On the morning of October 28th, 1962, Nikita Khrushchev, First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, received a cable from Anatoly Dobrynin, the Soviet ambassador in Washington. For nearly two weeks the Soviet Union and the United States had been engaged in a nuclear standoff in the Atlantic Ocean over Soviet missiles in Cuba. Cold War tensions were as high as they had ever been. The cable relayed a message handed to the ambassador by US Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the brother of the President.
The message was direct and clear: Time is running out. The United States is prepared to take strong and overwhelming retaliatory action by the end of the week if Moscow does not immediately agree to withdraw its missiles from Cuba.
By midnight that night Moscow time, about a dozen Soviet ships that had been steaming their way toward Cuba were turning around. Khrushchev had backed down. The Kremlin also announced that all Soviet missile bases in Cuba would be dismantled and returned to Russia and that UN inspections would be permitted to verify the removal. It had been a tenuous game of global chicken, and the Soviet Union had been the first to turn back.
That same evening, General Ion Mihai Pacepa, head of Romania’s Securitate (secret police), went to the residence of Gheorghe Gheordhiu-Dej, General Secretary of the Soviet satellite, to report the end of the Cuban crisis. “That’s the greatest defeat in Soviet peacetime history,” Dej said. Neither Dej nor Pacepa was a fan of the bellicose Khruschev. Although Khruschev had gained favor with the world through “unmasking” Stalin’s crimes and had publicly espoused a policy of peaceful coexistence with the capitalist West, the two Romanian leaders knew Comrade Khrushchev personally. Together they celebrated Khrushchev’s “apocalyptical” humiliation over caviar and champagne.
But although Kennedy had won this skirmish, Dej remarked that at this point, he wouldn’t give a penny for Kennedy’s skin. Then he made a prediction that is stunning to Western (but not Eastern) ears. “He won’t die in his bed.”
Indeed he would not, as the world would see a scant thirteen months later.
Damage Control: Dezinformatsiya
Four days later, General Alexander Sakharovsky, head of Soviet foreign intelligence, arrived in Bucharest, Romania’s capital city, to brief the Securitate on Operation “DRAGON,” the goal of which was to divert attention from the KGB’s intelligence relationship with Lee Harvey Owsald and to frame instead as the culprit, the CIA.
It was business as usual in the Eastern bloc. “Unlike Western intelligence services, Soviet bloc espionage was not designed to obtain factual information and predict enemy intentions,” wrote Pacepa years later. “The communist tsars used their foreign intelligence services to hide their crimes and to embellish their own stature — in other words, to lie to their country and to the rest of the world.”
And for the most part, the West bought it hook, line, and sinker. Quite likely with the complicity of President Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson.
Gen. Pacepa is kind to the members of the Warren Commission, which reported a year later that Oswald acted alone. “We should not blame the Warren Commission for missing the significance of the espionage proof sitting right in their hands. None of its members had any background in counterintelligence analysis. … You cannot expect a plumber to perform heart surgery.”
But a plumber can learn from a heart surgeon who’s willing to teach him. Gen. Pacepa has extensive experience with KGB modus operandi. In Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination, he combines his own knowledge about the KGB’s involvement with Oswald with the evidence assembled by the FBI and other US investigators. In Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism, he adds new information that has become available since the publication of Programmed to Kill.
A half-century ago, President Kennedy came to understand the importance of being prepared to use force to protect American sovereignty. Did he pay for it with his life? Probably, Yes. What would have happened had he looked the other way or pursued a policy of appeasement toward the USSR? Thankfully, we will never know.
For that, we do well to pay honor and respect to President John F. Kennedy.
And to learn a little something of modern heart surgery.
The Great American Church Fire Hoax
In the spring of 1996, a spate of news reports about black church fires in America dominated airwaves and inflamed decent people both at home and abroad. The World Council of Churches (WCC) flew thirty-eight pastors to Washington, DC, to provide government leaders with more information about this racist tragedy. In a June radio address, President Clinton spoke with emotion about his own “vivid and painful memories of black churches being burned in my own state when I was a child.” Charging that “racial hostility is the driving force,” he pledged the full power of the federal government to the crisis and put two hundred federal agents on the case.
