Tag Archives: Aztec

For All Souls Day (aka “Day of the Dead” and/or Feast of the Faithful Departed): Human Sacrifice in Africa Today

Should we be surprised that Human Sacrifice, Slavery, and Cannibalism are Prevalent All Over Africa, today in late 2013?  In Colonial Mexico and Central America, after the Spanish Conquest, there is good evidence that Human Sacrifice persisted in many rural areas for at least 200 years after the Spanish Conquest despite continual Spanish Rule and the violent and often brutal suppression of the Native Mesoamerican priesthood, the tragic burning of ancient libraries, and the systematic destruction of temples.  There are many parallels between the practices of Human Sacrifice, Cannibalism, and Slavery in Africa and Mesoamerica, as Sir James G. Frazer noted in the Golden Bough, and as in fact was apparent even to the Spanish Conquistadors themselves, as in for example the writings of Bernal Diaz del Castillo.  

Child sacrifice, reported as widespread and common in Africa up through the present day (and even as a “thriving commercial business” in Uganda and Nigeria), was common among the prehispanic Mesoamericans.  There are relics surviving at least until the 1980s (by my own personal observations) of the importance of live children “bound with ropes and croaking like frogs” under the table of the Cha-Chaac, the modern Yucatec Maya Rain Ceremony, during years following the discovery of massive offerings of childrens’ skeletons under the altar of Tlaloc (the Aztec raingod) in the Templo Mayor excavations of Aztec Tenochtitlan in the heart of Mexico City.  Habitual child sacrifice was recorded at least as far north as among the Natchez of the Mississippi Valley up through the final obliteration and extermination of the Natchez by the French in the late 1720s.  Vestiges of Child Sacrifice (including the Sacrifice of adult children, such as the sons of the Kings of Israel and Judah who were made to “walk through the fire” in the Books of Chronicles and Kings) occur throughout the Bible, and legends of Jewish cannibalism of children are part of the “blood libel” that persisted at least through 15th century throughout Europe (consider the story of “Little St. Hugh” of Lincoln, which was one of many stories which led to the expulsion of the Jews from England in the 1320s.  (I had an uncle named “Hugh”, who now counts among the “Faithful Departed”).   As highly prejudicial and undocumented as the charges against Mediaeval European Jewry may be, the archaeological evidence recovered at by Harvard archaeologists at Carthage in Tunisia and by many excavations throughout Syria and Lebanon all document the ubiquity of child sacrifice among the Phoenicians  (most closely related by their alphabet and other customs to the Israelites) and all other Western Semitic peoples of the Bronze and Iron Ages.  Whether this heritage could support the legendary evidence that the Jews carried child sacrifice with them after the diaspora into Western Europe is, without archaeological evidence, a matter of mere conjecture.

Leaving Aside Slavery and Cannibalism, and considering only Human Sacrifice and Ritual Killing (including child sacrifice throughout Africa, and leaving aside the highly controversial questions of racially or politically motivated murders in, for example, Liberia, Sierra Leon, and above all in post-Apartheid South Africa, as of fourteen months ago, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights made this rather timid, cautious, almost apologetic report, allowing as how human sacrifice might violate the UN Charters on Individual Human Rights even if it infringes on the rights to freedom of religion and exercise of human conscience: http://hrbrief.org/2012/09/the-practice-of-ritual-killings-and-human-sacrifice-in-africa/

The Practice of Ritual Killings and Human Sacrifice in Africa

September 6, 2012 By \\

Despite the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights’ that provides an individual is entitled to respect for his life and integrity of his person, ritual killings and the practice of human sacrifice continue in several African countries. These practices entail the hunting down, mutilation, and murder of the most vulnerable people in society**, including people with disabilities, women, and children. Reports indicate that killings of this nature occur in Nigeria, Uganda, Swaziland, Liberia, Botswana, South Africa, Tanzania, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. Because of the secrecy involved in ritual sacrifices, a majority of these incidents go unreported and uninvestigated. Anti-sacrifice advocates face an uphill battle in combating these rituals because the practices are largely denied and touch on cultural underpinnings, resulting in an ideological conflict between protection of human rights and respect for the beliefs and practices of other cultures.

