Abortion and Free Will

It’s not about “a woman’s right to choose” and it never has been. That’s one of those cleverly crafted Progressive catch phrases, like “climate change” that belies the truth. If it were about a woman’s right to choose then there would be an uproar every time a woman chooses to have her breasts removed because she is predisposed to the BRCA gene, or chooses to have her uterus removed because she no longer needs it, or chooses to have her face lifted, breasts enhanced or her thighs reduced by liposuction.

LifeWhy do you suppose there is never picketing at those medical procedures? You know why? Because everyone agrees that women have the right to choose to do whatever we want with our bodies.

What we don’t have the right to do is harm another body that is inside of our own. Which is why when those medical procedures occur, and 55 million of them have occurred in this country since 1973, lots of people get very upset. They have been upset about the killing of those bodies for quite some time.

Now, it seems, they are upset about profiting off of the sale of internal organs from those bodies that have been, and continue to be, wantonly killed. Killed in a brutal and merciless way that does the job without diminishing the profits.

I’ve been thinking a lot about abortion the past few days as I approach the Jewish holiday known as Tish b’Av. Saturday, July 25th will be the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av. It is a tragic day in Jewish history as it commemorates, in the Book of Lamentations, the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem, destruction of the Temple, and exile of the Israelites to Babylon and into slavery for 70 years. The Prophet Jeremiah forewarned the people that unless they altered their ways and returned to God, tragedy awaited them. It seems he specifically mentioned the “sacrificing of their children” on the altars of the pagan god Baal.

Here in the United States, we began to take God out of the schools and, later, out of public discourse in the 1960’s. In 1973, we legalized the beginning of what has become the sacrifice of 55 million lives to the gods of Self-Satisfaction and Convenience. There is no Jeremiah warning us of impending tragedy but if you listen carefully, the echo of history can be heard none-the-less.

Abortion is murder and Planned Parenthood conspires daily to commit it. But they are not the problem…only its means of perpetuation. We are the problem. For deluding ourselves that something other than the slaughter of innocents, in a most cruel and pain inflicting manner, is taking place all around us every day in every city. We are…for deluding ourselves that we can defy God’s will and survive our own arrogance.

Yes, Free Will exists. But it’s not about a woman’s right to choose; it’s about knowing where our power stops and God’s begins.

Carole

No Speculators Allowed

Storage Wars is a great show about capitalism. I love it!

Storage WarsThe premise of the show is that buyers  bid on storage units that have been foreclosed. The people who originally owned the storage units have gone into arrears and are no longer able to pay for the units.

The show is really a glimpse into the dark underside of the housing crash. What we get to witness is the complete liquidation of ones person’s life and all of their possessions. During the housing crash, when foreclosures were rampant, owners moved their possessions into storage units in the hopes of reclaiming their assets once the economy improved.

But that never happened. The storage owners eventually gave up on paying for their personal belongings and left their property for the storage companies to liquidate.

The liquidation starts when the  auctioneer opens the unit and allows the buyers to peer into the units. Inspection of the goods and opening the boxes to verify the items worth is not permitted.  Bidders can look but cannot touch. So, for example,  if there is a safe in the unit, the buyer can not inspect the contents of the safe. There might be millions of dollars inside…or nothing.

Before the auction, the buyers take a quick scan and gauge if the unit owners may have money.  The presence of a piano  might signal that the family had money and, therefore, that the unopened boxes might have value. To the contrary, a unit with Tupperware lying around might be a signal that the person was from a middle class or poor background. Sometimes the signals are correct; other times they can throw the bidder off where he or she ends up paying too much for a unit.

Needless to say, the show is fascinating because the information is imperfect and even the best of buyers make mistakes.

The storage buyers are essentially like vultures picking at the last remnants of a rotting carcass… sucking off the last bits of flesh at the bone. The auction is a total liquidation of someone’s tragedy. The show is both beautiful and tragic. The tragedy in the liquidation. The beauty is the creation of new wealth.

In some cases bid winners of the units have founds gold coins, memorable collectibles and jewelry. Other times the boxes might contain worthless clothes, pictures and housewares with no value.

