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Living Freedom by Claire Wolfe. Musings about personal freedom and finding it within ourselves.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Archive for December, 2011

Claire Wolfe

Is it time to leave?

Friday, December 30th, 2011

I have to admit it; if I were rich I’d have left the U.S. by now. Or I’d at least have prepared a nice little offshore getaway — a vacation place that would be there when the day came that it was really, really, indubitably time to escape.

I’m not a rich person. You’re probably not, either.

Still, we Americans are living in a country whose government (not our government, but some strange occupation force, some junta that seized power when good people and fools alike weren’t watching) has declared its authority either to assassinate us at will or “disappear” us equally arbitrarily.

That’s not tolerable. One way or another, that has to end. It ends either by us leaving or by that government being ended through resistance.


Do you think about leaving? I know there are people here who say, “Never. Absolutely not. This is my country and they’re not going to drive me out of it.” “I’ll fight for it,” some say. “I’ll die before I surrender it to tyrants.”

Part of me understands that and agrees. Part of me, on the other hand, says, “Freedom is my only country and it goes where I go.” Part of me says, “If you have to fight or fear all the time, then by definition you’re not free and never will be.”


I know a handful of non-rich or non-connected people who’ve made it as ex-pats. One has lived in Central America for 10 years, scraping by, living in a quasi-semi-sort-of not-too-illegal status.

He periodically nags and browbeats me about my failure to leave the U.S. He’s also generous with ideas and offers of hospitality. He makes me think.

Of course it’s possible for less-than-monied folk to get out, if they’re willing to live like gypsies or are okay with a quasi-semi-sort-of not-too-illegal status. Or if they marry a foreign national. Or have lucked into dual citizenship. Or get a job that stations them outside the U.S. Or qualify for a critical-skills immigrant status. There are a lot of ways.

None of those ways apply to me, probably not to you, either.


I’d go if the right opportunity came along. My Central American ex-pat friend thinks that’s just a dodge. He thinks it’s a way of making excuses for not having the guts to pick up and leave.

He may be right.

Yet my objections are real. For all the faults and growing terrors of this country, I don’t know of another that’s “better enough” to dislocate my life for.

Gun rights? The U.S. is still outstanding. “But you can get a permit to own a firearm so easily here!” my ex-pat friend says.

“But I don’t want no steeeenking permit,” I reply.

My friend in Central America has to deal with bribing officials — something I’ve never contemplated doing here and don’t want to contemplate.

He points out — rightly, I’m sure — that it’s not the laws on the books that matter; it’s how those laws are enforced (or not). Plenty of places with “worse” laws than ours are, in practice, pretty much live-and-let live. Yet I live in a small town where, mostly, the laws and I leave each other the hell alone. And I know that the country where he lives — a very good place in many ways — has become a horror story for some ex-pats.

I’m thinking of a couple of Americans there who got into an auto accident with locals — no witnesses, strictly he-said-she-said — and literally had to flee the country because the locals were able to turn a corrupt legal establishment on them. The Americans in question were rich, and somebody decided to use that against them, hoping to profit.

But then, you and I probably aren’t rich. We wouldn’t have to worry about that. Unless, in the wrong circumstances, somebody thought we were rich.


There are so many factors. Dogs. Have you ever looked into the costs and complications of transporting dogs to live in another country? Some countries are easier than others. But nowhere is it a cheap and easy process.

I take the dogs to another country — and you know I wouldn’t leave them behind — and 1/3 or more of my resources are gone — poof! — before I even get started on a new life.

And dogs are … well, just dogs. You may have family you can’t leave. A job you can’t give up. Property you can’t sell.

My friend in Central America would say that’s all just excuses.

He’d say, “Yeah, the Jews in Germany in 1933 made the same objections. And they were fools. They died. Get the hell out while the getting’s good.”

And we might say, “It’s bad, but it’s not going to get that bad here.”

And he’d say, “That’s what they said, too.”

And he’d be right.

Still, the Nazis were an anomaly. Weren’t they? Weren’t they? Please let them be an anomaly.


A week or so ago there was a good, commonsense article on reasons not to go ex-pat. The author — who had tried it himself — makes thoughtful points.

Even non-political ex-pats often warn that going offshore isn’t for everybody. Here and here, for instance.

And many of the people who agitate eloquently for getting the heck out are still clearly talking to the well-off. (Here, too.)

Oh yes, just buy yourself a second passport. Take $100,000 or so and invent in an offshore property. Diversify your assets among a host of countries. EZ-peezy.

