Monday, October 8, 2012

Rational Thinking

In the Pacific Northwest there is a developing situation where thousands of people are finding themselves floating ten feet off the ground. New cases of flying humans are being reported by the hour. More on this situation as it develops.

This, of course, is pure fiction and no one would ever believe it is truly happening, or at least no rational human being could believe it to be true. What is the key rationalization in this story? It's easy to see that it defies the laws of physics. Therefore rational thought based in these laws and norms dictates that the situation is irrational and untrue.
This is a simple example of how rational thought works. The trivium is a more in depth method for rationalization. The three parts of the trivium dictate the path of rational thought. You must know the language or grammar, and this is the first step in the trivium. The second step is interpretation of that language or the symbols of language. Imagine interpreting sign language and how it is used to communicate. This is the rhetoric. The final step in the trivium is "logic" and the knowledge of the language and the interpretation, or rhetoric, of communication. The key in all three steps of the trivium is to have knowledge. Friedrick Douglass, an American slave, learned this lesson from the wife of his owner. Douglass pursued his desire to read and write. The mistress of the household was willing to aide him in his pursuit of higher education, but the master of the household scolded her for this act. It is from Douglass' story that we get the mantra; "Knowledge is Power". To expand this line of thought we need to look at art, music and geometry, as these being added to the trivium become the quadrivium which is a higher level of thought that leads to enlightenment. An example is a painting that depicts an entire thought. We've all heard the phrase; "A picture is worth a thousand words" and this is part of the quadrivium and can be thought of as symbology or symbolism. The freemasons are well known for their symbolism that are intended to be interpreted by the members of their society. This is esoteric communication. Most non-masons know that the "square and compass" symbol is the sign of the Freemasons, but that's about as far as their knowledge of masonic symbology goes. In this respect, non-masons are oppressed in knowing the way of the mason, just as Douglass was oppressed in the way of white society through illiteracy. The difference being, we don't feel it necessary to know more about the masons and if we do feel it necessary we can become a mason. This is the reason they are known as a secret society. So let's link this right now to the term "rational thinking" because it is rationed by your level of knowledge. Not everyone can, or will be, a mason and its esoteric language is therefore rationed.

Going back to the fictional story of floating people, knowledge of physics tells us that this story is fictional. People could be led to believe this is true, because they have no rational thought, they haven't the knowledge in physics required to make a rational decision. Other's may even think they have rational thought and try to contemplate why people would be floating. This group is where I'd like to concentrate the rest of this essay.

Some people believe what they are told and believe they are knowledgeable and rational enough to believe what they are told. They would believe the "floating people" story and use their limited knowledge to rationalize the story. Perhaps they know something about gas/blood diseases such as the bends or nitrogen in the blood and try to rationalize helium in the blood. Or they may know something about geomagnetic physics and rationalize too much metabolized iron acting upon a quirky magnetosphere. There is a great term that I'd like everyone to keep in mind; "He/She has just enough knowledge to be dangerous".

The idea of helium or even excessive amounts of iron in the blood are completely ridiculous, but what about a less ridiculous situation, one that is not fiction. A man with no atmospheric chemistry and physics (ACP) background who manipulates the entire population of the planet through ACP. This man had grown up on a tobacco and cattle farm, went off to school to major in government and had a penchant for science and math although he did very poorly in those subjects during his education. Where this man's rational thought became corrupted is when he felt, through his passion for science theory and math theory, that he had become knowledgeable in science and math when in reality he had a passion for theory and not fact. Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" shouldn't be taken as a truth, but a theory. When the theory is put into the scientific method of rationalizing its possibilities, there are far more scientists that disagree that anthropogenic global warming is occurring. It sounds possible, but is not probable, because the earth is warming, but there is no way miniscule amounts of carbon dioxide attributed to the human race are causing it. When scientists, believing humans were to blame, failed to actually place global warming on human activity, they changed the nomenclature to "climate change". It is easier to prove that we affect changes in the atmosphere, just as it is easy to say that a volcanic eruption can change the weather. However, they are still trying to rationalize that we are causing adverse effects in our weather. This is irrational, because it still gravitates around carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which is less than 1% of its heterogeneous mixture of gases. In chemistry there are stable elements and unstable elements, depending on the number of electrons in orbit around the nucleus of atoms or weak bonds and strong bonds. The reason for such low levels of CO2 in the atmosphere is attributed to weak bonds or an unstable molecule. This is why plants exist and why we, as a result of plant propagation, exist. Plants can easily strip the oxygen from the carbon for us in their metabolic processes. I could go on about ice core data from the Cretaceous period that suggests that extremely high levels of CO2 led to vast amounts of vegetation and the largest animals to ever walk the earth, but people would get bored with the rationalization that human activities have no real affect upon the earth's climate, but a tobacco farmer with a degree in government and a passion for scientific theory would like you to believe otherwise. As a skeptic, it is easy to rationalize the known, but difficult to overcome the unknown and leads to questions like "Why would Al Gore want to promote that anthropogenic CO2 is detrimental to life on earth?" This is where speculation or theories come in to corrupt rational thinking and limited knowledge makes the skeptic dangerous. We can look at Carbon Taxes and rationalize that this is just a money-making scheme. We can also look at increased regulation of energy, which everyone needs, and see this theory as a form of  human-control. Somewhere in there, we can almost find the answers, but they are still irrational due to the esoteric language of those involved who are not rationing knowledge to us and therefore remain secretive. By nature of the trivium, skeptics are dangerous, but they are not irrational. It is a paradox that cannot be broken. A skeptic will tell you that people were not floating above the ground in the Northwest, but they cannot prove themselves against the words of others who say that people were floating because one can not prove a negative. The pursuit to prove a negative is how people become dangerous.

Bigotry is the reason I've written this essay, or more precisely the act of labeling people as "racists" in political discourse. It is an irrational thought to label someone a bigot in any debate, because it forces the person being labeled to attempt to prove a negative. Any attack upon a person's character always leads to this irrational situation. The normal response that is often used is one that attempts to only qualify them as not being a bigot such as "I'm a minority. How can I be racist?" which can never be objective when you feel you are a minority. This is the paradox; if you are still thinking of the human race in terms of minority and majority, you still see sexes, races, creeds and so forth. When you see the human race in those terms, you see superior and inferior aspects ("minority" and "majority" are analogous to "superior" and "inferior") and therefore are, by definition, bigoted.

