, why children are born, why the stars are in the sky. Either you know and you're alive or its all nonsense, all dust in the wind." Why? Why? The striving to know is what frees us from the bonds of self, said Einstein. It's the striving, rather than our knowledge - which is always tentative and partial - that is important.

I've been living with grandchildren for the past few weeks. They seem to me to spend an inordinate amount of time with smart phones, iPads, and computers. In this, I'm sure, they are like most of their contemporaries, immersed in virtual realities, flickering pixels. I sometimes feel the urge to drag them outside for some reality reality. Let them see an eclipsed moon rising in the east, a pink pearl. Let them stand in a morning dawn and watch a slip of comet fling its tail around the Sun. Let them admire the stars of Orion on a sparkling winter evening - red Betelgeuse, blue Rigel - and shiver in the thrall of cold and beauty.

Ah, yes, I know. Kids are kids and they'll turn out OK. They'll probably end up in a better place than I find myself at 77. I suppose I spent an equal amount of time sitting next to the radio listening to Tom Mix and Sky King. Still, it's as Masha says: "Either you know and you're alive or its all nonsense, all dust in the wind." So let the children know. Let them know that nothing they will find in the virtual worlds of e-games, television or the internet matters half so much as a glitter of stars on an inky sky, drawing our attention into the incomprehensible mystery of why the universe is here at all, and why we are here to observe it. The summer Milky Way arches across the sky, a hundred billion individually invisible points of light, a hundred billion revelations of the Ultimate Mystery, conferring on the watcher a dignity, a blessedness, that confounds the dull humdrum of the commonplace and opens a window to infinity.”

The Poet: Rainer Maria Rilke, "Do You Remember?"

 "Do you remember still the falling stars
that like swift horses through the heavens raced
and suddenly leaped across the hurdles
of our wishes - do you recall?
And we did make so many! 
For there were countless numbers of stars: 
each time we looked above we were
astounded by the swiftness of their daring play,
while in our hearts we felt safe and secure
watching these brilliant bodies disintegrate,
knowing somehow we had survived their fall."
- Rainer Maria Rilke

"A Journey, Not A Destination..."

"Happiness is a journey, not a destination. For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. This perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one."
~ Souza

The Daily "Near You?"

Spartanburg, South Carolina, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

Derrick Jensen, "Beyond Hope"

"Beyond Hope"
by Derrick Jensen

"The most common words I hear spoken by any environmentalists anywhere are, We’re f****d. Most of these environmentalists are fighting desperately, using whatever tools they have—or rather whatever legal tools they have, which means whatever tools those in power grant them the right to use, which means whatever tools will be ultimately ineffective—to try to protect some piece of ground, to try to stop the manufacture or release of poisons, to try to stop civilized humans from tormenting some group of plants or animals. Sometimes they’re reduced to trying to protect just one tree. Here’s how John Osborn, an extraordinary activist and friend, sums up his reasons for doing the work: “As things become increasingly chaotic, I want to make sure some doors remain open. If grizzly bears are still alive in twenty, thirty, and forty years, they may still be alive in fifty. If they’re gone in twenty, they’ll be gone forever.”

But no matter what environmentalists do, our best efforts are insufficient. We’re losing badly, on every front. Those in power are hell-bent on destroying the planet, and most people don’t care. Frankly, I don’t have much hope. But I think that’s a good thing. Hope is what keeps us chained to the system, the conglomerate of people and ideas and ideals that is causing the destruction of the Earth.

To start, there is the false hope that suddenly somehow the system may inexplicably change. Or technology will save us. Or the Great Mother. Or beings from Alpha Centauri. Or Jesus Christ. Or Santa Claus. All of these false hopes lead to inaction, or at least to ineffectiveness. One reason my mother stayed with my abusive father was that there were no battered women’s shelters in the ‘50s and ‘60s, but another was her false hope that he would change. False hopes bind us to unlivable situations, and blind us to real possibilities. Does anyone really believe that Weyerhaeuser is going to stop deforesting because we ask nicely? Does anyone really believe that Monsanto will stop Monsantoing because we ask nicely? If only we get a Democrat in the White House, things will be okay. If only we pass this or that piece of legislation, things will be okay. If only we defeat this or that piece of legislation, things will be okay. Nonsense. Things will not be okay. They are already not okay, and they’re getting worse. Rapidly.

