September 17, 2013

You are the only one who can save the world


A sarin gas attack in Syria. A mass shooting at a Navy base in Washington D.C. Flooding in Colorado. Landslides and tornadoes in Japan. A volcano erupting in Sumatra. As hard as it might be to believe, these are not uncommon incidents. Our world is a geologic cauldron set to a low boil. Deep beneath the surface the core is constantly bubbling and shifting about. The sun and moon pull and tug at the Earth constantly, causing even more turmoil and stress. There is no place on Earth that is truly stable. "Stability", "safety", "continuity", these are all illusions that shift into and out of focus depending on the time frame of the viewer. In a similar manner, human history is a long parade of abuse, violence, corruption, environmental destruction, and mass slaughter of innocents in the name of God, the King, the Children, or resources. There is no such thing as a "golden past" where everyone lived in peace, security, and plenty. It has never existed and it never will exist. The forces that tug and pull at the Earth are truly cosmic in their scope and power. No human society will ever have the technology to counteract the force of gravity on a scale large enough to bring the kind of geologic utopia so many people believe is possible. It simply will not happen. Unfortunately, it is largely due to the simple physics of geologic and meteorologic cataclysm that human individuals and societies will always find excuses to go to war with one another in a vain, useless attempt to secure for themselves the resources necessary to meet their physical and emotional needs.

It does not matter how big the government is, how many rich people the politicians confiscate the wealth from, or how many services politicians promise to provide. There will always be somebody wealthier than you are and there will always be somebody more impoverished than you are. Life is hard, often arbitrary, and sooner or later everyone dies. I have lived my entire life puzzled by the inability of so many people to accept the simple reality of our unstable, unpredictable, dangerous world. To entertain for even a moment that life could be safe, peaceful, and filled with material wealth for every person on Earth is delusional. It is neither idealistic nor generous to entertain the notion that with the right tax burden, the right government program, the right charity, or the right educational system, every person on Earth can live in love, peace, and happiness. This kind of thinking is neither wistful nor wishful. It is simply delusional, or at the very best, pure fantasy. The idea of utopia is pure imagination. It can never exist in the real world.

That does not mean it is hopeless. You, and you alone, have the power to make a difference. Don't imagine you have to start a civil war, found a great charity, or launch a massive political campaign in order to make the world a better place. The simple fact of the matter is, these are all pointless delusions. No matter how successful you become in any grand scheme to build a better world it will never be enough. All it will take is one volcano, one meteor, one big winter storm, one mass shooting, a local uprising, or even just a simple terrorist plot, and all the good you accomplished will be completely erased. A heart attack, an aneurysm, a mugger with a knife, or a single bite of contaminated food can end your life so quickly you will not have time to realize you are dying. Despite all the evil in the world, there is something you can do. If you make a habit of it then eventually things will improve for everyone around you, and for you as well. Perhaps only for a day, a week, or a year, but for a brief moment you can taste utopia. Just don't expect it to be permanent or long-lasting.

The one thing you can do to make the world a better place is learn to be personally generous. I am not suggesting you give up your worldly wealth or sacrifice your quality of life. Nor am I suggesting you give money to every grifter and panhandler who crosses your path. In fact, I would strongly suggest you never give money to people begging in the street. Never. Not a penny. Not a dime. I would also strongly suggest you stop giving money to your local church, to your favorite television evangelist, or to major international charities. Let's face it. The simple reality of the matter is the largest portion of the money you give to panhandlers, preachers, and charities goes straight into the pocket of the person begging for it. Panhandlers spend their money on drugs and alcohol, preachers and charities on their own personal needs or on their personnel. If you do your homework, insist on accountability, demand to see the books, and keep looking until you find the right place, then if you are very lucky you will find a place where twenty to twenty-five percent of your donation actually goes to the people who cannot live without it.

Instead, take a small portion of your income, ten or fifteen percent, and put it into a special account that you never use for your own needs, your own investments, or your own life. Then, open your eyes and look around you. Somewhere close to you there is a single mother struggling to feed her child on the income from a part time job. In your town or in a nearby city there will be a shelter for battered women and another for the homeless. There might even be a free clinic where local doctors and nurses donate their time a couple days a week. This is where you practice generosity. Locally. Right in your hometown, or perhaps the city down the road. Take a single parent who lives on your street grocery shopping or maybe fill the gas tank of an elderly neighbor living on Social Security. Somewhere very close to you is someone who is lonely and in need.

Don't waste your time and money on the bitter, the angry, or the parasites who have lived on government aid for multiple generations. Focus your efforts on those people and places that are trying to improve their lives, on people and institutions that emphasize hard work and sobriety. Yes, sobriety is important. It does no good to lift someone from the depths of addiction only to have them run straight back into it the moment they encounter difficulty. You won't need to bang on doors or ask humiliating questions. Just keep your eyes open and meet those needs you can the moment you encounter them. Live generously, not with some weird global guilt complex, but locally, among your neighbors, both those you are friends with and those who are strangers. Be prepared for disappointment. No matter how careful you are, there will be many who abuse your generosity. Learn who they are and avoid helping them repeatedly. The world is filled with parasites large and small. The goal of a generous life is to avoid the parasites and aid those who can transform your small gift into something life changing.

There are many lessons to be learned from the video below. The most important is not that if you help others eventually they will return the favor. The most important lesson to learn from this video is that you and you alone have the power to make the world a better place. Stop depending on governments and international charities. It's your little corner of the world! Start taking better care of it, especially if no one steps up to help you





September 01, 2013

More evidence Syrian rebels caused Sarin gas attack


"They didn't tell us what these arms were or how to use them," complained a female fighter named 'K.' "We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons."

