Category: Weekly Articles 2013

Dangerous Freedom vs. Peaceful Slavery

Over the weekend a close friend sent me the following image, which was found spray-painted somewhere in Brooklyn:

Peacefulslavery

The words above reflect a state of mind and disposition that has been expressed by philosophers and revolutionaries for thousands of years. It is not a novel or new concept, but it is a concept that seems to have been forgotten across much of these United States. The population has largely been domesticated and this is the primary reason why there has been such little pushback to the global oligarchs looting the landscape. A pathetically large percentage of the population would rather not think, they’d prefer to be told what to believe. They would rather not have any risk in their lives, they’d prefer to have shiny gadgets handed to them. They would rather not explore the wonderful expansive world around them, they’d rather sit on the couch and watch television.

Planet earth is a truly incredible place. Majestic mountains, glistening and seemingly endless blue seas, powerful dense forests. Its beauty is too profound for me to accurately put into words. At the same time, there are terrible tsunamis, horrific hurricanes, devastating floods and countless other natural disasters that pose a constant deadly threat.

I moved to Colorado in December 2010 for many reasons, but one of the main ones was the burning desire to get away from the big city. As a kid who had grown up in Manhattan and spent 90% of my life in that environment, I felt a deep longing to move closer to nature and vast open spaces. When weather permits I like to go on lengthy hikes at least once or twice a week. On essentially all of these hikes there are both bears and mountain lions active, amongst a host of other creatures. I mention the first two because of their ability to do severe bodily harm to me at any moment should they choose to. Being aware of such dangerous animals creates a sense of fear but also thrill. Do I carry a gun on my hikes? No, I don’t. Do I want the Colorado state government to go into the woods and hunt down all the bears and mountain lions so that I can be 100% sure of my safety? Of course not. I understand this part of the world is wild and potentially dangerous, and that’s a large part of what I love about it.

Two typical signs at Boulder trailheads:

Screen Shot 2013-10-24 at 11.51.48 AM

Screen Shot 2013-10-24 at 12.24.05 PM

The same could be said for the world at large and society itself. Beyond the obvious reality that we are all going to die anyway, there is the point that no matter how hard you try to avoid harm or hard times, those things can come to your doorstep any time they choose. At the end of the day, it really isn’t up to you. What is up to you is how you spend each day. The things you think about, the stuff you create, the people you love. All of those things can only reach their highest potential in a free society.

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What the Ted Cruz Filibuster Really Means – It’s the End of the GOP as We Know It

There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.  Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.  On such a full sea are we now afloat.  And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.

- Brutus in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

A misguided, decrepit, corrupt, warmongering, and surveillance-happy Republican Party was already stumbling around the room; hammered drunk on its decades old power trip, led by mindless cronies with zero direction when Ted Cruz came by and gave it a charitable push to the ground. It fell swiftly with a pathetic thud. The establishment Republican Party died this week. Good riddance. 

Personally, I haven’t put in enough time to look into Ted Cruz to say how I feel about him, but I can certainly support his efforts to destroy the current GOP leadership. More importantly, I can see when political winds are a changin’ and they are blowing with a typhoon’s tempo in 2013.

It all really started in back in March, when freshman Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky started the recent GOP filibuster trend by standing up against Barack Obama’s (and indeed bipartisan Congress’) drone policy. I spent a lot more time writing and commenting about the Rand Paul filibuster as opposed to Ted Cruz’ because it is far more significant for a Republican to stand against aggressive, unconstitutional military action than for a Republican to stand against ObamaCare. The latter they are expected to do, the former not so much. At the time, I wrote a post that got a huge amount of traction titled: #StandwithRand: The Filibuster that United Libertarian and Progressive Activists. Back then I wrote:

What Rand Paul did yesterday was finally bring the public debate to where it needs to be.  In doing so, he united activists that are quite opposed on many issues (less than they think, but that’s for another day).  This is extremely significant and we need this momentum to continue.  Those of us that care about the core principles that made this country great need to stick together, find common ground and not allow the establishment to control the debate any longer.