Those who practice sacrifice and ritual killings believe them to be acts of spiritual fortification. Motivations to carry out these acts include the use of human body parts for medicinal purposes and the belief that human body parts possess supernatural powers that bring prosperity and protection. In Uganda, reports indicate that child sacrifice is a business where the wealthy pay witch doctors to conduct sacrifices in an effort to expand their fortunes. In Swaziland and Liberia, politicians allegedly commission ritual killings to improve their odds in elections. In parts of South Africa, ritual killings are culturally accepted, and the practice is often not reported by community members.

Questions of cultural relativism may arise with respect to ritual killings because they may be linked with religious beliefs. Article 8 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights guarantees freedom of conscience, the profession and free practice of religion. The article also states that “No one may, subject to law and order, be submitted to measures restricting the exercise of these freedoms.” While a broad reading of Article 8 guaranteeing the right to religious freedom could theoretically permit ritual killings for religious reasons, the “subject to law and order” clause may be invoked to limit the free practice of religion with respect to ritual killings. Furthermore, reading the Charter in its entirety supports a prohibition on ritual killings. For instance, Article 5 states that every individual shall be “entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person.” If ritual killings were permitted as an acceptable exercise of religious freedom, the door is opened to many of potential human rights violations on the basis of religion.

In response to recent reports of ritual killings allegedly conducted by some traditional healers, other healers have spoken out against ritual killings, arguing that those practices are a disgrace to the history and culture of African medicine men and healers. In March 2012, Sierra Leone’s union of traditional healers met to put forward their campaign against ritual killings. Since the union’s founding in 2008, their mandate has always been to stop indiscriminate killings and afflictions of the innocent.

Activists rallying against ritual killings are calling for stronger protections, including legislation that would allow for the regulation of traditional healers. Some countries, such as Uganda, Rwanda, and Nigeria have taken steps to begin regulate traditional healers, but regulation is not widespread. Appropriately regulating traditional healers could provide necessary protection for individuals seeking care from traditional healers and could hold healers accountable for unlawful acts, such as ritual killings. Furthermore, regulation could provide protection for traditional healers, for example, with respect to intellectual property rights.

As they have done for centuries, traditional healers continue to fulfill an important role of providing beneficial medical services to communities. However, the practice of ritual killings and human sacrifice goes against the fundamental human rights norm of ensuring respect for an individual’s life and integrity of person. Although the African Charter guarantees the right to freely practice one’s religion, ritual killings are not permissible on this basis. The positive contributions of traditional healers to many African societies should not be compromised by the practice of ritual killings. Activists and governments can ensure respect for the human rights of all individuals by working to ensure transparency and accountability among traditional healers.

**CEL III Note Added: is it even worth mentioning that the minority Whites in post-Apartheid South Africa, not to mention any whites foolish enough to remain in Zimbabwe or Namibia, are among the most vulnerable members of society?

Jerry O’Neil Demands Payment in Constitutional Currency, but “All that Glisters is not Gold, Often have you heard that told”. As for me, I was born in Texas and I’d rather be paid in the most traditional of all Indo-European Currencies: Cattle! (OK, I’d take sheep, just to show I’m not prejudiced). Sub-liminal comparison: what is the difference between a Federal Reserve Note and a Viking Ice Skate?

The Best, most honorable and ethical political office-holder I know (State Representative Jerry O’Neil of Kalispell, Montana, who also happens to be one of the most constitutionally rigorous elected officials of the 21st century) has raised one of the oldest and most contentious constitutional issues in the modern history United States: what IS constitutional currency?  Jerry O’Neil Wants to be paid in gold and silver coin.

Although I am very partial to strict construction and enforcement of the constitution as written (especially in clear and unambiguous terms), I also understood that gold and both finite and useless on the one hand, and randomly and irrelevantly distributed in relation to other productive human activities, on the other.  (The huge concentration of the world’s gold in 16th Century Mexico, mid-19th century California, the late 19th century Yukon in Canada, or late-19th/Early 20th Century South Africa never meant that those were the ideal places to live in the world; in fact, the abundant gold in those places led to MANY economic, socio-cultural, and political problems).