According to an article at Global Research News written by Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh, there was no "chemical attack". Poorly trained rebel fighters supported by Saudi Prince Bandar Bin Sultan were given chemical weapons by the Saudi prince. Since they were not properly trained, they mishandled the weapons, causing them to explode. This report also favors the lower casualty figure of 355 dead (originally reported by Doctors Without Borders) rather than the highly inflated figures of 1200 and 1300 that are unsourced and yet so often quoted by the world's press. Additionally, Fars News Agency is now reporting that Russia believes the Saudis supplied these chemical weapons to the rebels and have promised to retaliate against Saudi Arabia if the United States takes military action against the Assad regime.

All of the most reliable sources seem to agree, the chemical weapons "attack" killed 355 people, including many women and children. Most of those killed are reported to be innocent civilians who lived in the area where this chemical discharge took place. The gas released into the neighborhood was Sarin gas, that has been confirmed, but the exact nature of the delivery system has not. Until the delivery system is also confirmed, it is impossible to pinpoint who released the gas. Most of the mainstream media reports include the tidbit that Assad's forces bombarded the area where the gas was released "to cover the evidence of their attack". If, in fact, the gas was released from weapons controlled by the rebels, then the Syrian attack takes on an entirely new meaning. Now, rather than attempting to destroy evidence, they are attacking a known rebel stronghold revealed by the accidental release of chemical weapons.

Do not assume that the regime is innocent in all of this. Tens of thousands of non-combatants have died in carpet bombing and arbitrary shelling of neighborhoods outside rebel control. The "crack-down" by the Assad regime is nearly genocidal in its wide-ranging, arbitrary, and deadly reach. Millions have fled the fighting and are now living in refugee camps in Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan. According to Sky News and based on an interview with Secretary of State John Kerry, the Assad regime has been planning to make such an attack for a very long time and 1,429 were killed in the attack. Now it is entirely possible that there were multiple releases of chemical weapons in a couple of days. It is entirely possible that the rebels mishandled some weapons, resulting in the death of 355, and in response or coincidentally at the same time, the Assad regime launched a chemical attack on the same neighborhood, resulting in the additional deaths. If so, then the artillery that followed the Assad regime use of chemical weapons would have been intended to either block the escape of people fleeing the chemical weapons or to herd them toward the chemical weapons.

It strikes me that the single most important lesson to take away from the events of August 21st is that there are no good guys in the Syrian civil war. The regime is sadistic and tyrannical. The rebels are sadistic and fanatic. What we have in Syria is two brutal forces in opposition. Neither side in this conflict is morally justified in the brutality of their tactics and the sadistic manner in which they are waging this war. The tragedy and mayhem this war has inflicted on the people of Syria is truly heartbreaking. The fallacy of Samantha Powers' "Responsibility to Protect" mandate is the assumption that one side or the other simply must be innocent victims and the world simply must step in to defend the innocent party from the evil doers. In the real world, war never has "good guys" and "bad guys". Not even World War Two where the Allied powers are so often written up as "good" while the Axis powers are so often written up as "evil" was not so purely cut and dried as the history books like to present. Wars are fought between two competing interests who have failed to negotiate an equitable settlement to their differences. Those competing interests are very real to both sides, and vitally important to their survival. When faced with complete destruction, people will always respond with a violent attempt to destroy their enemy before they themselves are destroyed. War is a no-compromise fight to the death between two groups who cannot conceive of surviving until they eliminate the opposition.

Stepping into a civil war is never a good idea. Stepping into a civil war between two groups who both hate you is suicide. The worst idea of all is to step into a civil war where both sides hate you in support of the side that is opposed to a third country that has spent decades waiting for an excuse to attack you. That is the scenario we have in Syria. Russia has been seeking some reason to destroy the United States ever since the division of Europe and Korea at the end of World War Two. In Syria, Russia has decided that the evil of Assad is less disagreeable than the evil of the rebels, so they are backing Assad. Russia has said repeatedly that if the United States enters this conflict in support of the rebels then Russia will attack the United States and her friends in the region. Both Saudi Arabia and Israel are targets that either Russia or her proxy Iran have declared will suffer retribution for any American involvement in Syria. This means that any attack on Assad's regime as a result of the August 21st chemical weapon release will become the opening shots in World War Three.

Russia would be a powerful enemy in the best of times. Any war fought between the United States and Russia at any time over the past century would have resulted in millions of deaths among both soldiers and civilians, possibly tens of millions. These are not the best of times. Barack Obama has shown himself to be delusional, incompetent, and blissfully unaware of the consequences of his decisions. These are the worst possible qualities to have in a Commander in Chief in wartime. Such commanders routinely throw away countless lives in unnecessary actions that have no genuine strategic value. Even worse, our military is coming out of a decade of warfare in the Middle East. While this means we have experienced fighters with firsthand experience in the region, it also means our stores of ammunition, replacement parts, fuels, foods, and even uniforms have been badly depleted. Another war in this region will stretch our logistics to the breaking point. The only reason we were able to carry on war in Iraq for so long is that our supply lines into the country were not subject to piracy or interruption by enemy forces. In a war with Russia our supply lines into the region will suffer as badly as our front line combat troops. Naval battles the like of which have not been seen since World War Two will become daily events as Russian submarines and destroyers lay waste to American and allied merchant marines. Food, ammunition, even clean water, will become scarce commodities and those shortages will generate as many casualties as combat does. Since the Russian supply lines will be overland along one of the oldest trade routes in the world, Russian forces will not suffer the same deprivations as American forces do.

