There Will Be Peace in the Valley

Well, I’m tired and so weary, but I must travel on
‘Til the Lord comes and calls me away, oh, yes
Where the morning’s so bright and the Lamb is the light
And the night is as bright as the day, oh, yes

There will be peace in the valley for me some day
There will be peace in the valley for me, oh, Lord, I pray
There’ll be no sadness, no sorrow, no trouble I see
There will be peace in the valley for me, oh, yes

Well, the bear will be gentle and the wolves will be tame
And the lion shall lay down by the lamb, oh, yes
And the beasts from the wild shall be led by a little child
And I’ll be changed, changed from this creature that I am, oh, yes

There will be peace in the valley for me some day
There will be peace in the valley for me, oh, Lord, I pray
And there’ll be no sadness and no sorrow, no trouble I see
Only will be peace in the valley for me, oh, yes
Yes, there will be peace, sweet peace in the valley for me, oh, yes

Song by Thomas A. Dorsey

Find the version you like best and enjoy it. My favorites are Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, but don’t overlook Loretta Lynn’s version and, of course, Mr. Thomas A. Dorsey’s rendition of his own work. If you like gospel music, but you don’t know where to start, start with Thomas Dorsey and go forth from there.

An Open Letter to the NSA

Dear massive government intelligence agency,

How are you? I am fine. I hear on the news that you seem to be busy. The report says that we have noticed a lot of chatter amongst the terrorists. There is as much, said the report, as was before 11 September 2001. That must be a lot.

My question is, if we noticed that much traffic in 2001, why weren’t we ready to do something on 11 September 2001?

I know that people who want to record all Internet and voice traffic want to have a good reason to do so, because otherwise it looks like a set of tools to preserve the power of the status quo in the face of the oppressed classes. Being able to say, “See? We have a big terror threat!” certainly looks like a good reason. I have to question if it’s an engineered solution, though, given that we are recently asking many questions regarding both its necessity and efficacy.

You know very well where I stand on this issue. I try to speak clearly whenever I’m near the lamp by my bedside. I know I’m not so good with voice activation software, but I am making an effort in this case. But if you’re going to record everything I say and do, I need to do what I can to not generate a false positive by trying to obscure what it is I’m doing.

Of course, lots of people disagree with me and they have increased their use of encryption and personal privacy measures in the last few weeks and, say… wait a minute… is it possible that the recent spike in people using tools to evade constant recording has triggered a false positive? That might be something worth checking out. I know a lot of Americans don’t want another 9/11, but there seem to be four other numbers they don’t want: 1984.

I don’t want either, but it looks like we’re stuck with one in the name of preventing the other. As I said quite clearly to the toaster the other day, I’m concerned more with survival than resistance. You know full well from what I said near the medicine cabinet that I see opposing the US government’s surveillance regime would be as wise and as successful as opposing the Soviet Union’s surveillance regime. And you know from posts here and many of my unpublished writings that only you, I, and my PC know about that I’ve researched well the KGB and what it did to those that went against it. That’s not for me, I assure you.

But at the risk of sounding sympathetic to the (potential) political dissidents using encryption now more than ever before, it’s quite possible that they are doing the same things they’ve always done, but now with encryption. They may just be using encryption out of fear and respect for your powers than they are to try and do anything subversive. If the fallout from Snowden’s revelations is the cause of the “spike in chatter,” it would be worth checking out so there’s no correlated, unjustified spike in Pakistani wedding reception fatalities.

As I’ve repeated time and again in front of my bedroom mirror, all Pakistani wedding reception fatalities should be justified. It makes you guys look bad when that happens. And, as I alluded to earlier, you’ve already got a big black eye from failing to do anything useful with the spike in chatter from 2001. It would be a darn shame – and quite embarrassing – for you guys to have made a bad call this time around because of freedom-loving Americans foolishly forgetting that loving freedom means hating security state apparatus.

I hope this helps. All I ask for a reward is that you’ll not do a false flag operation to justify all this in the likely event that I’m right and this spike in chatter is actually due to the increased use of domestic encryption. You know very well that false flag operations always get exposed, and while such exposes provide a huge boost to the tinfoil industry, they hardly do any wonders for your credibility.

