A classic novel in the TEOTWAWKI* niche is Lucifer’s Hammer, published in 1977, by veteran science fiction writers Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. The story line is a classic end of the world scenario. A previously unknown comet is discovered only months before scientists realize it is on a near-collision course with Earth. Naturally, virtually no one in the world is prepared when the comet breaks apart and strikes the Earth in several places. As the story continues, it focuses on the struggles of survivors, building into an exciting, good vs. evil finish.
Within this 600+ page story are 20 valuable, often universal lessons and principles worth examining
Things in the sky can be unpredictable
This story is based on a comet that crashes into the earth; but there are other, more plausible hazards from space, foremost being electrical storms generated by the sun that can wreak havoc with our electrical grid as described in this article.
A U.S. Senator from California is one of the heroes of the story when he takes on the executive role, comparable to that of a Governor when all other government structure fails. Even though he is hampered by a heart defect, he maintains the respect and loyalty of the group of people that gravitated to him. As a natural leader, he steps up in a crisis to do what he does best.
Be careful who you trust
The millionaire amateur astronomer who first discovers the comet, has a caretaker maintaining his mountain observatory. It’s stocked and ready to go as his personal bug out location. When disaster strikes, the caretaker and some friends decide they need the property more, and turn the owner away at gunpoint. The astronomer had placed all of his preparedness eggs in that basket and was turned away with nothing but the vehicle he was driving.
Love may have to wait
Romance becomes much more complicated when your social circle shrinks. Within the Senator’s tight-knit survivor’s group, two alpha-males seek the attention of the Senator’s beautiful daughter. For political reasons, one of the men is strongly advised not to pursue her in the interest of keeping the group together. Personal relationships are difficult to cultivate and maintain in a big enough crisis.
Denying what’s in front of you can get you killed
One of the more memorable characters is a rural mail carrier who gets caught mid-route by the comet strike. Even in the face of extreme rainstorms caused by the comet, he presses to finish his mail route and is almost washed away. Salvaging as much of the mail as he can, he presses on and is shot at by predatory teens. He eventually accepts the dangers of the new world and obtains a pistol for self-protection. Realities may change and they may change drastically. Survivors will be those who can accept and adapt quickly.
Impending doom can embolden bad people
A paroled rapist realizes that even if he indulges his homicidal sexual fantasies, he won’t be held to trial. He unleashes his urges on a young woman and is arrested for her murder. Later after the comet strike, he is the recipient of “frontier justice” from a jailer who releases lesser criminals but can’t bring himself to let the rapist go. This is a lesson to add self-defense and home defense to your list of prepping priorities. Learn self-defense through martial arts (learn how to choose the best dojo), as well as teaching everyone in the household to use a firearm safely and accurately.
The right vehicle can save your butt
In 1977, the do-all, the off-road truck was the International TravelAll, equivalent to today’s Chevy Suburban. In Lucifer’s Hammer, the TravelAll lived up to its reputation by getting characters through floods and mud, pulling down trees, and being reliable all the time, every time. In the real world, having a tough, reliable vehicle is just as important. This article shares tips for getting your vehicle ready for the end of the world, and it’s not as expensive as you might think.
When the late Don Drysdale was throwing fastballs for the Los Angeles Dodgers he would say, if the other team’s pitcher threw at the heads of LA Dodger batters, he would throw at the heads of two of the other team’s batters.
Fast forward to today’s political Don Drysdale, who happens to be sitting in the Oval Office in Washington DC.
For every attack against Donald Trump, the President is Twittering back.
News media, get used to it, you aren’t beyond The Donald’s sharp tongue.
When the news media aired doctored photos of his inauguration and said only 250,000 attended, he fired back. [Daily Mail] The White House press secretary Sean Spicer launched a complaint directly to the nation’s press corps at the Capitol and one could hear reporters shouting at him as he left the podium. [Daily Mail] Unreal!
When a Time Magazine reporter Twittered that the bust of Martin Luther King had been removed from the White House, Donald Trump fired back at this erroneous bit of misinformation. [Daily Mail]
Of course, the US has never seen such a backlash after a Presidential election like this. Rallies against Trump were conducted in cities across the US. [Daily Mail]Who is organizing these protests?
These oppositional rallies simply say they don’t like the man. They are not issue-oriented.
Frankly, The Pope sounded jealous over Mr. Trump’s inauguration as he warned against seeking a savior in times of crisis. [Daily Mail] Maybe the Pope ought to start Twittering.
And yet another unprecedented feud broke out between former CIA director John Brennan, who released the following statement: “Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes. Brennan says that Trump should be ashamed of himself.” [FoxNews]
Make no doubt about it…….. President Trump is story #1, #2, #3, #4 every day in the news. The news media dare not ignore him or lose their audience. A polarized America reads Trump-related news stories from two sides.
Twitter “accidentally” dispatched a Twitter to half a million unconsenting followers. [RT.com] Sure, it was a mistake, right? Hey, Twitter wasn’t going to be left out.
And one gets the impression this is just the beginning of an in-your-face Presidency.
The news press is firing back, saying “President Trump is lurching towards radical conservatism.” Ryan Cooper, posting at THE WEEK, writes “Trump’s populist shtick is an open fraud.” [The Week] Cooper objects to President Trump’s rescinding executive orders on home loans. Cooper says home loans will now be more difficult to obtain.
They better be. The whole home loan industry is a bubble, propped by inordinately low interest rates that rob money from savers. The best thing that can be done now with the real estate market is let the bubble pop, home values crash by ~30%, and then homes will be more affordable. So much for journalists who attempt to run the economy.
You’ve heard the axiom “History repeats itself.” It does, but never in exactly the same way. To apply the lessons of the past, we must understand the differences of the present.
During the American Revolution, the British came prepared to fight a successful war—but against a European army. Their formations, which gave them devastating firepower, and their red coats, which emphasized their numbers, proved the exact opposite of the tactics needed to fight a guerrilla war.
Before World War I, generals still saw the cavalry as the flower of their armies. Of course, the horse soldiers proved worse than useless in the trenches.
Before World War II, in anticipation of a German attack, the French built the “impenetrable” Maginot Line. History repeated itself and the attack came, but not in the way they expected. Their preparations were useless because the Germans didn’t attempt to penetrate it; they simply went around it, and France was defeated.
The generals don’t prepare for the last war out of perversity or stupidity, but rather because past experience is all they have to go by. Most of them simply don’t know how to interpret that experience. They are correct in preparing for another war but wrong in relying upon what worked in the last one.
Investors, unfortunately, seem to make the same mistakes in marshaling their resources as do the generals. If the last 30 years have been prosperous, they base their actions on more prosperity. Talk of a depression isn’t real to them because things are, in fact, so different from the 1930s. To most people, a depression means ’30s-style conditions, and since they don’t see that, they can’t imagine a depression. That’s because they know what the last depression was like, but they don’t know what one is. It’s hard to visualize something you don’t understand.
Some of them who are a bit more clever might see an end to prosperity and the start of a depression but—although they’re going to be a lot better off than most—they’re probably looking for this depression to be like the last one.
Although nobody can predict with absolute certainty what this depression will be like, you can be fairly well assured it won’t be an instant replay of the last one. But just because things will be different doesn’t mean you have to be taken by surprise.
To define the likely differences between this depression and the last one, it’s helpful to compare the situation today to that in the early 1930s. The results aren’t very reassuring.
Banks, insurance companies, and big corporations went under on a major scale. Institutions suffered the consequences of past mistakes, and there was no financial safety net to catch them as they fell. Mistakes were liquidated and only the prepared and efficient survived.
The world’s financial institutions are in even worse shape than the last time, but now business ethics have changed and everyone expects the government to “step in.” Laws are already in place that not only allow but require government intervention in many instances. This time, mistakes will be compounded, and the strong, productive, and efficient will be forced to subsidize the weak, unproductive, and inefficient. It’s ironic that businesses were bankrupted in the last depression because the prices of their products fell too low; this time, it’ll be because they went too high.
If a man lost his job, he had to find another one as quickly as possible simply to keep from going hungry. A lot of other men in the same position competed desperately for what work was available, and an employer could hire those same men for much lower wages and expect them to work harder than what was the case before the depression. As a result, the men could get jobs and the employer could stay in business.
The average man first has months of unemployment insurance; after that, he can go on welfare if he can’t find “suitable work.” Instead of taking whatever work is available, especially if it means that a white collar worker has to get his hands dirty, many will go on welfare. This will decrease the production of new wealth and delay the recovery. The worker no longer has to worry about some entrepreneur exploiting (i.e., employing) him at what he considers an unfair wage because the minimum wage laws, among others, precludes that possibility today. As a result, men stay unemployed and employers will go out of business.
If hard times really put a man down and out, he had little recourse but to rely on his family, friends, or local social and church group. There was quite a bit of opprobrium attached to that, and it was only a last resort. The breadlines set up by various government bodies were largely cosmetic measures to soothe the more terror-prone among the voting populace. People made do because they had to, and that meant radically reducing their standards of living and taking any job available at any wage. There were very, very few people on welfare during the last depression.
It’s hard to say how those who are still working are going to support those who aren’t in this depression. Even in the U.S., 50% of the country is already on some form of welfare. But food stamps, aid to families with dependent children, Social Security, and local programs are already collapsing in prosperous times. And when the tidal wave hits, they’ll be totally overwhelmed. There aren’t going to be any breadlines because people who would be standing in them are going to be shopping in local supermarkets just like people who earned their money. Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of it is that people in general have come to think that these programs can just magically make wealth appear, and they expect them to be there, while a whole class of people have grown up never learning to survive without them. It’s ironic, yet predictable, that the programs that were supposed to help those who “need” them will serve to devastate those very people.
Most economies have been fairly heavily regulated since the early 1900s, and those regulations caused distortions that added to the severity of the last depression. Rather than allow the economy to liquidate, in the case of the U.S., the Roosevelt regime added many, many more regulations—fixing prices, wages, and the manner of doing business in a static form. It was largely because of these regulations that the depression lingered on until the end of World War II, which “saved” the economy only through its massive reinflation of the currency. Had the government abolished most controls then in existence, instead of creating new ones, the depression would have been less severe and much shorter.
The scores of new agencies set up since the last depression have created far more severe distortions in the ways people relate than those of 80 years ago; the potential adjustment needed is proportionately greater. Unless government restrictions and controls on wages, working conditions, energy consumption, safety, and such are removed, a dramatic economic turnaround during the Greater Depression will be impossible.
