Tag Archives: Maya

DONALD TRUMP’S WALL AND WHAT IT MIGHT MEAN…. a debate inspired by Pat Buchanan’s “What Trump’s Wall Says to the World”

Asmodeous Rex • an hour ago
Donald J. Trump intention to build a wall at the southern border is an insult to all of Latin America.
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Tim in NY to Asmodeous Rex • 13 minutes ago
Uh huh…
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Charles Edward Lincoln, III to Asmodeous Rex • 43 minutes ago
I don’t see that the WALL is anything more than a re-inforced border. By your standard, Mr. Asmodeous, isn’t every border an equal insult?

Does your house have walls? is that not an insult to nature, or at least to your local weather and all your neighbors?

Walls don’t work against every kind of invasion or catastrophe (modern bombs and the IRS can penetrate almost everyone’s walls) but walls do serve to establish and declare one’s claim to private space, of reasonable expectation of peace and tranquility within a space that we can call “home”.

I don’t think Trump’s wall is going to change America—but it MIGHT help prevent MORE change than has already happened, and perhaps we can start deporting millions of people BACK on the other side of the wall who should never have crossed the border.

As a Symbol of National Sovereignty and Identity, I accept the need for a wall, although we will need to back up that SYMBOL with substantial action—I’d like to see every Latin American, African, and Asian Naturalized in 1986 by “Amnesty” to illegal alines or who immigrated after that date, lose his or her citizenship….

America is the New Jerusalem of the Europeans, by the Europeans, and for the Europeans….
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Asmodeous Rex to Charles Edward Lincoln, III • 36 minutes ago
O.K. Your reply is sensible and polite enough but the USA should be building bridges to Latin America; not promoting distrust and hostility. Are you aware that the USA has spent a lot of money and energy and lives trying to prevent that region from turning to communism?
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Charles Edward Lincoln, III to Asmodeous Rex • 26 minutes ago
That’s kind of preposterous: we have thousands of bridges of every type (air, land, and sea) to and from everywhere in Latin America. It’s easier and quicker to reach Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Cancun or Acapulco from any major airline “hub” in the USA than it is to reach Alaska, which is one of our own states. It also easier and cheaper to take a cruise in the Caribbean than to Hawaii or American Samoa…or again, along the “inland passage” to Alaska… just compare the effort it will take you to get to Curacao compared to the Aleutian Islands…. I’ve done both trips….

As it happens, I turned 18 as a legal resident of Honduras while working on an archaeological research project at Copan sponsored by Harvard and the World Bank. And since then I have lived about a quarter of my life in Latin America since then, in Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, and Venezuela….

And I have been living and or visiting in several Latin American countries during Coups…. or kidnappings (I once watched the helplessly as the German Consul in Guatemala was kidnapped)…. And on top of it all, my grandfather did major business with the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force, so yes, I’m quite aware of the U.S. attempts to fight communism all over Latin America….

So what exactly is your point? That because we have more-or-less succeeded in keeping communism from taking root anywhere except for Bolivia and Venezuela, and for a time in Chile—we should let all the rest of them in?

Chileans and Argentinians are pretty much “white people”…. as are MOST Colombians and many upper class Mexicans and Brazilians, for that matter, but other areas are much more racially mixed, and “upper class” immigration into the USA is NOT the source of any problems I’m aware of….
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Asmodeous Rex to Charles Edward Lincoln, III • 17 minutes ago
So then what is your point? What you’re saying is that there is already a lot of trade and commerce with that region. Shouldn’t that continue? Why create new hostilities in a region that wants to further integrate. I do hope sane people will stop all this recent madness.
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Charles Edward Lincoln, III to Asmodeous Rex • a minute ago
I guess we’re basically talking past each other about totally different things. You’re talking about Trade I guess, mostly, but I’m talking about the need to preserve America’s cultural and racial integrity by stopping the flood of immigrants. I don’t despise Latin American elites or peasantry IN THEIR CULTURAL CONTEXT. I think a lot of valuable lessons can be learned from the study of the Ancient AND Modern Maya—among other things, the value they have placed since the Spanish Conquest on resistance to cultural and racial assimilation.

The Maya of Yucatan and Guatemala are a great noble people. But that doesn’t mean they need to all move to Los Angeles. Out of heir historical physical environment and cultural historical context, I don’t think their nobility will survive any more than their culture. Los Angeles and Phoenix do not need to become Maya Cities—or Quechua cities or Nahuatl Cities for that matter.

Los Angeles has now the largest ZAPOTEC SPEAKING population IN THE WORLD…. larger than any city in the Zapotec Native (Mexican) State of Oaxaca. This is bizarre and perverse. The Zapotec will NEVER become real Americans but they won’t be real Zapotec anymore either. The Nahuatl (Aztec) speaking population of Los Angeles is not far behind. This is insanity. This is a perversion of nature.

And as for Trade, which seems to be your focus, I DO disagree with you if you think that NAFTA has been good for Mexico or that CAFTA is good for Central America.

Many if not MOST of our real racial problems, and especially those of Europe, come from the heritage of a Colonialism which was abandoned, not because the British and French and Dutch (or the Belgians or Germans, for that matter) FAILED at their enterprises of Colonialism, but because of the post-World-War II ideological shift….. towards communistic insanity and the demented doctrine of unearned freedom and meritless equality….

But NAFTA and CAFTA are essentially new Colonialist programs WITHOUT the benefits of Colonial Administration and Education. NAFTA and CAFTA have led to the mutual cultural degradation of North America AND Mexico and Central America…. and I applaud President Trump for his willingness to back away from these catastrophic enterprises (and to avoid new ones like the Trans-Pacific, which would have been the same only MUCH BIGGER and hence much worse).

Isolation leads to diversity…. and diversity leads to greater value in exchange…. So I think that we need to return to a world model where each region develops itself according to local traditions and environmental circumstances, and trade is an exchange of positive values developed in different regions, not moving plastics and electronics from cheap labor areas to expensive consumption areas.

So no, I think that fewer bridges and more barriers will benefit EVERYONE.
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Funruffian • 20 hours ago
“To the tens of millions for whom Trump appeals, what the wall represents is our last chance to preserve that nation and people.’

This wall is more than just Political theater and a way to stymie the bureaucratic onslaught of the Multicultural monster. This is a bold statement White America is making against the world who has intentions of undermining and destroying us. Many other nations have criticized America for years, but at the same token they want to reap the rewards and benefits America has to offer. I know that President Trump finds this attitude obscene.
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A New Red Dawn Over America—Obamacare & the Police Power in Arizona are Upheld—the Constitution again ruled DOA at the Supreme Court (full text of the Supreme Court’s Worst Two Decisions of the Week attached)

Chief Justice John Roberts is rapidly becoming my least favorite U.S. Supreme Court Justice in history.  First, in 2007, the debut innovation of “the Roberts Court” was Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, then a followup kick in the face of freedom under the name of Ashcroft v. Iqbal and now this week (on Monday, June 25, 2012) Arizona v. United States (Arizona v US) and, today Thursday, June 28, 2012, yet another day that will live in infamy: NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS et al. v. KAREN SEBELIUS, SECRETARY OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES (NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS et al v SEBELIUS SECRETARY OF HEALTH).