The second part of the show, equally fascinating, is when the buyers of the units then go to get their newly acquired items valued and sold. It can be a crap shoot as a seemingly simple item can be turn out to have significant value.. In one show, one of the shows stars liquidated a box of yo-yos for over $2,000 dollars.

A typical transaction involving valuation might go as follows:

  • Storage owner: How much is the piece worth?
  • Appraiser: Given the condition and the uniqueness of the item, I would value it at $500.
  • Storage owner: $500 wow , that is  a lot higher than I thought. Great I would like to sell it.
  • Appraiser: I agree the item is worth $500 but I can only pay you $250 for it.
  • Storage Owner: $250, that seems low you just told me it was worth $500
  • Appraiser: It is worth $500 but I can only pay $250. I need to make a profit on this transaction. I will be taking the risk of storing it and marketing it and if I don’t sell it I am out the full amount.
  • Storage owner. Fair enough, sold.

The show is very instructive. It shows that both parties need to make money in order for the transaction to be successful. If the appraiser can not make any money on the transaction, he will not buy the item.

Which leads me to something very interesting that is happening in the bond market that is halting the trading flow and liquidity of bonds.

Around 10 years ago the bond market was, for the most part, unregulated. Trades were negotiated between buyers and sellers. On any  given day a bond could trade with a variance of 5 points or more. In addition, the trades did not have to be reported right away. Consequently, there was always an element of price discovery that took place in pricing up the security correctly. Significant variations in price could have been the result of liquidity, risk or straight greed.

Given the variance of prices, fund managers and the regulators got upset. They felt it was unfair to have such huge price variances in the market so they came up with a system called TRACE, whereby all of the prices of the trades had to be reported immediately. Now when a trade takes place everybody knows what the price is immediately. Fund mangers and regulators are now happy because there is much less variance in bond prices.

But there has been a downside to all of this: less trading. Even though the market has perfect information, trading has come to a halt. Perfect information has taken away the need to speculate.

A typical transaction now looks like this:

Fund Manger: I need a bid on 50 million Brazil 5 year bonds.

Trader: I can pay you 99.5 for those bonds

Fund Manager: The bonds last traded were just reported at 100.10 and I want to sell there.

Trader: If I pay you 100.10, I can’t make any money. Once the trade gets reported, the market will now know that there is a trader who now has to sell 50 million of these bonds and they will move the prices lower. So I will be taking a risk and need to be paid for doing so.

Fund Manger: I can’t sell at 99.5 because my boss will want to know why I am selling 60 cents below the market and he will not authorize the trade.

Trader: O.K. No trade.

This conversation is happening all over the world each and every day. Most people could care less about the world bond markets, but they should! It affects and touches all areas of our lives. Bond markets affect the rates we pay on credit cards, home loans, car loans and more.

The government has interfered and determined that if given perfect information, the market players would trade more. But the opposite has happened. They are doing no business. As less and less trading takes place, bond funds are full of positions they cannot sell and are growing more and more bloated. There will come a time when there will be a need to liquidate these excesses.  As it stands right now there is no mechanism for doing so.

Storage units liquidations  are a great example of the free market clearing out excesses and allocating capital and resources to the people best suited for it. But what the government is creating in the bond market by not allowing bonds to clear at a level where both parties can make money is creating a problem that will result in an even bigger crisis than the one we last went through.

 

As Storm Clouds Gather

While I would prefer to avoid the news of the day, co-hosting “Above The Fray” podcast twice a week and writing to this blog requires that I keep up on what’s happening, which includes not only reading news sites and other blog posts but also the comments that accompany them. The comments give insight into what the readers are thinking but also into what the manipulators are orchestrating.

StormLately both the news, and the comments that accompany it, have become disturbing for two reasons: extreme intolerance and escalating hate. Both should be an alarm of sorts…warning us that something, or someone, is fueling the flames of conflict and division. We had better be alert to where it will lead and what precipitous actions we may be deliberately manipulated into taking out of fear.