The income tax was new to the U.S. in 1913, and by 1929, although it took a maximum 23.1% bite, that was only at the $1 million level. The average family’s income then was $2,335, and that put average families in the 1/10th of 1 percent bracket. And there was still no Social Security tax, no state income tax, no sales tax, and no estate tax. Furthermore, most people in the country didn’t even pay the income tax because they earned less than the legal minimum or they didn’t bother filing. The government, therefore, had immense untapped sources of revenue to draw upon to fund its schemes to “cure” the depression. Roosevelt was able to raise the average income tax from 1.35% to 16.56% during his tenure—an increase of 1,100%.
Everyone now pays an income tax in addition to all the other taxes. In most Western countries, the total of direct and indirect taxes is over 50%. For that reason, it seems unlikely that direct taxes will go much higher. But inflation is constantly driving everyone into higher brackets and will have the same effect. A person has had to increase his or her income faster than inflation to compensate for taxes. Whatever taxes a man does pay will reduce his standard of living by just that much, and it’s reasonable to expect tax evasion and the underground economy to boom in response. That will cushion the severity of the depression somewhat while it serves to help change the philosophical orientation of society.
The so-called multiplier arises as a result of the fact that banks are legally permitted to use money that is placed in demand deposits. Banks treat this type of money as if it was loaned to them, thus loaning it out while simultaneously allowing depositors to spend that money.
For example, if John places $100 in demand deposit at Bank One he doesn’t relinquish his claim over the deposited $100. He has an unlimited claim against his $100.
However, let us also say that Bank One lends $50 to Mike. By lending Mike $50, the bank creates a deposit for $50 that Mike can now use. Remember that John still has a claim against $100 while Mike has now a claim against $50.
This type of lending is what fractional-reserve banking is all about. The bank has $100 in cash against claims or deposits of $150. The bank, therefore, holds 66.7 percent reserves against demand deposits. The bank has created $50 out of “thin air” since these $50 are not supported by any genuine money.
Now Mike uses that $50 to buy goods from Tom and pays Tom by check. Tom places the check with his bank, Bank B. After clearing the check, Bank B will have an increase in cash of $50, which it may take advantage of, and lends say $25 to Bob.
As one can see, the fact that banks make use of demand deposits whilst the holders of deposits did not relinquish their claims sets in motion the money multiplier.
A case could be made that people who place their money in demand deposits do not mind banks using their money. But, if an individual grants a bank permission to lend out his money, he cannot at the same time also expect to be able to use that money.
Regardless of people’s psychological disposition what matters here is that individuals did not relinquish their claim on deposited money that is being also lent out. Once banks use the deposited money, an expansion of money out of “thin air” is set in motion.
Although the law allows this type of practice, from an economic point of view, it produces a similar outcome that any counterfeit activities do. It results in money out of “thin air” which leads to consumption that is not supported by production, i.e., to the dilution of the pool of real wealth.
The legal precedent to fractional-reserve banking was set in England in 1811 in the court case of Carr v. Carr, in which the courts established the legality of fractional-reserve banking. The legality of the situation, however, is different from the economics of the matter.
According to Mises,
It is usual to reckon the acceptance of a deposit which can be drawn upon at any time by means of notes or checks as a type of credit transaction and juristically this view is, of course, justified; but economically, the case is not one of a credit transaction. … A depositor of a sum of money who acquires in exchange for it a claim convertible into money at any time which will perform exactly the same service for him as the sum it refers to, has exchanged no present good for a future good. The claim that he has acquired by his deposit is also a present good for him. The depositing of money in no way means that he has renounced immediate disposal over the utility that it commands.1
Similarly, Rothbard argued,
In this sense, a demand deposit, while legally designated as credit, is actually a present good — a warehouse claim to a present good that is similar to a bailment transaction, in which the warehouse pledges to redeem the ticket at any time on demand.2
Why an Unhampered Market Will Curtail Fractional-Reserve Banking
In a truly free market economy, the likelihood that banks will practice fractional-reserve banking will tend to be very low. If a particular bank tries to practice fractional-reserve banking it runs the risk of not being able to honor its checks. For instance, if Bank One lends out $50 to Mike out of $100 deposited by John it runs the risk of going bust. Why? Let us say that both John and Mike have decided to exercise their claims. Let us also assume that John buys goods for $100 from Tom while Mike buys goods for $50 from Jerry. Both John and Mike pay for the goods with checks against their deposits with Bank One.
Now Tom and Jerry are depositing received checks from John and Mike with their bank — Bank B, which is a competitor of Bank One. Bank B, in turn, will present these checks to Bank One and will demand cash in return. However, Bank One has only $100 in cash — it is short $50. Consequently, Bank One is running the risk of going belly up unless it can quickly mobilize the cash by selling some of its assets or by borrowing.
The fact that banks must clear their checks will be a sufficient deterrent to the practice of fractional-reserve banking in a free market economy.
Furthermore, it must be realized that the tendency of being “caught” practicing fractional-reserve banking, so to speak, rises, as there are many competitive banks. As the number of banks rises and the number of clients per bank declines the chances that clients will spend money on goods from individuals that are banking with other banks will increase. This, in turn, will increase the risk of the bank not being able to honor its checks once the bank begins the practice of fractional-reserve banking.
Conversely, as the number of competitive banks diminishes, that is the number of clients per bank raises the likelihood of being “caught” practicing reserve banking is diminished. In the extreme case if there is only one bank it can practice fractional-reserve banking without any fear of being “caught,” so to speak.
Thus if Tom and Jerry are also clients of Bank One then once they deposit their received checks from John and Mike, the ownership of deposits will be now transferred from John and Mike to Tom and Jerry. This transfer of ownership, however, will not cause any effect to Bank One.
We can then conclude that in a free market if a particular bank tries to expand credit by practicing fractional-reserve banking it is running the risk of being “caught.” Hence in a truly free market economy, the threat of bankruptcy will bring to a minimum the practice of fractional-reserve banking.
Central Bank and Fractional-Reserve Banking
While in a free market economy the practice of fractional-reserve banking would tend to be minimal, this is not the case with the existence of a central bank.
By means of monetary policy, which is also labeled as reserve management by the banking system, the central bank supports the existence of the fractional-reserve banking and thus the creation of money out of “thin air.”
The modern banking system can be seen as one huge monopoly bank which is guided and coordinated by the central bank. Banks in this framework can be regarded as branches of the central bank. For all the intents and purposes the banking system can be seen as one bank. (As we have seen a monopoly bank can practice fractional-reserve banking without running the risk of being “caught.”)
Through the ongoing monetary management, i.e., monetary pumping, the central bank makes sure that all the banks could engage jointly in the expansion of credit out of “thin air,” through the practice of fractional-reserve banking. The joint expansion in turn guarantees that checks presented for redemption by banks to each other are netted out.
By means of the monetary injections, the central bank makes sure that the banking system is “liquid enough” so banks will not bankrupt each other.
Whenever the Fed injects money into the system this will result in an increase in a deposit of a particular bank. This bank, based on its portfolio strategy, will decide how much of this increase in deposits it will lend out and how much it will keep in reserves. (Even in the modern banking system banks would have to keep a certain amount of reserves in order to settle transactions.)
Now, if a bank decides to keep 20 percent in reserves against the new increase in deposits then it will lend out 80 percent of these new deposits.
For instance, as a result of the Fed’s monetary injections Bank One deposits increased by $1 billion and the bank lends $800 million whilst the rest is kept in reserves. Let us assume that the borrowers of $800 million are buying goods from individuals that bank with Bank B who in turn presents checks for clearance for this amount to Bank One. Since Bank One has in its possession $1 billion it would have no problem to clear the check.
Consider, however, a case where Bob deposited $100 with Bank One. The bank decides to lend 80 percent to Mike whilst the rest is kept in cash reserves. A problem could emerge if both Bob and Mike were to decide to take their money out. Then there is a risk that Bank One will not be able to honor its checks. In the event of such an occurrence, the Fed is ready to provide Bank One with a loan to prevent bankruptcy. (Furthermore, by making sure that the banking system has enough money the central bank enables the bank that encounters difficulties to honor its checks by borrowing in the so-called money market.)
Also, note that fractional-reserve banking is inherently unstable. The time structure of banks assets is longer than the time structure of its liabilities. Banks demand deposits — liabilities — are due instantly, on demand, while its outstanding loans to debtors are for a longer period. (Additionally, note that the presence of the central bank encourages banks to fund long-term assets with short-term money thereby running into possible financial difficulties once short-term interest rates rise above the long-term interest rates).
According to Rothbard,
A bank is always inherently bankrupt, and would actually become so if its depositors all woke up to the fact that the money they believe to be available on demand is actually not there.3
Finally, not only does fractional-reserve banking give rise to monetary inflation it is also responsible for monetary deflation. Since banks by means of fractional-reserve banking generate money out of “thin air” whenever they do not renew their lending they, in fact, give rise to the disappearance of money.
This must be contrasted with the lending of genuine money, which can never physically disappear unless it is physically destroyed. Thus when John lends his $50 via Bank One to Mike the $50 is transferred to Mike from John. On the day of the maturity of the loan Mike transfers to Bank One $50 plus interest. The bank, in turn, transfers the $50 plus interest adjusted for bank fees to John — no money has disappeared.
If however, Bank One practices fractional-reserve banking it lends the $50 to Mike out of “thin air.” On the day of the maturity when Mike repays the $50 the money goes back to the bank, the original creator of this empty money, i.e., money disappears from the economy, or it vanishes into “thin air.”
- 1.Ludwig von Mises, The Theory of Money and Credit (Indianapolis, Ind: Liberty Classics, 1980), pp. 300–01.
- 2.Murray N. Rothbard, “Austrian Definitions of the Supply of Money,” in New Directions in Austrian Economics, ed. Louis M. Spadaro (Kansas City: Sheed Andrews and McMeel, 1978), p. 148.
- 3.Murray N. Rothbard, The Mystery of Banking (Auburn, Ala.: Mises Institute, 2008), p. 99.
Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
Mock-up of planned Russian-Chinese airliner to compete with Boeing and Airbus. To enter service by 2025. Ambitious? Oh yes. Remember when we laughed at Toyota, Airbus, and Trump?
Is Washington really going to start a trade war with China, or is it just huffing and puffing for the position? I don’t know. Mr. Trump has inexplicably failed to brief me. A point worth bearing in mind:
The United States cannot compete commercially with a developed Asia, or China.
America has nowhere to go. It is a fully developed economy that cannot grow rapidly if it grows at all. America is also a country of only medium size with a white and Asian population of a bit more than two hundred million who do all the brain work. It has a decaying system of education, declining living standards, and an economy crippled by huge military expenditures.