It’s quite fitting that as Rand Paul stood for 13 hours in an impassioned attempt to call attention to the systematic dismantling of The Bill of Rights occurring in America, President Obama was having dinner with many establishment Republicans.  These included the two Senators that have done more to destroy the GOP than any one else; John McCain and Lindsey Graham.  Two guys who would drone their own grandmothers if it made them feel tough for a minute.

Fortunately, the momentum of libertarian and progressive activists to defend the Bill of Rights has continued, largely thanks to the revelations of Edward Snowden, as decent folks from both sides of the aisle have stood up to protect the 4th Amendment. ObamaCare is not one of those issues, nor should we expect it to be. While I think many Democrats understand the bill was basically written by insurance companies and is another crony capitalist handout, many in the party feel they need to support their puppet President Obama on something and they’ve decided ObamaCare is it. Everyone gets that. What is really significant about Ted Cruz’ filibuster is that it has finally exposed the Republican establishment for what it is. A rotting carcass of nothingness. No matter what happens with the cloture vote later today, it doesn’t really matter. It’s already over. The knives are in. The GOP leadership is dead.

The best article I have read on the subject of what the Cruz filibuster really means was written by Michael Walsh in the National Review. He wrote:

In the aftermath of Senator Ted Cruz’s epic performance on the Senate floor, a few observations:

Read the Full Article »

How I Remember September 11, 2001

I remember 9/11 like it was yesterday. I was one year into my Wall Street career. I got up that morning just like every other morning and headed toward Union Square station to get on the subway down to 3 World Financial Center, the headquarters of Lehman Brothers. I had just purchased breakfast in the cafeteria when I saw one of the human resources folks from my floor yelling to evacuate. I was confused but I got my ass downstairs fast. When I got down there I joined the hundreds of others staring in awe skyward at the gaping hole in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. People speculated that a helicopter had hit the building, but I said no way. It looked like a bomb went off to me.

Shortly afterward, the ground started shaking and I heard an enormous explosion and saw fire and debris shooting out from behind the North Tower. The herd starting running and I was trampled on. We all retreated to safer ground, at which point I ran into some co-workers. I mentioned that I was a bit worried these things could fall, but I was ensured by a higher-up at the firm that this was impossible. It was at that point that some co-workers and I decided to take the long walk home to my apartment on east 12th street. As we walked, we saw people jumping from the buildings, and ultimately we saw the first one collapse in front of our eyes as we traversed through Soho.

In the days following the collapse, all I wanted was for the towers to be rebuilt just like before. I wanted the skyline back to what I had know since the day I came into this earth at a New York City hospital to be restored exactly as I had always known it. Career-wise, I felt I should leave Wall Street. I thought about going back to graduate school for political science, or maybe even join the newly created Department of Homeland Security (yes, the irony is not lost on me). I read a lengthy tome on Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. I was an emotional and psychological mess, and it was when I was in this state of heightened distress that my own government and the military-industrial complex took advantage of me.

It wasn’t just me of course. It was an entire nation that was callously manipulated in the aftermath of that tragedy. The courage and generosity exhibited by so many New Yorkers and others throughout the country and indeed the world was rapidly transformed into terrifying fear. Fear that was intentionally injected repeatedly into our daily lives. Fear that translated into pointless wars and countless deaths. Fear that was used to justify the destruction of our precious civil rights. Fear that was used to initiate a gigantic power grab and the source of tremendous profits for the corporate-statists and crony-capitalsits. Unfortunately, that is the greatest legacy of 9/11.

While all of the above is true, I now see a very bright silver lining. Although it took me an embarrassingly long time, I did wake up from the deep haze of propaganda and am now able to see things for what they really are. Of course, I am only one of millions globally who now recognize how badly we have been duped and are working to restore all of the precious things we have lost.

So let’s take 9/11 to remember all the people that were lost on that day, as well as all of those to whom we have done injustice in the name of the Orwellian never-ending “War on Terror.” Let’s strengthen our resolve to right all of these wrongs and make us proud of these United States once again. That is how I remember September 11, 2001.