The case in point is the governmental office that is dominated by caucasian presidents. The majority of U.S. presidents are white. When there are no other criteria, when examining our past presidents, to categorize them as majority or minority,,,,there is no majority nor minority. An African-American now sits in the office of the President. Now there are two categories for U.S. Presidents, in the eyes of those that still see individual races, hence a majority and a minority. Our nation's populace is basing these presidents on the color of their skin and Barack Obama is now a minority. Think for a moment that, in biological terms, there are nearly as many men as there are women in this world. If there are 4 billion women and 4 billion and one men, women would be labeled a minority. One man neither makes a minority nor a majority, yet this is how we view the office of the president. John F. Kennedy must have been a minority in his time for he was the first Catholic president to ever be elected in this country. But was he a minority? Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush must have been minorities, for they were both pariahs of the office of president when most others were venerated and are honored. The more criteria to base our thoughts of these men on, the more we can see their individuality, but this does not make them superior or inferior to other presidents for the power of the presidency is finite and regulated by the congress and the People. When the People become upset with how the president acts on their behalf, the People express their grievances and tend to move into debate with those who agree with the actions of the president. The highest form of rational debate would be the use of our customs and our constitutional form of government. The lowest form of debate would be the use of ethnicity as a foundation for thought and is irrational. Yet, this is what we see in this country in the debate for electing our president. The level of irrational thought has forced rational people to try and prove the negative and this has completely wrecked the process of election.

I have witnessed this phenomena over and over again. I have a passion for studying the zeitgeist, not to be trendy, but to get a better view of this nation and where it may be heading. Currently, racial division is tearing the country apart. Political division; Left versus Right, is tearing this country apart. A battle between supposed inferior and superior ideologies is tearing this country apart. The lack of rational thinking and debate on all of these fronts is killing this nation. An example that has me completely confounded is a simple debate I had with a person on Twitter. I find Twitter to be an amazing resource when studying the zeitgeist, or the "spirit" of the culture, and its dynamic flow. I follow many people whom I don't even know, to see how they view things and how their views all contrast one another. I even see how all of these individuals also align themselves too. One Tweeter in particular left me completely aghast at the level of irrational thought in this country.

Known to the Twitterverse only as LiberalJaxx, this person seemed to show some rational thought and is quite knowledgeable in history. LiberalJaxx also has many followers, so following her led to a wealth of information. One day she started tweeting that all conservatives are racists and that everyone should support Obama. There are many staunch supporters for Obama, but this one tweet of her's rubbed me the wrong way, so I entered the fray of Twitter Debate:

Jaxx: Pat Buchanan calls Obama "a drug dealer of welfare." I guess that would make Pat a crystal meth lab of racism."

Me: the ignorance of crying racism is sad.

Jaxx: I am an Obamanoid sick of you klansmen, and?

Me: Let me ask you, Jaxx, are U defending Obama's race when you attack those who criticize him?

Right here is where I wanted to see some rational thought in the response. I wanted to know what she was defending. After all, this was a debate about welfare programs and not race. Here's where she threw rationality out the window:

Jaxx: if you must know. In your ignorance of blowing off Obama's plight, I am of mixed race just as he is and am offended daily by (tweet ended due to character-count restrictions. Continues in next tweet)

Jaxx: bigoted small minded fucks like yourself. Diff between POTUS and myself is he handles the hate with more grace than I do.

At this point, I failed to steer the debate because there is no steering ignorance. I was simply going to end with an aphorism.

Me: Racism: The shield behind which liberals cower from honest debate.

Oh, but it doesn't end, but sheds a rather interesting light on her thought process. (very probable that it is a continuation of posts due to character-count restrictions)

Jaxx: and I have taught my children all about ppl like you just like every other minority parent. In 50 yrs or so, YOUR kind=minority

Jaxx: and I block racist bigots like yourself. Can't have trash polluting and pissing in my twitter stream.

This person has a huge following on Twitter (4717 currently) and she weeds out people who don't view things the way she does. She injected so much "race" into a political issue that she simply does not realize that she was the racist in the whole thing. She even so much as predicts that my "kind" will be a minority in 50 years. What esoteric knowledge does she possess that led her to such a conclusion? She is, after all, still thinking of the human race in terms of minority and majority. That is expected in a culture where that paradigm is so heavily strengthened by history, but should a rational person use it to win a debate, to become superior in an argument over bigotry? Of course not, for that is bigotry in and of itself. This is the paradox. Shall we call it the paradox of irrational thought due to dogmatic knowledge? Irrational thought has become a religion unto itself. Do as Jaxx does and shut out anything that may tear down your beliefs and surround yourself with like-minded believers while avoiding honest debate with ignoratio elenchi. Logical fallacy is the order of the day in this country, it is the new religion where hope hinges on ignorance and the fallacy of superiority or majority. But this leads to the other paradox in rational thought, we know what is, but we don't know why. We don't have enough information to rationally think "Why?", because there is no longer any honest debate to gather that knowledge. She is of "mixed race". She taught her children all about people like me. There's a fallacy right there, she doesn't know me. She is offended, daily, by bigots. Could it be that her beliefs are what makes others offensive? She is seeking commonality in those she associates with and that number seems to be 4717 people that are like-minded.

With all of the information, a picture is formed. That esoteric symbolism of plight, of struggle. An introvert would surely think they are worthy of equality no matter what their character is. I often wish she hadn't blocked me before I could tell her that I, too, am of mixed race, Metis, but would that have made any difference? Of course not, because I would have fallen into the paradox of irrational thought. That is not enlightening. To be truly enlightened is to break away from that completely and realize that we are both of the human race where there are no minorities.

This is the current zeitgeist in this country; everything is boiled down to ethnic groups. Division springs from these groups. Unity is but a dream, derision is the order of the day. To further analyze this, is to go down a much deeper rabbit hole where the esoteric meets rational thought. A place where the derision has formed blockades to knowledge.

There is little or no argument that Jaxx has just enough knowledge to be dangerous. She feels rational, yet she is subjective and has little use for the trivium. Her struggle is indicative of a divide between her beliefs and the beliefs of others. There are many divides in this country, but her struggle is rooted in race. Over one hundred years ago there was a war in this country over secession; another derision. There was a struggle to maintain slavery in one half of the country while the other half was struggling to end it. It doesn't take a history major to KNOW how that turned out, but it does take some deeper knowledge to realize that not all slaves were black. In fact many indentured servants were white. Immigrants, regardless of race, were obligated, or indebted, to servitude in order to become citizens. Again, the struggle was universal back then and still is today. All of the middle and lower class in this country struggle everyday for a better life. The privileged few are the only ones struggling to maintain their better life against the rest of the population. The best tactic for them is to maintain the divide of the populace. That divide is based on race, creed, wealth and so on.

