Five Fold Today

The Nouveau Poor - It All Gets Real - Saving Jackpot Capitalism: The Real Reason Why the Banks Are Being Bailed Out - Was the Bailout Itself a Scam? - Too Big to Fail Is too Big - Draw Near To Me - America Is in Need of a Moral Bailout - Iraq: Six Long Years of Deception - War and History Keep Repeating - Is the U.S.A. the World's Greatest Nation Now? - The Cross of the Church at the End of the Age

March 26th, 2009

The Nouveau Poor

Jan Cline

Over the centuries we have heard about those who come into sudden or even gradual wealth but because they were not “connected" with the aristocracy, they were labeled “nouveau rich". They didn't have the social graces and overall lifestyle that had been the status quo of the wealthy for many decades. Because of the economic downturn we see the opposite situation happening today where people are suddenly becoming poor but not necessarily impoverished. They probably had a really great income for a few years and didn't expect the crashing down of their whole lifestyle within a short span of weeks.

Many things from rising gas prices to home mortgage inequities have caused the economic belts of many families to tighten. As we have seen too many are losing their homes even when they have decent incomes. We now have a group of people who have been used to a luxuriant lifestyle who are finding themselves without sustainable financial means or have lost their nest-egg through the down turn of the economic markets. We'll just call them New Poor or NP for short.

The point of this message is to reveal that those who are going through upheaval because of the economic crunch are not in my definition really poor. We will see that these people have assets and many luxuries. Most have been living beyond their means not mindful of the repercussions of their behavior. If you have listened very long to the commentaries on the news it is apparent that many families have tried to live way beyond their means which has affected much more than the mortgage industry. I also want to share that the Lord has answers for His people if we are willing to change their focus and attitudes and even lifestyle to one that will sustain the  whole community; the family of faithful.

Not many in America have ever really known poverty in it's pure sense nor are they close to experiencing it now. You can look into the closets of those who are screaming that they can't make it financially in this squeeze and see 100s of pairs of shoes, dozens of coats, jewelry and many other mindless purchases. I wonder if they were just bought to give them a high to soothe their cravings to fill an empty soul... A few may have had some warning signs that they were about to slide down the slippery slope to bankruptcy or worse.

I have shared for years that most households are within 30 days of total economic destruction. If one or both breadwinners would lose their incomes the “house of cards" would come crashing down. There are some solutions and alternatives to living on the edge financially but most aren't interested. Many who would be called survivalists have turned the mainstream of intelligent and teachable even politically and economically responsible citizens away with the thought of self-defense connected with the concept of self-sufficiency.

A question on my heart for years has been how do we prepare for the inevitable? How do we go from one existence to another drastically different one when we have been indoctrinated all our lives with Babylon's merchandising system. There have been quite a few who have made the decision that they would live in a more simple lifestyle and already gave up a lot of modern conveniences. I do think that it is unrealistic to expect God to provide for us from out of a corrupt world system especially when he has stated that to love the things of the world puts us in opposition to His will.

Some may even expect that God will send angels to their door with $100 bills so that they can go on living under Satan's one world government and economic system. That is not what true faith is all about. I will add here that I have spent over 25 years praying, studying and researching to be confident in my ministry to “warn the flocks of Yahweh" that we are going to go through increasingly hard times and not be just zapped out of here.

A lot of things are going to change drastically because of our own lack of discipline and understanding as much as direct involvement of God's judgment in world affairs.  Here is a pertinent question that will bring about understanding of what is really happening here. How else can they (those who want to usurp and counterfeit the Kingdom on earth) implement a one world monetary control where no one can buy or sell without a mark? I do believe that YHWH will provide for us from the resources in the earth and not the world, there's a big difference.

Those who have lost their jobs are in bad shape immediately.  The problem isn't that their income came to an end but that they didn't either still have continuing debt or didn't have any reserve to fall back on. They were already spending to the max and most have thousands of dollars and decades of years ahead to pay off debts besides their mortgage. In the worse cases the “free fall" is tremendous.

If you have even one small debt that is not payable you are liable to the lender. This I'm sure why God hates usury and if we were really listening to the Lord's prayer that we pray weekly we would understand the part about forgiving our debtor and debts as well as trespasses. He did have a great plan called the Year of Jubilee that can still become a part of our lives when we see how our financial choices affect our “brothers and sisters in Christ."

We see the “prosperity preachers" claiming their riches over the airwaves but I have never seen them set up a fund to give their wealth to their neighbors or partners who are in need. I have written many messages on how the “church" is out of order when they “give honor" to one another crippling their ability to maintain their own gifts and callings. Even mission trips a what I call sterilized where they spend a week or two to bless with a project or two and then come back to their comfortable homes. More on all that another time....

We as a nation have enjoyed relative prosperity for decades with a few “bumps" along the way. Yes, we could say that easy credit has been the problem with people spending too much. Yet even with a large income many are irresponsible with their stewardship as far as resources go. The scriptures have spoken about the love of money as the root of all evil. Jesus certainly shared that we were to be mindful of how to live a simple and gracious life. Lusts of the eyes and flesh and pride of life are warned about in the scriptures.

The thing that actually gives me the most concern is that many so called poor actually have soooo much stuff. I have been in both situations although perhaps not as severe as some. I have had adequate income to cover my needs and a few wants from time to time and have also had a couple of periods where I had nothing coming in to pay bills. I have most of my adult life tried to be wise with the assets that I have had at hand.

Some NP are getting the point that this is an opportunity to rearrange priorities and learn to live more simply. This helps in many ways. By not accumulating obtaining stuff that is made with disregard of the earth's resources we can help one another to have a healthier and less stressful lifestyle. There is a sobering warning in scripture that YHWH will destroy those who destroy the earth. Luke shares that it is imperative that we “watch and pray ..that we not be overtaken with surfeiting ..and the cares of this world"; Luke 21;34-35. We must not be consumed with consuming...We must realize that merchandising is the calling card of Babylon the Great.

I feel that the current generations that are earning a living in the USA are very self indulgent. I have seen some interviews on the TV where they share the stress that people are going through when they have lost their jobs. I see that they have manicured artificial nails and colored hair and designer clothes.  Many homes of the so called financially hurting have a plasma TV on the wall and new car in the garage and many adult as well as children's toys. Just go into a small child's room and see numerous stuffed animals and other unappreciated games.

I say unappreciated because a week later they are wanting some other item to play with. In my childhood I was happy if I had a decent doll and a couple of games to play. I wore hand-me-downs that didn't fit. I sometimes looked like a refugee but even at that young age questioned in my mind what the big deal was with changing fashions and the social stigma towards those who didn't have the means or desire to be in vogue. Not being popular or in the right social groups can be a better foundation so that you can have perspective on what is really important.

The older children have video games galore and many already with cell phones. Easy credit has caused multiple purchases with little thought for the future or responsibility for the consumer. We live in a “throw-away society" with little regard for the value of craftsmanship and regrettably things are not made to have lasting value or longevity.  I feel that we have that attitude towards people who don't meet our expectations.  Many buy things out of boredom. Others are using it for some kind of a high or fix for their shopping addiction. Fashion conscious men and women need to keep ahead of their competition at work or at the social clubs and even at church.

When I read of God's judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah, He was against them for how they treated people as well as their abundance of lusts for pleasure seeking. We are an entertainment and lust driven society. We can't ignore His comments against Laodicea. They thought that they had it all except they had forgotten their God and His law of love. They were seen by Him as poor, wretched, naked and blind.