By contrast, China has a billion Han Chinese, intelligent government, a great deal of room to grow and high rates of doing so. The combined land mass, population, and economic potential of Asia are staggering. In differing degrees, Asian nations are growing.
Further, Eurasia is one continent, and China has land connections to all of it–“interior lines of communication,” as soldiers say. America does not. Beijing’s stated intention is to use this to unite Eurasia into one enormous commercial unit—which will not include guessing who. Beijing can do this. It has the cash. China is the world’s leader in high-speed rail. As a competent dictatorship, it can decide to do things and then do them, while America often seems unable to do either.
“First Direct Fright Train from China to the UK Arrives in London.” Chinese rolling stock like the above is becoming common in Europe.
Some time has passed since Beijing made its first rail shipment from Wuli on the Pacific coast through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, to Germany and then left to Madrid. It was clunky and a bit of a stunt. Now there are scheduled trains connecting many Chinese cities to the rest of Asia, including Europe. This will not rival sea transport in volume but will give a lot of places in Asia access to each other. Influence will follow. Watch.
This is bad news for Washington. Greater trade between Europe and the eastern part of the continent means less influence for Washington. It means potentially very much less influence. European nations have much to gain by trading with the incomprehensibly large markets, current and arriving, between Poland the Pacific. They have nothing to gain by remaining as sepoy states under American control. Their businessmen know it.
China, already the world leader in supercomputers both in number and performance, hopes to have an exascale machine by 2018, way ahead of the US. These are not people to underestimate.
This dismal reality looks to be behind the orchestrated billingsgate against Russia, the war drums being pounded about the South China Sea, and the obvious desire for war with Iran. These three counties are key to an economic union that, if not stopped, will dwarf the United States. While some hope that China will collapse because of internal problems, this is a thin reed upon which to bet the Empire. Washington knows it.
The Empire can not afford to lose control of Europe’s governments, which will happen if the heavy trade is allowed to develop with the Three Bugbears. Thus Washington’s hostility to all three—a hostility whose chief effect, note, has been to drive them together against America. Not good. The first rule of empires is Don’t let your enemies unite.
Here we come to a crucial difference between American and Chinese foreign policy. Washington’s approach to maintaining the Empire has consisted of military attack, threats of military attack, military occupation, and the imposition of sanctions. These are visibly declining in effectiveness. The US currently has sanctions against North Korea, Cuba, Iran, and Russia—none of which has produced the desired capitulation. Unless Washington comes up with something quick, presumably a shooting war or a trade war, its aircraft carriers will steam in circles, slowly rusting, while Asia grows.
Glimmerings of rebellion appear in many places. In the Philippines, Duterte is snuggling up to China. While Washington may kill him or twist his arm, twenty years ago this would not have been necessary. Malaya recently bought Chinese naval vessels. Thailand has begun buying Chinese arms. Countries are slowly abandoning the dollar. German businessmen want to trade with Russia.
Trump now proposes sanctions on China, having said he would impose a tariff of forty-five percent on goods from there. Perhaps he was lying, bluffing, or posing in the standard manner of politicians. Maybe he wasn’t. I am not so foolish as to think I can predict the course of a trade war, but neither am I so foolish as to believe that Trump can.
He seems to have the instincts of a bully, which works or may work, with weak states like Mexico. China isn’t one. He has said that China needs the US more than the US needs China, and so China will surrender. This was also said of Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and Russia. The US remains superior to China in all sorts of things, but a lot fewer than before. A trade war won might prove less desirable than a trade war not started. We remember Pyrrhus for a reason.
“China begins operating world’s largest radio telescope.” A friend, more patriotic than observant, recently spoke of China as “900,000,000 illiterate peasants.” I suggested stronger coffee.
If only for reasons of vanity, Trump couldn’t let China get away with calling his bluff. Millions have died over wounded vanity. What could he do? Go to an all-out trade war? Again, risky. Proud countries dig their heels in. China is not without options. By simply turning to Airbus as exclusive provider to its large and growing market, it would wreak havoc on Boeing and its work force and perhaps marginalize the company. Add that Israel may not allow Boeing to sell to Iran, which would be a further blow.
It is interesting to consider recent PISA scores, which measure the academic performance of school kids. Math scores in order by country: Singapore, Hongkong, Macao, Taiwan, Japan, China. The US was well below average for the countries tested, though its scores are lowered by minorities. Headline: “NY Professor Says Algebra Is Too Hard, Schools Should Drop It.” On fairness, America leads in safe spaces, trigger warnings, puzzled diversity, and whimpering Snowflakes. Watch out, Beijing.
A trade war might come down to whose population can better tolerate want. The deplorables who shop at Walmart are already stretched pretty tight and would not react well to being further impoverished for what they would see as profits for the Establishment.
If I may briefly reveal my commie tendencies, maybe America ought to worry about its universities, roads, laboratories, and medical care instead of wasting its money on corruption, bombers, lunges for empire and dreams that 1955 is just around the corner.
China has launched the world’s first quantum-crypto satellite, presumably intended to get NSA off it back, as transmissions are not usefully intercepted able. I’m not sure all of us quite know what we are dealing with. The days when Asia made little paper umbrellas for expensive drinks seem to have ended.
By Dr. Mercola
Is it ever appropriate to eat wheat or grains? John Douillard’s book “Eat Wheat: A Scientific and Clinically-Proven Approach to Safely Bringing Wheat and Dairy Back Into Your Diet” would seem to be in direct conflict with my first book, the New York Times Best Seller “The No-Grain Diet: Conquer Carbohydrate Addiction and Stay Slim for Life.”
Interestingly, our views are nowhere near as conflicting as you might think. About 90 percent of our views are actually in agreement. But the devil’s in the details, so I thought it would be interesting to have a dialog about this perceived conflict.
To Wheat or Not to Wheat
Douillard, who began his health career as a chiropractor, went to India for a two-week vacation in 1986. He ended up staying for a year and a half, studying traditional Ayurvedic medicine. During that stay, he met Deepak Chopra, and ended up running The Chopra Center for eight years upon his return to the U.S.
“What I write about in my newsletter every week is the ancient wisdom of time-tested traditional medical practices that are now being proven with modern science.
When you have techniques that have been successfully used for thousands of years and now backed by science — we should take interest in these concepts,” Douillard says.
“Early humans have been eating gluten-rich grains like wheat and barley for as much as 3.4 million years according to a handful of studies.
There is a lot of science that has not been publicized that suggest many health and longevity benefits of whole grain, including wheat. We now have a $16 billion gluten-free industry that is promoting more processed foods.
Most of the science that frowns on grains has been done on processed grains, not whole grains. My book “Eat Wheat” shares over 600 references suggesting the documented benefits of whole vs refined grains.
Thirty years ago, I was treating Epstein-Barr, chronic fatigue and Candida. The first thing you do is tell them, ‘get off wheat and dairy.’ They feel better … Six weeks later … their problems are back. We’ll say, ‘Get off of meat or become a vegetarian, or a vegan, or a raw foodist.’
You find that, again, we keep kicking the problem down the road, never really dealing with the underlying problem, which is our global inability to digest hard-to-digest foods, which is a result of a diet of processed foods, pesticides and environmental pollutants.
There’s good science that shows that these processed foods, not whole grains, have literally broken down our digestive system, particularly the microbes and the enzymes that help us break down wheat.”
Humans May Have Eaten Grains for Millions of Years
When Douillard speaks about humanity eating wheat, he’s specifically referencing a subspecies of humans that have been shown to be eating wheat-type grains a few million years ago.
Paleo, on the other hand, teaches that grains are a fairly recent addition to the human diet, and that our ancient ancestors were primarily hunter-gatherers that ate a minimum amount of grains.
“There’s a handful of studies; one done at the University of Utah. They found gluten in the teeth of ancient humans throughout Africa 3.4 to 4 million years ago,” Douillard says.
“They also found that these ancient humans could gather enough wheat berries in just two hours to feed them for an entire day. The entire continent of Africa was covered with grasslands.
It does make sense that if they could gather in two hours enough wheat berries for the entire day, it’s a lot easier to do that than try to chase down a woolly mammoth or a lion.
We didn’t start hunting our own meat until about … 500,000 years ago. We have genetics for meat that are 500,000 years old. There’s genetics for eating wheat, barley and gluten … [going back] 3.4 to 4 million years … In a lot of ways, we have a lot more genetics for wheat than meat.”
David Lieberman, a Harvard researcher and professor wrote the book, “The Story of the Human Body.“His research shows that in the Paleolithic period, they ate about 35 to 45 percent of their diet as carbohydrates, including cereal grains.
According to Douillard, wheat was domesticated about 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, and grains covered much of the African continent, making them hard to ignore as a food source. He also points to research showing that amylase, an enzyme that helps break down wheat, was genetically acquired around 2 million years ago.
Grains Have a Place in Your Diet — After You’ve Regained Your Fat-Burning Ability
When I wrote “The No-Grain Diet” 13 years ago, it was primarily in response to the majority of the patients I treated that had insulin resistance. Avoiding grains is an important step if you’re struggling with this issue. That said, my current position on grains has become more refined over the years.
While I believe normalizing insulin resistance is still crucial, optimizing your mitochondrial function is even more critical for good health and disease prevention. A major part of that is regaining the ability to burn fat as your primary fuel — something 90 to 95 percent of people are challenged with.
Becoming an efficient fat burner involves a dietary shift away from net carbs — including grains — toward higher amounts of healthy fats. For this reason, I believe it’s still wise for most people to avoid grains in the early phases of recovering the ability to burn fat as your primary fuel.
As a general rule, I recommend keeping your net carbs below 15 or 20 grams per day, until you’ve recaptured your ability to burn fat. At THAT point, I believe grains can be reintroduced, and can be part of a healthy diet.
“I think you’re absolutely right, we must reset fat burning,” Douillard says. “In 1960, when they took cholesterol out of our diet, they replaced it with these processed, bleached, deodorized and refined oils that are completely indigestible.
You walk down the grocery store aisle and [see] all those clear bottles with vegetable oils in them that have nothing in them that can go rancid, that are completely indigestible, and these processed oils found in almost all packaged foods break down our digestive strength by congesting our liver and gallbladder. When you look at how we digest things, the liver and the gallbladder are the kingpins of digestion.
The bile your liver makes is like a Pacman that gobbles up toxins, fats and environmental pollutants. When bile from the liver and gallbladder is congested, you lose your ability to digest good fats and detoxify bad fats. The bile also buffers the acid in the stomach. [When you] eat wheat or dairy, [your stomach] produces a significant amount of acid that requires bile to neutralize it once it leaves the stomach.
