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Think Like a Corleone, by Robert Gore

Leave fools’ paradise to the fools.

If you are offered a choice between having your tuition and expenses paid at a top of the line business school, or buying with your own money Mario Puzo’s The Godfather (the book and the movies, Parts One and Two) choose the latter. You’ll find them far more useful than the MBA.

Americans are frequently condemned for obliviousness to the lies and depredations of the people who rule them. Much of the condemnation is merited, but the obliviousness is also a vestige of a better time. The best gauge of a society is truth: its prevalence and how it’s treated.

You go to a store and buy a product. Your transaction rests on implicit assumptions that everyone in the supply chain is telling the truth and acting honorably. The product was manufactured to the manufacturer’s advertised standard. It was delivered by a transportation company in good order, and marketed by the store in good faith. Every step of the way you could have been ripped off and not known it. The product could be a counterfeit. The delivery truck could have been hijacked and the product resold to the vendor at a cut-rate price. The product might be defective, but the manufacturer and vendor continue to sell it. A paranoid could drive himself crazy imagining all the possibilities, most of which cannot be dismissed out of hand.

When exchange is voluntary, a producer’s reputation for integrity is an invaluable asset and an consumer’s trust is both rational and productive. A producer’s reputation rests on millions or billions of transactions in which consumers receive the value they expect, with any problems quickly addressed and remedied to the consumer’s satisfaction. One reason John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil did as well as it did was because its refining and distribution processes delivered oil products that were of a uniformly high standard. Many of the company’s competitors did not. One batch might be acceptable, but other batches had impurities or varying chemical compositions. Those who think it’s easy to manufacturer millions of items or refine millions of barrels of oil to a uniform standard over a span of years or decades only betray their ignorance of manufacturing and refining.

The companies that reach the top of the heap in a voluntary exchange system save their customers immeasurable time and effort. Imagine if you had to inspect and test every item you bought before you used it. That would be a dump truck full of sand in the gears of your life; you’d get nothing else done.

Voluntary exchange rewards both integrity and trust. That was once the American milieu, and is still a significant part of it. We trust Apple to deliver great phones, ExxonMobil to deliver top grade gasoline, Whole Foods to deliver quality food, and so on. Unfortunately, another class of interactions has overshadowed the realm of voluntary exchange, interactions based on fear, force, fraud and theft. Nefarious means to nefarious ends are the province of governments.

Expanding government power and domination are the deadly enemies of integrity and trust. As a government uses violence to subjugate, the subjugated quickly learn that honesty and honorable behavior are persecuted; to survive they must resort to deception and covert resistance. The subjugators invariably regard the subjugated as an inferior class and disparage their tactics as dishonorable.

History is replete with such instances. Sicily has been ruled by a long line of outside powers. Starting in the late 1800s, the Mafia became the embodiment of the inverted morality that takes hold among tyrannized and brutalized peoples. That morality does nothing to advance the general welfare; it doesn’t promote prosperity or progress. It only allows the subjugated to survive.

In this antique garden, Michael Corleone learned about the roots from which his father grew. That the word “mafia” had originally meant place of refuge. Then it became the name for the secret organization that sprang up to fight against the rulers who had crushed the country and its people for centuries. Sicily was a land that had been more cruelly raped than any other in history. The Inquisition had tortured rich and poor alike. The landowning barons and the prices of the Catholic Church exercised absolute power over the shepherds and farmers. The police were the instruments of their power and so identified with them that to be called a policeman is the foulest insult one Sicilian can hurl at another.

Faced with the savagery of this absolute power, the suffering people learned never to betray their anger and their hatred for fear of being crushed. They learned never to make themselves vulnerable by uttering any sort of threat since giving such a warning insured a quick reprisal. They learned that society was their enemy and so when they sought redress they went to the rebel underground, the Mafia. And the Mafia cemented its power by originating the law of silence, the omerta. In the countryside of Sicily a stranger asking directions to the nearest town will not even receive the courtesy of an answer. And the greatest crime any member of the Mafia could commit would be to tell the police the name of the man who had just shot him or done him any kind of injury. Omerta became the religion of the people. A woman whose husband has been murdered would not tell the police the name of her husband’s murderer, not even of her child’s murderer, her daughter’s raper.

The Godfather, Mario Puzo

Probably 20 percent of Americans will tell you their life stories in a grocery store checkout line, and 50 percent over a cup of coffee. Many trade information about themselves as freely as they trade their money for groceries or coffee. Ask those who have escaped life in a totalitarian regime about it and they will marvel at the foolishness.

