August 28, 2014

"We don't really have a strategy"


Today President Barack Obama made what is perhaps the most revealing statement he has ever made. After listening to the President list up all the people he was dispatching to go have a look at the world's most dangerous hotspots a reporter asked him a simple question, "Mr. President, what is your strategy for dealing with ISIS?"

His response was frightening in the depth of its simplicity, "We don't really have a strategy. First we have to assess the situation and see where our partners in the region stand."

Well, Mr. President, unfortunately for you, unfortunately for all of us, Vladimer Putin has a strategy, ISIS has a strategy, the Chinese have a strategy, and Iran has a strategy. All of the most dangerous powers that be have clearly articulated strategies for expanding their power and influence and pushing the United States off the world stage. If you don't have a strategy and all of them do, then before you leave office at least one of them will achieve their goal and this nation will no longer be a world power.

President Obama doesn't have to DO anything to bring about the end of a half century of the fastest economic growth, the greatest increase in medical coverage, the near elimination of seasonal famine, the eradication of numerous childhood diseases, and the achievement of the longest average lifespans history has ever known. No, in fact, in order to destroy both this nation and the entire modern world completely between now and the time he leaves office there is really only one thing he needs to do: absolutely nothing.

Marxist propaganda aside, the United States has never been an imperial power. Ever since World War Two ended we have been a stabilizing influence and a powerful motivator for growth and prosperity. The past half century has not been utopian, not by any stretch of the imagination. We have, however, arrived at a point in history unlike any that has come before. Starvation is nearly non-existent, the last two widespread childhood diseases are polio and malaria. Despite the rise of AIDS and a dozen or so near pandemics, there has not been a single common plague that struck everyone randomly and arbitrarily with devastatingly fatal results. With rare exceptions, childhood morbidity rates around the world have fallen so drastically that the United States has gone from the lowest to the highest even though the American childhood morbidity rate has remained virtually unchanged since the end of the Great Depression. Swimming pools and car accidents are the two highest killers of children in America; not disease, not starvation, not poor hygiene, not gang violence, not accidental shootings, and not poverty. And the rest of the world is doing even better than we are!

For all the whining and crying of groups like "Occupy Wall Street" and "Native American Rights Fund", the poorest residents inside the United States of America are among the healthiest, best fed, best housed, and most comfortable people in the world. No, they don't live like kings, but even the most impoverished families in America have access to monthly government cash, food, and housing assistance, regardless of their race or ethnicity. People think of welfare recipients as minorities, but in most states the vast majority of multi-generational welfare dependent families are poor whites. Help is there for anyone who needs it, and it is there to such a great extent that American poor have a higher quality of life than working class people in over half the world. It is far better to be unemployed and poor in America than to be a factory worker in China or a construction worker in India.

But all of that is ending. Our enemies have seen the incompetence of our president and they are circling like sharks around a sinking ship. They all have a strategy for either helping the ship to sink, or zooming in and grabbing up what they can when it finally does. They have planned it out, made their preparations, and now they are waiting to strike. ISIS has a strategy for unifying Islamic fascists from around the world and using them to strike at the heart of America. Vladimer Putin has a strategy for chipping off pieces of NATO and using them to rebuild the Warsaw Pact. Iran has a strategy for developing nuclear weapons capable of reaching American forces that might intervene when they finally strike at Israel with the intent of destroying her utterly. China has a strategy for gaining control of the richest natural resources in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Western Pacific and using them to build a communist version of America's post-WW2 political, economic, and military success.

Every major power in the world has a strategy except one: The President of the United States of America. He has no strategy for countering the growing influence of fascist powers around the world. None whatsoever. Instead, he's dispatching John Kerry and half a dozen other advisers to visit our enemies and scold them like rowdy schoolchildren.

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August 29, 2014

I am not the only one who sees clearly what ISIS is trying to do. The folks at the Institute for the Study of War understand what Barack Obama and his staff are trying to keep you and I from knowing: ISIS has far reaching plans and tossing a couple hundred bombs at isolated vehicles here and there is not even slowing them down.

