Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Evolution, Religion and Social Change

Well, maybe they're one and the same but this is not about the on-going evolution debate as to who's more right in understanding how life came to be. It's an intriguing question. How in the heaven (or hell) did we get here on this lonely remote galactic outpost called Earth? Many devout Christians, Muslims and Jews feel that only a literal interpretation of Scripture can accurately explain this and they view that scientists and their admirers are sadly mistaken and under the influence of strong delusion from the Dark Side. A fundamentalist sees his or her Scripture as mostly an all-or-nothing package and either one believes in the Word of God or one doesn't. I am however, of the rebellious and heretical, 'I don't believe anything unless you prove it to me' set. Preachers plying there 'get to heaven' wares don't get too far with me and even the ones who show up at my door like the Mormons or the J.W's, after they’ve visited a few time mostly lift up their hands in frustration and leave because I just can't see the obvious truth in what they are saying.

People tend to like simple solutions to hard questions. Unfortunately there are few of them around. As the pace of knowledge inexorably moves into uncharted waters there are few including myself who have the patience to explore all the intricacies of inner-space or outer space for that matter. Better leave that to the experts I say, and watch with wonder the Discovery Channel shows that are so completely fascinating to me. I see the world as a great puzzle which we are frustratingly unable to piece together to into one overarching grand truth. Maybe it's because there's so many in-between truths both within and without the mind's imagination like so many facets of a gemstone, and though we can't pick and take home all the fruits of the tree of life, we can settle on just a few to keep us busy asking questions. One I'd like to pose is this: Can the theory of evolution explain and amplify what we know about humanity from the study of history? We know that evolution is the process in which living things adapt to the needs of their environment, giving rise to gradual genotypic and phenotypic variations, resulting in new species. If we look at human history as a sort of 'evolutionary laboratory' and view the gradual social, religious, economic and political changes that have occurred within civilization's roughly six-thousand year span, (in deference to the biblical literalists, of course), we can compare the state of a society to the causal framework which supports it. Change occurs in dynamic relationship with present and past events and that each change within a society brings about an effect in the overall development of humankind. Each cause and effect occurrence brings about either a successful or an unsuccessful adaptation to the changing conditions at any one particular time and space. The social 'organism' itself does not query each part since the stronger parts rise tend to the top of the order to set the agenda and the weaker parts remain suppressed and the resulting unequal structure provides the upward or downward movement needed to balance stasis with change. Bound by pre-wired heredity, the power of the human brain to change itself is limited and the instinctual drives continue to pulse within and even though the mind has the ability to set the conditions of its environment and create new ways of tweaking it, consciousness is still bound by the innate drive to conquer and subjugate through violence and war. The two mechanisms of religion and law serve as a framework to corral those instincts through higher principles of social good and social order, but even these mechanisms after a time become stale, useless, and oppressive. Because of this I believe that though laws and beliefs are more or less constants in the struggle for the survival of civilizations, there exists unknowns that give rise to changes and adjustments in the order, especially now since scientific knowledge has increased exponentially within just the last few hundred years.

So we can trace this process beginning in Africa to the Near East and the Far East which we refer to as the cradle(s) of civilization through the different 'ages' until the present. Religion has always been 'Advisor to the King', and becomes the spiritual framework for support of the established order. Certain religions have often joined forces with the state in an attempt to create hyper-dominant power centers which claim 'divine' prerogatives, but these attempts tend to give rise to new ideas and social concepts that ultimately subdue those centers. In our times, the concept of a just World-State has emerged but the religious framework to support that state still has not yet been decided upon, the new main contenders being Islam and Judeao-Christianity, both vying for control of the individual and collective minds and natural resources. Religions however, if they become overly dominant will usually suppress scientific discovery that threatens their systems as 'heresy'. Each promises freedom, but it is the way freedom is defined that makes the two systems so vastly different. Of course I am biased toward the liberal Judeao-Christian system because that's what I know more about and feel most comfortable with. Whichever is more successful in capturing the human imagination I suppose could eventually become a One World Religion and ultimately tip our destiny toward its vision but assuredly just as weather changes, so will the winners eventually become the losers and what once were fresh ideas will become as stale bread as the old order recedes into the twilight.

New ideas of state and faith will propel social evolution onward toward the future, and human history with its peaks and dips will hopefully find ways to continually refashion itself and to replace more tyrannical institutions with more just ones. One thing is certain though. Religious autocracies once they are securely in power will suppress all heretical ideas that threaten their systems and in that respect those that represent change may have the challenge of confronting both the Church and the State. These systems may be the more difficult to replace, but they are the ones that are most likely to fall the hardest.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