Racial division works so well in this country, for the privileged, that it has become a perpetual struggle with no end, ever. I should also mention that it is the most irrational of struggles as well. As Jaxx alludes to, being a parent is difficult. She also alludes that being "POTUS" is difficult too. However, race has nothing to do with that difficulty, unless you believe there is a grand conspiracy to prevent someone of a different race to become president or a parent. Obama proves that an African-American can become president and Jaxx proves that someone of "mixed race" can become a parent. It is irrational to think that our culture conspires for the opposite.

There is racial division in the U.S. and there are people actually promoting it. Here is where "knowledge" sheds light on the "why?".

To begin, we need to look at the history and culture of the indigenous peoples of this continent, long before European explorers. Of particular interest are The Seven Caves of Chicomoztoc in Aztlan. It is the legend of a paradise for Aztecs. Today, we see native Americans from Mexico claiming that Aztlan is in the area of the U.S. and struggle to have it returned to them. The legend of the Azteca who left in search of Aztlan is nearly lost in the archaeological record and some are even suggesting that the Anasazi of the Southwest were descendants of the Azteca, who had changed their name to Mexica. The importance of this is the struggle to regain that "paradise" of legend and lore without any real knowledge of its existence. La Raza and the Brown Berets are two well-known movements attempting to retake most of the U.S. Southwest for Mexico. Aztlan is used as the reason why, but is this really why? Here is the paradox within skepticism; it can be rationally thought out that they are not seeking Aztlan, as there is no religious organization in Mexico that believes in Aztlan as it is merely a legend that is not well known, but there are groups wishing to retake this land.
Mexico, is struggling against drug cartels and a complicit and corrupt government. It is a horrible place to live. The "paradise" is north of the border, as they see it. It is logical to see that they want a better life, but why reabsorb it into their country? It isn't for the resources, because Mexico has as many, if not more, resources than the U.S. Taking back land does not bring our government with it. We conclude that they just want the land, but when one listens to the Brown Berets protesting in the U.S. Southwest you can hear them telling all Europeans to return to Europe. They want all of North America back for their people. The motto of La Raza is "For Family; Everything. For Everyone Else; Nothing." La Raza, of course, translated means The Race. Our situation is not near dire as theirs, but because we do struggle, we sympathize and support their plight. The key is the commonality of struggle. Just recently the Lakota Sioux seceded from this nation as an answer to their struggle. Native Americans are also struggling in Canada where it has recently come to light that there are eugenics programs geared to eradicate native bloodlines. This was uncovered during the investigations into thousands of missing indigenous women in Canada. What is happening in Canada is true racism. Two borders and three governments, all contentious elements in the struggle.

What we can rationally come up with is that we are all struggling on different levels and blaming each other for our struggle, when all we have to do is look at our governments as the source of our struggle. Once we find solidarity as humans and not as races, we will truly find our Aztlan.

The civil rights movement of the 1960s masked a more nefarious movement into communism. Solidarity between the communists of the SDS or Weathermen and groups such as the Black Panthers was shaky to say the least, but it was a desire of Bill Ayers to consolidate their struggles. Many leaders of the Panthers attended conferences in Moscow under the advisement of the Weathermen. The collusion stems from SDS' manifesto which sought to use the plight of minorities as a springboard for communism. This was not a new idea and goes as far back as 1929 when Jozsef Pogany penned a book titled "American Negro Problem" under the name John Pepper which spoke of the struggles of the "black colony" and communism in the U.S. This was followed by a book written by Black Panther member, James W. Ford, titled "The Negroes in Soviet America" where he also made heavy use of the term "black colony". The SDS Manifesto, "You Don't Need A Weatherman To Know Which Way The Wind Blows", also makes use of this term. Aside from the race struggle and communism, there is a new movement called "Occupy Wall Street" which now connects the class struggle to communism. Here, again, I remind you of Friedrick Douglass and the phrase "Knowledge is Power"; knowledge for rational thought. Is the rise of race division in this country the symbolism of the rise or struggle of communism?

Ever since Barack Obama took office, we've been living under the banner of socialism when Newsweek announced, with their cover story, "We Are All Socialists Now". The "why?" becomes easier to answer when we look at how grievances and ensuing debates are handled, as evident in LiberalJaxx's tweets. She is far from the only one doing this, but she provided a great example of this. It takes a big government willing to support communism. It takes time to build a big communist government when all of the elements are finally in place to build it.

It takes the derision of racism to distract from, and quash all debate from, the rise of Communism.

For anyone who might actually read this, have I laid out enough evidence and knowledge for rational thought on this subject? I would like to think that I've built a strong enough case so as that last line doesn't become an aphorism, but rather an objective and sound statement of truth. I could write a book that puts all of my knowledge on this subject into a nice concise presentation with a huge bibliography, but I'd like to be able to condense that properly as I have attempted here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Known but to God

There is a tomb in Washington D.C. with the inscription: "Here Rests In Honored Glory An American Soldier Known But to God" an epitaph inspired by patriarchs in the waning years of the Great War of 1912, World War One. [please listen to Adagio for Brass and think of our servicemen while reading]
As a nation we honor our war dead, those who died serving to protect the law, the constitution, of These United States.
In an age where wars are fought out of frustration. Where nations are invaded due to a single act of terror that was precisely directed at major institutions of U.S. strength and power, we persevere in the hearts of the free. The problem lays in those that do not understand what sacrifice means. Terrorists sacrifice themselves in the light of day to bring focus to their plight. Their sacrifice killed many innocent U.S. citizens. Men and women who went to work on that September day with diligence in their hearts. If they weren't diligent, they survived because they weren't at work. Flight crews, military personnel, financial and all. They went to work. Flight crews ferried passengers across a nation, for business and pleasure. Financial managers went to work, building a nation. Military personnel reported to work to protect a nation. All, on one day, fell victim to an attack against this nation. Those responsible for killing our national protectors and our national People were put into the sights of our powerful military. Those that wished that a blow to finance and defense would drop a nation to its knees were found cowering in caves in a foreign land. Found nationless, found desperate, these terrorists were routed out.
The events of 9/11/2001 are not unique to superpowers. Global dissension comes from a culture that is not accustomed to usury and power. Islam despises capitalism for its usury, for its prosperity. This nation revolted against taxation. This nation revolted against oppression. This nation saw Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. This nation set itself against monarchy and tyrannical rule. This nation is a bastion of freedom and liberty. No other nation can see the true freedom that the People of the U.S. enjoy via a constitution that lawfully lays out the rights of man, the law of freedom.
This constitution is, currently, under attack from without and from within. Men have fought to protect the constitution's implications to this nation. Men and women, currently fight to uphold their OATH to the constitution. Honor them, honor those that rush in to the battlefield while others continue their lives. Honor those that leave their homes and pick up arms to fight foreign entities that would wish harm to those that simply stay at home and go to work for the betterment of their homeland. Honor goes to those that pick up arms and protect you from those who wish you harm. Honor goes to those unknown men and women who protect and serve the constitution that founded your way of life. HONOR goes to those that die on the battlefield for you and your freedoms,,,only to come home in a box. Sometimes that box contains the remains of a soldier, fighting for you, that cannot be identified. Sometimes that soldier died unknown to many but fighting for all. That soldier may only be Known but to God. ~The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier~
Remember your neighbor, remember your countrymen, remember those that serve to protect this Constitutional Republic this Veterans Day.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sphere of Influence.

