The Ivory Tower of Pisa — Welcome to PCU

The 2015-16 school year started a few months ago. It was my turn to spend a day offering my wisdom and experience in the day-to-day activities of the students. As I walked into the first classroom, I felt like I had been transformed into the role of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie, Kindergarten Cop. Everywhere I turned, it was mayhem. One girl kept yelling, “Mine!” Another child was sprawled on the floor, refusing to listen to anyone. There were three boys in matching shirts shoving a fourth, telling him his color didn’t match and he couldn’t stand with them.

As I made my way through this throng of wild and emotionally charged students, I found the teacher. To my surprise, she wasn’t doing anything to rein in the chaos. Instead, she issued one affirmation after another about the importance of feelings and embracing them. She continued to let the students know, free expression of their emotions is what made them special.

Befuddled, I left to see if I could help with phys ed.

When I arrived, I saw a group of students shooting baskets. Some were going in easily. Others could not even hit the backboard. After a few moments, the coach blew his whistle, called them over and told them how outstanding they did. He reminded them that results are not what mattered, but that they tried real hard. He then added, declaring someone a winner was tantamount to saying everyone else was a loser, making such a statement both hurtful and unfair. As all the students smiled, he concluded by saying the important thing to remember was being part of one big village where everyone remembers their place. At that, he handed each of them a gold star and told them to get changed.

I headed for another classroom, hoping I’d be more help there. As I entered, I was delighted to see the topic being discussed was the formation of our nation and the role the Founding Father’s played in developing the Bill of Rights. The teacher was discussing the Second Amendment. As she talked, I realized she was quoting it incorrectly. She told the students the amendment called for the right to create a militia and only those in the military had a right to be armed. She smiled sweetly and added that it made sense to let the Army have that power and the Founders were very smart to make sure no one could take away the means for the military to protect the people. I began to interject, but was quickly shushed. She told me the First Amendment didn’t give me the right to create a climate of disagreement within the room. She said the Founding Fathers understood a need for harmony and to create a safe place to be free of harassing ideas and hurt feelings.

I turned on my heels and left. I couldn’t believe what these first-time students were being taught. I headed to another room, my thoughts whirling through my head. This time I entered a room where the discussion was basic economics. On the board was a lone stick figure, drawn rather large and with a big sack in his hand and a dollar sign on it. Next to it was written, “The 1%.” Underneath the figure, as though perched on the top of a pyramid, two lines created a triangular wedge, where dozens of smaller stick figures were drawn. None of them were holiding anything in their hands. Next to them was written, “The 99%.”

The man teaching the class then explained that there are a select few in the community, represented by the lone stick figure, who were lucky and able to take home more wealth than others. He went on to caution them not to think that the 99% work less or not at all. On the contrary, he told them, many who are not as fortunate work even harder, but have more of their money taken away by the 1%. Because of such fortune, it was only right that those with less should get their fair share, to create an equal and balanced society. He said it was important, in a healthy society, that those with exceptional gifts, should give to others, based on their needs.

I interjected. I pointed out that wealthy individuals in our country, by an overwhelming majority, had earned their wealth through hard work, long hours and taking risks on innovative ideas. Because of that, they are able to provide jobs to many others. The teacher was polite and allowed me to finish. He then addressed the class. “See boy and girls? This is what we’ve been talking about. This myth of success is designed to keep the 1% from sharing with those less fortunate. They don’t want to give back to others after so much was given to them.” He shook his head with an air of condescension. “Boys and girls, let’s illustrate and you tell me which is fair. When Johnny goes out to the playground, he has all the kickballs, while everyone else has none. No one but Johnny can play. But, if Johnny gives a ball to each student, everyone gets to play. Which way is better?” The room erupted with cheers about Johnny sharing with everyone.

I tried to explain that taking something that belonged to someone else was theft. If someone chooses to share, that makes them a charitable person, but to make them give away their possessions was the same as stealing. The teacher, with less patience this time, pointed out that it is only stealing if one person takes from another and then keeps it for themselves. But, if someone was helping to redistribute wealth from the more fortunate, then that would be the true definition of charity.

I left. It was disheartening. Everything seemed upside down and backwards. I decided to try one last classroom to see if I would be of any help.

When I entered the last classroom, the teacher had moved all the desks and chairs to the edges of the room. The students were playing some kind of game. My heart began to lift. As I came closer, the teacher continued talking, holding her arms out wide, moving in a slow circle, while children moved out of her way. “Safe spaces are very important. Think of it as your special barrier surrounding you on all sides. It is all yours and only you get to choose what can be allowed to enter. You have the right to stop people from judging you, hating on you or even not liking you. It’s a bullyproof space where you can be safe from anyone different than you.”

The kids’ eyes were wide in awe as they smiled, imagining the power of their own safe spaces. She went on. “When large groups of people share the exact same views, it can be even more powerful. For example, no one likes guns because of how dangerous they are. When we all come together, we can create a safe zone where no one will be allowed to bring in something so threatening.” They were delighted, filling the room with the, “Ooos,” and, “Ahhs,” of children being shown a wondrous, magical object.

My heart fell. What was this person teaching these children? They were not being challenged to see multiple points of view. They weren’t being exposed to various cultural differences or traditions. They weren’t even allowed to hear criticisms or learn how to accept skepticism of their own ideas. They were being fooled to believe they would never have to listen to anyone else who was different. Her lesson ran contrary to the entire foundation of the philosophy of education!

Before I could object, they formed a circle and began to sing, “Safe Space,” from the creators of South Park. As they finished, they were all filled with that same sense of inner pride and empowerment as before. I could not control myself. “Don’t you understand that song is a parody?!”

They looked at me with quizzical stares. The teacher cleared her throat and was polite (too polite) and asked me to explain what I meant.

“Parody!” I yelled. “To imitate something for the purpose of ridicule or satire! It’s meant to get you to see just how silly the notion of a ‘safe space’ is by pretending to be in favor of it. Don’t you see?”

A stern look fell over her face. She put her arms out and came toward me. “You are not allowed in my safe space. It’s time you left.” She continued advancing, swinging her arms. I had no choice to but to retreat from her, not wanting to be hit by her ridiculous gesticulations. “You are the reason we have to protect these children,” she snarled.

I left. I had never before experienced such a display in my life. These students were not being given any of the tools necessary to deal with reality. They were being told their invisible bubble would be an ever-present, all-protective layer, keeping them from having to be challenged, questioned, offended or harmed by anyone, nor forced to relate to different races, origins, religions, traditions or views for the rest of their lives if it made them uncomfortable. They had become cry-bullies, embracing a life of victim-hood and self-imposed disenfranchisement. It was an entire generation of Regressive Leftists, ready to abandon all of the hard-fought gains of those who came before, in exchange for the cozy, warm blanket of their own ignorance.

On my way out, I noticed a poster on the wall with a picture of Shakespeare in the center and the familiar red circle and slash overlaid. Underneath were the words, “No more old, dead, white guys.”

No, for all its similarities, I had not visited a preschool. This was a college campus, where the once shiny Ivory Tower of high-minded, thoughtful and enlightened principles of education had given way to a dingy, leaning, corrupted and crumbling structure, ready to fall under the weight of it’s own irrelevance.

As I left the campus, I recalled the words of Aristotle, who reminded his students repeatedly that the highest virtue in the pursuit of knowledge was courage, because, without it, how could anyone embrace any other virtues at all?