ISW: Offensive in Syria Shows US Airstrikes Have Not Blunted ISIS Momentum

Well, look what I just stumbled across. Even the British understand that without a strategy the fate of the entire globe is doomed.

Mail Online: Obama's "We have no strategy" infuriates DoD



August 25, 2014

Open Letter From a Marine Veteran to ISIS


Nick Powers, a Marine Veteran who spent multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was so inflamed by the video of an ISIS foot soldier beheading the American journalist James Foley that he posted an open letter to them on his Facebook page. Unfortunately, I was not able to dig up the original letter, so I have copied it here from another Facebook post by someone who claims this is the complete version. If it is not complete, or if it has been modified, my apologies to Nick Powers.

__________________________

“As I sit here constantly hearing and watching you execute innocent men, women and children in the Middle East I chuckle. Why do I chuckle you may ask? Well let me explain something to you cowardice fools who think you are so tough behind all your propaganda videos. You are scaring a population that doesn’t know how to fight, you’re bullying the weak. You say Islam is the religion of peace, but since when does terrorizing the innocent and beheading men, women and children constitute peace? WTF?

But keep in mind, what did Saddam’s troops do when we came rolling into town? They surrendered, twice… So all your empty threats of coming to America and raising your flag over the White House amuse me more than any of you sick, sadistic bastards could ever imagine or comprehend. In 2012 there was about 21.2 million veterans in the United States. Do you understand what that means?

Let me break it down for you. That means there are literally millions of disgruntled, dysfunctional, pissed off veterans who have been dealing with years of abuse from their government stabbing them in the backs and having to watch their friends die because you Islamic extremist idiots can’t seem to act like normal human beings and stop terrorism and the violence. It’s one thing to take over an Islamic state, but if my memory serves me correctly, I’m pretty sure we plowed through Fallujah in 4 days. Better yet, it took us about month to control your entire country.

At this point, with 13+ years of war under our belts, how long do you think it would take us to do it all over again? I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on that one. Do you really think you stand a chance on US soil? Do you really think it would be smart to poke that bear? Remember, never bite the hand that feeds you. Remember we are armed to the teeth in the US and I can promise you this… the Geneva Conventions will not apply to you.

You attack us and there will be no mercy. We will bring the righteous hand of God down upon you and crush you. The ball is in your court now ISIS. We are more than ready to arrange your so called “meeting” with your 72 virgins and send you to your “prophet” Mohamed.”

__________________________




August 24, 2014

Sgt. Maj. Dan Page's Presentation to St. Louis Oathkeepers



This speech is being misquoted in every single news outlet known to humanity. A couple of minor comments are being held up as indicating the entire hour-long speech is nothing but a homophobic racist rant. Every single news service is carrying exactly the same story! I don't know about you, but when every single English-language news service in the entire world carries exactly the same story red flags and warning lights go off in every corner of my mind. So I went looking for the "controversial video" itself. Not surprisingly, it was actually quite hard to find. None of the search engines wanted to fetch it regardless of what search terms I used. I finally found it because a gay marriage advocacy blog listed the entire title and I was able to do a YouTube search using the proper title of the video itself. Every other search I attempted deadheaded on thousands of news articles about a homophobic racist officer being suspended from the St. Louis County Police Department.

Now, don't misunderstand me. The comments he made are being accurately quoted. However, those comments constitute barely five minutes of an hour long speech filled with facts, figures, and personal experiences. None of the quoted comments, some of which are indeed quite offensive, are related to the main content of his speech. His main speech is a warning cry about how increased globalization is leading to a unified global government. This warning cry is vital to understand clearly because he is absolutely right. The world is moving to a global control system that will be completely in place some time within the next decade. It is here, it is real, and it is happening right before your eyes.