War and State Religion

Very few religions are true to their Founder's teachings about peaceful coexistence and in spite of scriptural admonitions to seek peace there are other passages in their writings that actually encourage and condone bloodshed. I would speculate that the rationale for this is that there are times in history when God is interpreted by clerics that violence must be used to fulfill some purpose that the Deity has omnisciently condoned.
The God of Torah and Israel - "The One True God", the "I AM"
There have been many instances that Moses or the Prophets made it incumbent upon the children of Israel to destroy men, women and children of those pagan nations that God was displeased with, usually for worshipping idols, sexual deviancy or rituals of human sacrifice, but also because the land of these pagans (such as Canaan) were given to the Jews to rule by the writers of the Torah through commandment of God as a promised inheritance. Arguably today, most Jews don't condone aggression against sovereign countries except in self defense and tend to see faith in benign terms, and view themselves as having been the objects of persecutions, since the fall of Jerusalem by the Babylonians through the last two millenia. Of course the Jews of modern-day Israel have more than adequately developed their defense systems to prevent most aggressive acts by their hostile neighbors.
The God of Jesus and his followers, the Christians:
The adherents of the many flavors of Christianity have suffered many relatively recent persecutions many of them being of the sect-on-sect variety, in contrast to the Jews' long experience with it. Once the Roman Empire became reconstituted under the symbol of the Cross, the persecuted became the persecutors under the bishops and Constantine's military then proceeded to successfully stamp out non-orthodox belief. From the Middle Ages onward, widening divisions brought on by theological and political differences led to wars and purges that pitted brother against Christian brother.
The Rise of Islam, Allah and Mohammed:
Mohammed in the Qu'ran appropriated much of its teachings from Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Christianity and in its early history united Arabic peoples under the banner of the crescent moon, offering mercy to those who converted but death to those who rebelled against the prophet and his followers. The battles to decide which God would rule, the One of the east or the One of the west, reached its height during the crusades and victories were won and lost many times over in the former lands of the Roman Empire. Later under the unifying control of Ottomans, tolerance grew, attracting many exiles, especially Jews from Christian Europe, Spain and Portugal during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Islamic art and culture grew to great heights as a result of the "brain drain from these countries." Eventually like all empires the Ottomans lost influence and most of their lands were re-conquered by the West.
Present Day:
I think that history today has again come full-circle with millions of disaffected Muslims seeking violent redress through Jihad against the Jews and Christian "crusaders" by re-conquering what they perceive to be originally Muslim lands. Since Islamic nations and ultra-fundamentalist groups haven't the where-with-all to create a modern war machine and to develop their own high-tech weapons, to even the odds, the resourceful jihadists are doing everything in their might, from buying the latest weapons from developed countries to the use of suicide offensives to demoralize the West thereby weakening support for Middle- East wars. This they are doing with great success.

It seems to me in observing the dynamics of the East vs. West conflict that religion has been the key ingredient in the crazy-glue of ideas that galvanizes Muslims (and Judeao-Christians) to support the fight that will lead one of them to victory over the infidels (and heretics.) Governments are very adept nowadays at using mainstream media propaganda machines to manipulate or at least direct public opinion to achieve the desired results in persuading their citizens that their positions are the ones that God has approved and has therefore blessed. Since adherents of many religions, be they Hindu, Muslim, Jewish or Christian have references in their holy books that can easily be interpreted to condone holy wars, I believe we must work to re-evaluate the relevance and usefulness of these passages and seek to minimize their importance for the sake of world peace.

If humans are to co-exist, I believe that our leaders must avoid the use of religion as an excuse to wage war and look to other less violent examples within their own spiritual traditions and glean from them the best examples of those who used their faith to affect the spiritual and material healing of world systems.

Make peace! That IS true religion.

The Presence of God

I, the One who lives, Am
Where can you go Son of Man, Daughter of Woman
Where I am not there?
Does not every ocean know the river?
Does not every sea reflect the heavens?
What fool is there that thinks he is his own and master of his heart?
For I have formed you from the sands and the sea and from the stars around you.
Can any of you control a moment or catch a piece of wind?
So it is that you are my offspring and beholden to Me.
Why do you complain of your yoke that I have gently placed upon you,
That you so anxiously desire to spurn?
For I have not come to load you with heavy and hard burdens.
For I say to you that you must remove them, for they are yours.
And even your sandals
That my shores may reach your feet to caress them.
My abode is at your right hand, on your head, and by your side.
You think you can touch me only in your deepest thoughts,
When I am also your brother's eye
Your sister's breasts and the arms of your lovers.
I have traveled the paths of the forests before you
And worn down the stones on the road
So you may walk on them together
And walk with Me in joy.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Exploring the 'Dark City'

Entry for February 23, 2007

In the late 90's a movie called 'Dark City' came out which tells of the existence of an artificial world with no sun, created in space by a dying race of nasty, ugly aliens in which humans are manipulated by putting them to sleep and then wakening them with new memories in an experiment to find out what it was about our species that could possibly help them to survive. The protagonist John Murdoch wakes up in the Dark City during one of these scheduled sleep cycles and eventually discovers his real memories which in time ruins their experiment. This results in Murdoch learning to use the machinery of this virtual world through the power of thought to turn it from a black and white netherworld into a sunlit, earthlike place.