It’s been a really bad week for the Constitution and for the American people, and a very good day for  Obama’s flourishing Dictatorship of the Proletariat.  Oh yes, and what a nice present for Hillary Clinton as she celebrates lasting longer as U.S. Secretary of State than any other of the 96 individuals to hold that office—and we were all sure she was just a joke back in the early 1990s when she was pushing a National Health Care System which looked an awful lot like what we’ve got now with Obamacare.

First with regard to Arizona v. US: The expansion of the American Police State seems never-ending, as the late great Strom Thurmond’s States-Rights Democratic Party Platform very accurately predicted in 1948.   The great triumph of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States over the past 64 years is quite simply this: all oppressive acts of government, so long as they are applied equally to White people as well as Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and all others without Racial, and only with Economic and Political, Prejudice, will be upheld.  But try asserting any constitutional right other than your right to be on an equal footing with all other slaves, and man YOU ARE DEAD MEAT!!!!  States Rights got a minor boost last year when an individual right to sue under the Tenth Amendment was recognized, but this year the 162 year trend towards the complete suppression of State Sovereignty marches forward unabated….

The main issue regarding Arizona’s immigration statutes was whether the individual states of the Union have any right to make more restrictive laws regarding residence and citizenship than the United States as a whole.  Under the expressly anti-States’ Rights 14th Amendment, the Supreme Court said NO.  But, if the Arizona police want to go around harassing people on the highways, they are free to do so, so long as they are willing to say they suspect that every blonde-haired & blue-eyed caucasian must have recently entered illegally from Sweden or Norway perhaps….  The Supreme Court, these days, never seems to miss an opportunity to enhance the power of the police to oppress the population at large.

With regard to the “Obamacare” case, I can only say I’m NOT even as surprised by this result as I was not by the result in the Arizona immigration opinion.  Ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt gave up his plan to “pack” the Supreme Court, there is no infringement on the economic liberty and personal choices of the American people which the Supreme Court finds too trivial to be worthy of Federal Enforcement.  The only comment-worthy deviation from predictions was that Chief Justice John Roberts in this case came up with the novel notion that the U.S. government can tax anything and anyone it wants to for any reason, including non-compliance with a mandatory insurance purchase requirement, and that this punitive tax or purchase choice makes it all “OK.”

Of all the commentary and punditry that came out on Thursday after the decision, two of the most “spot on” that I saw were first) the article describing John Roberts’ “Liberal Apotheosis”:

After Thursday’s Obamacare ruling, Supreme Court Justice John Roberts became a minor deity to some liberals for voting to save Obamacare. But just days before Roberts’ apotheosis, liberals lamented that the “conservative” Supreme Court was taking America down a dangerous path.  (http://news.yahoo.com/obamacare-ruling-liberal-apotheosis-john-roberts-035207618.html)

The “Liberal Apotheosis” of John Roberts?  “Apotheosis” of course, means transformation into a god—and what did the pagan gods of Olympia or Pharaonic Egypt do?  Exactly what any god can do:  A “god” can work Miracles,  first Make and then Bend the all Rules, Change the Natural Order of Things….   I suppose my own religious notions, such as they are, posit an unchanging God defined by the phrase from the old BCP: “as it was in the beginning, it is now and ever shall be, world without end amen” which seems curiously absent from most Episcopal services these days.   I equate God with Nature, and while I believe rather fervently in Evolution, I believe Evolution operates according to certain utterly unchanging rules, such as the laws of thermodynamics, which even the discovery of man’s ability intentionally to split or fuse atoms could never quite change.

And yet the Godlike role of the Supreme Court in making and bending rules seems more than a bit undemocratic.   So that is the second part of the analysis we need to perform today: Was Roberts’ decision to side with Obamacare entirely a matter of political strategy?

 The American Concept of Constitutional Judicial Review predates Chief Justice John Marshall. The Supreme Court’s decision Chisholm v. Georgia 2 U.S. 412 (February 1, 1793)(Chisholm v Georgia, 2 U.S. 419, February 1 1793triggered the (I would now say very unfortunate) move to enact the 11th Amendment during the First Term of the Presidency of George Washington.  But Chief Justice Marshall’s notions of judicial review shaped the Court, much to his cousin Thomas Jefferson’s dismay and disgust.   I recall hearing the story of Marbury v. Madison and judicial review in my Freshman year at Tulane, from Professor Jean Danielson in Political Science H103, where I met my long-time college years best friend John K. Naland, now a long-time veteran of the U.S. State Department.  Professor Danielson explained the political genius of Marbury v. Madison was that it empowered the Court while respecting the political boundaries of the time.  Chief Justice Marshall knew that, as President Adams’ last major appointee, any decision made in favor of the appointment of Adams’ minor “midnight judges” including William Marbury would simply be ignored by the new Democratic-Republican administration of Jefferson (with James Madison as secretary of state and the defendant in the case) as an act of political partisanship on the part of a Federalist appointee favoring Federalist appointees.  On the other hand, to uphold Secretary of State Madison’s power to refuse to honor the appointments made by President Adams would seem like craven capitulation without legal or moral integrity.  So, in a result which no one ever anticipated, Chief Justice John Marshall carefully reasoned and soundly declared the statute authorizing the appointment of Magistrates in the District of Columbia to be an unconstitutional act in excess of Congress’ power under the Constitution—and the role of the U.S. Supreme Court as Constitutional arbiter of the United States was established forever—or, at least, for a long time.

That particular “long time” ended in 1936, which, as a another commentator/pundit on the Obamacare decision pointed out, was the last time in history that the United States Supreme Court overturned a major piece of Congressional legislation as Unconstitutional.    Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first term as President was unlike anything the United States had ever since, including George Washington’s First Term.   In Washington’s First Term, the constant debate in Congress was whether the Federal Government had power under the Constitution to do much of anything at all.  The spirit was decidedly “conservative” in the sense of cautious, even as a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal was being launched as a more formally organized “corporate” type of enterprise (the Articles of Confederation were much more analogous to a “partnership” among the States—with each partner having a nearly full veto power).

During FDR’s First Term, there were also many in Congress who asked whether the Federal Government had the power to do a great many of the things the New Deal proposed to do, from the NRA to the TVA (National Recovery Administration to the Tennessee Valley Authority).  But from 1933-1937, such questions were not asked in a cautious or even skeptical voice regarding what Congress and the Federal government could legitimately do, but in the desperate and panicked voice of people who saw and feared “you are taking our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor” from us.  Those people sought recourse against the reckless usurpation of Federal Power in the Supreme Court, and in the years 1933-1937, the Supreme Court struck down 29 Congressionally passed statutes signed by the President as part of the New Deal.

