Sunday, September 27, 2009

Obama's Hell-Ride to War on Iran

Daniel McAdams
LRC Blog
September 26, 2009

Faced with the uncomfortable and politically unacceptable reality that there exists no evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon, confirmed by his own intelligence community, President Obama has taken a page from the book of his predecessors FDR, LBJ, GWB, and so on: he simply made something really scary-sounding up to justify his push toward war.

It is 2002 all over again, but worse.
This time it is the artificially manufactured hype around an Iranian uranium enrichment facility that is under construction. Keep in mind that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Iran, under Article IV of said treaty, has every right to enrich uranium to its heart’s content. The treaty clearly states: “Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty.”

Iran has, dutifully and ahead of required schedule, notified the International Atomic Energy Agency, tasked with monitoring adherence to the NPT, of its intent to bring this enrichment facility online in approximately 18 months. But where there is no smoking gun, lighter fluid must be ignited: to undercut the Five Plus One talks with Iran scheduled to begin on October first, the Obama administration has invented indignation over discovery of this plant while at the same time holding to the story that the US Intelligence Community has known about this facility, which Obama says is “inconsistent with a peaceful (nuclear) program,” since 2006. As one administration official stated regarding the upcoming talks in light of his “discovery”: “Everybody’s been asking, ‘Where’s our leverage?’ Well, now we just got that leverage.” And right in the nick of time!

But hang on a minute: the US Intelligence Community has known since 2006 that Iran is building a facility to manufacture nuclear weapons but still in 2007 allowed a National Intelligence Estimate on Iran to conclude with “high confidence” that Iran was not pursuing a nuclear weapons program? Considering the discrepancy, one could be forgiven for concluding that either deception or incompetence is the order of the day in our enormously expensive Intelligence Community.

It is 2002 all over again, but worse: this time a good chunk of the antiwar movement will have been sidelined over its fatally wrong-headed decision to sign on with the pied pipers of the war party over the Iranian elections in June. By “going Green” (going pro-opposition instead of remaining neutral) much of the antiwar movement has been effectively silenced, its side-taking giving voice to one of the war party’s most critical claims: “any government that will cheat as horrifically as it did on these elections will certainly cheat on its IAEA reporting obligations.” No further proof needed. It is a refrain we have heard time and time again since June: “you mean you are going to believe them about their nuclear program? A regime that would cheat like that in its elections?” Antiwar movement: largely silenced. Credible proof of outcome-changing fraud: none. Coming cost in death and destruction: priceless.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Jobless and Recoveryless Recovery

Reality Receding
By James Howard Kunstler
on September 14, 2009 6:33 AM

Now that everybody in the USA, from the janitors in their man-caves to the president addressing congress, has declared the "recession" over, is exactly the moment when what's left of the so-called economy is most likely to implode. If there were still shoeshine boys on Wall Street, they'd be starting their own hedge funds now, and CNBC's Larry Kudlow would be toasting them in the Grill Room of The Four Seasons. What we've seen in the vaunted rally for the last six months is the triumph of wishing over facts, combined with the most arrant market manipulation by floundering banks backstopped by a panicked government -- all pounding sand down a rat-hole of hopeless non-performing debt, while pretending that the machinery of capital finance still grinds on.
Despite what a few elderly Mr. Naturals may say about abolishing "capitalism," we're not going to have an advanced economy without a coherent banking system, and by advanced economy I mean one in which the lights stay on. By coherent I mean a system that is able to deploy accumulated wealth for productive purposes, in the service of continuing civilization. (And, yes, I know that the followers of Daniel Quinn are not so sure that civilization is worth the trouble, but unless you support the killing-off of about six billion humans right away, things on Earth are not favorably disposed just now for a return to hunting-and-gathering.)
I would hasten to cut through the fog of despair to reassert -- for the thousandth time -- that a true American perestroika is possible, if the public could overcome the plague of cognitive dissonance sweeping the land and form a consensus for action that comports with reality's agenda. But that is looking less and less likely. Instead, what we see is a rush into delusion, seasoned with grievance and gall. Spectacles like last weekend's march on Washington don't happen for no reason, of course. From where I sit, the uproar can be attributed to comprehensively bad American leadership, a crisis in authority and legitimacy that has left a functional vacuum in every executive office throughout the land -- from the White House to the state houses, to the lairs of the CEOs, to the towers of the deans and department chairs, to the glitzy sets of the nightly news deliverers, to the makeshift quarters of the NGO chiefs. In former times, clueless and impotent leaders stuck their heads in the sand. Nowadays, with pandemic narcissism abroad in the land, the heads are more usually inserted into the aperture that leads into the large bowel....
But I indulge in diverting objurgation when I should perhaps explain this American perestroika more clearly. The Russian word roughly translates to "restructuring." They flubbed it in 1989 because their system was too ossified and too far gone -- though history and circumstance eventually did it for them. A similar outcome is possible here, too, in which things just have to completely fall apart before emergent reorganization occurs. But you can be sure that if we allow this to happen, an awful lot of things will get smashed along the way, including lives, careers, families, property, and cherished institutions.
This monster we call the economy is not just an endless series of charts and graphs -- it's how we live, and that has to change, whether we like it or not. Now, it is obviously a huge problem that a majority of Americans don't like the idea. If they were true patriots, instead of overfed cowards and sado-masochists, they'd be inspired by the prospect. But something terrible has happened to our national character since the triumphal glow of World War Two wore off. I just hope that the Palinites and the myrmidons of Glen Beck don't destroy what's left of this country in a WWF-style "revolution." In the best societies, such idiots are marginalized by a kinder and sturdier consensus about justice. In America today, the center is not holding because there is no center.
American perestroika really boils down to this: we have to rescale the activities of daily life to a level consistent with the mandates of the future, especially the ones having to do with available energy and capital. We have to dismantle things that have no future and rebuild things that will allow daily life to function. We have to say goodbye to big box shopping and rebuild Main Street. More people will be needed to work in farming and fewer in tourism, public relations, gambling, and party planning. We have to make some basic useful products in this country again. We have to systematically decommission suburbia and reactivate our small towns and small cities. We have to prepare for the contraction of our large cities. We have to let the sun set on Happy Motoring and rebuild our trains, transit systems, harbors, and inland waterways. We have to reorganize schooling at a much more modest level. We have to close down most of the overseas military bases we're operating and conclude our wars in Asia. Mostly, we have to recover a national sense of common purpose and common decency. There is obviously a lot of work to do in the list above, which could translate into paychecks and careers -- but not if we direct all our resources into propping up the failing structures of yesterday.
The most dangerous illusion, of course, is a belief that we can return to a hyped up turbo debt "consumer" economy -- and perhaps the most disappointing thing about Barack Obama, is his incessant cheerleading for a "recovery" to what is already lost and unrecoverable. The man who ran for office on "change" doesn't really have the stomach for it. But, of course, events are in the driver's seat now, not personalities, even charming ones. I'd venture to say that if Mr. Obama thinks he's seen a crisis, and gotten through it, then he ain't seen nothin' yet. We are for sure not returning to the kind of credit orgy that made the last twenty years such a nauseating spectacle -- of which, by the way, the misfeasances and wretched excesses of Wall Street were just one manifestation.
Some theorists out there say that economy follows mood, not vice-versa, and that the anger and sourness on display around the USA, in events like the weekend Washington march, is a clear sign that tectonic shifts in the structures of everyday life are sure to follow. There are too many truly good and intelligent people in this country, to leave our fate to the Palins and the Glen Becks. But the good people had better man up and start telling the truth with some conviction that the truth matters

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Marycrest Community Remembered --- and its Post-Vatican II Death

A Vision on a Hill
Recalling Marycrest, an inspiring experiment in Christian community
By Jack Holland

There is still only one road through Marycrest, the Catholic community that for more than 50 years has lain buried in the woods of Rockland County about 25 miles north of New York City.

The woods have thinned somewhat since 1950, when the first Marycrest members dug the foundations for the first house. But the leafy canopy is thick enough on a summer’s evening to remind a visitor of what it must have been like five decades ago when they came, from the Bronx mostly, city slickers with a vision of a Christian life they thought they could realize here in the tranquility of the tree-covered countryside that was Rockland before it was a suburb.

Of the 12 original members of the community who shared that vision, only three are still alive -– Alan Hudson, Jack Dermody and Phil O’Brien; two of them, Dermody and O’Brien, still live in Marycrest, in the homes they constructed with their own hands 50 years earlier. But now parcels of what remains of the community’s original 56 acres have been sold off, and new $600,000 houses have sprung up, some with sumptuous swimming pools, all redolent of the prosperity of suburban America. An exclusive golf club of 227 acres owned by a Japanese consortium now impinges on the community’s borders just a few yards down the road. Plans are afoot to construct 10 $5 million homes nearby. These things belong to the kind of world that Marycrest set out to defy.

