Thursday, December 29, 2011

Humorous, "down-home" phrases

I am unaware of phrases like these in my own family's repertoire. But I have heard others who seem to own a few.

I wanted to find out who Carol Ann Wilson is on whose website I was led to

Wilson has a page dedicated to honoring the South. And down toward the bottom of the page, she shares a number of Southern speech patterns.

First, "things you will never hear a Southern boy say," then some favorite aphorisms by Will Rogers who, as Wilson notes, "wasn't from the South," but whose "wisdom is dead-on Southern--especially the part of the South that includes the Republic of Texas." (Wilson is from Texas.)

I thought the following were particularly funny:
  • It's so dry, the trees are bribing the dogs.
  • If things get any better, I may have to hire someone to help me enjoy it.
  • Never slap a man who's chewing tobacco.
  • If you're riding' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there.
  • Never miss a good chance to shut up. [I'm afraid I need to learn this one. --JAH]
There are plenty more where these came from.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A history of slavery in the U.S.

I first began to view slavery (as practiced in the U.S.) from a different perspective perhaps 15 or more years ago, while I was developing the American history program for Sonlight Curriculum. Up until that time, I had never heard or seen any attempted defense of what, up till that moment, I had assumed was an indefensible Southern perspective and practice--a perspective and practice that, for a morally compelling reason, led the United States government to prosecute a war against morally corrupt Southerners. And, of course, most of us know that war today as the American Civil War.

It was back in the mid-90s that I first heard
  • Of alternative names for the Civil War (the "War of Northern Aggression"; the "War for Southern Independence"; and so forth [I had heard of the "War Between the States"]) . . . and reasons why various historians prefer one name over the others.
  • That
    • The members of the United States were very much independent states prior to the Civil War. Look at the founding documents. Look at popular documents of the first half of the 19th Century. Reference is almost always made to "these United States" rather than "the United States."
    • Prior to the Civil War, the United States was, much like the European Union is today, a confederation of independent nations.
    • It was only as a result of the War that the consolidated national federal government we know today was created in the United States.
  • The War may not have been fought solely or even primarily over slavery.
  • That the horrible abuses of slaves were most definitely not the de facto standard treatment under which slaves suffered throughout the South and that, instead, much of what I had been taught was the equivalent of partisan political posturing in which anti-slavery/abolitionist advocates used the most horrifying news stories of the day to proclaim that the abuses were the "standard"--much as anti-homeschooling zealots today use the most horrifying examples of abuse to suggest that these parents' behaviors are the "norm" among homeschoolers. (When newspapers begin headlining articles, as this one does, "Another Homeschool Killing," you know what the author and/or editor thinks about homeschooling!)
  • That the majority of citizens in Northern states may have actually been more racist than the citizens of Southern states.
  • That Northern states had horribly racist laws.
  • That many free blacks in the South owned black slaves.
  • And so on and so forth.
This was all new to me. And deeply disturbing. That I had never even heard of these things. That I had never been presented with arguments either in favor of or opposed to these various perspectives. No. Rather, the way I was brought up, it was as if these perspectives didn't exist.

And so last Saturday I came across an article titled Why The War Was Not About Slavery by Donald W. Livingston.

I am very impressed.

Some key points:
  • "The first thing to appreciate is slavery was, from the very first, a national enormity, an American sin for which every section of the Union bore some responsibility. This, however, is not how we have been trained to think. . . ." --See pg. 2 in the article to find out how far you want to agree or disagree with the author's claims.
  • "Slavery . . . was a national enormity integral to the entire economic and political structure of the United States from the beginning. Its elimination, therefore, morally demanded a national solution where all would share, to some degree, in the sacrifices and costs necessary to remove it.

    "From our perspective, the morally right thing would have been a nationally funded program to emancipate slaves, compensate slave owners for their loss, and integrate the African population into American society as social and political equals. Yet, throughout the entire antebellum period, no national political party of any importance ever proposed emancipation, much less compensation and integration.

    "The South could not have seceded and fought to reject a morally responsible solution urged by the North because no such program was ever proposed or even contemplated."
  • "Most all antebellum Americans believed two propositions.

    "The first proposition is that slavery abstractly considered (that is independent of positive law, circumstance, and custom) is a violation of natural law. This was as true of Southerners as Northerners.

    "Lincoln makes this clear in one of his debates with Douglas: 'Before proceeding, let me say I think I have no prejudice against the Southern people. If slavery did not now exist amongst them, they would not introduce it.'

    "Why not? Because Southerners, like most Americans, thought that slavery abstractly considered is a violation of natural law.

    "The second proposition held by most Americans and especially by Northerners is the African population was never to be part of the American polity.

    "These two propositions are not contradictory, but they exist together in tension. If slavery, abstractly considered, is a violation of natural law, then slaves in America should be freed. But if America is a white European polity to which Africans are never to belong, then, even if freed, they would be in a permanently servile position without the protections of the master who had, if nothing else, an economic interest in the welfare of the slave."

    --Quite the claims! But fraught with deeper implications and meaning. --I commend the original article to you for your consideration. Was the North especially dedicated to the proposal that the African population should never be a part of the American polity?
  • Hard for many of us to imagine today, following Jim Crow and the Civil Rights movement of the 60s and 70s, but, "The only place where the African population was accepted as part of society [prior to the Civil War] was in the South. There blacks were integrated into society through the family, i.e.; the plantation household. Southerners had come to think that the native soil of blacks was Virginia and Georgia, not Africa. There was subordination in the Old South but not segregation."
I could go on, but I really encourage you to read Livingston's article itself. It's a bit longer than what you are likely normally to read in a magazine, but well worth the effort. You may find yourself walking away with a new perspective on one of the most significant events in American history.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Ron Paul finally being considered a serious contender?

Three items about Paul caught my eye this past week.

1. I found this video from CNN to be rather alarming/disturbing:

I think the reporters and commentators are asking fair questions. I think Paul is doing himself no good service by seeking "simply" to say he "didn't write," "didn't read" [at least "not all the time"], and "disavow[s]" the scurrilous remarks that were published in newsletters bearing his name. Gloria Borger comes close to asking the question I think Paul really needs to answer. When Paul says he didn't read the articles "all the time," Borger asks [about 4:43 into the video]: "Did you ever object when you read them?" --And Paul evades the question. Similarly, at about 5:55 into the next video [below], Borger asks, ". . . [D]id you ever take a look at [the newsletter and see these kinds of comments] and say, 'Y'know what, this isn't what I stand for'?" And Paul says, simply, "Not all the time."

Very dissatisfying answers.

It seems to me, the key question has to do with Paul's leadership. Clearly, if he completely "disavows" the things published under his name, then the question has to do with how Paul would "do things differently" now, 20 years later. What has he learned as a result of these experiences? How, as president, would he seek to avoid having things done under his name that he would want to disavow?

Similarly, I would like to see him respond to and/or explain the charges later in the video [7:53] that "three years ago he went on Iranian TV to say that Israelis had set up concentration camps to indiscriminately kill Palestinians." 1) Did he say these things? 2) If he did, what is the evidence for his claims? And, 3) [Again, assuming he actually said these things,] Why would he say these things on Iranian TV to Iranians? What was his purpose? And how would he put his comments there together with his claims about being a friend to Israel?

Finally, perhaps he could expand on the comments, i.e., defend what he apparently has said were his own words, quoted beginning about 2:40 into the video.

I appreciate Kazvorpal's comments in How to Prove Ron Paul is a Racist Enemy of America, but, somehow, I don't think Paul helps his cause by "simply" "hoping it will go away.


At the same time as this potential candidacy-destroying scandal makes its way into the nation's consciousness,

2. I think the rest of Borger's interview deserves airplay:

And, finally,

3. For a relatively full interview of Paul, I thought Jay Leno did a remarkably good job:

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Corruption in high places

I saw this in the December 2 edition of The Week. Quoting from Woman Gets Jail For Food-Stamp Fraud; Wall Street Fraudsters Get Bailouts:
You get busted for drugs in this country, and it turns out you can make yourself ineligible to receive food stamps.