This movie, like the Matrix Trilogy is imaginatively metaphoric in how elites work to manipulate senses, emotions and opinions to gain and keep control. Eventually brave souls motivated more by the 'light' than the fear of the 'dark' learn to use similar levels of power over the mind-control machinery the elites have put into place to restore the foundations that we must have to survive as a nation. As irresistible truth spreads and people wake up, it becomes an unstoppable force and those who seek unlimited dictatorial authority are eventually exposed.

We are at a point where light is actively engaging darkness on an individual, national and planetary level. The fight for freedom has continued since the dawn of civilization and has always been a constant in human history but the ante is much higher now than it has ever been. Power brokers envision total control over every aspect of our lives but what they are not actively counting on is that some unintended event or variable could stop its machinery cold, that their high-stakes game could spiral out of their control into a planetary firestorm of war. Yes, the elites do love war. It's what keeps their wallets full but they arrogantly think they can control its spread. Average, decent people can be likened to Murdoch in 'Dark City' because they have been awakened and in turn wake others up spiritually and politically to counter the elite's plans for world domination before the unthinkable can happen. They prevail against the system because they know how to confront it. Everyone has a role to play in defending human rights and everyone can do their small part to help reconstruct the memories lost in the fog of fear and to mitigate the effect of the propaganda machine.
Dark City dist. by New Line Cinema

“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you...and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you." Matt. 10:16-20

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Sayings of the Master

One day Joshua the Master brought his students to the courtyard of his house to hear their questions and to teach them:

John the Student asked the Master: "Why do the nations lord it over us"?

The Master said, "You see what is before your eyes, but you do not really see. You think that your sins have turned the eyes of heaven away from you and that is why you are oppressed. But I say to you, don't curse the stone that falls on your foot or the storms that toss you about and do not rail against yourselves. For you cannot curse that which you did not make and you cannot bind the winds that block your passage. God has made them his servants to turn you from the world which has made you drunken. So let your souls learn patience when the hot coals of testing touch your lips and do not say, God is displeased with us so we will rise up against Caesar by our own power. If you fight evil with evil you will always be a servant of evil but if you in goodness seek your true Home, the Kingdom will bring forth to you wholeness, peace and security in abundance."

Then Flavius the soldier asked the Master: "Lord, we know that we should always seek the ways of peace, but what if we have no choice but to fight?"

The Master said, "If you fight for Caesar then honor him with your service, for He that commands all gave you to him. If, however, an evildoer seeks to do violence toward you or your loved ones you must protect yourself and them for His Name's sake and for the sake of those who were given to you but do not seek out troubles, for you will always have them and you do not need more heaped upon your backs. Many will hate you as they are jealous of you and many will love you because they know me and Him that sent me. For nothing is done beyond the view of the Holy One. You are not truly your own and nothing you have is truly yours and what you are or what you don't have has not been withheld from you."

A Priest then asked the Master: "When will we see Him who comes in Glory with the Great City?"

The Master said, "You look for signs of things you cannot see and for things you do not understand, for the Kingdom of Heaven comes as a tender breeze and not with fire and great wind and waters as you have been taught by the fathers. You see, that which is great is as the least. If you could but perceive with true sight, you would see that the tree and the seed are one and that the great heavens are as the smallest grain of dust. Consider the ant. It is but the least of God's creatures and yet what wonders lie under its hill! So why do all of you weary yourself with doubt? Do you not see the Hand of Glory in what He has fashioned, in all the earth, in you and in your children? Do you not see the Eye of God in face of your beloved? So it is with the Kingdom. It is above though below, it is inside though outside and is great beyond great and small beyond small."

Ariana the fishwife then asked: "Lord, teach us of death and resurrection."

The Master said, "I can tell you what it is and what it is not, but only partly. There are many things that can't be explained, for the words of the world are as a baby's cry is to fluent speech and yet its mother hears the cry and comforts it. I can tell you though that the World to Come is like an ocean that knows no depth, width or length. It can be likened to a fisherman when he casts his nets into it there appears an innumerable number of great fishes, so heavy in fact that he cannot number them all or fit them into his boat. It can also be likened to a tree that brings forth its fruit, or a caterpillar with its many legs that after wrapping itself in its burial cloth seeks no more the things of the earth but is transformed and only seeks that which is above it. A barren tree may provide shade from the hot sun but it cannot reproduce itself or feed anything. The caterpillar's legs stick to the earth but after its change can do so much more than just eat. It is not as described by your teachers though, for they make you attach yourselves to them by fear and for their love of money. You may listen to them and ponder their words, but keep your mind and heart saved up for the Lord only and he will bless you with the understanding of mysteries."

Then Hannan, one of the Sons of Levi asked: "What of the Law, then. Should we keep it as it was given to us By God through Moses, our Father?"