“Our principle aim was an experiment to create a Christian community,” recalled Jack Dermody, who has just celebrated his 80th birthday. “We wanted to find out what a Christian community would be like.” Dermody is spry and lean, with a riveting gaze when he talks that still conveys the kind of passion that helped inspire the Marycrest experiment. “It was essentially about having charity toward each other,” he continued, “caring for each other’s children.” Children were a major factor in the Marycrest enterprise: the average family there had 10 of them. They, being devout Catholics, allowed no form of artificial contraception.

The attraction of owning your own home, even if you had to build it yourself, was an important incentive for all the original community members.

“We had five daughters in a one-bedroom apartment in the Bronx,” remembered 82-year-old Alan Hudson, whose family was the first to move into Marycrest, in late 1950. When completed, their new home would have five bedrooms. “We built it for $6,000,” he said proudly. The bedrooms were soon occupied as the Hudson family expanded to 10.

Among the original aims of the Marycrest pioneers was to create a community where fathers would be able to spend more time with their families.

“We felt the big hole in modern life was the family’s deprivation of the father,” Dermody said. “We wanted fathers to be present, rather than absentee fathers. We wanted to overcome that so that he could be a contributor to the family. Too often fathers were just a threat used by the mother to keep the kids in line.”

The idea of the community had come about in the late 1940s, mainly through informal meetings held by a group of men in each other’s homes. They were partly inspired by a radical Catholic magazine, Integrity, and its charismatic editor, Ed Willock. They were influenced by some of the ideas circulating in the Catholic Worker movement and the Christian Family Movement. Dermody, Hudson and another of the founding members, John Hogan, all belonged to the CFM.

“There was a lot of idealism around after World War II,” said Phil O’Brien, who is 85. He was deeply influenced by the cooperative movement, and saw the Marycrest experiment in those terms rather than as a primarily religious community.

The men who gathered to discuss and debate these ideas were for the most part of Irish-America background. Few had a university education. O’Brien had been a cop and then a fireman before he went back to college to take a degree in mathematics. Jack Dermody worked as a technical illustrator, Alan Hudson as an agent for a railway company. But they read widely about the history of the church, and thought hard about issues raised by Catholic morality, and how they did or did not square with the challenge of life in 20th century America. All agree that Ed Willock was the guiding genius of the experiment. As editor of Integrity, which at its peak sold 25,000 copies a month, he critiqued modern institutions through the eyes of a follower of St. Thomas Aquinas.

“Ed was a natural leader; he had intelligence, courage and integrity,” said Dermody, who worked for a while as the magazine’s circulation manager. “You couldn’t fool him, buy him or scare him.”

Willock was a Southie from Boston. After being injured in a football accident, he was laid up for five years and spent it educating himself. He was a voracious reader, as well as an artist. He was deeply influenced by Peter Maurin a radical Catholic thinker, and Dorothy Day, one of the founders of the Catholic Worker movement.

“He was a profound thinker on social matters,” agreed Alan Hudson.

56 acres on a hill

Willock was convinced that a truly Christian community could be established –- within driving distance of New York City. Two of their group, Charles Neill and Charles McGroddy, who were both lawyers, learned that a piece of land was going cheap in Rockland County. Hudson, Dermody, John Hogan and the two lawyers decided to go take a look at it. More than 50 years later, Hudson still remembers that day.

“It was Feb. 12, 1949 –- a Saturday,” he said. “It was a mild, spring-like day. We took the train to Tappan, where we met Neill and McGroddy, who took us to the site.”

What they saw was 56 acres of woodland on the crest of a hill, a place still frequented by deer hunters. The asking price was $7,500. One might have thought that the prospect of turning this wild spot into a living community would have intimidated a group of guys from the Bronx who had little or no experience of building or living in the country.

“We were so full of hope for an escape from our plight,” Hudson said. “We were just overjoyed when we saw the place. We didn’t think about the difficulties.”

A trust agreement was drawn up and the Marycrest Association formed, named because of the hilltop location of the site. Its 12 founding members were Charles Neill, Charles McGroddy, Bill O’Mahoney, Ed Willock, Bill Cob, Dick Bourett, Phil O’Brien, John McCue, Jack Olive, John Hogan, Alan Hudson and Jack Dermody. They were a mixed group, ranging from Cobb, who was a Jewish convert to Catholicism, to O’Mahoney, an on-the-run IRA man who had lost an eye in a gun battle with the Black and Tans in the Irish War of Independence. Over a period of between six and nine months they drew up a constitution, the trust agreement and bylaws. The initiation fee for each member was $600. This entitled him to a one-acre homestead and a share in the remaining acres, which were eventually put under the control of a group of trustees.

Work began cutting down trees, clearing the land, and sinking wells. The first building that the Christian pioneers from New York erected on the new site was a shed that had been a 100-foot-long U.S. Army latrine. They had bought it and reassembled it for use as a work shed. Work began on the first house, for the Hudson family, in early 1950. On Nov. 3 that year, the family moved in.

Their translocation from the Bronx to the Rockland woods was celebrated in the newspaper of Our Lady of Mercy parish in the Bronx, from where they were moving, as something close to a miracle.

“It is almost unbelievable,” declared the paper in the issue of Nov. 13, 1950, “that the Hudson’s house as it now stands was done for the most part by amateurs.” The only indication that the work had indeed been done by amateurs was the fact that the house was built back-to-front. But the parish paper did not mention that.

The paper went on to applaud the Marycrest effort. It wrote: “Behind the whole community idea is the desire of the members to raise large families and to bring them up to be saints. City life, the members feel, works against large families and it works against their growing in a deep love of God.”

Said Dermody: “We built seven homes without a single penny of bank money. It all came from friends and relatives –- or personal resources.” They built about one house a year after the first.

Children everywhere

The Hudson’s and their five daughters, all under the age of 7, spent their first winter in the woods like solitary pioneers. But Alan’s wife, Dorothy, did not notice that aspect of it.

“I was so thrilled to own a home, being poor” she said. “It was wonderful to move into the countryside. The kids were out all day. You never had to worry about them.”

As the other families gradually moved in, Marycrest was soon teeming with children. By the late 1950s, there were 107 children in the community.

“I loved living there,” recalled Regina Hudson, one of Alan and Dorothy Hudson’s seven daughters and three sons. “It was like having a hundred cousins. There was always someone around to play with.”

Mary Ann Olive was 2 when her parents brought her to Marycrest.

“It was a wonderful place to be raised, playing in the woods,” she said. She remembers the names the children gave to of their favorite spots –- the First Brook, the Angel’s Forest and the Devil’s Forest. “Today you have to have play dates –- you have to arrange to meet other kids. Here, you just opened the door and there they were.”

Virginia Olive, Mary Ann’s mother, had 11 children. Their aim, like that of the other families in the community, was to be as self-sufficient as possible, she recalls. Her husband Jack, one of the founding members, who died four years ago, used manure from the chickens he kept to make butane gas. Virginia baked the family’s bread. They grew many of their own vegetables. Jack Olive produced and printed The Marycrest News And Views that appeared once a month. He also found time to build astronomical telescopes.

“He was a real pioneer,” Mary Ann said of her father.

Virginia Olive recalls the life of the community being centered on Catholic rituals and feast days.

“We used to kneel down and say the Rosary every night,” she said. “Sunday Rosary was said on the Hudson lawn in front of a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which stood in a bird bath.” Then there was the Blessing of the Fields in May and the Feast of St. Nicholas, when Ed Willock disguised himself as St. Nicholas and Jack Dermody would dress up as Black Peter to terrify those children who had been bad and reward those who had been good.

A community unravels

That first generation of Marycrest children are now in their 40s and 50s. Recently, on a muggy Saturday afternoon, about 150 of them gathered with their own children, their friends and relatives under a white tent to celebrate Jack Dermody’s 80th birthday. Four generations were there. It was a time for reflection as well as celebration. What happened to the vision of the Christian community?

There were problems right from the start, according to Dermody.

“You had 12 different men with 12 different opinions on everything,” he said. Some resigned from the association before the building even began.

“Some went off the deep end in religious matters,” said Phil O’Brien. “They saw it as a kind of Franciscan community. I thought it should be broader -– more of a cooperative. I brought Jewish people up here.”

Marycrest suffered a serious blow when Ed Willock was felled by a stroke not long after moving into his home. There was no one to replace him. Disputes continued on doctrinal matters. At least as far as men were concerned, they were doctrinal, but for the women, some were decidedly practical. Alan Hudson’s daughter Mary, the second eldest, remembers the men debating as to whether washing machines should be allowed into the community.

“There were some real inclinations to go back to a more primitive means of production,” Dermody said. “But there were also discussions in the 1960s about machines liberating women.” They successfully kept TV at bay until 1954. “Bourgeois” remained a bad word for many years. One of Ed Willock’s more famous sayings was:

“Mr. Business went to Mass: he never missed a Sunday.

“Mr. Business went to Hell for what he did on Monday.”

Practical matters, however, dominated the discussions. Some members were unhappy with others for not pulling their weight. In 1962, Alan Hudson resigned and left the community, angry over a refusal, he said, to apply the rules fairly to everyone. As the cost of land in Rockland County soared, some members wanted to sell off the remaining undeveloped acres. An ailing Willock commented shortly before he died in 1960: “We are now in the hands of the bookkeepers.”