In Liberty,
Mike

Flashback to May: UN Official Claimed Rebels May Have Used Chemical Weapons

The Syria story just keeps getting weirder and weirder. So who knew that back in May, 2013 Carla Del Ponte, a member of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria, stated that she believed the rebels had been engaged in chemical weapons attacks. Specifically, she told Swiss-Italian television:

I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated…This was used on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities.

Interesting indeed. So earlier this year there emerged evidence that the rebels used chemicals weapons, but for some reason I don’t recall President Obama yelling about red lines and cruise missile strikes back then. Do you? No, of course not, because it doesn’t fit into the U.S. agenda, which is regime change in Syria.

So let’s look at this from all angles. First, let’s assume the rebels did use chemical weapons earlier this year. If that is that case, and then Assad used them months later, we have absolutely no reason to become involved as both sides are guilty. We should do nothing, at least nothing militarily.

Second, lets assume the rebels did not use chemical weapons earlier this year. Why would Assad use them knowing the U.S. would then get involved (which is clearly our desire), particularly since he is not in a desperate situation at the moment by any means. It makes no sense. If we take a step back and examine this logically, the most logical conclusion is that someone who wanted the U.S. to get involved used the weapons. That could be a lot of different parties, least likely of which is Assad.

Finally, why would we believe the current claims any more than the prior claims, especially since there appears to be no evidence that Assad was behind the latest attacks? The truth is we really can’t know what happened, which is precisely why we should stay out.

From the UK Telegraph (May, 2013):

I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated,”

A United Nations inquiry into human rights abuses in Syria has found evidence that rebel forces may have used chemical weapons, its lead investigator has revealed.

Carla Del Ponte, a member of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said that testimony gathered from casualties and medical staff indicated that the nerve agent sarin was used by rebel fighters.

Read the Full Article »

My Response to David Brooks’ Hit Piece on Edward Snowden

Where does the New York Times find these people?  I used to think Paul Krugman was bad, but David Brooks makes Krugman look like the reincarnation of Nostradamus and Adam Smith. A few minutes ago, I had the unfortunate experience of reading the latest nonsensical, statist drivel from David Brooks in an Op-Ed on Edward Snowden titled “The Solitary Leaker.” I’m not sure if my brain cells will ever forgive me the experience.

It’s one thing to write a hit-piece on Snowden (something we all knew would happen), and I don’t think it comes as a surprise to anyone that the New York Times would be the “paper of record” to bring us such an editorial.  It’s quite another to write one that would only influence the simplest and most ignorant, brainwashed mind.  He sounds like a 15 year old boy arguing in the high school cafeteria.

At this point, I’m convinced that 90% of the people that call Edward Snowden a traitor are merely expressing a subconscious recognition of their own cowardice. The other 10% work for the military-industrial-Federal Reserve-propaganda complex.  David Brooks seems to uniquely fall squarely into both categories.

So let’s get into it.  It appears that David Brooks dusted off his copy of “How to Write a Hit Piece for Dummies” before getting started as he begins with an attempted character assassination.  He writes:

Though obviously terrifically bright, he could not successfully work his way through the institution of high school. Then he failed to navigate his way through community college. 

What drivel.  So many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and thinkers failed to thrive in the school system.  They were simply too bright.  Even Albert Einstein was known to have struggled in many high school classes.

Brooks then writes:

He has not been a regular presence around his mother’s house for years. When a neighbor in Hawaii tried to introduce himself, Snowden cut him off and made it clear he wanted no neighborly relationships.

Really David, that’s the best you could do?

So after he completes his ineffective character assassination, he attempts to actually make an argument.  Something David Brooks is not very good at.  He writes:

This lens makes you more likely to share the distinct strands of libertarianism that are blossoming in this fragmenting age: the deep suspicion of authority, the strong belief that hierarchies and organizations are suspect, the fervent devotion to transparency, the assumption that individual preference should be supreme. You’re more likely to donate to the Ron Paul for president campaign, as Snowden did.