So why say all this in public when you and I know full well that the ornament on the pull-chain for my dining room ceiling fan is practically a hot line to [REDACTED]? You should know by now that I do like an audience. More than that, I *do* have an audience, no matter how small, and I’d like to suggest a solution that you and they might all get along with. Why curse the darkness when I can light a candle, right?

Here’s the idea: democracy via observation.

You’ve got us all under constant surveillance, right? Why not make it work for the nation? You know exactly how many people smoke dope, right? Why not report on that, so we know where to legalize it in order to keep the people happy. Google is trying to do what you’re doing: what if you were to share your database with *them* in order to really pinpoint the right kind of ads every person would have a high rate of desiring to respond to and block all the rest? I would *want* to turn off my ad-blocker software in that case. You guys know what everyone thinks of the president and Congress, right? You could use that information to find us some decent candidates that we’d actually want to vote for in the next election. People are already using their constant tracking in cell phones to report where roads and bridges need major repairs – why not join with that popular upswelling of democracy via observation and get us the kind of government we really want?

Who’s to say that George Orwell’s vision of dystopia is the last word in surveillance? If we had democracy via observation, everyone would *want* to reveal all to the lamps beside their beds and would drop encryption like a hot potato. That way, the only people still using encryption would be either terrorists or paranoids. Or paranoid terrorists. The paranoids will be the ones that have the biggest and best weapons, so ignore them. The rest are terrorists, so round them up and problem solved!

So, to recap… you guys in the NSA could stand to have some good PR. People are afraid of you being one of several dark forces putting the USA under an Orwellian shadow. This could lead to lots of false positives in the War on Terror. I’m suggesting a democracy via observation campaign so that people will want to be under constant surveillance. Quite a few paranoids think that the NSA and associated intelligence agencies are running the US government. If they’re right, why not get us a better government?

I think you guys in the NSA are all aces, and that you can do what you have to do to pull this off. I’m sure the biometric sensors in my chair are picking up an increased body warmth that goes with the surge of patriotism I’m experiencing, so you know I’m not lying. I believe in you guys: you can use constant surveillance to give us the best democracy the world has ever seen.

Otherwise, what would be the point in having it in a place like the USA?

Anyway, I need to [REDACTED]. You guys stay [REDACTED] and say hi to [REDACTED] for me. Tell [REDACTED] that the auto-redacting software is working perfectly. Watch this: [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED] mozarella [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED] eyeliner [REDACTED]. Oops! Looks like a few things slipped through there. I’ll be happy to beta-test the next [REDACTED] of the auto-redacting software.



My Son, the Missionary

My son, Calvin, has been called to serve in the Chile Santiago South Mission. I am so excited and proud for him.

The place where he’ll be going has a climate like Northern Arizona. Santiago is a city of almost 6 million people, and Calvin’s mission will be in the Southern sector of the city plus a few outlying communities. It’s a very small geographic area.

A lot of his work will be in reactivation, it looks like. The Church had massive growth in the 80s and 90s, but anywhere from 10-20% of members there are actually active. Some members there created a system to correlate government records with Church records that had old or mistaken information to contact less-active members. The missionaries go out, find out if the people there would like to return, and go from there. Some want to come back, and they bring their families with them. Others do not, and can request removal from our records if they so desire.

There’s and estimated 250,000-400,000 members in Chile that are less-active, not dead, and potentially willing to be more involved in our faith. That’s a big number to go and find and to preach to. As Jesus taught, some seeds have fallen on rocky soil and did not grow. Some seeds fell on weak soil and sprouted, but withered in the heat. Some seeds fell on good soil, but weeds choked them out. While the seeds that landed on good soil and stayed strong have borne good fruit, it’ll be Calvin’s job to do what he can about helping those other seeds.

I’m a proud father because my son is going to commit his life to serving others for the next two years.

Strategy of Tension

Italy in the late 1960s posed a difficult situation for the United States. Voters were supporting the Communist Party of Italy, or PCI, in increasing numbers. If Communists were even a part of an Italian government, it would represent a massive failure for the prestige of the USA. Moreover, Communists in government could have led to Italy leaking NATO secrets to the Soviet Union or causing Italy to withdraw altogether.