Land was gradually sold off to non-members who simply wanted a pleasant place to live. After a long dispute about who owned the right to sell off the remaining acres, the trustees or the individual members, Marycrest was wound up in 1974 as an association. It became a corporation.

Underlying this, however, there is a deeper failure, one that visionary communities of whatever ideology usually have to confront. Not only did the community unravel, of the children it produced, almost none are practicing Catholics. What had happened to a community whose ambition was to raise saints?

“It is the greatest failure in my life,” admitted Dermody, the day after he had turned 80, “the most brutal irony.”

Alan Hudson nodded his head in grim agreement. “Along came the sexual revolution -– that wiped them away,” he said. “That was a major factor. We lost an entire generation.”

Yet anyone who attended the Dermody party the day before, and saw the children, the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren enjoying themselves just as they did in the days gone by, might not see any failure at all, but a loving community still in existence, though the old Marycrest is gone.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

America's Widening Income Gap -- Not Then, Now!

The Widening Gap In America’s Two Tiered Society

Emily Spence
Thomas Paine’s Corner
September 7, 2009

Americans, particularly ones from the middle class, need to realize that there are no core entitlements imparted by their government representatives, nor any other sources. They have none and should adjust their expectations accordingly.

If the U.S. populace somehow imagines that its members are viewed any differently than any other populations across the world that are used to produce maximal profits for the top economic class, there’s a rude awakening in store ahead. Further, most legislators simply do not care whether middle and lower class interests are or aren’t well served as long as they, themselves, can somehow make out well in the times ahead.

Besides, why should any Americans feel that they deserve to be treated more favorably by the transnational moneyed elites and their government backers than their counterparts across the rest of the world? As A. H. Bill reminds: “The richest 225 people in the world today control more wealth than the poorest 2.5 billion people. And… the three richest people in the world control more wealth than the poorest 48 nations.”

Occasionally someone making a staggering amount of money in a crooked sort of way might raise a few officials’ eyebrows or induce a mild reprimand. In addition, he might, occasionally, be singled out as the token fall guy so as to be made into a warning example as was Bernie Madoff. Most of the time, though, no action is usually undertaken to correct the situation when directors of major companies carry out activities that are, obviously, right on or over the edge of fraudulent practices.

As Barack Obama, perhaps hypocritically, chastened, “Under Republican and Democratic administrations, we failed to guard against practices that all too often rewarded financial manipulation instead of productive and sound business practices. We let the special interests put their thumbs on the economic scales.”

Yet, he, himself, showed no hesitation during his election campaign over collecting $40,925 from the bailout fund recipient and nearly bankrupt investment house Bear Stearns, $161,850 from the bailout fund recipient and mortgage underwriter Morgan Stanley, as well as benefits from countless other institutions that have received government favors at taxpayers’ expense. As such, it’s hard in actuality to deliver more than just a mild verbal rebuke about these organizations’ modus operandi if one picks up a personal windfall from not meddling. Thus, the financial corruption continues at all levels of government.

A case in point is the self-serving oil trader Andrew Hall. His relationship with Citigroup’s (C.N) Phibro energy-trading unit brought him approximately $100 million in 2008 despite that his parent company registered a net deficit of $18.7 billion for the same year and received $45 billion in TARP funds.

However, it’s been pointed out that he could moderately adjust his current level of gain and continue to maintain the same procurement pattern if he manages to stay out of the limelight. If he follows this plan in the near future, his earnings and bonuses won’t likely duplicate the $250 million personal compensation that he’d received in the past five years. Yet, he could still make out quite well all the same!

In any event, one has to question such lavish rewards considering that Citigroup suffered a 95% loss of its share value since 2007 in relation to which Phibro “occasionally accounts for a disproportionate chunk of Citigroup income.” At the same time, the U.S. government will shortly be the owner of 34% of this company. Put more bluntly, is Andrew Hall’s personal prosperity and propensity to add to his private art collection the best use of taxpayers’ funds?

As long as he’s a lavish beneficiary, would he care if they weren’t? As the economist John Kenneth Galbraith once suggested: “The salary of the chief executive of a large corporation is not a market award for achievement. It is frequently in the nature of a warm personal gesture by the individual to himself.” Naturally, Andrew Hall aims to keep such a cozy arrangement intact.

Besides, his personal take is relatively inconsequential. It’s a mere pittance contrasted to the almost two and a quarter billion dollars grand total — roughly $2,217,800,000 — that the top ten U.S. business moguls collectively grossed as their own recompense in 2008. [1]

At the same time, it cannot not be expected, in a market based economy, that political influence is not also a purchased commodity. Clearly, opinions are bought and sold just as easily as are any other products and services with payment being campaign funds, such as Obama’s, from big industry; offers of high paying future jobs and other lavish advantages dangled as bait.

On account of this kind of shady deal, tax subsidies connected to executive pay amounted to $20 billion in 2008 according to United for a Fair Economy (UFE) and Institute for Policy Studies. (Imagine if this money, instead, were allocated towards improvements in public education, provision of a universal heath-care plan or any number of other programs that could uplift the American public as a whole.)

During the same period, average CEO pay, at $10.54 million, was 344 times higher than typical worker pay. This disparity, also, is generally indicative of a trend that increasingly funnels wealth upward rather than having it more equitably distributed across class lines.

Another sign of this ascendant drift can be found in the change between the first Forbes 400 report (1982) and its 2008 version. In 1982, an entrepreneur only needed slightly more than $100 million dollars to get on the list. By 2008, he wouldn’t be in the top 400 unless he’d garnered at least $1.3 billion. In other words, so much more wealth shot upward in the last twenty years that $100 million now is almost viewed as chump change in comparison to the new top gains.

In addition, Congressional reports have indicated that widespread tax avoidance tricks, like use of overseas banks that do not report amounts to the IRS, have cost taxpayers more than $2 billion annually. Certainly, these lost moneys could well be used to help people less fortunate. For example, the hidden $2 billion could be used to create job training programs for any of the one in nine Americans currently forced to rely on food stamps as an alternative to starvation.

To be eligible for such aid, a family of four, for example, has to have no more than $2,389 as its gross monthly income or 130% of the official poverty level and no more than $1,838 net monthly income or 100% of the poverty level. (There are few deductions and exceptions to the requirements allowed, along with limits for owned property value imposed, that further determine whether one meets qualifications.)

In other words, a typical household of four cannot receive this help if the gross income for the foursome exceeds $28,668 annually and, for an individual, the gross not to be surpassed is $14,088. Additionally, recipients cannot have a great deal of assets with a clearly defined, too high level of worth.

As such, they have to be nearly broke across the board. Meanwhile, it’s clearly disgraceful that more than 27,651,388 Americans are so extremely poor they require food assistance to try to make ends meet.

Even that help, though, is often not enough to prevent further poverty and many folks are unable to avoid outright destitution across the so-called wealthy U.S.A. So next, they lose their homes… and they lose them in droves.

The huge portion of Americans who do so are staggering: While the number of U.S. foreclosure filings climbed by more than 81% in 2008, the total is still sharply rising in 2009. In relation, 300,000 homes foreclosed per month from March to May in 2009 and 1.8 million homes represented the anticipated total for the first half of the year. With such a backdrop, one out of every 398 homes received a filing in April and a whopping 6.4 million homes are anticipated to be in foreclosure by mid-2011. Simultaneously, a record number of individuals, also, applied for bankruptcy.

•A d v e r t i s e m e n t
•In a similar vein, the jobless rate, despite some minor dips downward, is still seemingly on the rise. Therefore, the current number of out of work adults could well exceed 20% if all of the hopeless ones, who are no longer collecting unemployment benefits and who gave up looking for opportunities, are added into the mix.

Moreover, they will not be able to jumpstart the economy so long as they cannot find work, and especially work at a living wage. After all, how can anyone make lots of purchases or take out bank loans if he has no reasonable income? So it follows that even more retail and wholesale stores, along with banks, will go belly up.

At the same time, the supply side of the market, itself, has created labor troubles. This is because goods have been overproduced. Consequently, there is overstock piled high in warehouses and shipping containers across the world ready to resume its path to the market once the spending reinitializes. However, spending cannot resume as long as the money has largely flowed to the top economic tier and away from average former and low wage workers, who can not expect to have decent paying jobs to create more goods until the current product glut diminishes.

In other words, consumers can’t buy much when money’s tight and work won’t be provided when there’s an oversupply of merchandise largely produced in second world sweatshops whose workers are paid so little that they hardly can put food on their own tables let alone make many more extravagant purchases — ones like toothpaste, soap and shampoo. Besides, they, too, face employment opportunities diminishing because worldwide sales are down for many of the products that, previously, their companies too copiously produced.

Concurrently, the bailouts, oriented towards fixing the credit side of the equation, are not addressing these sorts of supply side problems. Therefore, they will not keep the financial collapse from worsening.