As the Japanese and Germans learned so very well in World War Two, winning a war takes more than morale and "fighting spirit". Winning a modern war requires solid supply lines, mass production, and clear objectives. Any military attack on Syria will bring us into a war with a global theater that cripples our supply lines. Our mass production industrial base is now mostly in China, Mexico, South America, Southeast Asia, India, and Pakistan. Check the tags on your clothes and towels, the labels on your potato chips and fresh tomatoes. Nothing made outside the United States will be available once Russia sinks a few American ships and sends her tanks driving south through Turkey. We are no longer the industrial giant that won World War Two. Our current president is a joke who acts like a rock star and spends more time on vacation in a single year than all the vacations taken by every president since Clinton all rolled together. This is the worst possible time to be putting ourselves into a situation where we tempt Russia to act on her decades old dream: the total destruction of the United States of America.

Global Research News: Syrians in Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack
Mint Press News: Syrians in Ghouta Say Saudi-Supplied Rebels Were Behind Chemical Weapons Release
Fars News Agency: Saudis on Full Alert After Putin Threatens Retaliation
Washington Post: Nine Questions the Administration is too Embarrassed to Ask
AP Sources: Intel on Syrian chemical attack is not a "slam dunk"
CBC News: Doctors Without Borders reports 355 killed by chemical weapons in Syria
Sky News: US says Syrian Regime Planned Attack for Days





August 30, 2013

Russia prepares to respond to American intervention


As I pointed out yesterday, the real problem with American intervention in Syria, regardless of the form it takes, is that it will not stop in Syria. Vladimir Putin was the head of the KGB during the Lebanese civil war. He directly oversaw the brutal, sadistic treatment of local militias that allowed the Russian contingent to enjoy drinks and local delicacies while everyone else scrambled to stay alive and the United States lost an entire barracks full of Marines. Putin is old school. He is the master of both the friendly, grandfatherly public image and the silent knife in the back on a dark night. He hates the United States with a passion that approaches and possibly surpasses the hatred driving radical Islam. Right now he sees America as being weakened from insane debt, the recent end of a protracted war, and an incompetent presidency. Vladimir Putin would love to be given UN sanction to strike the United States and deliver a death blow. With the defeat in the UK parliament of the option for the UK to support American military intervention in Syria, the very last genuine ally has been removed from the international support network that has kept the United at the forefront of diplomacy since the end of World War Two. The "American era" is now over.

It did not have to be this way. Either John McCain or Mitt Romney could have stopped the slide into irrelevancy, although I doubt either of them could have reversed it. If Sarah Palin had not been viciously turned on and attacked by the RNC after being chosen as McCain's running mate, then it is entirely possible her reformist bend would have been just the tonic needed to take over after McCain or Romney and revitalize the United States both domestically and abroad. But it's no use crying over spilt milk. Barack Obama and his delusional staff have killed us as surely as a bullet to the head.

This is what I see happening, and I pray that I am wrong. Sometime next month Barack Obama, may he burn in hell forever, will authorize a "limited" strike on pointless targets in Syria. Probably a couple cruise missiles dropped on one of Assad's residences, an empty one. Russia will go before the UN Security Council demanding a reprimand against the "US aggression". Backed by China and with the UK abstaining, the Security Council will issue the reprimand. The Russian ships that are being moved into the Mediterranean will attack the American fleet there and the Americans will respond. It does not matter who wins this engagement. Win or lose, the Russian military will drive south through Georgia and by mid-November will be in the Golan Heights where they will be welcomed by Hezbollah with open arms. Assad's regime and the Free Syrian Army will both be destroyed by the Russians and a Hezbollah puppet placed in charge. At that point China will throw her public support behind the Russians and begin providing logistic support to the Russian military.

Is this Armageddon? Will this be the war described in Ezekiel 38 and 39? I don't know. I do know it will share many similarities with the prophesied conflict, similarities that were considered impossible to even imagine when I first began studying Biblical Prophecy back in 1978. It will be a vicious, bloody conflict that will quickly spread throughout the Middle East with devastating effect on the global economy. Chaos, economic collapse, food riots, all of those things people have been talking about for the past decade while more "rational" people dismiss them as a lunatic fringe are all things that might become commonplace two or three years from now. If you have not spent the past few years preparing for this chaos, it's too late to start now.

I doubt this is the "end of the world". I am certain it is the end of the world as I know it. For all the changes the past decade have wrought, the next decade will be even worse. Everything is about to change. Most of the process that will take us into whatever this new world order becomes will be violent.

BBC: Russia and China step up warnings over Syria
The Telegraph: Russia and China warn Syrian intervention will bring "consequences"
USA Today: Iran threatens payback, Russia deploys ships
RT: Russia, China, urge restraint
Al Arabiya: Damascenes prepare for "Western Aggression"





August 29, 2013

Syria, nightmare in the making


If you've been paying any attention to the news at all then you know President Obama and his circle of radical advisers are contemplating going to war in Syria. The one question they have left unanswered is how deeply into the human and political quagmire that is Syria they plan to take us. Publicly they are claiming that this attack is in response to the use of chemical weapons against civilians by the Assad regime. Covertly they have been channeling weapons, ammunition, and other logistic needs through Libyan and Cypriot seaports into the hands of the Syrian opposition for at least the past year, and possibly the past three or four years. It is also well-established that at least some elements of that opposition are affiliated with Al Qaeda, the terrorist group responsible for 9/11 and other atrocities. There is a video circulating showing the general in charge of the opposition eating the heart and liver from a dead Syrian army soldier. So, chemical weapons aside, if we go into Syria on behalf of Assad then we are backing one of the most despicable and oppressive regimes the Middle East has ever given birth to. On the other hand, if we go into this conflict in support of the rebels, even to the "limited" extent we already have, then we are backing the very people who killed nearly three thousand innocent people on September 11, 2001. As if all of this were not bad enough, Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, has promised "grave consequences" if the United States enters Syria in support of the opposition.