It’s probably safe to say there are very few people who do not sense impending trouble. While no one is certain whether it will be by way of the economy, terror, war or natural disaster… something is definitely brewing. As with the onset of a storm, it’s as visceral as rapidly dropping barometric pressure. We feel it… without knowing what the it is.

“It” has many disguises but only one name: Evil.

In Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, it is taught that Satan is nothing more than doubt. Doubt that God exists. Doubt that God is good. Doubt in the healing, uniting and miraculous power of the Divine. For once you doubt God, your world becomes a breeding ground for evil. In a world of duality, in the absence of “good (read “God”) a space is created in which its opposite “evil” (read “Satan”) can occupy.

I’m not saying that simply believing in God is the way to oppose a market crash, ISIL, war or an earthquake. What I am saying is that when you believe in a powerful, loving and engaged force, God, you tend to live more in joy than in fear. So that when a crisis arises, you are in a better mental and emotional state to be pro-active rather than being fearfully re-active.

Now, while I’m not sure how Gandhi did it with the British Empire, I have seen it work.

I once knew an Orthodox Rabbi from New York who was perpetually happy. He had the spirit of a playful child. He commuted two weekends a month by bus from New York to Southern New Jersey to officiate Sabbath ceremonies for a small Jewish community. He usually took a return bus to New York late Saturday night after the Sabbath ended which got him into the City after dark. He would then walk to his apartment several blocks away from the bus station.

One evening, as he began to walk home from the station, a gang of black youths began to follow him. The further he walked the more they gained speed until they caught up and surrounded him. They began to taunt him, making fun of his attire and his beard. True to his spirit, he remained joyful and smiling no matter what they said to him. Finally, one of the gang members pulled out a knife. It was pretty clear what their intentions were. But at that moment, when almost anyone else might have been terrified, the Rabbi began to sing and dance, trying to engage one of the gang members to dance with him! The youths were so incredulous that when one of them said, “This guy is crazy! Let’s get out of here” they all ran.

The Rabbi wasn’t crazy. Nor was he acting. He was living his life as he always did, joyful in his faith in God. The youths, who lived lives absent God, knew only how to have a fearful reaction. Perhaps the story is the microcosm of what Gandhi was able to do in the macrocosm. I’m not certain.

But if trouble is on the horizon, in whatever form, we would be wise to hold fast to belief and trust in the invincibility of faith over doubt, good over evil, and God over the forces that inhabit our world when we fail to remember where we came from, who we are, why we are here and who, precisely, has your back.

Carole (contact@carolegold.com)

The Inarticulate Messenger: Donald Trump

A desperate People are a dangerous lot and the uproar over Donald Trump is evidence of our desperation. However, to throw stones or worse, misperceive what all the hoopla is about, will lead the Nation into deeper waters than we currently tread.

MessengerMore than half the country, and I venture a guess it’s more like three-fourths, are frustrated at best and angry at worst. For a variety of reasons, some having their roots in the far Left and others in the far Right…with a not insignificant percentage smack in the middle…we feel twice misled by the candidacy of Barack Obama. This is not to absolve us, the voters, of responsibility for our choice but rather to say out loud the unspeakable thought: Barack Obama had an agenda to transform our Nation into something un-American and desirable to him, yet unfamiliar and unrecognizable to us.

He succeeded.

There is no time for blame. That time is long since passed and blame, in any case, is hindsight. We must look decidedly at the conditions of our present with clarity towards our intentions for the future. Unless we are prepared to understand and accept how we hungered for hope and change, we are destined (perhaps doomed) to now make a more egregious error than we did in 2008 and again in 2012.

For those of the far Left who think my choice of an analogy to the conditions of 1932 Germany that led to the rise of Adolph Hitler with the current popularity of Donald Trump is their dream post, your cause for celebration and glee is premature. My analogy is to the consciousness of the German people in 1932 that permitted an Adolph Hitler to rise to power, not to Hitler himself. The mindset of those people is not unlike the mindset of Americans today.