Alternately put, TARP and other payoffs to the self-serving, unconscionable banksters and Wall Street high rollers largely responsible for the downturn will not produce an abundance of jobs. So the reasonable salaries, ultimately needed to buy the wares to cause industrial output to resume, won’t materialize any time soon.

It’s rather simple to understand, really. So why don’t Ben Bernanke and his colleagues seem to notice that massive job loss, itself, needs to be addressed posthaste? Why hasn’t a public works program been initiated? Why don’t they grasp that the act of offshoring all kinds of American jobs to maximize profits at the top tier does not ensure that products will be avidly snapped up by a greatly unemployed and underemployed public?

Since they, apparently, don’t understand, the downturn, with a few small upward twists, will remain in its plunging slide, which in turn will create further layoffs. All the while, the ├╝ber-wealthy and their corporate supporters, such as most members of Congress, will continue to pamper themselves with capital largely derived from struggling taxpayers and massive loans that raise the federal deficit.

More to the point, how could the slump not last when the affluent elites gamble away huge fortunes comprising of their own and others’ money while manufacturing bubbles and Ponzi schemes in the process? How could anything change when they keep amassing more and more assets for themselves while indifferent to their impact on society as a whole?

Such practices as theirs, obviously, cannot sustain the American middle and under classes and it cannot buoy up the utmost bottom rung either. On account, scores of individuals of all ages continue to wind up in tent cities or ensconced on public park benches. (Supposedly, families with children represent the fastest growing subset of the homeless population in the U.S.A. at present and the average age of a homeless person is nine years old.)

When the upper-crust keeps getting richer by taking an ever greater portion of the overall wealth and government schemes assure that the process continues, nearly everyone else becomes increasingly cash poor. When every now and then big investors suffer hefty losses, the government steps in to shore them up again and again. However, this practice, clearly, does not help the populace in general. The evidence that it does not can be seen everywhere across the American landscape and the entire world.

It follows, then, that, “in the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2004, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.3% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.3%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one’s home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.2%…”, according to G. William Domhoff, a sociology professor at University of California at Santa Cruz. [2]

Another way to measure the shift in wealth is by noting some of the corporate trends, themselves. As Sarah Anderson and John Cavanagh, at the Institute for Policy Studies, point out:

Of the 100 largest economies in the world, 51 are corporations; only 49 are countries (based on a comparison of corporate sales and country GDPs).

The Top 200 corporations’ sales are growing at a faster rate than overall global economic activity. Between 1983 and 1999, their combined sales grew from the equivalent of 25.0 percent to 27.5 percent of World GDP.

The Top 200 corporations’ combined sales are bigger than the combined economies of all countries minus the biggest 10.

The Top 200s’ combined sales are 18 times the size of the combined annual income of the 1.2 billion people (24 percent of the total world population) living in ‘’severe” poverty.

While the sales of the Top 200 are the equivalent of 27.5 percent of world economic activity, they employ only 0.78 percent of the world’s workforce. [3]

Especially exemplifying this type of corporate immensity is the Wal Mart company. For example, the Walton heirs have a collective worth of around $65 billion and over 1.7 billion shares, or 43%, of Wal Mart stock in addition to earning $29 billion off the stock price rise alone from November 2007 to June 2008.

Meanwhile, the Waltons pay their jean laborers in Nicaragua approximately $1.50/ day. Simultaneously, their average U.S. workers are given wages of about $12,000/ annum causing a full one half of Wal Mart’s 720,000 employees to qualify for food stamps.

At the same time, the clearly exploitive Wal Mart business model is considered an unqualified success — one that should be more often duplicated across the board. After all, it shows the capitalistic free market with its best possible outcome — profits beyond imagination and the American Dream come true (for the few who manage to take unfair advantage of the actual wealth producers)!

Perhaps, though, the best way to look at the new arrangement between citizens, State and the rising corporate structures is through this superlative summation by Benito Mussolini:

The corporate State considers that private enterprise in the sphere of production is the most effective and useful instrument in the interest of the nation. In view of the fact that private organisation of production is a function of national concern, the organiser of the enterprise is responsible to the State for the direction given to production.

State intervention in economic production arises only when private initiative is lacking or insufficient, or when the political interests of the State are involved. This intervention may take the form of control, assistance or direct management. [4]

Even if Benito Mussolini’s position has an alarmingly familiar ring to it, no one still should expect U.S. legislators to create laws any time soon that would enact tax code changes in order to remove subsidies that encourage overpayment to executives and that cost taxpayers $20 billion a year. Indeed, nobody should expect any major changes at all that would level the financial playing field, remove a sense of economic injustice or bring back jobs and reasonable wages to the American people.

As Joel H. Rassman, Toll Bros. CFO in 2006, explained about CEO Robert I. Toll’s $20 million compensation while shareholders were suffering a 22% loss: “I have yet to meet the person who has enough money.”

Like Toll, a majority of Congressional representatives, of whom many are multi-millionaires, apparently imagine that they never have quite enough for themselves and justify their dodgy choices accordingly. They, also, know who butters their bread and it surely is not the increasingly impoverished average U.S. citizens, who continue to be the indirect victims of corporate rapacity and pathetic corporate oversight by executives and Congressmen alike.

In relation, one wonders when a significant number of Americans will, finally, recognize that they’ve been had. Put another way by Andrew Greeley: “It should be no surprise that when rich men take control of the government, they pass laws that are favorable to themselves. The surprise is that those who are not rich vote for such people, even though they should know from bitter experience that the rich will continue to rip off the rest of us. Perhaps the reason is that rich men are very clever at covering up what they do.”

This explanation in mind, we need not worry as much about the terrorists from abroad as the terrorists from above and the duped voters who repeatedly fall for political candidates pandering to this broadly malignant upper class. The latter bunch and their sycophantic legislative admirers, more than any foreign guerrillas, are leading the world’s wealthiest nation into ever deeper ruin.


[1] Top CEO collected $702 mln in 2008: US survey – Yahoo! News

[2] Who Rules America: Wealth, Income, and Power (

[3] CorpWatch : Top 200: The Rise of Corporate Global Power ( php?id=377).

[4] Benito Mussolini, 1935, Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions, Rome, ‘Ardita’ Publishers. pp. 133-135.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Legendary Spanish Civil War Photograph Faked

‘Anti-Fascist’ Legend Falls in Spain
By K R Bolton
Academy of Social & Political Research, Athens

As has been commented upon repeatedly by sundry historians and authors, the Spanish Civil War served as a prelude for World War II, giving the Big Powers and competing ideologies the opportunity to test out their weaponry and tactics. Spain also served as a testing ground for propaganda, and the Franco side has expectedly come off second best, as the Popular Front are still portrayed as noble champions of liberty, regardless of the Masonic-Bolshevist assaults that were perpetrated with the same sadism that had already been manifested in Russia and Hungary.

Like World War I, with the British-US propaganda depictions of Germans bayoneting Belgian babies, and World War II with the Soviet-Allied propaganda which is still being presented to the world as though the war against the Axis remains in full swing, there are several salient propaganda devices deriving from the Spanish tragedy which have endured, one of which has recently been dealt a fatal blow (the other being the legend of the Basque town Guernica, supposedly bombed by German aircraft, but more the victim of Leftist dynamiting, the fires from which the Leftist mayor did not allow the fire brigade from Bilbao to extinguish. See for e.g. the first hand account of British journalist and author, F Yeats Brown, European Jungle, Eyre and Spottiswood, 1939; chapter on Spain available as a reprint from this writer).

The legend that has recently fallen is that of the very famous supposed photograph of the death agonies of a noble knight for democracy (aka a servant of Bolshevism and Masonry), entitled “Falling Militiaman” by Robert Capa.

An Associated Press report describes the photograph as follows:

“Robert Capa’s photograph of a falling Spanish Civil war militiaman became one of the most famous and enduring images of conflict of the 20th century.
“Now, Spanish researchers who have studied events surrounding the picture believe it was staged.” (Civil war photo ‘a fake’, AP Report, Dominion Post, Wellington, New Zealand, July 25, 2009, B3).

The picture was first published in 1936 in the French magazine Vu and then in Life magazine in the USA. The caption said that the photograph depicted the moment a Republican rifleman was killed.

Interestingly, the AP report states that the location was given as Cerro Muriano on the Cordoba front, where Franco’s forces were fiercely engaging “soldieries loyal to the elected Republican government.” Note that even in this passing reference in the AP report, the legend endures regarding the implied legitimacy of the “elected Republican government” (sic) fighting the illegitimate rebels under Franco. Regardless, the legend continues of Republic heroism against evil fascists, with little or no consideration of the causes of the civil war, of the violence perpetrated by the socialists and communists against Rightist and monarchist parliamentarians, of the cowardly shooting of Falangist leader Jose de Rivera while in government custody, of the policy of summary executions used by the anarchists, the burning of churches and the shooting of priests, in a re-enactment of the Russian Bolsheviks two decades previously. (Lately there have been ‘revisionist historians’ attempting to lower the estimates for the number of priests and monks killed by the ‘loyalists’. See for e.g. Antony Beevor, The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939-, Penguin, 2001).).

