Posts Tagged ‘Phoenix Republic’

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.


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.


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.



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.





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.


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



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.


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

MYRA Graphic

Approximately a month ago my favorite economic website, had a story about one of Russia’s major banks, ‘My Bank’ who made the decision to ban customers from withdrawing cash for one week.  Similarly, last month in Britain, HSBC implemented a policy restricting their customers from withdrawing their own money.  The policy, which was put into place with no notice to customers, required that customers provide the bank a sufficient reason to withdraw their own cash.  In other words, the bank would decide if your reason for attempting to withdraw your own money was sufficient.  In a first hand account reported by the BBC, Stephen Cotton recounted how he went to his bank, and HSBC branch to withdraw £7,000 from his instant access savings account.  The bank declined to fulfill his request to withdraw his own money.

“When we presented them with the withdrawal slip, they declined to give us the money because we could not provide them with a satisfactory explanation for what the money was for. They wanted a letter from the person involved.”

These stories struck a chord with me, not just because Phoenix  Republic is about an economic contagion spiraling into an all-out collapse, but because the frequency that these stories are appearing in the news cycle.  In the fictional world of my novel, these types of stories are exactly the sorts of occurrence that preceded a complete economic collapse in the west.

It seems that the credit markets are under some strain these days.  Even at the national level it isn’t just Greece having issues.  China is backing off on buying US treasuries.  In 2013, China dumped the second largest amount of its US currency ever, selling off $48 billion dollars of debt.  Japan is doing the same.  Some smaller countries are buying some of it for now, but how long that will continue is uncertain.

Today I see that bank runs are again in the news, this time in Thailand.  Thailand’s Government Savings Bank admitted that customers have withdrawn approximately one billion dollars in deposits.  My point is that the world is a really connected place, especially from a financial perspective.  Americans love to think that we are immune to the sort of financial ruin that have historically affected other nations, but do you really think that these are all isolated incidents?  Maybe they are, but all that I know is numerous news accounts related to bank runs and liquidity issues faced by individuals, companies and even by nations are in the news.  Just last month the American President talked about a brand new program, “myRA” in his State of the Union Address.  He claims that he is trying to help hard-working Americans with a secure way to invest their hard-earned income with the government for some so-call guaranteed return when they retire.

My question is do you seriously trust the same people that brought you Obama-Care and Social Security with your even more of your money?

I can’t tell you when, and I am no financial guru.  All I can offer for your consideration is what used to be known as common sense.  It is clear to anyone with the IQ of a toaster that America in general, and the US government in particular, have not created some vast new source of wealth, over the last few decades, but we have created vast amounts of debt… 17 trillion dollars worth of debt, with much, much more on the way.  For this reason the government must find ways to finance it’s spending in a world where absolutely nobody wants to take the risk.  China is no longer keen on new debt, Japan too is backing away, & the Fed, which holds like 4 trillion dollars of US debt, is finding it difficult to continue with financing US debt with fictional dollars created out of thin air.

What is a desperate credit card junkie to do?  The answer will inevitability be to take out a new credit card from anyone gullible enough to loan them the money.  If that doesn’t work they may have to just steal it by forcing people to loan them the money.

For those of you who read Phoenix  Republic, you’ve seen this sort of thing before.

Watch your wallets, friends. I think we may be beginning the ride of a lifetime.

Additional Resources:


As another weekend winds down I find myself looking ahead to the new week ahead.  For next week, congress will be back in Washington DC and sadly, President Obama is still trying to make the case for a strike against Syria to defend is ego after the anointed one failed to make anyone in the Middle East take him seriously.  It looks like he will speak to the nation in the next couple of days.  I wonder what can be said to justify the terrible risk that the President wishes to take.  No doubt Mr. Obama will talk about human suffering.  I am in fact sympathetic to that argument.  At least I would be sympathetic to that argument if it happened prior to the brutal killings of over one-hundred-thousand people by other means.  Is a chemical attack terrible?  Of course, but so are the numerous gruesome deaths inflicted on innocent civilians by both sides since this crisis began.  This is not an easy situation regardless of how things play out.  I just know that economically, the United States is in no position to be burning through our make-believe cash for a risky adventure in Syria.
While I am hopeful that the US will not launch a strike, the fact that the establishment GOP and the Democrats seem to be hell bent on such action make it seem likely.  There is a fair amount of resistance to such action in congress and from the American public but only time will tell if cooler heads will prevail.  Responsiveness to the public will has not been all that evident in Washington D.C.  If this strike does happen, be sure to make note how your representative voted.  It is our job to hold them accountable.  The impacts could be unpredictable.
As usual, Stratfor does their usual amazing job of analyzing the economic costs.  What is interesting in the video analysis however is that while Stratfor does a solid job talking to the immediate concrete repercussions, they didn’t really cover the possible unforeseen impacts that are at the very least possible, if not likely.  Sure it’s obvious that the stock market and the price of oil would be impacted, but what happens if things spiral out of control.   In other words what happens when Iran, Russia, or even China respond to a US led attack with some form of retribution?  Does such an event make a serious economic impact more or less likely to occur?  Does the war escalating to include Israel make the world more or less stable?  As I recall the economy is really fragile.  How much pressure would it take to really put the kibosh to the so-called recovery?Warfare is never a sure thing.
Phoenix Republic is a fictional story based on a economic collapse.  Unfortunately, In today’s world verisimilitude for the story is sadly, far to easy to achieve.


The breakdown of a society begins slowly at first but picks up speed as everyday life deteriorates.  Tyranny often begins when free citizens willingly give up their freedom to achieve security.  Visitors to Hitler’s Germany in the 1930’s, prior to World War II, often related tales of how exciting and marvelous Berlin was under the Nazis.  In reading Erick Lawson’s book, In the Garden of Beasts, United States Ambassador, William Edward Dodd’s daughter, Martha Dodd went on and on about how wonderful she thought Germany was at the time.  She was completely blind to the darkness building in people, especially government people, who surrounded her.  If you have Netflix, and like older films, take a look at the 1980’s mini-series, Winds of War, by Herman Wouk.

From a historical perspective, life pretty much goes on normally if you consider your daily experiences from a narrow enough perspective.  It is only when we take a step back that we notice the changes.  In January of 2001, who would have thought that we would have to submit to being felt up or have to get nude scans by government employees just to get on an airplane?  Would you have accepted it if President Clinton suggested a program where the NSA would be capturing every telephone or electronic communication in a massive data-center?  Probably, you wouldn’t.  Although examples of government abuse have always been in the news, would you have been stunned then if you learned that the Federal Government was actively going after political opponents with the IRS to sway an election?  Richard Nixon did that of course, but as I recall he was forced from office in disgrace.  Now a couple of decades later our current president tells us that even worse behavior a “Phony Scandal.”

My point is that if one’s culture degrades slowly enough, like the frog in the being slowly cooked in a pot of water, its only human nature to dismiss behavior that is only incrementally more outrageous than what we have become accustomed to.  The danger that we face is that if things deteriorate too far, the gradual decline can suddenly become a very rapid collapse of our culture.  In Phoenix Republic, my characters live though just such a transition.  At first, things are more or less normal.  The world has problems, but from the point of view of people living in the fictional world of my novel, it has always had problems and always would.  In a matter of weeks, the fictional world of the novel moves past the mundane and into an unprecedented crisis.  People are forced to deal with an unthinkable dissaster.

In preparing to write Phoenix Republic.  I began to take notes from news stories that were actually taking place.  Although fictionalized for the novel, many of the events in Phoenix Republic really did take place in real life.  Yesterday, while at work I thought about how crazy things are in the news these days.  It still gets me when something insane is reported.  I think, wow, that would be a good one to write about – to point out where we are on the road to Gomorrah.  My thought is that the key to surviving drastic upheavals in culture, is to be awake enough to recognize when the gradual change is about to go viral.