Some examples that I have happened to me personally or to a member of my family. One was a few years ago but not much has changed. My sister was helping to distribute baskets of food for Thanksgiving at her church to people in need. Her son had just received the next video system after Atari so you know this was a while ago. She thought that she would be able to bless some youngster with the Atari as it was still functional and a decent game.

A woman pulled up in a fairly new vehicle (much newer than what my sister had) and when given the food basket she mentioned that she had a son about the age of my nephew.  My sister offered the video game. The woman became almost indignant saying that her boy had the newest and much more expensive model that my sister couldn't afford. I think that was the last time that my sister offered her time and energy to help the so called needy.

Look through the household of most Americans. More than one TV set or perhaps the latest big screen. I don't know anyone who doesn't have a micro wave oven or computer. I have a small rental home that unfortunately had been beaten up by some families who are on welfare or under employed. They have such a hard time paying the low rent but all of them have had cable Television installed right away and a cell phone and a computer.  Of course I haven't been able to afford it but am supplying it for others.

Most skipped out without telling me while still owing rent and utilities. They had many more luxury items than what I can buy so I am actually subsidizing their bad spending decisions. Some damaged my property and even took my appliances or other things from the house. I have had no recourse because I have been told I cannot try to get any compensation from those on welfare or disability. I can't get any justice for my losses. I even had someone kick in the glass on the wood burning stove...twice.

As I said earlier I have been in the situation where I had very little or no income for many years in my life. When I faced losing my home and went to family to help me get back on my feet they were able to help some but not for long. I didn't qualify for aid even when I had young children after my divorce because I had “assets", a house that I couldn't sell because of the fallen real estate market of the area.

Around 12 years ago, my youngest son who was 20 and living with me at the time, got laid off from his part time job and I missed some days of work because of the ice and snow. Because of his age I was turned down for food stamps. We made it month to month and it gave me a strong understanding of how to live a more simple and content life with out a lot of “normal" expenses.

It helped me to keep perspective on what is really important. I have lived this way for  many years after even when I did have income. I did not go to the beauty parlor, I cut everyone's hair including my own. I bought clothes from the Goodwill or garage sales. I sold any thing I could that had some value. No magazines, no new shoes, no health insurance ..... I just got by, for months at a time.

Another time my husband and I rented a farm house for $100.00 a month where the wind blew through from one rotted window to the next. The plaster was falling off the ceiling and there were animals under the porch...smelly animals. That is what we could afford at the time so we made due. We now have a nice small home that took 3 years to find. We live in a tiny town an hour away from any large city and 10 minutes from a gas station or grocery store. No we're not out of debt but at least staying current and planning ahead.

The next step will be to get some land, a small farm or acreage for the sake of the community of believers. We are transitioning to learning how to do more intensive organic gardening...we have gardened for years but need to find more efficient and sufficient ways to plant and harvest. Yes, we all will need to learn how to live off the land directly or share with those who do. Being more diligent to raise healthy animals and other food supplies can benefit everyone no matter what is going on in the world.

Up until the late 19th century most of mankind knew how to live from the bounty of the land. Jobs were mostly agricultural or dealing with directly feeding and clothing the populace. Families lives together or near one another and knew how to pull together in hard times. We've been in a very unique situation where the history of the world is concerned. Our ancestors would be in shock to see what has become of our lives as we chase after so many unnecessary, frivolous  things and know so little about actual day to day provision from the earth.

We can survive on a totally different level but it will take the efforts of many people with different skills and abilities. Money will probably become obsolete when we learn to share what we have like the 1st century church. Bartering and trading are going to be the mainstay of the new economy of those who come out of her; the Babylonian system. This is a spiritual evacuation as well as a physical one as we're not just trying to save our flesh but our souls.

I'm concerned about this time now when the economy is crashing and people will have so little to show for their efforts. ... If our heart is in the world it will be devastation but if our heart is in doing the will of the Father it will be freedom. When Babylon falls there will be a period of time when just like Pharoah of Egypt was taken down, the slavery of this world system will be lifted for a time. We don't see the effect that the world economy has had on God's people so it will be a hard decision to escape the comforts of mammon and it's security blanket. We need to stop being slaves in Egypt and trying to serve two masters. We must go through the wilderness and enter into the promised land by faith.

I will repeat that in many ways the modern church has given people a wrong influence in their daily goals and expenditures. The prosperity message has overridden the message Jesus taught of being content with a comfortable and simple lifestyle. We have not learned to give to the least of our brethren with the honor we give our Lord, as one of His. Of course it is not really prosperity when you are in debt up to your eyeballs for 50 years ahead. I do see where many counselors, secular or religious, are telling people to get out of debt but that may not really solve the problem.

The system will eventually implement a card and then chip most think that will be mandatory for purchasing and selling. Are we prepared to resist the Mark of the Beast? It would help to think ahead to project into the future that we have been warned about in scripture and stop denying the reality of the snares that are being set around us. I have even read where a debtor's prison is already being established. No one can make it alone but only those who are “sold out to follow the Lord" will be able to come together as one to receive the strength to not just endure but overcome.

If we work on our prime directive to Seek First the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness; we should be gaining things that He promised...that all things would be added unto us.  When we do our part, Yahweh will do His. It won't hurt to practice right now. See how you can move into relying upon God alone to supply all your needs. It is hard but necessary to move forward with confidence knowing that what He has spoken He will provide the power and wisdom to accomplish.

It All Gets Real

by David Glenn Cox

"Some get stoned, some get strange, sooner or later, it all gets real"
(Neil Young)

We live in a cloud with our inputs overloaded, like pool balls bouncing off the bumpers, looking for a hole. The news media tells us about the mean old Chinese that are harassing an unarmed US navy vessel. Those bad old Chinese, how dare they do that to our boys? Except that it is a US spy ship spying off the Chinese coast, and we want to blame the Chinese?

Saddam had to prove that he didn't have weapons of mass destruction and the Iranians have to prove that they aren't building a nuclear bomb. No matter what hoops they jump through, we just move the bar. The Iranians signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and India did not. We threaten Iran and try to trade nuclear fuel for mangoes with India.

Hugo Chavez is an evil dictator because he nationalized oil fields after American oil companies refused to pay Venezuela the same royalties that they currently pay to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Of course, the Saudis and Kuwaitis are our friends. After 9-11 Bin Laden's relatives were allowed to fly home to Saudi Arabia and requests to interview Saudi intelligence agents were refused.

The CIA, through Cuban nationals, has waged a fifty-year campaign of bombings, sabotage and even the bombing of a civilian Cuban airliner. As President Bush called for a war on terror, the perpetrator of the Cuban airliner bombing walked the streets of Miami, a free man. The numerous CIA plots to kill Fidel Castro are famous, but after Hurricane Katrina it was the Cuban government that offered doctors and aid for the refugees. Those offers were rebuffed. Those sneaky bastards, Castro is a dictator who holds thousands of political prisoners on that island in fetid cells; he holds them and tortures them without trial.

We condemn the Cuban system of one-party rule as not being Democratic enough. But, of course, America's largest trading partner, China, has an identical if not more odious and authoritarian version of one-party rule. The primary difference is that Cuba will not trade tropical poverty for sweatshop prosperity. We want to promote democracy so that Cuba can achieve the same level of prosperity as democratic El Salvador and Nicaragua. Cuba spends 9.1% of its GDP on education; El Salvador and Nicaragua spent 3%. Infant mortality is 5.93 per thousand births in Cuba. In El Salvador it is 22.9 deaths per thousand; in Nicaragua it is 25.9 deaths per thousand live births.