He then said to them, "Although the tablets of the Law were written through the Divine Hand, I have not the power to make you keep the Law, for I have not come as an enforcer of it but to help make it clearer to you. You yourselves know in your hearts what you should do and what is good. What you lack is the understanding of it. For what good is the Law if even the tiniest commandment is broken and your heart accuses you? If however, you keep even the smallest of them with true intention it is as if you have kept them all. Even so, if you see your neighbor breaking the Law or even condemning it do not rush to correct or judge him but befriend him. For to judge another is to judge yourself and be condemned because you too have broken it. Rather if you see your neighbor stumble, be ready to help him onto his feet for on a day when you think you have attained blamelessness you will stumble greatly and your neighbor, remembering your kindness to him will then help you. Do not think my brothers that because you have Moses you likewise have all Truth. For God can make even a dead tree prophesy so that Heaven is opened to all. That which has been written by the prophets and set onto scrolls are the words of life but the parchment it is written on will someday become dust that swirls in the wind. That knowledge which you think you have stored up for the World to Come can be destroyed by a night's sleep and the towers of wisdom you have built will eventually be torn down to make way for new ones. Therefore, keep the Law but remember who you really are for that which is of the earth is earthly but that which comes from the Holy One will always remain. Seek therefore the Incorruptible for it is of the Breath and that Breath will save your souls."

Nataniel, another student asked the Master, "Lord, are you the one promised by the Prophets, or is there another?"

The Master said, "Nataniel, in your heart you seek a man to worship, one that can be called God on earth as the heathens would believe in but I tell you, do not long for some one to save you as it is ignorance of the imagination. For though it is not impossible for Him to do this, He would rather you were all blasphemers than to say to one another, "Look, the Messiah is over here or look, he's there!" God is The One with the Secret Name and Secret Body who is always within you and without you for though you are all Sons and Daughters of the Lord you cannot name or capture Him to do with Him as you would. This is the essence of carnality and is the profanity for which the nations are punished. Those who seek men will be blinded and will lose their footing and fall into a ditch but those who forsake idols will know Life and will be called, the Chosen."

Shaul the storekeeper asked: "The Prophets tell us that sin must flourish with holiness and that His Servant must be spat upon and scourged and marked as a criminal in order to save us all from death. Is that time upon us now with your coming?"

The Master said, "Sha'ul, ever since the first man and woman placed their feet upon the ground and took up the serpent's cause has The Name been trodden in the dirt as you have said. So what need is there for further sacrifice? If you discern clearly you will understand that the beginning is as the end and the end as the beginning. Close your eyes and think of what abominations have been wrought upon the blameless and the defenseless throughout time in the name of Kings, let alone in the name of our King? Can there be a smiting of God greater than that? Have you not the eyes of Truth that you cannot see this occurring again in the days of your descendants as well? I say to you that His servant has already been offered upon the altar stone from the eternal past into the eternal future and that is why the nations of the earth have been blinded and that is why your hearts have been hardened. But that which has hardened so many hearts is also that which comes to you as an open door, my friends, that you may freely come to the Waters to drink and dine at the Table of forgiveness and fullness. Otherwise the sufferings of the righteous would be for naught, for there is not one of the least of His creatures that He has not seen fall or the smallest good deed not rewarded. For the wounds both you and I bear He bears, so that the Light of the Kingdom may dawn brightly on your days and those of your children so all may be fulfilled. Do not think though that evil will always be with you, for a time is coming when the earth and the heavens will be rolled up like a scroll and His angels will separate the wheat from the chaff. The good deeds and the evil deeds will be sifted on His threshing floor and that which is of no use will be cast aside and burned up forever. All will see His wounds on that day and all will cry for Him as a mother cries over her only child's death and He will apportion each according to their intention and deeds done in their bodies, to either an evil portion or to a good portion. On that day sickness and death will cease, times will change and the heavens and the earth will be born anew."

Valentian the Exile then asked, "Well, what of charity? How much should I give to the poor?"

He replied, "God has kept you in health, Valentian! You're mighty arms could tear down the walls of theTemple! "Many are not so lucky as you. As any of you! Before you travel the paths of the poor, fill your pockets with coins so that you may have enough for all who ask of you and at the moment that you give your money, turn your mind's eye heavenward to the treasures you both will receive from Him on the Great Day. Remember this also, that charity is not just in giving away your possessions to the needy, it is also the giving away of your love to all. After money is spent it is no more but love that is spent goes on forever, therefore be generous to all and give of your joy to all."

Astapha the Hairdresser asked, "Tell us of loneliness and love."

The Master replied: "Loneliness is the state in which you were born and it is also the state in which you will fly to your heavenly abode. When the child leaves the womb it is suddenly pushed into a new world and since it has no knowledge of that world it senses strangeness and its first cry is of fear. Upon the release of the body into the next world the Soul is born into its next incarnation and likewise fear becomes the Soul's first emotion in the strangeness of its new home. You see, my friends, we all must live and die in both fear and fearlessness. Don't therefore think of your loneliness as something to avoid, for God, who is both Male and Female, is self-sufficient in Majesty and is by nature Alone, Set Apart and One. He is however, inclusive of you in His Aloneness and is well-pleased to wrap you entirely in Himself; and remember, those of you who have not loneliness and are satisfied in love, that you partake of the same cup together with your unmarried brothers and sisters, set apart from the world the same way as the Lord is from the world and are joined together in Aloneness with Him. When you are lonely, trust your Lord singularly and let your heart be filled and satisfied and when you find your love, dedicate yourselves and your children to Him as a sweet-smelling offering with thanks and faith."