But if there’s no buffer from the bile because the liver and gall bladder are congested by years of processed foods, the stomach will slowly stop producing the acid we need to break down wheat and dairy. As a result … we have broken down … our digestive system to the point that we find ourselves taking more and more foods out of our diets rather than fixing the broken down digestion. I agree with you — you first have to reset fat burning — [and] those processed foods … inhibit us from doing that. But before we take the grains out, or in addition to taking the grains out temporarily, we must reset liver, gall bladder and digestive function because our digestive system is the same system as our detoxification system.”
Your Digestive System and Detoxification Systems Are Interlinked
According to Douillard, the primary reason people feel ill when eating wheat is not because there’s something inherently bad about wheat, but rather because it’s hard to digest, and part of the problem relates to an impaired ability to digest foods in the first place.
He believes that if all you do is avoid wheat, you’ll continue experiencing problems down the road related to this impaired digestive ability, even if you initially feel better. The reason for this is because you’ve still not addressed the underlying problem, which is poor digestion.
This is why he advocates getting rid of processed foods and foods contaminated with pesticides. And, when eating grains, eat the right kind of grains. In essence, you need to reset your digestive function. Once that’s done, you can begin to enjoy certain types of bread (such as organic whole wheat and sourdough) in moderation without suffering any ill effects.
“We’ve eaten grains, wheat in particular, three times a day for 50 to 60 years in a processed version that does nothing but congest our ability to digest well. That has to be fixed,” he says.
How to Optimize Your Digestive Function
So how do you restore your digestive function? One area of importance is avoiding pesticides such as Roundup, which has become a staple food contaminant over the past two decades. Research now shows glyphosate — the active ingredient in Roundup — causes leaky gut syndrome. Genetically engineered (GE) foods are notorious for having higher amounts of glyphosate contamination, due to the crops being glyphosate resistant.
Conventional (non-GE) wheat also tends to have high amounts of glyphosate residues, courtesy of a process called desiccation. The crop is basically sprayed with glyphosate just before harvest, which increases yield. I was very pleased to see Douillard address this issue in his book, as many are still unaware of this problem. Knowing that’s part of the problem, the answer becomes more readily apparent: Eat organic foods, and that includes organic wheat.
The key is to repair the epithelium of your intestinal tract. Douillard notes there are several studies showing there’s a significant difference between whole wheat and refined wheat in this regard. Whole wheat supports and increases levels of good bacteria, and supports tissue resistance in the epithelium, thereby protecting against leaky gut syndrome.
Whole wheat may also help decrease inflammation and pain associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The problems many associate with wheat in general are specifically restricted to refined and processed wheat.
“There’s interesting science … that I didn’t [include] in the book because it came out afterwards. One study showed that people who eat gluten-free have four times more mercury in their blood as people who eat wheat. People who are gluten-free have less good bacteria and more bad bacteria in their guts than people who eat wheat.
People who are gluten-free have less killer T cells, a measure of immunity, than people who eat wheat, suggesting that these hard-to-digest foods, the lectins and the phytic acids … [have] some benefit … [C]ertain irritants and poisons in our food (like tomatoes got tomatines, and potatoes have solanines, which are poisonous) … are a big part of our diet today … Those irritants have been shown to be immune stimulants for our immune system …
What we’re beginning to see is that [when] we … take all the hard-to-digest foods out of our diet … our immune system is being compromised as a result … [W]e’ve been eating [grains] for almost 4 million years. Do we have a genetic need for these types of irritants to trigger our immune system? The science is pointing in that direction.”
The Importance of Seasonal Eating
In his book “The 3-Season Diet: Eat the Way Nature Intended,” Douillard delves into other fascinating research suggesting there may be biological imperatives to eating foods in accordance to season. Different microbes will be present in soil and plants during different seasons, and by eating certain foods at certain times of the year, you may be able to radically optimize your gut microbiome.
For example, in the fall and winter, enzymes like amylase are increased in grains. During summer and spring, amylase is decreased, and this enzyme specifically helps your body digest foods such as grains. So it may not be a fluke that grains are harvested in the fall and winter, when amylase levels are at their highest.
“When you think about [it], maybe we are supposed to eat these grains at the right time of the year, as opposed to eating everything all day long three times a day in a processed form, which we can’t digest,” Douillard suggests. “We’re part of the circadian rhythm of nature. We completely lost that … Birds fly south, whales migrate. Our survival also depends on us being connected to those rhythms of nature. Part of that is what we eat.
I actually published, for free, a monthly grocery list, superfood list and recipe list1 for people to eat seasonal food … for every month of the year, because I feel it’s such an important thing for people to know what foods are in season and how to prepare them.
The microbes in the soil change seasonally. Seasonal foods carry these seasonal bugs into our guts which become our new seasonal microbiome. They help us have better immunity in the winter, decongest in the spring, and dissipate heat in the summer …’
I think that’s a piece of the puzzle … [I]t’s one of those insidious key points that we’ve just completely ignored. If deer die when they eat [tree bark] out of season, does that mean we just get to eat whatever we want, whenever we want? I don’t think so …
Of course, we would eat higher protein and higher fat, a more Paleo-ish diet, in the winter … More nuts, seeds, grains, meat, stews and soups. More leafy greens, sprouts and berries in the spring, and fruits and vegetables in the summer. The diet would change dramatically from a high protein and high fat in the winter, to low-fat in the spring, to high-carb fruits and vegetables in the summer. That’s something that we just generally don’t do.
If you get a grocery list and stick it in your purse and shop along that way, you start to bring more of those foods into your diet. That, along with rebooting the digestive system and trying to clean your diet up and eating organically, can help people reboot the strength of their digestion so that they can begin to break bread again …
Real bread has the ingredients of organic whole wheat, salt, water and an organic starter. It takes three days to bake that bread, where the bread in the supermarket takes two hours. That [store-bought] bread won’t ever go hard. It just sits there and stays soft for weeks because of the oils they use extend shelf life but, for us, they are indigestible.”
Ayurvedic Principles to Improve Your Digestive Health
To improve your body’s ability to burn fat as its primary fuel, consider intermittent fasting. Never skipping a meal is a major part of the problem, as the constant feeding prevents your body from burning stored fat.
Becoming a more efficient fat burner will also improve your energy levels and stabilize your mood. “Make lunch a bigger meal,” Douillard says. “Supper comes from the word “supplemental” or “soup,” so try to eat smaller meals in the evening the very best that you can.”
To reboot your digestive health, be sure to avoid processed foods. Douillard also recommends incorporating ginger, cumin (regular, not black), coriander, fennel and cardamom in your cooking. These spices have powerful digestive benefits that support digestive health. ”
When you put them all together, something sort of magical happens. This is an old ancient formula that has been used for thousands of years to reboot digestion,” Douillard says. They do this in part by decongesting your bile ducts and improving your production of hydrochloric acid, digestive enzymes and pancreatic enzymes.
When you take cumin, coriander, fennel, ginger and cardamom together, they amp up each other’s benefits. He also sells these spices as a supplement called Gentle Digest. Ideally, add them to your meals every day. It typically takes two to three months to reset your digestion using these herbs on a daily basis. If you use a supplement, take it with your main meal.
Next, to improve bile flow from your gallbladder and improve your ability to digest fats, incorporate bile-promoting foods such as artichokes, fenugreek, fennel, beets, apples and celery into your diet. Drinking a small amount of juiced beets, apples and celery with your meal is a simple way to improve your digestion. Fenugreek tea or fennel tea are other traditional options.
“Your bile flow allows you to go to the bathroom. It regulates bowel movement function. It detoxifies you, scrubs your intestinal villi. It allows for emulsifying of fats, for delivering good fats to your brain and your body and getting rid of the bad fats, and it buffers the acids from your stomach. Without that, digestively, we’re in really big trouble,” he notes.
What Does Lymph Have to Do With it?
Lymphatic health and optimizing lymphatic flow is also important. According to Douillard, studies have shown that when your body cannot break down the wheat, it goes undigested from your stomach into the small intestine. As a result of being undigested — due to weak stomach acid and lack of bile to buffer those acids — the proteins enter into the collecting ducts of your lymphatic system, which lines your entire intestinal tract.
The lymphatic system is the biggest circulatory system of your body. It’s the detoxification system for bad fats, and a carrier of your immune system. When the lymph around the intestinal tract gets congested, your intestinal tract will swell, making you feel bloated.
“The lymph can get so congested that it’ll push those fats into the fat around the belly, causing belly fat. There’s good science to back all this up. There’s lymph underneath your skin. When the lymph around your gut gets congested … [it goes] into your skin, causing rashes and irritation, which is what we’d like to think are gluten-related grain issues.
Recently discovered by the University of Virginia about two or three years ago, they found brain lymphatics, called glymphatics, that drain three pounds of toxic chemicals and plaque out of your brain every year while you sleep.
When those brain lymphs are congested — because of digestive-related gut lymph congestion, which is where the lion’s share of the lymph in the body is located — the brain lymphs can’t drain, and they’ve now been linked directly to anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, infection, inflammation and autoimmune conditions … We have a real problem in the lymphatic system because of weak digestion.”
To improve lymph health, you can use beets, most greens, polyphenol-rich berries such as cherries, blueberries and mulberries, and certain herbs, including red root and manjistha. Movement will also improve lymph flow, and a rebounder is great for this. To optimize glymphatic flow, be sure to get enough sleep, as your brain can only detoxify during deep sleep. Douillard goes into a number of other strategies as well in his book.
Once Digestion Is Properly Restored, Wheat May Be Reintroduced
In addition to my own work, I also wanted to address the potential perceived conflict between what Douillard is promoting in his book “Eat Wheat,” and Dr. David Perlmutter’s recommendations, detailed in “Grain Brain,” and other books. Perlmutter actually interviewed Douillard recently, and appears to be willing to embrace many of Douillard’s notions. You can listen to this interview on LifeSpa.com.
“David is an old friend of mine as well. He was delighted to have this debate” Douillard says. “I really feel like this issue of wheat or non-wheat … really needs to be talked about in an open forum.
People can hear the science on both sides, because there is science suggesting that whole wheat (not refined wheat) is actually quite beneficial, and there’s science that says it could be risky and dangerous. We need to understand it more. The only way to do that is with dialogue.
Dr. Perlmutter was great. I think he totally got the idea that it is the digestive breakdown. His contention was stop eating wheat because it’s hard to digest, and my contention was, ‘OK. But let’s fix the digestive system. Then maybe we could eat healthy wheat and not take the grains out of our diet,’ which is exactly what you’re saying.