For those on the far Right and Middle, who would therefore anticipate that I am about to rally in support of Donald Trump would also be celebrating prematurely. Trump is tapping into, and giving voice to, the frustrations and anger of the majority but he is doing it poorly. The originator of the “art of the deal,” it turns out, is incredibly crass at articulating the deal.

Don’t kill the messenger.

Trump is substantively correct. We have ignored the law and the border at our peril. We have been on the losing side of every deal with every nation with whom we negotiate economic matters. We have alienated or abandoned our friends while exhibiting indecision and weakness to our enemies. We have allowed the founding documents and the Constitutional process to be demeaned and shredded before our very eyes while allowing corrupt and favor-beholden politicians to sell our interests to the highest bidder for their own personal gain.

Don’t kill the messenger.

Donald Trump is speaking truth to power. Speaking it poorly, and by so doing, allowing his detractors to make the issues bias, bigotry and comedy rather than giving the substance and truth of what Trump is bringing front and center the attention and consideration it warrants. As for Trump’s admirers, they are so caught up in the thrill of finally hearing someone say what we all know to be true, that they are blinding themselves to the dangers of how he is saying it.

I never blame Hitler. If blame resides anywhere it resides with a people so hungry, desperate and downtrodden as to throw caution and reason to the wind and follow a Pied Piper of Hate because he stood for something, however evil, at a time when all else had lost its meaning.

Today, marriage between a man and a woman is no longer what it has been for two thousand years. In fact, a man and a woman are no longer what they have been either. White is black if you “identify with it” as such. Assurances “you will see your health insurance premiums reduced $2500 per family” mean nothing. Working hard towards the American Dream is no longer hard…it’s impossible, with 93 million Americans out of the work force. A diseased and deranged mind is caused by a flag that needs to be abolished while dozens of youth gunned down, and gunning down, in Chicago, Detroit and Baltimore every weekend go unnoticed. Lies become truth because the liars say them often enough and we remain compliant.

Enter Donald Trump.

The appeal is the hubris. The unabashed admission of wealth so vast it can insulate him against the backlash of a corrupted system. The take-no-prisoners attitude. The one voice finally emerging on behalf of the many.

This is a dangerous and pivotal time for America. The easy out will be something akin to a dictator. A person who will tell you what is wrong, who’s to blame and why they are the one with the answer. The answer, in the long run, usually turns out to be oppression followed by enslavement. Jesus never said he had the answer. He said he found the way. The way is never easy and no one can do it on your behalf whether you are an individual or a Nation.

Our task is now twofold.

First, as individuals, we must live lives of impeccable integrity and service to one another. We need each other and there is no shame in that. I’ve always said that if we were meant to be alone, God could have just as easily placed each of us on our own planet. Instead, we are here together and as the saying goes, “united we stand.”

Secondly, as citizens of the greatest experiment in human freedom ever to grace this planet, to quickly and with resolve focus upon the responsibilities of citizenship. These responsibilities are to stand for what is right and lawful, to hold our elected representatives accountable to We The People, and to rise up when necessary to correct the course of events in order to preserve, protect and defend what so many before us gave their lives so that we might read and write posts such as this.

Carole (contact@carolegold.com)

Free Speech: The Assault Begins

On 9/11, I was working for Merrill Lynch in the financial district of Manhattan when the buildings came down.

speechAt the time I was not quite sure what was happening. I believe the normal reaction would have been to run and get out of there as quickly as possible, but I was mesmerized. Even though I was at the center of Ground Zero of a terrorist attack I did not move. In fact, after the first plane hit, I watched the T.V. monitor for the latest developments.

I didn’t move because I didn’t know what was happening, nor could I comprehend that someone would actually fly a plane into a building. After a ten minute lull, the light bulb went off in my head and I made for the exits. I will always remember those first ten minutes because of the way I responded…as did everyone else around me. None of us moved.

In hindsight, I should have known what was happening. Previously, I had actually read a book about the likelihood of such an attack. I am a big Nelson Demille fan and around 1999-2001 I devoured everything he wrote including his book “The Lions Game.”  The plot centered around a terrorist who uses a plane to kill people. The book goes into great lengths to lay out the possibility of the Twin Towers being destroyed by planes. As a former Marine Officer, I had spent a considerable amount of time in the Middle East during Operation Desert Storm and had taken numerous courses on terrorism and anti-terrorism. Still, at the epicenter of an attack, I was momentarily lost along with everyone else.