By late summer, more that twenty-two hundred articles in the press had condemned what the Center for Democratic Renewal (CDR) called “a well-organized white-supremacist movement.” The Church Fire Prevention Act of 1996 was signed into law in July, making church arson a federal crime, and $12 million was appropriated for combating fires at churches with black congregations. The National Council of Churches (NCC), the national affiliate of the WCC, took out full-page ads in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and several other outlets soliciting donations for its new “Burned Churches Fund.” It reportedly raised nearly $9 million in two days, with contributions continuing at about $100,000/day.
With that kind of money coming in, though, could America really be that racist of a country? Probably not. As it turned out, the whole brouhaha was more media firestorm than actual fire. It was later established by the National Fire Protection Association, a private organization that keeps track of church arson, that the data did not confirm the reports, but rather showed that there had been a dramatic drop in church fires in the years leading up to 1996. Of the few on record, law enforcement officials in the South couldn’t confirm any as having been racially motivated, and despite the president’s vivid and painful memories, no church burnings had occurred in Arkansas during his childhood.
Michael Fumento traced the source of the black church fire media meme to the CDR, whose mission at the time was to work “with progressive activists and organizations to build a movement to counter right-wing rhetoric and public policy initiatives.” The corrections received comparably scant coverage, and most Americans went on about their lives forgetting the whole thing. But even as they did, their country was being slandered as a cauldron of neo-Nazi racism both at home and abroad.
The key to understanding the significance of this lies in the fact that the World Council of Churches and the CDR, both of which ignited and promoted the story, have been the tools of Russian intelligence since the early 1960s. It was classic disinformation, designed to defame.
Disinformation, write Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa and Prof. Ronald J. Rychlak, in Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism, is not a synonym for misinformation. The two are as different from one another as night is from day. If the Soviet press fabricated a story and published it through its own outlets, that would be misinformation, and readers in the West would rightly take it with a grain of salt. If, however, the same material appeared in Western media and was attributed to Western sources, that would be disinformation, and its credibility – and therefore it power – would be substantially higher. Since World War II, they write, “disinformation has been the Kremlin’s most effective weapon in its war on the West.”
Disinformation is a science and art born and perfected in Russia. In this his third book, coauthored with Rychlak, a law scholar at the University of Mississippi, Gen Pacepa (pronounced ‘pa-CHEP-a’), the highest-ranking Soviet bloc intelligence officer ever to defect to the West, explains how disinformation works by unraveling some of the most consequential disinformation campaigns of the twentieth century. It’s fascinating reading, covering the Kremlin’s systematic denigration and defamation of Christianity, Judaism, Pope Pius XII, America, and the West through multiple channels and in widely varying communication forms.
But Pacepa didn’t write Disinformation as a matter of historical curiosity. Disinformation has caused worldwide damage to the reputation of the United States. That was a primary Kremlin objective, and it was accomplished stunningly. But now, disinformation is taking root in America itself. That is worse.
To neutralize disinformation, people of conscience must learn to recognize disinformation for what it is because, like the terrorists who killed three thousand Americans on September 11th, 2001, disinformation is usually clothed in innocuous civilian garb.
Gullibility can be costly. Educating the free world is the purpose of Disinformation.
“Want a Capri Sun?”
Those were the first words he said to her afterwards. Rachel White, age fifteen, had been anticipating this moment for at least a year. She’d sneaked out on a snowy school night, shoes in hand. Then, wearing nothing but her wet socks, Ginuwine playing in the background, it was finally happening! Oh my god, she told herself, this is sex! Just move your hips to Ginuwine. When it was over, he locked eyes with her, opened his mouth … and offered her a kiddie drink in a disposable bag.
Nevertheless, delirious in the afterglow, Rachel shared all the details with her friends the following day at school. Soon though, her delirium morphed into a strange agitation. ‘He’ wasn’t her boyfriend or anyone particularly special. They had been “just talking” – her lingo for “just friends” – and since he was cool and good-looking, Rachel had picked him to be the one to whom she would lose her virginity. Once the deed was done, “I wanted something from him. I thought about him every five minutes.” She called him repeatedly, several times a day, until finally, his weary mother asked her to please stop calling. Then depression set in. “I didn’t want to go to school. I didn’t want to eat. And if Ginuwine came on the radio—forget it.”