Roosevelt’s first hundred days and all that followed provoked an unprecedented clash between the Supreme Court Justices and the “New Deal” alliance of the legislative and executive branches. At Roosevelt’s instigation, Congress in the 1930s enacted a series of laws ostensibly, supposed, aimed at ending the Great Depression and restoring the nation’s economic well-being, but in fact aimed at shoring up the American Elite, especially the Banking system, from the threat of a Communist and/or Fascist revolution analogous to those taking place in Europe at the same time.  Of eight major “program” statutes to come before the Court, only two were upheld. Laws that were struck down included the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933, the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, and the Bituminous Coal Conservation Act of 1935.  The Court came under heavy fire for its decisions, and Roosevelt proposed a controversial plan to increase the size of the Court, presumably to ensure a majority sympathetic to the New Deal.

Shortly after the plan was proposed, the Court defused the issue by upholding a series of revised New Deal laws.  Dominated by economic conservatives, to which group even late 19th/early 20th Century “Progressives” such as Oliver Wendell Holmes were (by comparison, anyhow) the Court threw out numerous laws Congress enacted to protect workers and consumers. The conflicts peaked in 1936. The Court threw out twenty-nine laws during that period, but the last of these was in 1936, when when the court invalidated a federal law that limited work hours and prescribed minimum wages for coal workers.

Everything changed in 1937 when, FDR Proposed the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 on March 9 of that year in one of his legendary “Fireside chats” whereby he jumped over the Congress and all Constitutional Separation of Powers and asked the American people directly to endorse and support his programs.  The public reaction was overwhelmingly negative, almost the first time the 33rd President had seen any of his initiatives draw such opposition.  But the Justices of the Supreme Court saw the writing on the wall—mene, mene, tekel upharsin—and when faced with the two major cases challenging Social Security (the ultimate authority and most direct antecedent for Obamacare), the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the most massive fraud ever perpetrated on the American people—the law creating a “Social Security Trust Fund” with the bribed cooperation of the States—into which Social Security Trust Fund not one dime of real money (certainly not one dime of the 14 Trillion dollars paid since 1937 in Social Security Taxes) has ever been paid.

Helvering v. Davis (05-27-1937 Helvering v Davis 301 US 619 57 SCt 904 Jusice Cardozo endorses the SS Trust Fund Fraud) and Steward Machine Company v. Davis (Charles C Steward Mach Co v Davis) thus effectively marked the end of the Supreme Court as an independent branch of government.  The new mantra was not “that government is best which governs least” but instead, “The concept of the general welfare is not a static one”…. “Needs that were narrow or parochial a century ago may be interwoven in our day with the well-being of the nation. What is critical or urgent changes with the times.”   (Helvering v. Davis, 301 U.S. 619, 641, 57 S.Ct. 904, 909, 81 L.Ed. 1307, 1315 [1937])

From that time forward Courts held that there appeared to be only four (all extra-constitutional) prerequisites to a finding that a spending clause measure and condition attached to it are valid: (1) The federal power is used for a legitimate national purpose, i.e., promotion of the general welfare (Charles C. Steward Machine Co. v. Davis, 301 U.S. 548 at pp. 585–590, 57 S.Ct. at pp. 890–92 [1937], 81 L.Ed. at pp. 1290–1293); (2) the condition is related to a legitimate national goal (Charles C. Steward Machine Co. v. Davis, supra, at pp. 590–591, 57 S.Ct. at pp. 892–93, 81 L.Ed. at pp. 1292–1293; See also Note, Federal Grants and the Tenth Amendment: ‘Things As They Are’ and Fiscal Federalism (1981) 50 Fordham L.Rev. 130, 140–141); (3) the condition is related to the purpose of the federal funds whose receipt is conditioned (FCC v. League of Women Voters (1984) 468 U.S. 364, 104 S.Ct. 3106, 3132, 82 L.Ed.2d 278, 309 (Rehnquist, J. dissenting); State of Okl. v. Schweiker, 655 F.2d at pp. 407, 411); and (4) the condition is unambiguous (Pennhurst State School v. Halderman,  451 U.S. at p. 17, 101 S.Ct. at pp. 1539–40 [January 23, 1984])(Pennhurst State School And Hosp v Halderman).
It was in the spirit of such a “living constitution” that Chief Justice John Roberts allied himself with the enemies of limited government on June 28, 2012.  And it is in that sense, much like the Supreme Court in 1937, ruling in Roosevelt’s favor in both of the Social Security Cases, Helvering and Charles Steward above, that Chief Justice John Roberts “saved the Supreme Court” (http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/power-players-abc-news/did-chief-justice-roberts-save-supreme-court-103301790.html).  More likely, Chief Justice John Roberts just danced on Chief Justice John Marshall’s grave and said, “You think that failure to follow the Constitution is Judicial Treason?  Well, let’s see what you’re going to do about it now.”  According to that same article, Chief Justice Roberts had told the Senate at his confirmation hearings:
“Judges are like umpires. Umpires don’t make the rules; they apply them,” said Roberts at the time. “The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules, but it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire.”

Now, strangely enough, Chief Justice John Marshall wrote a very different kind of opinion in 1820:

The judiciary cannot, as the legislature may, avoid a measure because it approaches the confines of the constitution. We cannot pass it by because it is doubtful. With whatever doubts, with whatever difficulties, a case may be attended, we must decide it, if it be brought before us. We have no more right to decline the exercise of jurisdiction which is given, than to usurp that which is not given. The one or the other would be treason to the constitution. Questions may occur which we would gladly avoid; but we cannot avoid them. All we can do is, to exercise our best judgment, and conscientiously to perform our duty.  Cohens v State of Virginia, 19 U.S. 264, 5 L.Ed. 257, 6 Wheaton 264 (March 3, 1820)

There is a great deal of confusion among the commentators and pundits, I think, about what “Judicial activism” really means.  I would NOT call Chief Justice John Marshall a Judicial Activist—although, indeed, he advocated throughout his 35 years on the bench a considerably more positive role for the Court in preserving the Constitution than Chief Justice John Roberts has shown to date.  “Judicial Activism” does not mean “striking down unconstitutional laws”—“Judicial Activism” as a term should be reserved for reshaping or restructuring the laws in the absence of Congressional Authority to do so.  The “Warren Court” from 1953-1971 was the epitome of “judicial activism”—the Supreme Court during those two decades effectively rewrote the laws of the United States and told CONGRESS and the STATES what to do, rather than vice-versa.

In the case of Obamacare, Chief Justice John Roberts acts his role as an umpire very poorly.  He has seen the foul, called it (under the commerce clause) and “covered it up” under the guise of the taxing power, which (in reality) is even less constitutionally justified than the commerce clause rationale (which at least has the past 75 years of tradition—however illegitimate, behind it).

And so was the U.S. Constitution rewritten in 1937 to allow for first the “relatively” modest program of Social Security and now, 75 years later—on the occasion of the 75th Annual Hunger Games (cf. Suzanne Collins, Catching Fire [2009] and Mockingjay [2010], both New York: Scholastic Press)—Obamacare comes forward to cap the fraud by, in Chief Justice John Roberts’ view—a non-coercive, mere “Tax” on those who do not buy governmentally mandated insurance… and of course, jail for those who do not pay their taxes.