The key question in whether to endorse the gold standard is this: if the potential production of human labor is unlimited and infinite, how can the compensation of human labor justly be limited and finite?   On the other hand, Gold is real in the sense of being substantive, tangible and universally recognizable in human cultures all over the world, its recognition as “precious” does not depend on any particular bank or government or even any particular cultural formulation.  

But still, as the Confused but Gold-Rich Aztec told the Gold-hungry Spanish invaders: Gold is not edible.  Gold has no universal practical applicability.   So it is not as useful as cotton, iron or steel.  But neither cotton, iron, nor steel are as easily rendered into currency as completely useless paper, which is totally dependent upon individual banks or governments.

I like to point out that the English word “pecuniary” (matters of or relating to money) is closely related to Spanish “Agro-pecuaria” (the general field of 4H-Agricultural Fairs—“Field & Cattle”).    Our Ancient Indo-European Ancestors up through Roman times knew only one common currency and that was Cattle.   (The Greek preferred “Sheep” and I’m quite fond of Lamb…).  With all due apologies to vegetarians, NOTHING serves better as currency than Cattle (and “Sheep” and “Goats” are also subsumed under Spanish “Agro-pecuaria“).  

If you’re down to your last one pound gold-bar during a war, you may FEEL rich, but if you can’t exchange the gold-bar for food, because of the war, you’re going to starve.  But as an alternative, imagine, if you will, that you’re a neutral non-combatant, in the middle of that great war, down to the your last 16-32 head of cattle (the approximate market value in cattle of one gold bar at present rates, depending on the breed and quality of the cattle), you can not only survive the war without speaking or trading with anyone (assuming you have a few rudimentary tools to butcher and cook your own animals), you may actually end up “richer” at the end of the war even if you’re not trading with any of the combatants, if you care not to slaughter your female cows, take care of the calves, and keep a minimum of one healthy and happy bull around at all times.  

In addition to their widely prized meat, cattle can be used while living as agricultural implements (non-gas-guzzling, in fact gas producing, tractors), their skins can be made into leather for clothing and furniture and their bones and horns can be made into all manner of tools and ornaments.   As a matter of fact, it was a famous and glorious moment in my graduate career at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology when Dr. Stephen Williams, then eponymous Peabody Professor, stumped me at my oral exams by showing me an bovine foreleg bone, heavily striated on one side, heavily compressed on the other, with two holes at distal and proximal ends.  I had identified every other piece of Peabody Museum arcana he could throw at me, but I finally gave up on this one: it was a VIKING ICE-SKATE, made of cattle bones.  Try making anything more useful than a paper aeroplane out of Federal Reserve Notes, I dare you…..

Montana State House of Representatives
REP. JERRY O’NEIL    SESSION COMMITTEES:
    TAXATION; ETHICS;
HELENA ADDRESS DURING SESSION:    TRANSPORTATION;
PO BOX 200500    RULES; and
HELENA, MONTANA  59620-0500    LOCAL GOVERNMENT
406-444-4800    
    
    
HOME ADDRESS:    
985 WALSH ROAD    
COLUMBIA FALLS, MONTANA  59912        
406-892-7602; 406-892-7603 FAX     The Big Sky Country    oneil@CenturyTel.net

November 12, 2012

State of Montana Legislative Services
Central Services Office
Post Office Box 201706
Helena, Montana  59620-1706

Re:    Legislator Compensation

Dear Legislative Services:

    Last week I was re-elected to serve the people of House District 3 as their Representative in the Montana Legislature. Once again it will be my privilege to take the oath of office, promising to obey and protect the United States Constitution and the Constitution of Montana.
    When campaigning, some of my constituents informed me I was not honoring my duty to uphold and defend the United States Constitution. The area of their concern is the prohibition, contained in Article I, Section 10, that states, “No state shall – – make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts – -.” They ask me how I, a policy maker for the State of Montana, can ignore this clear constitutional prohibition.
    Over the 10 years I have previously served in the legislature I have considered this a trivial matter that would show me to be out of step with our national rulers if I made an issue out of it. I did not want to be branded as a fanatic over an issue of no consequence.
    Today I am looking at this issue in a new light. When I was going to my constituents homes I agreed with them the most important issue for the coming legislative session will be to protect them from the economic debacle hanging over our heads.
    With just a cursory look at history we know a country that lives beyond its means faces dire consequences. Having a $16,000,000,000,000 national debt is a warning sign we can only ignore at our peril. Having such a debt and allowing it to increase unchecked is an invitation for national suicide.
    It is very likely the bottom will fall out from under the U.S. dollar. Only so many dollars can be printed before they have no value. The Keynesian era of financing government with debt appears to be close to its demise.
    If and when that happens, how can we in the Montana Legislature protect our constituents? – The only answer I can come up with is to honor my oath to the U.S. Constitution and request that your debt to me be paid in gold and silver coins that will still have value when the U.S. dollar is reduced to junk status. I therefore request my legislative pay to be in gold and silver coins that are unadulterated with base metals.
    I am not asking for you to give me gold and silver American Eagles at their face value of $50.00 and $1.00,  but rather at their current market prices that today are $1,801.00 and $35.28. Hopefully this will be an example for our Montana citizens and prompt them to also have some of their own wealth in money that has intrinsic value.
    Yours truly,
    Jerry O’Neil

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!
*******
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/
*******
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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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).

Confessions of a Lifelong-Heroine Addict….(oh well, since I was 6 or 8 I guess, probably not so much before that…)…from Dorothy Gale to Katniss Everdeen

The California Secretary of State having quite literally locked the doors to my running for Senate this year (at least in Tulare and Fresno Counties)—and the California Courts not seeming to offer a sufficient or accessible remedy—I now have time to indulge other (if related) obsessions my life, such as my sufferings from a lifetime of heroine addiction….  

Like almost every other aspect of my life, I blame my mother Alice and grandmother Helen almost equally….

It was my mother and father who, when I was very small, used to take me down by the Thames in Westminster near the Houses of Parliament and show me the statue of Boadicea (aka “Budica”), the last independent Iceni Queen of East Anglia who rebelled and died trying to evict the Roman Conquerors, in whose memory it was said and sung that “Britons never shall be slaves.”  We also took one trip out to Norwich to visit one of the woods where the Iceni supposedly worshipped their own goddess of Victory….called “Budika” in the Ancient British language of the Druids….(my parents were both heavily into historical and comparative linguistics).  Budika/Boadicea in A.D. 60-61 apparently burned Roman Londinium to the ground along with several other cities before being defeated and poisoning herself by the long Roman Road called “Watling Street” which we also visited…. She was a heroine and supposedly a great archer….  

Of course my parents also tried, as heart as their own agitated and addled lives would permit them, to make me aware of a very different heroine, regarding whom they required me to memorize “the Magnificat” from a very early age….”My soul doth magnify the Lord….Abraham and his seed forever…” And yes, the Virgin Mary was indeed a rebellious heroine… and she has remained a heroine to hundreds of millions of people up to the present time….  Later on, I learned to sing the Magnificat and other pieces of Anglo-Catholic “Maryolatry” as a choirboy in the junior Choir at the Church of the Incarnation in Dallas, under the tutelage of the late, Great Russell J. Brydon (who died just a few months after this post was originally written, in September 2012 at the age of 88:

http://www.dallasnews.com/obituary-headlines/20120906-russell-j.-brydon-jr.-longtime-dallas-church-and-temple-organist-dies-at-88.ece

But it was my grandmother Helen who was something of a heroine in my young eyes herself, and it was Helen who introduced me to the very first literary  (as distinct from Historical or Biblical) heroines of whose stories I ever learned in detail: namely Dorothy Gale, Scarlett O’Hara, and the Roman Goddess Diana and her Sacred Temple by Lake Nemi  near Ariccia (Diana was also an archer…)

The path of fictional heroines from Dorothy Gale’s grey home in Kansas to Katniss* Everdeen’s equally grey home in District 12 of Panem took 108 years….from the first publication of the Wizard of Oz in 1900 through the appearance of archer Katniss Everdeen  Hunger Games in 2008**….is really the history of the idealistic dreams and ultimate failure of the 20th century (idealist dreams in Baum’s time giving way to a more cynical realism by 1939, passing through the somewhat confused “liberation” of the 1960s, sinking into the dark, pessimistic world of Buffy and Angel and finally coming to rest in the despair of District 12 in Panem in 2008—the year Barack Hussein Obama took over from George W. Bush…two different faces for the heartless, soulless, President Snow….)