This inability to react, known as the normalcy bias is a common human reaction.  Some events are so evil in nature they become almost incomprehensible to the human mind as they are occurring.

Now, fourteen years after 9/11, another type of evil has surfaced and the normalcy bias is fully in play.  The assault on Free Speech has begun and woefully few of us are reacting as we should.

Take the latest case of Donald Trump criticizing the U.S government’s policy on immigration. Trump has asserted that Mexico is sending  the U.S many of its worst citizens. He was not saying all Mexicans were bad; just that a portion of the illegals that come here tend to commit a variety of violent crimes against U.S citizens. Trump thinks the conditions allowing this assault to continue need to be immediately and fully addressed… as should every law abiding citizen.That he may speak inartfully does not change the truthfulness of the message.

For speaking truth, Trump’s projects and contracts have been 1) cancelled by by N.B.C; 2) nullified by Macy’s ; 3) terminated by Univison;  boycotted by the PGA, and deemed by the Mayor of New York City to be in threat of terminating Trump’s business contracts with the city (by the way, an action a government entity is prohibited from taking…unless of course its headed by a Socialist).

The fact that Donald Trump is a billionaire and can handle these financial losses is irrelevant. This is a direct attack on a citizen’s Right to Free Speech as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Constitutional protection means nothing to a politically correct and politically motivated press and corporate entities, both of which drink at the trough of crony capitalism.

The assault on Trump is also a direct warning shot across the bow of any potential Presidential candidate who has politically “incorrect” ideas on immigration: Speak out and you will feel the wrath of retribution.

Beware if you take glee in the push-back Trump is experiencing. Your revelry will be temporary. As the issues and topics change, and this faux outrage is deliberately inflamed, more and more average Americans will find themselves the object of such brutal attacks, having their business shut down for not complying with the dictates of the politically correct.

Even before Trump, such attacks on bakers and florist unwilling to tend to gay clientele have forced many of them to close shop while sending chills down the spines of people who believe in free speech.

If you doubt it’s coming to a “theater near you,” look to history. History is filled with reactionaries and revolutionaries who attacked their opponents for not cowing to the political winds of the moment. Look at Robespierre, leader of the French Revolution, who was ultimately executed by the same beast he had created.

Free Speech is under assault and the counter cultural is jumping for joy as their enemies are taken down. But an assault on Free Speech, once commenced and unopposed, develops an insatiable hunger until there is nothing left to consume but the last vestiges of a once free society.

Most Americans, having grown up in a society that abhorred censorship, are experiencing the normalcy bias. They can’t perceive the attack because they still  believe the First Amendment will save us.  But lurking in the wings is the second wave of assault: The shutting down of religious institutions that still define marriage in the traditionalist sense. Once their voices are silenced…well, once again history is instructive. Hitler had all the images of Jesus removed from the Churches and replaced with those of “Der Fuhrer.”

We are not having a national experience of first impression. Our own history is replete with courageous citizens who have tried to awaken us  out of our collective slumber.

In the 1950’s Whitaker Chambers, Time Magazine editor, testified against Alger Hiss claiming he, along with many other government officials, were Communist sympathizers and spies for Russia; claims that were later to be found true. Chambers  said one of the hardest things he had to do was convince his colleagues of the threat, even though he possessed physical proof of their traitorous ways. His colleagues, as well as the general population, could not comprehend that their fellow Americans actually hated their own country, opposed everything it stood for and conspired with the enemy towards its destruction. Again, the normalcy bias in play.

The once former Leftist radical, David Horowitz, went through a similar awakening as a Leftist radical working with the Black Panthers in the 1960’s. An avowed Leftist, his main goal was to bring down the traditional institutions of the U.S.  During the time Horowitz worked with the Black Panther Party, its members killed a young female colleague of his that he had recommend work for them. The murder of his friend devastated him so completely that he was forced to reevaluate everything he believed and stood for up to that time.