But you can be a serial fraud offender like Citigroup, which has repeatedly been dragged into court for the same offenses and has repeatedly ignored court injunctions to abstain from fraud, and this does not make you ineligible to receive $45 billion in bailouts and other forms of federal assistance. . . .

A normal person, once he gets a felony conviction, immediately begins to lose his rights as a citizen.

But white-collar criminals of the type we’ve seen in recent years on Wall Street – both the individuals and the corporate "citizens" – do not suffer these ramifications. They commit crimes without real consequence, allowing them to retain access to the full smorgasbord of subsidies and financial welfare programs that, let’s face it, are the source of most of their profits.
I urge you to read the whole story because the contrast between how Citigroup and Anita McLemore have been treated is far bigger than what the few words I have quoted could signify.

The injustice of the U.S. federal government is beyond imagination.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Washington Post: "Ron Paul becoming serious contender in Republican presidential race"

What? He will finally get a little press coverage?

Nice balanced article in the Washington Post yesterday.

Now, if only someone would do a thorough story/interview in which they permit Paul himself to speak about his views. Ask the skeptical/incredulous questions and let him answer.

That's what amazes me: His views sound loony as summarized in five-word sound-bites by others (at the end of the referenced article, for example) . . . until he gets the opportunity to summarize his views in two- to five-minute sound-bites. Suddenly, for example, with respect to his views on Israel, I've found he makes a lot of sense.

What happens to the bottom of a dangled slinky when you let go at the top?

I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. Why and how can this be true?

And, finally,

. . . If you want to extend your experiments in falling objects, check out this experiment:

. . . and the answer--totally unexpected to me:

Can anyone offer a better/clearer explanation than the narrator provides (beginning at 1:28)? ". . . The tension required to accelerate the chain up actually pulls down on the weight, accelerating it at a rate greater than the acceleration due to gravity." (????!!!!)

Friday, December 16, 2011

The man who invented Christmas-as-we-know-it

Alexander Green, author of the occasional Spiritual Wealth email, sent an absolutely inspiring letter this morning. I asked for permission to reprint it and the Oxford Club, owners of the letter, agreed to let me.

It says a lot about Christmas--things I had never heard before. I thought you'd find it equally fascinating.
Last weekend, my family, some friends and I attended a performance of A Christmas Carol. . . .

It was superb. The kids particularly enjoyed it and were surprised to learn that the author – Charles Dickens – is the man most responsible for the modern celebration of the season. This is a story that deserves to be more widely known...

Dickens is one of the greatest writers in the English language. He published twenty novels in his lifetime. None has ever gone out of print.

Yet in 1843, Dickens’ popularity was at a low, his critical reputation in tatters, his bank account overdrawn. Facing bankruptcy, he considered giving up writing fiction altogether.

In a feverish six-week period before Christmas, however, he wrote a small book he hoped would keep his creditors at bay. His publishers turned it down. So using his meager savings, Dickens put it out himself. It was an exercise in vanity publishing – and the author told friends it might be the end of his career as a novelist.

Yet the publication of A Christmas Carol caused an immediate sensation, selling out the first printing – several thousand copies -in four days. A second printing sold out before the New Year, and then a third. Widespread theatrical adaptations spread the story to an exponentially larger audience still.

And it wasn’t just a commercial success. Even Dickens’ chief rival and foremost critic, William Makepeace Thackery, bowed his head before the power of the book: “The last two people I heard speak of it were women; neither knew the other, or the author, and both said, by way of criticism, ‘God bless him!’ What a feeling this is for a writer to be able to inspire, and what a reward to reap!”

Today we all know the tale of tight-fisted Scrooge – “Bah! Humbug!” – and his dramatic change of heart after being visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.

But A Christmas Carol didn’t just restore Dickens’ reputation and financial health. It also breathed new life into what was then a second-tier holiday that had fallen into disfavor.

As Les Standiford notes, in early 19th century England, the Christmas holiday “was a relatively minor affair that ranked far below Easter, causing little more stir than Memorial Day or St. George’s Day today. In the eyes of the relatively enlightened Anglican Church, moreover, the entire enterprise smacked vaguely of paganism, and were there Puritans still around, acknowledging the holiday might have landed one in the stocks.”

The date of Christmas itself is an arbitrary one, of course. There is no reference in the gospels to the birth of Jesus taking place on December 25th, or in any specific month. When Luke says, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior,” there isn’t the slightest indication when that was.

And while the day was marked on Christian calendars, celebrations were muted. That changed when A Christmas Carol became an instant smash, stirring English men and women to both celebrate the holiday and remember the plight of the less fortunate. This was exactly the author’s intent.

Dickens grew up in poverty and was forced into child labor. (His father, a naval pay clerk who struggled to meet his obligations, was thrown into debtor’s prison.) Yet despite these handicaps, Dickens educated himself, worked diligently, and rose to international prominence as a master writer and storyteller.

He was a great believer in self-determination and, in particular, the transformative power of education. With learning, he said, a man “acquires for himself that property of soul which has in all times upheld struggling men of every degree.”

Yet in the London of Dickens’ day, only one child in three attended school. Some worked in shops, others in factories. Still others resorted to theft or prostitution to live. Dickens was determined to expose their plight. A Christmas Carol, in particular, is a bald-faced parable, something few novelists attempt… and even fewer successfully execute.

Dickens said his novels were for the edification of his audience. His goal was not just to entertain but to enlighten. And A Christmas Carol was designed to deliver “a sledge-hammer blow” on behalf of the poor and less fortunate.

It worked. Scrooge – a character as well known as any in fiction – is now synonymous with “miser.” Yet through his remarkable transformation, the author reminds us that it is never too late to change, to free ourselves from selfish preoccupations.

Dickens’ biographer Peter Ackyroyd and other commentators have credited the novelist with single-handedly creating the modern Christmas holiday. No, not the contemporary orgy of shopping, spending and ostentatious display. In A Christmas Carol, there are no Christmas trees, gaudy decorations or – apart from “the big, prize turkey” at the end – any presents at all. The only gifts exchanged are love, friendship and goodwill.

In one small book, Dickens changed the culture, inspired his contemporaries, and helped restore a holiday they were eager to revive.

More than a century and half later, A Christmas Carol is still a tonic for our spirits – and an annual reminder of the benefits of friendship, charity and celebration.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tools or Toys for kids


I don't get to the Sonlight blog very often, but in the Post Post Script to a letter Sonlight sent yesterday, I saw a link to a post called Limiting Toys . . . which, itself, was linked to an earlier post called Tools, Not Toys. Really brilliant ideas from Jill Evely, a homeschooling mom who has graduated five young people and seen them move on to become productive, responsible adults.

Take a look.

Healthcare freedom?

What would you do if "they" came knocking on your door early in the morning because, "they" say, you are guilty of child neglect because you (and your son) refuse to put him through more cancer treatments of "their" preference after your son is found cancer-free?

Indeed, what would you do if this all happened because you disagreed with the doctor who had been treating your son when he demanded that you put your son under this kind of care:
treatments of Ifosfamide, Etoposide, Doxorubicin, Vincristine and Anorexialt. NONE of which have been FDA approved for use in children or even for the use of [your son's] diagnosed condition. [And some of which] have . . . been shown to cause other forms of cancers.

Some other side effects of these drugs are:
-Damage to the cranial motor nerves
-Serious infections
-Failure of boys to sexually mature
-The inability to father children

Yep. Real story. Real parents. Real 9- (now 10-) year-old boy. Real lawsuit. And real pain.

Jacob Stieler was diagnosed with cancer back in March of this year. After undergoing surgery and chemo treatments, he and his parents were dumfounded and thrilled to discover there were no signs of cancer in July. All his scans came back clear. His blood counts were good. . . .