I think it’s really great to see us all coming on board with the same philosophy. For 30 years, I have been helping people reboot digestion and go from not being able to eat wheat or dairy to being able to eat wheat and dairy. I know it’s very possible and people can pull this off.
I also know when they do that, the ability to detoxify … is significantly enhanced. That, we don’t want to go without. We don’t want to go without ability to detoxify our body naturally. Doing a detox is a very important piece of the puzzle as well, but we have a natural detoxifying system that we have to optimize on a regular basis. That comes from rebooting digestive strength.”
Refined Wheat Versus Whole Wheat
You may have heard the term “wheat belly.” Douillard believes a more appropriate term would be “sugar belly.” Refined, processed wheat has a high glycemic index, which is in part why it has been blamed for increasing your risk of everything from belly bloat to Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline.
However, some studies show whole wheat may actually reduce cognitive decline, protect against Alzheimer’s and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Part of this may be related to the fact that whole wheat has a much lower glycemic index.
“I think that the biggest thing that we can do, in addition to getting rid of processed food … is to look at the amount of sugar we’re eating, and get that out of our diet the best we can. We have one taste bud for sweet. We have 300 taste buds for bitter … People are addicted to [sweet] taste. We can break that addiction by actually bringing the body back in the balance.
One of the ancient principles from that perspective is to have all six tastes with each meal: sweet, sour, salt, pungent, bitter and astringent.
Each of these tastes provides a different type of emotional support. We leave the meal emotionally stable and balanced, not craving a dessert because the meal provided you with all these six tastes, and therefore fed you emotionally in a complete and balanced way. Balanced meals are really important,” Douillard says.
“That’s where I have a little issue with the Paleo diet, because the Harvard anthropologist will tell you that the Paleolithic people didn’t eat just meat and vegetables. They definitely had grains and tubers and carbohydrates in their diet.
I also agree with you. We have to first reset fat burning as a primary source of fuel, because you can’t just eat a bunch of fatty foods and then eat a bunch of good, healthy carbohydrates. That’s too many calories, too much fuel, and we’re going to store that fuel as fat. We have to reset the function first and then we can go back to being balanced. That starts with rebooting digestive strength.”
The devil’s in the details, as they say, and Douillard’s book is packed with details, including the specifics about what types of wheat to purchase, and where to purchase it if you decide to make your own bread.
Interestingly, I just upgraded my kitchen and now have a steam convection oven, which is the best way to bake bread, and I’ve slowly began experimenting with bread making. As noted in his book, sourdough bread, for example, is basically gluten-free because the microbes, similar to the ones in yogurt, digest all the sugar during the fermentation process.
“In one Italian study they gave gluten-free sourdough bread to people who [have] celiac and there was no intestinal inflammation,” he notes.
“In fact, studies show that whole grains like kamut actually significantly reduce intestinal inflammation. There’s a lot of information about wheat and baking in an old-fashioned traditional way that we’ve lost. If we get that back, most of us can begin to break bread again in the proper way, and stop taking things out of our diets as this only offers us a temporary solution. It doesn’t address the underlying problem.”
If you’re intrigued, I highly recommend picking up a copy of “Eat Wheat: A Scientific and Clinically-Proven Approach to Safely Bringing Wheat and Dairy Back Into Your Diet.” In it, Douillard provides detailed guidelines for how to do it properly, so you may improve, not worsen, your health. You can also learn more about Dr. Douillard’s work at LifeSpa.com.
Sources and References
I wrote this before Trump delivered his inaugural address. His address confirmed what I say here. I wrote my assessment of his speech within an hour after he delivered it. Read my assessment here.
Bobby Fischer at the age of 14 became the youngest U.S. chess champion in history.
A reporter asked him what he liked most about the game. His answer was classic: “I love to see them squirm.”
I love to see the establishment squirm. Never in my lifetime have I seen all of them squirm like this.
I did not vote for Donald Trump. I voted for Gary Johnson. Johnson vetoed 739 bills when he was governor of New Mexico. No governor of New Mexico had ever vetoed that many bills and most of them were sustained. His opponents in the legislature could not get enough votes to override his vetoes. He really made them squirm. That had impressed me for many years, and I figured I might as well say thank you in the only way that matters for a politician: my vote. Also, when asked his opinions on Aleppo, he answered: “What is Aleppo?” Somebody who had never heard of Aleppo probably would not get the United States involved more deeply than it already is in Syria. America would be a lot better off if Barack Obama had never heard of Aleppo.
Anyway, back to Trump. He is the victim of the most systematic campaign of media vitriol that I have ever seen. They didn’t like Barry Goldwater, but they did nothing like this. They didn’t like Ronald Reagan, but they did nothing like this. They will not give Trump any slack at all.
He is being tried by a court that has the guilty verdict in its pocket. Even more delightfully, this court has proven itself to be politically impotent. And in the outlook of this court, there is nothing worse than political impotence. Political impotence means being cast into the outer darkness. As Trump’s parade begins, they sit on the sidelines shouting, “This just isn’t fair.” Yes, it is. It is also delightful.
I call your attention to the most vicious piece of slander against Trump that I have seen so far. It was written by somebody in Australia. Now, the fact that anybody in Australia gives a rat’s patootie about Donald Trump is amazing. But to write something like this is really astounding. I’m not going to quote from it. I want you to read it. As you read it, think this: this bonehead Aussie has no political skin in the game. This is in his country. It is in his political system. He is down under. But he is utterly apoplectic about Donald Trump. You can read his screed here. It appeared in the most internationally influential of Australia’s newspapers, the Sydney Morning News.
What impressed me most about his article is its tone. It is not moral outrage. It is whining. This is crybaby journalism. We do not see it often because they win so often. Snide comments, yes. Contempt, yes. But not whining. When you see a journalist whine, you know he is beaten. He is not rallying the troops for one last stand at the barricades. He is like a three-year-old lying on his back, kicking his legs wildly, and screaming: “I want it! I want it! I want it!” Someone ought to dump a glass of ice water on the guy.
This is happening all over the West. The columnists really have lost their minds. They have lost all sense of perspective.
Republicans were upset twice when Obama defeated Republican candidates for President. But before he came to power in 2009, they pretty much held their peace. I’m not talking about screwballs on the fringe. I’m talking about conservatives in newspapers, magazines, and on websites that had Alexa ratings higher than 500,000. I am talking about the equivalent of the Sydney Morning News.
Trump has really gotten under their skins. I am grudgingly becoming a fan of Trump’s. Anyone who can cause this much pain among the liberal establishment, including the liberal Republican establishment, can’t be all bad.
We are told that he has low public opinion ratings. First, this is not true. Over half the public is favorable. Second, he ran against a woman who had the lowest public opinion ratings of any Democratic candidate for President over the last century. Never has a Democratic candidate for President been so widely regarded as untrustworthy. Now, let me say that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with electing somebody to office who you think is untrustworthy. If you elect anyone to office, and you don’t assume that this person is untrustworthy, you are living in a fantasy world. But Hillary Clinton set the record for public skepticism. Yet the liberal media had a lovefest with her. They seemed astounded when this nagging, shrill, legendary thrower of plates lost the election. Hillary Clinton was the Bobby Knight of American politics. Her loss is not the end of the liberals’ world. But liberals think it may be. Liberals who think this are dumb.
The media have not been able to come to grips with his victory. They think the voters in Midwestern states have betrayed American democracy. They think that what’s good for California and New York is good for the nation. A lot of us don’t think so. I moved out of both of those states a long time ago. I have never longingly looked back at either of them. I paid my unfair share of confiscatory state taxes in both of them. That was 40 years ago before they both went even more politically insane than they were then. New York is a state represented in this century in the Senate by Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton. California elected Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. Need I say more?
The media will be in continual apoplexy for at least the next four years. And in each of these years, the media will lose market share. In each of these years, newspaper reporters will be fired unceremoniously. These people are typing furiously on the Titanic. The public is paying less and less attention to them, as Trump proved on November 8. One of my favorite websites is www.NewspaperDeathWatch.com. The latest report on falling ad revenue for the print version of The New York Times is here. I also enjoyed learning of the rout at Reuters.
Also, in each of these years, employees in network television, as well as MSNBC and CNN, will get their well-deserved pink slips.
The more the media grouse about every aspect of Trump’s administration, the more that Trump’s voters will conclude that they did the right thing on November 8.
By the way, where’s Hillary? Talk about a disappearing act! She went from the queen of the media to Greta Garbo in 48 hours. “I want to be alone!”
It is going to be business as usual in Washington. It was business as usual for eight years under Obama. Actually, it was a much-reduced business in Washington. Obama got less legislation through Congress than any modern President of the United States. He was heavy on agenda but light on implementation. Fortunately.
I think Trump’s great contribution has already been made. He utterly humiliated the liberal media. He humiliated the entire bipartisan establishment. He trounced his Republican opponents, and then he beat Hillary Clinton when it counted. He is the only person in American political history with zero backgrounds in any area of government who has been elected President. That is going to get him into the history textbooks.
America is in trouble because Americans got lazy. Not so much physically but morally. They began to care more about some passing thing than about the things that truly matter; the things that made America, unlike other places.
Better than other places.
Things like principles; the plain meaning of words. The Fourth and Fifth Amendments, especially. Which were (past tense deliberate) laws written to articulate and protect principles that matter.
It gradually became more important to – as Thomas More’s character in the play, A Man For All Seasons put it – cut down all the “trees” (laws) that sheltered the individual for the sake of making things easier for the government.
For example, the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches – defined insane terms and plain English as any non-specific search of people at random, who’ve not done anything to suggest they may have committed a crime. Fishing expeditions, in other words.
The idea was that the government should have to – in the first place – substantiate suspicion. It wasn’t enough for a cop to say – I don’t like your looks. He had to be able to articulate some definite thing (evidence) that gave him reason to believe you had committed or were about to commit a crime.
Today, cops stop people at random, without any specific cause at all. Without even having to say they don’t like their looks. It is enough that they are cops. And that you are not.
It was once the case that prior to a physical search of your property, it was legally necessary to obtain a search warrant – a piece of paper issued by a judge, who was supposed to issue the thing only if the investigator asking for it could present some definite thing (evidence) that supported his asserted suspicion of criminal activity. And the warrant had to be specific, stating clearly who was to be searched and what and where. This was to prevent something that used to be routine in the colonies under the British – the general writ, which empowered King George’s minions to search anyone, anywhere for anything.
Today’s redcoats wear blue (and lately, black). They search whomever, whatever, whenever.
We are even coerced into witnessing against ourselves via threats that failure to do will bring down separate charges and punishments.
Is this America?