SO WHAT IS THE SHORT-TERM SOLUTION?  NULLIFY OBAMACARE!  I should say that, without any hesitation whatsoever, I absolutely endorse and support the Tenth Amendment Center’s position on Obamacare (this Los Angeles based think tank is just one of the brightest stars on the Political Horizon—of our New Red Dawn):

Now that the Supremes have crushed Constitutional limits once again, the next step is to focus all our energy on a state and local level to NULLIFY this – and every other – unconstitutional act.
We have model legislation for yor state.  Ready to go right now.  Press your state reps to introduce this bill today, or for the next legislative session.
http://tenthamendmentcenter.com/legislation/federal-health-care-nullification-act/
Please SHARE this information widely!
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We need your help to continue this work, and help people take the next step at the state level.  Please join us, and help nullification happen!  Whether it’s $500 or $5, every bit of help right now is crucial!
Please visit this link to help now:
http://tenthamendmentcenter.com/donate/
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Thomas Jefferson told us that when the government “assumes undelegated powers” a nullification is THE “rightful remedy”
James Madison said that states were “duty bound to interpose….to arrest the progress of evil”
Today’s ruling is an assumption of undelegated powers, and evil is advancing.  The time to act in support of nullification in your area is NOW!  Please share the model legislation for Obamacare with as many people as possible, and please chip in as generously as possible to help us push this campaign aggressively.
While the task is difficult, our cause is just.
Concordia res parvae crescunt,
(small thing grow great by concord)
Michael Bolding
Tenth Amendment Center
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Our mailing address is:
Tenth Amendment Center
123 S. Figueroa St
Suite 1614
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Our telephone:
213.935.0553

AND WHAT DO I DO AS I WATCH ALL THIS TRANSPIRE?

I sigh.  I cry.  And sometimes I just want to lie down and die.  This is not the land of my birth, even though on the map it generally looks like it should be the same country as it was in 1960.

The transformation over the past fifty two years is simply horrific.  52 years was a key cycle of time among the Aztec, Maya, Mixtec, Tarascans & Zapotec in ancient Mesoamerica, and I can only say that I feel a certain sympathy for how an Aztec born in 1518 might have felt looking at the wreckage of his once proud nation in 1570 after 52 years of Spanish conquest, rape and pillage.  Like an Aztec born in the last year before the arrival of the Spanish, I have grown up and come to age watching my own people (the American Middle Class, especially Protestants of European descent) reduced to second class status, my people’s most attractive and beautiful women taken as prizes by the conquerors, my nation’s heritage and values denigrated, suppressed and taught in the schools as nothing but “heresy” from the New World Order.

I do speak Spanish fairly well and have spent many of the happier moments in my life in Mexico and elsewhere in the Hispanic World, from Bogotá to Barcelona, and I keep in touch with many friends and acquaintances of a Constitutional mindset from those parts of the world.  When they ask me what I consider to be the greatest single constitutional development under the Presidency of Barack Hussein Obama, I tell them without hesitation: N.A.D.A.  (aka Senate Bill 1867, you know, the statute that effectively repealed the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments that passed the Senate 93-7 last December).

Lenten Reflections on Deception or Murder: which is the Highest (most heinous, offensive, injurious) Crime known to Man?

If the primary focus of my legal and political life concerns the enhancement and preservation individual freedom from governmental control and the norms of technocratic/corporate society, my primary philosophical concern is to expand and deepen my own understanding, and I would hope, the understanding of others, of the nature and dimensions of truth*.

Did anyone else ever try to give up lying or “judging unfairly” for Lent?  (Most people might call the latter “being mean” or “bullying”).  It’s so much easier to give up coffee or tea or lemonade.  Most ordinary humans, if we can “to our own selves be true”, would find it difficult to go through a single day without abstracting, oversimplifying, recharacterizing, or otherwise restructuring the truth—in other words, without lying about anything.

Back during the middle-to-last years of the George W. Bush Administration, a fairly popular bumper-sticker read, “Nobody died when Clinton lied.”  Whether you believe George W. lied only about “Weapons of Mass Destruction” as chief among the reasons for invading Iraq, or whether you believe he lied about 9/11 and everything from the counting of the Florida ballots in 2000 through his initiation of the Bank Bailout after the election in 2008, George W. Bush undoubtedly told some devastatingly fatal lies.   In that regard, Bush stands in fairly good company.  Deception and trickery of various sorts lay at the roots of the Franco-Prussian War, the Spanish American War, the U.S. entry into World War I, and the U.S. entry into World War II.  Hitlers’ preposterous lies concerning “Polish aggression” as a cause for the Nazi invasion in September 1939 are legendary, as was the peculiarly deceptive nature of the Von Ribbentrop-Molotov (aka “Stalin-Hitler”) pact partitioning Poland between Germany and the Soviet Union.   These were lies that killed millions.  By contrast the uncountable deaths of Afghan and Iraqi civilians are by no one estimated to exceed one single million (by very much) since 2003.  So lies lead to death, but war and murder and the “sacrifice” of young healthy men and women as warriors constitutes a huge part of human history.   The meaning of death is fairly obvious, except of course in extraordinary cases like Karen Ann Quinlan and Terry Schiavo, where the correlation between physical health and brain death has created a modern moral crisis in rare instances with population-wide implications (especially for the ever increasing population of elderly citizens).   The meaning of “truth” is much murkier, and much harder to tie down, or make clear to anyone.  In the courtroom context, “truth” is whatever a skillful lawyer can use rhetoric to convince 12 jurors to believe and vote for.  In the scientific realm, “peer review” of articles largely determines truth and credibility—and under “Daubert” this same standard invades and has vast consequences in the legal context in an era where no serious litigation takes place without expert witnesses.  In the early 17th century a “peer review” panel of scholars belonging to the Office of the Holy Inquisition in Rome threatened Galileo with the most severe of penalties if he did not recant, and yet he is reputed to have muttered under his breath “e pur si muove.”  We now believe we know that Galileo had the higher claim to truth, even though he was forced to recant or suffer the same penalty that met a young maiden named Jean d’Arc when she refused to deny that her visions were true, and refused to affirm that they were the product of the Devil.

Revealing the truth, or stating an unpopular truth, then, can lead to death as certainly as lying or dissembling.   John Brown believed he waged a private war for the truth when he set Kansas on fire and then tried to seize the U.S. Armory at Harper’s Ferry.  Once John Brown’s body was a-moulding in the grave, his dream of a bloody civil war which would free the slaves was realized, and his role in starting that war is not to be underestimated.  But is it historically true that the war of 1861-65 freed the slaves? Or did the majority of the Black African population of America remain in de facto slavery through 1917 and the American entry into World War I?  Or even until 1942 and the American entry into World War II?  Or even until the Civil Rights Acts of 1948-1964 outlawed, successively, lynchings (1948) and discrimination in the facilities of interstate commerce (1964)?  What is the truth about the wars that redefined America and the world while slaughtering millions?  Was World War II really (in Studs Turkel’s words) the one really “Good War?”

