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Lady Thatcher’s Koan

By: David Seaton Sunday July 13, 2014 10:24 am
Dirty Dancing

In almost any question, no matter how complex, there is an axis, hinge, fulcrum, upon and around which the entire question revolves. Discovering that point is often produced after concentrated immersion in the problem in all its facets, but the discovery itself is experienced as an intuitive flash…. what Zen Buddhists call “satori“. In their discipline they make use of riddles called “Koans” to trigger such insights.

Koan:  a paradox to be meditated upon that is used to train Zen Buddhist monks to abandon ultimate dependence on reason and to force them into gaining sudden intuitive enlightenment. Merriam-Webster

Here is a sample koan:

A monk asked Zhàozhōu, “Does a dog have Buddha nature or not?” Zhaozhou said, “Wú”.

Margaret Thatcher, of all people, once delivered herself of a koan, which, in my opinion,  if meditated upon sufficiently, explains much of what we are living through today with the triumphant “Conservative Revolution” that she and Reagan led and also gives valuable insights in how to resist and perhaps even reverse that revolution.

Here is Maggie’s koan

“Who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families.” Margaret Thatcher – 1987

In my view, this “koan” encloses all the contradictions and even the agenda of the Thatcher/Reagan,  Conservative Revolution, the political, social and economic wasteland that we inhabit today.

Let’s get into our lotus position and have a closer look at this thing, let us in the words of the immortal Spike Milligan, “scrutinize it with an intense scrute“.

First question, “who is society”?

a. The totality of social relationships among humans.
b. A group of humans broadly distinguished from other groups by mutual interests, participation in characteristic relationships, shared institutions, and a common culture.
c. The institutions and culture of a distinct self-perpetuating group. The Free Dictionary

In other words: anyone who actively participates in the affairs of a community within the larger community, be it a church, mosque or temple, or someone who canvases for a political party or a charity… or simply anyone who takes the trouble to pick up a piece of litter, that he/she didn’t drop on the sidewalk and walks over to a public wastebasket and throws it away. That is society… Maggie said it doesn’t exist… If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

Who are the “individual men and women” that Lady Thatcher mentions?

Knowing her a little, I would think that she was referring to what I would now call “Piketty individuals”, one-percenters like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet or the Koch brothers, people whose activities are constrained by little more than the laws of physics… I think Lady Thatcher would prefer that other, lesser, “individuals” be of  the “Bowling Alone” variety; sitting by themselves on their soft sofas in a dark living room watching endless TV series, while eating popcorn and guzzling super-size, sugary drinks.

And the families?

Again, knowing her, I imagine that she was thinking of “Piketty” families:

The book argues that the world today is returning towards “patrimonial capitalism”, in which much of the economy is dominated by inherited wealth: Their power is increasing, creating an oligarchy. Piketty cites novels by Honoré de Balzac, Jane Austen and Henry James to describe the rigid class structure based on accumulated capital that existed in England and France in the early 1800s. Wikipedia

I certainly don’t imagine she was thinking about couples with a high school education both working 60 hour weeks, weekends included, at minimum wages, whose children are being raised by a TV set, going to sub-standard, tax-starved public schools and without medical care.

And strangely enough, this is where the sado-libertarian ideology that Thatcher-Reagan represent has exposed a vulnerable flank in its defenses… religious conservatives… yes the, “every sperm is sacred“, crowd. The new Pope has said that our economic system is “inhuman”, more anti-Thatcher than that is hard to imagine.

Respect for the person means not only guaranteeing their political and civil rights, the pope said, but also “offering each person the possibility of having effective access to the essential means of sustenance: food, water, shelter, health care, education and the possibility of forming and supporting a family.”(…) “There cannot be true peace and harmony if we do not work for a society that is more just and marked by solidarity, if we don’t overcome selfishness, individualism and special interests at every level,” he said. Catholic News Service

Maggie would turn in her grave reading the above.

With that in mind, the Christian pro-life movement should be pressed to define what sort of society would be “human” enough to allow families to bring endless children into it and more importantly, how such a society could be achieved.

Progressives should hold Christians’ feet to the fire on this question. “OK, agreed, so no more abortion, so no more contraceptives, then where is the tax money coming from to pay for the nurseries, the schools, the universities, the hospitals, etc for all these humans?” “Can a system organized like ours do all this and if not, how could it be organized to be ‘human’ or are you OK with a system that the Pope defines as inhuman?” The Ayn Rand crowd couldn’t care less about this, but certainly any person raised in the Abrahamic traditions would be discomfited by these questions.

In my opinion this is the “sound of one hand clapping” moment for progressives.