Rachel later blogged about her experience and found she wasn’t alone in suffering a post-sex funk. Kate responded, describing her first time this way, “He just sort of rolled off me, he was drunk and probably also high, and I just sat there for awhile and stared at the ceiling while he snored. I remember I got up … thinking, ‘That’s it? What the hell just happened?’” Others recounted stories of writing long embarrassing love letters or drunken explosions at parties. Clearly, joining the sexually initiated doesn’t always pan out as expected.
The Neurology of Sex
Any Grandma or psychotherapist worth her salt could have told them that this was bound to happen. In Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children, OB-GYNs Dr. Joe S. McIlhaney Jr., and Dr. Freda McKissic Bush explain, from a neurobiological perspective, why it happens and how. “Scientists are confirming that sex is more than a momentary physical act. It produces powerful, even lifelong, changes in our brains that direct and influence our future to a surprising degree,” they write. A single sexual encounter sets off a cascade of changes in a young brain, and modern imaging technology allows researchers to observe those changes more thoroughly than ever before. Hooked explains what they are discovering.
Three neurochemicals in particular are especially involved in sex:
Oxytocin. Oxytocin is the “bonding” chemical. While it is present in both sexes, it’s much more predominant in females. When a boy and girl touch in a meaningful way, even something as simple as a lingering hug, oxytocin is released in the girl’s brain, causing her to desire more of his touch and to feel an increasing bond to him. It also produces feelings of trust in him, whether or not he actually merits it. When sexual intercourse happens, her brain is flooded with oxytocin, causing her to feel connected to him and to continue to need this connection with him, as Rachel discovered. Oxytocin is also released when a mother nurses her newborn, causing similar, though non-sexual, feelings of deep attachment. “The important thing to recognize,” the doctors stress, “is that the desire to connect is not just an emotional feeling. Bonding is real … a powerful connection that cannot be undone without great emotional pain.”
Vasopressin.Vasopressin is the bonding chemical for males. Often referred to as “the monogamy molecule,” it hasn’t been as thoroughly studied as oxytocin, but is known to play a role in bonding, both to the female sexually and to the children that result. In an article titled, The Two Become One: The Role of Oxytocin and Vasopression, Dianne S. Vadney explained it this way,”Essentially, vasopressin released after intercourse is significant in that it creates a desire in the male to stay with his mate, inspires a protective sense (in humans, perhaps this is what creates almost a jealous tendency) about his mate, and drives him to protect his territory and his offspring.”
Dopamine. Dopamine is the “feel-good” or “reward” chemical. When we do something exciting, dopamine floods our brain and produces feelings of exhilaration and well-being. Not surprisingly, it also makes us want to repeat the behavior that produced it. Active in both males and females, dopamine is values-neutral, meaning it rewards pleasurable or exciting behaviors without distinguishing between those that are beneficial and those that may be harmful.
Hooked by Sex
“Sex is one of the strongest generators of the dopamine reward,” the Hooked authors point out. This is not inherently bad, but overstimulation can cause the brain to become relatively resistant to it, leading the indiscriminate to engage in more and more of the same behavior to regain the high, not unlike the spiral of addictive drug use. “For this reason, young people particularly are vulnerable to falling into a cycle of dopamine reward for unwise sexual behavior – they can get hooked on it.” But when the relationships are short-lived, the losses due to breakup are felt in the brain centers that feel physical pain and can actually be seen on a brain scan. It’s not hard to see how multiple relationships, each with its own cycle of bonding and breaking, can lead to profound pain, anxiety, and confusion, especially among teens still far from emotional maturity.
The results can be devastating. A series of studies published between 2002-2007 showed that sexually initiated youth are three times more likely to be depressed than their abstaining peers. The girls were three times as likely to have attempted suicide, and the boys were a whopping seven more likely to have done so. The studies accounted for other mitigating factors in their lives, ensuring an accurate comparison with their peers.