Until the U.S. government reaches its tentacles into your offshore bank. Until your pleasantly prosperous offshore dream is shattered by FATCA.

Because of course, that’s the other thing. The U.S. government is everywhere.

Whether you’re rich or poor, it’s there. The eye of Mordor on the Potomac sees around the globe.

Still, unless Mordor seeks you directly, getting out can be a relief, and more and more events are pointing in that direction.

And every time you get a reminder about how bad it’s getting … don’t you at least think about leaving?


I know one man — well off and very smart — whose version of “going offshore” simply took him to a U.S. state that he believes will probably secede when push comes to shove.

And more power to him. He has other reasons for locating where he did, of course. But I gotta admit that’s a creative idea — even if it’s one I think is farfetched.

And I have my own idea of “offshore.” Being in a tiny, out-of-the-way town is pretty good.

Until, of course, the moment it isn’t.

But that’s true anywhere.


This is all just dithering and therefore possibly pointless.

I’m choosing not to see it that way, though.

I don’t know about you but I’ve found that in my life the worst dithering often comes just before the biggest decision points. Sometimes the dithering and inaction seems as if it’s going to be endless … until suddenly it ends. And ends in a powerful burst of resolution.

Mud becomes clear. Helplessness becomes power. Confusion becomes enlightenment. Weakness transforms into an irresistible force. It happens. The mind is a miracle worker — though one whose ways are sometimes as mysterious as God’s.

Through struggle we become our own leaders, our own gurus. There aren’t any shortcuts — at least none that lead to good ends. But damn, what wimpy leaders and gurus our poor selves often seem!

Some things we can be sure of, though.

One thing I know at this moment is that the present state cannot stand. Wherever our country truly lies (in our hearts and minds, and other places), these bastards cannot, do not, will not own it. Not &^%$#@ing ever.

Claire Wolfe

The compassion of Dr. Ron Paul

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Politics, the morality of voting, and the hope or hopelessness of Ron Paul’s candidacy aside … this is worth the donations that could put it (or its shorter versions) on television.

ADDED: Dave Duffy has a fine editorial on Paul today, too.

Claire Wolfe

Wednesday miscellany

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Been collecting again …

Claire Wolfe

Changes at S.W.A.T.

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

I didn’t know this until recently, but when S.W.A.T. magazine first started publishing in the early 1980s, its name wasn’t meant to imply “Special Weapons and Tactics” (aka police SWAT teams).

The original name was “Survival Weapons and Tactics.”

Well, if you happen to have a copy of the February 2012 issue, which just came out, you might notice that’s what the tagline (just below the title) says once again.

Publisher Rich Lucibella and editor Denny Hansen each got the idea independently that the magazine should shift its emphasis from heavy cop-and-soldier material to information for hard times. They were democratic enough to run this by the writers and staff, who agreed with enthusiasm (and then, naturally, picked a few nits.)

Denny made the announcement like this in the latest issue:

When S.W.A.T. premiered back in the early 1980s, it was called Survival Weapons and Tactics. The name was chosen in large part due to the fact that the country was in the middle of a great recession. People did not trust government and were interested in taking more personal responsibility for themselves and their families.

Three decades later, history is being repeated but on a larger, more dangerous scale.

S.W.A.T. will continue to review guns, gear, and techniques, but over time, there’ll be more articles on things like emergency medicine, home security, black markets … and who knows what else?

You can just imagine how pleased I am by the shift. I’ve hung with S.W.A.T. all these years because Rich and Denny are fine gentlemen who tolerate me amazingly well (and because the writers I’ve tried to nudge into my place keep handing the job back to me). Rich is very definitely a freedomista. Denny leans strongly in that direction and is reasonable and civil when we disagree on things. But because of the ‘zine’s environment I’ve always felt like a pacifist in the middle of a neocon convention or a civil libertarian in the middle of Capitol Hill.

The cop-and-soldier stuff isn’t going to go away. After all, that’s a big part of the magazine’s readership and advertising base. But it’ll be interesting to see the subtle content shift.

Now … here’s your assignment, should you choose to accept it: Tell me what topics you’d like to see me write on (within the following parameters).

My S.W.A.T. column is called “Enemy at the Gate.” It’s political and even under the new regime it’s not going to become a how-to column. It’s going to continue to opinionate (and I hope inform) regarding ways that government, including its enforcement arms, messes things up for the rest of us.