Americans have the greatest healthcare system in the world, or so we are told, yet our infant mortality rate is 6.3 deaths per thousand, and we give the parents a bill to grieve with. American life expectancy is 78.4 years while the Cuban life expectancy is only 77.2 years. How dare I compare a brutal communist dictatorship to the blessings of this capitalist wonderland? I should consider the things the Cubans miss out on. Like, they will never have to worry about their pensions being liquidated in a bankruptcy court. Or their jobs being outsourced somewhere where the workers will work for less.

They don't have to worry about saving enough money to send their children to college, or if they will have enough money when they get old. They do have to worry about fighting the global war on terror; they have been fighting it for the past fifty years and their enemy is powerful and is always just ninety miles from their shores and even has bases in their homeland.

Democracy is the single-minded policy of this country; if necessary, we will even impose it by force of arms. Now you vote! Make your choice, pick a party; we will tell you who the candidates are later.(Afghanistan) Safety concerns, you know. Why, this country spends hundreds of millions of dollars promoting democracy in the third world. And our candidates always win! Almost always!

During the 2006 Mexican Presidential election the Republican Party sent advisors to assist conservative candidate Felipe Calderon. Through statistical anomalies and 900,000 annulled votes, Calderon was eventually declared the winner replacing Vincente Fox the former CEO of Coca Cola in Mexico. The will of the people clearly prevailed.

Senator John McCain is the leader of the International Republican Institute whose stated goal is to "Advance freedom and democracy worldwide by developing political parties, civic institutions, open elections, good governance and the rule of law. The IRI has been active in Venezuela, and in Iraq, and Afghanistan, and in Georgia. The IRI was also active in Haiti.

In 2004 US ambassador to Haiti, Brian Dean Curran, accused the IRI of subverting his efforts to bring peace to Haiti during the contested elections of 2000. The IRI can be found operating anywhere there is trouble to be had or to be made. Afghanistan, Angola, Bolivia, Bosnia, Belarus, Burma, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, East Timor, Egypt, Estonia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Serbia, Uganda, Ukraine. And, of course, the West Bank and Gaza; how could they possibly be forgotten?

The conflict in Georgia began when Georgian troops launched a large-scale ground-and air-based military attack on South Ossetia's capital and began firing on Russian peacekeeping troops. Georgia claims that it was responding to Russian troop movements. It's the same "they're harassing my spy ship" argument. Since when does the movement of peacekeeping troops constitute grounds for a full-scale offensive? The American media, as would be expected, excoriated the Russian troops for returning fire when fired upon.

The aggressors are crowned with laurels for bravely attacking and standing up to peacekeeping troops. Russian officers complained of American advisors on the scene assisting the Georgians and of the great deal of radio traffic in English. It was probably just the IRI again, advancing freedom and democracy worldwide by developing political parties, civic institutions, open elections, good governance and the rule of law.

Some say the conflict was based on the encouragement of the US to enlist former Soviet bloc countries into NATO. The Russians pointed out that if NATO was formed to counter the Warsaw Pact and the Warsaw Pact no longer exists, what then is the need to expand NATO? Isn't it obvious? To aid young democracies, like Afghanistan and Georgia and Belarus. The prior administration's plans were to put missile batteries in Poland and the Czech Republic to defend the United States and Europe from Iranian and North Korean missiles that don't even exist and might never exist. The Russians were just expected to take our word that these missiles are only pointed towards them but not at them. We've spent billions of dollars to develop a missile defense shield against countries that don't have missiles of that caliber and they don't trust us.

Why don't they trust us? Why do they harass our spy ships? Why do they resist when we attack?

Then there is the recent Seymour Hersh story about an "executive assassination squad" which reported directly to Dick Cheney. Oh, I'm so surprised, how could it be? The new President is going to close Guantanamo but retain other facilities. He's promised to no longer torture but still retains the privilege. He is going to get us out of Iraq but keep half the troops there. He is going to fight in Afghanistan by sending in half the troops removed from Iraq. He is going to fix the budget by taxing the rich, then gives out more tax cuts to the rich in the stimulus package. He's going to fight global warming with cap and trade, then admits he's open to negotiation on cap and trade and on cutting the corporate tax rate, as well.

Last Wednesday a troubled man in South Alabama opened fire and killed ten people. Mass shootings have become almost commonplace in America, or freedom as a disguise for license to abandon our people, neglect their needs and their futures. We hold more prisoners per capita than any other country in the world including Communist China, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba. Are Americans just more criminally bent? Or is it a collective madness brought on by a society that talks one way and acts another. A society that holds out promises it has no intention of keeping.

That man in Alabama was reported to his supervisor by a co-worker for not wearing his earplugs at work. Maybe that was all it took. Freedom can be a heavy burden when you've got nothing but promises to carry it in.

"As soon as you're born they make you feel small,
By giving you no time instead of it all,
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all,
A working class hero is something to be,
A working class hero is something to be.
They hurt you at home and they hit you at school,
They hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool,
Till you're so f*cking crazy you can't follow their rules,
A working class hero is something to be,
A working class hero is something to be.
When they've tortured and scared you for twenty odd years,
Then they expect you to pick a career,
When you can't really function you're so full of fear,
A working class hero is something to be,
A working class hero is something to be.
Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV,
And you think you're so clever and classless and free,
But you're still f*cking peasants as far as I can see,
A working class hero is something to be,
A working class hero is something to be.
There's room at the top they are telling you still,
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill,
If you want to be like the folks on the hill,
A working class hero is something to be.
A working class hero is something to be.
If you want to be a hero well just follow me,
If you want to be a hero well just follow me."
(John Lennon)

What is surprising is that there aren't ten or twenty shootings a day.

Saving Jackpot Capitalism: The Real Reason Why the Banks Are Being Bailed Out

By Martha Rose Crow

Regular return on investments is for the little people.  The greedy elite and elite investor groups must have more. They must save their private, un- or under regulated way of making secret kings´ ransoms.

Shadow Financial Entities.

They stay out of the light as much as they can because they don´t want the world to know how Big and Powerful they really are and they don´t want the public to know how ruthless they are to make high returns on investments for their elite masters.

Last week, there were all kinds of brouhaha about Bernie Madoff´s trial and subsequent sentencing for 150 years in prison for operating a ‘Ponzi´ scheme.  What Madoff was really guilty of was not investing his clients´ money in the murky, shadowy world of uber or super capitalism: Capitalism under a private umbrella that has few or no restraints.

Bernie Madoff´s business was a ‘market maker´. Wikipedia explains what a market maker is:  A market maker is a firm that quotes both a buy and a sell price in a financial instrument or commodity, hoping to make a profit on the bid/offer spread, or turn.

This arena of secret capitalism is the world of the ‘Big Players´: hedge funds, private equity, market makers, real estate investment trusts and other esoteric and exotic investment clubs.  It is a ‘private´ wealth-making world so it is not under public eye and government scrutiny like ‘public´ companies are.  Investors are more ‘partners´ than stockholders.  All investment ventures are limited partnerships so if the venture fails, the investors lose but the financial entity remains in business. Only the elite and elite investor groups can be members. Again, this economic game is not for the regular investor.

As manufacturing companies become more like financial players, real financial players such as private-equity funds, hedge funds and real estate investment trusts (REITs) have become significant short-term owners of manufacturing and services companies - acquiring, restructuring and disposing of these companies as liquid assets regardless of actual productivity and  profitability. Over the past decade private-equity funds have mobilized trillions of dollars for the acquisition of companies in virtually every industrial and service sector, leading The Economist to declare: "Today, the private-equity industry has moved from the fringe to the centre of the capitalist action."