Until we teach our young to be courageous in the face of Regressive Leftist cry-bullies (and their nonsense), the world of Academia will forever remain the final resting place of the weak, the insecure, the petulant, the self-absorbed and the pathetic, always holding a stack of victim cards, with no one left willing to care enough to listen to their plight.

Don’t our children deserve better?




A Burden Far Too Famous

Why did it take Paris for the world to shadow their online avatars with a flag for solidarity? I mean, on the very same day, suicide bombers hit Baghdad, killing twenty-six. And the day before, Beirut was attacked by two suicide bombers resulting in the death of over forty people. And days prior to that, a Russian plane headed out of Egypt was blown up. ISIS has taken credit for every one of these incidents but the world went nuts about Paris. Why?

Because when it happens in Lebanon or Iraq or anywhere else in or around the Middle East, it’s normal. I know that’s a cruel reality, but it’s true. Being a kid in the seventies and eighties, seeing the near daily squabbles on television of Israel and Palestine, Iran and Iraq, etc, it seemed to be less conflict and more just their culture. (I stole that, I believe it was Dennis Miller who said something along those lines). But it’s exactly how it seemed and still seems. The Internet has made it even more noticeable with everyone becoming their own reporter.

The problem in the Middle East goes back a long way, all the way back to the sixth century AD when Muhammad and company went from trying to spread Islam through persuasion to doing it by force. This ideology spread, in part, through violence all the way to Spain. The Crusades were launched as a response to that which started dividing things up. While Christianity came to dominate Europe, Islam came to dominate the Middle East with some border crossing here and there. That’s about as summary as summaries go.

As briefly noted in a prior post, religious conflict drove lots of people in Europe to leave and come to America. And America managed to keep itself removed from the European and Middle Eastern internal struggles with religion. The First Amendment makes it very clear that religious practice and conscience is not to be infringed and that the government is not allowed to favor any one of them. In fact, while the First Amendment covers speech and press only once, the religion question is addressed twice. That’s telling in its importance. Yet, America doesn’t have a rosy history on the religion question. We weren’t very welcoming to Catholics or Jews at first. But there never has been a big crusade within the States or mass killing in the name of some god or anything like what Europe went through between Catholics and Protestants and the Middle East goes through with Sunni and Shia. America has never had an Inquisition* or list of laws built on a holy book. We’ve managed to keep our governments rather secular while allowing individuals to practice their conscience as long as said practice doesn’t harm anyone else.

On September 11, 2001, America got a taste of what the Old World had been going through. What Americans only saw through their televisions going on “over there”, was now over here. I think the mistaken response to divert attention from Afghanistan and invade Iraq caused Americans to slowly forget what September 11th was all about. Attention turned from being attacked to doing the attacking, on a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. So all the attention went to Iraq and the American public called to bring the troops home and voted for a president that promised it and made it happen.

What we should have done was stuck around in Afghanistan, started reconsidering our partnerships with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and work on naming the problem – Islam.

I don’t play footsie around this nonsense of “radical” Islam or “fundamental” Islam. It’s Islam. Read the Qur’an and you’ll see Osama bin Laden was going by the book and ISIS is going by the book. The reason most Muslims are not engaging in the same behaviors as al-Qaeda and ISIS is because they’ve either not read their holy book or made a conscious decision to ignore those parts. And again, as I’ve said in other places, I’m really happy they chose to do one or both of these things.

Even before the last bullet casing fell from an assailant’s rifle in Paris, people were already taking to the air waves and social media claiming that if the West hadn’t invaded Iraq, none of this would be happening. The Regressive Left complained that western foreign intervention was the problem, the thievery of Middle Eastern oil, and so forth. Guns were to blame too. Everything and anything other than admitting behaviors are motivated by beliefs. And for over a year now, ISIS has been telling us why they’re doing it. They don’t shake a Kalashnikov in one hand and a copy of western foreign policy papers in another while ranting in front of a video camera. No, they hold the rifle and the Qur’an.

What does throwing gay men off the top of tall buildings have to do with western policy? What does killing Coptic Christians from Egypt have to do with western policy? What does stoning alleged adulterous women, turning women into third class citizens, killing apostates, slaughtering people caught consuming food during Ramadan have to do with western foreign policy? If you think any of this isn’t due to the tenets of Islam, you’re either a guilty colonialist or better put, part of the Regressive Left, not helping in solving this problem.

Still, back to our opening question, why did it take Paris to get the world’s attention?

Starting somewhere in the early 1700s, thinkers in Europe started to challenge the rule by religion, the Age of Enlightenment sprang up and the barbary of fighting over who’s version of Christianity was right faded away. The internal struggles and violence of different Christian groups lost its steam. People realized life just couldn’t continue like this, living conditions were terrible. Couple all these events together and you’ll understand why much of Europe just isn’t very religious at all anymore. Compare this to the Middle East and you’ll see why Paris got the world’s attention.

The Middle East never had an Enlightenment. They actually went backwards. Whereas Christianity in Europe went from being practiced in feudal governments to governments now being secular, the Middle East went from embracing science to prohibiting it and turning theocratic. Starting around the eighth century and dying out somewhere in the sixteen century, Islam seemed okay with scientific inquiry. They went in search of knowledge and preserved many of the ancient books for us to enjoy today that might otherwise be lost. But it appears that when their research started to contradict their holy book, they backed away. And now we’re all suffering for it.

I think that’s why the attack on France mobilized the world. It happened outside the norm. It is really a shame to say that. But consider: If the Middle East was rather peaceful and had an Enlightenment regarding Islam a few hundred years ago, would November the 13th in Paris and Baghdad and the 12th for Beirut have gone down like that? I’m going to say no. There is no equivalent in the Christian or Jewish or Buddhist or other religion going around yelling an “Allahu Akbar” declaration and shooting up the place. Islam is the last of all religions in need of an Enlightenment. It is unique, in that, the Qur’an, their primary book is primarily a list of instructions on how to deal with anyone who is not a Muslim. And if you’re the wrong kind of Muslim, you too get to suffer. This is why ISIS, being made up of Sunni, is killing the Shia.

Here’s the scary part…

What happened in France on November 13, 2015 is the new norm for the entire world. Get used to it; this is what war looks like. I’m not asking you to become numb from mass shootings or planes crashing into buildings, I’m asking you to prepare for the inevitability of another. I’ve been writing about this for long enough to see no end in sight. I’m repeating myself too often.

How long will this take?

The European Enlightenment took a few hundred years to complete. Remember the Inquisition, which incidentally started in France in the twelfth century, did not come to an end until the nineteenth century. Now France and the rest of the world are being thrown into a new struggle against another medieval tyrant, this one brought on by Islam. And this, too, is why the West is finally taking some action against ISIS. The West went through one Enlightenment, it is not about to give up the ground it obtained to have to go through another.

What should you do?

On two fronts, ISIS must be defeated militarily. There is no chance for negotiations with them. This will have to be left to the men and women in uniform and their commanding officers to execute. But the bigger fight, a discussion about Islam, is of utmost importance. This is where everyone can make a difference, to start talking about this. Stop using regressive leftist guilt, start calling it what it is. Read the Qur’an, make it part of your next book club. Even if every single ISIS member is dismembered, the ideology will still be out there. We will still have al-Qaeda, which continues to grow because it’s letting ISIS take all the heat. We will still have al-Nursa front, which is al-Qaeda light, currently fighting Assad in Syria. We will still have the home grown radicalized youth right now contemplating a way to get to Syria.