In Italy, NATO had an organization known as Gladio. Gladio existed to engage in long-term guerrilla struggles with a regime imposed in the wake of a Soviet invasion and takeover. But there was another wrinkle: Gladio’s members didn’t have to wait around for a Soviet takeover to get into action. They could engage in resistance to the nascence of Communist and Socialist movements by engaging in what was called “a strategy of tension.”

Strategy of tension was the cool summation of a wave of false-flag terror operations, starting with the Piazza Fontana massacre. In the wake of World War Two, the USA partnered with numerous Fascists and Nazis in order to resist Communism. Those Fascists and Nazis were ready and willing to engage in violence as part of a crusade against Soviet power. Those Fascists and Nazis were the backbones of Gladio-type organizations across Western Europe, from Nazi spymaster Reinhard Gehlen’s “Gehlen Org” in West Germany, on down to Gladio itself in Italy. Fascists and Nazis are the logical conclusions of political movements in which the end justifies the means, where evil done in the name of good is considered acceptable.

And so the Italian Fascists carried out a series of bombings and murders and then blamed them on leftists, in the hopes that such terror would drive people to support centrist and right-of center parties. The strategy did not succeed: as the terror claimed lives, the PCI grew to receive a third of all votes cast in Italy. It had grown so strong that, in 1978, Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro considered inviting them to be part of his government.

15 days later, terrorists killed Aldo Moro’s bodyguards and kidnapped him.

The terrorists demanded an exchange of persons: Moro for some of their members in prison. The Italian government under Moro’s fellow Christian Democrat – and Gladio architect – Giulio Andreotti refused to negotiate, choosing instead to search high and low for Moro’s location.

The kidnappers allowed Moro to release statements to his family and the media. Moro’s statements were highly critical of the government, and there were fears within the Gladio organization that he might reveal their secrets.

55 days after Moro’s kidnapping, the terrorists executed him.

The terrorists claimed to be part of the Red Brigade, but were they really? I don’t want to actually explore the answer to that question. I ask the question, instead, to illustrate the incredible chaos and paranoia that penetrated Italy in that day. The chaos and paranoia arose from over 2000 politically-related murders, with extremists on the left and right ready to murder and frame their opponents for the crimes. Strategy of tension.

Did things actually happen that way? Did the USA act as a prime mover behind a wave of Fascist murders in Italy? Based upon what the USA did in other nations, I’m inclined to believe so. Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Congo in 1961, Vietnam in 1963, and so on and so on: all these and possibly more were places and years in which the USA murdered people in order to topple governments in the hopes that their chosen replacements would follow along with the script from Washington. No nation was immune to the machinations of the USA, unless that nation allowed the Soviet Union or Communist China to be the one that murdered the politicians that did not follow the bidding of a superpower.

Which leads to another question: did the USA engage in a strategy of tension on home soil? Did the USA’s leaders construct or allow through acts of terror that could be laid at the feet of dangerous extremists in order to justify legislation that made the USA more authoritarian and capable of controlling its population? Given what happened in other nations, this is a serious question. The legislation passed in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing and the coordinated terrorist actions on 11 September 2001 certainly gave greater authority to the central government. Recent experience in Syria, Libya, and Egypt shows that the USA does not hold itself above toppling governments even to this day, so I must ask that terrible question: did the USA engage in a strategy of tension on home soil?

And if it did, what of it? What can we do about it? If the government itself is one built upon the idea of justified murders, opposing it effectively would seem to be a death sentence. Working to change it from within? Congress today looks like an Italian parliament… no, destruction comes from within. Change only comes from outside pressures. Given that violence and propaganda can both silence outside pressures, we in the USA do not seem destined to have change.

Certainly not from me. If non-violent opposition makes a person look like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., or Robert Kennedy, then that’s not a path for me: My family needs me to be here for them. Violent opposition would mean becoming part of the very violence that I abhor; and when violent opposition succeeds in revolution, the violence and oppression continue unabated, even if the list of victims changes.