Elihu, the Pharisee then said to him: "Master and Lord, I know now that you have wise words and are a Son of Heaven, but please tell us, What is Salvation and how does one attain it?"

Joshua answered him, "The man or woman that seeks Salvation must be perfect as He is perfect or it is impossible to please Him. So how does one attain perfection? It is not as in any of your occupations, when you begin knowing very little and after years of learning, know much and it is not perfection in the sense of perfecting oneself in Service of the Name. Do you not know that you have been perfected in Him already? You must, however, become as a humble child at all times in all matters great and small and not ever think of it as something to which you have attained by your own effort. This means that you execute your judgements wisely in business but never esteem yourself better than your weaker fellow for he may see something you have missed in your effort and thus may help bring you great success in your doing. So, when you ask the Father to save you, esteem your fellow and friend first and then open your child-heart and let it fly to His Heart, for He will enfold it with His Wings and will place His seal of Salvation upon it so that nothing can steal it away."

Then Elisheva the young shepherdess inquired, "Lord, teach us how to pray that we may receive answers to our petitions."

He then said, "First you must learn what true prayer is. Prayer is the enfolding of your inner heart into the Heart of Essence when you forget that you are in the body and although you may not feel his Presence, the Divine is only but a breath removed from any of you at any time. Prayer places your body and mind on the Altar of His pleasure as a sacrifice of love and praise as you offer up your joy, your pain, your lack of understanding, your hopes and your shame. Pray with this attitude, "God is my ever present help in trouble and the Rock of my Salvation, of whom shall I fear?" And do not test God by thinking He must immediately bow to your wishes for He already knows what you need and will answer you in due time in the language of the Spirit. So, do not say to yourself, "I have asked the Lord and He has said yes to this and no to that, for your imagination can create empty paths that can lead you away from Truth. He would rather when you pray, even if you are angry, that you lower your eyes and humble your face before the Throne and in patience wait for Him to bring you help, forgiveness, wisdom and deliverance."

Joshua heard many more questions from his students that day and at sunset when all were filled with the Bread he had shared with them they dispersed, each to his own home. The sun shone red in the reflections at that time upon the houses and streets of the city and they were warmed by the heat of it and by the words which he had spoken to them.
image by Kenneth Wyatt

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Metals Rock!

I remember one day back in '59 while shopping with my mom at the discount store that she got as part of her change some shiny new pennies that had a picture of the Lincoln Memorial on it instead of the 'one cent' striking that used to be there. A few years later along came the sandwich dimes and quarters with the copper coloring showing through and I wondered a bit anxiously why they took the silver out and why the paper currency no longer had the words 'Silver Certificate' printed on them. Supposedly before this you could go to a Federal Bank and get an amount of silver equal to the face value of the bill but alas they were transformed into what we have today: Federal Reserve Notes, essentially a paper IOU from the government. Not that it mattered much to me at the time, but I really did wonder a little about why the obvious change to our currency had been made. It didn't seem to matter though because I never heard of anybody going in to redeem those older bills for silver anyway. I guess nobody cared.

So what's the true state of the economy if the value of our money is based on the relative solvency of our government and banking system? Most folks today are working harder and harder to get dollars that buy fewer and fewer of the things we really can't do without like fuel for our cars and homes, electricity to power our appliances and higher education for ourselves or our kids. True, you can go to Wal-Mart and buy a DVD player for 50 bucks that used to cost $600 ten years ago. For now that's all well and good as long as you can afford to pay the electric bill or have one that runs on batteries but eventually cheap labor may not be so easy to find in developing countries like China and Mexico. Prices on what we buy from them will inevitably rise along with the other things we need that have already seen inflation. We'll all be in electronic heaven I guess, while we munch down ramen noodles for breakfast, lunch and dinner and fill our ears with music while our stomachs crave real food and our bodies heat for our freezing limbs!

The price of pure gold and silver coins has doubled since 2003 and serves as an illustration of the amount of real inflation in the economy . The value of these coins has not suffered from any real volatility either. The rise in their value has steadily increased from their historic lows in the '90's. Back then you could buy a one-ounce gold Eagle or Maple Leaf for around $250 but within the past year the cost of those coins has risen to about $680 a piece! Meanwhile our paper continues to lose value and buys us less and less every day and if the economy should tank because of some catastrophic event or a combination of them in a 'perfect storm' scenario we could have a run on the dollar and hyperinflation as a result.