Rachel White, who now writes for Cosmopolitan, Jezebel, and other sex-focused outlets, offers this suggestion for avoiding the pain of disappointment after first time sex: “Maybe we need to throw out the idea of virginity altogether. Maybe we need to toss away the idea that you ‘lose’ something from a single act. … Perhaps teaching this would help with those depression stats.” In other words, devalue the sex act altogether, starting with the very first one. Lower your expectations, the dismal thinking goes, so you won’t suffer the pain of disappointment.
Rachel can promote disposable sex until the cows come home, but it will never improve the depression or suicide stats. In fact, it will probably make them worse. It’s impossible for the neurochemical aspects of sex to be turned off. Here’s a better idea: Ponder deeply the remarkable work of oxytocin and vasopressin. Consider how the biochemistry of sex appears to be marvelously fashioned for the purpose of forging marriage and family bonds. See sex that way. And then act accordingly. Go with instead of against your natural chemistry.
And finally, lest the cheap sex authors convince you that sexual restraint equals sexual repression, reflect on the serendipitous, dual sex ministrations of dopamine. Only regular, monogamous sex keeps the dopamine rushes coming, strengthening the marital bond, infusing feelings of personal well-being, and smoothing the inescapable bumps that come with living together and, if fortune smiles, raising children. All that without the pain and fear of breakup.
This article first appeared in Salvo 24, Spring 2013
On Sunday night, I wrote a short post soliciting stories from my readers about how Obamacare has already immediately impacted their lives. I asked that all of these emails be directed to ObamacareMakesMeSick@Yahoo.com. I expected a response; I didn't expect it to be quite so overwhelming.
Over the last 24 hours, my inbox has been flooded with hundreds of emails. What you'll read in this post represents a portion of them.
Just who is Sam Doonby? That’s the question everyone in the honky-tonk town of Smithville wants to know after a good-looking but mysterious “Golden Boy” hops off a bus and takes up residence in the one-horse town 40 miles east of Austin, Texas.
A wandering poet-philosopher, Sam Doonby does good wherever he goes, but he also seems to attract trouble like still water attracts mosquitoes. Most people like him at first, but before long, the local equilibrium is strained. Without any intention of doing so, Sam Doonby stirs pots, upsets apple carts, and occasionally digs up a dark deed which the doer thought was long buried. The townsfolk of, shall we say, disrepute – women and men – are thrown off kilter. Before long, something’s got to give, but what does give packs a power punch that will surely take you by surprise.
Doonby has been in the works for a long time. Born in the mind of British writer/director Peter Mackenzie more than seventeen years ago, production officially got underway after Mackenzie took his script to veteran film producer Mark Joseph in 2009. It’s full of intrigue, action, and suspense. One reviewer called it a psychological thriller.
“Marketing Doonby has been challenging in the sense that it is, at its core, a mystery,” said Mike Mackenzie, Peter’s son, who joined the production team as co-producer. “With that in mind, we have to be careful what we give away and what we hold back, but we know from the screenings that we have done that and our audience is going to be there when it hits theaters.”
I’m not going to give away what happens, either. But I will tell you this: like its lead character, the film is not easily categorized. It’s neither pro-life nor pro-choice, neither political nor religious. It’s just a story, set in a town, and lived out by people, people whose lives matter because every nobody is somebody.
And while it’s not family-unfriendly, a lot of the action takes place in a bar and mature themes are probed, so consider it appropriate for adolescent and older viewers. Release date in theaters is set for November 1st, 2013.
And do consider it. See it, talk about it, and ponder it deeply. Good things come from good thinking, and Doonby will make you think.
Click here to contribute to the Doonby crowd-funding campaign through October 10th. Every $10 buys you one virtual raffle ticket to win an autographed guitar from John Schneider. See more offers and prizes here.