Cross posted from:


The Anti-Empire Report #130 – What would a psychiatrist call this? Delusions of grandeur?


By William Blum99GetSmart

John Kerry - Saving Face

John Kerry – Saving Face

US Secretary of State John Kerry, July 8, 2014:
“In my travels as secretary of state, I have seen as never before the thirst for American leadership in the world.”

President Barack Obama, May 28, 2014:
“Here’s my bottom line, America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will.”

Nicholas Burns, former US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, May 8, 2014:
“Where is American power and leadership when the world needs it most?”

Mitt Romney, Republican Party candidate for President, September 13, 2012:
“The world needs American leadership. The Middle East needs American leadership and I intend to be a president that provides the leadership that America respects and keep us admired throughout the world.”

Paul Ryan, Congressman, Republican Party candidate for Vice President, September 12, 2012:
“We need to be reminded that the world needs American leadership.”

John McCain, Senator, September 9, 2012:
“The situation in Syria and elsewhere ‘cries out for American leadership’.”

Hillary Clinton, September 8, 2010:
“Let me say it clearly: The United States can, must, and will lead in this new century. Indeed, the complexities and connections of today’s world have yielded a new American Moment — a moment when our global leadership is essential, even if we must often lead in new ways.”

Senator Barack Obama, April 23, 2007:
“In the words of President Franklin Roosevelt, we lead the world in battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good. I still believe that America is the last, best hope of Earth.”

Gallup poll, 2013:

Question asked: “Which country do you think is the greatest threat to peace in the world today?”


  • United States 24%
  • Pakistan 8%
  • China 6%
  • Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, North Korea, each 5%
  • India, Iraq, Japan, each 4%
  • Syria 3%
  • Russia 2%
  • Australia, Germany, Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Korea, UK, each 1%

The question is not what pacifism has achieved throughout history, but what has war achieved?

Conscription or Greetings from The President of the United States

By: cmaukonen Saturday July 12, 2014 5:55 pm

1942 — WWII draftees at Bus Station on West Huron, Ann Arbor, Michigan. – flickr creative commons

Conscription AKA The Draft has been around in one form or another almost since time immortal.  China had conscription as early as 221BC. Primarily to keep an army big enough to be used in times or war, some countries have used it for civilian activities as well. A number of countries still have conscription for those 18 to even 64 years of age and lasting anywhere from 1 to 8 years.

The first major use of conscription in the US was during the civil war, which sparked off New York City draft riots.  Then for WWI and for WWII. After WWII ended, in 1948 congress passed the Selective Service Act of 1948, from which combatants for the Korean War came. Then the Universal Military Training and Service Act in 1951 and Reserve Forces Act of 1955 with the aim of improving National Guard and federal Reserve Component readiness.

After Korea ended and before the Vietnam escalation, most people who were drafted would end up on US military bases in Japan and Europe, often in Germany. I have been told by many that German duty could be the best. There were of course deferments for college or if you had a high ranking job at a defence plant.  Of course, there were also political deferments and for those very well to do.

The closest I ever came to the military was being part of the CAP or Civil Air Patrol.   As an auxiliary of the Air Force, you got pretty much the same training as you would entering the Air Force using the same  materials and covering the same subjects. If you completed the CAP/USAF training you could enlist in the USAF with a much higher rank and a less strenuous boot camp. I never did this having become disenchanted with it.  Wound up with a 1Y deferment due to a scooter accident I had.

Resistance to the draft increased dramatically as LBJ and then Nixon committed more and more to the Vietnam war. By the late 1960s the Anti War movement was made up almost entirely of middle and and upper middle class students and kids who simply did not want their tails shot up, heads blown off and be on the receiving end of some surprise the Vietcong had dreamed up. Being sent to Vietnam was considered a death sentence and everyone who was drafted was sent there, unless you had “connections”.

By 1980, after the end of the Vietnam War, the draft officially ended. Though Jimmy Carter issued Presidential Proclamation 4771 and re-instated the requirement that young men register, nobody has ever been cited for not registering.

Say what you will about the military now, but during the era of the draft  you got something. Your civilian status meant little in the military. Only your performance and your rank. Lousy attitudes and lousy behavior  were not tolerated.  Not by your commanding officers or your fellows. You learned self reliance and to rely on others. To be responsible. In short you were forced to become a mensch.  We seem to have very few of them these days.

The GI Bill got you an education and helped you get a home. And at that time VA health care was one of the best.

Obama initially wanted a civilian mandatory service for education, community service, and renewal. Not surprisingly both the left and the right shot it down. Pity, one of the few good ideas he had.  Forcing spoiled brat rich kids into the slums and actually see and help people was a great idea. No wonder congress hated it.