The AP report continues that the location was probably not Cerro Muriano and that the militiaman was probably not shot. After studying the photograph and new images as part of an exhibition at Barcelona’s art gallery museum, four researchers state the photographs were taken 5 kilometres away in an area where there was no fighting at that time.

‘“It quickly became obvious to us that among the new photographs – 34 attributed to Capa, six to his companion Gerda Taro – there were four that revealed the exact place where Capa had taken the shots,” film maker Raul Riebenbauer said.’ (AP report, ibid.).

Historian Francisco Moreno studied the geographical features of the photograph, including the shape of the hills, the location of two farmhouses and several roads, and identified the location as a hillside east of Espejo township.

The AP report states that “Falling Militiaman” catapulted the career of Capa as the world’s foremost war photographer. Now after over 70 years he can join the sullied ranks of one of the world’s foremost propagandist frauds in the service of the Left.

(K R Bolton is a Fellow of the Academy of Social and Political Research, author of Thinkers of the Right, England, 2003, etc.; and a columnist for The [Kapiti] Watchman, New Zealand).

Friday, August 21, 2009

Pius XI's Words of Wisdom on Hollywood

In his encyclical, Vigilanti Cura, Pope Pius XI wrote that he was “deeply anguished to note with each passing day the lamentable progress of the motion picture art and industry in the portrayal of sin and vice.”

That encyclical regarding film immorality was issued on June 29, 1936. The Pope lamented that “the road seemed almost closed to those who sought honest diversion in the motion picture.” The situation has hardly improved in the ensuing 70-plus years.
The best we can hope for today is that Catholics everywhere will be judicious in the choice of movies they attend – and especially those they allow their children to see – in hopes that, as Pius XI said, movies become a “valuable auxiliary of instruction and education rather than of destruction and ruin of the soul.”
In the Pope’s judgment, the art, science, and technology of movie making were all true gifts of God. Yet he admonished that these talents be used “to promote the extension of the Kingdom of God upon earth.”
Perhaps that should be our guide as well in determining which movies we, and our children, choose to watch.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Income Inequality Worst Since 1917

No Wonder the Poker Game is Ending: The Wealthiest Have Taken All of the Chips

Washington’s Blog
Saturday, August 15, 2009

A new report by University of California, Berkeley economics professor Emmanuel Saez concludes that income inequality in the United States is at an all-time high, surpassing even levels seen during the Great Depression.

The report shows that:

Income inequality is worse than it has been since at least 1917
“The top 1 percent incomes captured half of the overall economic growth over the period 1993-2007″
“In the economic expansion of 2002-2007, the top 1 percent captured two thirds of income growth.”
As others have pointed out, the average wage of Americans, adjusting for inflation, is lower than it was in the 1970s. The minimum wage, adjusting for inflation, is lower than it was in the 1950s. See this. On the other hand, billionaires have never had it better.

As I wrote in September:

The economy is like a poker game . . . it is human nature to want to get all of the chips, but – if one person does get all of the chips – the game ends.

In other words, the game of capitalism only continues as long as everyone has some money to play with. If the government and corporations take everyone’s money, the game ends.

The fed and Treasury are not giving more chips to those who need them: the American consumer. Instead, they are giving chips to the 800-pound gorillas at the poker table, such as Wall Street investment banks. Indeed, a good chunk of the money used by surviving mammoth players to buy the failing behemoths actually comes from the Fed…

This is not a question of big government versus small government, or republican versus democrat. It is not even a question of Keynes versus Friedman (two influential, competing economic thinkers).

It is a question of focusing any government funding which is made to the majority of poker players – instead of the titans of finance – so that the game can continue. If the hundreds of billions or trillions spent on bailouts had instead been given to ease the burden of consumers, we would have already recovered from the financial crisis.

As Marc Weisbrot writes in the Guardian:

John Schmitt and Nathan Lane showed that the United States is not the nation of small businesses that it is regularly dressed up to be for electoral campaign speeches and editorials. If we look at what percentage of our overall labour force is self-employed, or what percentage of manufacturing workers or high-tech workers are employed in small businesses – well, the US ranks at or near the bottom among high-income countries.

As economist Paul Krugman noted after reading the study: “One more American myth bites the dust.”

In other words, the idea that America has more small businesses than other countries is false. More small businesses would be good, as it would mean that more of the “little guys” would have poker chips to play the free market game with.

Similarly, breaking up the big banks would lead to more competition and allow smaller banks to fill the lending needs of individuals and small businesses

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Local Currency Most Popular Since Great Depression

Communities around the country are printing “scrip” at the highest rate since the Great Depression says Agora Financial

Behold the “Plenty” an alternitive currency printed and exchanged exclusively in Pittsboro, N.C., population 2,500. A couple dozen Pittsboro stores accept it as a dollar alternative, like the local feed store and a produce co-op.

The idea is nothing new… we’ve chronicled scrips like the Ithaca HOUR and Western Mass’ BerkShare for some time. Both have millions worth in ciculation.

But according to the LA Times, scrips haven’t been this popular since the Great Depression. They’ve gained significant traction in New York, North Carolina, Michigan, Colorado, Arizona and Massachusets, with many more commonities beginning to experiment.

And we’re noticing a decidedly less hippie, more snarky feel: "The Plenty is not going to get siphoned off to Wall Street,” says B.J. Lawson, president of The Plenty co-op board, “or Washington, or make a stop in Bentonville on its way to China.” In Mesa, Ariz., locals are using Mesa Bucks to essentialy stick it to the man… bring a sales receipt from inside city limits to the local arts center and they’ll give you a percentage of your sales tax back in Mesa Bucks.

So much for “E Pluribus Unim”

Announcement from "In the Spirit of Chartres Committee"

The “In the Spirit of Chartres ” Committee, year three of...

Catholic Restoration Conference V


Ph.D. Candidate in Music History
Indiana University

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Bernanke Redistributes Income Upwards: The Impoverishment of Middle America

Unemployment is rising, wages are falling and credit is contracting. In other words, the system is working exactly as designed. All the money is flowing upwards to the gangsters at the top. Here’s an excerpt from a recent Don Monkerud article that sums it all up:

“During eight years of the Bush Administration, the 400 richest Americans, who now own more than the bottom 150 million Americans, increased their net worth by $700 billion. In 2005, the top one percent claimed 22 percent of the national income, while the top ten percent took half of the total income, the largest share since 1928

Over 40 percent of GNP comes from Fortune 500 companies. According to the World Institute for Development Economics Research, the 500 largest conglomerates in the U.S. “control over two-thirds of the business resources, employ two-thirds of the industrial workers, account for 60 percent of the sales, and collect over 70 percent of the profits.”

… In 1955, IRS records indicated the 400 richest people in the country were worth an average $12.6 million, adjusted for inflation. In 2006, the 400 richest increased their average to $263 million, representing an epochal shift of wealth upward in the U.S.” “Wealth Inequality destroys US Ideals”

[Here we see an economy moving in the opposite direction from the one the Distributists would understand to be desireable. Belloc always defined capitalism as "a small handful of men owning most of the productive wealth."]

Monday, July 13, 2009

The New Freedom of Obama Nation --- Pharmacists Will Now Be Forced to Dispense Abortifacients

Pharmacists lose pill ruling

By Carol Williams, LA Times

Pharmacists are obliged to dispense the Plan B pill, even if they are personally opposed to the "morning after" contraceptive on religious grounds, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
In a case that could herald judicial policy across the Western states, a supermarket pharmacy owner in Olympia, Washington failed in a bid to block 2007 changes to pharmacy regulations requiring all Washington pharmacists to stock and dispense the contraceptive. Family-owned Ralph's Thriftway and two women employed at other pharmacies sued Washington state officials to assert that their Christian beliefs prevented them from dispensing the pills that can prevent implantation of the recently fertilized egg. They claimed that the new regulations would force them to choose between keeping their jobs and heeding their religious objections to a medication they regard as a form of abortion....On July 8, 2009, a 3 judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the injunction, saying the district court was wrong in issuing it based on an erroneous finding that the rules violate the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution....[According to the court], the right to freely exercise one's religion "does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a valid and neutral law of general applicability," [N.B., what pray tell is not a "valid and neutral law of general applicability --- in other words one can never cite the natural or divine law as a justification for not obeying a human civil law --- question: is this not the very essence of totalitarianism] the 9th Circuit panel wrote. [Let us all in the United States admit that we have now entered into a totalitarian democracy. Europe did it a long time ago, let us admit that we have so entered now --- this ruling, with many more like it to come, proves that the United States has so entered this state.]

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Benedict XVI calls for World Government to Fix Economy

Benedict's Globalist "Solution" is One World Government with Totalitarian Powers. Where is the Principle of Subsidiarity? See Comments Below. Why do we have the Pope agreeing with Al Gore and Barack Obama?

Pope calls for a "global authority" on economy
By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict called on Tuesday for a "world political authority" to manage the global economy and for more government regulation of national economies to pull the world out of the current crisis and avoid a repeat.