Workers in virtually all sectors face the threat of rapidly changing ownership and the imposition of restructuring plans and short-term targets that are based on a financial market logic that places no value in real production, productivity or jobs.  In just the first eight weeks of 2006, hedge funds and private-equity funds made over 4,000 deals involving the acquisition and disposal of US$473 billion in assets. Among the ‘assets´ exchanged were manufacturing and service operations employing hundreds of thousands of workers. click here

Ironic, if Bernie Madoff had invested all his clients´ money (minus management fees) and lost it all, he would never have gotten into any legal trouble.  Hedge funds and private equities work the same way.  They make money whether their investments make money.  First, they get ‘management´ fees, then they get 20-30% of the profits and the investors get the rest.

In this world of dark predator capitalism, the money institutions of the elite are protected by other elite in government. These institutions have traditionally given the uber investors a 16-20% investment return. They are holy cows and holy cash cows that politicians hate to touch because most high politicians are invested in them whether directly and/or indirectly.

Politicians are under pressure by government investment groups (pension funds, ‘rainy´ day funds, so forth) to ‘do something´ to save their portfolios.  There are over 82,000 of these groups and when they combine their assets together, they are a powerful investment force.  To learn more about government as investor, see

Rich politicians are behind the reason why this shadow capitalism gets special tax treatment. They pay a capital gains tax instead of the normal tax percentage that investors of transparent investments pay. There have been attempts to change this special tax treatment of Jackpot Capitalism, but it hasn´t changed so far and probably won´t be changed unless enough people understand what is going on and pressure their rich politicians to change the laws.

Almost every member of Congress and the Senate is at least a millionaire.  A few are billionaires.  They protect their financial assets over the assets of the people they are supposed to serve.

To keep and grow wealth can be a hassle.  Banks are FDIC insured for $100,000 so if you put  more than a $100,000 in a bank account and the bank fails, you lose it all but that $100,000 and you usually get that back after many years.

This means that all investments are risky: stocks, property, retail, bonds, so forth.

Having a large amount of money is a hassle in other ways.  If you trade it for gold, you can always be robbed.  If you stuff it in mattresses and the walls of your house and the house burns down, the money burns with it.

Since the wealthy can´t safely save all their money in banks, plus they´d get a dull return of 1-3% and every investment is a risk, whether low or high, they invest in their own Jackpot Capitalism Clubs, specially designed for clients like them

The media has been covering the Bernie Madoff spectacle but never dug deeper into what kind of business he ran.  Corporations themselves, the major media has no reason to explose market makers or the other members of the Jackpot Club.

The predator pirates who run these private, elite financial entities are called in the business world, ‘Masters of the Universe´.  Google it and find out how many entries there and how ruthless the players are.  They leave devastation and ruin in their wake but usually laugh all the way to the bank with the extraordinary profits they make.

Although the coporate-owned media blames the borrowers instead of the architects of the sub-prime crisis, many people are now starting to blame ‘Big Business´ or the  multinational corporations and the banking sector for this Greater Depression. What people don´t know is that private equity firms are more wealthy and powerful than the top ten multimationals:

Despite their extensive control over manufacturing and service companies globally, these investment funds are not recognized as multinationals by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).  If they were, "they would easily displace the top 10 corporations" on UNCTAD's top 100 non-financial multinationals, the IUF's Peter Rossman and Gerard Greenfield write, adding:

"General Electric, ranked first in UNCTAD's list, controls  less foreign assets and employs fewer workers overseas than either Blackstone, Carlyle Group, or Texas  Pacific Group [three leading investment funds]."

Further, employment figures are also incomplete in national data, since statistical agencies still have no category for the relatively new financial institutions.   "Up to one-fifth of non-public sector workers in the United Kingdom, for example, are now employed in companies controlled by private-equity funds," Rossman and Greenfield report. click here

Private equity and private investment firms borrow a lot of money from banks for their money-making, neo capitalism schemes.

When credit was easy and interest was low, many banks gave these shadow financial entities big loans with little collateral.  The banks collected fees to process the loans so they were making money two ways. Three ways if they became a partner in a limited partnership.

Money poured out of banks to bankroll this new mutant form of capitalism. For example, a private equity firm raising $1 billion from elite investors as ‘collateral´ could go out and borrow $8 or 9 billion for their new ‘venture´.  This is the stuff the media is not telling us because no agent for capitalism in the capitalist world wants to shed any spotlight on shadow financialization.

Saving the Jackpot.

Financialization is a relatively new term used to discuss the emergence of a new form of capitalism in which financial leverage and exotic instruments tends to override capital (equity) and in which financial markets dominate over the traditional industrial economy.
click here

Jackpot Capitalism – Financialization – is the way the elite and elite investor groups make the high returns on capital and if they should fall, private equity investors like Nancy Pelosi would be forced to invest in lower yield investments.  But the banks are in trouble.  They loaned the Captains of Financialization untold billions and if they fall, so will shadow financialization.

Since the beginning of the world, the socially-dominant elite have always tried to make great fortunes so they could have greater power over everyone else.  Like Balzac said, “Behind every great fortune is a great crime."  For capital firms to make high returns on ‘investments´, they have to be ruthless in their pursuit for profit: They must have cheaper labor (modern slavery), cheaper materials and natural resources (cause of many wars), agreeable governments (western foreign policies ruling the world) and higher prices for higher profits.

When politicians continue to protect the financial sector over the needs of their constituents, they are protecting their portfolios for transparent investments and opaque investments.  This means that the banks must be raised up from the dead by throwing money at them.

If the banks go down, so does the elite´s Private Pinocchio Profit ‘Play Lands´.  It will be the end of Jackpot Capitalism as they know it because the financialized shadow sector they benefit so handsomely will go down with the banks as well.  Then there will be public scrutiny and they know it.

Of course, someone will devise a new ‘creative´ way or calculus ‘formula´ to squeeze high returns for the elite but only if we continue to let them get away with it.

Only we can stop this new kind of secret, violent capitalism that is pillaging the world.  Only we can stop it from ‘morphing´ it into something else.  Otherwise the private shadow investment entities will remain, ‘Same leopard, different spots´.

Was the Bailout Itself a Scam?

By Paul Craig Roberts

Professor Michael Hudson (CounterPunch, March 18) is correct that the orchestrated outrage over the $165 million AIG bonuses is a diversion from the thousand times greater theft from taxpayers of the approximately $200 billion “bailout" of AIG. Nevertheless, it is a diversion that serves an important purpose. It has taught an inattentive American public that the elites run the government in their own private interests.

Americans are angry that AIG executives are paying themselves millions of dollars in bonuses after having cost the taxpayers an exorbitant sum. Senator Charles Grassley put a proper face on the anger when he suggested that the AIG executives “follow the Japanese example and resign or go commit suicide."

Yet, Obama´s White House economist, Larry Summers, on whose watch as Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration financial deregulation got out of control, invoked the “sanctity of contracts" in defense of the AIG bonuses.

But the Obama administration does not regard other contracts as sacred. Specifically: labor unions had to agree to give-backs in order for the auto companies to obtain federal help; CNN reports that “Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki confirmed Tuesday [March 10] that the Obama administration is considering a controversial plan to make veterans pay for treatment of service-related injuries with private insurance"; the Washington Post reports that the Obama team has set its sights on downsizing Social Security and Medicare.

According to the Post, Obama said that “it is impossible to separate the country´s financial ills from the long-term need to rein in health-care costs, stabilize Social Security and prevent the Medicare program from bankrupting the government."

After Washington´s trillion dollar bank bailouts and trillion dollar gratuitous wars for the sake of the military industry´s profits and Israeli territorial expansion, there is no money for Social Security and Medicare.