The oppressed learn to trust no one other than those who have demonstrated they deserve to be trusted, usually family or long-time friends. In response to disclosures that the government is monitoring them 24/7 and knows virtually everything they do and say, many Americans breezily assert that they’re not worried; they have nothing to hide. Behind omerta was the Sicilian peasant’s reality that any information, no matter how trivial or innocuous, was a weapon that could be used against him by the hostile and corrupt regime. American openness and trusting insouciance is quaintly naive—anachronisms from a better time—and pitiably foolish.

If you think the government, its friends, and those who pull its strings have your best interests at heart, that they tell the truth, that they can be trusted, you are living in a fool’s paradise and deserve whatever you get from your “benevolent” masters. For the rest of us, it’s time to go Sicilian, to start thinking like a Corleone. The dangers will intensify as things get much worse, before collapse offers the prospect of rebuilding something better.

The times demand caution, skepticism, less talking, more listening, alertness, wariness, hiding one’s strengths, remedying one’s weaknesses, self-sufficiency, cunning, and drawing closer to those few people in your life you know you can trust. Your survival is at stake and there are no guarantees. All you can do is better your odds. Indiscriminate trust and hoping for the best—without thinking about and preparing for the worse—will dramatically lower those odds.

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Terrorists Beware, from The Burning Platform

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Russia-gate’s Evidentiary Void, by Robert Parry

Can the mainstream media stoop any lower? Now the New York Times is relying on unsupported assertions from Ukraine’s notoriously unreliable government, which regards Russia as an enemy, concerning the alleged Russian “hacks” of the election. From Robert Parry at consortiumnews.com:

The New York Times’ unrelenting anti-Russia bias would be almost comical if the possible outcome were not a nuclear conflagration and maybe the end of life on planet Earth.

A classic ample of the Times’ one-sidecoverage was a front-page article on Thursday expressing the wistful hope that a Ukrainian hacker whose malware was linked to the release of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails in 2016 could somehow “blow the whistle on Russian hacking.”

Though full of airy suspicions and often reading like a conspiracy theory, the article by Andrew E. Kramer and Andrew Higgins contained one important admission (buried deep inside the “jump” on page A8 in my print edition), a startling revelation especially for those Americans who have accepted the Russia-did-it groupthink as an established fact.

The article quoted Jeffrey Carr, the author of a book on cyber-warfare, referring to a different reality: that the Russia-gate “certainties” blaming the DNC “hack” on Russia’s GRU military intelligence service or Russia’s FSB security agency lack a solid evidentiary foundation.

“There is not now and never has been a single piece of technical evidence produced that connects the malware used in the DNC attack to the GRU, FSB or any agency of the Russian government,” Carr said.

Yet, before that remarkable admission had a chance to sink into the brains of Times’ readers whose thinking has been fattened up on a steady diet of treating the “Russian hack” as flat fact, Times’ editors quickly added that “United States intelligence agencies, however, have been unequivocal in pointing a finger at Russia.”

The Times’ rebuke toward any doubts about Russia-gate was inserted after Carr’s remark although the Times had already declared several times on page 1 that there was really no doubt about Russia’s guilt.

To continue reading: Russia-gate’s Evidentiary Void

 

 

This Picture Of Mike Pence ‘Triggered’ An Entire Campus Of California Private College Kids, by Tyler Durden

The usual adjectives—ludicrous, ridiculous, insane, bizarre—seem inadequate to describe this sort of idiocy. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

When McKenzie Deutsch posted a picture of herself posing with the Vice President of the United States at the White House she probably didn’t expect to set off a mass ‘triggering’ event at her ritzy Southern California private institution of higher indoctrination, Scripps College, but that’s exactly what happened.

According to the Daily Caller, Deutsch, a rising junior at Scripps, was an intern this summer in the office of U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and was excited by the opportunity to meet the Vice President.  So, after snapping the pic below she posted it to Facebook with the caption: “The places you’ll go, the things you’ll see, the people you’ll meet… What a day it was in DC!”

Pence

Of course, it wasn’t long before Deutsch was effectively tried and convicted of a hate crime by her peers at the ritzy, $70,000-per-year college.

 “I don’t know if you understand that Pence want me and the people I love to be erased by any means possible. I don’t know how to express to you how it feels to see a fellow Scrippsie in this photo with someone who has shown himself so willing to commit institutional violence,” one angry student wrote under Deutsch’s photo with Pence.
“Posing next to someone who is a direct threat to LGBT+ groups and other marginalized communities and posting this photo with a pleasant caption is not a politically neutral act,” the student declared. “It shows you as a person who smiles with our oppressors for the sake of a photo op.”