As Japan smolders today in radioactive fallout and the threat of nuclear holocaust due to its dependence on nuclear power, one has to wonder how the Japanese people did not learn the “truth” about the destructive nature of the split atom from their uniquely fatal “true” experiences in August 1945.  I would have imagined that Japan would have been the least enthusiastic consumer of nuclear energy.  But oblivion born of political memory and economic prosperity change the perception of “truth” almost as much as intentional lies and misrepresentations.

What really happened on 9/11/01 between Boston Logan, Lower Manhattan, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania?  How many skyscraper-towers fell in New York City due to airplane crashes and associated fires on that day of infamy?  3?  2?  none? There are those alive today who believe each of those answers.  I happen to be one who believes the latter.  But that is because I so firmly agree with the motto, “When Clinton lied, no one died.”  (But when Bush lied, the world fried.)  Socrates is said to have corrupted the youth of Greece by advocating his own peculiar dissection of the truth.  Was he killed by fear of the truth or by a genuine belief that his methods and works were dangerous?  Or was he just killed by the Beastly Babbity Bourgeois Bores of post-Periclean Athens?

Philosophy fairly clearly teaches us that on one level, at least, we all have to recognize that any absolute definition of truth is destined to be a lie, or at the very least to generate lies and deception.  One on optimistic level, as I look at the hills around Santa Fe from my fifth floor balcony at La Fonda, the blue sky is only slightly hazy at the horizon and the hills or low mountains to the northeast, behind St. Francis’ Cathedral, have residual patches of snow, while those to the southwest of town do not.  It is a beautiful Spring day in one of the best and finest spots in North America.  What is “true” about this statement?  What is true about what I see?  The sun is not in my eye but clearly illuminates a town which has grown at least 300% since I first visited here here as a child.  There is not a cloud in the sky above, and only a few very low clouds hovering above the sky up and around.  The leaves on the trees are either just nascent buds or not out at all.  Most tree branches are barren, although again even from this low altitude (5th Floor) vantage point there is a difference between the north and the south looking views (more barren branches in the north, more just barely growing leaves on the south.

Is any of this true?  Is any of this real?  It so seems to me, and I doubt that many people (if any) would argue with my general characterization of the sky.  But then I look at St. Francis’ Cathedral, and the rather grotesquely purple-draped crucifix planted in front of it (purple for Lent).   I am not R.C. but have a great appreciation for the majesty and role of the Christian Church in the West.   I grew up an Episcopalian—basically of an “Anglo-Catholic lite” variety.  In my Sunday school days we argued over such things as why glaciers and the ice ages weren’t mentioned in the Bible while “Noah’s Flood” was, and what would happen to the English Church if England (all or part) were ever again covered with glacial ice as it most certainly was less than 15,000 years ago, and what would happen to the Freedom Trail in Boston if New England were glaciated again?  In short, my religious upbringing did not disallow the scientific view of the world, of evolution, and of man’s animal origins and nature.

I look at St. Francis’ Cathedral and the purple draped crucifix standing out in front again.  What is true and what is false?  What is real and what is fantasy?  And above all, which is the greater crime: deception or murder?

In the United States today, no one is ever executed for fraud, although life sentences are routinely meted out—(I for one have never understood why life in prison is an improvement over death; I have spent a lifetime total of 60 days in Federal Custody and rather than stay longer I would choose death any day).  In a German movie from the early 1990s, Schrechklische Maedschen, (“Nasty girl”) an ironic twist was when a distinguished citizen of the town, reputed to have been in the underground resistance during World War II, was revealed to have been not only not a resister but an enthusiastic Nazi who arranged to have an itinerant Jewish salesman tried and hanged as a swindler; in the context of the movie, this was portrayed as one of the great abuses of Nazi sympathizers on the less than epic, mundane, local level.  The Common Law of England, and the Civil Law of Europe, did not always forbid execution for swindling or ordinary commercial fraud (in fact most “felonies” were originally hanging offenses, including for example horse thievery).  Note at sidebar: if capital punishment were allowed for fraud today it seems certain that the entire executive corps of Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, would all be eligible to be twisting slowly in the breeze, and most mortgage-lending banks, investment, financial service companies would be entirely without upper level employees of any kind and very few middle level employees.

And yet I digress.  There was a time in England, in the 18th Century, when pickpockets were hanged when caught picking pockets.  And where in all of England were there ever more pickpockets in operations than at public hangings by Newgate prison, including the public hangings of pickpockets.  So stealing was bad and justified state-sanctioned murder.  Hmmm….

Today, possibly under the influence of of Karl Marx, added to a substrate laid by Jesus Christ, we do not think that theft is as bad as murder, and crimes such as led to stonings in Jesus’ time (such as adultery), are now capital only in Iran and a few adjacent countries depending on how the wind is blowing, apparently, although Saudi Arabia has executed its own princesses for sexual crimes in the modern (even the Reagan) era.

The crucifix draped in translucent purple in fron of St. Francis’ Cathedral is haunting me still.   Royal purple is not translucent.  The purple of mourning is not translucent.  A crucifix draped in translucent purple gauze is almost as tacky as the plastic BVMs (“Blessed Virgin Mary”s) that were once all so common on the lawns in LMC immigrant neighborhoods back East.

And yet the reality of the purple crucifix is that we are in Lent, one week past the Annunciation of the Coming of Christ by the Angel Gabriel to a certain unwed (and probably rather ethnic-looking) mother named Mary took place (the Annunciation, celebrated on March 25 or the nearest Sunday of each year, also serves to warn the world that only 9 months (270 days,  of shopping time remain until Christmas….).  Lent is the time (40 days and 40 nights) in which we are instructed to remember that Christ died for our sins…. One perfect and complete sacrifice for the sins of the Whole World…..

Lent in relation to Easter appears to have originated in Egypt sometime in the late 3rd or early 4th centuries A.D., but it is clearly conceptually connected to the many 40 day periods of retreat or fasting mentioned in the Old Testament/ Hebrew Bible.

One possibility is that Lent originated in a 40 day period in which the women of Israel wept for Tammuz….  This event, commemorated in one of the most enigmatic lines in the entire Hebrew Bible, is recorded in Ezekiel 8:14: “Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD’S house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.”

The author of Ezekiel refers to this sight as an “abomination” but Tammuz (Sumerian Dumuzi), was the lover of Ishtar/Inanna, the “Adonis” of the Fertile Crescent, who died each year and was reborn…. It is hard to know just how “deep” into the Cult of the Sacred Marriage of Inanna and Dumuzi the women of Israel described by Ezekiel might have been.  The “ordinary” priestesses of Inanna were in fact Temple “prostitutes”, a topic of greatest interest to modern scholarship, as well as to the Greek Historian Herodotus in describing the farthest “West” of the Near Eastern Temples ever recorded, found in Cypress.  The Sumerian word Dumu from which Dumuzi is derived may have meant something about the regenerative vegetative turgidity—Dumu—the sap which flows in the reeds that grow beside the life-giving Euphrates.  (The sap in the reeds gives rise to another farther flung comparison—of the Mesoamerican Tollan and the exile of “le Roi Ivre” (the Drunken King) aka the God Quetzalcoatl from the “Land of Reeds” after sexually incestuous indiscretion with the God’s sister were punished by rival deity Tezcatlipoca… but that is another essay for another day).  The Bible contains more evidence of Temple prostitution associated with either of the Goddesses Asherah or Astarte in Ancient Israel, mainly Asherah (Dumezilian Third Function Goddess whose name means, alternatively “Wealth” or “Poles”—as in wooden poles, not residents of that certain flatland country east of the Oder-Niese line, north of Czechoslovakia, and West of Belarus (Byelorussia).  The word “qedeshah” (“consecrated harlot”) occurs in Genesis 38: 21-22, Deuteronomy 23:18, and Hosea 4:14.  While Ahab’s Queen Jezebel, then, was no prostitute herself, insofar as the Bible reveals, her devotion to the goddess Asherah could possibly have made her the “madam” of many consecrated prostitutes, as the word qedeshah (root Q-D-S) is etymologically parsed and compared to Sumerian Quadishtu.