The gas reportedly used in Syria was Sarin Gas. This was the same gas used in Japan in two separate incidents by the Aum Shinrikyo, the most important of which was the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo Subway system in 1995. The thing about Sarin gas that nobody is mentioning is that it is the easiest of all nerve agents to create and deploy. Although the actual procedure is a bit more complex, one quick example is mixing together ammonia and bleach and attempting to use the resultant mixture as a cleaning agent. When ammonia and chlorine are blended, even in tiny ammounts of a few drops, they immediately combine and put off a dirty, simple form of Sarin gas. This is extremely dangerous, even in quantities of a few drops. That is why every cleaning agent sold in every modern country contains a warning label about not mixing cleaning agents together. Some of those agents are chlorine based while some of them are ammonia based. The danger of accidentally creating a toxic cloud of Sarin gas by mixing two random cleaners together is extremely high. This is important because if the gas deployed in Syria was in fact, Sarin gas, then it could have been mixed together and deployed by almost anyone on the battlefield! I would assume that if the Syrian government had access to chemical weapons, those weapons would not be based on Sarin gas. As deadly as Sarin gas is, it pales in comparison with VX, VG, or any of the dozens of more modern, more highly refined chemical weapons. So when reports begin circulating that the rebels deployed Sarin gas and not the government, I am inclined to believe them.

In Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 the prophet Ezekiel describes a great war. In this war, a land called, "Magog" led by a prince called, "Gog", sweeps down from the north and decimates an area stretching from the Caucasus Mountains to the Golan Heights, stopping only when it reaches the northern border of the Kingdom of Israel. Most Biblical commentators, but not all, feel that the war described in these two chapters takes place in the last days. It may even be that the war described in Revelation 16:16 and Revelation 19:11-21 is the same as the war described in Ezekiel 38-39. If so, then "Magog" could be Russia, Syria, Iran, or the three of them together in a most unusual and unexpected alliance.

When all of this comes together, Putin's support for Assad, Obama's support for the rebels, Iran's support for Hezbollah, and chemical weapons in a volatile civil war, we have the makings of the essential precursor for the fulfillment of both the War of Magog and the War of Armageddon. Commentators around the world are on the edge of their seats wondering if Obama's clumsy mishandling of the past two years of Middle Eastern turmoil combined with his promise to respond militarily to use of chemical weapons in Syria has brought us once again to the brink of a world war. After all, for fast moving armor and other modern military equipment, Moscow to Tel Aviv is a straight shot downhill through half a dozen fairly weak and unstable countries. Remember when Russian tanks entered Georgia a few years back? Remember all the silly diplomatic maneuvers that followed? The denials and false reports and whatnot? There is a reason the whole world got involved in what should have been an isolated, local incident. The geography from the Russian-Georgian border south all the way to Cairo is one great downhill highway that was, and still is, a highly convenient trade route. Trade has flowed north and south along this route for at least three thousand years, and possibly five thousand years. A modern army of sufficient numbers and backed by sufficient air support could breeze from the Caucasus Mountains to Cairo in a matter of a few weeks, a month at most. If, for some bizarre reason, China and Russia joined forces during a time when the United States was badly weakened and Israel had just finished fighting a large aggression by her neighbors, there would be nothing to prevent their alliance from capturing most of the oil fields in the Middle East along with the world's busiest, most profitable overland trade route.

This is why I go silent in shock when the evening news reports that chemical weapons using a nerve agent that can be mixed up in a kitchen sink has been deployed in a civil war with the potential to spark a global conflict. There are at least three powerful nations that would profit greatly from the already weakened United States getting hip deep in a drawn-out conflict, especially if that conflict could be used to draw in Israel and weaken her as well. Two or three years of violent, devastating, expensive military conflict in Syria would help Russia or China or even Iran by moving them one giant step closer to their economic, political, and ideological goals. By deploying the United States military into Syria at this particular point in history, even just by launching a few dozen cruise missiles, President Obama will set the stage for a direct confrontation with Russia. Such a confrontation would give Russia the excuse she needs to launch a massive southward invasion through Georgia, across Turkey, and into Syria. Once they are in Syria, the only thing stopping them from spreading throughout the Middle East will be Israel. NATO has become a useless pile of rusted metal hulks and the United States cannot pay for another war, especially not against a nation as powerful as Russia. Even worse, there are so many pro-Palestinian Muslims living in Europe now that any propaganda by Russia positioning herself as the heroes of the oppressed Palestinians would reverberate through Europe in the form of marches, protests, and waves of pro-Palestinian candidates in local elections. China is no friend of Russia, but she is a careful planner with long-term vision. Once Russia is firmly in place in Syria with both Assad and the rebels removed from power, China will jump to the support of Russia to insure access to Middle Eastern oil and African resources. Millions of Chinese will come streaming south on the heels of the Russian military providing both logistical support and active combat support.

American cannot and must not get involved in the Syrian conflict in any way, shape, or form. Not only have we not paid off President Bush's Iraq invasion, President Obama has piled trillions of dollars more on top of that war debt, almost tripling it. If we give Russia the slightest provocation, she will throw everything she has into the Syrian War and there will be no one capable of stopping her. It's bad enough we have thousands of small terrorist cells running around trying to revive their fabled Caliphate. A Russian empire in the Middle East, especially with Chinese backing, would be a nightmare infinitely more horrifying than a simple Islamic Caliphate.