It will inevitably be up to Muslims to change things. They certainly are not going to listen to me, an outsider. But I’m still part of the equation because everyone is an indiscriminate target when bullets start flying. I wish to assist, be an ally to the Muslims who are making inroads into changing Islam. I direct you to the Quilliam Foundation to see the great things coming out of there.

As I was finishing up this essay, my colleague here at Freedom Cocktail, Alan Sanders, texted me the following: “F’ing Islamists (are) messing with my creativity.” Yes, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Let’s get involved and stop them.

ISIS, these people want to literally destroy everything you love about your freedoms, art and music and sciences and quality of life. In its place, they wish to set up a theocracy built from your ashes. They relish in glee of sending infidels to their deaths and even more so, look forward to their own, to die in battle. This is a generational battle. Engage in it now for the sake of the next generation so that they can enjoy what you have today.

* America did have a witch hunt in Salem; however, the remarks in this piece are regarding after the Founding of the United States. Salem was long before the revolution.

University of Misery

Remember when the latest threat to American academia was Muslim outrage, denying speaking engagements to speakers who didn’t have nice things to say about Islam? That was so 2014. Last year Brandeis University was going to grant Ayaan Hirsi Ali an honorary doctorate but uptight students who thought she was too anti-Muslim denied her. Then a few months or so later, more uptight students at the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois were bullied by their own to withdraw a viewing of the movie, Honor Diaries. Enter 2015 and a whole new breed of students have joined forces with the overly sensitive Muslims.

The first I started paying any attention to Social Justice Warriors on college campuses was the case of Tim Hunt, a Nobel Prize-winning British biochemist. Although not from an American or professor in an American University, the case to me, was a sign of things to come for universities everywhere. Here’s how I first heard about it: Mr. Hunt told some students that women shouldn’t be in the lab because they distract the men and make the men fall in love with them. Allegedly, Mr. Hunt said female scientists are always falling in love and crying about it. Sounds misogynistic, yes? Sounds like quite the thing to say right out in public, eh? Right out there at a luncheon in Korea with social media at the ready for everyone to capture, it appeared this discoverer of cyclin’s part in cell cycle regulation was all along not very female friendly. Well, it turns out, it was a joke that unless you knew something about him, you’d think the worst.

Tim Hunt met his wife in a science lab. The joke was directed towards his own relationship and probably backfired because his audience (and the witch hunters that came after) didn’t know this. Mr. Hunt is actually quite well known for encouraging women to enter the field of science. But that didn’t, and hasn’t yet, stopped the TwitterStorm of incorrect information. His case is a study on what happens when you don’t have all the facts.

I highly recommend reading Jon Ronson’s, “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed”. Especially before you drive someone out of a job, home, town or carry a pitchfork to their front door.

Anyhow, at the beginning of this week, I was painfully trying to ignore the football team at the University of Missouri (not a sports fan). You see, the news feeds and Twitter were filling up with them not wanting to play until blah-blah demands were met. As I said, I wasn’t paying attention. Then almost immediately, Tim Wolfe, president of the University of Missouri, stepped down. Whaaaaaa? How does this happen? I know sports brings in a lot of money to a University but sheesh. Made me wonder, what if the honors math students decided not to algebra until their list of demands were met.

The week before, Yale students were getting rowdy over a memo regarding the regulation of Halloween costumes that escalated into a complaint that the school’s administration wasn’t doing enough to fight racism on campus. There were even complaints of graffiti swastikas. Which brings me back to the University of Missouri.

The football team was protesting, threatening to sit out a game, because of allegations of racism on campus. And that the school’s administration wasn’t doing enough about it. There was a claim that there was human shit smeared on a bathroom wall, smeared into a swastika – the poopswastika or swasticaca, have your choice. The student body president, Payton Head, a black man, claimed a truck drove by and an occupant yelled a racial slur at him. And then upped the ante to claim the KKK had a presence on campus. And yet, there is absolutely no evidence for any of these claims. Even if some truck drove by with racist occupants, how does that incident of a passerby turn into entrenched racism with roots on campus? And that poopswastica? No evidence. In the age of cameras on everyone’s cell phones that every college kid has, you mean to tell me no one took a shot? As for the KKK, he made it up! Payton Head admitted to doing so and apologized later. Yet, it all still translated into Tim Wolfe stepping down and later, another professor resigning for the threats he received for the offense of wanting to hold a regularly scheduled exam while students protested.

Now I haven’t been a student at university for over twenty-five years. And I didn’t attend U of M or Yale so I don’t know if there is racism on these campuses. But I do know what these two protests have in common: No Evidence of their complaints. And evidence is very big with me. And secondly, there’s this demand for equality over merit. Just look at the demands of the protesters at U of M. See that #4? They’re demanding classes for racial awareness and inclusion. Who’s going to pay for that? Bet these students are Bernie Sanders fans. And who’s going to teach it? Will a white person be allowed? Probably not, it says it would be overseen by a board of color. And the other demands talk about people of color being preferred. I guess based on Demand #1 which requires Tim Wolfe to admit his “White Privilege”, whitey will be gradually removed from administration.

Remember when the Civil Rights movement was about inclusion? The black community was tired of being separated and unequal. The black community took great strides and did a lot of work and how fantastic that it paid off and they are able to attend the same schools as my children, work hand and hand with me and drink out of the same public drinking fountain. I’m not saying racism doesn’t still exist. It just isn’t legal any more. And you can’t legislate someone our of a bad belief so we must continue to have conversations and educate. And no idea should be off the table. And no race should be considered better than another just because of that race. But if these rounds of campus uprisings are any indication, we’re headed in the opposite direction of inclusion.

Consider that the evening of November 11th, the whites in attendance of the protest were asked to leave so the black students could have their own safe spaces. Safe spaces? This is the concept that students should be free from having to confront any ideas that might be seen as offensive or hurtful. Seriously, why are these people attending a university? This is what the university is for. For you to be challenged and take risks and experiment. Not to be secluded, but to have yourself challenged.

Notice how the demands, reviewed above, talked about people of color making the decisions. Folks, we’re headed back to segregation. I don’t want this. And having children of my own about ten years from being students themselves, I gotta get involved in this. Plus, these are the future leaders of the world. We gotta correct this. And by all means, let it be through inclusive conversations. Not by who has the most power, who can shout louder, not by skin color. And remember, as Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz have said, “No idea is above scrutiny, no people are below dignity.” That’s not a safe space. That’s engaging.

A final thought. Socrates died for the right to inquire and practice free speech, even from death row. Plato went on to create a university with the philosophy of Socrates as it’s guide. And Thomas Jefferson set up the American University for the purpose of everyone to come and have the ability to engage in studies, free from intellectual harassment, in favor of free inquiry. At our current rate of regress, it might just end up that those in charge will set the curriculum, free from free inquiry so that no one gets their feelings hurt. It appears that’s exactly what the University of Missouri protesters want with their list of demands.

Which reminds me, there’s a definition for people like this: The Regressive Left. Also a term coined by Maajid Nawaz. You’ll be hearing a lot more about them as this wave of intolerance, demand for segregation, safe spaces and easy to outrage continues. Stay tuned. It ain’t over. Poopswastika, I learn new words every day.