July 1:
Thursday we have to head back to Grand Rapids for Jacob to get his counts checked and Friday, we have to go back to Grand Rapids again for Jacob’s MRI and Bone Scan. Very busy week! And lots of driving. Not my favorite thing to do, but it will be nice to get the tests done and see where Jacob’s at.

Please be praying for Jacob’s tests next week. Pray that his counts will be higher on Sunday so he won’t have to have another transfusion.
July 6:
Jacob had his counts checked Sunday morning. They were great! Praise God! That meant that he didn’t have to have his Neupogen shots for the rest of the week. He was so happy about that. He did really good all day, but around dinner time, he had a melt-down. I don’t know what happened, but he was not happy. He told me he wished he could fall asleep and never wake up. Boy, that is so hard to hear! I know he’s had those moments a few times already, and I can’t blame him, but it breaks my heart. I think he was just drained from a day at the beach. I’m always wiped out myself the day after too. Anyway, he woke up Monday morning and had done a 180. He was back to his old silly self.
July 7:
And then July 11:
We’ll be leaving out of state for treatment for a month or so. It’ll be so nice to be back after that. Just that much sweeter! Please continue to pray for Jacob. Even though his test came back clear, I know that doesn’t mean he’s in the clear. This will mean a lifestyle change and we’re all willing to do it, especially if that means everyone is healthy in our home. :) We’re so thankful for all of your prayers. I know that helped tremendously!!!! :)

Did you catch that?

"We’ll be leaving out of state for treatment for a month or so"? What's that all about? Oh. Not to mention her constant reference to prayers and God.

Obviously a weirdo. How dare she think she knows more than the doctors who are committed to cutting, burning and poisoning? Lifestyle changes? Is she crazy?

SO . . .

July 18:
Well, this has been the craziest week!

Wednesday [that would be July 13--JAH], I got a phone call from the social worker at the hospital where Jacob has been.

She informed me since we are refusing radiation for Jacob, they would be filing a petition for court. I was in shock! Well, not totally. In shock for the fact that my son [is] CANCER-FREE!!!

Anyway, Friday morning comes and I am woke up by the sound of Child Protective Services knocking on our door.

I was disgusted to find out that the hospital lied and said that he would have a 0% chance of survival if he didn’t follow through with it (that number was NEVER given to me). Second, they with-held the fact that his PET Scan came back clear and he is, in fact, cancer-free. I am disgusted by the fact that they were deceitful.

What happened to parent’s rights? We are not being foolish [in] not taking further action with Jacob. We are taking him to a place to build up his immune system, get some healthy weight back on his bones and he will have multiple therapies to heal his worn body.

The fact that they want to give him almost 2 months of radiation plus 6 months more of chemo – both of which cause cancer – when no cancer is present, is completely shocking!

Please be praying for all of us! Jacob is scared and worried! He already told me that if they make him do chemo and radiation, that he will kill himself!
So, suddenly, the Stielers are no longer looking at a "mere" medical problem; now they must deal with legal problems as well? Because they have come to the conclusion that there may be better means of dealing with cancer (like "lifestyle changes") than the treatments that the allopaths prefer?

On October 14, Mrs. Stieler wrote,
Yesterday we went to court again. . . . There is now an actual trial set for the first week of December. There will be a jury. This trial is for two things.

First, they are still pushing to have Jacob have 6 more months of chemotherapy and 2 months of radiation. Two of the chemotherapy drugs that he was on and would be on are mustard gas – yes, chemical warfare.

Another one is nicknamed “red death” and can potentially cause major heart damage.

Another has chloroform in it and the other two are just as capable of causing cancer.

Yes, it’s all POISON! And I’m sure most of you know how horrible radiation is.

Oh, and did I forget to mention again that Jacob is CANCER-FREE!!!! Yes, he had another PET Scan a few weeks ago and still NO CANCER! They truly believe that poisoning my child is the best thing for his health.

It doesn’t matter that we have doctors currently keeping an eye on him.

It doesn’t matter that he’s had a lifestyle change and we’re doing multiple things to keep him healthy.

It doesn’t matter that we’re going to keep getting PET Scans done every 3 months.

It doesn’t matter that we would certainly get him into treatment the moment one of those scans came up showing cancer. They’re not happy with that answer.
And in the very next sentence she begins speculating about why her [former?] doctors and/or the hospital . . . and definitely the state are coming after them: "Is it because they’re not getting their $60,000 a month? And that’s not counting radiation."
And then . . .
Another reason for this whole trial is the fact that they’re trying to set an example with us – to not question the doctors or the state, for that matter. We’re all just basically “foster-parents” to our children. The state actually owns them and they have a right to decide what’s best for our kids. We, as parents, do not! I hope you are all as outraged at this as we are!!!

What happened to our rights?? . . . Doesn’t the 14th amendment mean anything?? . . . We need to stand up for our rights as parents . . . that we should ultimately have the right to decide what’s best. Not some strangers who don’t know a thing about our children or us for that matter.
And so, I wondered, what has happened? We're well past the first week of December. . . .


November 29:
Our trial date has been changed to January 10-13, 2012. It’s a long story and frankly quite ridiculous, but I probably shouldn’t get into that here. Let’s just say, the other side asked for it. [Not sure what the "it" is to which she is referring--the original trial? The postponement? Perhaps both. --JAH] I know that there is good and bad that comes with it, but we really just wanted to be done with it for Christmas. Not to mention that people, including my husband, took time off of work to be there or to testify. It’s really quite maddening!
And Mrs. Stieler's latest update (12/10/11):
I never got back to you all after the motions hearing on November 30th. I guess I didn’t take the time because there was nothing to report. They were supposed to go over some of the motions that were filed, but the “other side” wasn’t prepared.

It's getting quite ridiculous! They’ve been investigating us since July. Filed the petition in September and THEY’RE not ready?

Oh, and I forgot to mention that one of the reasons that the trial was asked to be moved to January is because “it’s not fair” that it was 2 against 1. As in Ken and I having 2 lawyers to their one.

Someone has initiated a petition drive to ask the governor of Michigan to drop the lawsuit against the Stielers. You can find that here.

. . . And I am left wondering once more about how "free" we are, yet, here in the "land of the free." . . .

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

International piracy . . . and a friend

I was astonished to see a woman I knew back when she was a young girl in the early '80s featured in a Grand Rapids, MI, TV story about international piracy.

No, no! She wasn't engaged in piracy. No. She was being ripped-off! The thieves even stole the photos she took of her kids modeling her handmade jewelry. --All on their website with a claim of trademark over the brand name and goods she designed!

Jeweler fights Chinese imitators

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Do you trust your government to "do the right thing" here?

I told you about the Senate's NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) a week and a half ago, and how the bill would, essentially, strip American citizens of all civil rights due to the language in two clauses. In essence, the bill permits the president of the United States to become the final arbiter on any- and everyone within the bounds of the United States. He will be granted the legal (thought un-Constitutional) right to declare anyone a terrorist and thus have them bundled away to prison. --Y'know, kind of like we have seen Vladimir Putin do to all of his political enemies, or virtually all strong-man prime ministers, presidents, fuehrers, and so forth have done over the years. . . .

Well, they sent the bill to a closed session of a Joint Conference Committee. And the committee refused to eliminate any of the language.

Ready for the future of an absolute dictatorship, whether Democratic, Republican, or some other brand? We're almost there, at least in principle.

From Matt Hawes of the Campaign for Liberty:
On December 1, the U.S. Senate passed S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), by a vote of 93-7.

A slightly different NDAA, H.R. 1540, had already passed the U.S. House in May, and it has been reconciled with the Senate version in a closed session of a Joint Conference Committee.

The NDAA is passed annually to specify the budget and expenditures for the U.S. Department of Defense, but this year's version would essentially strip American Citizens of due process - protections that used to set us apart from despotic nations.

The Senate version of the NDAA declares the homeland to be part of the battlefield in the "War on Terror."

In simple terms, Sections 1031 and 1032 of S. 1867 allow American citizens to be detained indefinitely - without charges or trial - until the War on Terror is declared over.