But the difference in spirit between those two places traces indeed the tragic story of the Decline and Fall of Western Civilization (and of the American Dream) in the 20th Century. Major stopping points along the way (for me at least) include 1939 with the Dorothy Gale’s transformation in the person of Judy Garland and Scarlett O’Hara’s complete redefinition of the concept of “progress” in the late 19th century, Jane Fonda’s comic Cat Ballou and Barbarella in the 1960s, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer in movie and television from 1992-2003.  

At each of these intervals, the world is more cynical and darker, and the heroines more complex.  Many critics have observed that the “head injury/dream sequence” aspects of the 1939 Movie Wizard of Oz and the metathesis of real individuals to “dreamtime” residents of the Land of Oz (which was COMPLETELY absent from L. Frank Baum’s book) resulted directly from Freudian psychoanalysis and the early popularity of psychology.  The general effect is to radically weaken the power of Oz as metaphor or lesson—but the movie was a wonderful hit—a lightly comic Wagnerian gesammtkunstwerk of acting, visual art, and music, so nobody really cared.  

A lot of the verbal banter and humor in the movie likewise showed a certain “worldly” sophistication with which I think Frank Baum would only have been somewhat congenial. E.G. the Cowardly Lion’s song “there’s just no use denyin’, I’m just a DANDYlion…” and the Wizard’s closing comment to the Scarecrow:

Back where I come from we have universities, 
seats of great learning 
-- where men go to become great thinkers. 
And when they come out, they think deep thoughts -- 
and with no more brains than you have .... 
But! They have one thing you haven't got! 
A diploma!

As a former denizen of the great academic halls of Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 and Chicago, Illinois 60637 (from various halls of which august institutions I did, for all the good that it’s done me or the world, get diplomas), and a regular visitor to many other such places, I can tell you that the Wizard here is absolutely right: 

And when they come out, they think deep thoughts -- 
and with no more  brains than you have.... 

But such cynicism simply was not part of the original vision of Oz, and although Baum occasionally did occasionally turn such comments to ridicule life back in North America in later books, he did not at all in his first installment in which he remade European folk mythology and archetypes and reshaped them in a very idealized panorama of a world where death was rare if non-existent and even the most evil of men and creatures did not kill for sport or pleasure.

For all of L. Frank Baum’s futuristic visions, I do not think he could have foreseen the transition from the naïve and hardworking life of Kansas to the nightmarish dreamworld of Suzanne Collins’ grim opera—neither a soap opera nor a very lyric, although even in the written version (which I finally got around to reading), music plays an immensely important part in the methathesis of metaphor and character, from Katniss’ Father to Peeta, from Prim to Rue… as between the unnatural National Anthem of the Conquering Capitol and the free world of nature and the poor of the “outlying districts.”

L. Frank Baum’s Oz books in so many was shaped and defined the culture of early-to-mid 20th Century of a predominantly White Christian America, especially after the release of Judy Garland’s movie….***  The spirit of Dorothy Gale’s Kansas was stiflingly dull and harsh—the American dream had already, at that point, apparently kind of run aground and needed new life— The spirit of Dorothy Gale’s Oz was half atavistic throwback to the Middle Ages, half filled with futuristic wonders (such as Glinda the Good’s Magic Picture, which permitted her what we would now call “live video access” to whatever was going on in Oz or elsewhere earth she was interested.

Dorothy Gale was a simple, pre-teenage girl (Judy Garland was at least ten years older than the original character was portrayed as being in the First Oz Book, but Dorothy Gale remained essentially a-sexual throughout the series, never had a boyfriend or a beau…. perhaps recapitulating some archaic notion of “the Virgin Goddess”,  e.g. Diana Nemorensis or the Virgin Mary or the “Virgin Queen”, Mary again or Queen Elizabeth I) whose strength derived from common sense, great courage, love, and determination.  Dorothy Gale was a generalist who never specialized in anything or focused on any particular trade, profession, or way of earning a living (all throughout the long series of Oz books, in fact).  She was just flexible, imaginative, and practical—kind of a “Renaissance girl” in a very low tech way.