When a young friend died at the tender age of 15, Kirk Cameron was left wrestling with the perennial faith-breaking questions, Why does God allow suffering? Why do bad things happen to good people? Matt had lived a full 2/3 of his young life with cancer. His parents were good people. They loved God, even as they had to watch their son slip away. Kirk loved God too, but he had a hard time reconciling the seemingly senseless pain of life on this earth with the Christian doctrines of a sovereign and loving God.
Is it that God loves his creatures but can’t prevent the things that cause suffering? Or could he prevent them, but doesn’t really love people enough to bother? Well, no. The Bible tells us that God is both fully loving and completely sovereign. This leaves honest Christians with something of a personal/theological puzzle. How to reconcile the two absolutely good characteristics of God with the inescapable (and ultimately inevitable) pain of suffering and death in the world?
His most authentic and vulnerable production to date, Unstoppable is the product of Cameron’s search for satisfying answers. Part Bible exposition and part visual diary, Unstoppable dramatizes and records his personal Q&A journey with God. It’s one fruit of his own suffering, if you will.
There’s life and death seriousness in Unstoppable – this man is not one to shy away from something just because it’s hard. But there’s also some comedy: Imagine you were going to make a film about the biblical story of the flood, and the central character was going to be God. From a storytelling point of view, this is a hard sell.
Nonetheless, Cameron dons his Sunday best and goes before a committee of Hollywood big shots bearing “Hollywood Pitch: The Flood.” It goes something like this:
Cameron: The setting for the story is the apex of evil. Humanity is destroying itself. Then God steps in and raises up a man named Noah. He has a heart after God and is blameless in his sight.
Exec 1: Hero, hero –
Cameron: And he begins calling everyone to turn back to God.
Exec 1: He’s the savior –
Cameron: And God commissions him to build a giant ship.
Exec 2: Like a cruise ship?
Exec 3: Oooh, cruise ship; that’s a good idea. We could go with that.
Exec 1: Midnight buffet! (laughing) How many desserts can you have at 1:00 in the morning?
Cameron: Guys, this is not about a cruise ship. It’s a three-story, massive, cargo barge –
Exec 1: [gets a quizzical look on his face]
Cameron: – with Noah, his family, and some animals.
Exec 2: Alright, this is where the family comes in. The animals could talk to each other. Kids love animals.
Cameron: No. You see, there’s a complete deluge of the entire world, and everyone –
Exec 1: Yeah, I can see it. Everyone gets on these floating cities and –
Exec 2: – and everyone forms, like, a republic?
Cameron: No floating cities. One ship. With Noah. And his family. And all the animals.
Exec 1: Where are all the people?
Cameron: [pause] Drowned.
Exec 1: Whoah, whoah, whoah –
Exec 2: It kinda portrays God as the enemy here.
Cameron: The reason God does this is –
Exec 3: If we go back to the boat and the animal thing … the more I visualize this, I see this more as a cartoon kind of thing.
And the beat goes on. The execs like the idea of the family, the adventure, the talking animals, and the rainbow. They really like the rainbow. Exec 3 can already see the spike on Pinterest. But Cameron wants to stay true to the story. In the end, the execs tell Kirk they love him. And they love the story. All except the part about God and what really happened.
Do you see what they’ve done here? They want to rewrite the story according to what works for them. “That’s the story people want to hear,” says Exec 1.
The scene is staged for maximum comic effect. It’s like a scene from The Office. But there’s a very serious point to be made through it. We can be like those execs. After all, don’t we all want to rewrite the story of life according to what works for us?
But then, when the world doesn’t act according to our script, we don’t know what’s going on. We get angry. Or depressed. Or both. We don’t get it. And we gnash our teeth at God. Whether we believe in him or not.
Perhaps we don’t “get” God because we don’t want God. We have not paid attention to what he has already told us. We have instead rewritten the story of our life according to what works for us. And then, when we find ourselves at odds with life, or when tragedy strikes and we reel in confusion, not only do we not understand, we don’t even know where to look to seek understanding. We wrote God out of our story.
Meanwhile God’s story goes on. And it’s not over. God, who is exceedingly patient and gracious, still calls all of us to repent and seek him. Sometimes that happens as a result of suffering. For some of us, it doesn’t happen any other way.