The world is ruled by sociopaths and blind crusaders. When I have a realization like that, I am comforted by my faith. I am comforted by my deep understanding of my beliefs and my personal experiences that confirm to me that there is a better world beyond this brief mortality. I endure to the end. There is that word, “endure.” I do not flash out with a bang. I endure. All around me is tension, pulling, tugging, grasping – but I must endure it, that I might learn from it. I have my family, I have my friends, I have my God: if my government deserts me, at least I have those things that can give me peace in my heart when all about me is a strategy of tension.

An Open Letter to Lewis Black

Dear Mr. Black,

How are you? I am fine.

I understand the governor of my state has upset you. I feel your pain. He upsets me, too. The difference is that while he only insults your state about jobs, he sells pieces of our state to his friends. You may be only very recently upset about Governor Perry: I have been upset about Governor Perry for quite some time, now.

However, when you take on an assault against my entire state for the actions of just one of its citizens – and a politician, at that – I am cut to the quick. You say you want to fight fire with fire. Well, that means comparing apples to apples. Since you come from the City of Apples, you should appreciate that.

Which New York politician do you have that could match Governor Perry in all his glory? Which political gasbag can we find under the rotting wood, being jeered at and spat upon by the cockroaches as unfit to be among their noble brotherhood? Who is it from The Empire State that is as grievous to behold as Texas’ Rick Perry?

As a disclaimer, I have to note that most recent New York politicians in the national eye are Democrats, which have a different sort of sleaziness and hypocrisy about them than do Republicans. When Democrats do their pandering, they speak to large crowds and offer feel-good messages. Republicans skip all that hooey and go straight for the big donors. The Democrats hit up the big donors, too, but they seem to like making more of a show about how they are well-liked by people they don’t give a shred of care about.

With that being said, has there ever been a USDA grade-A certified ocean-going class of numpty that has been governor of New York? While your current governor has seen fit to shack up with a Food Network host, I’ll agree that’s not as big of a numpty as Rick Perry. Let us consider his predecessors.

First predecessor is one Eliot Spitzer. I remember him! He’s the guy that paid $1000 per hour for prostitutes, repeatedly, right? Real winner, there, Mr. Black. That’s the kind of numpty that could go head-to-head with Rick Perry and put up a good fight. I didn’t say he’d win, but it would be close.

Then we come to George Pataki, a Republican. This guy was so awful that the New York Post said “good riddance!” the day he left office – and they were his supporters! Perry and Pataki match each other, blow for blow, and I think it’s fair to say that both of them have done far too little good for the time they have been in office. Surely, you would not want your state to be judged by the standard of George Pataki. Well, then, don’t tarnish all of Texas over just one Rick Perry.

But let’s also take a look at how Americans in general feel about states. In a Public Policy poll, 29% of Americans said they had an “unfavorable” opinion about New York. Another 32% were “not sure,” which is polling for “I don’t like you guys, but I’m too polite to say that to a poller I don’t know.” Kind of like when people measure racial attitudes. If a guy can’t come right out and say he’s got no problem with people of a different skin color then, yeah… he’s a racist. So we’ve got 61% of Americans that can’t say they love New York. Interesting. How about Texas?

Turns out, it’s the same, too. 61% couldn’t say they liked Texas, either. Even if we were to say that all Texans hate New York and love Texas and vice-versa, we’re still dealing with a pretty big Venn diagram of people that don’t live in Texas or New York that wish we would all just shut up.

Only 27% of Americans admitted to liking California. 44% of Americans came right out and said they hated California – no politeness there. California hate is serious business. This means the dislike you or I might have for California is what brings the nation together. Say what you will about Texas – and I will say what I will about New York, but we can all agree that California can tumble into the sea so that we’d never have to hear someone choking on LA pollution go on about how wonderful the climate is there. California’s so bad, even New Jersey was more popular. Not surprisingly, New Jersey came in at #3 on the most hated list. Illinois was second to California’s first place as “most hated state.”