August 13, 2013

Book Review, "Cinnamon and Gunpowder: a novel"


"Cinnamon and Gunpowder: a novel" started off really well. In a daring raid on an island off the coast of England a dashing, redheaded pirate named Hannah Mabbot kills a British noble and kidnaps his cook. The noble, Lord Ramsey, is the main stakeholder in a British trading house called "The Pendleton Company" and the nemesis of "Mad" Hannah Mabbot. This is a fascinating literary device because in a very real sense, this book opens at the end of one story and from that ending, launches into a new one. The story of Mabbot and Ramsey's tumultuous and fiery rivalry serves as a backdrop to the novel, filling in blanks and carrying the main story through passages that would otherwise fall flat. In a very real sense, this book is two stories in one, a dull, rather fanciful Stockholm Syndrome romance where a kidnapped cook gradually falls in love with his pirate captain captor, alongside a blazing Howard Zinnesque reinterpretation of the East India Trading Company's role in the slaves/silver/opium trade triumvirate that eventually resulted in the Opium Wars of 1839 and 1856. Like Zinn's often creative use of "facts", Eli Brown shifts dates and technologies backwards and forwards by decades in order to tell a convincing narrative. Captain Mabbot's main rival on the sea, the Pendleton Company's Captain Larouche, pilots a ship drawn straight from the pages of countless steampunk novels, adding an almost science fiction sub plot that is just as enticing as the main story.

The first two-thirds of the book is wonderful. Judging from the cover and front materials, I expected a quirky pirate tale of culinary delights and swashbuckling hedonism. That is exactly what I got and I was thrilled. At just about the two-thirds point, however, the story takes a dark, social justice turn. As the cook becomes more intimate with his Captain and learns how deep her rivalry with Lord Ramsey really runs, we are taken on a deliberate, anti-capitalist rant of evil corporations exploiting the world's poor for power and profit. This rant sets up the justification for the explosive climax and bucolic, ironic ending that has the cook owning a tavern on Martha's Vineyard where he spends as much collecting myths of "Mad" Hannah Mabbot as he does preparing culinary delights for common sailors.





August 08, 2013

As firearms ownership skyrockets, firearms related violence plummets


The National Shooting Sports Foundation recently published a fascinating infographic that was picked up and reported on by The Blaze. I learned about it in a Facebook post by Gun Owners of America. As almost everyone on both sides of the gun control debate acknowledges, firearms sales have been steadily climbing since 1991, were given a big boost by the attack on the World Trade Tower on 9/11, and the largest boost in the history of America by the election and then re-election of Barack Obama. The reasons behind this massive increase in both firearms purchases and participation in firearms training programs has been hotly debated for over a decade. Those who favor stronger gun control up to and including a repeal of the Second Amendment are fond of claiming loudly and often that the surge of interest in firearms is being driven by a combination of paranoia and racism being experienced by a small percentage of the population who they like to refer to as "religious gun-nuts and fringe militia members". The Southern Poverty Law Center likes to bolster this claim with voluminous reports based on speculation, distorted facts, and even fantasy statistics that despite being repeatedly debunked the gun control lobby depends on completely for their own "research".

There is a link to the article at The Blaze below, but I would like to highlight one important fact that both surprised and pleased me immensely. Unintentional firearms related fatalities, the "dead children" boogeyman the gun control crowd loves to claim they are protecting and fighting for, have dropped more than 50% since 1991, and a whopping 81% since 1930. Better training, more widespread availability of training, simplification of the training paradigm by men such as Jeff Cooper working hand in hand with the ever present, constantly vigilant National Rifle Association have bequeathed to you and I a stronger, safer, better prepared American gun owner than at any point in our history. We stand on the shoulders of tireless giants who dedicated their lives to insuring that tyrants and tyrant wannabes would not destroy the foundation of freedom laid down by our nation's founders.

Now it is time for you to do your part. Arm yourself with the best weapon you can buy, equip yourself with the best training you can afford, then find a firearms advocacy group you can believe in and donate to them regularly. It is only by working together that we can both continue this great tradition, preserve our freedoms, and pass on to future generations of free Americans the promise left to us by tireless revolutionaries like Benjamin Franklin who wrote in his memoirs:

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Let me close with one last thought that applies not only to firearms, but to every aspect of life: It does not matter what you want to believe because in the end, the only thing that truly matters is facts.

The Blaze: New Infographic Seemingly Debunks One of the Most Crucial Anti-gun Claims





July 16, 2013

A firearm is a tool, not a talisman


I was intending to head for bed, but I was troubled that the only news I'd been watching was national news. The Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case leads the board at every national news site today, and I was getting kind of tired of reading about it. There were mentions, almost as sidenotes, of riots in Los Angeles, so I went to the LA Times website to see what was going on. Well, I found something that seemed to me far more important than Trayvon Martin's death and George Zimmerman's acquittal. One of the LA Times columnists experienced a moment of fear when home alone one night so she had wondered if she needed a gun:

LA Times: Will a gun protect a single woman frightened by a bump in the night?

Ms. Banks has approached the question from a perspective that has little to do with the reality of firearms ownership and even less to do with the reality of her situation as a single woman living alone. She wants to feel safe. Not a bad thing, to be sure, but she does not want to take the steps to become genuinely safe. She is looking for a magic talisman of some kind, a single item that when he takes it into her hand will suddenly grant her feelings of invulnerability and power. A firearm is not a magic talisman.

To feel safe a person needs to feel confident that they can come out of a dangerous situation alive. That kind of confidence does not come from owning a firearm, swinging a baseball bat, or marrying a cop. That kind of confidence can only be achieved through study, practice, and discipline. To feel safe you must learn to be safe. To learn to be safe you must give up a few nights on the town, some dates with your favorite lover, and for a short while you must also forgo your favorite television programs or video games. To become confident in your ability to survive you must spend time studying how to survive. Reading books about how other people survive is a very simple, basic starting point. The one lesson you should take away from reading those books is that every survivor becomes a survivor because they possess a very specific skillset and that skillset is backed up by a very particular mindset. You won't achieve either the mindset or the skillset by reading books about survivors.