There has been some recent confusion over what exactly the Senate bill actually stipulates.

In fact, when you call your representative and BOTH of your senators, as I'm about to ask you to do, the staff will probably give you one of two canned responses:

1.) "The Feinstein amendment #1456, which passed on Dec. 1 (by a vote of 99-1), says that no provision of Sec. 1031 can be taken to "affect existing law or authorities, relating to the detention of United States citizens." [Notice how they refuse to spell it out? I have this feeling, where there's smoke, there really is fire. . . . Remember the promises they made back when they passed the RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act? We were promised it would only be used against real gangster and mafia-style organizations. Not anyone else. But it didn't take long. I mean, what a handy tool to use against people like Randall Terry and Operation Rescue. Are we going to trust them with this law? --JAH]

In reality, this was added nearly unanimously at the last minute to appease those of us rightly opposed to these detention provisions. In the Congressional Record that day, there are arguments from Senators Lindsey Graham and Carl Levin, both of whom supported this amendment, stating they believe the President and Congress already have the authority to detain American Citizens, since the Supreme Court hasn't yet ruled otherwise. This is not the case, but it explains why the bill's main supporters did not oppose the Feinstein amendment.

2.) "It already exempts American Citizens. You should know that Sec. 1032 actually states: "The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States."

Don't fall for their cleverly chosen legislative language.

A careful reading of the suspect sections bears out that, while there is no requirement to detain an American citizen, the act thereof is not explicitly prohibited. By extension, it is actually permitted.

As if the above is not bad enough, the power to determine which American citizens will be indefinitely detained without charges or trial will be left to the President alone.

I'm certain you would agree that something as important as overturning longstanding American jurisprudence deserves to be the subject of a vigorous debate in a public forum.

But, late last week, the House, by an overwhelming majority (406-17), passed a motion that allowed this Joint Committee to meet in secret.

Last night, the House and Senate conferees emerged without having changed the offending detainee provisions of the NDAA.

And the section numbers (formerly 1031 and 1032) have been changed to 1021 and 1022.

A vote on the conference report could come as early as this Wednesday [that's tomorrow! --JAH] in the House of Representatives!

So I need your members of Congress to know where you stand immediately!

It is imperative you contact your representative and both of your senators today to urge them to vote NO on the NDAA (H.R. 1540/S. 1867) Conference Report unless Secs. 1021 and 1022 are removed or modified to explicitly exclude all U.S. citizens and lawful resident aliens.

In Liberty,

Matt Hawes
Vice President

P.S. Call your representative and senators today at 202-224-3121 to urge them to say NO on the NDAA Conference Report unless Secs. 1021 and 1022 are removed or heavily modified.

For additional details about this issue, click here. And, if you're able at this time, please chip in at least $10 so C4L can continue to fight the statists' attempts to shred more of our Constitution.

Some more from the "extreme" presidential candidate . . .

Clips from Ron Paul speeches and presentations since the early 80s. He's been consistent and his predictions and statements appear more obviously reasonable today than they did even a few years ago. . . . Or not? And if not, why not?

Monday, December 12, 2011

For my military friends . . .

I'm astonished this hasn't received more attention. I saw it in the December edition of Reader's Digest . . . which has been out for probably a month. But the author, Lori Volkman, has received only 39 comments at the time I write this.

Volkman is a military wife. Her husband is a commander in the Navy. Her deployed husband was scheduled to return home sometime in the next 30 to 90 days and his response to an email she had sent him caused her to have "PTSD flash-backs of R&R"--i.e., Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder flashback about Rest & Relaxation. --Not a pretty sight. She has definitely seen it in the past.

So, she said, "I did what any girl would do. I issued an OPORD [Operation Order]."

SBU – Sensitive But Unclassified

Copy 1 of 1
LAT 45° 31′ 24N, LONG 122° 40′ 34W




 Civilian Home Group, West (CIVHOMGRU) has recently identified threat MILBRAIN, a condition which hinders communication and family reintegration, and which requires immediate and ongoing resolution. Current unit is composed of civilian leader MOM, two rogue operatives, and DAD. DAD is oncoming commander at expiration of MOM’s current tour of duty, scheduled for Change of Command in 30 – 90 days.

 A. Enemy Forces. Known and suspected causes of condition MILBRAIN include severe indoctrination of DAD into military life at round-the-clock intervals, complicated by heightened need for compartmentalization and deadening of emotional receptors. The indoctrination includes extreme armored, mechanized, and motorized emotional-blocking responses which appear to be temporarily incapable of destruction. Intel on effective methods for piercing the indoctrination barrier is weak, at best. Strength of the enemy’s fortification is at highest levels known throughout MOB 2010-11, and morale at CIVHOMGRU is consequently low. However, resiliency and capability of both the operatives and Commander MOM are high.

 B. Friendly Forces. Prime objective is to ensure DAD can identify CIVHOMGRU as a friendly force, not an enemy force, by engaging them both physically and emotionally.  However, if treated as an enemy force, CIVHOMGRU can become unstable, and is likely to fire upon, maim, kill, and take prisoners in its defense.




A. Concept of the Operation.  Faced with challenges to familial and spousal security interests after a long mobilization and separation, there are certain effects-based actions and responses which members of the team can employ to connect their differing strategic and operational objectives. Through the integrated application of select instruments of power, DAD will become capable of identifying desired and undesired outcomes in the CIVHOMGRU operational environment (OE). It is the intent of OPERATION PULL CHOCKS to separately prepare all members of the team for the next operational phase, tentatively identified as OPERATION REINTEGRATION.

1. Maneuver: Prepare to Interact

MOM, Operative-1st Born and Operative-2nd Born will each practice elimination of all expectations related to basic everyday interactions. This will be accomplished by standing in front of a brick wall and attempting to engage it in conversation, elicit sympathy and/or compassion, and attempting to get it to respond to external stimuli, touch, and/or tears.

DAD will increase situational awareness of social and nonverbal communications of others. This will be accomplished by standing in front of a mirror, making eye contact, and replacing common MOB phrases with HOME phrases:

“IT IS WHAT IT IS” and/or“LIFE’S A BITCH” I’m sorry. There’s not much I can say about that. Is there anything I can do to help you?
“MINDOVERMATTER” I’m right there with you. Let’s get through this together.
“WILCO/LIMACHARLIE” I understand what you’re saying. Do you want my input?

2. Maneuver: Prepare to Respond

MOM, Operative-1st Born and Operative-2nd Born will each take turns yelling barking orders at each other. The non-barking members will practice a response that does not include crying. Upon successful containment of tears, team members will also attempt to respond by not feeling insecure, not becoming scared, not becoming angry, and finally by responding with a sarcastic, “YESSIR!” followed by an immediate hug for the barker, who may respond with an awkward back or head pat.

DAD will relearn proper human responses that engender connection and genuine relationship. This will be accomplished by standing in front of a mirror, making eye contact, and performing the following facial-neutral or facial-friendly maneuvers in 15 second intervals:


Raise eyebrows

Open mouth and tip head to one side


Upon completion of these basic maneuvers, DAD should progress to more advanced maneuvers such as SMIRK and WINK, the “HUBBA-HUBBA” (two successive eyebrow raises), and NODDING.


A. General. The critical supporting actors and services required to sustain the unit during this operation include:

- Chaplain/Exit Counselor/Successful Mob Retirees

- DAD’s emotive alter-ego which has been suppressed for the last year

- MOM’s non-controlling alter-ego which has been suppressed for the last year

- Operative #1 and Operative #2’s obedient alter-egos which have been suppressed for the last year

B. Material and Services.  Upon reentry to the CIVHOMGRU OE, DAD will find more relevant materials and services available for use than his previous OE. Such services and materials should be considered for future maneuvers DATE and WOO, and include:

1.    Class I (subsistence): Fine Dining establishments, wine bars, candlelight or sunset/view venues.

2.    Class II (individual equipment): razor, aftershave, deodorant, mouthwash, elbow crème, and civilian clothing.

3.    Class VII (major end items): flowers, jewelry, chocolate, hand-written notes or cards, and perfume.

In preparation for such availability of services, DAD may spend time on the internet reviewing what these items look like, how they are utilized, and where they can be obtained upon delivery to the assembly point.