I do not recognize it as such.
How did we get to this point?
The change occurred gradually but has become a juggernaut for the simple reason that precedent becomes routine. Once accepted, an affront is forgotten. It not only becomes accepted – it becomes acceptable to do it again. (Which, as an aside, is why this Obamacare business is so important. If it stands, if Trump does not repeal – not replace – it, it is certain we will shortly be forced to also buy other forms of government-mandated insurance; for example, gun insurance, if you want to own a gun.)
But when did it begin to become acceptable?
Nearly a million motorists a year break down because they have run out of fuel.
However, researchers have found that the distance you can run on fumes greatly depends on the type of car you are driving.
A new report suggests that if you usually forget to fill up your tank, you might want to drive a Nissan Altima- it can travel another 81 to 114 miles after the low fuel light turns on.
The new report was put together by the automotive company Your Mechanic who found each car make can run a different amount of miles on empty.
When the low flue fuel light turns on, the Nissan Altima still has three gallons of gas inside, allowing drivers to travel another 81 to 114 miles before the tank is dry.
The next make and model that can travel a good distance on low-fuel is the Chrysler 200, which also has three gallons left after the warning light turns on – it can drive another 68 to 108 miles.
However, those who own a Chevrolet Silverado may not want to pass on the next gas station they see after the low fuel light turns on – you will only be able to drive another 25 miles before breaking down.
The great moralizing president who proved to the world that “yes, we can” lie, bomb, drone, and overthrow the rest of the world has preached his final hypocritical sermon.
Giving his final press conference on Jan. 18th, Obama – like Joe Biden and Samantha Power – elected to use a substantial part of his final statement to assail Russia and Vladimir Putin. The establishment neocon puppets must really be terrified of peace.
The best moment came when Barack propounded for the final time, what he sees as America’s role in the world: to ensure “the basic principle that big countries don’t go around and invade and bully smaller countries.”
Reprinted from Russia Insider.
The claim by Oxfam, the charity that so loves the poor that it is safe to predict that it will never abolish itself no matter how rich humanity becomes, that the eight richest men in the world own as much as the poorer half of the whole of humanity combined, is at first sight extremely startling. Assuming the claim to be true and meaningful (which I doubt that it can be, for a number of reasons), who would not react with unease, with the feeling that there must be something profoundly and fundamentally wrong with the way the world is organized, or at least functions, economically? And that, of course, is precisely what that statistic is supposed to do.
Let us, then, spread the whole wealth of the eight richest men and thereby make the world a juster place. This would leave the 3.6 billion poorer half of humanity about $120 a head better off. For a family of eight in Bangladesh, say, this might be a considerable boon for a time: Extra money has a large marginal utility for the poor, at least if it is not reduced by equivalent inflation. And $120 would represent a 12 percent increase in the per capita GDP of Bangladesh—for a year. Of course, there might be certain difficulties in the disbursement of the money to the poor in Bangladesh: Its native multimillionaires, a couple of whom are in government, might get in the way, to say nothing of the other difficulties too numerous to mention.
The sale of all the richest men’s stock at once would reduce its value drastically, of course, but let us overlook that. If, instead of receiving the whole capital value of that stock at its present nominal price at one go, it was vested in the poor half of humanity, each of the world’s poorest would receive, if they were very lucky, six dollars a year each, less the costs of distribution. This would represent less than a 1 percent increase in the per capita GDP of the supposedly poorest country in the world, the Central African Republic.
Underlying the Oxfam statistic is what might be called the cake model of economics: My slice of cake is one slice less to be distributed to everyone else, and therefore, if my slice grows, everyone else’s must reduce. By developing Windows and becoming incalculably rich thereby, Mr. Gates deprived me of wealth that is rightfully mine—or would have been mine if I happened to be among the poorer half of the world’s population. (As it happens, my wealth, though much less than immense, would have to be shared out too, because on Oxfam’s reasoning it is perhaps two or three thousand times that of people in the poorer half of humanity. My only defense is that the ratio of Mr. Gates’ wealth to mine is ten times greater than the ratio of my wealth to that of the poorest 3.6 billion people. This takes no account of marginal utility: I can afford to eat as well as Warren Buffett, despite his immensely greater wealth, and to judge by his public expressions of his dietary preferences, in practice I eat a great deal better than he. By contrast, the poorer half of humanity cannot afford to eat as well as I.) In fact, Mr. Gates enriched me.
General Smedley Butler was a decorated veteran. He understood the concept of war and did a remarkable job capturing it’s horrors and atrocities. This is a very short and concise book about how horrible war is, who profits and gains from it, and what should be done to prevent unnecessary wars in the future. I realIy appreciate how honest and genuine General Butler is in explaining how much suffering war causes not just to the soldiers who have to do the bidding of the war profiteers, but also how it impacts the nation as a whole.
He also offers three unique solutions:
1) We must take the profit out of war.
2) We must permit the youth of the land who would bear arms to decide whether or not there should be war (an excellent idea that I didn’t think of before).
3) We must limit our military forces to home defense purposes.
I highly recommend this book. You can literally read it in 30-40 minutes. I thank General Butler for his service, honesty, and courage. May his words and warnings live forever.
Reprinted from Amazon.com.
The Eastern Establishment fears and loathes Outsiders, and seeks to destroy them, usually via the mainstream media.
Political agnostics who are skeptical about Big Government “solutions,” left or right, view the current hullabaloo about the Trump presidency with some detachment. What’s remarkable to us is the extremism, not just of those bitter about Clinton’s loss, but by insiders who are threatened by the possibility Trump may upset their insider skims and scams.
As an opening observation, I don’t recall bitter Nixon supporters issuing death threats to performers at John Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961–and the 1960 election was extremely close.
I also don’t recall bitter Gore supporters issuing death threats to performers at G.W. Bush’s inauguration in 2001–even though the 2000 election came down to a few hundred votes in Florida.
Trump is a lightning rod for a spectrum of people and organizations. Let’s see if we can separate the spectrum into socio-political groups.
In times of turmoil, identifying a bogeyman/woman as the cause of the turmoil is a classic mechanism for shirking responsibility and agency. This is the psychological source of witch-hunts (it’s all the witches’ fault!), scapegoating, show trials, and so on: it isn’t our fault things are falling apart, or the fault of our institutions–it’s ther bogeyman/woman’s fault.
This transference/projection concentrates the blame and responsibility on The Other–a scapegoated group, or even better, one individual or a small group. Those making the accusation reckon pointing the finger at some target lets them off the hook: I am blameless, it’s all his/her fault.
Trump is tailor-made for the part of Bogeyman–ditto the Russians. Decades of films depicting the heroic Americans besting the low-down dirty Commies seem to have seeped into the American Id: when in doubt, blame the Russians. If they are temporarily unavailable for scapegoating, then blame an Asian bogeyman.
For Progressives, symbolism is more important than substance. Never mind that the incomes, wealth and opportunities of the bottom 95% have steadily eroded in the eight years of the Obama presidency, or that an American neocon-neoliberal foreign policy was running amok globally. To Progressives steeped in the mythology of political correctness, the symbolism of the speech acts being uttered mattered far more than the substance or the consequences.
President Obama did not just promise hope and change–he was a legal-eagle master of delivering the symbolic speech acts that Progressives longed to hear, because they confirmed the world-view of legalisms, “rights,” and all the other high points of the mythology of political correctness.
In other words, we don’t actually have to threaten the status quo by changing anything, all we have to do is utter the correct phrases, and the erosion of civil liberties, opportunity and wealth will all magically vanish in the warm and fuzzy phraseology of political correctness.
Hillary Clinton finally came face-to-face with her political rival, President Donald Trump, as he entered Sanctuary Hall to take part in the traditional inaugural lunch.
Clinton, a guest of her ex-president husband, had her presidential ambitions swamped by Trump’s populist November victory.
She gamely participated in America’s famed peaceful transfer of power, despite falling short of being the day’s focus – but her face told the story of how she felt.
And among the crowd some people chanted ‘lock her up’ at the moment she and her husband were announced.
Some Democrats, including many in Congress, have questioned that decision, saying it tended to normalize the incoming president while their party aims to ostracize him.
Thursday night during a candlelight dinner at Washington’s Union Station, Trump jabbed at the Clinton campaign for planning a fireworks display in New York City when they thought they had the presidency locked up.
Ultimately, Team Clinton canceled its fireworks permit as Election Day closed in.
‘They spent $7 million on fireworks. And they canceled it – and that’s because history has proven that if you’re going to lose, you don’t want fireworks, right?’ Trump joked.
‘And that was a good sign.’
If you ask yourself what the biggest threat to human existence is you’d probably think of nuclear war, global warming or a large-scale pandemic disease.
But assuming we can overcome such challenges, are we really safe?
Living on our blue little planet seems safe until you are aware of what lurks in space.
The following cosmic disasters are just a few ways humanity could be severely endangered or even wiped out. Happy reading!
1. High energy solar flare
Our sun is not as peaceful a star as one might initially think.
It creates strong magnetic fields that generate impressive sun spots, sometimes many times larger than Earth.
It also ejects a stream of particles and radiation – the solar wind.
If kept in check by Earth’s magnetic field, this wind can cause beautiful northern and southern lights.
But when it becomes stronger, it can also influence radio communication or cause power outages.
The most powerful magnetic solar storm documented hit Earth in 1859.
The incident, called the Carrington Event, caused huge interference with a small scale electronic equipment.
Such events must have happened several times in the past, too, with humans surviving.
But only in recent years have we become entirely dependent on electronic equipment.
The truth is we would suffer greatly if we underestimate the dangers of a possible Carrington or even more powerful event.
Even though this would not wipe out humanity instantly, it would represent an immense challenge.
There would be no electricity, heating, air conditioning, GPS or internet – food and medicines would go bad.
2. Asteroid impact
We are now well aware of the dangers asteroids could pose to humanity – they are, after all, thought to have contributed to the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Recent research has made us aware of the large host of space rocks in our solar system that could pose danger.
We are at the starting point of envisaging and developing systems for protecting us against some of the smaller asteroids that could strike us.
But against the bigger and rarer ones we are quite helpless.
While they would not always destroy Earth or even make it uninhabitable, they could wipe out humanity by causing enormous tsunamis, fires and other natural disasters.
Donald Trump’s inaugural address is going to go down in history as one of the great ones.
I say this as a man with 59 years of public speaking experience and a Ph.D. in American history.
There have only been three inaugural addresses that have come down through the ages. The first was Lincoln’s second inaugural, with the phrase: “. . . with malice towards none, with charity for all.” The second was Franklin Roosevelt’s first inaugural: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” The third was John Kennedy’s: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” These are legendary phrases.