Survival skills come in a few small, critical sets: keeping warm, keeping fed, keeping hydrated, avoiding hazards. There are many places where you can learn these skills. You can join the local Army or Marine Reserve. They will send you to boot camp and then you will go on regular exercises with your local unit. People who approach these exercises as genuine opportunities to learn and practice new skills will derive a great deal of confidence from participation in these events. People who approach these events as opportunities to dress up, drink, and socialize will derive nothing from these events. If you go this route you will spend as much time fighting peer pressure from the party group as you will learning new skills. Nonetheless, if you can resist that peer pressure there is a world of skills you can spend time mastering, real skills that will greatly enhance both your ability to survive a dangerous situation and your confidence in that ability.

There are hundreds of survivalist schools in America. Open up a web browser, go to your favorite search engine, and type in "survival schools near MYTOWN", with whatever the name of your current town or city of residence is in place of "MYTOWN". Some of these schools will be very expensive, some will be inexpensive, a few might even be free. Most of them will offer a variety of weekend courses and short (5-10 day) courses. Pick a simple course like, "edible wild foods" and take that course at several of the schools near you. This will give you a feel for how each school is organized, what kind of people the instructors are, and how serious they are about teaching real skills. Once you find a survival school you like, take every course they offer.

Martial arts are also a wonderful method for developing both confidence and a real-world skillset that will help you survive a dangerous encounter. Every major city in America, and most of the smaller towns, have martial arts instructors who hold weekly classes in their art. It does not matter which martial art you study. Pick an instructor who is convenient for you to see on a weekly basis and devote yourself to learning that art, no matter what it is. Every martial art has both strengths and weaknesses and the only way to overcome the weaknesses is to spend your life studying every martial art under the sun and then combining the different schools to create your own. While that is a good and worthy goal, it's also a real burden for someone who only needs enough skills to both be able to survive and to feel confident that they can survive. So pick one martial art that is convenient to get to on a weekly basis and stick with it.

Do you see what I'm saying here? I mean, do you really understand it? Confidence only comes through achievement and achievement only comes through dedication. You can be a survivor or you can be a victim, the choice is yours. You are the only limit in your own ability to walk away from confrontations like the one that dark rainy night in Sanford, Florida that ended up with a young man dead from a gunshot wound. In the end, surviving such an encounter is the only thing that really matters. If Trayvon Martin had survived, then the entire debacle and three-ring circus of the trial and verdict would never have happened. Trayvon Martin did not die because he was a black kid in white neighborhood. Trayvon Martin died because he was not as well prepared as George Zimmerman. If Trayvon Martin had been truly focused on survival and not on proving himself better than the "creepy-ass cracker" following him around, he never would have attacked George Zimmerman and never would have been shot. Trayvon Martin had the wrong mindset. Like Sandy Banks, Trayvon Martin had a magical belief in talismans. In Trayvon's case, those talismans were his fists. It amounts to the same kind of thinking, and yes, if you go into a dangerous situation believing in the power of talismans and feeling invulnerable because you possess those talismans, then you will not survive. Survival is not dependent on magical talismans. Survival is dependent on skilled use of survival tools. Skills, and the mindset to properly use those skills, is the key to surviving and to feeling confident in your ability to survive. Your hands can be survival tools, but only after you train your mind, and that training comes from studying survival.

Like a knife, a can of pepper spray, a baseball bat, or a concrete sidewalk, a firearm is a tool. To use this tool effectively you must develop the proper skills. You develop those skills through training and practice. The problem with Sandy Banks walking into a gun store and buying a gun is not the gun itself, but how she perceives the gun. As long as she sees the gun as a magic talisman able to grant her power, invulnerability, and confidence, then the firearm is more of a danger to her than to anyone she encounters. The first step she needs to take is mastering the skills related to firearms. She can do this by locating a firearms instructor. She lives in Los Angeles and in Los Angeles there are thousands of NRA-certified firearms instructors. She needs to search her phone book, the internet, or the NRA website to locate instructors near her and then to take lessons from them. Once she understands firearm safety, firearms use, and the relationship between a firearm and self-defense, then she will have the confidence she is seeking. It will only be after learning how to use a firearm safely and effectively that she will truly gain the safe feeling she desires.

The best approach to gaining that confidence, and from that confidence to begin feeling safe, is to do as many things from this list as you can manage. When studied together, survival skills, martial arts, and firearms skills, will change the way you see the world. Surprisingly, the greatest skill you will acquire is not finding food in a forest, dispatching a mugger with a few kicks, or shooting a potential rapist. The most important skill you will learn is the mindset of a survivor. You will learn how to see trouble before it reaches you and to take steps to avoid that trouble long before you bring any of those other skills into play. If George Zimmerman had been better trained, Trayvon Martin never would have gotten close enough to land the punch that started the fight that ended in his death. If Trayvon Martin had been better trained he never would have thrown that punch to begin with. Neither man was prepared for a genuinely dangerous encounter on a dark rainy night. If either man had been better prepared, the entire incident could have avoided altogether. The key to survival is awareness and that awareness is the product of training.

So if you don't want to wind up dying like Trayvon Martin or carrying a lifetime of guilt like George Zimmerman, go find some place to learn good survival skills. Gaining those skills will bring you both the confidence to survive and the wisdom to avoid trouble in the first place.



July 14, 2013

Why is Trayvon Martin dead?


Trayvon Martin is dead because he attacked George Zimmerman. Period.

The death of anyone in the prime of life is a terrible tragedy. It does not matter if they die as a victim of a crime, from a terrible disease, in combat, or from their own stupidity, the death of a person in the prime of life is always a tragic event that traumatizes everyone who knows them. Even though I never personally knew anyone related to the Martin/Zimmerman incident, I feel a deep sympathy for everyone involved. This was a terrible, preventable tragedy. However, it was not a crime.