C. Medical Evacuation.  In the event the operation produces wounded personnel, they will be picked up and carried to safety by all remaining non-injured team members. No man, woman, or child shall be left behind.


Because of the continuing mobilization of DAD, there will be two primary locations of command and control prior to OPERATION REINTEGRATION. CCC#1 shall be at home, and CCC#2 shall be at the location of mobilization. The unit commanders are expected to operate in a JOINT ENVIRONMENT for all theater, operational, and tactical maneuvers, and to balance the COG for the split CCC’s.

A. Command. The higher unit commander is GOD. If you suffer from the delusion that you are GOD, then knock it off. You are not. Your spouse and children are not subordinates, they are your support. They will not respond desirably to orders unless delivered in the methods described in this OPORD and the BHICCFG (Basic Human Interaction and Common Courtesy Field Guide).

B. Signals. This operation specifically prohibits use of the following signals: silence, thousand mile stare, dirty looks, shark-eyes, loss of consciousness during conversation, and drama (aka “pyrotechnics”) of any kind. Challenges and corresponding passwords to verify operations behind both friendly and enemy lines include:


Challenge Phrase Password Response
Daddy? Yes, what is it?
Good morning Good morning
Good night Good night
How Do I Look? Amazing. Breathtaking. Phenomenal.
Will you take me out? Yes, I’d love to
I missed you I missed you, too
I’m so glad you’re here I’m glad that I’m here, too
I love you I love you, too

* * *





Volkman follows her post with this encouragement:
Now you can get a copy of your free, generic, downloadable, printable, emailable OPORD TO MY DEPLOYED HUSBAND all for yourself. Makes a great addition to your late-deployment care packages or as an ice-breaker at spouse meetings. You must be able to view pdf files. And please, attribute and link back here at Witty Little Secret if you repost it somewhere! Thanks!
You can find the PDF here.

If you enjoyed this post, I think you'll find her blog as a whole a great joy.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

How do you train yourself this way?

The Wall Street Journal, a national newspaper, seems to be a Denver newspaper when it comes to sports coverage, especially about Tim Tebow. I mean, for the last several weeks, it seems they have featured on their one-page sports page more articles--or, certainly, more column inches--about Tim Tebow than all other sports figures combined. And Saturday was no different.

I was blown away by this conclusion to a much longer and thought-provoking article titled Tim Tebow: God's Quarterback.
Mr. Tebow may indeed turn out to be a hypocrite, like other high-profile Christians in recent memory. Some of us might even want that to happen, because moral failure is something we understand. We know how to deal with disappointed expectations, to turn our songs of praise into condemnation.

What we are far less sure how to do is to take seriously a public figure's seemingly admirable character and professions of higher purpose. We don't know how to trust goodness.

And who can blame us? We don't want to be fooled again.

The one loss in Mr. Tebow's record as Denver's starting quarterback this season came in a 45-10 blowout against the Detroit Lions. Mr. Tebow completed just 46% of his passes. He suffered seven sacks, including one by Stephen Tulloch, after which Mr. Tulloch took a knee, "Tebowing" as Mr. Tebow struggled to rise.

When asked how he felt about Mr. Tulloch's mockery, Mr. Tebow responded, "He was probably just having fun and was excited he made a good play and had a sack. And good for him."
What?!? The guy is seeking to destroy you physically and, now, mentally, and you are able to respond in this way?!?

Clearly, Tebow has practiced, as Sarita said, "think[ing] the best" of his enemies or blessing those who curse him (Matthew 5:44).

And then the next two paragraphs from the same article:
Last week, after the Broncos' victory against Minnesota, Mr. Tebow was asked by a reporter to name something memorable that had been said to him in the wake of the extraordinary win.

"I'll tell you one thing that happened during the week that I remember," he said. Mr. Tebow proceeded to talk about spending time with a young leukemia patient from Florida who had just been transferred to hospice care and about how delighted Mr. Tebow was to say the kid's name on television and to let him know that someone cared.
May we all pursue similar selflessness.

Legalized rape in America's airports

This post is NOT for children's consumption. But I expect you're not a child. And "someone" needs to wake up.

Mike Adams of brought this issue to my attention with his article FBI's new definition of rape ensnares TSA agents as serial rapists.

"[I]n October," he writes, "the FBI's UCR subcommittee Advisory Policy Board voted to recommend the definition [of rape] be expanded. The new definition . . . . which looks set to be "officially" adopted by the FBI in 2012, is as follows:
"Rape" is: ...penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim."
If we use that definition, Adams says, the TSA is in trouble.

"Oh, come on!" I thought. "The TSA isn't examining people's anuses or sexual organs!"

But I followed the links in his article and I was shocked.

Here's the story of a woman who was sexually assaulted by a female TSA agent . . . and is now being sued (or, at least, threatened with a lawsuit) by the agent for having caused the agent emotional distress by making a scene during and immediately after the assault!

"Yeah, yeah. 'Assault.' Right," I can hear you say to yourself. "It's not that the victim was assaulted. The only reason she claimed sexual assault is because she was engaging in political theater."


That's what I thought when I read Adams' article. But then when I read the details, I started to get a different picture. I mean, how would you describe the following alleged behavior on the part of the TSA agent?
[T]he woman, FOUR TIMES, stuck the side of her gloved hand INTO my vagina, through my pants. Between my labia. She really got up there. Four times. Back right and left, and front right and left. In my vagina. Between my labia. I was shocked — utterly unprepared for how she got the side of her hand up there. It was government-sanctioned sexual assault.
Still not wanting to over-react, I thought, "Well . . . that's definitely not right. But there's going to be that occasional agent who gets out of line."

But . . . wait a second. Why do I find another person alleging virtually identical behavior on the part of another female TSA agent?

such cases? And both women who complain are very explicit about what the agent did in each case, and their descriptions are very similar: Former Miss USA winner: TSA agent ‘touched my vagina’.

More specifically, says Susie Castillo,
This woman, she touched my vagina four times because she went up my leg, up both legs, from behind and then turned around and did it in the front.
Is there "something to this" story?

An attorney commenting on the first case writes,
Amy’s public assault is not unusual. Stories of gratuitous and inappropriate touching by TSA employees are legion. The stories range from inhuman indifference to deliberate humiliation. Many of those stories emphasize that showing any resistance — whether by opting out of scanners, or voicing objections to groping — will result in immediate retaliation, and possible official investigation, by TSA employees. The TSA has reached the point that its sense of entitlement is nearly impervious to satire. Yet our government assures us that our concerns are meritless.
There was outrage when these searches were put into place. Where is the outrage today? "Where are womens' organizations in taking a stand against serial rapists working at the airport?" asks Adams.
Here at NaturalNews, we believe rape is wrong, and unlike NOW and, we don't make exceptions for federal employees committing those acts of rape. We think rape is ALWAYS wrong, whether you're at an airport, a restaurant, a dental chair or a late-night party where you had a little too much to drink or your sex offender creep boyfriend dropped a little Rohypnol in your cup.

It is stunning to find that we, an alternative news organization, actually possess a stronger sense of opposing rape than these feminist groups. And it makes you wonder: If they believe rape is acceptable when committed by federal employees at the airport, under what other conditions would they also support the serial raping of women?
For more on this general subject, I encourage you to read the rest of Mike's article on the subject and/or We’re Going To Molest You. And Then We’re Going To Make You Pay for It. The latter briefly tells the story of the first woman whose story I have quoted, above. But then another one about a woman who is being billed by the hospital where a police-forced body cavity search upon her person turned up no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing on her part. But the police had "credible suspicion," they claim (based on the hearsay of one person), so they were going to make sure they "did their duty" upon her. But they had no intention, apparently, of paying for their supposed law-enforcement action. . . . So now this woman is to be twice--no, three times--the victim? First, the victim of a malicious false witness; then the victim of a forced body cavity search; and, finally, forced to pay for the procedure done upon her?