Another student said the photo of Pence — snapped 2,636 miles away in Washington, D.C. — made her feel “unsafe.”

“To post this photo with pride is to make LGBTQ+ folks feel unsafe, as Pence has incredibly violent, homophobic views,” the student wrote, adding that she was “shocked at the continued inability to listen to marginalized people about the impact of this picture on us.”

A third student was downright hostile.“Hmmmmm how many lgbtq folks do you need to help send to conversion therapy in exchange for reproductive rights from Pence?” the student asked.

To continue reading: This Picture Of Mike Pence ‘Triggered’ An Entire Campus Of California Private College Kids

 

Tyranny at Nuremberg, by Paul Craig Roberts

Nuremberg was more show trial than a judicial procedure that comported with the prevailing standards of justice. From Paul Craig Roberts at paulcraigroberts.org:

The showtrial of a somewhat arbitrarily selected group of 21 surviving Nazis at Nuremberg during 1945-46 was US Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson’s show. Jackson was the chief prosecutor. As a long-time admirer of Jackson, I always assumed that he did a good job.

My admiration for Jackson stems from his defense of law as a shield of the people rather than a weapon in the hands of government, and from his defense of the legal principle known as mens rea, that is, that crime requires intent. I often cite Jackson for his defense of these legal principles that are the very foundation of liberty. Indeed, I cited Jackson in my recent July 31 column. His defense of law as a check on government power plays a central role in the book that I wrote with Lawrence Stratton, The Tyranny of Good Intentions.

In 1940 Jackson was US Attorney General. He addressed federal prosecutors and warned them against “picking the man and then putting investigators to work, to pin some offense on him. It is in this realm—in which the prosecutor picks some person whom he dislikes or desires to embarrass, or selects some group of unpopular persons and then looks for an offense—that the greatest danger of abuse of prosecuting power lies. It is here that law enforcement becomes personal, and the real crime becomes that of being unpopular with the predominant or governing group, being attached to the wrong political views or being personally obnoxious to, or in the way of, the prosecutor himself.”

Later as a Supreme Court justice Jackson overturned a lower court conviction of a person who had no idea, or any reason to believe, that he had committed a crime.

Having just finished reading David Irving’s book Nuremberg (1996), I am devastated to learn that in his pursuit of another principle, at Nuremberg Jackson violated all of the legal principles for which I have so long admired him. To be clear, at Nuremberg Jackson was in pursuit of Nazis, but their conviction was the means to his end—the establishment of the international legal principle that the initiation of war, the commitment of military aggression, was a crime.

The problem, of course, was that at Nuremberg people were tried on the basis of ex post facto law—law that did not exist at the time of their actions for which they were convicted.

To continue reading: Tyranny at Nuremberg

 

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Doug Casey On The End Of The Nation-State

Let it not be said that SLL is all gloom-and-doom. Here’s an upbeat prediction from Doug Casey: the imminent (in historic time) end of the nation-state. From Casey at internationalman.com:

Doug Casey on the End of the Nation-State

There have been a fair number of references to the subject of “phyles” in Casey Research publications over the years. This essay will discuss the topic in detail. Especially how phyles are likely to replace the nation-state, one of mankind’s worst inventions.

Now might be a good time to discuss the subject. We’ll have an almost unremitting stream of bad news, on multiple fronts, for years to come. So it might be good to keep a hopeful prospect in mind.

Let’s start by looking at where we’ve been. I trust you’ll excuse my skating over all of human political history in a few paragraphs, but my object is to provide a framework for where we’re going, rather than an anthropological monograph.

Mankind has, so far, gone through three main stages of political organization since Day One, say 200,000 years ago, when anatomically modern men started appearing. We can call them Tribes, Kingdoms, and Nation-States.

Karl Marx had a lot of things wrong, especially his moral philosophy. But one of the acute observations he made was that the means of production are perhaps the most important determinant of how a society is structured. Based on that, so far in history, only two really important things have happened: the Agricultural Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. Everything else is just a footnote.

Let’s see how these things relate.

The Agricultural Revolution and the End of Tribes

In prehistoric times, the largest political/economic group was the tribe. In that man is a social creature, it was natural enough to be loyal to the tribe. It made sense. Almost everyone in the tribe was genetically related, and the group was essential for mutual survival in the wilderness. That made them the totality of people that counted in a person’s life—except for “others” from alien tribes, who were in competition for scarce resources and might want to kill you for good measure.

To continue reading: Doug Casey On The End Of The Nation-State