Being a non-specialized generalist seems to be the primary role of all feminine heroes.  Of the earliest three I knew (Dorothy Gale, Scarlett O’Hara, and Diana Nemorensis), if Dorothy Gale had the purest and most asexual identity, Scarlett O’Hara surely had the most impure and sexual.  

It was perhaps for that reason that I was never really taken with her until I was a teenager, even though with my grandparents I religiously had watched Gone with the Wind at every possible opportunity and my grandmother compared the mythic South with the real South over and over again.   Scarlett O’Hara was beautiful, flirtations, and OWNED men in a way that is both fairly realistic and quite cynical.  But the book and movie Gone with the Wind were brilliantly timed between the First and Second World Wars to show that the American War Between the States of 1861-1865 was the first really and truly modern war of total destruction.  

Throughout history, up until Abraham Lincoln loosed Sherman on Georgia and Grant on Virginia, the goal of Conquest Warfare had been to preserve as much of a conquered land’s wealth as possible—so that it could be stolen and appropriated for the victors.  There might have been a lot of talk in Ancient Rome about how “Carthage must be destroyed” and about Salting the Earth once it was vanquished, but Carthage was not only not burnt to the ground and left to rot by the Roman Conquest, it became one of the Great Cities of the Roman Empire, as 20-30 years of Harvard Archaeological excavations in Tunisia have so clearly shown.  Gone with the Wind showed something else when Sherman’s “wind blew through Georgia.”  The purpose was indeed, as the opening lines of both the movie and the book suggested, to wipe out an entire civilization, a way of life—to replace what Marxists call one “mode of production” with another.   NONE of Baum’s villains in Oz were as bad as that, although the movie version of the Wicked Witch of the West was pretty murderous in her general attitude….

One major innovation of Jane Fonda’s heroines Cat Ballou and especially Barbarella in the 1960s was the advent of “free love”, which never appeared even once in any of Baum’s pre-1920 writings, which was only very obliquely alluded to in Gone with the Wind, but which by the 1960s was all anyone really cared about.  

Like Dorothy Gale and Scarlett O’Hara before her, Cat Ballou and Barbarella were unspecialized generalists who could adapt to almost any situation.  They were strong, intelligent, sexy, deadly in a good cause, and then Jane Fonda went to Hanoi….  In retrospect she may have been right to do it because the Vietnam War was totally wrong, a seriously failed experiment in 1984-type “perpetual war”….but Jane Fonda’s actions did not seem positive at the time.  

In this defiance of the outward semblance of world order sense, Jane Fonda’s characters of both Cat Ballou and Barbarella somehow came to life as defiant outlaws….crossing boundaries that no one else would cross, and doing so with both impunity and (what seemed most shocking at the time) complete immunity from real official sanction.  Like the righteous killer Catherine Ballou who avenged her father’s death in the Wild West—Jane Fonda first enacted herself as a mythic reality and then, by going to Hanoi, remade herself as a historic metaphor—walking through the image of a treacherous act, unscathed, in essence to show that Vietnam was all a staged event….. a dramatic diversion to keep the masses simultaneously afraid, amused and absorbed….  

Fast forward 24 years from Jane Fonda as Barbarella and you arrive the first incarnation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a completely modern LA County San Fernando Valley girl with no hints of modesty or virginity about her…. followed by the much more intriguing evolution of Buffy Summers in the TV Series from virginal high school freshman to intensely sexual college freshman, in a world which is increasingly dark and where reality is increasingly concealed….. Buffy’s Sunnydale was a mythic place, a lot like Los Angeles, while her first boyfriend and lover Angel eventually goes to the real Los Angeles and sets up shop as first as a private detective and then director of a large law firm—two professions which, in Los Angeles at least, possibly in the movies generally, have almost acquired the status of modern Jungian archetypes….  

The increasingly dark and brooding, sad and depressed Buffy Summers never lost her general adaptability—she could never specialize in any profession or line of work any more than Dorothy Gale or Scarlett O’Hara or Catherine Ballou… but the realization that the dark forces of the world were effectively unbeatable and had pre-existed anything good in the world—these were major transformations of the American Dream from the Early 20th Century.  And it was during the 7 televised seasons of Buffy that the 20th Century, which came in with a little girl magically transported by a tornado from dull grey Kansas to a bright and beautiful alternative universe which knew no death, went out during Buffy’s Freshman year at UCLA with a young adult barely out of her teens who was alone in the world, with her small circle of more specialized friends, fighting vampires and the forces of darkness.