And this is justice? . . . Or is it that the United States is turning into a police state?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Totally for fun

With a new baby scheduled to come home soon, I couldn't resist when I saw this ad on Pandora made of little kids laughing. What an unbelievably funny sound. (Please forgive the advertising element at the end.) --What's funny, the mommy speaks to her baby at the end exactly as I have heard our daughter talk to her daughter. Exactly:

But that led me to another compilation:

And that finally got me to the original of the last kid in the Norton ad. (You wonder what that strange sound is that scares him so bad, but then he starts laughing? It's his mommy blowing her nose!)

Deficit? Forget the deficit! Don't you know there's a war going on? Right here in the United States.

Yep. Step right up to the gravy train. Your local police department needs more technological toys. Otherwise, how could they possibly do their job?

As this article demonstrates, the federal government is giving away military gear to local police forces if they will simply pay the shipping costs.

Now, the gear itself is often way overkill--both literally and figuratively speaking. But how can the adolescent-minded heads of police forces stop themselves? I mean, wouldn't you want a 3-foot-tall $70,000 robot and a $75,000 riverboat if you could get them for next to nothing? How much fun would it be just trying the things out? . . . Or how about an armored personnel carrier outfitted with a machine gun--yours for the cost of transportation in?

Of course, the cost of maintaining these toys might hurt your budget--as the city bureaucrats in Tupelo, Mississippi, discovered when the police helicopter they acquired cost them almost $274,000 in maintenance costs in five years. That price was particularly aggravating when they realized their local police force used the helicopter only 10 times per year on average. The approximately $5,480 average maintenance cost per mission (not including actual personnel, fuel, and so forth) seemed just a wee bit excessive.

But, hey. Who's going to look a gift horse in the mouth?

The real problem, however, is not financial. It is human. And it has something to do with freedom, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Look at
the many incidents of SWAT teams, which have become outright paramilitary forces, [injuring] or even [slaughtering] totally innocent people.

Take, for instance, earlier this year when a grandfather of 12, who was not even suspected of any wrongdoing, was “accidentally” murdered by a SWAT team member in Framingham, Massachusetts.

He was described by neighbors as the “nicest guy in the world,” and the search warrant was not even targeted at the man, named Eurie Stamps, Sr.

Another example that comes to mind is Jose Guerena, father and ex-U.S. Marine, who was literally liquefied by a SWAT team that was carrying out a wholly unconstitutional search warrant on his home that was not directed at any particular person, made no mention of his home, and instead was targeted at anyone who happened to be inside the residence.

The Cato Institute has compiled a fantastic interactive map showing the disturbing amount of botched paramilitary police and SWAT team raids across the United States which you can find here.

From the few thousand raids per year in the 1980s, the number of raids conducted by SWAT teams has made a staggering rise to 50,000 per year in the 2000s, and with each raid there is the real possibility of innocent people being slaughtered for no reason at all.
Do we truly still live in the Land of the Free?

And now for some hilarity . . .

Sorry. I can't help it.

I mentioned a few weeks ago Michael Quinion's World Wide Words. I am still fascinated by his discussions of words' provenances. But for me, the highlight of the newsletter is "Sic!" in which he and his readers point out strange and humorous headlines or turns of phrase in news stories. A collection from the last month's worth of newsletters.

Particularly humorous after yesterday's event in our family: "Miranda Kerr returns to the Victoria's Secret catwalk after giving birth in a $2.5 million diamond studded bra." ("Gosh, that's a bit dressy for giving birth!" wrote the woman who noticed the headline.)
"Headline of the week!" announced Howard Sinberg, in reference to one over a story dated 9 November on the website of WDSU in New Orleans: "Unmarried Couples Find Divorce Difficult."

"I'd like to see them take it away!" Colin Hall remarked, having read the What's News section of the Wall Street Journal dated 2 November: "The president-elect of Kyrgyzstan said the U.S. should leave its air base there when the lease expires in 2014."

I didn't know the University of Colorado was that old," commented Jeff Brandt about a story of 14 November from the Alaska Dispatch: "The buckle ... was found inside an excavation of a 1,000-year-old Inupiat house that had been dug into a beach ridge at Cape Espenberg by a team from the University of Colorado at Boulder."

On 21 November, a story in the New York Times (noted by Jim Conroy) stated that "Cities like Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and San Juan, P.R., have started to fly to Havana in recent months."

John Eliot Spofford reports that the online Newswire edition of Trains magazine for 28 November had this headline for an article about the Metro-North commuter train service for New York City: "Metro-North unveils plan to improve winter interruptions."

A report on ABC News on 30 November about a lawsuit contained a typo (since corrected): "It was filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Please." Robert Wake wondered if there might be a counterbalancing Court of Thank You.
And then, finally, this wonderful ironical paragraph of advice about how to speak (or write) effectively. Quoted from Notes and Queries, 11 February 1893:
Let your conversation possess a clarified conciseness, compacted comprehensibleness, coalescent consistency, and a concatenated cogency. Eschew all conglomerations of flatulent garrulity, jejune babblement, and asinine affectations. Let your extemporaneous descantings and unpremeditated expatiations have intelligibility, without rhodomontade or thrasonical bombast. Sedulously avoid all polysyllabical profundity, pompous prolixity, and ventriloquial vapidity. Shun double-entendre and prurient jocosity, whether obscure or apparent. In other words, speak truthfully, naturally, clearly, purely, but do not use large words.
Uh. Yeah.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Happy Birthday, Eliana . . . !

Eliana (?? her parents are still discussing final spelling) ______ (her parents are still discussing her middle name) Lilly was born this morning sometime a bit before 11 Denver time. 7 lbs 8 oz; 19 3/4 inches long. She was having some difficulties breathing, so they put her in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) where they expect her to stay a few days.

Momma is doing fine, though quite exhausted from lack of sleep last night/this morning, and the surgery to bring Eliana out.

I feel privileged to have been able to take a few photos of our little granddaughter.

"The guy's cracked" . . . until you listen to him

Another one of those mind-bending interviews with Ron Paul.

He was banned by the Republican Jewish Coalition from a debate on Jewish issues in Washington this week because of his “misguided and extreme views,” according to the group’s executive director, Matt Brooks.

But Newsmax interviewed him specifically about Israel. I read his statements and was astonished at his balanced, cogent, wise and gracious replies to the no-holds-barred questions:
Newsmax: What should our relationship be with Israel?

Ron Paul:
We should be their friend and their trading partner. They are a democracy and we share many values with them. But we should not be their master. We should not dictate where their borders will be nor should we have veto power over their foreign policy.

This is not just about Israel, by the way, this is about how we should conduct ourselves with other countries around the world.

Newsmax: But Israel is not like other countries. We have a large Jewish population in America. What do you say to those who criticize your policy toward Israel?

Ron Paul:
I think that some not only misunderstand the American Constitution and the role we should have in the world, they also misunderstand Zionism. Part of the original idea of Zionism, as I understand it, was that there should be Jewish independence and Jewish self-reliance. Today, America doesn’t want anyone to be self-reliant. We want to rule the world and be the saviors of the world and we are going broke in the process.

Newsmax: Some object to your policy of cutting foreign aid to Israel.

Ron Paul:
I have objected to all foreign aid. I define foreign aid as taking money from poor people in rich countries and giving it to rich people in poor countries. We just can’t keep doing this. We don’t have the money anymore.

Stop and consider America’s policy: We give $3 billion a year to Israel in loans; and we give $12 billion or more in assistance to Israel’s self-declared enemies. Some of these are countries that say they will drive Israel into the sea.

Newsmax: What do you say to evangelical Christians who want that aid to continue?

Ron Paul:
I say to them that our aid in the region is out of balance and it is wrong. Foreign aid does not help Israel. It is a net disadvantage. I say to them that “the borrower is servant to the lender” and America should never be the master of Israel and its fate. We should be her friend.