Some aspects of this global system are going to be very beneficial. It is now possible for writers, musicians, and other creative people to display their works to the entire globe and if they are popular enough, to make a living from those works without going through editorial staffs at giant publishing companies more worried about profit than art. This trend will continue. As better, more effective transportation infrastructure is put into place, blue collar workers, agricultural workers, office workers, skilled laborers and non-skilled laborers will be able to travel anywhere in the globe to seek employment. Improved digital translation services will insure that communication between management and the workforce will remain clear and unimpeded regardless of native languages. Debit cards and improved global banking will allow a worker in one country to deposit their paycheck in a local bank while their family on the opposite side of the globe uses that money to buy groceries and pay bills. All of this is real and is happening and within the next decade billions of people will benefit from it.

Economic globalization will make it impossible for the world to continue functioning as a divided bubbling cauldron of competing national interests. Over the past thirty years cracks have widened in the international treaty system that ties the world together and terrorism is one result of these widening cracks. The drug cartels and terror networks live in the inequities built into the international legal system and in order for those inequities to be addressed and international crime to be brought under control the world will need a global political and legal system. It is inevitable. So you might as well accept the fact that sometime within the next decade you will be paying taxes to a global overlord and answering to a global law enforcement system. You will find yourself voting for global politicians, buying daily necessities in global markets, and sending your kids to schools that focus on global issues.

The only question that remains to be answered is what kind of system this global government will have. Our world is filled to overflowing with petty dictators and local tyrants. Ancient royal families in Europe and the Middle East are working every single day to insure their privileges and position will be preserved in the soon to arrive global government. Multigenerational noble families with wealth and resources stretching back through the millennia are allied with the royals because they are likewise determined to see this new world order honors and preserves their wealth. If the world's aristocratic families have their way then the new world government will be some form of dedicated monarchism that preserves the status and political power of their descendants. This is a survival strategy that they know they must employ if their children are to enjoy the same level of elitism that they inherited from their ancestors. It should not surprise any of us that the wealthiest people on earth would very much like to remain the wealthiest people on earth once the final nail has been driven home and the new world order opens for business.

This inevitability brings with it enormous challenges and even greater dangers. All of those petty dictators and local tyrants seeking to preserve their powerbase would greatly prefer to gain more peasants to oppress rather than losing the ones they have. Noble families whose wealth is based on land or natural resources would much rather gain control of even more wealth and resources than surrender the ones they have. Whenever conflict over power, wealth, or resources happens, there is often massive bloodshed. War is coming. A great, global conflagration that will make World Wars One and Two look like local garden parties. Alliances are being formed, battle lines are being drawn, weapons and materials are being amassed. Here in America, where the past decade has seen an explosion in private ownership of firearms and ammunition, the Doomsday Prepper movement has become so widespread that everyone in America is either preparing for the end of the world, has a friend preparing for the end of the world, or knows a family member who is preparing for the end of the world. Sometime within the next decade we are all going to find out whether those preparations were truly necessary and how well they work.

Our world hovers on the edge of a precipice. This precipice will collapse sometime within the next decade. We might fall into a better world or we might fall into a bloody global war that pits neighbor against neighbor and children against their parents. Sargent Major Dan Page is right about one thing: change is coming and the nature of that change depends on each of us individually. Your choices, not the choices of some scion of an ancient nobility, will determine how the change unfolds. The depth of your emotional and material preparation will determine the survival and future status of yourself and your family. You don't have to build an underground shelter and stockpile twenty years of dried food, but you do need to recognize that change is coming hard and fast and for better or worse you will be swept up in it.

Choose well and choose wisely, your life and your descendants depend on the choices you make over the next ten years. Where you buy your daily groceries, what books you read, and who you depend on for information are all going to have a major impact on you as an individual and on the world as a whole. I'm not saying you have to like it, nor am I saying you have to support it. I'm only saying it is coming and there is no way to avoid it so you might as well do everything in your power to make sure your contribution to this movement has a real impact on the nature of the final new world order.