And it’s not some goofy governor of California that tarnishes their name. It’s not even most of California. There are millions of good, hardy, worthy souls that live in California that are saddled with being attached geographically to the pits of Los Angeles. These guys want to secede from their smarmy neighbors down south – a sentiment many people in Texas can understand – and I don’t blame them.

In fact, if we break things down by cities, we find that Detroit is the most hated city in the USA. It’s gone bankrupt, though, so it’s no longer officially a city. It is now a very large lawsuit. That leaves Los Angeles as the most hated city in the USA, with Oakland hot on its heels. Interestingly enough, Dallas (my home town) and New York City are about equally hated by Americans, with New Orleans, Houston, Salt Lake City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Las Vegas, Chicago, Cleveland, Washington, D.C., and Miami between us and Oakland. Hey, Mr. Black! Both our cities beat Cleveland in popularity! That’s pretty cool! Heck, we both beat Houston. That’s something we can all be proud of.

But getting back to the idea of lighting a candle instead of cursing the darkness, why should we come to verbal blows over the words of a doddering sack of uselessness that is Rick Perry? Let us unite, along with millions of overwhelming millions of Americans, and direct our venom towards a truly deserving target: LOS ANGELES.


Dean Webb

We Have Met the Enemy, and He Is Us

Syria is a mess, and it just gets messier. Chemical weapons are in use there, but not by the Assad government: the rebel factions that the USA is supporting are the guys using them. The USA claims it is helping the rebels because Assad’s goons are plying the poison gas. Turns out, that’s a lie. Our moral high ground in that conflict is non-existent.

Not that we had much in the first place: Most of the rebels are al-Qaeda mercenaries. If they get in power, it won’t be pretty in Syria, at all.

Now there’s news that Israel shot a cruise missile into the air defense systems that Russia sold to Assad’s government. The Russian reaction? The largest military maneuver operation since the Soviet days. Not content to leave off at poking the Russian bear in that area, Netanyahu has begun to beat the “Iran might have nukes!” drum once again. Never mind that his own nation exists in violation of all manner of non-proliferation treaties. The USA ignores Israel’s violations and complains about everyone else’s.

Except now, we’re very much in a new Cold War with Russia. If Russia is supporting Assad, that means it has ties with Iran, at least as far as that issue goes. It recently accepted Snowden as a political refugee. Russia is a nation with thousands of nuclear missiles – it’s not a nation one would want to upset. Yet, here we are. Russia could have been a friendly nation, but we have antagonized that nation to where it’s back to the way things were in the 80s.

Our foreign policy is our own worst enemy.

On the Snowden Affair

The USA is outraged that other nations are not cooperating with the extradition of Edward Snowden. The USA is demanding that the other nations follow the law in this matter. The problem with that is the fact that the USA hasn’t followed other bits of international law, particularly in regards to Snowden’s revelations about how the USA swallowed wholesale their network transmissions.

I’m also concerned about how the USA has targeted Snowden more than it has targeted its massive security apparatus. So far, the only real successes of observing everyone’s communications have been in the area of harassing political opponents and blackmailing leaders of rival intelligence agencies. Never mind the criminality of the electronic harvest: consider the cost! Twelve years of this, and it’s only shown that it can bolster a president’s power against only his political enemies. It’s all so useless and inefficient.

Now for the legality of all that… it’s only needed if the USA is not run by the people. 100 years ago, authors of the day were already remarking on the stranglehold major corporations exercised on the USA’s government. It’s gotten worse since then. Consider why the security apparatus is justified: we must catch the terrorists! Why, then, are there terrorists? They hate us?

Well, why do they hate us? It’s not our freedom-loving lifestyle, I guarantee. It’s the way the USA topples popular governments and supports ruthless regimes in the lands of the terrorists. It’s also in the way the USA raises up terrorist groups to further our foreign policy in some lands, and then abandons them when our aims are achieved.

So what are our aims? Not freedom and justice for all – the support for terrorists and dictators on our payroll gives the lie to that idea. Our aims, all too frequently, are to allow our corporations to have exploitative access to foreign markets and resources, particularly in the oil industry.