* Shortly after publication, a reader alerted me that the police report regarding the poopswastika had been revealed. Good to know there’s some evidence, finally. However, this does not justify a claim of rampant unleashed racism at U of Mizzou. For all we know, making a swastika out of shit could be meaning the swastika is shit. Regressive, you’d be in favor of that, yes? The bottom line is that it represents some nonsense, MTV Jackass behavior at best, not worthy of more than a janitorial towel. Not a coup, nor a justification of demands for more color. Merit is the key, people.

The power of the D!

FreedomCocktailMartini(Big)_With Title_FlattenedNot long ago, I had a chance to fill in for my friend, Erick Erickson, on his evening show on WSB AM 750 and 95.5 FM in Atlanta. In one of my segments, I asked the board op to play music reminiscent of an 80’s porn movie and started talking low and suggestive:

Welcome back, everyone. It’s time to talk about something we can all relate to. It’s time to recognize it’s power. It holds sway over men and women alike. It’s a powerful thing. It’s full of desire. It has the ability to make us throw caution to the wind, leaving logic and reason behind in favor of embracing nothing but our emotional passions. It strips us of our ability to think straight. It holds sway over our hearts and minds. It’s the power of the D! And nothing is more powerful than the D!

The double-entendre was intentional. The “D” everyone was hearing in their heads was planted.  Then it was time for the twist. The D stood for Democrat. And just like the phallic imagery I conjured, the two share many common elements. Sexual desire is one of the most powerful urges human beings experience. The release of endorphins while engaged in sexual activity hits the same areas of the brain responsible for addiction. In a report published by :

Sex makes us feel good. That’s why we want it, like it, and spend so much time hunting for mates. The pleasure we get from sex is largely due to the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that activates the reward center of the brain. Dopamine is also one of the chemicals responsible for the high people get on certain drugs. “Taking cocaine and having sex don’t feel exactly the same, but they do involve the same [brain] regions as well as different regions of the brain,” said Dr. Timothy Fong, associate professor of psychiatry at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine.

Democrats have long understood if you stimulate the reward centers of the brain, they will continue to pull the lever for their free food pellet. They’ll do it over and over again, without question. Using the word “free” in as many stump speeches as they can is like Pavlov ringing his bell. The promise of riches for doing little-to-nothing gets Democrat voters salivating unconsciously. These politicians put on the figurative red velvet, white fur-trimmed, suit and hat and become Santa Claus.

Want to baffle a politician with a letter other than D by their name? Ask them how to convince their constituents it would be more beneficial to vote against Santa rather than for him? When you employ logic and reason, it is easy to recognize the best course of individual success is to not be dependent on government hand-outs. But, logic and reason have nothing to do with the reward center of the brain, and the politicians know it. I do find it interesting, concerning politicians in general, that Alexis de Tocqueville once wrote, “The pursuit of wealth generally diverts men of great talents and strong passions from the pursuit of power; and it frequently happens that a man does not undertake to direct the fortunes of the state until he has shown himself incompetent to conduct his own.” Interesting, huh? We are convinced to vote for incompetent people who we will trust to direct the fortunes of the state. The power of the D, baby!

Another power inherent in the D involves short-term amnesia. For some, sexual activity can cause:

…”global transient amnesia,” a sudden but temporary loss of memory that can’t be attributed to any other neurological condition. The condition can be brought on by vigorous sex, as well as emotional stress, pain, minor head injuries, medical procedures, and jumping into hot or cold water. The forgetfulness can last a few minutes or a few hours. During an episode, a person cannot form new memories or remember very recent events.

Maybe that helps to explain how someone in office with a D by their name can do something that would ordinarily garner a comprehensive second look, but instead is immediately dismissed. The D makes hypocrisy, bad behavior, bad judgment, borderline illegal actions seem petty and actually cause anger against those who dared to bring those subjects to light. It’s a clear case of hating the messenger, not the message.

Let me show you an example of just how powerful the D really is and explains how our current mainstream media can look at one candidate through rose-colored glasses while looking at another through the prism of mistrust and spite. For example, there once was a candidate running for the office of the President. He had a mentor who was an affirmed Communist. He made up key details about his life and his relationships, calling them “composites” of several different memories. He attended a church where the pastor routinely attacked our founding principles, wishing harm for our own nation. His autobiographies were obviously not written by him and he launched his political campaign in the home of a known domestic terrorist. His college transcripts have been permanently sealed and fellow classmates are near-impossible to find. His past is obscured with large gaps in the timeline.

Onto Candidate 2:

There is another candidate running for office who grew up angry and disenfranchised. He was heading down a path of violence and anger until his mother stepped in and forced changes. By the end of his high school career, he was a top JROTC member, had fantastic grades and learned to temper his emotions, employing logic and reason to maintain his path toward medicine. He meets a distinguished general who sees exceptional qualities and, like any recruiter of any university, says West Point would be a good fit and would likely be a free-ride if he wished to attend. He declines, knowing his desire to be a doctor trumps all other pursuits. His change of personality leads him to revere life and to protect it, including helping keep some fellow students safe during a riot.

Which candidate would you think should be given the full roto-rooter investigation by the press? Which one leads you to believe there are some dubious elements of their past that call into question their qualification to be Commander-in-Chief? Which one deserves in-depth investigative journalism to reveal the veracity of the stories they’ve told? If you had to use these descriptors alone as your sole basis for gaining your vote, whom would you pick?

Oh, now let’s add one more fact to make my point. One of the candidates has a D by their name. The other does not.

For over 40% of this nation (and over 90% in the press), it’s the only descriptor that matters.


Thomas Jefferson’s Struggle with Islamic Brutality

(This was originally published in American Atheist magazine – Third Quarter 2015) written by Yours truly, Eric Wojciechowski

On September 11, 2001, the United States was given a taste of what Europe and the Middle East has been suffering, in one form or another, for the past thousand years: the unbending wrath of religious extremists. Religious conflict is what drove settlers to New World in the first place, and up until 9/11, America managed to leave the overseas religious disputes and violence behind. The U.S. does have its own soiled background of anti-Catholicism during the influx of Irish immigrants in the 1800s, as well as a history of less-than-welcoming attitudes toward Jewish newcomers. More recently, the assassinations and clinic-bombings committed by anti-abortion activists have been carried out in the name of religious extremism. But otherwise, America’s pre-9/11 mindset has been that religious violence generally happened “over there.” So when planes piloted by hijackers with a seventh-century ideology came crashing into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, the world got a little smaller and America entered into the conflict that today shows no signs of stopping.

This contemporary conflict is actually the second time that the United States has been troubled by terrorism justified by the tenets of Islam. For decades before its founding, as well as for some years after, the United States was plagued with the same enemy it faces today, and the first leader to take the necessary steps to try and end it once and for all was Thomas Jefferson.

Before the British Colonies became the United States, colonial merchant vessels were protected from pirates by British and French ships. But after winning its independence, the U.S. was on its own. America’s first loss to Islamic terrorism came in 1784, when Muslim pirates from North Africa seized the Betsey in Mediterranean waters. It was a practice that had been going on against European vessels since the sixteenth century. As coincidence would have it, 1784 was also the year that Thomas Jefferson took up his position as Minister of France, settled into his new European home, and began to negotiate a deal to stop these seizures.