Cultural issues are on the rise as is evident in the Occupy Wall Street movement or the Montana Wolf issue and even in religious freedom on ski slopes (blog below).
What fascinates me about these struggles is their origins. It's all about the rights of man and beast. The struggle is to prove which idea is superior or whose culture is superior. Democracy is based on superiority and the Occupy Wall Street movement embraces that with "The 99% against the 1%". Where does this superiority come from and is it moral?
Let's look at both the 99% and the 1%. The protesters, the ninety nine percent, are the majority in influence based on physical superiority. The financial elite, the one percent, are the majority in influence based on monetary superiority. It doesn't make sense to say that both sides have a majority in influence, because money doesn't have rights, physical people do. But, yet that is exactly what is being protested, that the 1% has too much influence through financial (economic) channels and that their physical superiority should have the influence through social (society) channels. This is the classic socioeconomic struggle. The rights of the people are their morals. Most of these rights seemed to be handed down through religion with all of the "shall" and "shall nots". Moral superiority, therefore, is held by the people in their god-given rights. We don't need religion to know what is right and wrong, what is moral and just. So we'll keep this somewhat secular.

"Sphere of Influence" is a geopolitical term used to describe one culture's influence within another, or the superiority of one culture over another. The Anglosphere is one such example and is described as all english-speaking cultures; England, the U.S., Canada and Australia as well as several nations within the African continent, India and Pakistan, because English is their official language even though it isn't the majority language. Interesting how the U.S. doesn't have an official language, but English is the majority language. Sphere of Influence doesn't have to be relegated to language, but includes any cultural norm, or moral value shared with multiple cultures. People will argue that the Anglosphere is bigoted and for good reason because it bases its existence on the idea that English is the superior language of these cultures and the definition of racism is: "a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others." But there are other sphere's of influence such as the Sinosphere that includes many nations in Asia whose language is based on Chinese or Kanji. The Hispanosphere is made up of all countries that have a Spanish-speaking population, to include the U.S. The U.S. is in two spheres of influence? Yes, multiple spheres (melting pot of spheres of influence) and just like those that say the Anglosphere is bigoted and that the 1% have too much influence, the issue is far more complex than just catch-phrase generalizations.
To break it down and pick through the complexities of these spheres let's break it down caveman style, down to the most basic influences. To do this I want to write a little about the history of the grey wolf and a microcosm in part of Montana that is currently dealing with one of these struggles; Ravalli County. The history of the grey wolf is pretty well-known, especially in areas where the animal once roamed in vast numbers and by people within the environmental movement. Wolves have spheres of influence just like we humans do, but this is not to say that we share environments as we have evolved beyond living in caves and dens in a hunter/gatherer culture. Our environment now consists of man-made structures and machines. This is an environment that wolves do not share with us, just as we would not survive comfortably in their environment. Our sphere of influence does, however, overlap into theirs via wilderness designations and setting aside national forests and the formation of the Endangered Species Act. The overlap in these spheres has a dark past for both them and us, because we could not live within their sphere of influence, or rather our livestock couldn't live, so we pushed them out and eradicated them from the lower 48. Those species that they once predicated upon began to thrive and grew in numbers and we hunted the elk and raised the livestock and expanded our sphere of influence, becoming a superior influence in their old environment. So superior, it seems, that we've brought them back to flourish in their old stomping grounds. Their sphere of influence has grown massively since their reintroduction, biologists would call this their expanding territory. The hunting of wolves has, once again, been allowed. This is simply to manage the sphere of influence by forcing ourselves into theirs and limiting their influence in ours. It is easy to see why environmental groups are so upset about it right now, because they see history starting to repeat itself. Let's revisit that definition of racism, but with a slight change in the wording:
"a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various species determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own species is superior and has the right to rule others." Speciesism? Animal rights versus human rights and spheres of influence. While I know wolves can't form doctrine, they do have instincts or beliefs and their instinct is to kill, indiscriminately. This is the trait that we struggle against in trying to cope with them as they expand their sphere of influence, their territory, to become the superior species in the environment and our sphere of influence. Matt Kanenwisher, a Ravalli County commissioner, put together a fact-finding board to see how the wolves are influencing and impacting the citizens of the West Fork of the Bitterroot. This area is the major overlap between the two spheres of influence and the source of contention on both sides of the issue. His presentation can be found on YouTube. There is data supporting a decline in elk populations and official reports of attacks, by wolves, on livestock. This is a real issue where we have to look at the superiority in the spheres of influence of multiple species to see if we are going to be superior, or if the wolves are going to be superior. Our superiority in this case will ensure the survival of all of the other species there. The culture in Ravalli County will have to change drastically to accommodate the wolves' influence, because we can't make wolves accommodate our influence without the use of hunting, which led to eradication in the first place. That's the caveman style struggle. So, let's go back to a couple of these other issues and let's face fact that these are cultural issues.
The Occupy Wall Street movement pits wealthy elites and their sphere of influence against the rest of the population's sphere of influence. We can see that their influence comes from money and our influence comes from shear numbers. Again, rewording the definition for racism comes in handy:
"a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various classes of wealth determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own class is superior and has the right to rule others." Classism actually is a real "ism" defined as: prejudice against or in favor of people belonging to a particular social class. The reworded definition of racism also fits. The people in the Occupy Wall Street movement say this isn't about class warfare, but it truly is and to lie about that is disingenuous. The warfare, or struggle for superiority, in the Bitterroot shows that point as well.
Lastly I want to use the reworded definition again for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the issue that got me thinking about spheres of influence in the first place:
a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human ideologies determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own ideology is superior and has the right to rule others. Ideologism? Doesn't quite roll eloquently off the tongue but "Ideologue" does.
Ideologue: an adherent of an ideology, especially one who is uncompromising and dogmatic.