So, we have terrorists on our case because ExxonMobil, Chevron, and other oil majors are the real Joint Chiefs of Staff. We need a security apparatus ostensibly to protect us from the terrorists, but that same apparatus is turned on we, the people, to keep us from opposing the powers that be. Edward Snowden revealed something of the extent of that security apparatus, and yet the official outrage from the Senate and House is directed at Snowden, not his former spymaster employers.

I could explain what is going on to Russians about my age or older. We have samizdat in the form of Wikileaks. We have defectors in the lands of our political rivals. (Consider: Gerard Depardieu defected to Russia…) We now have evidence that the apparatchniks are in control and their reach is long and broad and deep.

Snowden violated the law: fine. But Snowden violated the law in order to reveal how we in the USA are ruled by some very, very bad laws that need to go away. The fact that the elected leaders of the USA are not taking on the apparatchniks reveals that they themselves are members of that group.

So is the USA going down the path of Communist Russia? Not at all. It’s going down the path of Mexico. From the 1930s forward, Mexico was ruled first by a single party – PRI – and now by their elites. They have peaceful changes of top political leaders who are beholden to major interests. In Mexico, there is a law for the rich and a law for everyone else. Of course, the metaphor is not a complete one.

In Mexico, the people still turn out for major political rallies. In Mexico, the government does not yet harvest everyone’s electronic communications. And, finally, in Mexico, people don’t just talk about taking up arms to oppose an oppressive, non-representative government: they actually take up arms and fight for their rights.

The fact that gun nuts here haven’t yet risen up in actual insurrections shows how America as a whole has lost its spine to resist. And that’s why the apparatus shown us by Mr. Snowden has not triggered an uprising – and why those same gun nuts aren’t being rounded up by the apparatchniks. The gun nuts are controlled, docile, and not a threat. It doesn’t matter if they have guns or not to protect themselves from an overly oppressive government. They have no intention of actually resisting the government. They just want to pretend like they could. Those guns are a safety valve, believe it or not.

The fact that our political leaders can vilify Snowden without wagging a finger at the security apparatus and not worry about losing their seats in the Senate or House is the ultimate punctuation at the end of the Snowden affair. The USA does not respect international law, sponsors terrorists that we manage to get to turn on us, is run by major corporations, uses the threat of armed conflict to cow smaller nations into handing their economy and population over to those major corporations, justifies a massive security apparatus, and does not fear its own people because they are all bark and no bite. That is what the Snowden affair reveals in its totality.

On Government Surveillance

Government surveillance of the people it governs is needed only to prop up a regime that has no legitimate support among the people it governs. It was true long ago, it is true today. Given that our government is made up of unelected bureaucrats and elected officials that are supported – and vetted – by major corporations and lobbies unconnected to the people as a whole, it is necessary that the government place its citizens under surveillance.

How long has this been going on? Look back to the COINTELPRO operations of the 1960s. Not only did the FBI and CIA spy on US citizens in the name of national security, they also engaged agents provocateurs to stage incidents, assassinated leaders of movements hostile to the status quo, and even did some drug dealing of their own to radicalize the antiwar movement. Perhaps the scope of recent revelations seems vast by comparison, but the amount of communications currently ongoing is equally vast.

Given what national security apparatchniks could do back in the 1960s, the current revelations regarding PRISM are merely a logical extension of those capabilities. The question we’re now faced with is simple: what does our government do with that information that it collects every day?

Clearly, it’s not to catch terrorists. The only terrorist captures trotted out to our view are victims of government sting operations – people approached by the government and encouraged by the government to engage in radical, violent activities… and then arrested by the government for falling victim to the temptation it offered. Anyone planning violence on his or her own goes about, unknown to the eyes and ears that are everywhere spying on us, and they carry out their violence with terrible effect. Worse, should the terrorist use a gun, a large portion of the nation will ride to the defense of that gun, if not the terrorist. Most bizarre are the politicians that will swallow whole the justification of national surveillance as a means to fight terror, but who will then strain at the notion of a database of gun owners that could be cross-checked with other databases, say, of known criminals or persons with sketchy mental histories.