And five years after Buffy ended, Katniss Everdeen picked up the bow from her archetypal ancestors the Goddesses Inanna and Diana and Queen Boadicea, and began to hunt for meagre food in the desperately hunger fringes of District 12 (in what was once called Appalachia in what was once called North America).  

The gruesomeness of the Hunger Games apparently shocks some people—I would have thought that Americans had long since forgotten how to be shocked about or by anything.  Children murdering children for sport isn’t the most pleasant of ideas, to be sure. But in that 17-19 year olds have gone off to fight in every war America has ever seen….along with a few 16 year olds here and there, and since the History Channel periodically shows authentic news clips of 15-16 year old resistance “werewolves” in 1945 Post-World War II Germany being shot by firing squads of American Troops, and countless tens of thousands of teenagers have been silently snuffed in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam, it is hard to believe that the idea of children fighting and dying is really such a big deal to our ever hypocritically squeamish population.

The Hunger Games resonate with so much in our history and culture—with the original Victor Hugo version of Les Miserables (hopelessly buried and lost in the Broadway Musical of the same name), and in Suzanne Collins’ own account with the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur.  

But above all the Hunger Games resonates with the year 2012 in which America has taken so many steps towards being a brutal, repressive dictatorship like Panem, already—with idiot fake and fraudulent “Conservatives” like Lindsey Graham and Newt Gingrich competing with idiot truly fraudulent “Liberals” like Carl Levin, Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, and Barack Obama competing with one another to see who can shred the Constitution fastest.  

Interesting to me, given that I based my own doctoral dissertation at Harvard in large part on revisiting Frazer’s the Golden Bough and with it Diana’s Temple by Lake Nemi near Ariccia, are the parallels between the Hunger Games and the myths and rituals of Divine Kingship.  There is nothing in the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, however, about games or about Tributes being well-fed and allowed every luxury leading up to their deaths.  But precisely this treatment is common in the rites of Divine Kingship, where sacrificial victims, like the individual selected for sacrifice during the rites of Toxcatl among the Aztec, are equated with the God Tezcatlipoca (“Smoking Mirror”) during the last year of their lives, given wonderful food and drink, and then sacrificed.  Similar paradigms of sacrifice are found throughout the world—

And the sacrifice of children, likewise, is extremely common: to the rain gods in Mesoamerica, relic traces of this existed even among the modern Yucatec Maya who tie small children to the legs of the altar during the cha-chaac or rain ceremony—although the children have to do nothing more that happily chirp like rainy season frogs (but woe to the boy who croaks like a dry season Toad—he will be beaten, not sacrificed, but beaten).  The Hebrew Bible itself is filled with child sacrifice (all through the Books of Kings and Chronicles, in particular, are Kings who make their children “walk through the fire”—perhaps most famously the daughter of Jeptha…), and by way of archaeological parallel—the excavations at Carthage have revealed hundreds and thousands of child sacrifices…. Among the Natchez of Mississippi, families sacrificed their children in order to rise in social status from commoners (“Stinkards”) to “Honored” Nobility according to the French records by Dupratz and recounted by John R. Swanton….

And in this sense it is perplexing: sacrifice almost always lead either to elevation in status or to outright deification: why the elite of Panem would not have recognized the risk embodied in Golden Bough-Divine Kingship type of analysis: the sacrificial victim—like the Rex Nemorensis at Ariccia who becomes King by killing the old one in combat, will always become the next king.  

At the end of the first book of Suzanne Collins’ trilogy, Katniss Everdeen is poised to become (with Peeta), Queen and King of Panem.  This was not only foreseeable, it was in comparative mythological terms inevitable—and yet Suzanne Collins’ trilogy does not allow this drama to evolve that way.  In part, this may be because technology and traditions of oppression have obliterated the natural succession of Divine Kingship….

But Sir James G. Frazer’s point in writing the Golden Bough was to show that Divine Kingship involving the deification of sacrificial victims and their elevation as Kings is a nearly world-wide phenomenon.  I sit here puzzling at the significance of all the trappings of Divine Kingship and the Golden Bough in the Hunger Games.  