But it isn’t only false hopes that keep those who go along enchained. It is hope itself. Hope, we are told, is our beacon in the dark. It is our light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. It is the beam of light that makes its way into our prison cells. It is our reason for persevering, our protection against despair (which must be avoided at all costs). How can we continue if we do not have hope?

We’ve all been taught that hope in some future condition—like hope in some future heaven—is and must be our refuge in current sorrow. I’m sure you remember the story of Pandora. She was given a tightly sealed box and was told never to open it. But, being curious, she did, and out flew plagues, sorrow, and mischief, probably not in that order. Too late she clamped down the lid. Only one thing remained in the box: hope. Hope, the story goes, was the only good the casket held among many evils, and it remains to this day mankind’s sole comfort in misfortune. No mention here of action being a comfort in misfortune, or of actually doing something to alleviate or eliminate one’s misfortune.

The more I understand hope, the more I realize that all along it deserved to be in the box with the plagues, sorrow, and mischief; that it serves the needs of those in power as surely as belief in a distant heaven; that hope is really nothing more than a secular way of keeping us in line. Hope is, in fact, a curse, a bane. I say this not only because of the lovely Buddhist saying “Hope and fear chase each other’s tails,” not only because hope leads us away from the present, away from who and where we are right now and toward some imaginary future state. I say this because of what hope is.

More or less all of us yammer on more or less endlessly about hope. You wouldn’t believe—or maybe you would—how many magazine editors have asked me to write about the apocalypse, then enjoined me to leave readers with a sense of hope. But what, precisely, is hope? At a talk I gave last spring, someone asked me to define it. I turned the question back on the audience, and here’s the definition we all came up with: hope is a longing for a future condition over which you have no agency; it means you are essentially powerless.

I’m not, for example, going to say I hope I eat something tomorrow. I just will. I don’t hope I take another breath right now, nor that I finish writing this sentence. I just do them. On the other hand, I do hope that the next time I get on a plane, it doesn’t crash. To hope for some result means you have given up any agency concerning it. Many people say they hope the dominant culture stops destroying the world. By saying that, they’ve assumed that the destruction will continue, at least in the short term, and they’ve stepped away from their own ability to participate in stopping it.

I do not hope coho salmon survive. I will do whatever it takes to make sure the dominant culture doesn’t drive them extinct. If coho want to leave us because they don’t like how they’re being treated—and who could blame them?—I will say goodbye, and I will miss them, but if they do not want to leave, I will not allow civilization to kill them off. When we realize the degree of agency we actually do have, we no longer have to “hope” at all. We simply do the work. We make sure salmon survive. We make sure prairie dogs survive. We make sure grizzlies survive. We do whatever it takes.

When we stop hoping for external assistance, when we stop hoping that the awful situation we’re in will somehow resolve itself, when we stop hoping the situation will somehow not get worse, then we are finally free—truly free—to honestly start working to resolve it. I would say that when hope dies, action begins.

People sometimes ask me, “If things are so bad, why don’t you just kill yourself?” The answer is that life is really, really good. I am a complex enough being that I can hold in my heart the understanding that we are really, really f*****d, and at the same time that life is really, really good. I am full of rage, sorrow, joy, love, hate, despair, happiness, satisfaction, dissatisfaction, and a thousand other feelings. We are really f*****d. Life is still really good.

Many people are afraid to feel despair. They fear that if they allow themselves to perceive how desperate our situation really is, they must then be perpetually miserable. They forget that it is possible to feel many things at once. They also forget that despair is an entirely appropriate response to a desperate situation. Many people probably also fear that if they allow themselves to perceive how desperate things are, they may be forced to do something about it.