The column I’m working on now, for instance, is about the schizzy attitude government has toward personal preparedness.

So what else would you like to hear me say about government and politics, and how they relate to hard times, hard-headed individualists, survival, preparedness, frugality, neighborliness, self-sufficiency, and other things that are now becoming more important than ever?

Claire Wolfe

New Years preparedness resolutions

Monday, December 26th, 2011

January 1 is a really dumb time to start a year. Seriously, you’ve just passed over a nice, handy, logical solstice, and now you’re starting a new year — exactly why?

But there you have it.

I used to make resolutions on my birthday. Or the solstice. Either of which provides a good marker for newness. But since this is the time when such things are done in public, here I am.

Today’s list of resolutions (there may be more to come, depending on time and mood) has to do with preparedness. Got some additional suggestions? Add ’em in the comments.

Preparedness resolutions for 2012

1. I will check my bug-out kit, my bug-in supplies, and my vehicle emergency kit twice a year. I’ll make sure I know what’s in there and how to use it. I’ll add items as needed.

2. Twice a year (New Year and Independence Day seem like good times, though solstices or equinoxes also make sense) I’ll swap out all human and pet food in the car kit and bug-out bag.

3. Twice a year I’ll change out my stored water supplies.

4. Once a year (in fall when canned goods are on sale), I’ll rotate the food in my bug-in supplies, remembering to write dates on new items as they go in.

5. I’ll build a better first-aid kit even though the thought makes my stomach go queasy. I’ll put dates on any perishable items that go into it.

6. Every time I do a major monthly grocery shop, I’ll buy $20 worth of durable and easy-to-prepare canned or packaged food for the bug-in kit and for the longer term.

7. This year I’ll figure out how to build a good “walking around kit” of tools and supplies that I can carry on me in case an emergency hits while I’m walking the dogs or walking around town doing errands.

8. I’ll work on at least one new skill a month, with emphasis on those that I’m nervous about.

9. At least once a month, I’ll add an item to my long-term preparedness supplies; it can be big or small depending on my finances at the time, but it will be something long lasting and useful even (or especially) if TSHTF.

10. Except for the fact that I’m writing about it in front of the entire Internet and therefore putting it on my dreaded Permanent Record, and except for encouraging friends to build their own emergency supplies, I’ll keep my darned mouth shut about it.

Claire Wolfe

Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

(ADDED: Just got this first one this morning and had to include it.)

Retriever wrapped in Christmas lights

Santa with women and guns

My dog Ava:

Princess Ava Prettypaws with Santa 2011

Nativity scene with dogs playing all the roles

Lab with Christmas lights over neck

Poor little pug dressed up as a Christmas tree. Sort of.

Friends took this photo of their dog on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. It was the image on their Christmas card this year, with a caption that read …

Dog posing next to Lassie's star on the Hollywood walk of fame

… “May your dreams come true this Christmas.”

My sentiments exactly.

Claire Wolfe

… and thank you!

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

“All mine?” asks Ava.

Ava with tennis ball and squeaky ball gifts

“Nope,” sez I. A heaping plenty of it is mine. :-)

Christmas gifts from blog readers

The only problem with all these delights (and more to come, according to my Amazon wish list!) is that I’m not certain whom to thank, since several gifts came with no “from” at all.

So thank you MSJ, MJR, BL, ST, KK, A, and furrydoc. And you, too, mystery Santas. Care to come through in the comments and let me know who you are?

More thanks to the Duffys and the rest of the BHM crew and Rich Lucibella, Denny Hansen, and the friendly folks of S.W.A.T for not only putting up with me all year, but sending tasty encouragement at year’s end.

Dried and dehydrated food packages

An extra thank you to MSJ, who’s not only responsible for that Great Heap O’ Toys in front of Ava, but who restarted my longer-term food storage (which was left behind last year) with a dehydrated food sampler and enough dried fruits for both my bug-out-bag and … well, many breakfasts and snacks to come.

Oh. And there was one more deluxe and delicious package of California dried apricots from a mystery Santa. But they disappeared. I believe the evidence is clear: the dog ate them. :-)

Novelty dog dish with dried apricots in it

Your clicks on my Amazon links also brought much bounty. Purchases large and small added up to commissions of more than $200 in the weeks before Christmas. That’s amazing. Typical monthly commissions range from less than $10 to $50 or so in a really great month. So extra thanks to all who used those links!