The US government breaks its contracts with US citizens on a daily basis, but AIG´s bonus contracts are sacrosanct. The Social Security contract was broken when the government decided to tax 85% of the benefits. It was broken again when the Clinton administration rigged the inflation measure in order to beat retirees out of their cost-of-living adjustments. To have any real Medicare coverage, a person has to give up part of his Social Security check to pay Medicare Part B premium and then take out a private supplemental policy. The true cost of Medicare to beneficiaries is about $6,000 annually in premiums, plus deductibles and the Medicare tax if the person is still earning.

Treasury Secretary Geithner, the fox in charge of the hen house, has resolved the problem for us. He is going to withhold $165 million (the amount of the AIG bonuses) from the next taxpayer payment to AIG of $30,000 million. If someone handed you $30,000 dollars, would you mind if they held back $165?

PR flaks have rechristened the bonus payments “retention payments" necessary if AIG is to retain crucial employees. This lie was shot down by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who informed the House Committee on Financial Services that the payments went to members of AIG´s Financial Products subsidiary, “the unit of AIG that was principally responsible for the firm´s meltdown." As for retention, Cuomo pointed out that "numerous individuals who received large ‘retention´ bonuses are no longer at the firm"

Eliot Spitzer, the former New York Governor who was set-up in a sex scandal to prevent him investigating Wall Street´s financial gangsterism, pointed out on March 17 that the real scandal is the billions of taxpayer dollars paid to the counter-parties of AIG´s financial deals. These payments, Spitzer writes, [ ] are “a way to hide an enormous second round of cash to the same group that had received TARP money already."

Goldman Sachs, for example, had already received a taxpayer cash infusion of $25 billion and was sitting on more than $100 billion in cash when the Wall Street firm received another $13 billion via the AIG bailout.

Moreover, in my opinion, most of the billions of dollars in AIG counter-party payments were unnecessary. They represent gravy paid to firms that had made risk-free bets, the non-payment of which constituted no threat to financial solvency.

Spitzer identifies a conflict of interest that could possibly be criminal self-dealing. According to reports, the AIG bailout decision involved Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, formerly of Goldman Sachs, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, and Timothy Geithner, former New York Federal Reserve president and currently Secretary of the Treasury. No doubt the incestuous relationships are the reason the original bailout deal had no oversight or transparency.

The Bush/Obama bailouts require serious investigation. Were these bailouts necessary, or were they a scam, like “weapons of mass destruction," used to advance a private agenda behind a wall of fear? Recently I heard Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren, a member of a congressional bailout oversight panel, say on NPR that the US has far too many banks. Out of the financial crisis, she said, should come consolidation with the financial sector consisting of a few mega-banks. Was the whole point of the bailout to supply taxpayer money for a program of financial concentration?

Too Big to Fail Is too Big

By David Korten

David Korten responds to the first ever media interview given by a Federal Reserve Chairman.

In a September 22, 2008 interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!, Senator Bernie Sanders famously said that if a bank "is too big to fail, it probably is too big to exist." That should be a watchword slogan of any effort to fix the financial system. Major responsibility for the financial collapse rests with the deregulation process that allowed for the consolidation of banking power in the hands of Wall Street. Reversing that process should be an immediate priority.

Before Wall Street there was Main Street

I recall the time when banks were community institutions that were limited by law to being single outlet community service organizations. It was called unitary banking. Each bank was rooted in and expected to serve the needs of its community. Deregulation unleashed a wave of consolidation through mergers and acquisitions that shifted the focus from serving Main Street to making as much money as possible for Wall Street. To have a financial system that works, we must reverse the deregulation process and restore the concept of community banking. Nothing less is going to solve the problem.

Wall Street holds government hostage

In a March 8, 2009 CBS Sixty Minutes interview with Sheila Blair, head of the FDIC, it was noted that when one of the smaller banks fails, it is taken over by the FDIC. The depositors are protected by the FDIC. The owners, however, lose everything.

In the interview with Blair, which comes toward the end of the segment documenting the FDIC take over of a small failed bank, she notes that the FDIC doesn't have the jurisdiction to take over the large Wall Street financial conglomerates that bear the major responsibility for the financial collapse. As the moderator points out, the owners and managers of the small banks are left with nothing. The big banks get government bailouts.

Of the latter Blair says, "Going forward, I think we need to really review the size of these institutions and whether we should do something about that, frankly… I think that may be something that Congress needs to think about… I think taxpayers rightfully should ask that if an institution has become so large that there is no alternative except for the taxpayers to provide support, should we allow so many institutions to exceed that kind of threshold?"

It is encouraging that this question is being raised by a top government official in the financial sector as it is exactly what Congress needs to address. Unfortunately, the FDIC is not acting on the advice of its own head. Rather than breaking up the bank it took over in Chicago and selling each of its five branches individually to local investors to operate as local community banks, the FDIC quickly sold the whole operation to a larger regional bank, moving in exactly the opposite direction from that Blair is herself suggesting. Of course moving toward greater consolidation under a bigger established bank is a lot easier for the FDIC than selling individual banks to individual investor groups that may have very little banking experience. Moving to deconcentration and decentralization takes serious effort.

Bailout now, solutions later

The need to break up big banks also came up in a March 15, 2009 episode of Sixty Minutes in what is billed as the first ever media interview with a Federal Reserve chairman. In this interview Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke discusses the Fed's functions and its response to the financial crisis.

In Part I. Bernanke makes explicit reference to a trillion dollars the Federal Reserve has loaned to troubled banks at a near zero interest rate in the hope they will use it to get credit flowing again. He explains that the Fed essentially printed the money simply by entering numbers into the Federal Reserve accounts of the assisted banks. This is essentially giving the private banks that created the crisis free use of a trillion dollars. There is no mention in the interview about who received the money, how it is being used, what rules apply, or whether there is any oversight.

Bernanke argues that given the emergency, the Fed must give priority to getting money flowing through the banking system by pouring in money. He mentions a need to implement new regulatory measures and force the break up of the big banks, but calls for doing so after the system is stabilized.

In Part II, the 60 minutes moderator asks Bernanke: "How do we prevent this from occurring another time?" Bernanke responds: "Well, tougher regulation of large firms. It includes having a set of laws that allows us to wind down a large, internationally active firm, without the adverse impacts on the markets that a disorderly bankruptcy would have. It includes possibly having a systemic regulator. A regulator that has some responsibility to look at the system as a whole."

Restructure first

At first glance, Bernanke's plan for stability first and restructuring later sounds sensible and responsible. It is, however, technically and politically naive. You can't fill a bucket with no bottom. Wall Street institutions have already demonstrated that they can divert bailout money to private ends with no evident public benefit as fast as government can pour it in.

Assume for the sake of argument that the Federal Reserve is successful and the big banks do open the flow of credit to productive ends. Will Wall Street reform follow?

Not likely. The pressure will be off and Wall Street interests will be in full voice shouting: "The system is working. Interference by government is an unwarranted socialist intrusion on the market and private interests. It will have terrible consequences for the economy." Politicians who depend on Wall Street political donations will fold their reform tent, and Wall Street will get on with creating the next financial bubble in a build up to the next crash.

Wall Street will continue to play out its extortion racket so long as the public is willing to put up with the bail out first, reform latter capitulation of the Federal Reserve and the FDIC. There must be a strong and immediate public demand to restructure first.

The government needs to take over the big banks now, as many leading economists are advocating. Sorting out the tainted assets after the banks are nationalized will be a great deal easier and cheaper.

