Battle of Lepanto

The Battle of Lepanto – Podcast, by Buck Sexton

A little over a week ago I posted a historical perspective of how Western nations in conflict with the Islamic Caliphate have led us to where we are today, with ISIS on the march in the Middle East, once again seeking to regain a Caliphate.  I get that many people find history to be boring and to have little relevance in today’s world, but regardless of American’s non-existent attention span, these events, lead us directly into the events we face today.  Some may say that things were different in the 1500’s.   This is very much a true statement, yet the overall sweep on history is undeniable.   We live in a modern world, and in the West, at least, citizens are typically quite tolerant.  In contrast however, Islamic extremists are killing men, women, and children on a daily basis, in pursuit of a world that is very based on the primitive societies dating back to the beginnings of the Islamic world.

As I noted in previous articles, while all Muslims are certainly not radical extremists, radical extremists exist in every corner of the world, including in the United States and Europe.  The notion of Muslim conquest in today’s world is just as real as in centuries past.  In fact, Jihad by Muslim radicals, is historically undeniable.  Christianity has it’s own brutal past, but the difference today is that Muslims have yet to have a reformation, moderating primitive instincts.  While listening to Buck Sexton’s rendition of the Battle of Lepanto, one cannot help but see the similar imperatives Jihadist seek today.  This is truly a wonderful bit of very relevant history.

Enjoy!

 

Demonstrators celebrate in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Friday Feb. 18, 2011. Tens of thousands of flag-waving Egyptians packed into Tahrir Square for a day of prayer and celebration Friday to mark the fall Hosni Mubarak.(AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

If one recalled nothing else about the Roman Empire as it began to decline it was this, Roman citizens loved a good show. The spectacle and the grandeur of gladiators battling to the death, or perhaps the horror of watching Christians being eaten by lions was nothing if not visceral and gripping.  The escapism offered by up by Roman rulers to quell public appetites were as epic as they were debauched, assaulting the senses, tearing at people’s emotions.  Today’s debauched drama is about ISIS and the war in the Middle East.  It is a serious business, and certainly not orchestrated by the President, but like the Roman spectacles held in the coliseums of antiquity, today’s spectacle is nothing more than theatre to make Americans believe that their government is doing something about this planet’s decent into chaos.

In this modern world, Americans are all busy with their lives. Today, Americans go to work, care for the families and do their best to raise their children and expect government to protect its citizens, but what if the government is either unwilling or unable to confront the evil consuming the lives we witness on television?

ISIS Fighter on Sykes-Picot Agreement  – Warning!  Graphic content.

President Barack Obama claims the atrocities committed by ISIS, (Islamic State in Syria) or in his words, ISIL, (Islamic State in the Levant,) are unacceptable and will be resisted. What the president will not say is what he really means.  The truth is that he is categorically unwilling to do what would be required to end the atrocities by ISIS.  The truth is the US population, like the populations in many Western nations is deeply divided on most issues concerning the Middle East.  Citizens in Western nations are war-weary; still, the vast majority of people in the West are horrified and sickened by the brutality displayed by ISIS.  When ISIS beheads a Western reporter or aid working and posts the video for everyone to see, it shakes civilized people to their core.  When we hear that thousands of women and children are being raped, crucified, and beheaded it shocks us to such a point we demand action.  What is a president to do?  Short of all-out war akin to the effort of the Allies in WWII by a united and committed West on the Middle East, nothing will change.  There are hundreds of millions of people in the Middle East.  Regardless of sect, tribal, or ethnic divisions the vast majority of this population is antagonistic to the West.  It has been this way for centuries.  As Americans, we think we are so modern, and we are by comparison, but the world-view of the West is only half of the equation when discussing violence in the Middle East.  There over three-hundred-million people in the Middle East who look at things very differently.  While Europeans and Americans think about the problem in terms of years or even decades, for Arabs, the perspective is much longer.  Last week ISIS put out a video talking about the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 during WWI.

This agreement was designed to accomplish one important goal, to divide Arab tribes and to keep them fighting amongst themselves, so that the imperial powers could maintain their trade routes. At the same time Colonel TE Lawrence, (Lawrence of Arabia) promised the Arabs that the West would support them in their goal to replace the Caliphate ruled by the Ottoman Empire with a new Caliphate centered in Syria, if these tribes would fight with the British and the French against Germany, Austria-Hungary, and The Ottoman Empire. Obviously, the West lied.  The ISIS fighter in the video pointed to one of the artificial national boundaries created by the French, Britain, and Russia.  He pointed out that the border no longer exists.  In other words, ISIS is erasing the Sykes-Picot Agreement on the ground.