But Big Brother is not the only danger facing the country. Another is the rising tide of distrust, the corrosive spread of cynicism, the fraying of the social fabric and the rise of people who are so individualistic in their outlook that they have no real understanding of how to knit others together and look after the common good.

Brooks doesn’t even attempt to explain why Libertarianism is booming.  He sort of just implies that it has sprung out of thin air and then deeply laments its existence. This “deep suspicion of authority” did not spring from the ether.  Rather, it is the quite natural response to a corrupt, criminal and out of control corporate-financial and political oligarchy that has taken too much control and remains subject to zero accountability.  This isn’t about the balance between the individual and the political system we live under.  It is a realization that the “state” is being run to the benefit of the 0.01% at the expense of the 99.9%. It isn’t any more complicated than that.

Then he writes:

For society to function well, there have to be basic levels of trust and cooperation, a respect for institutions and deference to common procedures. By deciding to unilaterally leak secret N.S.A. documents, Snowden has betrayed all of these things.

While I do not disagree with this statement, trust must be earned.  Our leaders have lost the trust of the citizenry and rightly so.  Then he makes another bizarre generational slander:

He betrayed his friends. Anybody who worked with him will be suspect. Young people in positions like that will no longer be trusted with responsibility for fear that they will turn into another Snowden.

That’s not all though.  He follows it with another childish knock on Snowden’s high school performance:

Read the Full Article »

Some Money Launderers are “More Equal” than Others

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
-
 George Orwell’s Animal Farm

It’s been many, many years since I read George Orwell’s Animal Farm, but the message conveyed in it will remain with me forever.  The book is many things, but more than anything else, it is a portrayal and critique of human nature and the political systems that we create. For those that need a refresher, or have not read the book, here’s the basic plot.

There’s a farm headed by a Mr. Jones, who drinks so much he becomes unable to take care of the farm and feed the animals.  Over time, the animals (in particular the pigs), decide human beings are parasites and the pigs lead a revolt and run Mr. Jones off the property.  They change the farm’s name from Manor Farm to Animal Farm and create a list of 7 commandments.  They are:

  1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
  2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
  3. No animal shall wear clothes.
  4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
  5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
  6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
  7. All animals are equal.

Rather quickly, the pigs assume leadership over the farm and one pig in particular, Napoleon, consolidates power after running his primary competitor off the property.  It goes downhill from here fast.  The pigs start to walk on two legs, drink alcohol and sleep in beds, amongst other things. Understanding that their new lifestyle in in direct contrast with their original seven commandments, they simply decide to make some adjustments.  The adjustments are:

  1. No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets.
  2. No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.
  3. No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.

Rather quickly, even these adjustments becoming too binding for the glutinous and power hungry pig oligarch class.  They decide to just condense everything down to one commandment:  All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

The above process is one for the ages, a process that has been reenacted time and time again by our species over the millennia.  It is exactly what is happening in these United States right now.

The reason I spend so much time on the Constitution and civil liberties these days is because I can see the above unfolding right before my eyes.  I also see an opportunity to stop it before it reaches its final, most destructive stage.  Whether it’s the Department of Justice turning journalism into a criminal act, the IRS going after political enemies, or our Noble Peace Prize winning President droning thousands of innocent men, women and children all over the world with flying robots, the oligarch class in this country is dismantling the Bill of Rights one amendment at a time.

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Bitcoin Goes Parabolic: My Updated Thoughts

Bitcoin is the beginning of something great: a currency without a government, something necessary and imperative.

- Nassim Taleb on Reddit yesterday

So Bitcoin has finally dipped its electronic toe into the fringes of mainstream consciousness. The results have been, to put it mildly, explosive, divisive and highly emotional.  I can see why.

While I had been aware of it prior, I never truly became curious about Bitcoin until I read an excellent six page article about it in the New Yorker on October 10, 2011.  I had no clue how the technology worked, but it intrigued me to such a degree that I sent it to my email list of close contacts.  What really struck me was the rationale for creating Bitcoin by its creator, the anonymous “Satoshi Nakamoto.”  This cryptographer was well aware of the cancerous nature of the world’s monetary system and the key role of Central Banking in that system.  This wasn’t just some technology geek playing games with virtual currency, this was a well thought out monetary revolution.