That could be used to describe both religious organizations and the Freedom From Religion Foundation. One sphere of influence seeking superiority over another is always seen as a struggle where the only loser is society itself. The struggle between wolf and man is only different because it is purely about survival on a primitive level. An atheist's survival is not based on a statue on a mountain in Montana. Struggle for survival can lead to the moral high-ground. That is moral superiority: ensuring survival, ensuring continued existence and avoiding eradication. That is exactly why racism has to be stopped and why speciesism has to be stopped, why classism has to be stopped and why ideologues have to be stopped. The survival of all species, all races, all classes, all ideas is superior to a one-sided society. This is why liberty trumps equality and egalitarianism. The survival of liberty AND equality is the key. Last I checked, this country was founded on both of those ideas. That sphere of influence isn't necessarily ours either. That idea came from the Age of Enlightenment and was used in the Storming of the Bastille and the three important words: Liberté, égalité, fraternité (Liberty, equality, fraternity). Yes, the U.S. does fall into another sphere of influence. Funny how the best ones tend to overlap more frequently in one place.

One last reworded definition:
a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human morals determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own morals are superior and has the right to rule others.
Moralism: (Philosophy) the practice of moral principles without reference to religion.
For any organic cultural shift there has to be something that all people can agree to shift towards. Freedom from Religion? You'll never be free from it and its sphere of influence, so why not expand a sphere of moralism and maybe one day a better form of religion will emerge, organically.

Go ahead and think of any derision in society and use the definition of racism as a template:
a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
Just replace the words "races" and "race" with any human condition or remove "human" also for other conditions. The resulting "ism" will certainly point you in the right direction in any argument just as it does by being accused of racism.
Try it with:
"Climate theory" (maybe even expand the english language: "climatetheorism")
"Legal Entity" (Corporation vs. an Individual) "Legalentitism" would be a good one to spring on some corporate elites who see themselves as Too Big To Fail and deserve taxpayer dollars to line their coffers or use their superior campaign contributions to get what they want out of government. They have no respect for the individual's survival.
The resulting "ism" will always be the term to show bigotry in the argument to help you push for the moral high-ground...
Bigoted: obstinately convinced of the superiority or correctness of one's own opinions and prejudiced against those who hold different opinions. any issue with two sides that is causing derision of epic proportions in this day and age. Remember that the moral high-ground comes from the most primitive of needs: Survival of all and the continuance of both sides of the issue within both spheres of influence. It won't be easy to do, just as the case between wolves and humans, but that's why they call it a struggle.
(I certainly hope I haven't recreated any of Saul Alinsky's rules for radicals with this philosophy. He tended to move towards removing liberty from society. Mine is intended to preserve it.)

Holy Big Mountain Jesus.

Ski resorts have a nice symbiotic relationship with the Federal Government by leasing public lands for private use. This isn't unique to just ski resorts, for example Plum Creek Timber leases public lands to harvest timber. What is unique is that ski resorts build permanent structures and rarely will the lease run out or be revoked. Instead, most resorts will actually expand their leased areas to expand their runs and their capacity. Ski resorts such as Big Mountain have a long history of providing a business and a heritage to local areas. Memorials and art are found at some of these locations.
In 1953 the Knights of Columbus of Whitefish Montana wanted to dedicate a memorial to WWII veterans. Their idea was to erect a statue on the well-known mountain that has become a mecca for downhill skiers. That statue, The Big Mountain Jesus, actually isn't as well-known as the mountain itself, until just recently when a atheist group from Wisconsin was informed about the statue and that it violates the separation of church and state. I'll return to that argument in a moment, but first let's look at another iconic statue in Montana that sits on U.S. National Forest land: Our Lady of the Rockies.

This statue sits in the Butte Ranger District of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and to visit the statue you have to drive through the Jefferson Ranger District as well. The website for the statue states that it was "built in the likeness of Mary, Mother of Jesus." That is obvious, but what isn't obvious is the intention of the statue to be "entirely nondenominational and was dedicate to[sic] by workers to woman[sic] everywhere, especially mothers." I suppose the Cristo Redentor in Rio de Janeiro is nondenominational too or the Star of David on the Israeli flag doesn't mean only a Jewish culture. I'm not advocating the removal of Our Lady of the Rockies from Federal land, nor am I advocating that Big Mountain Jesus's intentions be played down as a nondenominational icon.
Enter Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Madison Wisconsin group Freedom From Religion Foundation. Gaylor is advocating removal of the Big Mountain Jesus (BMJ) who, according to the Associated Press, says; "This has huge meaning for Americans. And if you aren't religious it has huge meaning as well. If skiers think it is cute, then put it up on private property. It is not cute to have a state religious association." Her advocacy is, in and of itself, dogma and is no different than religious dogma. Gaylor looks to force her will to have a symbol removed from public land leased by private industry. What's interesting about this group from Wisconsin is that they are worlds apart from Montana in the fact that Wisconsin land is 94.4% privately owned and 5.6% Federally owned whereas Montana land is 70.1% privately owned and a whopping 29.9% Federally owned. So the people of this country own more of Montana than they do of Wisconsin. Yet, here we have a group telling people to go put these symbols on private land and not just on land leased by private industry. That can be done, but looking at Wisconsin vs. Montana, it can be done more easily in Wisconsin with more private land.
Statistics is always a strawman argument so let's look at what the Bill of Rights says about religion and government:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
The whole first amendment is pretty powerful. It covers a wide area of rights all related to our right to organically dictate our culture without interference from the Federal Government. Interference from the government would be considered social engineering and is not organic nor democratic.
When I was in high school there was a statute that afforded students exemption from major tests, homework and essays from being due on Thursdays because most churches held services on Wednesday nights. This springs from the McGowan v. Maryland case that challenged the Sunday Closing Laws. The Supreme Court rejected the Establishment Clause challenge by claiming that our culture surrounding a day off is secular and establishing that day as Sunday is just an easy standardization that also takes into account "the dominant Christian sects." Here's where today's secularists get hung up: "make no law respecting the establishment", they paraphrase it differently or perhaps literally; they will not allow congress or the state to respect the establishment of religion. However, "respecting" and "respect" are two different connotations.
We need to return to Freedom from Religion Foundation's argument about BMJ. They claim it is a "ruse and a sham" to consider the statue a historic marker. Gaylor told the Associated Press; "This has been an illegal display. The lease should have never happened. Just because a violation is long lasting doesn't make it historic. It makes it historically bad. It makes it worse. It makes it all the more reason to get rid of it." I'm going to inject my own personal impression here and say that as I read this woman's comments I hear a lot of anger and hatred for this symbol and not any consideration or respect for others who have a love and adoration for this symbol. It is that dogma that has her secular views treading in, or on (pun intended), the same waters as her argument is directed against. The thing is, her symbol is "nothing" and cannot offend anyone, yet her actions offend many and are just as abrasive to the locals as the symbol of BMJ's image, supposedly, is to her. My question to her would not be "why does this offend you" it would be "how can you disrespect what this symbolizes". It seems to me, if she had some twisted amendment in the Bill of Rights to back her up, she'd have St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City torn down or even the Cathedral of St. Helena in Montana's capital city demolished and removed from her view so as to not offend her and other atheists worldwide. The Crusades were pious people going after heretics, Gaylor's movement seems to be secularists going after organic culture (locals devoted to the symbol of BMJ). Equal freedoms doesn't mean equal atrocities and no where in the constitution are her views supported. However, congress or the state shall make no laws respecting her dogma and establishment of her views as well. Paradoxically if read the way secularists interpret the amendment, it doesn't respect her views. So who's inalienable right is being infringed? The private business on leased public land respecting the symbol erected in memorial of WWII veterans or the private secularist foundation that has no respect for the symbol?
Former state legislator and Montana secretary of state, Bob Brown sums it up pretty well:
We all agreed around the table this is a tempest in a teapot. This is making trouble for us in our little community. Why don't they just leave us alone? We are accustomed to it. It is part of our tradition here. So we are thinking, 'why does anyone want to tear that down.'
They won't leave us alone because they don't respect us and our traditional norms, Bob, and those norms are seen as vile and offensive in other cultures like those in Wisconsin. This isn't about secularism, really, it is about standardizing and equalizing an engineered society. Most places call that egalitarianism, I call it totalitarianism. The first amendment protects us from totalitarianism and state-engineered society, so Foundations such as Freedom From Religion dictate to us how our culture should be formed. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are the perfect solution to that social engineering. These foundations and organizations will force their ideals upon us saying that it isn't cute to use symbols of organized religion all the while using the Constitution to back them up. How can they not see the hypocrisy in that? Let the organization of religion force their views on the atheists and see how ugly the battle gets. The sleight of hand with these foundations must be exposed. These atheists are hiding behind the constitution as they see it interpreted but don't see that it protects others from what they are trying to do. The "free expression" of Big Mountain Jesus is protected. If it offends you, don't ski there. If you can't respect Big Mountain's tradition in honoring WWII veterans, maybe they should have you removed.