The European solution to North African piracy was to pay a tribute to the sovereign of the Barbary (present-day Morocco, Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia). In return, they’d leave Europe’s shipping trade alone. But it was up to each country to settle its own treaties and payments, and if a country fell behind on a payment, it risked losing its ships to seizure. With no financial power to pay the tributes demanded by the Barbary, the Unites States found itself helpless. The only alternative was to wage war, but the young country didn’t have a navy yet.

In 1785, Jefferson met up with John Adams (the first U.S. ambassador to Britain) in England and was introduced to Abd al-Rahman, the ambassador of Tripoli. It was first of only two times that Jefferson was knowingly in the company of a Muslim. Jefferson and Adams took the occasion to ask on what grounds Tripoli was seizing American merchant ships. In a letter to Secretary of Foreign Affairs John Jay, Jefferson and Adams explained, “the Ambassador answered us, that it was founded on the law of their great Profet: that it was written in the Koran, that all Nations who should not have acknowledged their Authority were sinners: that it was their right & duty to make war upon them whenever they could be found, & to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners; & that every Mussalman [Muslim] who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”

Jefferson attempted to create a coalition of tribute-paying European countries who would each contribute one or more war ships and jointly patrol the Mediterranean for Barbary pirates. Sometime before July 4, 1786, Jefferson drafted the Proposed Convention against the Barbary States to arrange the matter. It would be the first formal attempt at what is today advocated by Atheist activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In a 2010 Wall Street Journal commentary, Hirsi Ali called for the media “to do stories of Muhammad where his image is shown as much as possible. These stories do not have to be negative or insulting, they just need to spread the risk. The aim is to confront hypersensitive Muslims with more targets than they can possibly contend with.” Jefferson’s proposal to spread the risk was met with a lack of interest from both the American Congress and European nations. As a result, America continued to lose ships to Barbary piracy for several more years.

It wasn’t until Jefferson became president that the U.S. ceased paying tribute and quietly launched the newly formed American navy to combat, particularly, the aggression from Tripoli. Thus began the first Barbary War in 1801, which ended in 1805 with a treaty that put a stop to the tributes and cleared the Mediterranean for the safe passage of American merchant ships. (In 1807, Algiers started taking American ships again, and it took until 1815 for America to address it militarily. This second Barbary War lasted two days and finally put an end to piracy from North Africa.)

Yet despite being told by the Ambassador of Tripoli in 1785 that all of it was justified by the tenets of Islam, Jefferson didn’t take him at his word. Jefferson felt the real reason was just good old-fashioned economics and geopolitics. In Jefferson’s autobiography, he simply referred to them as “lawless pirates,” not Muslims obeying their holy book. Whether Jefferson was right or wrong, the ambassador said their piracy was justified by divine will, and there’s no reason not to take the ambassador at his word.

Jefferson was the only founding father to take an active interest in Islam. He purchased his own copy of the Koran long before America’s encounters with the Barbary. His copy of George Sale’s English translation of the Koran was shipped from London in 1765 and can be viewed today at the Library of Congress. There is some speculation that this is a second copy because Jefferson possibly lost his first copy in the May 26, 1771, fire at his mother’s home. The Koran in the Library of Congress contains no written notes or comments by Jefferson (possibly because it’s a second copy), and his initials are his only inscription, although they appear curiously close to some verses regarding warfare.

Jefferson wrote no essays or letters on Islam, and he did not do to the Koran what he did to the New Testament, which was to literally cut out all the miracles and hocus-pocus parts. His re-write of the New Testament, commonly called the Jefferson Bible, was completed around 1819 and is currently held at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Considering his in-depth interest in religion, his near silence on Islam is interesting. This does not mean he had no opinion of Islam. According to Denise A. Spellberg, author of Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founding Fathers, Jefferson “did subscribe to the anti-Islamic views of most of his contemporaries, and in politics he made effective use of the rhetoric they inspired.”

By 1776, most Americans considered Islam to be a made-up religion by Muhammad, a false prophet. One of the passages that Jefferson copied into his Legal Commonplace Book is Voltaire’s insistence that “the Saracens [Muslims] wanted no science except the Alcoran [Koran].” In a 1785 letter to John Page, Jefferson wrote that the Ottomans were “…a set of Barbarians with whom an opposition to all science is an article of religion.” Jefferson also believed Islam to be a stifler of free inquiry. Spellberg seems mystified by this stance, given the fact that Jefferson was well aware of the many contributions Islamic adherents had made to science. My speculation is that Jefferson wasn’t contemplating what Islam used to be, but what Islam was in his time. Scientific inquiry had been on the decline in Islamic nations for over two hundred years when Jefferson began his work separating church from government in the United States. Like creationism today, when facts start interfering with scripture, sometimes the facts have to go. So perhaps that’s why Jefferson and Voltaire were characterizing Islam as anti-science and anti-free inquiry.

Despite Jefferson being told by the ambassador of Tripoli that the Koran justified their piracy, and despite his own opinion of Islam, Jefferson did not consider every Muslim to be a threat. I suspect this was based on his belief that a person’s morality is not based on their religion. In an August 6, 1818, letter to Mrs. M. Harrison Smith, he wrote, “I never told my own religion, nor scrutinized that of another. I never attempted to make a convert, nor wished to change another’s creed. I have ever judged of the religion of others by their lives…For it is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be read. By the same test the world must judge me.”

And in the first volume of his Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies, Jefferson wrote about the debates in the Virginia General Assembly when drafting the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, which was passed in 1789. He had this to say about an amendment that was proposed for the preamble to mention Jesus Christ as the author of their religion: “[It] was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend within the mantle of its protection the Jews and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination.”

Jefferson understood what many of us know today: Islam is the problem, not Muslims. The two can be separated. In a 1788 letter to James Madison, he wrote, “The declaration that religious faith shall be unpunished does not give immunity to criminal acts dictated by religious error.” Looking at the First Barbary War, it now becomes clear. The piracy of the Barbary States, regardless of reasoning, needed to be met with a repelling force. The opinions of Muhammad as written in the Koran were beside the point.

The First Barbary War, Jefferson’s handling of the situation, and his attitude about Islam in general is an excellent lesson for today. Whereas the events of September 11, 2001, were launched by a small group of nineteen hijackers and their handlers with a budget of only $400,000, this new menace holds large swaths of land, resources, and money. It’s beginning to look like a Barbary redux, but on a scale that has the potential to be massively more destructive than anything those states ever accomplished. Last summer, the civil war in Syria spawned the monster that would become the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS). Formerly allied with al-Qaeda, this faction has grown far beyond small groups hiding in caves. As of this writing, they control huge areas of Syria and Iraq while claiming provinces in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and Algeria with more to surely follow if they continue their aggressions. Boko Haram of Nigeria has pledged its allegiance to ISIS. So have other groups from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chechnya, Indonesia, and the Philippines. But unlike the Barbary, which was content to expand its territory no further than North Africa, ISIS recognizes no borders and proclaims it a duty to Allah to continue these assaults and seizures until the entire world is under its control.

