Saturday, July 20, 2002

Which Is Worse: Criminals or Politicians?

Have you ever noticed the irony of politicians taking a bold stand against crime?

There are several aspects and angles to this irony. Historically, criminals are small time operators in terms of causing human misery, in comparison to politicians. Indeed, we can look at most governments as just a huge, overstuffed mafia organization, surrounded by trappings meant to keep the gullible public astounded and entertained. In the movie, The Godfather II, a mafia don is seen walking into a grocery store, opening the poor grocer's till, and pulling out some money, which presumably goes for "protection."

Government, you see, is really just a big, overblown protection racket. But The Black Hand in the Godfather II had his limits: he could grab some money out of the till, but if you were reasonably slick, you could outwit him. Or, if you had guts, you could kill him and become the Don yourself, as young Corleone discovers. Governments, however, are much tougher to get rid of. Even The Black Hand, once he left the room, had no idea how much money you took in the rest of the day. He also had no way of tapping directly into your bank account--something the government does every day.

Governments, compared to criminals, are more slick. A criminal generally tries to intimidate his victims, getting them to turn over their money by demonstrating his willingness to beat people up every so often. Governments, on the other hand, use much trickier techniques, the foremost among them being the concept of patriotism.

Using intimidation, a criminal can manage to cow an entire neighborhood, stealing a small percentage of the money off the top, and survive for a while as a parasite until someone gets up the gumption to do him in.

Using patriotism, governments gull people by the millions, stealing a gigantic percentage of the money, and build arsenals around themselves that make it virtually impossible for anyone to overthrow them.

Criminals are guilty of killing thousands of people every year. Governments are not content with such tiny numbers; their record of killing extends routinely into the millions, whether it is especially nasty governments killing their own people, like Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia, or rival governments killing each other's citizens, as in World War II. How many innocent people did The Black Hand kill in his entire career, do you suppose? Five? Ten? Now, how many people did Clinton kill for the noble cause of drawing public attention away from his impeachment trial? How many innocent people has George W. Bush killed in Afghanistan? Somewhere in the neighborhood of five thousand, depending on your sources. How many young, irreplaceable American men did Lyndon Johnson kill in Vietnam? About fifty thousand--and of course we're not counting the thousands of innocent peasants killed as their villages were conquered first by the Americans, then by the Cong, and then back again by the Americans.

Criminals sometimes board trains, threatening the passengers and stealing their money and jewelry. Governments are not content with such small-time operations: they prefer to just steal the whole train, as in "Amtrak." They get the money and jewelry later on, either through income taxes, death taxes, sales taxes--you name it. Incidentally, is there really any essential difference between a sales tax and protection money?

Sometimes, criminals give their stolen loot to churches, either to assuage their consciences or to build up their image in the eyes of the neighborhoods they intimidate. The Black Hand liked to make a big deal about pinning a large amount of money on that church icon in the movie, to the nervous cheers of his constituency. Governments, however, have a more conflicted relationship with churches. Sometimes, they just burn them down, killing everyone inside, as in Waco. Other times, they tolerate them if they help keep the people in line, as in Mother Russia and the Mother Church. In other cases yet, the government envies the church, in that people are seen there actually kneeling and worshipping. Politicians long to have millions kneel and worship them, rather than worship God, so they often make the church a wing of the government, as in a lot of European countries, or as in Henry the Eighth creating his own church. The church/state conflict takes many strange turns in America, where some politicians would like to replace church worship with state worship, but the First Amendment holds them back, at least for now. Other politicians, seeing a chance for easy votes and a nice new fiefdom to rule, try to blur the barrier a little more, getting the government to give tax money to churches and church schools, with the eventual goal, of course, of attaching strings to the money and making the churches dance like puppets.

Surely one of the bigger hoots in recent memory is the American government claiming it can ride in like a White Knight and fix the problem of alleged accounting irregularities in business. Give me a break! So the government, which uses outright fraud every day in the operation of Social Security, the biggest Ponzi Scheme the world has ever seen, thinks it can "fix" accounting in the private sector! The government, which hasn't shown a nickel of profit in Amtrak in decades, thinks it can give lessons to businessmen on how to run their operations! What an incredible hoot!

The real crime of companies like Enron, of course, is the fact they got rich largely from exploiting political connections--they all have huge budgets for wining and dining their Protectors. For such companies, issues like running efficiently, actually producing something useful, and marketing their products effectively, are secondary concerns. The main goal, for them, is to get special favors from their masters in Washington. Enron's great sin was having the nerve to go bankrupt, but you have to admit, government has played its cards beautifully in this affair. Enron, a virtual puppet of Washington, makes a convenient red herring when it fails--its failures are then said to affect all American businesses, who must now all fall under the accounting scrutiny of Washington. Even the Black Hand didn't have the brazen effrontery to make demands like that!