This is why I don't advocate Our Lady of the Rockies to be removed nor Big Mountain Jesus's intentions to be changed to a nondenominational icon. Both actions are absurd and ridiculous, because I am just one person. Freedom is Freedom. Liberty is Liberty. If the majority in our society see fit that our culture no longer shall use religious symbols, then the society has organically shifted away from these symbols, regardless of their location. If the majority start to see that statues of the Virgin Mary or Jesus are nondenominational, than culture has organically moved away from seeing them as religious symbols. But, to have a small group of atheists impose their culture on the whole of the society is not organic. They may have found a way to get around the Constitution's prohibition of governmental social engineering, but that doesn't mean that the Constitution gives them free reign to socially manipulate our "free expression". The 1st Amendment is worded very well to protect us not only from the Federal Government, but also from small organizations that fall just outside of that purview as well. If Gaylor ran for President, she'd lose all of the power she thinks she has. Using the courts and the Constitution to make laws respecting an establishment of religion is prohibited and negates her entire argument regardless if she is part of an NGO or a government official. Trying to use the system to negate itself is paradoxical and is like trying to build a bottle around the water rather than putting the water into the bottle. If you're prohibited from putting the water into the bottle, than you don't have bottled water,,,period. Okay, that's a weak analogy for such a convoluted issue. No one can take the position of the state to make a law respecting an establishment of religion, not even Gaylor and her Foundation of atheists. However, she has a concentrated group of people who advocate a belief, therefore they have their own "religion" that is protected also from the state and no one can take the position to make a law respecting that. They can't be prohibited by law and they can not use the that same right to prohibit others. That's the paradox. So why do they think they have the power to do just that? More pointedly; How have they been able to form a foundation with the sole purpose of Freedom From Religion? Here's an extension of that paradox. They are manipulating more and more people to advocate their ideas and are growing in numbers to become the majority so that they can claim that this movement, this cultural shift, is organic. The manipulation negates the definition of an organic movement. On top of that, people are free from religion already if they so choose. The advocacy proves that they don't want freedom from religion, emancipation from dogma, they want to erase religion because they think it is best for everyone and they have no respect for your cares, wishes and culture.
As of the writing of this blog on Monday the 24th of October, 2011, there is one article written on Sunday the 23rd that states in its subtitle: "U.S. Forest Service Reverses Decision to Remove Montana Statue" It will be opened for public discussion. The respect of the people comes first. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Free Market?

Do we live in a society where the word "Occupy" has become as normal as saying; "protest"? Are we protesting in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan? Does Israel protest in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and Golan Heights? No. These are occupied nations and territories. Occupying implies that the occupier has command and control of that which is being occupied. These protesters, all over the country, are not Occupying Wall Street in the sense that they are taking over the financial institutions that are deified by the name of a district in Lower Manhattan, rather they are symbolically blocking the street.
However, in a bi-partisan fashion, apathy has finally moved into empathy and even sympathy, but it is early in this movement and there is a fog over even the name of the movement. The 99% will "occupy" each and every city and protest the other 1% who are the targets of blame for the crumbling state of these United States. The fog also shrouds other things like what direction this all should take. The fervor is piqued. The Man is the enemy. There is so much pent up frustration that it is just exploding like a poorly tossed hand-grenade. There are some that are even calling for the end of capitalism.
What is capitalism?
an economic system in which the investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, especially as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth.
How about a more concise statement from Wikipedia:
Capitalism is an economic system in which the means of production are privately owned and operated for profit, usually in competitive markets.
I'm not trying to be pretentious with the definition of capitalism, but it is important to look at a few key aspects of the system. The one I want to focus on (and what many others should be focusing on) is the last part from the Wikipedia definition: "usually in competitive markets."