That’s the opinion of many experts and I’m just saying what they’re saying. Of course the major financial magazines don’t like talk about ‘doom and gloom’ hypotheticals because it’s not in their interest to do so. They’re in the business of keeping the paper system going with stocks and bonds, etc. so you won’t hear them talk much about investing in hard assets. In fact these gold and silver denominated coins have thrived as a solid medium of exchange for thousands of years and will continue to because there is a limited amount below ground and what we have above ground is in high demand partly because it is used in almost all those geeky high-tech products we so cherish. Also, paradoxically in the developing countries there is a realization even by those who have very little in the way of material goods that precious metals are a hedge against inflation. A government can devalue a ‘fiat’ currency but the same is not true for gold, silver, platinum, etc. American silver Eagles and Canadian Maple Leaf silver coins are still within reach for most at about $18 a piece and silver 'rounds' can be bought for even less as they contain the same amount of silver and look similar to the ones issued by the government mints, though they're not quite as flashy. Another option is buying 'bags' or 'half-bags' of what is known as 'junk silver,’ those coins we used to use before the government decided to give us the sandwich coins I mentioned previously. If our currency suffers a crash that junk silver could be used in place of a debased coinage. So think about buying some gold and silver as a part of your own ‘rainy day’ fund. You can store them and your important documents in a safe deposit box at your bank and watch as your precious metals investments continue to outperform other financial instruments that everyone's brother and sister is trading in. The day may soon come when you with great relief will thank and congratulate yourself for your foresight and strategic business acumen.
image courtesy of Austin Rare Coins

Monday, February 12, 2007

9/11 Truth, The Basis for Fighting an Administration Run Amok

When the Trade Towers and the Pentagon were attacked some 6 years ago the American people and those of other countries were thrust into the reality of a world gone mad and our government was quick to respond to the new mind set with the Patriot Act in which anyone's personal records could be searched without probable cause or warrant and without that person knowing about it. All the Justice Department needed to do was to claim the search was based upon a suspicion of terrorism. Since then the Congress recently passed the Military Commissions Act signed into law in 2006 which among other indignities has abolished the right of habaeus corpus so that anybody deemed a terrorist can be held indefinitely and tried as an enemy combatant. Most people don't worry about it much. They know they are loyal to the Republic but they also don't realize that given another 9/11 style event, they could easily be hauled away for any reason whatsoever including from information gathered through data mining made implicitly legal by the previous Patriot Act legislation.

The official account of the September 11 events left out a good deal of testimony from many witnesses during the Commission hearings mostly due to editing by its director, Philip Zelikow, uncovered in a very well done documentary called '9/11, Press for Truth.' In it four women known as 'The Jersey Girls' who lost loved ones in the collapse of the Towers pointed to the stonewalling of the Bush administration and its resistance to releasing documents relevant to the hearings. After the release of the Commission Report it was evident that these women were very upset that the administration was covering up major facts in order to place blame for the attacks purely on a small number of Arab terrorists who sliced through the foundations of our society with a few box cutters. In 'Press for Truth' one can feel the disillusionment these women felt after the Commission Report was published.

Many good 9/11 documentaries chronicle the sequence of events before, during and after the hijackings and there are many, many incriminating details fleshed out in each of them. Most of them can be seen on Google Video or YouTube and are exacting in detail and scholarly presented so I would encourage anyone interested to check them out. It's hard to face the possibility that our government could be deceiving us because it is painful, but people have to know which way the winds of politics are blowing. Without knowing what really happened leading up to 9/11 our understanding of it becomes skewed toward trusting a government whose policies are based on lies and cooked evidence. It really isn't that far-fetched that a shadow government could exist and that it could hold the interests of war profiteers over American citizens but if we don't delve into the subject at least in some depth there is a danger that we are building our political conclusions on the shifting sands of false assumptions. That danger is plainly this - another 9/11 style event could take place to get us into a larger war for Middle East oil and the possibility of a nuclear confrontation with Russia or China over those resources.

The Bush administration is gearing up again in the Persian Gulf with carrier battle groups with thousands of troops and huge arsenals of weaponry. Now that doesn't seem like just like a little arm twisting to get Iran to give up their nuclear program. It seems more like a preparation for some kind of attack on it in the near future, especially since Admiral William Fallon has been appointed commander of U.S. forces in the region. The ground war has been a failure. Everyone knows that but we still have those bunker busters just waiting to be launched at Iranian strategic targets. Maybe Bush thinks this is the next and last opportunity for a military win, and with the permanent bases we have in Iraq, a strike on Iran might position us well for strategic dominance throughout the Middle East.

Let's not kid ourselves. The neocons at the very least used 9/11 to get us into a war and most likely had a hand in it through special ops. This strategy is nothing new. Hoodwinking the citizenry through false-flag operations has been done before. The Gulf of Tonkin incident is a good example because it was cooked up Washington. The North Vietnamese never fired on U.S. warships according to James Stockdale, the Navy aviator who was later downed by enemy fire and spent eight years in a P.O.W. camp (he also ran as Ross Perot's running mate in 1992).

The Democrats promise a 'change of direction'. God, I'm so sick of hearing that! If there is any change, it won't be of much significance since both parties are run by the same corporate criminals! Don't trust the government solely because we want to be patriotic. We swear allegiance to America the nation, not to America the government. The government is answerable to Americans, not the other way around and when it runs afoul of the people, the people are responsible for bringing it back in line with the Constitution. 9/11 was a turning point and also a wake up call to the rising of a tyrannical state. By understanding the true events surrounding 9/11 we will find ourselves on solid ground and able to uncover the layers of high-level corruption perpetrated by those who have found their way into power.