Sykes Picot Map 1916 - worldbulletin.net

Sykes Picot Map 1916 – worldbulletin.net

These facts on the ground bring us up to the term ISIL that President Obama uses instead of the more common ISIS. The term ISIL, (Islamic State in the Levant), includes territory all along the eastern end of the Mediterranean.  The Levant is the territory once ruled by the Ottoman Empire.  It includes Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, and parts of Egypt.  It also precluded the existence of Israel.  Look at those names on the map.  How many of these countries have already been destabilized.  President Obama, Senators like McCain, Graham and others from both parties spoke in such glowing terms about the Arab Spring.  These men couldn’t wait to go to war in Lybia.  Just this year, Mr. Obama pronounced a red line related to Libya’s chemical weapons and moved to go to war over Syria, only to be rebuffed by overwhelming opposition by the American people.  A CNN/ORC International poll written about in September of last year shows that eighty percent of Americans believe that regardless that Bashar al-Assad was gassing his citizens, a strong majority opposed Congress passing a resolution authorizing a military force against him.  The article states that over seventy percent doubt that such strikes would accomplish the goals set out by the administration and believe it is not in US interest to get involved in the Syria’s civil war.

Now, after the barbaric beheading of two Americans and the atrocities being committed daily, the President has what he wants, a pretext to arm the so-called moderate Syrian rebels.  In all honesty, Americans know that there is nothing moderate about the groups fighting in the Levant.  Mr. Obama and his Republican friends are bending over backwards to give weapons and support to people whose primary goal in life is to put an end to Bashar al-Assad and to promote the reestablishment of the Caliphate.  Consider this, after Bashar al-Assad has been deposed in the coming months, how likely it is that these so-called moderate Syrian rebels will fight ISIS?  How sure can American leaders be that these so-called moderate Syrian rebels are not themselves sympathetic or actually part of ISIS?  How likely is that they might make an accommodation with ISIS or perhaps then turn on Jordan?  After all, Jordan is the only remaining state in the Levant other than Israel that hasn’t yet been destabilized.

Most Americans realize that Islamic extremism has been a reality for as long as Islam has existed but whether radical Islam is an existential threat to Western Culture has been as dependent on the West as it is on radical Islamists. In other words, when Western Culture is strong and Islamic extremism is disheartened and without support, the threat is more of an irritant than a fundamental threat to other cultures.

What popular culture fails to make common knowledge is that while typical Americans think of North Africa as being the seat of Islamic culture, it was home to Christianity, with some of the oldest Christian communities in the world. Obviously Islam not only dominates the Middle East, but has spread in force to the Pacific Rim in countries like Malaysia, and into Europe, South America, and even into the United States.

While there are millions of Muslims who are happy to live and let live along side of other cultures, Islamic extremism is a constant aspect that goes wherever Islam goes. One can go back centuries into the past, even before the Pope Urban declared the original Crusade in 1095 to see Islamic conquests.

Islamist, like their progeny today held prisoners for ransom and beheaded their enemy’s. During the late 700’s Muslim conquests had pushed almost as far as Paris and might well have taken over Europe had Charles Martel and his son Charlemagne not repelled them after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.  It’s fair to say that the Islamic threat was nothing if not an existential threat to the European way of life.   As history continued to unfold, the West, fueled by technology and a culture of enlightenment outpaced the extremists, becoming relatively stronger than the Muslim states opposing them.  While Islamist extremists attacked Christians visiting the holy sites in Jerusalem during the High Middle Ages, leading to the Crusades, the conflict in no way threatened the way of life in Europe.  Jihadists have always been a threat, but only in recent years have they begun to become a threat to Western Civilization.  The United States faced radical Islam for as long as we have been a nation.  President Thomas Jefferson oversaw the creation of the first American Navy because our sailors were being captured and the Jizyah, (ransom) was just too expensive for the young nation to afford.  President Jefferson sent the United States Marines to crush the extremist.  Even as a young nation, America was able to keep the Islamists at bay.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Barbary_War

In our world today, whether to obtain cheap oil, to buy off Arabic leaders from whom we wanted something, or to buy friendship from Arabic leaders to promote us in our dealings on the world stage, we have transferred trillions of dollars in wealth to the Middle East. These dollars have then in turn been used to fuel radical Islam all over the world.  Considering Western dependence on oil, and the debt levels in the West, how secure to you currently feel that Europe and America remains capable of a robust defense of our culture?