Once cleaned up, government should sell the banks to private investors, but not to Wall Street predators to run into the ground again. Break them up and sell the pieces to local investors to operate as community banks, mutual savings and loan associations, and credit unions within a strict regulatory framework that restores the concept of individual local banks devoted to meeting the financial service needs of their communities. Never again should any private bank be accountable only to Wall Street or be too big to fail.

Draw Near To Me

Bill Hardaway                    

I am your ever present help in times of trouble. Remember that it is not according to man's effort or desire, but according to My mercy. My mercy is endless and knows no bounds. I will rescue you in your times of trouble.

Don't get plugged up and hold it in. Call out to Me, and I will answer you. I am always with you and desire a closer relationship with you.

The closer you draw to Me, the calmer the waters will become. You do not need to see earth shaking miracles. You need to allow to draw close, and you need to feel and understand My heart for you. Then you will truly know of My great love and compassion for you.

Call out, draw near to Me and watch your fears and burdens melt away. We are going forward through everything that is before you. Do not fear, for I am with you. I will still the waters and provide a way for you. Even when it sees that there is no way, I will provide the way.

The times that are most precious to Me are those times when you need Me the most. For it is in those times that I am most able to display My great love and power to you.

Rejoice! We are moving forward together. Nothing can stop the power of My hand. We will walk in victory together!

My heart longs to be one with you. Trust Me to work out everything for your good. It is in these hard times, that you will experience the closeness, that I have longed to have with you.  Don't be afraid.

Rejoice! Your victory is assured.

America Is in Need of a Moral Bailout

By Chris Hedges

In decaying societies, politics become theater. The elite, who have hollowed out the democratic system to serve the corporate state, rule through image and presentation. They express indignation at AIG bonuses and empathy with a working class they have spent the last few decades disenfranchising, and make promises to desperate families that they know will never be fulfilled. Once the spotlights go on they read their lines with appropriate emotion. Once the lights go off, they make sure Goldman Sachs and a host of other large corporations have the hundreds of billions of dollars in losses they incurred playing casino capitalism repaid with taxpayer money.

We live in an age of moral nihilism. We have trashed our universities, turning them into vocational factories that produce corporate drones and chase after defense-related grants and funding. The humanities, the discipline that forces us to stand back and ask the broad moral questions of meaning and purpose, that challenges the validity of structures, that trains us to be self-reflective and critical of all cultural assumptions, have withered. Our press, which should promote such intellectual and moral questioning, confuses bread and circus with news and refuses to give a voice to critics who challenge not this bonus payment or that bailout but the pernicious superstructure of the corporate state itself. We kneel before a cult of the self, elaborately constructed by the architects of our consumer society, which dismisses compassion, sacrifice for the less fortunate, and honesty. The methods used to attain what we want, we are told by reality television programs, business schools and self-help gurus, are irrelevant. Success, always defined in terms of money and power, is its own justification. The capacity for manipulation is what is most highly prized. And our moral collapse is as terrifying, and as dangerous, as our economic collapse.

Theodor Adorno in 1967 wrote an essay called “Education After Auschwitz." He argued that the moral corruption that made the Holocaust possible remained “largely unchanged." He wrote that “the mechanisms that render people capable of such deeds" must be made visible. Schools had to teach more than skills. They had to teach values. If they did not, another Auschwitz was always possible.

“All political instruction finally should be centered upon the idea that Auschwitz should never happen again," he wrote. “This would be possible only when it devotes itself openly, without fear of offending any authorities, to this most important of problems. To do this, education must transform itself into sociology, that is, it must teach about the societal play of forces that operates beneath the surface of political forms."

Our elites are imploding. Their fraud and corruption are slowly being exposed as the disparity between their words and our reality becomes wider and more apparent. The rage that is bubbling up across the country will have to be countered by the elite with less subtle forms of control. But unless we grasp the “societal play of forces that operates beneath the surface of political forms" we will be cursed with a more ruthless form of corporate power, one that does away with artifice and the seduction of a consumer society and instead wields power through naked repression.

I had lunch a few days ago in Toronto with Henry Giroux, professor of English and cultural studies at McMaster University in Canada and who for many years was the Waterbury Chair Professor at Penn State. Giroux, who has been one of the most prescient and vocal critics of the corporate state and the systematic destruction of American education, was driven to the margins of academia because he kept asking the uncomfortable questions Adorno knew should be asked by university professors. He left the United States in 2004 for Canada.

“The emergence of what Eisenhower had called the military-industrial-academic complex had secured a grip on higher education that may have exceeded even what he had anticipated and most feared," Giroux, who wrote “The University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex," told me. “Universities, in general, especially following the events of 9/11, were under assault by Christian nationalists, reactionary neoconservatives and market fundamentalists for allegedly representing the weak link in the war on terrorism. Right-wing students were encouraged to spy on the classes of progressive professors, the corporate grip on the university was tightening as made clear not only in the emergence of business models of governance, but also in the money being pumped into research and programs that blatantly favored corporate interests. And at Penn State, where I was located at the time, the university had joined itself at the hip with corporate and military power. Put differently, corporate and Pentagon money was now funding research projects and increasingly knowledge was being militarized in the service of developing weapons of destruction, surveillance and death. Couple this assault with the fact that faculty were becoming irrelevant as an oppositional force. Many disappeared into discourses that threatened no one, some simply were too scared to raise critical issues in their classrooms for fear of being fired, and many simply no longer had the conviction to uphold the university as a democratic public sphere."

Frank Donoghue, the author of “The Last Professors: The Corporate University and the Fate of the Humanities," details how liberal arts education has been dismantled. Any form of learning that is not strictly vocational has at best been marginalized and in many schools has been abolished. Students are steered away from asking the broad, disturbing questions that challenge the assumptions of the power elite or an economic system that serves the corporate state. This has led many bright graduates into the arms of corporate entities they do not examine morally or ethically. They accept the assumptions of corporate culture because they have never been taught to think.

Only 8 percent of U.S. college graduates now receive degrees in the humanities, about 110,000 students. Between 1970 and 2001, bachelor´s degrees in English declined from 7.6 percent to 4 percent, as did degrees in foreign languages (2.4 percent to 1 percent), mathematics (3 percent to 1 percent), social science and history (18.4 percent to 10 percent). Bachelor´s degrees in business, which promise the accumulation of wealth, have skyrocketed. Business majors since 1970-1971 have risen from 13.6 percent of the graduation population to 21.7 percent. Business has now replaced education, which has fallen from 21 percent to 8.2 percent, as the most popular major.

The values that sustain an open society have been crushed. A university, as John Ralston Saul writes, now “actively seeks students who suffer from the appropriate imbalance and then sets out to exaggerate it. Imagination, creativity, moral balance, knowledge, common sense, a social view—all these things wither. Competitiveness, having an ever-ready answer, a talent for manipulating situations—all these things are encouraged to grow. As a result amorality also grows; as does extreme aggressivity when they are questioned by outsiders; as does a confusion between the nature of good versus having a ready answer to all questions. Above all, what is encouraged is the growth of an undisciplined form of self-interest, in which winning is what counts."

This moral nihilism would have terrified Adorno. He knew that radical evil was possible only with the collaboration of a timid, cowed and confused population, a system of propaganda and a press that offered little more than spectacle and entertainment and an educational system that did not transmit transcendent values or nurture the capacity for individual conscience. He feared a culture that banished the anxieties and complexities of moral choice and embraced a childish hyper-masculinity, one championed by ruthless capitalists (think of the brutal backstabbing and deception cheered by TV shows like “Survivor") and Hollywood action heroes like the governor of California.