Operations Brother’s Keeper & Protective Edge

By: CTuttle Thursday December 26, 2013 8:38 pm

Jeff Halper wrote this excellent post at Mondoweiss…

Israel’s message to the Palestinians: Submit, leave or die

The Kerry initiative may have ended with a whimper instead of a bang, but its impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was significant and fundamental nonetheless. The end of the political process, futile as it may have been, triggered the collapse of the status quo as we have known it for the past 47 years. It set in motion a series of events that will confront us with two stark alternatives regarding Israel and Palestine: either the permanent warehousing of an entire population or the emergence of a single democratic state.

Both the blatantly disproportionate response to the kidnapping and killing of the three Israeli boys and, as I write, the all-out air strikes on Gaza, have been cast by Israel as military operations: Operations Brothers’ Keeper and Operation Protective Edge. Neither had anything to do with the operations’ purported triggers, the search for the boys or rocket fire from Gaza. Palestinian cities supposedly enjoying extra-territorial status were invaded in Operation Brothers’ Keeper, more than 2000 homes were ransacked, some 700 people arrested. Who knows as yet the devastation wrought on Gaza – 100 dead in more than 1,100 air attacks so far, mostly civilians according to reports; deafening around-the-clock bombing of communities by American-supplied F-15 and artillery from the ground and sea that amounts to collective torture; Israel’s Foreign Minister calling for cutting off all electricity and water amidst threats to completely obliterate Gaza’s infrastructure; and the prospect of almost two million people being permanently imprisoned, reduced to bare existence just this side of starvation. {…}

Operations Brothers’ Keeper and Protective Edge represent the imposition of a regime of warehousing, of outright imprisonment of an entire people. The seemingly blind and atavistic destruction and hatred unleashed on the Palestinians over the past few weeks is not merely yet another “round of violence” in an interminable struggle. It is the declaration of a new political reality. The message is clear, unilateral and final: This country has been Judaized: it is now the Land of Israel in the process of being incorporated into the state of Israel. You Arabs (or “Palestinians” as you call yourselves) are not a people and have no national rights, certainly to our exclusively Jewish country. You are not a “side” to a “conflict.” Once and for all we must disabuse you of the notion that we are actually negotiating with you. We never have and never will. You are nothing but inmates in prison cells, and we hereby declare through our military and political actions that you have three options before you: You can submit as inmates are required to you, in which case we will allow you to remain in your enclave-cells. You can leave, as hundreds of thousands have done before you. Or, if you choose to resist, you will die.

As Tikun Olam’s Richard Silverstein just reported…

Israeli Invasion to Begin in “Coming Hours”

In a recent post, I published a State Department notice it was evacuating U.S. citizens from Gaza. The message asked those wishing to leave to provide necessary contact information by the morning of July 11th (yesterday). I predicted that meant an Israeli invasion would happen the next day (July 12th) or the following one. True to form, Israel Radio aired this announcement minutes ago:

A senior military source says that the IDF will mount a significant military operation in the coming hours, after the [civilian] population is cleared from areas from which rockets are fired, mainly in northern Gaza. Residents [to be cleared] will receive announcements, SMS messages, media bulletins and leaflets. According to the military source, this type of operation is accepted under international law. Israel did the same in the past in Lebanon and that experience proves a population may be cleared from an area exploited for the purposes of acts of terror.

To be clear, the news item announces a “significant [new] military operation.” I’ve interpreted this (reasonably I think) as the expected ground invasion. You often have to interpret such statements from Israeli military-intelligence sources using previous experience and understanding of sub-text. A lot is communicated through hints and coded language. AP has also confirmed the IDF was clearing northern Gaza in preparation for “stepping up its offensive.” {…}

This is the moment so many of us have expected and dreaded. It is the crossing of the Rubicon. From here, Israel crosses over from a massive, punishing air assault to outright invasion. The Obama administration and United Nations, which have stood by thus far impotently, must rouse themselves from moral torpor and act decisively. Of course, they will wait until the killing becomes even more senseless than it already is. If they act at all.

Here is the latest ineffectual pap from the State Department on the crisis:

Sunday Food: Ham

By: dakine01 Monday September 12, 2011 9:00 am

When I was a child, I learned very early that there were two types of hams, “city” hams and “country” hams. My grandfather had cured country hams, serving the ham in my grandparents restaurant. Then my uncle took over the ham business and grew it a bit larger. In last week’s Sunday Food post on Lard, I mentioned the “hog killin’” when I was ten. The primary reason for the hog killin’ was to get the hams that Uncle Howard cured and sold although I think that year may have been the last year he raised and killed his own hogs, later turning to Kahn’s Meats in Cincinnati for the hams.

country ham

fried Country Ham slice

Country hams are, or at least were, a big business in Kentucky. My uncle showed his hams at the Kentucky State Fair each year and in I think it was 1974, won the Grand Champion. There is a Country Ham Breakfast each year at the Fair where that year’s Grand Champion ham is auctioned for charity. If I remember correctly, the year Uncle Howard won it, his ham set a then record by selling for $10K. Last year’s Grand Champion sold for $350K. The current record looks to be $600K (2011).