Considering where the world is today, the West has fueled Islamic extremism with petro-dollars and economic aid for decades. While the world has witnessed, or if you prefer Mr. Obama’s term, “managed” Islamic extremism throughout history, the real question is this: Are Europeans and Americans too war-weary, too divided, and too in debt to repel the current conquest by Islamic extremism?  No one wants to consider if radical Islam is coming for them, but if one considers the radical Islamist’s perspective, is there a time in recent history when the West was weaker or radical Islamists were stronger?  If you are the enemy and want to see a Caliphate come to pass, if not now, when?

Yes, the West has seen Islamic extremism before in the world, and the West was able to defeat it. However today’s world is different.  Today Western nations are all but bankrupt, and like Rome in antiquity, the West has over extended itself.  Americans and Europeans do not wish to engage in a battle of civilization.  For this reason, instead of facing the world as it is, Mr. Obama choses to put on a dog and pony show.  He puts on a play for the world stage designed to give comfort and to assuage Americans demand for justice.  Unfortunately, if you look at the world from an Islamist’s point of view, Islamic extremists have never been stronger, and the West is divided and weak, unwilling to do what it takes to defend itself.  If the American way of life is to survive, Western nations will have to become serious about the threat we all face.  Western nations must become energy independent, and we must be realistic about the threats we all face.  To win a battle for civilization, the West will have to find a way to unite on key concepts, namely that a battle for civilization is being waged and to retain freedom the West will have to fully engage in the battle to win it.

Additional Resources:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/09/18/the-100-year-old-agreement-you-need-to-know-about-if-you-want-to-understand-whats-driving-the-islamic-state/

http://www.ancient.eu/article/635/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWHn96DXRDE.  Warning – Graphic Content

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/09/politics/syria-poll-main/index.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Barbary_War

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Submitted by Brandon Smith of Alt-Market blog,

 

Like most Americans, I spent the last few weeks watching the drama of events taking place following a police officer killing an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.  On the surface this story is about race and police brutality, or perhaps it is about the militarization of the police, but these topics are not what are actually driving this story.  What if the drama we see unfolding has a root cause that goes deeper than what the pundits tell us the story is all about?  What if the events we are following on TV and social media indicate something about the nature of each of us that is leading us into a time of profound darkness.  America has always been great because America has been run by decent hard working citizens.  Today far many Americans abdicate our responsibilities to the so-called experts.  Today, our declining faith in God, our inability to even hold a debate about important topics, and our loss of trust make tragedy all but inevitable.

A few months ago the drama playing out before Americans was the stand off at the Bundy Ranch.  Before that Americans were witness to the drama of Occupy Wall Street.  Obviously, there have been similar events throughout U.S. History.  In the nineteen-sixties, I would even offer that the level of anger exhibited by citizens was as serious and wide spread as it is today.  Bill Clinton had Waco and the LA Riots surrounding the acquittal of a police officer for the beating of Rodney King.  George W. Bush had his war protests.  American history is full of strife including a civil war.  The question is how mush stress can the culture take before tragedy occurs?

Disgruntled Americans making their feelings known is part of American culture and American history, and our constitution guarantees our right to assemble and to petition the government.  It’s perhaps easy to believe that these issues today, Occupy Wall Street, the Bundy Ranch stand off, and the Rioting in Ferguson are simply more of the same and don’t indicate anything special.  Perhaps these events don’t portend anything dire awaiting America, but how sure are you that the fabric of our culture and our legal system will remain intact?  All things being equal, these events are not any worse on their own than other events in history that the nation has successfully navigated and survived to tell the tale.  On the other hand, I would like to point out that the history now taking place concurrent to these events may be of some concern.  The fabric of any culture can withstand only so much stress before it tears.  The protestors in Ferguson say they are angry at the injustice of a white cop killing an innocent, unarmed, black teenager.  What will happen if the facts determine that the teenager was the aggressor and that the officer acted appropriately?  I think most Americans would acknowledge that additional riots are possible, if not likely.  If the officer is innocent, will he receive justice, or will corrupt officials sacrifice him to maintain peace, or if you like, will he receive social justice?  If he is innocent and sacrificed for the sake of the collective, how willing will other officers be to do their jobs?  Unlike past events our nation has survived, the challenges occurring today are happening at the same time as multiple serious challenges to our way of life in the United States.