Today we see the EPA telling people that are nowhere near water that their property is a wetland.  We see voter fraud cases dropped by the Justice Department regardless that those cases were all but won, while just recently Mr. Holder’s Justice Department decided to go after the state of Texas for voter ID laws.  We see our administration threaten war in Syria, with or without congressional approval, while being outraged by the former progressive president doing the same thing with approval.  We see citizens protesting government intrusion by the NSA, IRS, and other agencies, but could care less that even worse intrusions happen under the political party they support.  As in my novel it appears that that the world is heating up.   Not sure when things go over that proverbial cliff, but I do believe there is too much in our world that is too broken in too many places.

World War I Trenches

As Americans watch the breathless news coverage of Mr. Obama’s impending attack on Syria, it occurs to me that regardless of pundits on television debating endlessly about what the possible goals Mr. Obama hopes to accomplish through military action, he cannot control the reaction to such an attack.  It could well be that missiles will fly in the next day or two and nothing much will change.  Mr. Obama can claim that he is a serious man that means what he says, regardless that the facts on the ground will remain largely unchanged.  Perhaps his strike will degrade Bashar Al-Asad’s military capability.  What is also possible, if not probable, is that Mr. Obama will provide the excuse Islamist extremists in the Middle East have been waiting for.  Iran has stated for years that they wish to eliminate Israel from the face of the earth.  The Muslim Brotherhood, who Mr. Obama has supported at every turn, likewise has a similar goal.

This week Iran and Syria have both pledged to attack Tel-Aviv, Israel if the United States should attack Syria.  Russia, and as of yesterday, China have both warned of serious consequences if Mr. Obama insists on backing up his foolish pronouncements of a so-called red-line with military force.  Although progressives have a hard time accepting it, these nations do not care about American political calculations.  They are only concerned with obtaining power and maintaining their strategic interests.  Is it tragic that hundreds of thousands of people have been butchered by both sides in the Syrian Civil War?  Yes.  Would it be preferable if the United States could provide a stabilizing influence on the region?  Yes.  Unfortunately, there is little that the US can do to help any innocent victims living in Syria.  America has squandered any credibility it may have once had on the altar of American domestic politics.  Put simply, Middle Eastern leaders know well that American leaders cannot be trusted.

One might simply be tempted to believe that the President and his administration are just naïve.  I don’t think so, however.  Regardless of strongly disagreeing with his policies, I believe these people may be arrogant, but they are far from stupid.  If that is so, why would educated and experienced people make such poor decisions?  There is very little to be gained by the United States from military action in Syria, so why allow the US to be backed into this corner?  It is inexplicable unless there is another goal all together.

What if there is an upside the President and his progressive supporters would like to achieve?  What goal might progressives in the United States and around the world have that would benefit from such action?  To answer this, consider our world from a very macro point of view.  Progressives and Islamists too, for that matter, clearly would like the world to be re-ordered.  While these groups may not agree with each other on what the world should look like, they do agree that “capitalism” is the root of all evil in the world.  The problem from their point of view is how to destroy capitalism so that they can replace it with their system of choice.  As the Fabian Socialist’s Window depicts, (Fabian Socialist Window is a stained glass depiction of a man beating the earth with a hammer.  On the window is a caption: “remold it nearer to the heart’s desire”), the only way to achieve this goal is to create chaos in the world.

Fabian Window

As was the case a century ago, the Fabians almost achieved some of these goals after WWI.  Like today, the status quo, simply didn’t sufficiently meet the needs too many people.  Also, like today, progressives believed the way to overcome the overly class oriented system of the day was to destroy the system and replace it with a “New World Order”.  Like President Obama, President Woodrow Wilson was a committed progressive, and like today, leaders foolishly stumbled into a tragic world conflict that resulted in the deaths of millions.  While I don’t think that progressives want to see people’s lives destroyed, I do believe they are willing to break a few eggs to achieve their utopian vision.  Ask yourself this question:

“Should a terrible war rage across the Middle East, accompanied by the inevitable economic disaster that would go with such a conflict, how willing would you be to accept any proposed solution that would end the destruction?”