Smithfield Ham is probably the most widely known of country hams. I have ordered from Broadbent Hams and Meacham Hams as they are both Kentucky based and online.

City hams were all the other, non-country hams – at least as far as my father was concerned. While country hams usually have a sharp, salty taste, the city hams (“deli hams” as a variant) are the cold cut, lunch counter hams. Or the canned hams. They are nowhere near as salty as the country hams.

Which is best? Well, the country ham is generally much more expensive but for folks who love the country ham, it is well worth the price. A one pound package of “Danish ham” at the grocery may run $3 to $4 depending on the brand.

This is a Google search for cooking country ham that covers from individual slices to the whole ham. This Google search covers cooking all types of hams.

As with every other food item, your choice of hams is dependent on your own taste and experience. I will admit that as a child, I was not all that fond of country ham, preferring instead, slices of “city” ham on crackers. Nowadays, as an adult, I do like country ham sandwiches (especially on salt risen toast) or the traditional southern breakfast of fried country ham, grits, eggs, and red-eye gravy. If I do not have any country ham available, I am perfectly fine eating a slice or two of pan broiled ham at breakfast or dinner either one. Most grocery stores have cooked and uncooked hams as well as individual slices of varying thickness and as always, it is all a matter of your individual taste.

Video: Congressman 9/11 Disclosure Bombshell- “release the Kracken”

By: jbade

The infamous, redacted, 28 pages of the 9/11 commission propaganda report. One of the co-chairs of the committee refused to sign off on the commission’s report because these 28 pages were redacted.  That chairs issue has always been Saudi involvement in 9/11. His concerns were directed at the funding sources involved in 9/11. The report concluded that the financing issue was not relevant. Not relevant!  Yes, and not a peep from the sheeple.

I have always been perplexed and dismayed by the reaction of the  American people as it related to their being presented with the magic bullet theory. How could they have been such sheeple to accept that theory? On an issue with such mass ramifications. I found things like Dan Rather, all news people, making knowingly false statements that would dramatically mislead the populace. It was more understandable how they were misled.

We have the internet.

On 9/11 the american people’s interest in issues like- Who financed 9/11?  is non-existent, it just is not important- but it is. That same Saudi mechanism is fueling the violence and instability in Syria/Iraq. It is the same terrorist  funding mechanism that the government holds out as the need to let your roads, schools and standard of living deteriorate because of  need to fight the terrorists.

On second thought, your right, it should not bother me that the sheep are grazing so peacefully and they should not be bothered with a feeling of  any civic duty to understand that the issue exists. As a part of the solution rather than part of the problem thing.

I would like to see that 28 pages, but then again, I’m not a sheeple.


Want Open Borders? Elect a Republican President

By: jbade
Rally For Immigration Reform

Rally For Immigration Reform

Historically the parties have passed unpopular legislation by placing the dissenting party in the presidency. The list is long.

Bill Clinton passed welfare reform – to save it, deregulated Wall Street for Banksters in the name of regulating, sold out Democrat principles of defending workers - as he supported them by hopping in wall street’s back pocket, trying to take down medicare and Social Security, something dems claim to oppose, dramatic surveillance escalation, assassinating Americans without due process. Etc., etc.

Bush passed PHARMA’s  prescription drug benefit as entitlement, something the GOP opposes. the ownership society HUD, etc., increased funding for schools through No child left behind, etc., etc.

You see most of the unpopular legislation get passed by the party who, “supposedly”, is opposed to such legislation,who should be the defender of whatever the unpopular legislation is meant to destroy/facilitate.

Immigration did not pass under Bush despite his efforts. It does not alter the fact that it will need to be a Republican president who “brings his party along” on the issue of immigration.

Only rarely have the American people risen up and successfully opposed the establishment  on an issue that they so deeply desire, open borders. The vilification of anyone who challenges the concept of open borders is from the establishment’s handbook.  The big media, big business, big labor, big politicians, big environmentalists, big churches, big immigrant right’s groups, etc., etc. demand reform, open borders, now.

When has the establishment ever advocated in your best interests? Just on this issue of immigration.