Here's some links to some of the videos:

9/11 Mysteries:

9/11 Press for Truth

9/11 Scholars Symposium

Friday, February 9, 2007

Thugism and the War

Granted, I'm kinda old and not really up with what's goin' on except for the dash of this and that I get from my 22 year old daughter, but I do try to understand her and her friends even though sometimes they totally weird me out. So for lack of a meaningful way to spend dead moments I try to get some of my nagging thoughts typed out to calm my traumatized middle-aged nerves so maybe some of them can help me out. Just what's all this thuggin', skankin' and pimpin's all about? Is it a reflection of or a reaction to what you kids see in what we boomers have done to your world? I know when I was in my 20's I couldn't stand the hypocrisy of what I saw in the attitude of my parents' generation - all those decency advocates like Spiro Agnew and Nixon who hid there criminality behind a facade of morality. So we showed our honest disdain for it by doing some really good things (mobilizing against the Vietnam War, 'greening' the planet, and promoting civil rights, etc.) We did some pretty quasi-suicidal things too like screwing up our lungs and brains with street drugs and ciggies and not protecting ourselves from STD's with all those free-lust serial partners we had. Actually my serial partners were rather few and far between, I’m afraid. Well, we didn't really give a shit back then one way or the other. I mean, we didn't see many positive outcomes with the threat of a nuclear holocaust hanging over our heads and the seemingly endless War. Anyway, we had the music which made up for our many indiscretions.

So I don't really find it surprising that kids today find urban vernacular all the rage. Just trying to learn MySpace I found its use everywhere but I also understand it's just a cool way to say something which previously was called something else though the exact meaning of the words still eludes me. I'm beginning to get the general idea though. There's also a secondary gain from all the foul language that goes along with being hip - you get to drive your parents away from your private lives while at the same time driving them freakin’ bug-nuts.

No, the kids don't bother me at all. What bothers me are the gangstas in nice suits that pass for decent people while all along they are the most diabolical of manipulators. They were kids too. Kids many of whom were idealistic and angry at what their parents and leaders had done with their never-ending wars. Unfortunately though, many of them eventually got bought off with the idea that idealism wouldn’t get you a very good career and that it was better just to go along to get along and not make waves. S'ok if it's someone else's kid who stood proud enough to fight the battle for freedom over in the Mideast as long as there was no draft and your kid wasn't in danger of dying there. Smart, those pampered politicos are to not make nice overseas in order to steal and control Arab oil and do it without conscripting any middle class kids.

So if you want to see who the real thugs and pimps are, just check 'em out on the TV. I'm sure you'll find at least 5 at any given night on the evening news. Why call them that? Because they lie and prey upon the majority of Americans who are basically good hearted, well meaning people. Check out the deception of the government and media on the lead up to the war, the unanswered questions of 9/11, and the lack of any conscience to challenge Bush and Cheney solely so they can go to elegant parties and cavort with others rich and powerful. You wouldn't think they have the nasties by the way they dress and look. They don't look like hoodlums but neither did the masses of Germans think those of the Nazi party were either. We are paying dearly for our security from the 'terrrorists' for as long as we have our anxiety-dissipating creature comforts today, there's not much motivation to dig into what's really goin' on. Conditions are ripe for a big thug win but I’m betting on the new generation (and some from the older one) to take the country back. It takes one to know one, I guess.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Please Note: The American Revolution Will Go On As Planned!

No, I'm not talking about slogans to sell Chevys though anything that can pull GM or Ford out of the doldrums certainly wouldn't hurt, I’m sure. What's been on the top of my mostly amorphous idea pile the last few days has been the sense of urgency that seems to be coming to the surface since the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group report went head-on into an almost impervious wall of disdain for other ideas besides those of the ‘deciders and residers’ at the White House. Not that the Study Group had an earth-shaking impact on anybody. There really was very little bargaining room even between the left and right ON the right. In the media however there seemed to be a small glimmer of hope even within the highly scripted offerings from the major outlets that the beginnings of an international consensus could develop to bring the world back from the abyss of endless war.

Very little has changed in the human condition in that people seem to be custom built to outmaneuver other people, just as one carmaker tries to outdo the other in presenting their brand as superior in as many ways possible to capture the maximum number of potential buyers. From our beginnings Americans have been natural overachievers and believers, a trait that shows itself brilliantly attractive to the average person irrespective of the culture into which he or she was born. It's like growing up Irish, Jewish, or Italian. Everybody knows something about the person you are merely by looking at you and you, being of a particular upbringing don't have to ponder very long on what's hanging onto your soul and won't let go. Being American is a lot like being of an identifiable ethnic heritage. I may not know the constitution by heart or may not know it even a little, but I do remember the basics that were cherishingly taught to us in grade school - that our rights come from God and/or by natural law and those rights are inviolable by any political entity and that awareness gives us a collective pinch when we know the country is slipping and sliding to where it ought not go. We knew it back in the '60's when we were deep in 'The Big Muddy' and when there were serious riots in the cities. We knew we were in trouble when we got hit with Watergate in the '70, in the '80's with El Salvador and Nicaragua and now with the Mutha of all Shitpiles, a possible Middle East war which could explode into WWIII if one of the countries in the nuclear club decided to vaporize one or two of the others' cities.