In October, 1981, most of the world and most of the Congress voiced outrage over Israel’s attack on Iraq and their nuclear development. I was one of the few who defended her right to make her own decisions on foreign policy and to act in her own self-interest.

Newsmax: What then, if anything, should we do for Israel?

Ron Paul:
We should share intelligence for mutually agreed-upon goals. We should honor our pledge to refuse any arms sales that would undermine Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region.

But we should stop interfering with them. We should not announce bargaining positions even before she begins her negotiations. We should not dictate what she can and cannot do. We should stop trying to buy her allegiance. And Israel should stop sacrificing their sovereignty as an independent state to us or anybody else, no matter how well-intentioned.
He's the first presidential candidate I can think of who is obviously willing to be "friends with all" but refuses to pander to anyone. And, as his campaign manager wrote Wednesday evening (and as I've been discovering; watch his 2008 interviews; he hasn't wavered on any of the issues; they are as good today as they were four years ago), he's a candidate who "doesn't have to run from his record or explain away inconsistencies."

Thursday, December 08, 2011

What's this about 'insider trading'?!? Who? Me worry?

Remember Alfred E. Newman of Mad Magazine fame?

That should be the epigram of our congresspeople. After all, they are above it all. No equality under the law for them!

Shah Gillani writes in today's Wall Street Insights & Indictments,
There's a ton of "insight" to be meted out about what's going on in the market. You've heard most of it from me, and everybody else. But today and tomorrow will be all about being an insider at the meetings going on over in Europe.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall at those meetings...

What we couldn't do with a little "inside information!"

But we can't be there, and besides, that would be insider trading, wouldn't it?

So, we'll all just have to stay glued to CNBC and Bloomberg to see what the future holds for us all.

Speaking of trading on inside information...

Have you heard about the hearings up on Capitol Hill?

Oh yeah, there's been serious discussions in Congress - by Congressmen and women -about reports of insider trading being conducted by privilege insiders, namely, some of their own.

It seems our always honest, always on-top-of-it, always looking-out-for-themselves Congressional leaders and their rank (and I do mean rank) and file are at it again, proving that although their net worth to the public may be zero, their access to non-public information is priceless.

While privately expressing indignation that their day trading jobs (conducted simultaneously with their legislative duties, so as not to distract them from either pursuit) should ever be subject to public scrutiny, lawmakers nonetheless held hearings about their access to inside information.

I guess to let Americans know that they are not crooks.

Last week, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs convened a get-together to ask each other if they knew anything about it and what to do about it, if it was true.

Nothing really happened.

Kind of like the deficit reduction talks, they decided to talk more about it in the future, although they weren't sure there was anything that needed fixing.

After all, one witness, Indiana University law professor Donna Nagy, told the Committee that Congressional insider trading was subject to anti-fraud provisions in federal securities laws, as well as federal mail and wire fraud statutes. In that case, they don't need to change anything; the Securities and Exchange Commission is on the case.

And thank goodness for that. I mean, thank goodness the Senate has no power over the SEC, other than to vote on their budget and on their chairman.

Not that they would ever threaten to withhold money from the powerless, oops, I mean powerful, regulatory body to subjugate them to their will again... because they just threatened that recently (more on that one another time). But then again, that was probably just part of their deficit reduction talks...

No, there's no undue influence to worry about in our government, with all its checks (and I'm not talking about payoff checks) and balances.

Thankfully, because we have such a great balance in Congress, after the Senate hearings last week the House held its own little "social" just two days ago.

The subject - believe it or not - was insider trading by Congress and their aides.

There the balancing act over at the House was really in evidence. Really, imagine balancing the talks about insider trading in Congress when Spencer Bachus, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee presiding over the investment club meeting, is one of the most egregious of the alleged insider traders.

(I only use "alleged" because I like that word, it sounds so lawyerly, and I am talking about our lawmakers, don't you know.)

As far as Rep. Bachus, you just have to love his comment in the Wall Street Journal recently about the insider trading charges (oops, I mean discussions), when pinned to the mat about his excessive and very "timely" options trades conducted immediately after coming out of closed-door emergency meetings with the Treasury Secretary and Fed Chairman back in 2008.

He said, "More lawmakers should invest in the markets to better understand them."

Too bad he and the rest of Congress didn't invest all their net worth in mortgage-backed securities right before the crash, and if they had anything left, in MF Global.

But I digress.

Oh, you want me to mention that Jon Corzine, former Senator from New Jersey, will be visiting his old chambers today to tell his Senate buddies how not to invest by leveraging segregated customer funds in high-flying - make that high-yielding - bonds issued by low-flying PIIGS? That will be some good theater.

Oh, I'm still digressing.

Allow me to restore my sense of "balance."

I was talking about how the House hearings were being conducted by day-trading master Bachus. But in all fairness to him, you need to know that he was joined on the Committee by Rep. Gary Ackerman, a Congressman who received shares of stock he never paid for, for a favor he did in his official capacity.

It's not insider trading if you don't pay for something, right?

Back to my balancing act. The Senate committee looking into insider trading had two committee members who are equity-trading buffs.

Sen. Claire McCaskill nicely timed a half-million-dollar trade in Berkshire Hathaway right as the Big Bailout was signed, out of which Mr. Buffett's (he of not-so-clean hands) Berkshire was the recipient of some $90 billion, in one form or another.

And that Sen. Tom Carper, also on the committee, was a rabid trader of healthcare stocks during the healthcare debate in Congress.

Not that that means anything, does it?

No, it's all about balance in Congress.

Thank heaven, if there is one, that we elected these people.


P.S. Thanks for being a (big) part of Wall Street Insights & Indictments. The feedback I get from my readers is tremendously valuable. I need you to tell me when you "get" what I'm throwing out there... and, even more importantly, I want to know when you think I'm dead wrong. That's why I encourage you - today - to share your own thoughts on this story. Just go to now to cast your vote.
And while our supposed "representatives" in Washington trade to their heart's content on their inside information, regular people--including billionaires--go to prison on far lesser crimes.

Consider Raj Rajaratnam, Martha Stewart and others. . . . But our "representatives" in Washington will get a pass?

Sounds "a little bitter"

Is it possible this article is a hoax? If not, Paul Craig Roberts, a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, sounds like maybe he's gone off his rocker. He claims that, "Except for 9/11 itself, . . . there have been no terror attacks on the US." And even with respect to 9/11, he speaks of "the government’s improbable conspiracy theory explanation." (!!! --Quite a string of words, there! And does he really believe it? Maybe! As the next sentence shows.)

"Indeed," he goes on to say, "an investigative program at the University of California discovered that the domestic 'terror plots' hyped in the media were plotted by FBI agents." (!!!) --Roberts--assuming this article was written by Roberts, a man who has received the highest security clearances in the United States--links to an article published in a Russian-sponsored website to document these claims.

That sounds fishy. But the Russian website links to a Mother Jones article, The Informants.

I encourage you to read both articles, but the Mother Jones article first, since it is the primary source for the Russian article.

Before I become side-tracked on a Mother Jones article, however, I want to quote Paul Craig Roberts. I merely want to say that it seems wildly improbable that a responsible and well-informed person like Roberts would say the kinds of things he does!

But maybe not.

After all, he did write The Tyranny of Good Intentions: How Prosecutors and Law Enforcement Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice.

I'll let you be the judge, however. Is he off his rocker?

Here is the conclusion to the much longer article he wrote titled, Is the War on Terror a Hoax?
I am a former staff associate of the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee. I required high security clearances as I had access to information pertaining to all US weapons programs. As chief economist of the House Budget Committee I had information pertaining to the US military and security budgets. As Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury, I was provided every morning with the CIA’s briefing of the President as well as with endless security information.

When I left the Treasury, President Reagan appointed me to a super-secret committee to investigate the CIA’s assessment of Soviet capability. Afterwards I was a consultant to the Pentagon. I had every kind of security clearance.