In Phoenix Republic, Americans are faced with the fundamental question, what is individual freedom worth?

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An Israeli soldier helps a citizen fit a gas mask (File photo: IDF Spokesman)

World War III for Dummies

A key component for war comes from leaders who misjudge their opponent’s intentions and or capabilities.  Take Saddam Hussein, for example.  He simply could not imagine that self-indulgent Americans would be willing to spend the blood and treasure it would require to dislodge him from power.  Today we have leaders who, like Saddam, arrogantly think they are the smartest people in the room.  That would be great except that is just isn’t even close to true.  Arrogant American Progressives from both political parties continually misjudge the world and what wags it.

Only two years ago Progressives in the political elite circles of Washington DC and New York proclaimed how marvelous it was that the so-called Arab Spring was wiping away the brutal dictators of the “Cold War” era.  It was heralded as a triumph of American foreign policy.  George W. Bush, Mr. Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and of course Mr. Obama, along with the progressively minded elite media all support the idea of unlimited democracy in the region.  Bill Kristol even remarked that those who disagreed with this assertion were “overly pessimistic.”  Currently, Mr. Obama is going out of his way to promote the Muslim Brotherhood, regardless of their threatening allies, or committing genocide against the Coptic Christians, who are approximately 10% of the Egyptian population.  Only when the images of these rapes, murders, and the destructions of hundreds of churches did Obama give a tepid admonishment.  For weeks now Washington DC has debated whether or not to cut aid to Egypt.  Now we are hearing from the media how Bashar Al-Asad has crossed Obama’s so-called “red-line” by killing a hundred people or so with a chemical attack.  Seriously?  This monster has killed ninety-thousand people and committed atrocities against countless others, and we are talking about a military response over one hundred more?  Perhaps, it is secretly Obama’s guilt that a chemical attack may well have utilized the disappearing chemical weapons that magically vanished from Iraq.

(Please ignore the convoys of semi-trucks that crossed the Iraq – Syria border on the eve of the Saddam’s fall from power.)

Well, here we are in late 2013 with close to if not already over one hundred thousand people dead across the region.  In Syria, Bashar Al-Asad – backed by the Russians and Iran is brutally murdering civilians in droves.  In Egypt, we have now come full circle, with Hosni Mubarak, out of jail and the Muslim Brotherhood pushed out of their democratically elected posts.  In Egypt, the old alliances are splintering.  Israel and Saudi Arabia, who have been traditional supporters of US Middle East policy, are now promoting the military coup by the Egyptian military.  Turkey and Qatar, on the other hand support the Muslim Brotherhood.  One might recall that Saudi Arabia and Qatar currently host US military bases.

My point, you ask?  My point is that it is my belief that the political class, although too arrogant to ever admit being completely wrong and is deeply misguided in their understanding of the world.  The United States has never exactly been popular in the region, but now we find ourselves to be a laughing stock.  Why should a Middle Eastern leader believe anything the US says?  Washington DC only cares about politics, what party will win the next election, and how political opponents can be discredited.   In this environment, do you think it is likely that leaders from the Middle East are more or less likely to misjudge American intentions?  Recall who the key players are in the Syrian conflict?  Russia, Syria, the USA, are facing off in a bitter civil conflict that is far deeper than whether a dictator will remain in power.  Russia wants access to Syrian ports.  Iran wants to eliminate Israel, and in my opinion, achieve a caliphate.  It will be interesting to see what Obama does here.  Who would bet against him believing he can lob a couple of missiles or implement a no-fly zone with little consequence?  How a horrific world war begins is simple, it starts by accident, because deeply rooted animosity comes to the surface because leaders misjudge each other.

My novel, Phoenix Republic tells a story about three sisters as they come to grips with economic disaster and turmoil overseas that changes everything.  Our ordinary world is so fragile, yet we are often so careless in it’s care.

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