So what does the government do with this information? It’s obvious. The answer, which may surprise some of you, comes from L. Ron Hubbard. The guy was no dummy, whatever his faults may have been. Hubbard went after his enemies not with bullets – “the guns only shot the pawns” – but with private investigators. Once you know someone’s sins that he or she would do anything to keep quiet, they’ll do anything for you.

If blackmail wasn’t enough, digging up dirt was still needed to form grounds for lawsuits. “The purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than to win. The law can be used very easily to harass, and enough harassment on somebody who is simply on the thin edge anyway, well knowing that he is not authorized, will generally be sufficient to cause his professional decease. If possible, of course, ruin him utterly.” – L. Ron Hubbard, A Manual on the Dissemination of Material, 1955

And, really, what’s a few million in lawyer fees to the US Government? Or, rather, what’s a few millions of someone else’s money spent on lawyer fees to the lobbies and corporations that dominate the government? That’s the whole point of our government today: it is to protect the powerful in their abuses. Surveillance is needed so that if anyone gets on the radar screen as a serious threat to the excesses of the powerful, such a person can be neutralized with ease. Blowhard television commentators are not threats, by the way. The true threats are people with actual stories to tell.

What’s sad is that those little people with big stories also have little sins in their lives that leave them vulnerable to character assassination in the media. It’s to the point where only Jesus Christ himself could take on the deviltry we call government.

On the Prophet Isaiah

A widely-held view among biblical scholars is that the book of Isaiah from the Old Testament has had three different authors. While such a view can be contended with via scholarly arguments – and such arguments do exist – I argue against that view based upon my faith. Namely, I do not see it as impossible for the book of Isaiah to be the product of one author simply because citations from throughout Isaiah appear in the Book of Mormon. I believe that the Book of Mormon is true, and that the people who wrote it had access to the whole of the Book of Isaiah.

Yes, I know one can criticize my faith as being simplistic: I respond that my faith is simple, that God can and does reveal his will to his servants, the prophets, and that prophetic language can contain notions in it that challenge the notions of what we consider to be normal, causal relationships. So be it. While I could argue about wordprint patterns and symbolic assignments to historical events mentioned in Isaiah, the fact remains that I’ll hold the view of Isaiah as a unitary person, writing the whole of his book prior to the Babylonian Captivity of Judah. I believe in the existence of prophets and their implication that God is involved in our daily lives on an intimate basis, as a Heavenly Father to his beloved children. I’ll hold that view, regardless of whatever scholarly debates may transpire, because my faith is simple and I accept that we have contact with a world largely invisible to us through our own spiritual experiences individually and through our prophets collectively. They are, if I could borrow the concept, part of our sensory apparatus as much as our eyes or ears are.

Wait, Which Terrorists Are Our Terrorists?

Syria is a mess. Assad’s men are being backed by Hizbollah, which the US says are terrorists. The rebels in Syria receive aid and support from al-Qaeda, which the US says are terrorists. Does this mean now that the enemy of my enemy which is still my enemy that is friends of a friend of a friend is my friend in this localized context? And you thought the Chinese were inscrutable… this takes the cake.

And, yes, we’re in cahoots with al-Qaeda on this one, same as we were in Libya. What gives? They blow up our stuff and murder people indiscriminately, but we’re still cool about hooking up with them on projects to get rid of unfriendly regimes in the area? The Saudis are every bit as oppressive as the Assads in Syria, but they’re on our side, so we let that stuff slide. Lean in the direction of Russia, though, and we’re ready to let al-Qaeda go crazy on you.

The US involvement in Syria was bad to begin with. It wasn’t a case of freedom-loving people trying to overthrow an evil ogre. It’s a case of power-hungry baddies (al-Qaeda) in a near-genocidal struggle for conflict with another group of power-hungry baddies (Assad’s Alawites). We really don’t want either side to win, but we know one will.

Well, Russia’s backed Assad’s side, with more than just words. That means Russia has to take the side of Hezbollah and, with it and Syria, Iran. Once again, the conflict in the Middle East is a proxy war for superpower struggles. In this version, though, we seem to have picked up a terrorist organization to do some work for us.

I don’t know if I’m entirely comfortable with that…