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(Update: October 21, 2016)

Somewhere along the line the video was banned from YouTube. I don't know when or why. To be completely honest, I don't even remember what his presentation was about.



August 18, 2014

Seven Billion Petty Gods


There are many things wrong with the world right now. Ferguson is burning, Northern Iraq is ablaze, Eastern Ukraine is boiling over, and (at least according to some) greedy evil bankers are destroying the music industry. Greed has even invaded the local grocery store. Myself, being married as I am to a woman who has been in the financial industry her entire life, working her way up from part-time clerk to COO of Equity, I tend to have a different view of all these things. Although there are as many greedy people in finance as there are in any other industry, blaming wars and local bankruptcies on corporate greed is about as helpful as blaming global warming on American coal-fired power plants, which is to say, not helpful at all.

Our world is a very complex place. There are about seven billion people in the world today. Seven billion hungry, ambitious people desperate to improve their economic standing, live comfortably, and die with dignity. To blame the entirety of the world's problems on any one group, class, nationality, religion, or other arbitrary group is not only futile, it is dangerously misleading. The problem is not evil bankers, the Illuminati, or a cabal of ancient royal families. Regardless of whether or not any one of these groups is real, every group you can possibly imagine into existence will have both a collective goal and a collection of individual goals. The real source of conflict in the modern world is not interracial, intercultural, or international. The only true source of conflict in today's world is interpersonal relationships. Everything that creates conflict (wars, economic collapse, terrorism, crime) reflects individuals who have banded together because they believe they share a common grievance and the only way to resolve that grievance is to destroy whatever it is they perceive is oppressing them. Here's the punchline: no one alive can oppress you, you can only oppress yourself!

Every single day you make choices. Those choices spiral out from you like ripples on a pond left by a thrown stone. Some people are helped by your choices and some people are hurt by them. You cannot make any choice on any issue without having this impact. If you choose to eat Vegan, shepherds and ranchers around the world feel a pinprick of pain. If enough people choose to eat Vegan, that pain becomes intolerable. And the reverse is also true. If you love a thick steak with a side of fries then ranchers from America to Chile feel a tiny thrill. If enough people choose prime rib and a mashed potato, ranchers all over the world begin to see improvements in every aspect of their lives. Every choice you make is going to have a global impact. Our world is so tightly bound together that when Chinese consumers choose coffee over tea Brazil gets an economic explosion while Sri Lanka suffers another famine. Our individual lives have become completely tangled up with the life of everyone on the planet, all seven billion of them. We have become a world of seven billion petty gods all clamoring for our own temples and churches filled with worshipers.

Starting sometime during the weeks and months immediately following the brutal, bloody Munich Olympic massacre of 1972, our world shifted from a collection of squabbling nations into a globe of squabbling individuals. It is impossible to pin down a precise date for just when this occurred. All I can say for certain is that I watched the change take place with my own eyes. Prior to the Munich massacre the evening news was something Dad watched while everyone else waited patiently for the good stuff to start. After the Munich massacre everyone in the family took an interest in the evening news. Not every night, not even every week, but from that point on mothers meeting at fences between adjoining yards became more concerned with world events than they were with who was sleeping with whose spouse and who the milkman spent extra time delivering to. Sunday afternoon gossip shifted from the pastor's rebellious children to the economic fall out from the president's visit to Red China. All of a sudden, for no reason at all, "What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?" shifted from a statement of complete indifference into an economic puzzle that housewives, high school students, and out of work fathers all wanted to solve.

This world we live in now, bound together by instant global communication between individuals through the internet, text messages, and online video chat sessions, is unlike anything anyone foresaw as little as half a century ago. The scale of interpersonal debate has grown from backyard fences to world-spanning teleconferences. If I post something controversial on this blog, people from every country on the planet (including the ones most people claim are still unwired!) jump to my blog and my weekly hits soar from a couple dozen to tens of thousands for at least a day or two. The Ugly Duck, my local watering hole, has become a global oddity with people writing to me from Italy and Greece demanding to know what grounds I have for calling the Ugly Duck's Friday night $10 pizzas the best in the world. When I uploaded a picture of my new 2014 Ford Escape to Twitter, I got email from Russia asking me if I'd like to list it in a Moscow newspaper! If I dare post something criticizing homosexual marriage, I get messages from Arabia praising my moral fortitude and asking how long I've been a practicing Muslim (I'm not, but apparently many people in Saudi Arabia assume only Islam opposes homosexuality).