We have to look at capitalism like an old piece of machinery, which it really is: The machinery of finance and economy. The working parts have to be free to move as required by those it serves. Yet these parts have to be regulated by engineering to work in tandem with all of the other parts of the system. This is the Free Market and I think the use of the term has been skewed much like the term "occupy", so lets use another word to remove the old paradigm from the lexicon: Liberated Markets. We'll still use the term, coined by Adam Smith; "the invisible hand" to personify the spirit of the people in the market.
A market is any place we trade goods or services. If I'm hungry I can satisfy that hunger by going to a grocery market and trade my cash, which I've gotten for my services in the labor market, for a frozen dinner. If I want to retire I can satisfy the needs of retirement by going to a financial market and investing my cash for its future value. Like the many choices at the grocery market, there are many choices in the financial markets. I chose a frozen dinner because it was quick and easy, but it is "high-risk" because it may not be healthy. There are low and high risks in financial markets too. Some of the more high-risk instruments in finance are the Credit Default Swaps and Derivatives.
In any loan there is a risk for default and as we saw in the housing crash there were a higher-than-normal number of defaults. Finance institutions hedge against default by taking out a form of insurance called a Credit Default Swap (CDS). This derivative is a basket of high- and low-risk loans. They are packaged in such a way that their overall risk is minimal and are traded in the financial markets. People think that when they take out a loan that their bank will hold on to that loan, but it is often traded on the market for investments. Yes, institutions are investing in your investments. They get swapped and repackaged by many entities as they hedge against your potential default. If we were to look at the buzz about a U.S. default on debt, we can look at the price of currency and Treasury Bonds. The rate of T-bond will go up when issuers are at risk of default. These "Junk Bonds" will hedge the currency in the event of default. That is a generalization as there are many factors that swing the pendulum of finance hither and fro. So derivatives are passed around hither and fro as well. These insurance policies against default, or securities, have grown to massive proportions.
There is no exact number or value to be found on the derivatives market because it is too big to calculate. Each time a derivative is repackaged and resold the old value still exists unless the debtor actually defaults (much like a Put Option in perpetuity). For every good citizen making his or her payments on their loan, there is a massive amount of asset value on many different accounting books. Is this the "invisible hand" of the "free market"? No. This is the rambunctious free-wheeling market.

The paradigm is that a true free market will have fewer and fewer regulations oppressing it. This, however, couldn't be further from the truth. The fact of it all is that a free market has to have a set of rules and guidelines in order to maintain order, much like the Constitution of these Free and Independent People of the United States. Hence, the markets need to be Liberated from institutions that are funneling money one way, by investing in your investments (drinking your lemonade). Etymology and definition are need here:
liberare "set free" to free an occupied territory from the enemy.
Liberated; to free from social or economic constraints or discrimination, especially arising from traditional role expectations or bias.
"Or bias". Where can we find an example of bias in our economic situation? Do I even need to ask? Too Big To Fail.
Legislation after the Great Depression created "constraints" in trading on markets to stifle another panic like the one that created the Great Depression. This action did not involve bias. This action went against what the Federal Reserve and the bankers of Wall Street wished. The banks used to loan money at huge discounts to build up interest through the vast number of loans rather than high rates on a small number of loans. Cash seemed free to the debtor and interest through fractional reserve banking was the bankers' dream. The prosperity from this was only a facade though, and when the realization of a devaluing dollar and inflation kicked in, people panicked, leading to the Great Depression. The solution to that problem was regulation for the betterment of the markets and came in the form of the Glass-Steagall Act. This act separated commercial and investment banks and formed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The newly formed Federal Reserve Central Bank (1913) was none too happy with slicing up the banking market because this meant less control over the money supply, which is the Mission of the Federal Reserve (Fed). Loans are, in essence, future reserves of cash and fractional reserve banking methods expanded that future money supply with every new loan. The Fed expands the money supply by purchasing Treasury Bonds (T-bills) on open markets, so when the banks were expanding the money supply for them with massive amounts of loans, they didn't need to buy U.S. debt (T-bills) and the U.S. was a creditor nation. Many factors changed all of that. The U.S. moved away from gold-backed currency, expanded the money supply through purchasing of T-bills and quickly became a debtor nation as the result of WWII, The Korean War, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Honduras, Iraq, and the Global War on Terrorism (war is good for the economy, right?). Glass-Steagall did its part to control the markets in the best interest of the people during these unsure times, with the exception of the Global War on Terrorism.
Now, we are up to the present-day U.S. as a debtor nation, but we need to reverse to 1999 when the regulations of the Glass-Steagall Act were gutted and the CDS and other derivatives were unleashed on the world due to the overinflated Tech Market. The Clinton administration saw the restrictions of Glass-Steagall as a restraint on new fundamentals and that the Act was an anachronism which needed to be removed from the finance markets...setting them "free". The first sonic wave to resound from this action was the Tech-bubble bursting in 2001. This was exacerbated by terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in the same year. The new free-wheeling market, under the Bush administration, took it in stride and created the next bubble in the housing market, which collapsed in 2007-2008. The Fed started printing fiat (not asset-backed) currency at an alarming rate and purchased short-term T-bills with it in hopes of expanding the money supply to cover all of the derivatives that had saturated the markets since the end of Glass-Steagall. On top of that, the U.S. bailed out banks to the tune of trillions of taxpayer-dollars. The Fed is still pumping billions into the money supply and the derivatives void, doing what the banks did prior to the 1929 crash that precipitated the Great Depression.
Occupy Wall Street is a start, but it needs to find focus. The idea to end capitalism (Leninism, 1917) is as old as the Fed (1913), yet no one seems to be looking at the Fed and its abuses with our supply of money. To Liberate the markets is to liberate them from the control of the Fed and this ever-expanding supply of fiat currency to cover an endless void of derivatives created by an unchecked banking cartel known as Wall Street. Who is the dog on the leash and who is the master? The "Creature from Jekyll Island" also known as the Federal Reserve Bank is very much the master of the economy. The history of this privately owned central bank is complex, to say the least. But, it is so very important to know what their mission is and how it directly affects the economy right now.
The Federal Reserve's Mission Statement from The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System:

The Federal Reserve System is the central bank of the United States. It was founded by Congress in 1913 to provide the nation with a safer, more flexible, and more stable monetary system. Over the years, its role in banking and the economy has expanded.

Today, the Federal Reserve's duties fall into four general areas:
*conducting the nations's monetary policy by influencing the monetary and credit conditions in the economy in pursuit of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.
*supervising and regulating banking institutions to ensure the safety and soundness of the nation's banking and financial system and to protect the credit rights of consumers.
*maintaining the stability of the financial system and containing systemic risk that may arise in financial markets.
*providing financial services to depository institutions, the U.S. government, and foreign official institutions, including playing a major role in operating the nation's payment system.