Western nations, including the United States are all but bankrupt.  The US is over seventeen trillion dollars in debt and has had to resort to relying on the Federal Reserve to create money out of thin air.  The Federal Reserve then turns around and buys US treasuries with these fictional dollars.  According to a US Border Patrol support group, over six million Illegal immigrants are flooding across the United State’s southern border every year, In the Middle East today, a well funded, well armed, Caliphate is being formed regardless of western nations spending trillions of dollars to plant the seeds of freedom in the region.  As you read this article, psychopathic fascist Jihadists are murdering, raping and torturing men, women, and children in appalling numbers.  Israel, as is so often the case in modern history, at war with an enemy who’s only real demand is that Israel not exist.  In Europe, the Russian Federation under Mr. Putin has invaded and taken over the Crimea from Ukraine, regardless of treaties guaranteeing Ukrainian sovereignty.  Russian soldiers are now firing artillery shells from Ukrainian soil at Ukrainian military units.  At home in the United States, government officials, supported by the media tell Americans not to worry about these things, while at the same the very same government officials violate existing law to promote a statist agenda seeking to make Americans dependent on government to survive.  According to the Senate Budget Committee approximately one in six Americans are now on food stamps.  The American President actually brags about this statistic as if it were a positive indicator.  The household income of Americans is falling while the cost of energy, food, education, medical care, and housing are increasing.  The federal government takeover of the health care industry now requires that Americans have medical insurance that costs dramatically more that most families can afford.  These new policies have deductibles that make the policy all but worthless to those who need it.  This insurance is of course subsidized by the government.  The truth in America is that the prices for the basics of life will continue to rise, how will Americans like those protesting in Ferguson react when they no longer afford that which they must have?

My point, you ask? America has always faced challenges and there have even been times of great strife in our history, but rarely have we faced this great a number of threats at the same time.  In the 1860’s and a hundred years later in the 1960’s the country faced simultaneous challenges that threatened our way of life in the US.  The country survived the Civil War, but at what cost?  The conflict caused the cultural fabric of the country to tear resulting in hundreds of thousands of American casualties.  How willing are Americans today to endure that high cost.  Even during the 1960’s America came uncomfortably close to disaster.  One might make the argument that we are still seeing the results of that conflict today as many of the same leaders still agitate for their collectivist and anti-American agenda.

60s RiotsThe riots in Ferguson paled in comparison to riots taking place in the 1960’s, but the underlying tension and division in the country is clearly in place for a disaster to occur.  Recent elections reflect this division.  The vitriol in the country continues to increase.  Political leaders will say and do almost anything to win an election.  I postulate that our governmental institutions are becoming more and more illegitimate every day.  Man on the street interviews reflect citizen’s apathy.  Many Americans are simply ignorant about key issues today.  Far too many of our country men and women are in fact emotionally detached from the country.  In a word, they simply don’t care.  Many Americans no longer believe in the great experiment that is the American Republic and they seem to no longer have a stake in defending their own freedom.  Our leaders know how easy it is to manipulate a witless population into promoting their agenda, so more and more, they put out propaganda that sounds good but resolves nothing.  The corporate – political elites know that the truth is irrelevant.

In an environment where trust is steadily being destroyed by the unreported stories, misrepresentations, and blatant lies of the media, government, and various civic leaders, low information citizens who only know that things are messed up, react badly when agitated by their media puppet masters.  They can see for themselves that their government violates its own laws with impunity.  They can see some citizens getting special privileges.  Americans know we are being lied to, but far too many of us still blame those the puppet masters tell us to blame.  We see the lies, but we dismiss them as routine.  We just don’t yet realize that leaders we identify with are part of the problem.  The risk present in today’s environment is that unlike previous times of great tension.  Americans no longer believe or trust anyone, and fewer and fewer Americans have faith in God.  We don’t trust the government or the police, we don’t trust business, we don’t trust the media, and we don’t trust each other.  This is a real problem because where there is no trust, and we have no faith that even our government will keep its word, how can we work together to resolve our differences?  When opposing sides in a debate cannot communicate, pressure builds and conflict becomes inevitable.  The problems we face in today’s world are not new, but they are serious. As Alexis De Tocqueville said, “America is great because she is good.  If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”  Today, American’s declining faith in God, and our loss of trust are like gasoline.  The only question is which of the many sparks will ignite a conflagration.  The only way to avoid tragedy is to care enough to look past the agendas and talking points, not only of our opponents but past the agendas and talking points of those we support also.  We must regain our faith in a creator and we must find ways to love each other before all is lost.