We face the same danger today as then by assuming the worst of all Muslims. Even before the Barbary Wars, Americans (and Europeans) did not have a favorable opinion of them or Islam. After the First Barbary War, the first American edition of the Koran was published. Perhaps because of the war, an audience was made to want to know more. The introduction to that edition begins, “This book is a long conference of God, the angels, and Mohomet, which that false prophet very grossly invented” and ends with, “Thou wilt wonder that such absurdities have infected the best part of the world, and wilt avouch, that the knowledge of what is contained in this book, will render that law contemptible.” Clearly, the opinion of Islam remained quite negative in a Protestant-dominated population.

With history as our best teacher, how should we steer into the future? Do we start appeasing the Islamic State with payments of ransom when they take hostages? The Obama Administration validated this option in June. No matter what, we must be tolerant of Muslims at home who participate in American secular society. We should open up, encourage conversations, and join with those who are a part of our free and democratic society. The first step begins with any neighbors you already have. What would Jefferson do? We already know.

The Left already has plenty of examples of their version of gun control

Obama-Angry1The typical knee-jerk reaction is already in full force. Less than six hours after the last shell casting hit the ground on the campus of Umpqua Community College, our President was at his pulpit, once again demanding the further erosion of our Bill of Rights. Beyond talking about himself at least 28 times in his 12 minute diatribe, he gave us a clear glimpse into the future he wants for America — to make it more like Australia. He used the phrase, “common sense gun control,” within the same breath of our allies like Britain and the land down under. It may sound innocuous, but Charles C. W. Cooke extols the danger of such a comparison. When used this way, the president is advocating the confiscation of guns.

Pandering to the emotions of the moment, it’s hard not to get caught up in the zeal to “do something” to prevent another gun-involved tragedy. Rather than spend a lot of time showing how the data of Australia’s great gun grab of 1996 shows a negligible, if non-existent, improvement in homicides and suicides by gun, as demonstrated by Mark Antonio Wright, let’s look at how the Left’s policies are already in place in tens of thousands of locations here in the United States.

The Left has already begun to implement their desired goal of removing all guns. Unfortunately, in all but 8% of the public mass-shootings in this country (defined by the FBI as 4 or more killed in a public space) in the last decade, their solution fails. Much like Australia’s goal, to eliminate the citizenry from owning firearms, the creation of the gun-free zone is the penultimate step to a repeal of the 2nd Amendment. However, 92% of these mass-shootings in the last 10 years have all taken place right where Leftists believe they will not.

No-GunThe purpose of the gun-free zone is to prohibit any unauthorized individual from knowingly possessing a firearm at a facility or location so designated. Many of these are schools, but there are thousands of businesses, both public and private, that have adopted this policy to insure safety and security. They post the familiar sign of a gun with the red circle and slash on walls, doors and hallways, designating firearms are not allowed. And, as law-abiding citizens are wont to do, those who normally carry or posses a firearm leave those weapons at home or, at the very least, in their vehicles parked outside of these marked zones.

It’s Nirvana. Ambrosia flows through the drinking fountains and manna falls from the heavens. Never again will anyone within these magic zones have to fear the threat of coming face-to-face with a gun-wielding perpetrator.  The power of these signs, coupled with strongly worded regulations and policies, proves as effective as a John Kerry speech. It doesn’t matter how many adjectives, adverbs and interjections you include, just saying something out-loud (or in print) does not make it reality. I’m reminded of my old middle school history teacher’s favorite phrase, “If all the if’s and but’s were candy and nuts, what a nice world it would be.”

Often with the policies of the Left, it’s all about the intentions and never about the results. They always want to “do” something, but they never look at the consequences of their actions. They simply pander to the tyranny of the emotions of the present, slap themselves on the back for “doing” something and then they move along to the next issue, never looking back at the damage left in their wake.

In November of 2013, Interpol’s secretary general, Ron Noble, noted there are two ways to protect people from mass-shootings: “One is to say we want an armed citizenry; you can see the reason for that. Another is to say the enclaves [should be] so secure that in order to get into the soft target you’re going to have to pass through extraordinary security.” At issue, how do you put enough armed security forces around any possible soft target? He made those comments following the terrorist attack at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, where 68 people were killed. (One should not that Kenya bans both open and concealed carrying of firearms by civilians. Apparently that ban didn’t apply to terrorists.)

We can look back at all of the recent mass-shootings and see the pattern. They plan their attacks months (sometimes years) in advance. The perform detailed surveillance over the targets they choose and in 92% of the cases, they pick places where they are comfortable knowing no one will be able to shoot back.

How many remember the shooting at Clackamas Town Center Mall in Portland, Oregon in December of 2013? A shooter opened fire during one of the most crowded times of the year, killing two people before a concealed-permit holder stopped him by drawing and pointing his own gun at the assailant. That simple action halted what was sure to become a scene of mass-shooting. The national media, as they typically do, ignored the event. After all, it goes against the narrative that guns are bad.

These incidents share the same modus operandi. A crazed, mentally ill individual chooses a location where the odds of armed retaliation are small and proceed to immortalize themselves in the annals of mainstream and social media. Yet, when they do come across one of the “good guys,” the human toll is always mitigated if not eliminated. I could list instance after instance where a licensed and armed citizen in recent years prevented a mass-shooting tragedy.

We’ve seen the results of the gun-free zone. We see how these locations succeed at doing just one thing — disarming those who then line up to be perpetual fish in a barrel. Criminals, by their very definition, do not follow the law. A sign is not going to stop a criminal from following through on their designs. Einstein once said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. We know what will happen to a disarmed citizenry. History is replete with the machinations of dictators whose first task it to remove the threats of the people. It’s why our Founding Fathers were adamant about the Bill of Rights, including the 2nd Amendment. As Thomas Jefferson noted, quoting the 18th century criminologist, Cesare Beccaria:

False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that it has no remedy for evils, except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.

I could not have said it better. The experiment of the gun-free zone has run its course. If we are ready to face this issue with a serious, logical and reasoned disposition, it is long past time to bring this practice to an end and focus on the treatment of the mentally ill and insuring adequate training of law-abiding citizens. Banning guns is not only a facile argument, but also one meant only to pander to the low-information crowd in hopes of political gain. After all, that’s what President Obama himself said was his goal — the politicization of this issue, not it’s actual solving.

Those Inglourious Wealthy Basterds

Polls are showing Bernie Sanders pulling ahead of Hillary Clinton. It’s something a lot of people didn’t think would happen. But I saw it coming months ago, before Clinton’s scandals. Clinton could be the best angel from here until the primary election but it won’t help. You see, she’s old news. She was in 2008 and she is now. The only reason anyone was considering her way back when for 2016 was because she was the only one with her hat in the ring; that is, until Sanders. And now Joe Biden is looking to hop in too. Which means, Clinton isn’t going to easily take the throne like she may have thought she would. Did anyone else notice that? All that build up to her announcement. It was like she lost unfairly in 2008 and felt the Oval Office is now due to her in 2016. That was my impression.

You see, she lost in 2008 due to a charismatic character, a promiser for Change. The media pandered to him. They pitched softball questions to him. It was so obvious, Saturday Night Live had a field day with it (and may I add, made that show funny for the first time in years). No one wanted to see him trip. Set aside the fact that he’s bi-racial. Plenty of people of color have run for president under the Democrat banner. But none were treated with kid-gloves as Barack Obama. Isn’t he so nice? I mean, seriously. Put aside politics. I think I’d get along with him on a personal level. And that’s how you get into office. Clinton doesn’t have that. But you know who does?