As I brought out back in March (Martin, Zimmerman, Gun Control, and the Popular Imagination), this incident was a violent confrontation in the dead of night between two grown men. Calling Trayvon Martin a "child" is deceptive and intentionally misleading. Trayvon Martin was an athletic seventeen year-old. He was a young man in the prime of life. He was not a child. By the same token, George Zimmerman did not escalate the confrontation simply by leaving his truck against the advice of the 911 operator. The point of escalation occurred when Trayvon Martin punched George Zimmerman in the nose. From that point on it was inevitable that one of the two was either going to wind up dead or hospitalized. Because he had a firearm and was able to bring it into play, George Zimmerman walked away and Trayvon Martin wound up dead. It really is that simple.

If we are going to avoid this kind of tragedy in the future than we must face the facts and from the facts derive a realistic lesson. Romanticizing this incident in terms of race, gun control, or civil rights inflates emotions and blinds us to the facts, making it impossible to derive a realistic lesson. As a gun owner, a CCW licensee, and a grown man who carries a gun everywhere the law allows it, I have a lesson to draw from this incident. Young men pumped up on adolescent hormones and looking to find some way to prove themselves to the world at large have a different lesson to draw from this incident. In my case, the lesson is twofold: avoiding confrontation is the first rule of self-defense and when that fails always seek some way to de-escalate a situation before it turns violent. In the case of young men everywhere, the lesson they should be drawing from this incident is do not choose violence when confronted by strangers in the night.

There are really only two ways this incident could have been avoided: George Zimmerman could have stayed in his truck or Trayvon Martin could have walked away from the confrontation when it finally took place. If either man had sought to avoid confrontation the incident would never have taken place. Both men chose to seek out this confrontation and when it finally happened, one of those men chose to respond violently forcing the other to defend himself.

Trayvon Martin is dead because he punched George Zimmerman in the face. When George Zimmerman fell to the ground, he jumped on top of him and began beating him. In the course of that beating he slammed George Zimmerman's head against the ground. As it happened, Zimmerman had fallen in such a way that his head was over a concrete walkway. That concrete walkway became Trayvon Martin's deadly weapon. Either because Martin reached for Zimmerman's firearm or because Zimmerman felt his life was in danger, George Zimmerman then drew his firearm and shot Trayvon Martin. The point of no return came when Trayvon Martin punched George Zimmerman in the face. If anyone is to blame for this tragedy it is the victim, Trayvon Martin. He was the first one to choose violence and he was the first to introduce a deadly weapon. That does not lessen the tragedy, not by a long shot, but if we are to draw realistic lessons from this tragedy then we must face the truth of this tragedy.

This incident was not about racial profiling. Even though both men resorted to bigotry and made false assumptions based on race, that bigotry did not make violence inevitable. Those false assumptions did not cause Trayvon Martin's death. This incident became tragic the moment Trayvon Martin punched George Zimmerman in the nose. I am repeating this over and over again because I cannot emphasize it enough. Of all the many errors that took place in this horrible comedy of errors, that is the one point where a fatal choice was made. George Zimmerman's response was in defense of his own life. Trayvon Martin was not facing a threat to his person or property. He had no realistic reason to resort to violence. The only threat was in his own mind and instead of taking the time to assess that threat, he immediately chose violence. This mistake made his death inevitable. He could have, and should have, explained himself and then simply walked away.

If Trayvon Martin had simply explained himself and then walked away, George Zimmerman would have had no legal, moral, or ethical justification for continuing his pursuit. Had Trayvon Martin simply chosen to avoid violence he would be alive today and no one outside his family and friends would have ever known the confrontation took place.



July 13, 2013

I'm still here and not going anywhere


I have not posted anything in awhile, and have posted very little the past couple of months, but I'm not fading into the virtual sunset just yet. I'm not glued to the television news, nor am I following the three ring circus on CSpan. For about a month and a half now I have been doing everything in my power to avoid the daily news as well as the daily news talk shows. I've been practicing a little guitar, working on background material for a novel on medieval Japan, and prepping a couple short stories for January publication on the Amazon Kindle. After two decades wandering through cyberspace, my real life is fulfilling enough I don't make it out here very often.

But don't be thinking I'm gone. I am lurking in the background reminiscing about the fiery old days of Usenet and very much in awe at how far we have come in such a short period of time. I first got involved in Usenet back in the early '90s because I had no outlet for my writing and no network of writers to compare notes with. Now there are hundreds of paying online magazines, the Amazon Kindle, and countless print-on-demand publishing houses eager to accept manuscripts through e-mail or even as instant messenger attachments. The internet truly has become the ultimate tool for global democratization in an oppressive world where for five millennia petty nobles and corrupt dictators have been able to consolidate small regional powerbases and dominate them completely. Not anymore. Now anyone with access to a mobile phone, internet cafe, or local library can scream their message to the entire world. Global freedom of speech has been secured to such an extent that the latest scientific research is just as easy to access as the most puerile hatred imaginable, often in a variety of forms including audio, video, stills, poster art, poetry, and plain old prose.

It is indeed a Brave New World we live in, but neither George Orwell nor David Brin fully comprehended the degree to which instant communications would change our way of life. William Gibson came the closest and even he missed the target by a long shot.

In short, I am still here and will remain here. Other blogs by other bloggers might come and go with the winds of change but I have decided I will keep this one going as long as Blogspot allows it! I am busy preparing a few items for publication and if all goes according to plan, in January I will launch two novels and half a dozen short stories in the Kindle Store. I probably won't be blogging much between now and then, however. This writing stuff is a whole lot harder than it looks!