He had thought this entire thing out like a chess grandmaster.  He knew he had to be anonymous and that Bitcoin had to be decentralized, because he knew the Central Bank overlords would fight to the death to protect their money monopoly.  He created a currency that central planners could not naked short to infinity and manipulate with derivatives as they do with the precious metals markets.  It was this foresight that has led to its tremendous success today.

It wasn’t until I started accepting Bitcoin donations in September of last year (donate here) that I truly started gaining a small understanding of the technology and who the major players in the “Bitcoin Economy” are.  It was at 10 back then, it is 73 as I write this today.

BTC

A chart like the one above is nothing short of parabolic, and parabolic charts beget parabolic emotions.  From my end, I have received some complaints from “gold bugs” who seems annoyed that I am highlighting Bitcoin seemingly in preference to precious metals.  To them I have a few things to say.

First, I spent four years writing about gold and silver non-stop.  Sorry, it just gets repetitive and boring.  Never once have I wavered in my conviction on the need to buy and hold these metals; however, the world is dynamic and when new things enter the picture I will formulate new thoughts.  Some of the complaints against Bitcoin are valid, others are not.  The one I hear the most, which is completely untrue, is that Bitcoin is another “fiat currency.”  I’m often shocked that people make this error, as the definition of fiat is: 1. A formal authorization or proposition; a decree and 2. An arbitrary order.  Synonyms include: decree, diktat, directive, edict, rescript, ruling.  Bitcoin is 100% voluntary.  No one is declaring it the “money of the land,” forcing you to pay taxes in it, or invading the Middle East to protect the pricing of oil in it.  So let’s move on.

Read the Full Article »

Bitcoin and Kim Dotcom: Why it’s Time to “Encrypt Everything”

Encryption may end up being the biggest trend in 2013, as the concept, usage and term itself move from the realm of computer geeks and hackers into mainstream consciousness.  The reason why such a moment must occur relates to the fact that governments and intelligence agencies the world over are rapidly moving in the direction of spying on their citizenry twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.  Those of us that don’t like this privacy invasion will have to move toward encrypting as much of our daily lives as possible.  In the world of money, Bitcoin has emerged as the most popular alternative currency in existence today, and is likely to only become exponentially more popular due to its substantial anonymity (relative to fiat currencies) thanks to encryption.

Of course, encryption doesn’t stop with crypto-currencies.  It is in this regard that Kim Dotcom (born in Germany, residing in New Zealand and originally named Kim Schmitz) could lead the charge.  Encrypted email is one of his solutions.

While his new site Mega already has 3 million users since its launch in January, where Kim could really make a massive difference for the billions on this planet that use email is through an encryption service for the masses.  While nobody likes it, everyone pretty much assumes that some bureaucrat or petty intelligence official with nothing better to do with their lives has access to every email you write.  But does life really have to be this way?  Kim Dotcom says no.

The irony of the U.S. government’s case against Kim is that they accuse him of essentially providing the infrastructure for people to pirate movies, while at the same time they claim the right to spy on their citizens without a warrant.  Why is the U.S. government so obsessed with Hollywood’s intellectual property rights but not the right of its citizens to privacy?  As Kim Dotcom states:

“If files are your property, then the U.S. government has taken millions of people’s property without warning or legal standing.”

The complete hypocrisy of the U.S. government will simply be exposed more and more everyday until their arguments ultimately fall apart in pile of lies.  In the meantime…we have encryption.

For coverage on Kim Dotcom’s recent chat at South by Southwest check out this article from NBC in which they call him the “anti-Zuckerberg” and this one from Wired.

In Liberty,
Mike

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#StandwithRand: The Filibuster that United Libertarian and Progressive Activists

“I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan’s nomination for the CIA I will speak until I can no longer speak. I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court. That Americans could be killed in a cafe in San Francisco or in a restaurant in Houston or at their home in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is an abomination.” 