Alexis_de_tocqueville

Zero Hedge’s article, “When ‘Anti-Government’ Violence Erupts, Who Is Really At Fault?” really is a must-read. If we are to avoid the dystopian future I wrote about in Phoenix Republic from becoming fact instead of fiction.  We must understand where we are on the road to some really dark outcomes.

Christian child

(AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

People occasionally tell me that what I describe as an upside down crazy world is nothing more than me overreacting to everyday events.  Maybe so…  I am passionate about what I believe and about caring for others.  My thought however is that if news stories were puzzle pieces that fit together to form a larger picture, that picture would not be a pleasant one.

My problem in today’s upside down crazy world is that too many of the normal stresses and strains on the cultural fabric that makes up our civilization have been exacerbated by corporate greed and government malfeasance as is exhibited by the reckless borrowing, foolish spending, and cultural degradation of today’s world.

While these trends are not new and have been out of control for decades, the ever increasing rate of deterioration is increasing at an increasing rate.  We are literally witness to a nexus in history, I think.  Americans have been blessed and live comfortable controlled lives, largely protected from the worst tragedies in life.  My concern is that we have surpassed a breaking point and our comfortable existence is now at risk.  None of us care to acknowledge just how serious things like the national debt, an uncontrolled border, corporate theft, or a lawless government are.  We just go on with our lives and hope that things will get better.  Even my family continues to go to work and pay the mortgage.  I am still even contributing to my 401K regardless that I have very little faith that 401Ks will survive what may be coming.

I guess, like many people, I hope I can make it the five and a half more years I need so that I can get my money out of the system and use it to set up the economy I will depend on in retirement.  Sure, I have taken steps to mitigate the risk, but as my characters Catherine, Megan and Annie learned in Phoenix Republic when their comfortable world simply ceased to exist, collapse builds for a long time but takes place in the blink of an eye.

Consider, if you will just a sample of news stories from the past week.  A caliphate now exists in the heart of the Middle East.  Syria, Iraq, and Now Israel are embroiled in fighting.  If you don’t believe that this is a battle for civilization you are living in denial.  Again today another story talks about Christian’s being threatened with the worst possible fates.   ISIS Has a Deadly Ultimatum for Christians

Gov. Rick Perry Says Texas May Soon Take Steps to Secure the Border — With or Without the Federal Government’s Help

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Tens of thousands of desperate people are flooding across the US southern border all but unchecked.  The United States government not only refuses to enforce the law, but is actually encouraging the situation.  States like Texas are now forced not only to careg for the illegal immigrants, but to take extraordinary steps to try to stem the flow by guarding their borders on their own.

Gov. Rick Perry Says Texas May Soon Take Steps to Secure the Border — With or Without the Federal Government’s Help

We have The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) talking about the increase in income disparity between investment holders and wage earners.  As most of us earn and live off of wages in the USA and in Europe the vast majority of citizens are finding it more and more difficult to maintain their standard of living.  The problem is an increasingly out of touch elite class continue to talk about taxing their citizens while ignoring the other half of the equation which means reducing the cost of government.  All the while, the economy continues to decline which also puts pressure on average citizens.  As the article points out there is a point where civil unrest is unavoidable.  The only question is where is that redline?

When life is too broken in too many places it is easy to just give up, but my thought is that even now one must prepare and try to be a blessing for others.  Life will go on even if the current paradigm fails.  All that giving up means is that one will be more dependent and more at risk than otherwise they might have been when that time comes.  Even in a crazy upside down world there are things to live for.  We have family and loved ones to cling to and to protect.  We have faith and we have hope.

What will your world look like in a year, or two, or five?

 

Resources:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/07/19/isis-to-christians-convert-to-islam-pay-us-leave-or-die/

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/07/17/gov-rick-perry-says-texas-may-soon-take-steps-to-secure-the-border-with-or-without-the-federal-governments-help/

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-07-18/oecd-fears-middle-class-civil-unrest-coming

economic-collapse

A big part of writing is talking to readers about your book.  Actually, in my opinion, the most interesting part of writing is about talking to readers about what they think about the world.  As Phoenix Republic is a dystopian novel about a financial collapse of western culture, my discussions tend to be about what inspired me to write such a gloomy novel, or is something like what happened in Phoenix Republic really coming to America?  I often answer by asking people to scan the headlines and ask themselves if what they see gives them a feel for life in America today.  In the last couple of weeks we had some of the following headlines about stories that any one of which would have been earthshaking only a few years ago.  Today they are more or less all happening all at one time.  Here are just a few examples.