But Trump’s speech was different from any previous inaugural address. He spoke directly to his political base. He did not try to pull the country together in some kind of vague, pie-in-the-sky, common-ground political rhetoric. He threw down the gauntlet from the very beginning. Standing in front of the Capitol building, surrounded by former Presidents and politicians, he said that everything they had done in the past has been a way to extract power from the American people and to feather their own nests. This, of course, is exactly what they have done. Nobody had ever said this before in an inaugural address.
He made it clear that this is a turning point. Again, always in the past inaugural addresses have called for unity. He did not call for unity in general. He called for unity on his terms, governed by his agenda. He called for the transfer of power from the halls of Washington back to the people. The rhetoric was confrontational to a degree that I would not have expected.
Today’s ceremony, however, has a very special meaning because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people.For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have bore the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered but the jobs left and the factories closed.
The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. And while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.
That all changes starting right here and right now, because this moment is your moment.
It belongs to you.
He took no prisoners. He offered no olive branch. He used the media to go directly to his political base. This was basically an extension of what he does on Twitter every day.
The media and the establishment have never dealt with anything like this before. Technologically, it could not have been done before 2004. Ideologically, no one wanted to do it. But he just did it.
This is populism, pure and simple. No populist has ever had the opportunity to deliver a populist inaugural address.
I think the inaugural address is going to bite him. He made promises that he will not be able to keep. The Washington political structure, let alone the Washington bureaucracy, will not let his promises come true. But at least in full public view, he announced them. He made it clear what he expects to be able to accomplish as President, and he promised not to betray the people — his political base.
As Murray Rothbard often emphasized, the free market and a peaceful foreign policy are indispensable partners. We cannot maintain a free market if the government engages in a bellicose foreign policy. A powerful and aggressive state constantly engaged in war requires vast resources to sustain it, and “military socialism” is an all-too-present reality.
From this perspective, a recent interview of Andrew Bacevich and John Mearsheimer on Obama’s Legacy is disheartening. Both Bacevich and Mearsheimer are leading foreign policy scholars: Bacevich, a retired Army lieutenant- colonel, has been a trenchant critic of the militarization of American foreign policy, and Mearsheimer is the leading theorist of “realism,” a view that challenges ideological crusading and favors strictly limiting foreign policy goals to the national interest.
Obama entered office as a critic of American foreign policy, but he soon disappointed the expectations of those who hoped for fundamental change .Mearsheimer says,”what disappoints me about Obama is that, when he came into office, he gave the impression he was going to reduce America’s global commitments, in the sense that he was going to wind down the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and greatly reduce our footprint in the Middle East.”
Obama in fact proved to be an interventionist. Bacevich summarizes the record in this way ”I think the place to begin is to remember that Barack Obama made two promises. The first promise was to end the Iraq War, which he dismissed as ‘the stupid war,’ and the second promise was to win the Afghanistan War, which he described as ‘the necessary war.’ Lo and behold, here we are eight years later and he has been unable to deliver on either promise.”
Bacevich considers in more detail the failures of Obama’s Afghanistan policy: “Let’s look at Afghanistan in particular. [Obama] comes in and says he’s going to win the war, fires the general in charge of Afghanistan, and, to great applause, picks Stanley McChrystal to command the war there. McChrystal comes up with what he says is going to be a war-winning strategy, that is to say applying to Afghanistan the counter-insurgency techniques that David Petraeus applied to Iraq, supposedly successfully. I don’t think it worked particularly well in Iraq, but it certainly didn’t work in Afghanistan. By the fall of 2010, it was pretty apparent that U.S. military leadership didn’t know how to win the war in Afghanistan, and Obama found himself stuck with a war that he inherited and that nobody now knows how to end. John [Mearsheimer]or I might say that the courageous decision would have been to pull the plug, but that’s not what he did, and so here we are, with the war in its sixteenth year with no end in sight.”
Unfortunately, as Mearsheimer notes, Obama’s mistakes are not limited to Iraq and Afghanistan. He has contributed substantially to destabilizing the entire Middle East, and interventionism is once more to blame.”Just to focus on the Middle East, . . .I think it is quite clear that, except for the Iran nuclear deal, under President Obama we have helped create a zone of disaster in that region of the world. Obama is principally responsible for getting the United States involved in Syria—although we didn’t use military force there, we have played a key role in the effort to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, which has failed and has created a disastrous situation. We also played a key role in bringing down Muammar Qaddafi in Libya and helped turn that country into the Wild West.”
The situation in Europe is no better. Obama continued the anti-Russian policy of previous administrations, ignoring the fact that Communism and the Cold War ended long ago. The challenge to Russia provoked Putin to moves against the Crimea and Ukraine; and, despite the American role in putting Russia on the defensive, Putin’s actions were used to justify further American intervention. Mearsheimer remarks, “I believe that the Obama administration is principally responsible for the mess that we’re now in regarding Russia, which is mainly about Ukraine. I believe the Obama administration was asleep at the switch, not paying attention to what NATO and EU expansion—and promoting democracy in places like Ukraine and Georgia—meant to the Russians. The end result of our unrelenting policy to try and make Ukraine and Georgia part of the West is that we caused a major crisis with Russia, which is not in the American national interest. It would make much more sense, from our perspective, if we had good relations with the Russians; but of course we don’t, and I think the principal reason is because of the West’s foreign policy—and the main force driver there has been the United States.”
Bacevich stresses the continuity with the past of Obama’s anti-Russian foreign policy. “The problem predates Obama and also predated George W. Bush. If we take the example of EU and NATO expansion, that’s a program that began soon after the Cold War ended. I think it’s very true that the Obama administration failed utterly to appreciate the extent to which this eastward expansion of Western institutions would elicit a hostile Russian response. But they were certainly not the only administration to misread the implications.”
The sad record of foreign policy under Obama raises a fundamental question. If Obama entered office as a reformer, why did fail to bring about fundamental change? Mearsheimer blames the foreign policy establishment: ”But the problem he faced was that the foreign policy establishment is so deeply committed to an expansive foreign policy where we run around the world interfering in every country’s business and trying to do regime change here, there, and everywhere, that it’s very difficult for him—even though he was President—to change course and adopt a fundamentally different foreign policy. I think Obama understood, pretty early in his presidency, that the status quo was not the best way forward with regard to foreign policy. But there was very little he could do, because he was surrounded by people—inside and outside of his administration—who were deeply committed to a foreign policy that might be called ‘liberal imperialism.’”
Bacevich draws an apt parallel between Obama’s inability to act on his criticisms of American policy and President Eisenhower’s famous Farewell Address. “Ike serves as president for eight years, and then a few days before he’s going to leave office he goes on TV and announces to the American people that there’s this thing called the ’Military-Industrial Complex,’ and it’s really bad and really dangerous. You might ask Ike, ‘why’d you wait until you’re leaving office to tell us?’”
Unfortunately, despite the cogent critique Bacevich and Mearsheimer offer, neither qualifies as a full-fledged non-interventionist. They believe that undue involvement in the Middle East and Eastern Europe has Impeded America from confronting the rising power of China. Why such confrontation with a country that poses no challenge to American interests they do not bother to explain, unless a dominant presence in East Asia is somehow essential to our security,.. Despite this failing, though, Bacevich and Mearsheimer have presented a clear and cogent analysis of Obama’s foreign policy.
Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
The typical understanding of the bible’s teaching on civil government is that it is a special office directly ordained by God wherein a subset of humanity is given authority to wield the sword in a way that the rest of humanity may not…. I am not yet convinced this understanding is biblical. Everyone who holds this view starts with Romans 13.
So writes Brandon Adams in a piece entitled “The Avenger of Blood.” It is a detailed and critical analysis of the biblical view toward civil government and vengeance.
But because Romans 13 actually presents some very challenging logical difficulties for interpretation and even within the reformed tradition interpretation varies significantly, I think it is best to start with clearer statements in Scripture regarding the use of the sword for vengeance before addressing Romans 13.
“[C]hallenging logical difficulties” is an understatement. The mainstream interpretation has no answer for Stalin or Hitler (or Roosevelt).
Adams begins to build his foundation through the Old Testament books of Numbers, Deuteronomy and Joshua, presenting the case that the “avenger of blood” is “the nearest relative of a murdered person.”
This avenger (“goel”) did not act on his own authority:
The goel acts as the agent of the Lord himself… The goel was the instrument for the administration of justice in the early period of Israelite history.
The practice was not limited to the ancient Israelites; it was found in other ancient civilizations as well. Nimrod, the king of Babylon and first king or emperor “of the world” broke this model. He took vengeance into his hands and out of the hands of the next of kin:
Thus if Nimrod was the first violent conquerer, what would he think about private blood vengeance? Would he tolerate the idea that the people he conquered and killed had divine authority to execute him? Certainly not.
Thus asserting exclusive authority of vengeance became a means of control.
Control, indeed. Consider this in the context of a president authorizing drone strikes that kill non-combatants. The closest relative of the victim would be the criminal if he took vengeance into his own hands.
Private blood vengeance. Such was the practice throughout the Germanic Middle Ages – the most politically decentralized period in western history since before Rome. This came to an end via two factors:
“At the Holy Roman Empire’s Reichstag at Worms in 1495 AD, the right of waging feuds was abolished. The Imperial Reform proclaimed an “eternal public peace” (Ewiger Landfriede)
This passage requires a slight expansion; what of this Ewiger Landfriede?
The Ewiger Landfriede (“everlasting Landfriede“, variously translated as “Perpetual Peace”, “Eternal Peace”, “Perpetual Public Peace”) of 1495, passed by Maximilian I, German king and emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, was the definitive and everlasting ban on the medieval right of vendetta (Fehderecht).
It was aimed primarily at the lesser nobles who had not kept pace with the process of development of the princely territories. Their propensity to feuding (Fehdefreudigkeit) increasingly went against the intent of the imperial princes and imperial cities to pacify and consolidate their territories.
Consider Emperor Maximilian I passed this ban on feuding to make it easier for the emperor to pacify the lesser nobles. Take away “vengeance” from the people and it then becomes a tool of control.
Of course, “eternal peace” did not mean the end of murder; only a change in who would be permitted to avenge the murder.
Returning to Adams: the second factor was Calvin:
Calvin fell victim to state propaganda and believed there was a divinely ordained office with exclusive monopolistic authority to administer justice.
It was indeed formerly permitted, as we shall see in its proper place, to put to death robbers by night, as also it was lawful for the husband, or the father, of a ravished woman to kill the adulterer caught in the fact; but it is absurd that the law should allow a person to avenge the death of his brother.