This is what the true curse and promise of the modern world is. We now have a global voice (Facebook, Twitter), a global music market (iTunes), and a global literary market (Amazon Kindle). Bastions of "traditional" distribution that were considered absolutely essential to life beginning in the latter half of the nineteenth century are now both obsolete and rather useless. If they so desire, anyone on Earth can order Kona Coffee direct from Hawaii and expect it to show up at their front door in as little as 72 hours. Corner stores of all varieties have become obsolete and unnecessary because not only can anyone in America hop into their car, drive to the next town, make a purchase, and be home again in a couple hours, thanks to the internet and services like Amazon Fresh, in some places they don't even have to leave home. Right here in Ohio, Walmart and Buehler's both are eagerly promoting their online ordering. Walmart will deliver either straight to my front door or to the local store while Buehler's will have my groceries sitting in the pick-up lane waiting for me to drive through so the kids working there can load them in my trunk.

This trend is not going to change. It is only going to strengthen and gain speed because consumers in every village with an internet connection are both demanding it and willing to pay for it. The collapsing vitality of local music stores, local grocery stores, and even local gas stations has nothing to do with corporate mergers and highly capitalized investment groups. Those people are simply responding to changes in the habits of consumers and putting their money in places they believe will earn them the best return. If a global venture capitalist invests a few million dollars in a holding company with stock in both Guitar Center and Fender Guitar, it does not give that holding company the power to dictate corporate policy. The only thing it does do is suggest that the venture capitalist who made the investment is looking at the success of Amazon.com and assuming the same principles will work for Guitars, amplifiers, and musical accessories. If the venture capitalist and the holding company have guessed correctly, they will both make more money in the next few years than most of us will see in our entire lives. This does not make them "greedy"! It just makes them savvy consumers. The only difference between the multi-million dollar venture capitalist buying into Weston Presidio and the garage musician buying his guitar at Guitar Center is the scale of their investment, not the nature of it, and certainly not the motivation behind it.

I buy almost all of my musical instruments from Larry's Music Center right here in Wooster, Ohio. There have been many times I could have saved money buying online. Just a week ago, I asked Larry's to order me a ukulele and hard case. I could have ordered the same instrument and the same case from Amazon.com and had it delivered straight to my front door. In fact, if I had done so, I would have saved about $35. I didn't do that. I spent the extra $35 and ordered it from Larry's instead. I enjoy doing business with Larry's. They are good people, friendly, and always eager to answer my stupid questions (I ask a lot of stupid questions). If I have a problem with my ukulele, I just take it back and they'll fix it right there in the shop. Most of the time, I get it back the very same day. For about $20 they'll put a new set of strings on one of my instruments, oil up the wood, and then inspect it for cracks, potential cracks, or other problems. I rely on their expertise, their knowledge, and most of all, their warm-hearted service. Friendly smiles and polite conversation are worth far more to me than the $35 I could have saved by ordering through Amazon.com, let alone some place like Guitar Center.

The real problem behind the collapse of local business is that there are too many individual consumers in the modern world who are cold, callous, indifferent discount shoppers with absolutely no desire to talk face to face with a merchant. This new generation of consumers has lost the ability to enjoy smalltalk, let alone meaningful conversation. By the time they enter high school they are jaded, selfish, self-absorbed, and narcissistic. The main problem with today's world is that when we live among seven billion petty gods, the children of those gods become the worst sort of spoiled little royals the world has ever seen. Instead of a handful of arrogant rich kids bullying the much larger majority of desperately humble peasants, we have a globe filled with arrogant rich bullies picking on a mere handful of desperately humble peasants. Since there aren't enough peasants to go around anymore, they pick on one another. When arrogant rich bullies start picking on one another they duel and when they duel, they duel to the death. So what we really have in our modern marketplace is seven billion rich bullies drawing swords on one another trying to show who the more noble rich kid is!