US Media Restricted at Border, Federal Agent Cites Safety Concerns

Bobby Jindal: ‘People Are Ready for a Hostile Takeover of Washington, D.C.’

Iraq Update: Air Force Runs Out Of Missiles, ISIS Controls The Border; Shiite Clerics Threaten US Troops

Think about it, there are signs posted in some areas of the US where authorities actually inform American citizens that the area is dangerous to travel in.  Tens of thousands of people are crossing our borders with no way to determine who they are.  As a nation the US has spent trillions of dollars on Iraq, which now appears to be collapsing almost overnight.  The Middle East could descend into civil war any day now.

Zero Hedge Map

If that happens, the price of oil will almost assuredly skyrocket. America burns 15 million barrels of oil a day while only producing 8 million barrels of oil a day.  Obviously we are bringing in 7 million barrels of oil a day from other places.  One of those places is the Middle East.  Instead of Washington DC working feverishly to secure oil from Canada and to dramatically increase our own production, it is working to reduce our capability and has killed the keystone pipeline project.  If war does break out, western nations will be in deep, deep trouble.

If this isn’t enough, consider that our National Debt is growing at an unsustainable rate.  Think about it.  Compare the percentage of GDP American leaders have committed us to now and what we were on the hook for just a few short years ago.  Come on.  Regardless of politics we all know this doesn’t work.  It isn’t magic.  If nothing else, think about it as if the numbers below were personal.  If you had a relative that borrowed $1,000 dollars on a credit cards every month in 2008 and were now borrowing $1,700 dollars a month today, or 99% of what they earned, you would think they were completely delusional and would be thinking about intervening.   Regardless of the scale of the problem, it is the same paradigm.

2008   $10,000,000,000,000,   or about 68% of America’s GDP

2014   $17, 000,000,000,000   or about 99% of America’s GDP

Where am I going with this?  I will tell you.  In my opinion, our country is too broken in too many places to ever fix unless we can find a way to address our issues honestly very soon.  As I have written about in other articles, there are two Americas.  We are dangerously divided and sadly, this is our biggest challenge.

In 2008 the economy came dangerously close to collapsing because crony capitalism / crony socialism is failing.  The federal government encourages people to spend foolishly and lenders are more than happy to borrow money at zero percent interest and loan it out risk free to borrowers.  Prior to 2008, Wall Street was all about selling mortgage derivatives which basically amounts to fractional ownership of a home loan.  The problem with this idea is that things can become unpleasant if the loan isn’t paid, and the owner of said derivative is using their stake in that asset as collateral on yet another loan.  The bottom line is that ownership become hopelessly conflated.  Good loans were packaged together with bad loans, resulting in a mortgage market where no one knew what something was worth.  As the bubble popped and prices plummeted, it became a death spiral.

Companies collapsed, Americans lost jobs, and in an effort to retain political power, politicians rushed in to pass legislation to make it look like they cared and had a plan.  It would not do to have Americans panic. Washington rushed in to create money out of thin air to throw at the problem.  Americans were incentivized not to work as unemployment was extended and extended again.  The thing is this.  As Washington DC desperately tries to retain power by bribing Americans, they mask the real issues so that they become impossible to fix.  Worse yet, they actually contribute to the problem.  As regulations and taxes increase anyone who actually is productive is forced to fail by the additional burden of government.

Let’s face it, America is primarily a statist nation masquerading as a democratic republic.  Beginning in 2008, the United States political leadership was shocked by a near collapse.  Political and corporate elites rushed to the breach.  They realized that their lifestyles depended on convincing Americans of three things.  They had to find ways to maintain the illusion.  (1) As with Rome, a nation in decline must find ways to pretend that things are not as bad as they appear.  (2) In similar fashion these leaders must find ways to blame someone for the problems faced by the country.  (3) Finally, it’s critical to increase federal power in order to maintain order.  Political leaders in a nation in decline must maintain the status quo to retain power.  These so-called leaders must make us all believe that they must increase the size of the federal government in order to be able to solve the problems facing the country.  They of course fail to mention that they are the ones that caused our problems in the first place.