With this, Adams comes to the punch line:
So if Scripture does not teach that God has ordained a special office of civil magistrate with the exclusive right to administer justice, what does Romans 13:1-4 mean? Consider John Frame
“State” is not a biblical category in the sense that “family,” “people of God,” “Israel,” and “church,” are biblical categories… [I]n what passage did God establish the state?
To come to the point: there is no such passage.
[W]e may say with Paul in Rom 13:1 that “the authorities that exist have been established by God.” But it is important to remember that the authority of the state is essentially a family authority, not something different. For that reason, I consider it somewhat misleading to talk about a “divine institution of the state,”
Frame mistakenly thinks this authority was given to families as such, rather than simply to all mankind, but he correctly notes that this is the authority referred to in Romans 13. Thus the authority of Romans 13 is essentially private, individual authority, not something different.
In conclusion, God has given all image bearers the authority to wield the sword to administer justice/vengeance.
I will stick with family; I don’t expect a five-year-old to administer justice.
It is fortuitous that I am reading On Power: The Natural History of its Growth, by Bertrand de Jouvenel at this time. He offers a succinct summary of what Adams describes in this post. From my summary of de Jouvenel’s comments on this topic, best exemplified in medieval law:
The value of the old and good law was that it kept “law” out of the hands of the king or, in our day, the legislature. It kept law in the hands of the people and their memory of custom. It was not always libertarian law (perfect isn’t an option when it comes to human interaction), but it was free from absolutist dictates.
This old and good law – whether from God, the gods, or some other source – was not a sphere available for man to take a part. The punishment was also not in man’s hands. Both the law and punishment came from custom. Only the administration was in the hand of the king.
The law came not from man, but from God (or custom); punishment came not from man, but from God (or custom). Only the administration of this law and punishment – a law and punishment under which all men lived – was in the hands of man. In medieval times, this meant a king whose sole authority was administration and nothing more; a king, whose rulings were subject to veto by any individual noble.
The avenger of blood. Clearly, someone will take on this role – it can be at higher or lower levels of civil authority; only the lowest levels can be considered reasonably consistent with libertarianism in practice.
The avenger of blood: this regards the administration of law and punishment determined by another; law and punishment is not for any individual man to decide. Law and punishment comes from custom.
In this analysis, one can find the roots of my position regarding culture and liberty. The NAP does not – and cannot – answer the question “what is the law?” In other words, what is a violation of the NAP? Repeating over and over “the initiation of aggression” does not answer the question; it only begs another: what is aggression? Sure, some things are obvious, but the gray areas will remain with us forever; there are many different NAP-consistent answers to this question.
The NAP does not – and cannot – answer the question “what is proper punishment?” In other words, what punishment is consistent with the NAP? Sure, some punishments are clear violations of the NAP (shooting a child as punishment or vengeance for stealing an apple), but what is the specific proper punishment for each specific violation? There are gray areas, and the gray areas will remain with us forever. There are many different NAP-consistent answers to this question.
In a society that hopes to live with as little “government” (as the term is commonly used today) as possible, these questions can only be answered by custom – whether the custom is derived from God, the gods, or distant ancestors.
Custom removes significant arbitrariness from life, hence reducing significant cause for tension and conflict; reduced cause for conflict and tension improves the likelihood of a thriving and sustainable libertarian community.
Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.
“Don’t Make Any Sudden Moves” is the advice offered to the new president by Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations, which has not traditionally been known as a beer hall of populist beliefs.
Haass meant the president should bring his National Security Council together to anticipate the consequences before tearing up the Iran nuclear deal, moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem or shooting down a missile being tested by Kim Jong Un.
In arguing against rash action, Haass is correct.
Where the CFR and the establishment are wrong, and Donald Trump is right, however, is in recognizing the new world we have entered.
The old order is passing away. Treaties and alliances dating from the Cold War are ceasing to be relevant and cannot long be sustained.
Economic patriotism and ethnonationalism, personified by Trump, seem everywhere ascendant. Transnationalism is yielding to tribalism.
The greater danger for President Trump is that the movement he led will be abandoned, its hopes dashed, and the agenda that Trump rejected and routed will be reimposed by a Republican Establishment and its collaborators in politics and the press.
Again, it was Trump who read the nation right, which is why he is taking the oath today.
The existential threat to the West no longer comes from the East, from a Russian army crashing through Poland and Germany and driving for the Elbe and Fulda Gap.
The existential threat to the West comes, instead, from the South.
The billion-plus peoples of the Maghreb, Middle East, and sub-Sahara, whose numbers are exploding, are moving inexorably toward the Med, coming to occupy the empty places left by an aging and dying Europe, all of whose native-born populations steadily shrink.
American’s bleeding border is what concerns Americans, not the borders of Estonia, South Korea, Kuwait or the South China Sea.
When Trump calls NATO “obsolete,” he is saying that the great threat to the West is not Putin’s recapture of a Crimea that belonged to Russia for 150 years. And if the price of peace is getting out of Russia’s face and Russia’s space, maybe we should pay it.
George Kennan himself, the architect of Cold War containment of Stalin’s Russia, admonished us not to move NATO to Russia’s border.
Of Brexit, the British decision to leave the EU, Trump said this week, “People, countries want their own identity and the U.K. wanted its own identity … so if you ask me, I believe others will leave.”
Is he not right? Is it so shocking to hear a transparent truth?
How could Europe’s elites not see the populist forces rising? The European peoples wished to regain their lost sovereignty and national identity, and they were willing to pay a price to achieve it.
Apparently, the Davos crowd cannot comprehend people who believe there are more important things than wealth.
Yet while President Trump should avoid rash actions, if he is to become a transformational president, he will spurn an establishment desperately seeking to hold onto the world that is passing away.
Article V of the NATO treaty may require us to treat a Russian move in the Baltic as an attack on the United States. But no sane president will start a war with a nuclear-armed Russia over Estonia.
No Cold War president would have dreamed of so rash an action.
Rather than risk such a war, Ike refused to send a rifle or bullet to the heroic Hungarian rebels in 1956. Painful, but Ike put America first, just as Trump pledged to do.
And given the strength of ethnonationalism in Europe, neither the eurozone nor the EU is likely to survive the decade. We should prepare for that day, not pretend that what is taking place across Europe, and indeed worldwide, is some passing fever of nationalism.
Notwithstanding Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson’s diktat, the United States is not going to force China to vacate the fortified reefs in the South China Sea she claims as her national territory.
Stick to that demand, and we best prepare for war.
As for the Taiwan card, it was played in 1972 by Richard Nixon as the price of his opening to China. Four decades ago, Jimmy Carter cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan and terminated our security pact.
For Xi Jinping to accept that Taiwan might be negotiable would mean an end of him and the overthrow of his Communist Party of China.
The Chinese will fight to prevent a permanent loss of Taiwan.
The imperative of the new era is that the great nuclear powers — China, Russia, the United States — not do to each other what Britain, France, and Germany did to each other a century ago over a dead archduke.
President Trump should build the wall, secure the border, impose tariffs, cut taxes, free up the American economy, bring the factories home, create millions of jobs and keep us out of any new wars.
With rare exceptions, wars tend to be fatal to presidencies.
I normally avoid patriotic events. They invariably remind me of the flag-waving idiocy that led to World War I.
In fact, I was even kicked out of the Boy Scouts in New York City after loudly commenting that their uber-patriotic display of flags, drums, crashing music and paramilitary uniforms looked like the old Hitler Youth.
But watching the inauguration of President Donald Trump (that’s the first time I write these words) I must admit the ceremony moved me way beyond my normally cynical self.
Mind you, I’ve been observing presidential investitures since my father flew us down from New York City to observe President Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration in 1953. I vividly recall being awed by the giant atomic cannon being towed down Pennsylvania Avenue. I remember reading a fine biography of Genghis Khan on our Eastern Airlines flights.
What I found most impressive this time was the reaffirmation of America’s dedication to the peaceful transfer of political power. This was the 45th time this miracle has happened. Saying this is perhaps banal, but the handover of power never fails to make me proud to be an American and thankful we had such brilliant founding fathers.
This peaceful transfer sets the United States apart from many of the world’s nations, even Britain and Canada, where leaders under the parliamentary system are chosen in a process resembling a knife fight in a dark room. The US has somehow managed to retain its three branches of government in spite of the best efforts of self-serving politicians to wreck it.
Each new president inherits a sea of problems from his predecessor. Donald Trump’s biggest legacy headaches and priority will be in the Mideast, a disaster area on its own but made far, far worse by the bungling of the Obama administration and its dimwitted attempts to put the US and Russia on a collision course.
Thanks to George W. Bush – who dared show his face at the inauguration – and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Obama, Trump inherits America’s longest war, Afghanistan, with our shameful support of mass drug dealing, endemic corruption, and war crimes. Add the crazy mess in Iraq and now Syria.
This week US B-2 heavy bombers attacked Libya. US forces are fighting in Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan and parts of Africa. For what? No one is quite sure. America’s foreign wars, fueled by its $1 trillion military budget, have assumed a life of their own. Once a great power goes to war, its proponents insist, ‘we can’t be seen to back down or our credibility will suffer.’
Trump will struggle to find a face-saving retreat from these unnecessary conflicts and shut his ears to the siren songs of the war party and deep state which just failed to stage a ‘soft’ coup to block his inauguration. Waging little wars against weak nations is a multi-billion dollar national industry in the US. America has become as addicted to war as it has to debt.
If President Trump truly wants to bring some sort of peace to the explosive Mideast, he will have to reject the advice of the hardline Zionists with whom he has chosen to surround himself. Their primary interest is Greater Israel, free of Arabs, not in a Greater America. Trump is too smart not to know this. But he may also listen to his blood and guts former generals who lost the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Trump appears to have been gulled into believing the canard that Mideast-origin violence is caused by what he called in his inaugural speech, radical Islamic terrorism. This is a favorite device promoted by the hard right and Israel to de-legitimize any resistance to Israel’s expansion and ethnic cleansing. The label of ‘terrorism’ serves the same purpose.
Trump should be reminded that the 9/11 attackers cited two reasons for their attack: 1. Occupation of Saudi Arabia by the US; 2. Continued US-backed occupation of Palestine. Persistent attacks on western targets that we call terrorism are, in most cases, acts of revenge for our neo-colonial actions in the Muslim world, the ‘American Raj’ as I term it.
Unfortunately, President Trump is unlikely to get this useful advice from the men who now surround him, with the possibly exception of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Let’s hope that Tillerson and not Goldman Sachs bank ends up steering US foreign policy.