The pope made his call for a re-think of the way the world economy was run in a new encyclical which touched on a number of social issues but whose main connecting thread was how the current crisis has affected both rich and poor nations.

Parts of the encyclical, titled "Charity in Truth," seemed bound to upset free marketers because of its underlying rejection of unbridled capitalism and unregulated market forces, which he said had led to "thoroughly destructive" abuse of the system and "grave deviations and failures."

An encyclical is the highest form of papal writing and gives the clearest indication to the world's 1.1 billion Catholics -- and to non-Catholics -- of what the pope and the Vatican think about specific social and moral issues.

The pope said every economic decision had a moral consequence and called for "forms of redistribution" of wealth overseen by governments to help those most affected by crises.

Benedict said "there is an urgent need of a true world political authority" whose task would be "to manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result."

Such an authority would have to be "regulated by law" and "would need to be universally recognized and to be vested with the effective power to ensure security for all, regard for justice, and respect for rights."

"Obviously it would have to have the authority to ensure compliance with its decisions from all parties, and also with the coordinated measures adopted in various international forums," he said.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"Green Shoots": True Unemployment Rate Near 21%

True unemployment rate already at 20%
Posted Jul 06 2009, 01:16 PM by Anthony Mirhaydari

Really, how hard is it to find a job? Was June's horrid numbers, in which 467,000 people lost their jobs compared to 345,000 in May, a one-time fluke? Or does it mean that all those Wall Street economists who believe the economic recovery is starting are dead wrong?

Not to scare you, but the situation is actually worse than it seems. Over the years, the government has changed the way it counts the unemployed. An example of this is the criticized Birth-Death Model which was added in 2000. The model is designed to account for the birth and death of businesses and the resultant lag in survey data. Unfortunately, the model doesn't work that well during economic contractions (like we have now) and consistently overstates the number of jobs being created each month.

John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics specializes in removing these questionable tweaks to the government's statistical data to better align current numbers with the methodology used to gather historical data. After reviewing the data, Williams believes that "the June jobs loss likely exceeded 700,000." David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff notes that the fall in the number of hours worked in June (to a record low of 33 per week) is equivalent to a loss of more than 800,000 jobs.

There are similar issues with the way the unemployment rate is measured. The headline rate only jumped from 9.4% to 9.5% because of a drop in the number of people in the workforce. The more inclusive "U-6" measure of unemployment, which includes discouraged workers, jumped from 16.4% to 16.5%. But even this doesn't adequately capture the situation on the ground: Back in the Clinton Administration, the definition of discouraged worker was changed to only include those that had given up looking for work because there were no jobs to be had within the last year.

By adding these folks back in, William's SGS-Alternate Unemployment Measure rose to a jaw-dropping 20.6%. Separately, the Center for Labor Market Studies in Boston puts U.S. unemployment at 18.2%. Any way you cut the numbers, the situation is very bad. According to David Rosenberg, one-in-three among the unemployed have been looking for a job for more than six months and still can't find one.

This brings us to another issue: expiring unemployment benefits. Continuing unemployment claims fell 53,000 to 6.7 million last week, but Deutsche Bank's chief U.S. economist Joseph LaVorgna wonders how much of this decline is due people exhausting their standard 26-week benefit. He says: "We are concerned about what will happen when a significant share of out-of-work individuals' benefits completely expire, because this could lead consumer spending to re-weaken, hence jeopardizing a fragile recovery."

Unless the economy starts getting traction here in the third quarter, we could face a situation where people find that they have no job and no unemployment benefits. For these people, 2009 will feel an awful lot like 1932. As a result, spending cuts will be deep and dramatic.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Bishop Williamson writes of "Restructuring in State, Economy, and Church"

Eleison Comments CIII: 81/121 Re-Structuring

Tomorrow, or the day after, there is hardly a box outside of which it will not be necessary to think. In Church and world, the mentalities and structures of so-called “Western civilization” are collapsing around our ears. Still the mass of Western souls are preferring to slumber on in their audio-visual dream, but reality is closing in all the time – they may awake not before they are shackled into the New World Order.

The USA has for nearly a century acted as the shield and sword-bearer of “Western civilization” . Now its financial, economic and political power structures are melting down in a welter of greed, corruption, selfishness and dissolution slung between Wall Street, New York, and Washington, DC. However -- let it never be said too often – “We the people” have only ourselves to blame. We have wanted the cause: godless materialism. Now we must live with the effects: the final breakdown of fractional reserve “banking”, of paper “money”, of democratic “politics”.

City structures are crumpling. In Flint, Michigan, original home of General Motors presently employing 8,000 local people where once it employed 79,000 and now bankrupt, local politicians are pioneering an idea to save their dwindling city: raze entire districts and return the land to nature. This idea so appeals to the Federal Government that another 50 cities have been earmarked as potential candidates for salvation by the bulldozer, including Detroit, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

State structures are failing. In California, Controller John Chiang said a few days ago that if State lawmakers cannot quickly solve California’s 24 billion dollar deficit, then next week he will have to pay State debts with paper promises to pay. “Unfortunately” , said he, “the State’s inability to balance the check-book will now mean short-changing taxpayers, local governments and small businesses”. It is easy to imagine how these will react, but it is not easy to imagine how the budget deficit will be solved.

As for our national structures, if we will not acquiesce to their being merged into the international New World Order, then surely a Third World War will be engineered to persuade us, starting with an 81/121 (a 9/11 squared) ! Yet all these collapses pale in comparison with Vatican II, because it was the Catholic Church that was upholding “Western civilization” . If the Catholic collapse is not soon reversed by the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, then one must wonder if the healthiest elements in the Church will not need re-structuring as an underground resistance movement. Kyrie eleison.

Bishop Richard Williamson, London, England

Afghan Surge Illegal, says Professor of International Law



By Sherwood Ross

July 3, 2009(Special)---President Obama has no legal authority either from the United Nations or the U.S. Congress under the War Powers Resolution(WPR) to escalate the war in Afghanistan, a distinguished professor of international law says.

“President Obama’s surge of 21,000 troops now engaged in combat in Afghanistan comes on top of the 60,000 we already had there,” says Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law at Champaign.

“The Obama Administration simply ignored Section 4(a)(3) of the WPR when it announced the escalation,” Boyle noted. “U.S. armed forces are in Afghanistan originally pursuant to WPR. Its requirement that the President get Congressional consent on substantial enlargement (of forces) was put there to deal with the kind of gradual escalation we saw in Viet Nam that eventually led to 550,000 troops being there,” Boyle said.

“Clearly,” Boyle added, “President (George W.) Bush never had authority from Security Council in the first place to invade Afghanistan, and the WPR requires that any enlargement of U.S. troops in a foreign nation be authorized by Congress.” Boyle made his comments in a telephone interview with columnist Sherwood Ross of Miami, Fla.

President Obama “has now escalated the conflict into Pakistan and has set off a humanitarian catastrophe for 2-million of its people similar to what President Nixon set off in Cambodia,” Boyle said. “What Obama is doing is destabilizing Pakistan and setting off a civil war there. It’s a very dangerous, illegal, unconstitutional policy,” Boyle said.

The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in the first place because the Taliban government refused to allow UNOCAL oil to build the TAPI pipeline across its territory, Boyle said. He noted the route U.S. troops are taking in Afghanistan is that of the proposed pipeline. “I think this (escalation) is about getting the oil and gas out of Central Asia by avoiding Russia and without dealing with Iran,” Boyle added.

The easiest way to do that, he said, is to construct pipelines south through Afghanistan, into Pakistan and then out to the Arabian Sea. The oil and natural gas resources of Central Asia, Boyle noted, are reported to be the second largest in the world after the Persian Gulf.

In his new book, “Tackling America’s Toughest Questions,”(Clarity) Boyle wrote, “What is going on now in Afghanistan is not self-defense. Let’s be honest. We all know it. At best this is reprisal, retaliation, vengeance, catharsis. Call it what you want, but it is not self-defense. And retaliation is never self-defense.”

Thursday, June 25, 2009

American Green Cash Behind "Green" Revolution

June 19, 2009
Who Put the ‘green’ in the Green Revolution?
Posted by Daniel McAdams on June 19, 2009 05:35 AM

The United States, of course.

As in the previous “color revolutions” that seem to tirelessly capture the romantic imagination of US journalists, elites, and the propagandized population, the warm embrace of the US empire is firmly guiding the “spontaneous” Iranian uprising against last week’s election results. While I do not and should not– nor should any other American — care in the slightest who rules a country some seven thousand miles away, when the fingerprints of the US empire show up on these dramatic events overseas it is very much my business.

Several commentators have already dredged from the memory hole press reporting at the time on a presidential “finding” on Iran, which is the formal method for the president to initiate covert actions against another country. Back in 2007 — plenty of lead time for this election — the president met with the Congressional Star Chamber, the “gang of 8″ House and Senate leaders, and was granted the authorization to use some $400 million for among other things, as the Washington Post reported, “activities ranging from spying on Iran’s nuclear program to supporting rebel groups opposed to the country’s ruling clerics….”