As a pause within any Lenten dissertation on high crimes, it is to be noted that in Biblical times and ever since, sexual crimes seem to be the most troublesome. The Prophet Elijah dedicated his life and prophetic works to the destruction of Jezebel and her fertility-oriented worship of Asherah.  I have never been fond of Elijah—his very name is an argument “El is [the same as] Yahweh”, but I think his attack on Hebrew polytheism is at least as strange and incongruous, perhaps even moreso, than Akhenaten’s attack on Egyptian Polytheism as much as 600-800 years earlier.

The truth is that nothing binds human beings together more tightly than their interest in/obsession with sex.  Today, the most heinous crimes are sexual crimes—there is no register of released killers, bankrobbers, or fraudulent tortfeasors identifying which released ex-cons live in which neighborhoods, but by Federal Law, sex offenders must be registered everywhere.   Convicted sex-offenders are stained with their stigmata for life, worse even than Jews in Nazi Germany (or the real or imagined Nazi-sympathizers in post-WWII France or other occupied countries).

Prostitution is, one supposes, the complete and total negation of traditional family life and marriage—yet if dedicated by and to the Priestesses of Inanna or Ishtar it was called “Sacred” among the Sumerians, Akkadians, Old through Neo-Babylonians, Assyrians, Kassites, Eblaites, Cannanites, and Cypriots of the Ancient Fertile Crescent.

I myself have often confronted the question: what is the difference between modern marriage and prostitution, and have concluded that the primary difference is in time of payment: prostitutes are paid “up front” while wives are paid (through the divorce and alimony system) post-facto, even (especially) if and when they enjoyed the full fruits of married life with their husbands.  Wives in a modern “Brave New World” Divorce of the type that Kathy Ann Garcia-Lawson has so completely eschewed, can typically collect much more for their sexual and child bearing services than even the most highly paid prostitutes ever stand to earn.  I suppose that is why the condescending Pharisees and Sadducees of our time (like Jesus’) called women who belong to the profession of which Mary Madeleine might have been a member, “Cheap”.  Yet Mary Madeleine, at the end of this Lenten Drama, is remembered as she who was the first to see the empty tomb and be greeted by the Risen Christ.  So who’s life and work was more precious to the Lord?

Prostitution and marriage—categorical opposites or merely points along a single continuum.  Which lifestyle represents greater freedom?  Which lifestyle represents greater honesty?  In Lent, when we reflect on our sins, mortal and venal, should we not reflect on such questions.

Are we today free from the hypocritical values which cast some as saints and some as sinners for very similar behaviors?

But leaving for a moment sex, lies and videotape, and returning to murder vs. lies, we go back to the foundation of modern Anthropology.  In The Golden Bough, published originally in 1890, but published in its more famous 12 volume 3rd edition contemporaneously with the Great European War, 1915-1918, Sir James G. Frazer focused on one single interrelated web of questions and problems relating to human religion worldwide: why is ritual murder or human sacrifice so common and why does it always focus on a dying King—a dying young man at the height of his masculine strength and life.

Dumuzi-Tammuz in Mesopotamia and Syro-Palestine (and Cyprus), the lover of Inanna-Ishtar; the model couple for the Sacred Marriage Rite of Ancient Sumer-Akkad-Babylon.  Osiris in Egypt, brother and lover of Isis, the model for Pharaonic resurrection and ultimately for all Egyptian resurrection (through the rites of mummification). Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, who for us and our Salvation came down from heaven, was made incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and made man.

Clive Staples Lewis once wrote an inquiry into the question of whether Jesus was “just another corn God” and concluded that he was not.  But the manifestations and apparent roots of Kingship and Sacrifice stretch from sub-Saharan Africa across Europe and Asia to the Americas.  The story of Quetzalcoatl-Kukulcan on the one hand, and the ritual sacrifice and corn-bread communion of Tezcatlipoca among the Aztec, certainly looks suspiciously like the rites of Christendom.  The early Spanish Conquistadors noted, as did their accompanying clergy, mostly “Franciscans” including but not limited to those who founded Santa Fe and the church here which ultimately evolved into the Cathedral of St. Francis, that the Aztec especially but to a lesser degree the Maya showed ritual parallels to all of the Seven Sacraments in their autochthonous theology, aboriginal ceremonies and indigenous beliefs.   For Sir James G. Frazer, as for Frays Bernaldino de Sahagun and Bartolome de las Casas, Aztec Religion was the nearest ritual approximate to Christianity outside of the Christian world itself.

What does this kind of similarity mean?  On Good Friday we “celebrate” the death of the Son of God.  In the rites of Toxcatl, the Aztec of Mexico celebrated the death of the human incarnation of Tezcatlipoca by human sacrifice.  Among the “Penitentes” of New Mexico, it was long rumored that actual human sacrifices took place on Good Friday to commemorate the original death.  The lines between cultures and religious ideology grows slim indeed.

For the Spanish, the Aztec Religion was a deceptive mockery of Christianity, going back to our original question of whether murder or deception is the highest crime known to Man.  For their sins of heresy and failure to adopt or comprehend Christianity, the Native American peoples were alternatively enslaved, burned at the stake, slaughtered in brutal war, or simply denied the right to serve as priests (despite decades of work, in the sixteenth century, of the bilingual Nahuatl & Spanish Colegio de Tlatelolco established by Sahagun) because they were doctrinally deemed to be soulless creatures easily deceived by the Devil and incapable of understanding or implementing the one “True” Christian faith.

So notions of fraud and murder converge in Christianity specifically, in world religions generally, and throughout the study of Divine Kingship, by Sir James G. Frazer and his followers, who constitute the core of Anglophone Anthropology from E.E. Evans-Pritchardt, A.R. Radcliffe-Brown, and Alfred M. Hocart, of an older generation, to Marshall Sahlins, Valerio Valeri, and Gillian Feeley-Harnik of the more recent and modern era.