People bought items many and varied — including some pretty cool stuff. But I have to say this was the most interesting. Seriously. Someone bought that.

I’d love to see the look on the recipient’s face when he or she opens what Santa left under the tree.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Blessed Slightly-Post-Solstice, and whatever the heck you wish at Kwanzaa to you all!

Claire Wolfe

Two on survival

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Talk about SHTF! Here’s the blog of somebody who survived a solid year of you-know-what impacting the rotary airfoil. He now teaches others.

His English isn’t perfect. Never mind that. (Tip o’ hat to A.)


And you’ve probably heard about this incredibly lucky young lady rescued from her car in the Arizona highlands after nine days stranded in snow.

This article doesn’t say it, but she was apparently on an extended road trip, wandering around with no destination and nobody knowing where she was. In December. A mile above sea level. With snowstorms forecast. With a dead cellphone. With no emergency gear. Not even a warm coat or a blanket in her vehicle.

I won’t say anything about the gene pool. I realize even the best prepared among us could get stuck in deadly circumstances beyond our control. But if you want a textbook case in how not to survive, here you have it.

Almost as bad as those young morons a few years ago who decided to take Nevada dirt roads when the freeway was closed by snow. You do have to give them points for pluck, if not common sense.

Claire Wolfe

My quest for a copy of Playboy

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

I drove all over this town and the next last night looking for a copy of the January Playboy magazine.

Used to be, Playboy was a common coffee table magazine, but now that I think about it, I can’t remember the last time I so much as opened a copy.

I felt sort of funny questing for it, but I vowed not to mumble or blush or do one of those big explaining things that women do: “You see, I know somebody who’s being profiled in the magazine this month and his article isn’t online, at least not that I can find, and that’s the only reason I’m looking to buy a copy. Really.” I’d just walk in and ask for the darned thing.

Used to be, you didn’t have to ask. In the 1970s you could just pick it off the newsstand. It was right there next to Popular Mechanics and Esquire. Then at some point it got wrapped in an adult-proof wrapper. And shortly after that, Playboy and its discreet wrapper disappeared behind the counter where you had to request it. It’s been a long time since I even thought about it, but honestly, that’s where I expected it to be.

But nope.

“We don’t sell magazines like that,” a clerk the grocery store with the biggest selection told me, as if I’d asked for hardcore gay S&M porn with a little beastiality thrown in.

“You’re lookin’ for the Lindsay Lohan issue?” another clerk snorted, getting giggles from his friends standing around.

At that point, I admit I did explain, though not in that dumb way (or at least I hope not). “Yes,” I said, “the Lindsay Lohan issue. But that’s not why I want it. A man I know, Peder Lund, is profiled in it and I just learned that.”

Playboy? You’re trying to get Playboy in this town?” a third clerk asked. He named a city 75 miles away where he thought I might be able to find a copy.

It was getting cold and frosty out, so I headed home. And hey, you people at Paladin Press, you’re just going to have to mail me a photocopy of the profile on Peder! Or I’ll have to wait and hope Playboy puts it online and not behind some “Cyber Club” wall.

I found the whole thing kind of funny and kind of sad.

The irony is that Peder’s profile in Playboy is about his fight against censorship. And I can’t get a copy of the darned magazine within 75 miles — even if I weren’t looking for the super-duper-sold-out Lindsay Lohan edition.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying anybody is censoring Playboy in the governmental sense. They’re obviously not. This probably has as much to do with the decreasing popularity of old media as it does with community morals. Maybe there’s just so much female flesh online these days that nobody buys Playboy for the pictures anymore. I don’t know.

Still, the incredulous reactions of the store clerks made me wonder.

Claire Wolfe

Trailer for The Hobbit

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

An Unexpected Journey:

Cool but kinda weird that it looks so much like LOTR.

Claire Wolfe

Glenn Greenwald takes apart the indefinite detention bill

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

The wonderful Glenn Greenwald gives a thorough fisking to the most evil portions of the National Defense Disappearance Authorization Act.

Useful info if you run into one of those conservatives or Obama supporters (and isn’t that a telling combo?) who are trying to claim the bill isn’t as horrible as we think.

Claire Wolfe

The Holocaust happened to people like us

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Via Sipsey Street and MTV:

Brilliantly believable. (Although since this was apparently MTV’s statement about Bush way-back-when, you gotta wonder if the makers of these spot-on-spots realize they apply even more to Bush’s twin, He Who is Not to Be Named.)

(Tip o’ hat to C^2.)

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