June 18, 2013

The real story from Syria


Glenn Beck has a video of the Syrian rebel general that Sen. McCain and Pres. Obama are such huge supporters of that they are risking a nuclear confrontation with Russia. In this video this general, who has just received a large shipment of small arms from the United States, delivered in your name and using your money, eats the heart and liver of a fallen Syrian soldier.

I have been telling people for weeks that backing the Syrian rebels is a huge mistake. Here is the graphic proof my instincts were right.

The Blaze: Both parties are leading us into war


June 17, 2013

The real story from Benghazi


This was originally written by a retired Navy Chaplain named Dr. Charles R. Roots.

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The stunning part of this story is that Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty killed 60 of the attacking force. Once the compound was overrun, the attackers were incensed to discover that just two men had inflicted so much death and destruction.

The news has been full of the attacks on our embassies throughout the Muslim world, and in particular, the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others in Benghazi, Libya.

However, there’s a little known story of incredible bravery, heroics, and courage that should be the top story.

So what actually happened at the U.S. embassy in Libya? We are learning more about this every day. Ambassador Stevens and Foreign Service officer Sean Smith, along with administrative staff, were working out of temporary quarters due to the fact that in the spring of 2011 during the so-called Arab Spring, the United States cut ties with then president Moammar Gadhafi. Our embassy was looted and ransacked, causing it to be unusable. It is still in a state of disrepair.

Security for embassies and their personnel is to be provided by the host nation. Since Libya has gone through a civil war of sorts in the past 18 months, the current government is very unstable, and therefore, unreliable.

A well-organized attack by radical Muslims was planned specifically targeting the temporary U.S. embassy building. The Libyan security force that was in place to protect our people deserted their post, or joined the attacking force. Either way, our people were in a real fix. And it should be noted that Ambassador Stevens had mentioned on more than one occasion to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, that he was quite concerned for his personal safety and the welfare of his people. It is thought that Ambassador Stevens was on a “hit list.”

A short distance from the American compound, two Americans were sleeping. They were in Libya as independent contractors working an assignment totally unrelated to our embassy. They also happened to be former Navy Seals.

When they heard the noise coming from the attack on our embassy, as you would expect from highly trained warriors, they ran to the fight. Apparently, they had no weapons, but seeing the Libyan guards dropping their guns in their haste in fleeing the scene, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty snatched up several of these discarded weapons and prepared to defend the American compound.

Not knowing exactly what was taking place, the two Seal’s set up a defensive perimeter. Unfortunately Ambassador Stevens was already gravely injured, and Foreign Service officer, Sean Smith, was dead. However, due to their quick action and suppressive fire, twenty administrative personnel in the embassy were able to escape to safety. Eventually, these two courageous men were overwhelmed by the sheer numbers brought against them, an enemy force numbering between 100 to 200 attackers which came in two waves. But the stunning part of the story is that Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty killed 60 of the attacking force. Once the compound was overrun, the attackers were incensed to discover that just two men had inflicted so much death and destruction.

As it became apparent to these selfless heroes, they were definitely going to lose their lives unless some reinforcements showed up in a hurry. As we know now, that was not to be. I’m fairly certain they knew they were going to die in this gun fight, but not before they took a whole lot of bad guys with them!

Consider these tenets of the Navy SEAL Code:

1) Loyalty to Country, Team and Teammate
2) Serve with Honor and Integrity On and Off the Battlefield
3) Ready to Lead, Ready to Follow, Never Quit
4) Take responsibility for your actions and the actions of your teammates
5) Excel as Warriors through Discipline and Innovation
6) Train for War, Fight to Win, Defeat our Nation’s Enemies
7) Earn your Trident every day

Thank you, Tyrone and Glen. To the very last breath, you both lived up to the SEAL Code. You served all of us well. You were courageous in the face of certain death.

And Tyrone, even though you never got to hold your newborn son, he will grow up knowing the character and quality of his father, a man among men who sacrificed himself defending others.

Dr. Charles R. Roots
Senior Pastor
Former Staff Sergeant
USMC Captain
U.S. Navy Chaplain Corps (Ret.)

And Let us never forget the Hillary Clinton Comment: “What difference, at this point, does it make?

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May 24, 2013

The covert war on conservatism


Ever since the news about Benghazi broke I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out how this administration is coordinating its war on American conservatives. Everything that they have done, from Operation Fast and Furious to the current IRS debacle, is perfectly coordinated and timed. It is obvious to anyone with a strategic mind that none of this insanity is random. Someone, somewhere, somehow is carrying out a war on American conservatives and they are using every single branch of the federal government (along with numerous state governments) to conduct this covert war. "Who?" seems perfectly obvious to me. The "who" behind this covert war is Valerie Jarret and her team of radicals. But how are they conducting this wide-ranging and all-encompassing campaign of terror and intimidation while leaving normal channels free of communication evidence? On the surface, no one is guilty of anything and everyone has perfect deniability, frustrating Congressional hearings and investigations at every turn. I have seen many covert campaigns to overthrow a nation in my time and this one is by far the best coordinated of them all, but how are they doing it?

Jeffery Lord at Spectator.org has figured it out. They are conducting this war through the ultimate back channel: government employee unions.

Spectator.og: Obama and the IRS, the smoking gun

Now that we know how they are conducting this war we also know who to target. Conservatives in government employee unions need to be standing up, turning whistleblower, making reports to their congressional representatives, and demanding RICO investigations of union leadership. If this war cannot be stopped while it is covert and cold then someday soon, perhaps only a few months from now, we will find ourselves in the midst of a genuine civil war with millions of small groups in violent opposition to the federal government but none of them knowing who they should be attacking; thus making it extremely simple for the federal government to label them all "terrorists". That will create the perfect scenario for martial law, suspension of the constitution, suspension of national elections, and the imposition of a genuine imperial presidency.

I would very much like to avoid that scenario.