1) Prices are unstable. Just visit a grocery store from month to month.
2) Banking is not safe and it is unsound. Just try to get a loan for a small business or a home.
3)Foreign institutions are crumbling faster than ours. Just look at Greece, Italy, Portugal, Germany and France.
4)High unemployment is plaguing the nation.
All of which, according to the Fed's mission statement, are in the purview of the Federal Reserve System.
From the looks of the Fed's mission, they have miserably FAILED in every category of their being and maybe, just maybe, the People will truly start an Occupation....on the Federal Reserve to Liberate our markets and restore the machinery of capitalism so that it will work for the 99% and not just the 1%.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Winter In The Blood

Very rarely do we see stories projected on the silver screen that are completely centered on Native Americans. The independent film industry is starting to change that and we are starting to see a Native American Renaissance in film. One of my favorites is a story of an American Indian man from Idaho who trekked with his boyhood friend to retrieve his estranged father's ashes in Arizona; Smoke Signals.
In 1940 a man was born to parents of both the Blackfeet nation and the Gros Ventre nation. That man was James Welch born in Browning Montana on the Blackfeet reservation and spent his formable years growing up on the Fort Belknap reservation (Gros Ventre) of north central Montana. His parents and he moved to Minneapolis where he finished up his high school education and moved back to Montana to study literature and liberal arts at Northern Montana College in Havre and at the University of Montana in Missoula. In 1974 James Welch wrote his first novel; Winter In The Blood about a man, who remains unnamed throughout the novel, and his struggles of identity on the Fort Belknap reservation. The narrator and protagonist takes us on his journey across the Hi-line of Montana in search for his girlfriend who has left him and taken his cherished rifle and electric razor. Having lost his older brother, Mose, at age 12 and his father 8 years later, he struggles with his identity while living with his mother, her new husband Lame Bull and aging grandmother on their ranch near Dodson.
On his journey to find his girlfriend, Agnes, he visits the towns of Malta, Harlem and Havre. We find him drinking beer in the local bars and sleeping with local women all along the way. In Havre he finds Agnes in a bar called the Gables across the highway from a bar called The Palace. On a personal note; these are real bars in Havre and my great uncle used to own the Gables. The Palace Bar still serves drinks from a huge and ornate mahogany bar, but the Gables is long gone and a large US Bank now stands in its place.
The protagonist confronts Agnes in the Gables bar and is ambushed by her brother who knocks him out. After deciding to leave her and Havre, we find him back at the ranch only to find that his mother, step father and grandmother are not there. Knowing that his grandmother has passed away he rides down to an old blind man's cabin 3 miles from his place. This man, Yellow Calf plays a vital role in helping our protagonist find himself.
This story interspersed with flashbacks of his brother, Mose, and his death all leads him to find himself and to change his drifter ways. It is a great story that can only be told by someone who has lived here and has a deeper understanding of Native American life on the Hi-line and James Welch certainly has painted a very powerful story of alienation and self-discovery in Winter In The Blood.
The Native American Renaissance will be greatly enhanced as this novel is currently being put to film here on the Hi-line by Missoula filmmakers Alex and Andrew Smith. The Smith twins knew James Welch personally while growing up in Missoula. Their most popular film was also filmed in Montana near Great Falls called The Slaughter Rule which they both wrote and directed.
The casting for Winter In The Blood is very impressive and has been conducted in a way to make use of Montana actors as well as Native American actors. The lead character, whom the Smith brothers have named Virgil in their script, hails from the Fort Belknap Reservation, Chaske Spencer who is best known for his recurring role in the Twilight saga as Sam Uley. Virgil's girlfriend, Agnes, will be portrayed by Twilight actress Julia Jones of the Choctaw tribe. Another Montanan from the Blackfeet nation, Lily Gladstone will play a minor role as one of the girls that Virgil takes to bed in Havre and who cared for him after Agnes' brother knocked him out in the Gables; Marlene. The big star, in my opinion, is Gary Farmer who will play Virgil's stepfather Lame Bull. Gary Farmer also played the role of Victor Joseph's father, Arnold, in Smoke Signals.
The producers and directors all agreed to forgo the tax breaks that would come from filming in Canada and have chosen to film entirely in the areas depicted in the book. This movie is set to be the biggest addition to the Native American Renaissance and to Montana films. The support from people across the state also contributed to this remarkable film getting off the ground. The production needed a $60,000 kicker to even go in to production and that was achieved via donations from across the state. This is a purely Montana-inspired and Montana-made movie and it will elevate the Native American entertainment industry to new heights. It is a great honor to be right here, right now...on The Hi-line.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Operation Fast and Furious

No it’s not a movie about tuner cars and illegal street racing where an undercover agent infiltrates the clandestine world of turbochargers and nitrous oxide. This is a real-world operation about infiltrating the gunrunners along the Mexican border. Vince Cefalu, an ATF agent, blew the whistle on this operation after a Border Agent was gunned down. The Border Agent, Brian Terry, wasn’t shot in a botched gun-trading incident. No, he was gunned down by one of the very guns that the U.S. government had sold to Mexican cartels in an effort to track the weapons. Two AK-47s that were part of Operation Fast and Furious were recovered at the scene of the shooting in Rio Rico, Arizona where Terry was attempting to apprehend a group of gunrunners.

In April of 2009, while visiting Felipe Cauldron in Mexico, President Obama said he wanted to renew a ban on some semiautomatic weapons but that it is not likely to pass Congress. Instead, he called for the Senate to ratify a hemisphere-wide treaty that would require nations to mark all weapons produced in the country and track them to make sure no weapons were exported to countries where they were banned. That sounds reasonable considering our neighbors have both banned firearms.

The ATF seems to have taken this idea as a way to track the guns once they were in Mexico. Just like throwing money at the economic crisis, our government decided to throw guns at the violence in Mexico. Might as well throw some liquid hydrogen on the wildfires near Los Alamos while we’re at it and save the liquid dihydrogen monoxide for the flooding in the Mid West.

Here’s the real worrisome part. The anti-gun culture here in the U.S. is claiming that a large number of guns being used in the war in Mexico have come from the U.S. and that we should ban guns here and get rid of the second amendment. Seeing that most of those guns were likely sold by the U.S. government, maybe we should strip the government of its rights to have weapons. Of course the likely rebuttal to that proposition would be that they need their weapons to protect us, thus the double entendre is that the people can’t protect themselves with their own guns.

While it is still too early to say, with certainty, that Eric Holder perjured himself before a congressional hearing about the Executive approval for Operation Fast and Furious I would be hard pressed to believe that an operation like this wasn’t signed off by the executive. Maybe it was the U.N. that authorized it. After all they approved our new war in Libya and threatened Texas over the execution of a rapist. But that usurpation of power is a whole other story from the District of Caesars…er…Columbia.

The fate of the whistleblower, ATF agent Vince Cefalu? He's been served his termination paperwork. That's the transparency and whistleblower-protection that Obama promised.