Arch neo-conservative Kenneth Timmerman spilled the beans on activities of the other arm of US meddling overseas, the obscenely mis-named National Endowment for Democracy, in a piece written one day before the election, stating curiously that “there’s the talk of a ‘green revolution’ in Tehran.” Interesting. I wonder where that “talk” was coming from. Timmerman did not appear to be writing from Iran.

Timmerman went on to write, with admirable candor and honesty, that:

“The National Endowment for Democracy has spent millions of dollars during the past decade promoting ‘color’ revolutions in places such as Ukraine and Serbia, training political workers in modern communications and organizational techniques.

“Some of that money appears to have made it into the hands of pro-Mousavi groups, who have ties to non-governmental organizations outside Iran that the National Endowment for Democracy funds.”

Yes, you say, but what does a blow-hard propagandist like Timmerman know about such things? Well, he should know! His very spooky Foundation for Democracy in Iran has its own snout deep in the trough of NED’s “open covert actions” against the Iranian government.

How does the “Foundation for Democracy in Iran” seek to “promote democracy” in Iran with our tax dollars? Foundation co-founder Joshua Muravchik gives us a hint in his subtly-titled LA Times piece, “Bomb Iran.”

Frankly, what I find more disturbing than the fact that the US government continues meddling in this new magical era of Obama is how many in the United States continue to be taken in by these events color-coordinated from afar. Pundits have turned their websites green in “solidarity” with this “green revolution.” Self-described “libertarians” have thrown all critical thinking aside to embrace their inner green. As if hoping, somehow, that this time it will all be true. That the “people power” really is on the march. That it is a binary world where there are evil incumbents — the old guard — oppressing thrusting “reformers” who are Twittering away toward the bright tomorrow of a world where everyone wants to be just like us! Democracy!

At times like these, I turn to the great Matt Taibbi, who has written the best piece of all time on how the US has morphed into the USSR:

“Modern observers look back at the early Soviet days and wonder how it is that people could possibly have believed those fantastic tales they read about in the state papers–the lurid descriptions of fascist terrorists and wreckers who conspired to poison reservoirs and turn up rails and put broken glass in sausage in the most faraway, seemingly irrelevant places in Siberia and the far north. The answer probably is that they wanted to believe them. Because that was what was in their hearts. It wasn’t a lie that was being put over on them. It came from them.”

And on it goes…

Montana newly asserts Principle of Subsidiarity

Western states want reins on federal power

Eliza Wiley / Helena Independent Record

Montana state Rep. Joel Boniek, shown with his mule Jesse, introduced a bill seeking to exempt from federal regulation any firearm made and used within the state borders.
An expanded federal role prompts declarations of state sovereignty. Montana goes further with a gun bill defying U.S. firearm restrictions. The goal: Keep Washington on its side of the fence.
By Mark Z. Barabak
June 16, 2009

Reporting from Bozeman, Mont. -- Frustrated by the expanded power of Washington, a growing number of state lawmakers are defying the federal government and passing legislation aimed at rolling back the reach of Congress and President Obama.

While many measures are symbolic ones declaring the sovereignty of states, some Westerners are taking more dramatic steps. One Utah lawmaker wants to limit federal law enforcement in his state. In Montana, legislators enacted a bill that flagrantly ignores federal firearm restrictions, hoping to force a constitutional showdown.


Western politics: An article in Tuesday's Section A about the state sovereignty movement referred to legislation being considered for introduction next year in Montana that would make the sheriff the top law enforcement official in each county. The state Legislature does not meet again until 2011. —


Supporters of the bill want the Supreme Court to eliminate gun controls and, eventually, curtail Washington's ability to set policy on a wide range of issues, including education, civil rights, law enforcement and land use.

"It's about states' rights," said state Rep. Joel Boniek, an independent-turned-Republican from nearby Livingston, who introduced the bill. "Guns are just the vehicle."

The Montana Firearms Freedom Act seeks to exempt from federal regulation any firearm, gun component or ammunition made and kept within the state's borders. The legislation, signed by Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer, becomes law Oct. 1, though federal officials will likely act quickly to keep the measure from taking effect.

Legal experts are skeptical Montana will prevail in court, and even some proponents express their doubts. But supporters say the fight is a necessary step to change Washington's attitude. Similar bills have been introduced in nearly a half dozen states, and lawmakers in about a dozen more have expressed interest.

"We need 15, 25, 30 states to pass these types of legislation, so that we send a clear message to the country and to the national government," said Utah Rep. Carl Wimmer, a Republican from suburban Salt Lake City.

In addition to supporting a version of Montana's gun law, Wimmer is drafting legislation that would forbid local authorities to help enforce federal statutes inside Utah -- another bill that, if passed, would surely trigger a court fight.

"The national government has gained more and more power . . . to a point where we're simply subjects of the ruling masters in Washington, D.C.," said Wimmer, who has established an organization, the Patrick Henry Caucus, to rally like-minded lawmakers from other states. "That is not the way this country and this government were set up."

It is no accident the greatest defiance has surfaced in the West, a region with a history of antipathy toward outsiders and, especially, Washington.

"You're going to get more of it as people look at the growth of the federal government and the big bailout of financial interests," said Eric Herzik, a University of Nevada political scientist and expert on the Sagebrush Rebellion, the populist movement that swept the West a generation ago and helped put Ronald Reagan in the White House.

The sacred text for Wimmer, Boniek and their allies is the Constitution's 10th Amendment, which limits the powers of Washington. Although the language is straightforward -- all powers not specifically delegated to the federal government are reserved for the states -- the meaning has been debated (and elastically interpreted) throughout history.

Conservatives and libertarians have long cited the 10th Amendment to press their case against the expansion of federal power, usually to little avail. Their latest effort is the state sovereignty movement. (Some also refer to the "states' rights" movement, though for many those words evoke the segregated South and efforts to fight racial equality.)

In just the last few months, legislatures in five states -- Alaska, Idaho, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota -- have passed resolutions asserting their sovereignty and asking the federal government to "cease and desist" from meddling in their business. Similar measures are pending in about two dozen other states, including seven out West.

"There's a lot of people in the federal government saying: 'Do this. You must do that. We're the boss,' " said Republican state Rep. Brad Klippert, co-sponsor of sovereignty legislation pending in Olympia, Wash. "That's not true."

Several Republican governors, including Sarah Palin in Alaska, Mark Sanford in South Carolina and Rick Perry in Texas, have gone beyond symbolism, turning down a portion of federal stimulus funds -- and rejecting the strings attached -- as a way of expressing their independence from Washington. That has sometimes meant going to court and fighting fellow lawmakers eager to accept the money.

The latest movement appears aimed at Obama, who, in just a few months, has increased the size and scope of the federal government more dramatically than any president in decades.

Advocates deny that, citing a litany of grievances that include the No Child Left Behind education bill, which imposed strict federal testing requirements, and the Real ID law, which dictates costly national standards for driver's licenses. Both were signed by President George W. Bush.

Still, Obama and his expansive agenda have unquestionably given momentum to the state sovereignty effort, which has been embraced by Republican politicians like Perry and heavily promoted by sympathetic commentators on conservative TV and talk radio.

For his part, Boniek at one point equated Obama with Hitler, Mao and Stalin, saying each loved his country in his fashion but proved disastrous as a leader. "He's ruining the country I love," Boniek said of Obama, his soft tone belying the harsh comparison. "He doesn't know what freedom is."

It is difficult to say how the Supreme Court might rule on Montana's gun law, which challenges the government's authority under the commerce clause of the Constitution, the legal basis for much federal regulation.

In the mid-1990s, the court struck down a federal law that sought to restrict guns near schools, using the rationale behind Montana's law: that the federal authority over interstate commerce did not extend to a product that was made and used within one state.

More recently, however, the justices rejected a direct challenge to the commerce clause, ruling in 2005 that the federal government had the authority to effectively override California's medical marijuana law, even though the cannabis was being grown and used within the state's borders.

"As an abstract legal matter, it's perfectly plausible," Eugene Volokh, a UCLA expert on constitutional law, said of Montana's case. "But it's very unlikely to succeed in today's legal climate."

Backers of the legislation concede as much. "No federal employee in a black robe is going to roll back the power of the federal government," said Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Assn., who wrote the bill. "But we want to make a statement, get the legal arguments on the record and get people active."

Boniek, who makes his living operating a crane and leading big-game hunts, is already planning for next year's session. (Montana, like some other Western states, has a part-time legislature.)

He plans to introduce a bill that would make the sheriff the top law enforcement official in each county, requiring federal officers to seek permission to exercise authority in Montana.

For now, Boniek is waiting to see how the fight over his gun bill goes. "The whole thing is like a chess game," he said. "We've made our move. The next move is up to the federal government."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Monarchy. The Political Solution?

In Defense of Monarchy
By: Brian M. McCall
For The Remnant

Apparently my recent article concerning the plight of His Royal Highness, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, has provoked some unintended consequences. Some areas of the blogsphere have questioned any favorable comments about a monarch as “un-American.” Although I had not intended the article to be a prompting for a debate on Catholic political theory, the observed reactions have prompted me to do just that.