Another question people sometimes ask me is, “If things are so bad, why don’t you just party?” Well, the first answer is that I don’t really like to party. The second is that I’m already having a great deal of fun. I love my life. I love life. This is true for most activists I know. We are doing what we love, fighting for what (and whom) we love. I have no patience for those who use our desperate situation as an excuse for inaction. I’ve learned that if you deprive most of these people of that particular excuse they just find another, then another, then another. The use of this excuse to justify inaction—the use of any excuse to justify inaction—reveals nothing more nor less than an incapacity to love.

At one of my recent talks someone stood up during the Q and A and announced that the only reason people ever become activists is to feel better about themselves. Effectiveness really doesn’t matter, he said, and it’s egotistical to think it does. I told him I disagreed. Doesn’t activism make you feel good? he asked. Of course, I said, but that’s not why I do it. If I only want to feel good, I can just masturbate. But I want to accomplish something in the real world. Why? Because I’m in love. With salmon, with trees outside my window, with baby lampreys living in sandy streambottoms, with slender salamanders crawling through the duff. And if you love, you act to defend your beloved. Of course results matter to you, but they don’t determine whether or not you make the effort. You don’t simply hope your beloved survives and thrives. You do what it takes. If my love doesn’t cause me to protect those I love, it’s not love.

A wonderful thing happens when you give up on hope, which is that you realize you never needed it in the first place. You realize that giving up on hope didn’t kill you. It didn’t even make you less effective. In fact it made you more effective, because you ceased relying on someone or something else to solve your problems—you ceased hoping your problems would somehow get solved through the magical assistance of God, the Great Mother, the Sierra Club, valiant tree-sitters, brave salmon, or even the Earth itself—and you just began doing whatever it takes to solve those problems yourself.

When you give up on hope, something even better happens than it not killing you, which is that in some sense it does kill you. You die. And there’s a wonderful thing about being dead, which is that they—those in power—cannot really touch you anymore. Not through promises, not through threats, not through violence itself. Once you’re dead in this way, you can still sing, you can still dance, you can still make love, you can still fight like hell—you can still live because you are still alive, more alive in fact than ever before. You come to realize that when hope died, the you who died with the hope was not you, but was the you who depended on those who exploit you, the you who believed that those who exploit you will somehow stop on their own, the you who believed in the mythologies propagated by those who exploit you in order to facilitate that exploitation. The socially constructed you died. The civilized you died. The manufactured, fabricated, stamped, molded you died. The victim died.

And who is left when that you dies? You are left. Animal you. Naked you. Vulnerable (and invulnerable) you. Mortal you. Survivor you. The you who thinks not what the culture taught you to think but what you think. The you who feels not what the culture taught you to feel but what you feel. The you who is not who the culture taught you to be but who you are. The you who can say yes, the you who can say no. The you who is a part of the land where you live. The you who will fight (or not) to defend your family. The you who will fight (or not) to defend those you love. The you who will fight (or not) to defend the land upon which your life and the lives of those you love depends. The you whose morality is not based on what you have been taught by the culture that is killing the planet, killing you, but on your own animal feelings of love and connection to your family, your friends, your landbase—not to your family as self-identified civilized beings but as animals who require a landbase, animals who are being killed by chemicals, animals who have been formed and deformed to fit the needs of the culture.

When you give up on hope—when you are dead in this way, and by so being are really alive—you make yourself no longer vulnerable to the cooption of rationality and fear that Nazis inflicted on Jews and others, that abusers like my father inflict on their victims, that the dominant culture inflicts on all of us. Or is it rather the case that these exploiters frame physical, social, and emotional circumstances such that victims perceive themselves as having no choice but to inflict this cooption on themselves?

But when you give up on hope, this exploiter/victim relationship is broken. You become like the Jews who participated in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. When you give up on hope, you turn away from fear. And when you quit relying on hope, and instead begin to protect the people, things, and places you love, you become very dangerous indeed to those in power. In case you’re wondering, that’s a very good thing."