Most Americans are so busy trying to make their individual lives work that they fail to appreciate the situation on the macro level.  In a nation approaching decline, not only must government have a scapegoat to blame citizen’s problems on, it must find reasons to control citizen’s behavior, to control people’s speech and their voluntary interactions, always with democratic sounding titles.  Things like Net Neutrality become a necessity.  Things like The Affordable Care Act must be imposed to not only control what you do, in this case control your health care, but they must control how you do it.  In other words, they must in some way control every thing citizens do because if they for any reason lost control their dominance would quickly be threatened.

In Phoenix Republic three sisters, Catherine, Megan, and Annie experience first hand what happens when an economic disaster strikes. Phoenix Republic is fiction, but the question is how long will the back story remain so.

john-cornyn-reuters

 

Following the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, Hitler established a Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda headed by Joseph Goebbels. The Ministry’s aim was to ensure that the Nazi message was successfully communicated through art, music, theater, films, books, radio, educational materials, and the press.

While nobody that I am aware of is making the case that the United States Government has a “Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda”, many people from both the political left and from the political right acknowledge that on average Hollywood leans decisively to the left. Progressives in music and entertainment routinely support a collectivist point of view. In fact, unless you are already a huge star, holding conservative points of view will get you fired. Furthermore, late last year Chucky Schumer and Lindsey Graham proposed their “Free Flow of Information Act” which recently passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. Looking at the title of the bill it looks great. Who couldn’t be for the “Free Flow of information” after all?

Of course, as with most things emanating from Washington D.C. one must be very careful about what is in the fine print. What elitist progressive political types like Chucky Shumer and Lindsey Graham, who co-authored the bill don’t want Americans to realize is that they are not really all that interested in the free flow in information. What they are keenly interested in is the ability to say who might be anointed to watch over them and report on their activity. It is, after all, really inconvenient to have real investigative reporting about the epic failures they call policy; or have their self-involved, corruption brought to light by heroes like Michelle Maulkin, or Dana Loesh.

michelle-malkin 

 

 

 

Senators Schumer and Graham’s bill, if approved will exempt anyone who is considered a “covered journalist” from subpoenas and other legal efforts to require that they expose their confidential sources. For anyone supporting freedom of press, protecting whistle blowers is a good thing, but sadly it is far outweighed by the idea that government is the entity that decides who is an “approved” journalist. How convenient is that? If government officials don’t want to have their corruption exposed by an aggressive investigative reporter all they have to do is designate or license who can be a journalist in the first place.

Gobels

After the February 1933 Reichstag Fire, Hitler eviscerated freedom of the press, requiring all news to be approved by Joseph Goebbels’ Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Surprisingly, today’s mainstream press seem to have no issue with this bill, but my question for them or for any American for that matter who claims to support freedom is this. How is government having approval authority over who can be a journalist any different than actually having approval authority over a news story that journalist might write. Goebbels required that anyone involved in media sign loyalty oaths to the Nazi Party. If you didn’t care for these restrictions you could be imprisoned or executed.

While in today’s world the progressive movement is smart enough not to actually require loyalty oaths, do you notice how quickly the progressive thought police turn on anyone who dares to state an independent opinion. Juan Williams was a senior news analyst for NPR until he stepped outside of progressive orthodoxy in October of 2010 for his comments on Muslims. Regardless of consistently supporting progressive positions, the man was unceremoniously fired for not adhering to progressives fascist talking points. Similarly, just this week there is a controversy involving Juan Williams’ son, Raffi Williams. In this case, Raffi Williams, who is a conservative, was vilified because he dared to have a conservative point of view as a black man.   Similarly, Dr. Ben Carson was also excommunicated by progressives in February of 2013 for daring to politely and respectfully disagreeing with President Obama’s policies.

My point here is that it isn’t necessary to have a mustache twirling Snidely Whiplash type of character like Joseph Goebbels approving stories. All progressive elitists require is to set up a process that achieves the same result. Republican Senator, John Cornyn told Breitbart News “They want to pick and choose which journalists are covered. In other words, if you’re a blogger they might not cover you, but if you work for the New York Times they might. Given the changes in the way we get information and the way we consume news, that really smacks to me in essence of government licensing who’s an official ‘journalist’ for the purposes of a shield law and who’s not. If there is one thing I can glean from the First Amendment, it is that government should not be in the business of licensing the news media.”

Bloggers are a existential threat to progressive control over the narrative that the general public is presented. Progressives are far from stupid. The new media is quickly supplanting the old centralized model of network television news. If progressives wish to retain control over the conversation they must eliminate dissenters.