To begin we have to define some terms. Often this discussion is short circuited by people using the term “monarchy” to mean different things. As I use the term it merely means a form of government where some or all of the governing authority is vested in a single person (monarch) who rules the kingdom for the remainder of their natural life or abdication (i.e. are not subject to constant elections). Often the term is conflated with a hereditary right of succession or the principle of inheritance known as primogenitor. These aspects of transmission of authority may be coupled with a monarchy in particular periods of history but are not essential to the definition. The Holy Father is a monarch but his position is not inherited but obtained by election through the College of Cardinals. The Holy Roman Emperor was elected by a collection of German Princes (although for many centuries it became customary for the electors to make their choice from one particular family, the Hapsburgs. Abbots and Abbesses are monarchs elected by their communities. Some monarchies have been hereditary (for example the kings of France and England, etc.). What is important to note is that some people’s purported objection to monarchy is actually an objection to hereditary succession, which is really a separate and distinct issue.

Now that we have established that a monarchy need not involve inheritance, we can turn directly to Catholic political philosophy. Catholic thought in this area does not judge a particular governing system merely on the form of government employed. Rather, the touchstone of Catholic political philosophy is the “common good.” The essential test of any system is whether or not the governing authorities govern the civil society in accordance with the common good or only a private good. The concept of the “common good” is a rich philosophical topic which could occupy an entire article. For our purposes, I merely wish to note that both elements of the term are essential to its definition. First, the government must in its legislative, executive and judicial acts really be pursuing something that constitutes a “good.” St. Thomas defines the “good” as “that which all thing desire.” A “good” is a perfection of something’s nature, an end that it seeks. Thus, knowledge of God, knowledge of Truth, procreation and rearing of children, preservation of life and beauty are all examples of “good.”

Secondly the good must be common to the members of the community as opposed to merely oriented towards the personal good of the ruler. A ruler who pursues the increase of knowledge among the people of his kingdom pursues the common good. A ruler who pursues public policies which increase merely his own personal wealth pursues a personal good. The common good can thus be seen as being in opposition to both a mere personal good and an evil.

With this framework we can see how Catholic philosophers such as St. Thomas categorized different forms of government not only by the method of governing but also by the type of end pursued by the ruler. Thus, when a community is ruled by one person that pursues the common good of the community it is called a monarchy. When the one ruler pursues his own personal good or an evil it is called a tyranny. A community ruled by a small group of virtuous men pursuing the common good is called an aristocracy. A community ruled by a small group of powerful men pursuing their own personal good (personal wealth or power) or ends constituting evil (such as unjust conquests) rather than the common good is called an oligarchy. A community ruled by many of the members of the community who govern the community in the interest of the common good is called a polity whereas a government run by the many which pursues evil ends (such as debauchery or depravity or economic injustice) is called democracy. Obviously as with many categorizations, actual communities can exhibit aspects of several of the above descriptions. Just as with personality types, a person may have a dominant character but still have some elements of the other characters (in their good or bad aspects).

To help make the discussion more concrete I will give some examples of communities that have exhibited primarily one of these forms. A monarchy would be France under the reign of St. Louis as he pursued the common good and primarily ruled France by his own authority. A tyranny would be Henry VIII for he pursued not only private goods (mostly of sensuality) but also pursued evil, heresy and schism. Although the English parliament existed, it played little role other than rubber stamping the will of Henry (likely out of fear of the scaffold). An aristocracy could be seen in some periods of ancient Israel when it was ruled by a council of elders. Staying with Israel, at the time of Our Lord it was essentially an oligarchy (in Judah at least where Herod had no power) ruled by the powerful Sanhedrin which worked against the common good of salvation brought by the Messiah, our Lord, as well as pursuing their own personal good of maintaining wealth and power. An example close to a polity would be some periods of the Roman Republic where the city was governed by representatives of the patricians in the Senate and the plebians through plebicites and tribunes and when their policies pursued the common good of the Roman city. An example of a perversion of polity, democracy, would be contemporary America. We are ruled by vast numbers of people (look at the size of the federal government alone. Our government promotes common vice not virtue (I think I need not rattle off the list of these) and a staggeringly large proportion of those in power govern for their own personal good – wealth and power (again I think it unnecessary to name names).

Now since any of the three forms of organization (one, few and many) possess the potentiality to be (and throughout different points in history, have in actuality been) oriented to either the common good or its perversion, none of the three can be declared per se the only or best form. In this sense, the Church has never said that a community is obligated to establish a monarchy or aristocracy or a polity in the same sense that she has required every community to acknowledge Christ the King. Catholic perfection of a civil community is possible, in theory, under any of them. However, the Church throughout history has certainly shown a tendency to favor monarchy. This can be seen both in the realm of ideas and in the realm of praxis. First, thinkers like Aquinas argue that although virtue is possible in any of the three forms, if a choice is possible, monarchy is preferable. Several reasons can be given. First, it has the potential to be more effective in promoting the common good because a monarchy by its nature is more capable of unified and coherent action. With one ruler the will of the ruling authority possesses a greater degree of unity (although not perfect as the human will suffers from the effects of original sin, one of which is inconstancy). A monarch who governs oriented to the common good has greater potential to do so more effectively than a group of people requiring co-ordination. Yet, as St. Thomas points out this very effectiveness can lead to the perversion of monarchy, tyranny. A tyranny is more effective in pursuing an antithesis of the common good. Thus, monarchy is capable of being the best but also one of the most dangerous forms of government.

Beyond effectiveness in pursuing the common good, monarchy as a government of unity tends to accord more to the supernatural order established by God. One God rules the visible and invisible worlds and thus a monarchy more perfectly reflects this order. Now, one might object that this one God contains three Divine Persons which is more akin to aristocracy; yet if we consider the matter, the Trinity is more like a human monarchy. The Trinity, despite being comprised of really distinct persons, possess a complete unity of attributes, perfections, desire, will and purpose. Such unity on the human level is not possible and more similar to a single person.

On the level of praxis, a vast plentitude of prayers of the Church (before the Bugnini Reckovation of the Liturgy) echo images and vocabulary of monarchy. Again in the interests of time I will not prove this assertion with detailed examples. Anyone following a Traditional Mass Missal for any period of time should see this as obvious. I will just note that before the Americanist leaning Archbishop Carrol penned his novel prayer for the generic term “government” in the early 19th century, it was for centuries customary after a High Mass to chant a “Prayer for the King [or Queen], the Domine Salvam Fac.

Such considerations have led many Catholic thinkers (including in one place St. Thomas) to consider that although monarchy represents in theory the best choice that it may be prudent to temper this form with elements of the other as a safeguard against a potential tyranny. With some role in governing for the virtuous few and the common citizens, the ability of a future tyrant may be restrained. This precaution comes with a price. A true monarch may be less effective in realizing the common good than he otherwise would have been.

Now, some contemporary thinkers have latched on to this idea of a tempered form of government (or what St. Thomas calls in one place a mixed form) as justification for (or even explanation of) the American constitutional system. Such a comparison is inaccurate on many levels. Most importantly the idea of a monarchy in a government is much more than a central executive figure such as a president. One of the benefits of a monarch is that his governing power is more obviously seen as proceeding from God. He is not beholden to an electoral cycle or constant change of office. As I argued in my recent article on the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, one of the main roles a monarch can play in a mixed form of government is to be a conscience standing outside the realm of electoral politics who can act as a guardian of the divine and natural law when the few or the many may attempt to pervert the common good into a violations of it. The presidency of the United States (and yes even the Imperial Presidency of modern history) is not and has never been a monarchy thus understood. America may at some point in its history been close to an aristocracy or a polity (although personally I think it has mostly been an oligarchy or a democracy) but it has never been a monarchy in any way. That does not mean that the United States has a unique place in history among governments opposed to the common good. History is littered with many tyrannies, oligarchies and democracies. Yet, the United States constitutional system is also not the utopian and mystical perfect form of government that many Americans, including some traditional Catholics, pretend it to be.

Recognizing that the United States is not a real mixed form of government (as there is no element of monarchy present), a reaction that anything in praise of monarchy is un-American may not be an inaccurate statement. Yet, a visceral reaction against monarchy is certainly un-Catholic. First, as we have seen the Church has held all three forms (monarchy, aristocracy and polity) to be acceptable forms of government. Secondly, for almost all of its history, the Church has exhibited in thought and words a preference for monarchy, although particular circumstances have not always made it possible or even prudentially advisable. I did not set out in this article to unveil a plan for reformulating the U.S. governmental system along Catholic lines. I do believe it needs serious reforming as we have long toiled under a government not oriented to the common good. My more modest objective was to argue first that a government oriented to the common good is the most important priority in any such reconstitution and secondly to argue that monarchy should not be jettisoned from the table as unacceptable per se. What is certainly clear is that the standard of the common good (which I hope to elucidate in future articles) needs to be the prominent litmus test of any government, whether a monarchy or not. On this litmus test, the United States has for a long time not measured up to that standard. For this reason we need to implore Christus Rex, misere et salva nos!