The ruthlessness of the Left to reach their objectives changed Horowitz so deeply that he abandoned the movement. Today, Horowitz is a fearlessly outspoken opponent of Leftism and lectures around the country on its true aims and goals. He admits that he never saw the possibility of his friend being killed and so missed all of the warning signs that led to her death. Upon reflection, he realizes that he had misread the viciousness of the Black Panther Party and the extent they would go to achieve their aims. Again, the normalcy bias in play.

Donald Trump is the voice trying to awaken we the people from the latest normalcy bias delusion. Fact: We are losing our Right to Free Speech. Fact: We are being taken down by a failed and dangerous immigration policy. The attacks against Trump are coming in many forms and from many directions. Truth is shaking the corrupt and the evil-doers in both parties. Unopposed by the masses, those same forces will feed off the power of our inaction and grow stronger.

When they eventually come for the shopkeeper, the school teacher and the plumber…and make no mistake they will come…there will be no Donald Trump to withstand the onslaught. There will only be those of us who remained silent when it mattered.

And it will be too late to speak.

 

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com

States’ Rights and The Sabbath

Yesterday, July 4th, fell on Saturday this year and, for me, Saturday is the Sabbath first and everything else second. So, I did what I always try and do which is read that portion of the Torah (the first Five Books of Moses) that is the designated weekly reading. It never fails that I receive a take-away from the weekly reading that directly applies to something I’m struggling with in my life at the moment. The insight or guidance I glean also enlightens and enriches my life. Rarely, if ever, has that take-away been about politics and governance.

DivineUntil yesterday.

I was reading the portion which in Hebrew is Bamidbar (Numbers 24:1-9). When studying Torah, there is the text and also commentary by great sages and Jewish scholars that accompanies the text. The commentary on this portion is as follows:

“He saw the exemplary order of the Israelite camp. The tribes maintained their separate identities, and the tents were arranged so that their entrances did not face one another, which prevented intrusions on the privacy of the other families. That tribes and large, extended family groups staying together showed that the people felt responsible for one another, but at the same time they zealously protected the personal dignity and rights of the individual families.” [Emphasis added}.

The Israelites migrated as one People yet that whole was made up of 12 distinct tribes which “maintained their separate identities.” They functioned as a unit for the greater good but lived according to the customs and ways of their respective tribes.

Apparently the Israelites understood what we have yet failed to grasp.

Gay marriage, flying the Southern Heritage flag (a/k/a The Confederate flag), education, and many other issues are for the States to decide, not the Federal Government. Yes, we are one people…we are all Americans. But within that whole it was established by the founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, that we were to live and select according to our free will, the customs and ways of states that most reflected our personal beliefs and lifestyles.

The Supreme Court has wrongfully robbed us of that right in the recent gay marriage decision.

Marriage, gay or otherwise, is a State issue. The State has an interest in regulating marriage. Such things as custody and inheritance rights necessarily involve State action. However, there is absolutely no legal or moral basis for the Federal government or the Supreme Court to mandate anything regarding marriage.

Similarly, the flying of a flag is also a State issue. It is up to the majority of people in any given State to decide how they feel and how they choose to legislate regarding this issue. It is surely not to be determined by harassment and boycott by a “national-politically -correct- self-righteous-civilian- thought-police force” that decides what States should do in regards to this and other issues that affect their particular State as set forth in the Constitution of the United States.

The more power we allow the Federal government to acquire, the less power both the States, and we as individuals, will have. Talk radio host Denis Prager likes to put it this way: “The bigger the government the smaller the citizen.”

The Bible, whether it’s the Torah or the New Testament, is a divinely inspired wealth of knowledge and guidance on how to live our best lives. Yesterday, it also reminded me of why and how this Nation was similarly inspired. The “why” was so that people could be free to worship as they saw fit. The “how” was the drafting of the Constitution by divinely inspired individuals who saw the need for States’ rights and a limited centralized government.

We, the people, would be smart to reawaken to these truths before it’s too late.

Carole