Is murder truth or deception?  Joss Whedon is one of the most talented writers ever to approach television, and has put many amazing words into the mouths of his characters in several different series.  In the fourth season of Whedon’s series Angel, the eponymous character’s son, a human offspring of vampire parents (Angel and Darla) named “Connor”, tells his father,  “There’s only one thing that ever changes anything and that’s death. Everything else is a lie. You can’t be saved by a lie. You can’t be saved at all.”  (Episode 4.22 “Home”)

This pretty much sums up the Wagnerian-Schopenhauerian-Nietzschean dilemma: DEATH IS THE ONLY THING THAT EVER CHANGES ANYTHING.  Is everything else really a lie though?  Can we be saved by the death of Divine Kings?  Tezcatlipoca in the rites of Toxcatl? Dumuzi-Tammuz?  Osiris?  One-Eyed Wotan’s self-willed immolation in Walhalla at the Twilight of the Gods after the Murder of his grandson Siegfried by the treacherous half-breed Hagen?  or Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews?

Deception and Murder, from an Anthropological perspective, are fairly unique aspects of the human condition.  Male animals kill each other over mates.  Animals compete for food.  Animals know the law of the jungle: kill to eat, or to prevent oneself from being eaten.  But most animals do not set elaborate mechanical traps (that’s why a Spider’s web is so intriguing and powerful a symbol to the human mind) or drive entire herds over cliffs merely to eat and skin a few of the animals who die in the stampede (Native American Archaeological Kill sites are common from New Mexico to Alberta and elsewhere in the Americas, with prehistoric documentation going back at least to Torralba-Ambrona in the late Acheulean, Lower Palaeolithic, of Spain), but such behavior is routine among humans.  We do not think of this, perhaps, so routinely as “deception” because we do not imagine that the animals would understand the fraud if it were explained to them: “if you step on this spot, you will be caught in a trap and eaten; if you stampede over a cliff with the rest of the herd, while being chased by humans, you will all die but only a few of you will be eaten and the rest will simply rot.”  So death can be the result of deception—death can be the result of lies, even though, as  Connor believes, there is something satisfyingly clear and absolute about death that makes it “truer than life,” perhaps.

Propaganda (Advertising) and Technologically Advanced Warfare write deception and murder large across the tableau of modern history.  As Winston Churchill once observed, man is the only creature who periodically goes out to slaughter large numbers of individuals of the same species, and the invitation, the incentive to such officially sanctioned, corporate, mass murder is what we call political or….other kinds of….propaganda or advertising.  Only a few well-selected deceptive words like “weapons of mass destruction” are all it takes to rally the American population to warfare, it seems.  Yet there have been schools of thought in the not so distant past which believed and argued that truth and the maximum expression of human nobility resided in warfare, like death itself, or murder.

One of the principal reasons I have chosen to be a civil rights activist is that I have seen American Judges (both State and Federal), supposedly the ultimate arbiters of “truth” in society, so corruptly twist the truth or even the facts as presented to them, that I have little or no lingering confidence in the judicial system, anywhere, as a means of ascertaining the truth.  Quite the opposite: in mortgage finance, family, domestic relations, & “child welfare” law, the government (including the judges) more often than not come down on the side of the liars and the corrupt, and against those trying to ferret out the truth.  Doctrines such as “parental alienation” and “best interests of the child” combine to give judges and social welfare workers the power to wreak such havoc on home and family life that, frankly, it is amazing today that any traces of home or family life exist in America today.   What is the truth we are fighting for here?  I think that the real, not-so-hidden agenda behind the iron curtail of Family Law and Domestic Relations in the United States, coupled with the mortgage finance/credit-based monetary system, consists of one single goal: the abolition of the family and private property in America and the rest of the developed world, thereby realizing two of Karl Marx’s key dreams articulated in the Communist Manifesto of 1848, or in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World nightmare of 1931.

*My son Charlie, a Freshman at St. John’s College in Annapolis, regularly tortures me with impossible philosophical questions about classification, perception, and reality and all I can say is: Good for Him! I wish I had had that kind of training, but I am deficient at the dissection of philosophical questions.  His perception and understanding of Aristotle, Parmenides, Plato, and Socrates already far exceeds my own.  As my late aunt Mildred would have said, “he is well-schooled and so acquainted with all the Gone Greeks.”  St. John’s curriculum is apparently as amazing and true to the mediaeval and renaissance traditions as I had always heard—and as difficult.

January 9, 2011—Thoughts on Private Property vs. Communism/Communal Ownership as the Battle of New Orleans day marks end of Christmas and the New Year has begun in earnest

Yesterday (January 8, 2011) was the 196th Anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans, fought in 1815.  The Battle of New Orleans is extremely important in the history of the United States of America because it is the only battle of the War of 1812 which the Americans won.  It is extremely unimportant in world history except insofar as it launched the political career of Andrew Jackson and crystalized the legend of the (already nearly legendary) Pirate Captain Jean Lafitte, whose career spanned from France to Barataria Bay and Grand Isle, Louisiana, to Galveston, Texas, to Tzilam Bravo, Yucatan, Mexico, where there is a monument to him (as well as the marvelous [German Refugee owned] Bungalow Hotel Capitan Lafitte south of Cancun—one of my favorite resorts in the entire world).

But the War of 1812 was an unmitigated catastrophe for the United States, and might well have ended the country’s history all together.  Washington, D.C., was not only captured and burned but briefly occupied by the British Troops. How the Fall of the Capital City and Capitol buildings to the former rulers of the land, did not spell the end of the not even 38 year old nascent Federal republic can be answered in one word: Napoleon.

The British army and navy were so tied up during the years 1812-1814 trying to dethrone the Corsican Emperor of the French who also wanted to be Emperor of  Europe that they really just couldn’t be bothered to invest the time and energy it was going to take to discipline the rowdy colonials in America.

In any case, just before the British occupied the White House, First Lady Dolly Madison had the foresight (did she know the British were going to burn the entire city?) to cut a famous picture of George Washington out of its frame and take it off somewhere safe.  Dolly Madison might otherwise be forgotten to history, so this was her great moment, but so far as the War of 1812 goes, it was just a disaster, and didn’t reflect too well on the stability of the young nation known as the USA.

The British won all the significant conflicts “on the land and on the sea” and it was just pure preoccupation with Napoleon that led them to make peace in November of 1814—which leads us to the funniest part of the great American Victory in New Orleans—it was won two months after the war was over…. But you see, since the war had been so terrible for the Americans, they were terribly happy about Colonel Andrew Jackson’s victory over the British, led by General Edward Michael Pakenham (Brother in Law of Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, who is most celebrated in history for a battle he won in a muddy field in Belgium, known by the appropriately grody name of “Waterloo”—which coincidentally was the end or “Waterloo” for Napoleon Bonaparte himself—so had the war of 1812 gone on any longer—America MIGHT have been lost…)

Anyhow—my Nachitoches, Louisiana-born and New Orleans educated grandmother Helen always made sure we celebrated Battle of New Orleans day—it was kind of the last day of the Christmas holidays—2 days after the Feast of the Epiphany, 5 days after her husband’s (my grandfather’s, the head of the household’s) birthday, and a week after New Year’s.