Additional Resources:

The Phoenix Republic, The Lone Star Gambit

Phoenix Banner 10.09.13

http://personalliberty.com/2014/03/28/bill-authorizing-government-to-define-legitimate-journalism-a-political-albatross-for-rinos-democrats/

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/03/26/Exclusive-Cornyn-Rips-Schumer-s-Media-Shield-Law

http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005202

 

 

Justina Rally

(Photo credit: Keith Mason/Personhood USA)

The interesting thing about writing a blog is that it documents your thoughts, view of life and the world around you from a historical perspective.   In looking back over the past few months, it’s apparent that my outlook is pretty pessimistic.  The truth is there are stories every week about the innate goodness of people.  Americans are standing up for people they don’t even know all the time simply because it is the right thing to do.

Last week thousands of people got involved in the case of Justina Pelletier, a fifteen year-old girl who was essentially kidnapped by Boston’s Children’s hospital because doctors at Children’s disagreed with the doctors at Tufts Medical Center about the girl’s diagnosis.  Regardless that both hospitals are renowned medical institutions Boston’s Children’s Hospital violated the parents’ rights to make decisions for their child.  In an incestuous arrangement with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, custody of the girl was given to Children’s.  Only when thousands of Americans began calling state representatives and the hospital did the Children’s back away.  The world is a dangerous place, but when we stand together we can make miracles happen.

The primary point of writing these articles has been to relate current events to my novel.  Phoenix Republic is economic collapse story and thus it does have some dark moments.  It also has its share of hopeful elements, however.  While I wouldn’t try to make the case that I am Mary Sunshine, I really don’t think of myself as a pessimist either.  I think it’s important to talk about what current events might mean to every day Americans.  Yes, I am very concerned about Americans holding onto our freedom.  I lament that our form of government is being fundamentally transformed.  What was designed as a republic is rapidly morphing into something that resembles an Oligarchy, ruled by elitists, who are quite certain they know what is best for all of us.  Yes, I believe that the United States, as Republic of free men and women is in danger, but I also believe in Divine Providence.  I also believe that more Americans are waking up and standing up every day.  While the present disaster that is our current state of affairs in America is disconcerting and the country is in trouble, Americans are an amazing people.  If we can win enough hearts and minds to embrace freedom over collective coercion, we can once again reestablish America as a free country.

Flag4

This week I watched Frank Crapra’s  Meet John Doe.  Watching this wonderful old black and white film, made me realize how there is nothing new under the sun.  The movie is set in the Great Depression.   It is about an elitist progressive class working to corrupt a freedom movement that sprang up out of a newspaper stunt.  What’s wild is that I realized that I was really watching a current events movie.  While the times are dire, Americans, pulling together realize that they can make a difference, regardless of overwhelming odds.

We may be have two distinct cultures as I wrote about in A Tale of Two Americas, but even the approximately forty percent of progressive America still have our traditions in common with those of us who are inclined to be self-reliant and want to be free of government overreach.  The vast majority of us desire the same things.  We want an equitable country where everyone has a chance at living a good life.  Americans differ on how to achieve these goals, but at least the fundamental underpinnings of American life is something with which we can all agree.  My belief is that Americans are basically good, regardless of the superficial arguments made in Washington DC and in the media.  There may be progressives in the establishment political parties that wish to keep Americans at each other’s throats so that they can hold onto power, but I believe the truth will prevail in the end.  The whole reason for writing Phoenix Republic is to remind readers that each of us has it within us to achieve greatness.  Working together, even a small minority of committed men and women, determined to live free, can impact the hearts and minds of a nation.

The issue we run into in the United States is that we are all human, and we all have human weaknesses.   Progressives believe that citizens must be collectively forced to behave in a way that is beneficial to society while the freedom movement is about believing in individuals to make those decisions based on individual morals.  I often mention that the country is too broken in too many places to fix and that the social contract has been shattered.  While I believe this is true I also think that where there is life there is hope.  Over the past few months I have posted and pontificated at length about any number of gloomy news stories.   What I am thinking today is that while Phoenix Republicis about a dark economic future, but it is also about family and pulling together.  It is about standing on principle for what is right.  It is about faith and loving one’s neighbor.  To prevail over really bad outcomes, we must all find common ground and find ways to live and let live.  The good news is that there are stories every week about the innate goodness of people which show that there people doing what’s right for people they don’t even know.

Additional Resources

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/03/03/good-news-in-the-justina-pelletier-case/

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/03/04/the-8-year-old-boy-who-did-something-incredible-for-a-soldier-now-wants-to-help-other-military-families/