Despite my record of highest security clearances and US government confidence in me including confirmation by the US Senate in a presidential appointment, the airline police cannot tell me from a terrorist.

If I were into model airplanes or attending antiwar demonstrations, little doubt I, too, would be arrested.

After my public service in the last quarter of the 20th century, I experienced during the first decade of the 21st century all of America’s achievements, despite their blemishes, being erased. In their place was erected a monstrous desire for hegemony and highly concentrated wealth. Most of my friends and my fellow citizens in general are incapable of recognizing America’s transformation into a warmonger police state that has the worst income distribution of any developed country.

It is extraordinary that so many Americans, citizens of the world’s only superpower, actually believe that they are threatened by Muslim peoples who have no unity, no navy, no air force, no nuclear weapons, no missiles capable of reaching across the oceans. . . .

With the “terrorist threat” and Al Qaeda deflated with President Obama’s alleged assassination of its leader, Osama bin Laden, who was left unprotected and unarmed by his “worldwide terrorist organization,” Washington has come up with a new bogeyman – the Haqqanis.

John Glaser reports that, according to anonymous CIA officials, US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Mike Mullen “exaggerated” the case against the Haqqani insurgent group when he claimed, setting up a US invasion of Pakistan, that the Haqqanis were an operating arm of the Pakistan government’s secret service, the ISI. Adm. Mullen is now running from his “exaggeration,” an euphemism for a lie. His aid Captain John Kirby said that Mullen’s “accusations were designed to influence the Pakistanis to crack down on the Haqqani Network.” In other words, the Pakistanis should kill more of their own people to save the Americans the trouble.

If you don’t know what the Haqqani Network is, don’t be surprised. You never heard of Al Qaeda prior to 9/11. The US government creates whatever new bogeymen and incidents are necessary to further the neoconservative agenda of world hegemony and higher profits for the armaments industry.

For ten years, the “superpower” American population has sat there, being terrified by the government’s lies. While Americans sit in fear of nonexistent “terrorists” sucking their thumbs, millions of people in six countries have had their lives destroyed. As far as any evidence exists, the vast majority of Americans are unperturbed by the wanton murder of others in countries that they are incapable of locating on maps.
The scariest thing, here? He's sounding like that political pariah named Ron Paul.

Or maybe not. The more I'm seeing, the more I'm thinking Paul really is about to become the "flavor of the decade."

And, finally, a few more comments about that Mother Jones article I mention above. I read the article and began to think Martin Stolar, a lawyer the authors quote who represented a man caught in a 2004 FBI sting operation in New York City, may be right. Maybe the 15,000 paid FBI informants today (up from 1500 in 1975--during the violent anti-Vietnam War protest era!) really are seeking to justify their salaries by "creating crimes to solve crimes so they can claim a victory in the war on terror."

The Mother Jones authors note that, "In the FBI's defense, supporters argue that the bureau will only pursue a case when the target clearly is willing to participate in violent action."

But after reading the article, I began to think, "Yeah. They pursue 'cases where the target is willing to participate in violent action' kind of the way child molesters target weak and socially disconnected children so as to find willing participants in their crimes."

The fact that child molesters are able to seduce children into going along with the abusers' crimes doesn't make the children guilty of crimes, nor does their "willingness" make their molesters less guilty.

I encourage you to see whether my analogy is correct. Read the transcript of what I'd like to call the seduction of Narseal Batiste to engage in a terror plot.

As James J. Wedick, a former FBI agent, comments,
These guys [the alleged terrorists] couldn't find their way down the end of the street. They were homeless types. And, yes, we did show a picture where somebody was taking the oath to Al Qaeda. So what? They didn't care. They only cared about the money. When we put forth a case like that to suggest to the American public that we're protecting them, we're not protecting them. The agents back in the bullpen, they know it's not true.
Read the Mother Jones article to see whether the analogy I am suggesting is valid.

Are the kinds of behaviors the FBI informants engage in what American citizens want to pay multi-billions of dollars each year for via the FBI? And is it to catch terrorists like these that we are willing to find ourselves, more and more, surrounded by a ubiquitous police state?

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

More and more impressed with Ron Paul . . .

The man is given no quarter. The media--even the "conservative" media--finds him offensive. Why?

"You keep ignoring the Iranian threat! [What kind of idiocy is this?]"

"You say marijuana, heroin and cocaine should be legal if states want to permit it. . . . [Obviously, your views are way outside the pale.]"

"You're a racist."

"You're unelectable."

John Stewart demonstrates the antipathy in an incisive monologue (interspersed with news footage from major media outlets):

And, finally, someone's personal "Don't Elect Ron Paul" ad:

Oh. Or you could watch this "Why You Shouldn't Vote for Ron Paul" video by someone else:

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Legalism v Relationship--for my homeschooling friends

Despite removing myself form the day-to-day operations of Sonlight Curriculum, I have maintained an interest in the broader homeschool community and some of the unique (and, sadly, sometimes, uniquely weird) aspects of homeschooling.

One of those areas has to do with a kind of . . . well, let me not label it. I'll let you decide for yourself exactly what I'm talking about.

I found the Recovering Grace Blog ("a Gothard generation shines light on the teachings of IBLP [Institute in Basic Life Principles] and ATI [Advanced Training Institute]") as a result of a post at the Commandments of Men blog.

And while at Recovering Grace, I saw a link to a post titled Vow vs. Relationship. The author begins her story with a brief summary of the ever-expanding pile of commitments she began making to God as a result of the teaching she was receiving from Bill Gothard and his ATI/IBLP. Finally, having become a member of the IBLP staff, one day,
Mr. Gothard presented the teaching on taking a “vow” to read your Bible 5 minutes per day. We were then told the story of the man who made a vow foolishly in the Old Testament and was forced to kill his own daughter to fulfill the vow. Needless to say, this put a very fearful aspect and seriousness to the vow. We were then told that should we break our vow by failing to read our Bible for 5 minutes per day, we would need to “catch up” by reading extra however many days we needed to in order to make sure we had the total number of minutes. At this time, I was still so eager to please everyone that I made the vow even though I had a lot of reservations about doing so.

This was the beginning of the end of my joy in the Christian life. I now had added on the top of an insurmountable number of commitments, a vow that I was scared to death to break. I knew in my heart that I had only set myself up for failure.

My walk with God had become a formula with a checklist. Did I fulfill my vow today? Check. Did I remember to spend a good bit of time praying? Check. Did I remember to keep my thoughts pure? Check. Did I remember to clear my conscience? Check. The list went on and on. The problem with this was that I was no longer desiring to know God more intimately, I was simply wanting to check the boxes to make sure I didn’t fall under severe judgment from God.

This started a downward spiral in my spiritual health. I was suddenly afraid to even spend time with God because I might say or do something wrong that would result in His displeasure. (Yes, I do know that God sees and hears everything even before it happens, but I was so burdened with my commitments that it felt easier to avoid His direct presence and hope He would turn a blind eye.) Through an illness where I wasn’t able to read very easily, I “got behind” on my vow. I tried a time or two to get caught up, but I was suddenly so far behind that I knew I would never meet with God’s requirement for me and I just needed to hang on and wait for the proverbial shoe to fall. . . .
At some point, the author began to compare what she had done in her relationship with God to the relationship she saw she had with her husband.
When I substituted the best relationship correlation that I knew of (the relationship with my husband), I realized how frustrating this must have been to my Savior. If I had a checklist of how I needed to please my husband and did nothing but that checklist, the relationship would be non-existent. Not to mention the fact that it would be totally one-sided because I wouldn’t have time to listen.
Oh, boy! Been there. Done that.

The author's conclusion:
All of the commitments I made while under the teaching of IBLP were good in and of themselves. There are many that I still believe are exactly how God wants me to live. However, I have realized that these commitments need to be gifts of love to present to my Savior as an outflowing of my grateful heart for all He has done for me. They don’t need to be the answer for the perfect Christian life and therefore become a god unto themselves.