I've got a feeling that 2007 is going to be a big year, hopefully a good year and that the ‘big’ will come to mean that we as members of the human family finally start to come to our senses and throw out those crazy hostile thoughts that pop into our empty little heads because we are bored, angry or partially nuts. I think too that finally some plain common sense will win out over suspicion and arrogance in our unceasing rush to crush and conquer and that Tom Paine did really have it right. The greatness of America is not having a huge military and being able to throw our weight around wherever we want. What we have is what everyone knows and wants – the right to live their lives the way they want to in peace and security. What we show the world now about ourselves will in large part determine the future of the planet. ‘To whom much is given, much shall be required’ and we have been given so much. It’s time to stop our leaders from trashing the rights of people in wars that trample dignity under foot and return the country to what its best at by restoring faith in what we are deep down in our guts. That is the real essence and meaning of the revolution. America can re-root itself and become even stronger and wiser than before. It’s not about imposing its will on others. It's about letting people live out their own dreams even if they’re different than our own.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

UFPJ and the Great Gathering in D.C.

This past Saturday a hundred thousand or so anti-war demonstrators under the banner of United for Peace and Justice voiced their grievances against the Bush Administration against the lies that led us into Iraq and a few of the new ones that are being spread in the media about Iran's hidden nuclear program as the real reason for the announced 'Surge'. In the middle of it all was the call for Palestinian justice and an end to the 'occupation' by Israel, aid to the displaced Katrina victims (my daughter's name is Katrina but she's not implicated, of course), and attention to the plight of illegal aliens who have suffered at the hands of the far right. Also, the plight of our returning troops rang loud and clear - the mental trauma brought on from the horrors of war and the mind-numbing losses of Iraqis numbering in the 600,000 range and the failure of our leaders to do any substantive oversight over the continuing tragedy that is the Middle East.

What struck me first was clear memory of all the anti-war marches I've participated in and all the time it took for us to force the government to end its support of a corrupt South Vietnamese military and the sense of pride that we as progressives could rally together and accomplish something in favor of life and the principles and guarantees of our founding fathers. What struck me second was all too obvious and sad. There were no conservatives or libertarians present among the speakers, maybe because UFPJ is a coalition of mainly the far and extreme left with socialist internationalism written all over it and that simply because the anti-war conservatives and libertarians were probably not invited! The situation is very different now and rather complicated as well. Back in the '60's there was greater polarization among Americans in regards to the war. The main threat the Right felt about North Vietnam and China was the spreading of communism throughout the Far East - the Domino Effect which would cause our Japanese, South Korean, Thai, Indian and Filipino allies to fall to the voracious appetite of the Red Menace. The main threat today seen by the 'stay there' advocates is to keep the 'Islamofascists' from taking over friendly Muslim nations which would certainly endanger the nurturance of ‘democracy’ in those vast resource-rich areas. The salient point really is U.S. dominance over resources as opposed to democracy and support of the troops - arguments mainly given out to bolster the flagging will of the American people. The difference as I see it today is that the war is not just a left-wing issue this time. There’s a boiling caldera of conservative public opinion which is becoming and is even now a powerful force that could threaten the monopoly the Left has on anti-imperialist sentiment and with the introduction of backstretch hopefuls for President like Rep. Ron Paul there is a possibility that conservatives might equal, regain or out rightly inherit the anti-war banner if they had a strong enough coalition to rally around. Even better, what if those bi-polar left/right forces who really do have common ground gelled together into one? I believe that the power represented by that coalition would be an unstoppable force to change the system that we have misguidedly put into power.

So back to the rally and march on Washington. UFPJ couldn't have done worse than to give ultralibs like the National Organization for Women, Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, etc. a platform for the well-worn sloganeering the majority of Americans are sick to death of to the exclusion of those with more moderate views. Of course some of the singing groups at the mike did have some catchy tunes and the impassioned clergy did bump up the interest a little but it seemed that the crowds seemed corralled in not just by the street barriers, but also by a lack of really anything new that was said. Although there were some '9/11 inside job' placards, DVD and flyer giveaways there was no mention of other issues like the purposeful diminution of the dollar and our subordinate position vis-à-vis the central banks of the world monetary elites, the emergence of a North American Union and the plan for endless war and anxiety so that citizens of all countries will cry out for a world order-run police state. These are the overlooked issues the Left doesn't want people to face. Why? - because the anti-war movement is used by those very same monetary elites as a phony counterpoint to the neocons presently in power to divert attention away from the core issues for why there is an imperial presidency in the first place.

I think that the Left is just as important as the Right in regaining the voice of the People. If we all had two left hands or two right hands we wouldn't be able to do much, would we? Sure, there are wedge issues that continually seek to divide us but we can't deal with those now. What we have on the table to work on is certainly enough. There are plenty of things that all Americans can do together if we tackle the real reasons for war - power, arrogance and greed.