Since Elena and her mother and Charlie and I had celebrated Christmas at Tujague’s Restaurant (Founded 1856), and I did very little after December 25 to celebrate any of the twelve days of Christmas, not even 12th night or epiphany, and only went to see fireworks by the artillery in front of Jackson Square on New Year’s Eve, I decided to celebrate the Battle of New Orleans Day there, albeit sadly alone and without Elena and Charlie—and it was great again…. their spicy Briskette between dishes is one of the most distinctive things they’ve got… but everything there is wonderful. According to one of the many family legends about him, my grandmother’s father “Judge Benny” in New Orleans (once of the Louisiana Supreme Court and a mentor of a young lawyer named Huey Pierce Long, but who died the year I was born) told stories about Tujague’s at the turn of the LAST century—when they didn’t charge for food but had oysters piled up and only charged for liquor…. And so the late Autumn—Winter Solstice Holidays ended and yesterday *January 9, 2011* was indeed a dull dreary day in New Orleans—rainy and as wintery as it gets around here.  Worst of all, Charlie got on an aeroplane and flew back to drab, dreadful Baltimore, from whence he returned to dull but not quite so drab and dreadful Annapolis to begin his second term as a Freshman at St. John’s College—but he loves that little red-brick colonial college and town—and the classical education in language and philosophy he is getting there, so he’s happy.

I suppose the holidays of the end of the year really begin with Halloween, then All Saints then All Souls, then Guy Fawkes November 5 & Veterans’ Day/Remembrance Day/November 11, then Thanksgiving, then St. Andrews’ Day and Christ the King, then Advent with its Wreathes and multi-windowed, day-by-day Advent Calendars followed by December 25, St. Stephens’ Day, St. Johns’ Day, Holy Innocents, and the remainder of the Twelve Days of Christmas—-and for us as a family it all ended with this strange celebration of Battle of New Orleans Day—the battle that the Americans won that decided nothing because the war was over (*but I always used to wonder, what if the British HAD captured New Orleans? well, the food here probably wouldn’t have been nearly so good for one thing).

So anyhow, the Battle of New Orleans was a key event in U.S. history along only one axis or dimension: this was the battle that more than anything else launched Andrew Jackson of Tennessee towards the Presidency (he was the first President from “the West”, in his case Tennessee).  Jackson’s rise and the associated socio-cultural and political processes doomed (1) the Bank of the United States, whose demise was a good thing, and (2) the Five Civilized Tribes of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole Indians, which was a very bad thing, but very important in the history of the U.S. and the Southern States in particular.   Because of his role in the Battle of New Orleans and as Seventh President, Andrew Jackson presides over the main square of New Orleans in front of St. Louis Cathedral, with an inscription on the pedestal “The Union must and shall be preserved” which he not only never said but never would have said (it was inscribed there by the occupying Yankee General—“Butler the Beast,” after New Orleans’ somewhat cowardly if rationally self-preservative surrender during 1862—the first full year of the War Between the States).  Jackson was a dedicated “states rights” democrat—a true Jacksonian in fact—and that is why, among other things, he dismantled the Bank of the United States in an effort to decentralize credit.

But the removal of the Southern Civilized Tribes was a different and very sad story.  Much shame and no glory to Jackson on that account.  But oddly enough it was just as symbolic and representative of the transformative economic debates and struggles of the 19th Century as the Bank itself. The truth about the Cherokee of Georgia, in particular, was that they were almost completely acculturated.  They had been agriculturalists for a thousand years before the arrival of the white man and lived in essentially stone-age/palaeo-technological urban centers like Etowah not one iota less sophisticated than most of the templed sites of Mexico—excluding only the Maya and Zapotec who exceeded the others by their public literacy, albeit elaborately naturalistic hieroglyphs which were ornate, baroque, and cumbersome, even compared to Egyptian hieroglyphs, never mind cuneiform or alphabetic writing…. But the Cherokee under Anglo-influence even developed their own alphabet in the 19th century for legal and literary purposes.

So just how acculturated were the Cherokee?  More than 60% of the lowland Cherokee population in Georgia had converted to Christianity by 1810, their chiefs lived in large neo-classical “Plantation” homes—and the Cherokee people held, per capita, as many African slaves as white people did and employed them in exactly the same way—slavery having been a long-standing tradition among all the Five Southern Civilized Tribes.  The Cherokee had instituted Anglo-style courts and jury-trials and newspapers and schools and churches. There was only one regard in which the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole refused to acculturate to the Anglo-American ways—and it turned out this was fatal.  Despite heavy intermarriage and adoption of Western customs of dress and commerce (in movable property and goods), the Cherokee refused to adopt private property.

This feature of North American aboriginal land tenure—primitive communism—and this feature alone of the Anglo-Cherokee lifestyle meant that the two cultures could not exist in Georgia, nor the Choctaw in Mississippi nor the Creek in Alabama.  This was a classic example of the Marxist confrontation between two dialectically opposed “modes of production”, and “primitive communism” and private property regimes simply are incompatible, apparently—they cannot peacefully coexist within the same society. In terms of cultural evolution, it may be interesting to note that the Maya, the most advanced and literate of all Native American cultures, had a strong tradition of private property—and litigated legal disputes over land that continued from pre-Hispanic times through and beyond the Spanish colonial period.

And so it was (and still is) that the private property holding and accustomed Yucatec Maya and Aztec of Mexico survived in much greater numbers than their illiterate and “communistic” North American cousins—despite so many other symbolic and structural similarities between the political, economic, and cultural manifestations between North and Middle America.

Nowhere in North America did population grow as large as in Mexico, but Alabama and Mississippi had even higher density and more elaborate and deep historical roots for the civilized tribes than Georgia—though even Hernando de Soto was overwhelmed with the riches of the Natives of Georgia when he arrived in the 1540s—but Moundville in Alabama is considered one of the most elaborate of pre-Hispanic urban centers in North America.  And the dozens of elaborate mounded Mississippian sites from Natchez and Vicksburg to Winterville and the Yazoo Basin and  Teoc in Carroll County, ancestral Plantation (and Indian mound site) home of the family of Senator John McCain, at which later place I have had the privilege of participating in Harvard-Lower Mississippi Survey archaeological research all attest to a widespread sophisticated culture which was worthy of more place in world history than Ancient Native Mississippian society has retained, in large part thanks to Andrew Jackson.

Still, as the last Christmas season vanishes and the New Year begins in earnest, and I renew my own war to preserve the private property “mode of production” from the creeping modern communism of today’s centralized banks, I look back on the history of the Battle of New Orleans and impetus it gave to the Seventh President’s career with a mixture of awe and sad wonder: the Cherokee had every right to remain in Georgia and it was a crime to deprive them of THEIR property rights.  The Choctaw homelands of Mississippi and the Creeks of Alabama the same.  Why could the white settlers NOT have worked out a compromise between private property ownership on Anglo lands and communal ownership within the Indian Nations—as they were called, and as they rightfully were?  Or would the compromise have been one of extensions of credit by which the Cherokee would have been further assimilated into Anglo society, but not removed by force, and would this credit economy, if centralized by a Bank of the United States (such as the Federal Reserve ultimately became?) not have ultimately led to a general imposition of communal land tenure such as that towards which the United States appears to be tending at the present time….communal except owned not by Indian tribes controlled by friendly chiefs, but by far off bank bureaucrats who work together with the government…..