Yes, dear reader, I am talking about you.



August 12, 2014

Goodbye, Robin Williams


Yesterday evening as I was logging off for the last time my phone beeped. A friend in West Virginia had posted a new Tweet with a link to an LA Times article announcing that Robin Williams had been found dead, apparently a suicide. My first thought was it had to be a hoax of some kind. After all, Robin Williams had already been the target of one internet hoax claiming he was dead. Someone had probably just resurrected the old hoax links and started passing them around again. So I stopped my log off procedure, opened Chrome back up to Google, typed in his name, and searched the news feeds. Hundreds of West Coast newspaper sites were carrying the same story and there was even a link to the official press release by the Marin County Sheriff. This time, it was no hoax.

I was stunned. Now, the next morning, I am still stunned. So many times the funniest, happiest people around us hide the deepest, darkest pain and there is nothing we can do to comfort them. I am 53 years old. I have seen many celebrity deaths. Never once have I felt a personal loss like this. It truly is as sharp and immediate as if I had lost a family member. Robin Williams has been an icon in my universe since I was old enough to realize I, like everyone around me, walked through life in the center of our very own universe of emotion and experience. "Jumanji", "Toys", and "Good Morning, Vietnam", are three of the finest movies Hollywood has ever produced and the key to their success is the energy and power of Robin Williams. Disney's "Aladdin" would not be half the masterpiece it is without Robin Williams as the Genie. Everything he touched became magical. His more serious movies like "The Fisher King", "Good Will Hunting" and "The Dead Poet's Society" became cult classics that shaped the worldview of an entire generation. Robin Williams was the last of the great Hollywood comedians. The only masters he could possibly be compared to equitably would be Lucille Ball and Sammy Davis, Jr. No one measures up to these three. Too much of comedy, both stand up and scripted, is rude, crass, grotesque mockeries of core human values. Robin Williams, Lucille Ball, and Sammy Davis, Jr. stand apart because their comedy did not mock the powers that civilize us. Rather, they reinforced and strengthened them.

People often tell me I have no sense of humor. And, to be honest, they are probably right. Life is a very serious business. Stumbling through life with no foundation and no goals leads directly into the most horrifying and brutal self-destructive behaviors. The only way to leave this world a better place than you found it is to be serious and focused on proactively finding ways to improve it. Yes, stereotypes and oversimplifications are the bane of human existence, but this one remains true: In this life there are only two kinds of people, those who make the world a better place and those who don't. Robin Williams spent his life looking for ways to make the world a better place. He was one of the shining lights that make the world a better place and there is nothing in life more important. Nothing at all.

I have struggled for a way to express my heartbreak at the passing of this great performer. A friend of mine, Sharon Lyn Stackpole, wrote a beautiful eulogy comparing Robins Williams to Joseph Grimaldi (Grimaldi's Tears). I could never write something so concise, so moving, and so complete. Twitter has exploded with outpourings of love and grief using #RIPRobinWilliams. Twitter hashtag responses always range from the bizarre to the inspiring but this time the vast majority are filled with positive responses from every corner of the globe and through every generation alive. True artists, no matter what media they work in, always strive to touch the most fundamental aspects of what it means to be human and through that touch, to bring us together across the barriers of culture, religion, and prejudice. No one in the past century has achieved this as completely as Robin Williams. No one at all.

And so it is, that I can find no more fitting tribute, no more moving analogy, and no better metaphor to encapsulate the power of Robin Williams and the crushing heartbreak of his passing than the one that has lit up every corner of the Twitterverse:

Genie, you're free!