You will note, incidentally, that the remnants of the free market were still strong enough to seal Enron's fate: if you can't perform, buddy, you gotta go out of business. No such constraints inflict the government: if they don't produce, they just get a bigger budget next year. They try to get more money by raising taxes, but if that doesn't work--no problem! Government arrogates to itself the sole power to coin money (though "coins" are merely a quaint relic of when money was actually made of precious metals), and will gladly inflate its debased paper currency in the form of inflation, if that will give it the budget it wants. Really, Black Hand--you're such a piker!

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Who Should Fight Wars?

An interesting story is developing in Washington, in that precisely those men who have experienced war, are those who are trying the hardest to dissuade the President from going to war. This is not surprising; those who have actually encountered the nauseating carnage of war, complete with body parts flung over hundreds of yards, should be willing to do almost anything to avoid it. Those who have to fight the wars want to make damned sure they fight for a good reason.

On the other side, though, stand the professional politicians, best exemplified by Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and Condoleeza Rice, none of whom had to fight an actual war. Have you ever noticed that, in the media, precisely those most unfit to fight, are those who are the loudest in calling for war? Rush Limbaugh, whose lard-encrusted, squealing voice has become almost unbearable to listen to, and who couldn't pass a military physical if his life depended on it, is among the loudest. Interestingly, when the tables were turned, and Bill Clinton was President (no, I'm no fan of Clinton, but note the point), Limbaugh constantly excoriated the creep for getting us into wars from which "there is no exit strategy," and, as he put it, "no definition of victory."

Has anyone heard a "definition of victory" in the War on Terrorism, or an "exit strategy?"

Or, consider the little pudgy-cheeked homunculus, Michael Kelly; the would-be blond bombshell, Ann Coulter; or the Israeli Propaganda Minister, Charles Krauthammer. None of these folks are in danger of actually having to fight a war; they get their jollies by cheerleading war from the sidelines. If there is any more contemptible subspecies of human being, name it. Okay--maybe politicians are just a cut lower than war-whooping journalists. But that's just comparing the sludge at the bottom of a pond with the refuse at the bottom of the gutter.

With all this mind, I have a humble suggestion. Now, normally, I'm not in favor of passing laws; if anything, I think about ninety-eight percent of the laws ever passed in this country have been unconstitutional or unnecessary. The passing of a law should be a rare act, in a just and sane world. However, this one law I propose would save us all a lot of grief. The law would read as follows:

1) No troops shall be stationed or deployed outside our borders, except in times of declared war, as authorized by Congress according to Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution.

2) In the event of declared war, all Congressmen and Senators who vote for the war, shall be immediately inducted into the armed forces, and sent to the front.

You see, as our system now stands, there is literally almost no downside, from the politician's point of view, to engaging in ceaseless warfare. There's the definite upside of people "rallying round the flag," anxiously ceding their rights to the government in exchange for a false sense of security. There's the really powerful feeling of being able to force citizens into humiliating situations--like having their underwear and private parts searched at airports--to support "Homeland Security." And of course, there are the hundreds of little bureaucratic fiefdoms created as part of the war effort, guaranteeing job security for hundreds of cronies.

What a deal! For politicians, war is like a never-ending party. But the surest, swiftest way of making them lose their love of war, is to make them actually fight.

Monday, July 15, 2002

What's Transfiguration all about?

Transfiguration was originally a religious term, referring specifically to an event in the New Testament in which Jesus was seen conversing with Moses and Elijah. A transfiguration, then, is a transformation from the mundane to the inspired.

America is in desperate need of a Transfiguration, folks. We have gradually morphed from a mostly-libertarian society at the time of the Articles of Confederation, to a Constitution of limited powers that lasted about fourscore years, to a Constitution of virtually unlimited federal power. The predictable results have been the gradual collapse of individual freedom, replaced with the modern welfare/warfare state, in which the federal government can do anything it thinks it can rationalize and get away with.

The Transfiguration Blog will comment on the current state of affairs, and will never waver from its core beliefs in individual freedom, extremely limited government (or--who knows?--maybe no government at all is best, if unattainable at this point in time). Our current crisis of emerging tyranny, perpetual war, and global empire needs to be overcome by the best means available: we must continue to speak out and change peoples' minds.

If you want to read a truly revolutionary novel, go to If you like the novel Transfiguration, recommend it to your friends. There are two more novels awaiting publication, subject to financing by reader purchases! The two novels waiting in the wings are even better than the first.

Future posts will comment on all the major issues of the day: the stupidity of invading Iraq, the loss of civil liberties in America, the inane topics taught in our government sponsored indoctrination camps (that would be Public Schools for those of you still suffering under partial indoctrination-induced delusions).

No punches pulled, no quarter given to the enemy! That's my promise.