Bernie Sanders has held a government position for over thirty-years. He’s been at the federal level since 1991. He’s currently filling the role of United States Senator from Vermont. And I predict, he’ll deny Clinton the throne for the very same reason Obama took it. Character.

Sanders has been rather consistent with his views throughout his tenure in office. And I can respect that. That is rarely seen in politics. He brings social democracy to the table as a presidential candidate. He’s offering an economic and social model like that of Denmark and Sweden. He’s not shy at all to say we can learn from them. As if they’re lands of unicorns and leprechauns. This is Sanders’ version of Change. But is anyone fact checking to see if the Nordic Model does offer a better alternative?

This essay isn’t going to go after that model, show it’s faults, show that it won’t work here. It won’t even show it doesn’t really work there. You can google it out for numerous papers on the subject. I personally recommend seeking out Cato Institute papers and studies for a good analysis on why the Nordic Model isn’t a greener pasture. No, in this essay, I’ll tackle the one piece that trickles throughout the Democratic Party, even if the socialism aspect isn’t tagged on.

Wealth Redistribution.

It’s the theory that some people have more than they need and should be forced to let go of some and turned over to others who have less. This, the theory goes, would even the playing field. Everyone could then afford good housing, healthy foods, clean water, a secure living environment, proper healthcare and everything else that goes into a civilized society. Great, right? Why should some people live better lives than others? That’s practically feudalism. We have no kings and queens here.

So how do we do it? The Sanders Way, is to forcibly take it. And to use the power of government to do so. The Sanders model, the Nordic Model, is taking money from someone else, giving it to someone else deemed more responsible to spend it on a greater good, and setting it in motion.

Plato dreamed of a society ruled by the smartest people: The Philosopher Kings. These people would be the brightest, the best able to see what was good. Not subjectively, but objectively. They could see the true good, not an object thought to be good. For instance, a steak dinner is good but a Philosopher King would say that it’s not the steak that is good, it’s what the steak represents. It’s that abstract, ungraspable concept behind the steak. And then they go about philosophizing the properties of the steak that make it so.

But we don’t have Philosopher Kings. And you don’t want Philosopher Kings. Imagine someone else determining what is the best thing for you. Uh, wait. I almost gave away the conclusion. Let me divert a bit.

We have elected individuals with minimal qualifications to get those jobs. Speaking at the federal level, the President only need be at least thirty-five-years old, living in the United States for the past fourteen-years and be natively born. A United States Senator only needs to have achieved the age of thirty, a United States citizens for at least nine-years and living in the State represented at the time of the election. And a United States Representative in Congress need only have achieved the age of twenty-five, citizen of the United States for the past seven-years and a resident of the represented state at the time of the election. There are more qualification requirements on a McDonald’s application. Do you think the people who minimally fit the government job requirements have the ability to see the greatest good? Maybe. But look at how they spend the money already given to them. Now ask if more would be a good idea.

The overriding error, the glaring assumption in government mandated Wealth Redistribution is the expectation that State power is benevolent, made up of thinkers who are just and seekers of equal. The error, is in conceptualizing the State as a machine with a program uninhibited or encumbered by human emotion, politics, subjective reasoning and overall humanness. When you hear someone say government should force rich people to give up more money, what they’re really saying is some people should be allowed to forcibly take money from richer people and decide what other people should get it.

Sam Harris, an intellectual I greatly admire, imagined another option. A collective of billionaires, including Bill Gates and Warren Buffet (already engaging in such a collective), coming together to pool the money they have voluntarily chosen they didn’t need. And then, figure out where best to share it. This is a much better option than Wealth Redistribution run by the State.

First, it’s voluntary. All contributors are not being forced into a program that may or may not show results. This means if the money isn’t spent wisely (“wisely” defined by each contributor), they may withdraw. And if it succeeds, they may choose to contribute more. And success might bring other backers. The government option forces contribution regardless of results.

Secondly, there’s less of a political football involved. Or may I say, none at all. No one is trying to please a campaign contributor or lobbyist. And even if they do choose to spend their “surplus” on a favorite, personal program that doesn’t seem for the common good, so what? It’s their money.

The fact is, there are no purely altruistic people. Only people wanting others to be purely altruistic. Here’s the proof: When you’re doing your taxes, do you look for as many deductibles as possible? Do you shelter as much money as you can in tax havens? Everyone does. Everyone cuts corners, fiddles with the numbers, to keep what they’ve earned. I know of no one, and neither do you, ignoring all the options to keep more of their earnings. I know of no one, and neither do you, checking off every box to donate, donate, donate. Give, give, give. No one. But when they do give, they voluntarily do so but not with tax forms. They give to a program or person who can make something happen for them or their community. Now if the altruistic billionaire club could gather more members, that would be great.

I don’t yet have an answer as to how to increase membership in the Altruistic Billionaire’s Club. But I know that those with wealth already do give (See: Gates; See: Buffet). They just don’t give to the Jesus Point: That point at which they’re down to robes and sandals. This, I think, is what the Wealth Redistribution crowd wants to see before they’ll be appeased. They never recognize the contributions already given, always expecting more. But what I do know is that public shaming doesn’t seem to work. Exhibit A: Occupy Wall Street. It. Did. Nothing. It’s gone. It remains a bad memory of an angry, disorganized mob. It only encourages division. It makes those being attacked dig in, put up walls, not want to give anything to those yelling at them.

So I’m open to suggestions. If you think they should give more, how? How should you get more wealthy people on board? I’m open to ways of encouraging those with the wealth and means to join Bill and Warren and maybe give a little more. Just don’t tell me your idea is force. Because, well, we’ve been over that.

Happy birthday, America!


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The Declaration of Independence

July 4, 1776

Over the months and years since the inception of Freedom Cocktail, we have covered a wide range of subjects — some topical, most philosophical. None of us are clones of each other but one trait we all share in common is a reverence for the Constitution of the United States of America and the principles inherent in our Republic. While each of you enjoys your holiday and the 239th celebration of the birthday of these United States, remember, deep down, we are all Americans, united under one flag. Our national motto is E pluribus unum — out of many, one. We may argue and disagree and fight passionately for our voices to be heard, but, in the end, we are strongest when we are together.

Today there exists, simultaneously, two conceits that are taken as absolute truth, yet are both completely devoid of anything of the kind. The first being, if I disagree with your point of view, it must be because I hate you and therefore it is incumbent on you to hate me back. The second is, if I like (love) you, I must conform to every one of your beliefs in total blind allegiance, forgoing any unique or individual views of my own. Both of these ideas are poisonous to debate, to communication, to understanding and to our nation. The co-founder of this site, Eric, and I have been diametrically opposed on a handful of subjects, but we could not be better friends. And, though I dearly love my wife, there are days when we don’t see eye-to-eye. (Does anyone agree with their spouse 100% of the time?) Those disagreements do not turn my affections into hate or anger. I admire their tenacity and the degree to which they fight for their points of view. And I know they feel the same toward me. We call each other on our BS and we applaud a point well made. We always strive for intellectual honesty, couched in healthy doses of logic and reason. Yes, there is passion, but always tempered by fact and we are all the better for it.

So, on this celebration of our independence, let us all take a moment to recognize we are all unique individuals and not cloned automatons following each other off the cliff like a herd of lemmings. We are Americans and its time we get back to acting like it. We can fight to have our opinions heard, but, at the end of the day, we are still family.