Frank Baum had either borrowed or unconsciously recreated so many motifs from ancient mythology—the Four World Quarters with colors Winkie-yellow Quadlin-red Munchkin-blue and Gillikin-purple with Green for the Center of the Emerald City are like nothing so much as the mythological and symbolic organization of (1) Ancient Mesopotamia, “Land of the Four Quarters” centered on Uruk, (2) Celtic Ireland, Ulster, Munster, Connaught, Leinster, and centered on Midhe (Meath) at Tara, and (3) pre-Hispanic Yucatan which, at several Classic sites, is divided into quarters dominated (as recorded on Stelae A & H at Copan) by Tikal, Calakmul, Palenque, and Copan and which even now is divided into four quarters (Yucatán, Campeche, Quintana Roo, and Petén, with Belize claimed by Guatemala and Geographically appearing to be a southern extension of Quintana Roo).

But in Frank Baum’s Oz, kingship is never strong and is always frowned upon, as are all attempts at centralization or standardization of culture, customs, or laws among the four/five regions of Oz.  For that reason, I would assume, there are no hints or traces of divine kingship in Oz—it is a Federal egalitarian Democracy of sorts (even though no one ever votes).  

But by the time of Buffy, as the 20th century closes, the need for a leader has brought forward the Slayer—“one girl in all the world” who fights the Demons.  Now Joss Whedon optimistically ended his series with a devolution of power and prowess from Buffy through the magic of Willow to Millions of “potential” slayers—-but it didn’t quite ring true, in a Television series where even the most outrageous vampiric and magic witchcraft was somehow made to feel “emotionally authentic.”

In the Hunger Games, Dictatorship is the reality and the two victors of the Hunger Games, Katniss & Peeta, are set to become the Divine Kings and possibly the real sovereigns of their land.  Perhaps the need for leadership, the need for someone to save the population, is not yet great enough, but in terms of the political and emotional significance of our story-telling, I think that the journey from Dorothy Gale’s Grey Kansas to Katniss Everdeen’s Grey District 12 tells us the story of the loss of hope and impending doom and despair which was the 20th Century.

*  Katniss is named after a plant called Sagittaria, and my grandmother was born under the sign of Sagittarius—it could be that Katniss reminds me a great deal of my grandmother Helen—similar complexions and faces…. Actress Jennifer Lawrence certainly fits very precisely the image in Suzanne Collins’ book…. and the younger pictures I’ve seen of my grandmother with long hair as a teenager in the time before the U.S. entered WWI….growing up in a place very much like the defeated districts of Panem in the Southern USA.

** In some New Age texts, 108 years is said to be a Venus Cycle, the more ordinary astrological cycle is one of 104 years.  108 is used, but oddly enough, is four years longer than longest calendrical cycle and planetary identity of the Ancient Goddess of Love, namely Inanna/ Ishtar/Aphrodite/Venus.  The calendrical cycles of Venus and the sun are said to “bind” (i.e coincide) every 2920 days, but the ultimate binding of 5 Heliacal Cycles of Venus with 8 Calendar years …. (365 x 8 = 5 x 584 = 2920 x 13 = 37,960 = 2 x 52 years (my current age) = 104 calendar years/105 “tuns” or 360 day periods—the root of the Maya and Aztec Calendars).  Like her Roman Counterpart Diana, Aphrodite and Inanna were both archers—it seems to be the feminine weapon of choice, possibly for purely sexual Freudian reasons, possibly for some mixture of Freudian sexual and Jungian archetypal causation.

*** In the 1970s, Broadway Musical and 1978 movie “the Wiz” the just recently departed Diana Ross and the late Michael Jackson did their best to reframe and appropriate the Baum story for African-America in the aftermath of the Civil Rights movement (or Fraudulent Civil Rights Fiasco) of the 1950s-60s…. I have never been comfortable Easing on Down the Road with them in that direction…. although my grandfather was a great supporter of alternative all black productions (now almost extinct) because they upheld and even developed, really and truly, the old segregationist’s doctrine of Separate but Equal (we actually attended the Wiz at the Majestic Theater on Broadway as well as an all black revival of Guys & Dolls in my one major summer with him (ever in my life) in 1976.

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.