“This educational ideal of hardness, in which many may believe without reflecting about it, is utterly wrong," Adorno wrote. “The idea that virility consists in the maximum degree of endurance long ago became a screen-image for masochism that, as psychology has demonstrated, aligns itself all too easily with sadism."

Sadism is as much a part of popular culture as it is of corporate culture. It dominates pornography, runs like an electric current through reality television and trash-talk programs and is at the core of the compliant, corporate collective. Corporatism is about crushing the capacity for moral choice. And it has its logical fruition in Abu Ghraib, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and our lack of compassion for the homeless, our poor, the mentally ill, the unemployed and the sick.

“The political and economic forces fuelling such crimes against humanity—whether they are unlawful wars, systemic torture, practiced indifference to chronic starvation and disease or genocidal acts—are always mediated by educational forces," Giroux said. “Resistance to such acts cannot take place without a degree of knowledge and self-reflection. We have to name these acts and transform moral outrage into concrete attempts to prevent such human violations from taking place in the first place."

The single most important quality needed to resist evil is moral autonomy. Moral autonomy, as Immanuel Kant wrote, is possible only through reflection, self-determination and the courage not to cooperate.

Moral autonomy is what the corporate state, with all its attacks on liberal institutions and “leftist" professors, has really set out to destroy. The corporate state holds up as our ideal what Adorno called “the manipulative character." The manipulative character has superb organizational skills and the inability to have authentic human experiences. He or she is an emotional cripple and driven by an overvalued realism. The manipulative character is a systems manager. He or she exclusively trained to sustain the corporate structure, which is why our elites are wasting mind-blowing amounts of our money on corporations like Goldman Sachs and AIG. “He makes a cult of action, activity, of so-called efficiency as such which reappears in the advertising image of the active person," Adorno wrote of this personality type. These manipulative characters, people like Lawrence Summers, Henry Paulson, Robert Rubin, Ben Bernanke, Timothy Geithner, AIG´s Edward Liddy and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, along with most of our ruling class, have used corporate money and power to determine the narrow parameters of the debate in our classrooms, on the airwaves and in the halls of Congress while they looted the country.

“It is especially difficult to fight against it," warned Adorno, “because those manipulative people, who actually are incapable of true experience, for that very reason manifest an unresponsiveness that associates them with certain mentally ill or psychotic characters, namely schizoids."

Iraq: Six Long Years of Deception

By John Bruhns

Six years ago today I was in Kuwait awaiting orders to cross the border into Iraq with the first wave of invading forces. It was predicted that U.S. troops would be greeted as liberators, weapons of mass destruction would be found, and democracy would flourish across the Mideast. What a gross miscalculation of the aftermath. Iraq became a slaughterhouse while political and social unrest emerged here at home.

So many questions remain unanswered. Did the Bush administration knowingly deceive us into an unnecessary war? Did we kill Iraqis to protect America? Did our troops die fighting terrorism? Or was it just for an ideology of a select group of people in power? Was it for oil? Was it all for nothing?

Why do I torture myself with these questions when I already know the answers? I know this was a needless war of choice, but at the same time I just can't fully grasp the abusive political authority exercised by our government.

Many Americans still don't understand the ramifications of the Iraqi occupation. Reason being is that the sacrifice was/is very much unshared. This war has generated great support from people who could serve but don't. So many young able-bodied American males have lobbied for a continuation of the Iraq conflict yet never had the guts to go anywhere near it. On many occasions they've called veterans who have served in Iraq "traitors" for conveying their disillusionment with the war to the public. These cowardly imbeciles view their activity as a substitute for military service. What a crock. My crowd calls them chicken hawks, but that's an understatement. They're one of the worst elements of society. There is nothing American or patriotic about advocating for others to die for your cause while you stay home. They're true followers of Bush and Cheney's foot steps. They can't fade away into obscurity quick enough for me.

The war has caused much bloodshed for the Iraqi people. How many Americans care about that? Not too many. We can't envision a foreign army invading this country and changing our way of life at gunpoint. If the tables were turned we would be out in the streets demonstrating our right to bear arms -- kicking ass and taking names. Would that make us terrorists? Hell no! So why is it shocking that Iraqis have violently resisted our occupation of their country? The human psychology behind this should not be difficult to understand. The fact of the matter is we don't want to accept the reality of the situation.

Imagine if the Russians or the Chinese invaded Iraq and seized control of the oil fields. We would have been singing a totally different song all of these years. We would call it aggression and communism. So what affords us the right to do it?

Our troops and the Iraqi people who've lived through this war will have a lifetime to dwell on it. My hope for the Iraqis is that something good comes out of this catastrophe. That one day Iraq does become a free and peaceful nation. However, I don't see that happening for a long time. As for our troops many return home to families and friends who don't understand and don't want to understand. This pushes our veterans further into isolation from the world they once knew. For some vets the menu of options consists of divorce, suicide, substance abuse, and permanent mental health problems.

No one promises members of the military a rose garden after war. At the same time their government should never abuse them in such a way that we've seen over the last six years. Our military men and women have been used, thrown around, involuntarily extended, stop-lossed, and recalled. How much can we expect from our service people?

Maybe it's time to stop beating this drum and move on. However, if everyone were to do that what's to stop a future president from using our military for his/her own personal agenda? Nothing.

Where does accountability factor in? Sadly, it doesn't. Should Bush and Cheney be prosecuted for their crimes? Absolutely. But it's not going to happen. If you're waiting for Congress or the Justice Department to conduct investigations, hold hearings, and bring charges against the Bush administration don't hold your breath. George W. Bush received overwhelming bi-partisan approval from Congress for his war. He blatantly and repeatedly lied to our faces and we reelected him. Now it's over. Bush and the members of his administration will have the rest of their lives to spend with their children and grandchildren. Kind of ironic since they deprived so many others of that right.

It's frightening that the government of the United States was run by such corrupt leaders for eight years. It's often said that no one is above the law. Well obviously that's not true -- just ask George W. Bush.

I know this comes off as a redundant "Bush bashing" piece. However, who else is to blame on the sixth anniversary of the war? Even though Bush was president he was extremely impressionable and susceptible to peer pressure from Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and other neocon intellectuals who know nothing about war except for what they read in books. They are so smart they're actually stupid as they demonstrated over and over again.

Hopefully Iraq will teach us what we failed to learn from the war in Vietnam; that we never let it happen again.

War and History Keep Repeating

by John Scripsick

Funny how history repeats over time.   In the 1800s my great grandfather came to America, a new country, at the age of 16 with a cousin a few years older.  I guess the Prussian army was talking young kids to fight a war.  I don't know, but my guess is the war was for material wealth or a religious principle.

He was first a lumberjack up north, then made the Oklahoma land run.  Made good with crops and cattle, then retired in San Diego.  He bought each son a starter farm, my grandfather's farm in Kansas.  My grandfather lived to 99 years of age paying all his expenses from that which he had earned.

Dad was in World War II. Then farmed the land and worked some in town.

I just missed the Vietnam War.  Dad was glad as he said it was for money.  I worked in town then started a farm in Oklahoma.

My son joined the military at a young age, went to boot camp in San Diego, and died in the Iraq war at the age of 22.  They told me it was for Iraqi freedom.  My son had nothing against people from a different country, but George Bush ordered him to go there.

My son was not the only one killed in this war.   I've heard 500,000 or more Iraqi people have been killed and maybe 3 million have moved from their homes.  The numbers are large, but to me, one is too many if it was for money.

At my son's grave it says "for Operation Iraqi Freedom," but I'm sure it was for material wealth hiding behind a religious principle.  I know most Americans are only worried about the economy, so I guess our leaders will sweep this war over lies under the rug and someday history will repeat itself.