- Senator Rand Paul during his 13-hour talking filibuster yesterday

One of the biggest disappointments for me during 2012 was Ron Paul’s failure to run as a third party candidate for President.  Last January, I wrote a very popular post titled Why I Support Ron Paul in which I predicted that the Republican establishment would sabotage his attempted run and that he needed to break ranks and run on his own.  The reason I was so adamant on this point was not because I thought he would necessarily win (although I think he would’ve done much better than most people think), but because his being up there next to Romney and Obama would have exposed both political parties for the frauds that they are.  It would have exposed the fact that on the most important issues like the Federal Reserve, TBTF Wall Street criminal banks, aggressive and short-sighted foreign policy and civil liberties they are completely on the same page.  It would have brought certain issues to the fore that the establishment parties don’t want debated in public.  They’d much rather divide and conquer the nebbish with issues like abortion, gay marriage and gun rights.  Issues that while very important to many, are easily used to split people along geographic and cultural lines and do not represent existential issues core to the survival of the spirit of the nation itself. To paraphrase, I agree with the statement “to know who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”  Ron Paul would have criticized those people and institutions in a very public forum in a third party run and elevated the debate for all of us.  It didn’t happen and the public debate went back into the gutter.

Then Rand Paul stood up and talked for 13 hours.

Personally, I would have preferred the issue that united libertarian and progressive activists to have been the Federal Reserve, since it is the core cancer of this country and indeed the world. Without Federal Reserve funding, none of the awful things our government and multi-national corporations do at home and abroad would be possible, but you don’t always get what you want.  If civil liberties is the issue that does it, so be it.

Read the Full Article »

Mission Statement for 2013: Solutions

Ever since I launched this blog in April of last year, I have focused on exposing the rampant corruption and moral decay of our society while identifying the core cancer that is Wall Street, Washington D.C. and all the poisonous practices in between. What I have finally realized is that while there are many people shouting from the rooftops about how bad things are, that will only take us so far.  There are two things I think are necessary in order for us all to move to a better place.

First, a change of consciousness.  Part of that change comes from understanding the true nature of the world around us and how it operates.  For me, it was this realization that essentially forced me to reevaluate everything in my life and make profound changes to live in a manner and around people that are more in line with my new understanding.  I know for a fact that hundreds of thousands of people in this country have come to similar realizations, along with millions globally.  While the awakening will continue and bring more into the fold, I think it’s time for all of us to connect with one another and focus on and highlight the positive changes happening around us where they are happening.  To focus on the victories, no matter how small they may seem at this point, rather than wallowing in the defeats.

Second, I strongly believe we must move toward a much greater decentralization in our daily lives as human beings on this planet.  We need stronger and more vibrant communities banding together, thriving together and creating together.  The internet allows decentralization to function like never before.  It allows us to still be in constant communication with one another and aware of our neighbors’ plights all the way across the planet.  That way we can implement solutions from our own volition and imagination rather than being forced into decisions from the barrel of a gun held by a paid off politician or lobbyist.  The problems that we face globally are far too important to leave to a small group of bureaucrats and oligarchs who we all know by now are interested solely in money and power.

Change must come from within first and then must be manifested in the real world within communities that are willing to be bold. To experiment, to fail and then to succeed.  We may not know exactly what works, and indeed there is no one solution for everyone.  That is the beauty of the diversity on this planet.  If one town wants to be a socialist commune so be it.  If another wants total free market capitalism so be it.  We can still be connected to one another and caring without forcing one person’s viewpoint on the other.  The good news is that we do know what doesn’t work; and that is the status quo.  We need to dare to think big, be brave and actively support those that are working on a better path for humanity.

Changes so profound will take time and many of the forces of greed will line up against any such changes, but that doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t be done.  I know it can and I know it will.  While I will continue to focus on highlighting corruption and bad practices, I will increasingly try to do my part to highlight and support those that are taking action and trying to move us beyond the sad state we are in.  I am going to need all of your help in finding these stories and organizations that are doing the hard work now.  Even if many of the ideas and projects never actually happen, the point is that we are thinking beyond our current circumstances and are trying to do something about it.

Looking forward toward solutions.

In Liberty,
Mike