Cameron has produced a beautiful and brutally honest film, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Dedicated to Matthew James Sandgren, May 2nd, 1997 – August 23rd, 2012, the Q&A session between Cameron and God ends with satisfying answers. Satisfying enough, at least, for the time being. The name “Unstoppable“ is fitting, but I had to watch all the way to the end to figure it out.
You should too.
A Review of Roosters of the Apocalypse: How the Junk Science of Global Warming Nearly Bankrupted the Western World, by Rael Jean Isaac
Beginning in April 1856, after decades of frontier skirmishes with British colonial powers, the Xhosa tribe of current day South Africa stopped planting crops, slaughtered their cattle, and destroyed their grain stores. Now why would any clear-thinking people do this? Well, they had acted on the prophecy of a teenager. She had said spirits told her that, if the Xhosa would do these things, then the golden age that had existed before the white invasion would be restored, and they would then see an era of increased prosperity. Did that happen? Well, no. By the end of 1857, an estimated third to half of them were dead, and the British corralled survivors into labor camps and assumed control of the land.
Rael Jean Isaac opens Roosters of the Apocalypse with this true story to make a very important point: Despite modern advancements and scientific enlightenment, we may have more in common with the Xhosa than we think.
Apocalyptic movements have much in common, says Richard Landes, a historian with Boston University. They have initiators, promoters he likens to “roosters” – because they crow an exciting message. They have skeptics, “owls” who caution against unwarranted drastic action, and they have a mass of followers who must choose whom to believe. Furthermore, they follow a common lifecycle: (1) In the first wave, the roosters break onto the public scene and begin building mass. Next (2) comes the breaking wave, when the roosters’ message dominates public life. This is followed by (3) a long churning phase, when the inertia of the movement carries it furiously forward despite failed predictions and mounting evidence that the owls were right. And finally, (4) as the wave recedes, the owls are vindicated, but much damage has been done and the consequences remain.
Examining Climate Change Churn
Isaac applies this explanatory metaphor to the climate change movement. “From a political point of view, climate change must still be counted a breaking wave,” she writes. “It continues to dominate public life because the preponderance of political, academic, environmental, and media elites, as well as a significant segment of business leaders remain committed roosters. Intellectually it’s another story.”
Subsequent chapters lay out the facts of that other story – from the massive intellectual fraud perpetrated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), now dubbed “Climategate;” to the convoluted scheme of trading the fictitious commodity known as carbon credits, which amounts to nothing more than a huge tax on energy; to the economic black holes surrounding the quest for renewable energies – to show that the movement, far from being grounded in scientifically established fact, is basically irrational, ideological, and profoundly anti-science.
Most helpful, Isaac delves into the movement’s history to suggest a diagnosis for the driving force behind it all. “From the beginning, energy, not pollution was the chief target of environmental roosters,” she writes. In so doing, she succinctly exposes the movement as a pernicious drive to undo human achievement. Tying a political tourniquet on energy production is merely the means du jour for pursuing the end, which is pure destruction.
Her application of Landes’s metaphor fits way too close for comfort. Despite warm fuzzies we might feel about protecting the earth, the warning should compel reasonable people to apply sound judgment before cackling along with the roosters. Western civilizational strength and human livelihoods hang in the balance. “How ironic it will be,” she concludes, “if despite our pride in bringing down the Soviet Union without a shot, the twenty-first century, thanks to our self-destructive pursuit of an apocalyptic fantasy, belongs to a Communist dictatorship?”
‘Ironic’ doesn’t even come close. Contemptible would be more like it. Don’t be a stooge for the destroyer, and don’t let such destruction happen with your consent.
This article first appeared in Salvo 22, Fall 2012.
- 30,000 Scientists Want to Sue Al Gore for a Debate on Climate Change - The interview with John Coleman, founder of The Weather Channel, is well worth 5 minutes watch time.
- The Greater Hoax - examines media malfeasance with respect to one fearless “owl.”
- Exposing the Global Warming Alarming Pushers from the official blog of Australia’s NO CARBON TAX Climate Sceptics party (NCTCS)