Bush and Cheney said to give it time and they might be right. I believe that it is the same as when Bush said he talked to a higher father, meaning God himself, before going to war in Iraq.

I do know after many tomorrows the dead from his war will still be dead.

I'm glad I chose farming because working with nature brings a peaceful solitude, less apt to be consumed by greed.

Now, later in my life, I wish I was a judge or prosecutor so I could hold Bush, Cheney and all who traded my son for material wealth accountable.

With our judicial system in America, Bush and Cheney may skate away free.  But in my judgement it's murder and history will be repeated.

Maybe in a few more generations people will hold the ones in power accountable and it will slow the needless killing of war.  For now, by the looks of our politician's backbones, we're not quite there yet.

John Scripsick
Wayne, Oklahoma

Is the U.S.A. the World's Greatest Nation Now?

By Bob Kendall

The intense anger and rage lingers that George W. Bush generated with the false claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction threatening the U.S.A. Adding to his State of the Union fright scenario was Bush's false claim that Saddam Hussein was well on the road to developing nuclear power. This false proclamation hastily launched the Iraq War.

If the claim of ex-fed chief Alan Greenspan in his book "Age of Turbulence" that "The Iraq war was largely about Oil" is accurate, we must objectively analyze the cost of Iraq oil acquisition.

Was Iraq oil acquisition worth the tragic loss of 4,242, U.S. service personnel whose flag-draped coffins coming back to the U.S.A. were barred by the Pentagon from being shown on TV?

Was it worth the wounding and suffering of over 55,000 U.S. service personnel?

The respected British organization Lancet estimate that over 1.3 million Iraqis died in the Iraq War. Was U.S. oil acquisition worth this tragic loss of life?

Does anyone think that there will never be any accountability for this colossal catastrophe? Apparently George W. Bush appears un-phased. As bombs were falling on Baghdad in this so-called "shock and awe" attack he was shown on White House video raising his arm, clenching his fist, and exclaiming "Feels good!"

While the war was still raging, Bush donned a flight uniform in San Diego and boarded a helicopter which swiftly transported him to a waiting naval ship. Once he landed on deck, with TV cameras grinding, Bush dramatically declared, "Mission Accomplished!"

Sadly, this was not true. U.S. service personnel remain in Iraq until 2012, and even after that an occupying force of 50,000 U.S. service personnel will stay. The U.S. now has its largest embassy in Iraq's capital city of Baghdad.

Bush is still blithely chasing around like a conquering hero, darting off to Calgary, Canada, giving a lecture at $400 per person for the best seats. All this occurs while Bush protestors are still continuing in marches in cities across the U.S.A. carrying signs proclaiming that Bush is a war criminal.

The New York Times March 19 headline announced: 2007 U.S. BIRTHS BREAK BABY BOOM RECORD.

The headline was expanded in the article that followed by Erik Eckholm:

"More babies were born in the United States than in any other year in American history, according to preliminary data by the Center for Health Statistics.

"The 4,317,000 births in 2007 edged out the figure for 1957 at the height of the baby boom. Also, in 2007, for the second straight year, and in a trend officials find worrisome the rate of births by teenagers rose. The growth has mainly been fueled by increases among adult women. Racial and ethnic differences remain large: 28 percent of white babies were born to un-married mothers, in 2007, compared to 51 percent of Hispanic babies and 72 percent of black babies. The U.S.A. has the highest rates of teenage pregnancies, birth and abortion of any industrialized country."

While the U.S. represents only 5 percent of the world's population, it uses 50 percent of the world's illicit drugs. This tragic fact fuels the drug wars raging in major U.S. cities.

The longest war in U.S. history in Iraq goes on and Obama is sending more troops into Afghanistan to step up that campaign.

As if the horrors on the foreign front weren't enough, the fateful prediction by British historian Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay over 100 years ago came true:

"Your republic will be as fearfully plundered and laid waste by barbarians in the twentieth century as the Roman Empire was in the fifth, with this difference, that the Huns and Vandals who ravage the Roman Empire came from without and your Huns and Vandals will have been engendered within your own country, by your own institutions."

According to the Los Angeles Homelessness Services Coalition, 3.5 million people in a given year will experience homelessness with 1.5 million of them children. The current national jobless figure stands at over 8 percent and is rising while there are 37 million Americans on food stamps.

In an economic meltdown Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, Washington Mutual, the nation's biggest banks, have collapsed with a hundred more standing on the edge of the same fate.

It took a $700 billion loan bailout from China to prop up U.S. banks, and another $700 billion stimulus package to salvage what was left of teetering American International Group, which is linked to bank failures worldwide.

No doubt about it. The U.S.A. was number one in producing more children without a father, number one in illicit drug use, and number one in triggering the world economic meltdown.

Perhaps proclaiming that we are the greatest nation in the world in 2009 is inappropriate!

The Cross of the Church at the End of the Age

Vern Kuenzi

We know about the cross of Jesus of 2000 years ago, but we do not know about the cross of the church waiting at the end of this age.  We think the first cross has done it all, and all we have left is but to wait for the rapture.  But what the first cross did was set in motion God's plan for the redemption of His creation which very much includes the cross of the church at the end of the age.  Some will argue that takes away from the fullness of what Jesus did.  But the involvement of the church is God's plan, not the plan of men, and it is actually Jesus doing the work through His church.  It does not take away from what Jesus did; it is Jesus' purpose for coming to earth.

If you study the Bible for reasons why Jesus came to earth, you will find that He came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). Further investigation reveals that He intends to do that through His church (Luke 10:19).  This is the Father's plan, and He will be glorified in carrying out this plan. The Father will demonstrate His wisdom through the church (Ephesians 3:9-11).   The essence of God's wisdom is the wisdom and the power of the cross. (1 Corinthians 1:18-24)

People ask, "Didn't Jesus defeat the devil at the cross?" Yes, He did, but they don't realize that the defeat of the devil is a process that Jesus began 2000 years ago that He will finish up through His church at the end of the age.

We so poorly understand this that the majority of Christians still believe that the church won't be on earth during the last years of the age.  But as you read the books of Daniel and Revelation, you realize that the fulfillment of this destiny takes place on earth during the last 3-1/2 years of the age.

Those are the few years of the last lap of the battle between good and evil, and it takes place on earth between the antichrist system and the saints of God who believe in Jesus Christ.

It is only after the saints emerge victorious from great tribulation that Satan is judged.  That is the way God has set things up.

Many people are searching for solutions to the world's problems, but the only solution has already been set in place.  Creation will be restored as the church walks out the wisdom of the cross at the end of the age as detailed in the prophetic scriptures.  It will be Jesus walking in His corporate body testifying and laying down His life again through His saints.  This is the prerequisite to the restoration of creation and the emerging of a bride of Christ without spot or wrinkle.

And yet most of the church expects not to be here during these crucial years, having been raptured before the birth pains start.  This false understanding does not serve the purposes of God.  The cross is at the center of God's end-time plan for His church.

There is nothing good in us that brings this victory about.  It is only as Jesus indwells His body that anything good can come forth out of her. This is about a laid-down selfless church that recognizes as Paul did that there is no inherent good thing in her.  But Jesus working through her is more than enough.  We can only be clean vessels set aside for noble purposes.

Please do not be among those who discount this message.  It is important that we understand these things in order that we do not fall away in the days ahead.  Jesus warned us of these things specifically so that we would not stumble (John 16:1).  We need to set our faces like flint and prepare to endure the coming birth pains.  We need to understand that this is our loving Father's plan to restore His creation and birth us as a bride without spot or wrinkle.

Vernon Kuenzi

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