Shakespeare wrote in The Taming of the Shrew, “And let us do as adversaries do in law, strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.” Now that’s something worth raising a glass to while watching the rocket’s red glare tonight.

Happy birthday, America!

A Tale of Two Flags

I’m told there was a shooting, a lot of shooting. This happened in the South of the United States. A lot of black men and women died as a result. I’m told it was motivated by this belief that dark skinned people are inferior. The assault was allegedly committed because if action wasn’t taken, black people could take over the world. The aggressor felt he had no choice and it was time to take it to the real world.

On December 20, 1860, South Carolina seceded from the Union and started the Confederate States of America. Other southern states followed and launched the American Civil War. More American causalities resulted from that war than all the wars the United States ever engaged in combined. And in the end, slavery was over and all the states that once seceded, came back.

I’m probably the only person who thinks the Civil War wasn’t necessary to achieve this. The Second Industrial Revolution that exploded in and around that period would have taken care of the problem as one tractor and other machines would have shown a much better option than housing, feeding and caring for slaves. But, hindsight is twenty/twenty. We’ll never know.

Anyhow, after the Civil War, some of the southern states that flew a new flag, kept it. Sure they put the United States flag above it, but in one form or another, the Confederate Flag was either flown in whole or some of its design sewn into the current state one. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida and Georgia all have part of the Confederate Flag within their current state flags. And Mississippi has the Confederate Flag in its entirety, sewn into its current flag. South Carolina, the first to secede way back when, has a state flag with nothing confederate about it. However, South Carolina also flies the Confederate Flag whole right on capital grounds. Up until recently.

On June 17,2015, motivated by hate and false conspiracy theories and a whole bunch of other bunk, twenty-one-year old Dylan Roof entered the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. He sat with the people there, all black, who were holding a Bible study group. He stayed for about an hour, engaging in the discussion of scripture. Then, from survivor accounts, Roof stood up, pulled a pistol, started talking about how black people were raping or something and started shooting. In total, he killed nine people then fled. He’s since been arrested and will surely go on trial for this crime, rightly so.

Later, pictures surfaced showing Roof holding guns, burning the United States Flag and yet, holding the Confederate Flag rather proudly. Combined with his words and actions on June 17, it’s an open and shut case why he did it. And this has resulted in some calls to consider removing the Confederate Flag from the South Carolina Capital, if not everywhere else.

Okay, so, let’s sum up. The Confederate Flag was first used by states that seceded from the Union and the primary reason for secession was in defense of their desire to continue to enslave black people. The enslavement was necessary, so they claimed, because it was part of their economic model. And this was true. Yet they couldn’t see it was good economics for everyone but the slave. Or didn’t care. Years after the war, over one-hundred-years after the war, the flag to many of, at least, my peers, took on the meaning of “rebel”. The racist elements were somewhat ignored and it took on a new life, some states keeping it as part of history too. And yes, some people who flew it, drew it or used it did so like Dylan Roof. Because they believed in the same crap.

The actions of Dylan Roof seem to have reminded everyone what that flag was originally designed for, the racist elements have resurfaced and a debate about removing the Confederate Flag has begun. The governor of South Carolina called for the removal of the one flying over the capital. Other states with it in or around their flags are discussing it. People within and outside of those states are drawing up sides. Even retailers are removing it. Amazon, Wal-Mart, Sears and E-bay have all stopped selling it. Apple is removing games on Itunes that display the flag. And the United States National Park Service has stopped selling them. It’s hard to keep up how fast it’s disappearing. Is this a good thing?

I’ve always wanted to go to Egypt. I’ve always wanted to visit Rome. I’ve always wanted to see the Vatican and Mecca. And closer to home, I’d love to tour the ruins of the Aztecs. My only regret in life has been not to have done more traveling in my youth, prior to starting a family. But it is what it is. I’m not above playing catch up in retirement.

Surely if I get to Egypt, which is my first choice for exotic adventure since I was nineteen-years-old, I’d see statues of Thutmose III on display. I’d see the bust of Djoser and inscriptions about Userkare, Amenemhat I and Piye. I’d see as much as possible. I’d see several depictions of Pharaohs holding the crook and flail as well as the remains of pyramids built for egos. All of this would be on display, encouraged to see and take home replica souvenirs. And yet, consider that Thutmose III was a conqueror. Djoser started the ego pyramid thingy. Userkare and Amenemhat I appear to have earned their time on the throne through usurpation. And Piye ruled Nubia before deciding he wanted Egypt too and took it militarily.

If I get to Rome, I’ll see the remains of that once great city too. And I’ll be encouraged to take home souvenirs of emperors long dead, some of which ruled with iron fists and little mercy. The Vatican and Mecca have their own soiled history of conquests and the Aztecs used to rip out the hearts of living people and offer the bloody pumps to the sun, committing this act thousands of times per year. Don’t forget your souvenirs.

The good news is that every place I’d love to visit no longer has ruling, conquering Pharaohs or emperors, squashing people under them who have less power. None have human sacrifice. None call for holy crusades or conversions by the sword, aggressions against people seen to be less worthy of life if they do not. It’s all history, and treated rightly so.

This is what I think about the Confederate Flag. Take it down from capital buildings. Remove any remains sewn into current flags too. It’s history. And it’s a sore spot we never want to go back to or present as “active”. But by all means, let it fly over Confederate historical landmarks and monuments. And let the monuments stand too. It’s history. Don’t destroy history. I feel like Indiana Jones about all this, “That belongs in a museum.” I say this addressing state governments. Feel free as a private person with your private property to fly whatever you want.

Surely each state will have to decide for itself. I’d like them to make the right decision. It’s history, put it with the other history. And feel free to sell souvenirs.

And a few days after the take down the Confederate Flag controversy, another flag was being pushed up the pole. One with pretty colors. The Supreme Court voted five to four in favor of legalizing gay and lesbian marriage across all fifty states. And the crowd went wild.

Two camps sprang up: Those in favor (most of the country) and those not. The “nots” have two divisions within it, crossing lines often: Some object on religious grounds. Others object on the fact that the Supreme Court overstepped it’s role, granted itself too much power. I’m happy to say that personally, I only know one person using the religion card. The other dissenters fall into the other camp which means we can talk about it. And although I can respect those who want to maintain integrity in how laws are made, I’m okay in this case with the way gay and lesbian marriage was fashioned.

Justice Scalia argued against the equality in marriage because it wasn’t the Supreme Court’s job but the day before, had no problem telling Congress Obamacare was garbage. He’s consistent when he wants to be. It appears Justice Scalia is willing to change job roles when it fits him.

There’s this hero of mine, Thomas Jefferson. And yet, a fallible politician. Twice he ignored the Constitution but the outcome is to our benefit. These twice violations were the Louisiana Purchase and sending the newly formed navy to combat the Barbary Pirates from North Africa. He was asked on what Constitutional grounds he made the Louisiana Purchase and kind of said it was for the good of future generations whether they knew it or not. And after years of the United States paying tributes and ransoms to the Barbary Pirates, when he took his turn as president, he ceased payments and launched the navy to stop the aggression, not bothering to notify Congress until the fleet was too far away to be called back.

And finally, on January 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln through executive order, not bothering to seek approval from Congress, released the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves of states that seceded from the Union. That, too, turned out to be the right choice. Even if some states still dig that Confederate Flag.

As long as we require government, decisions will be messy, boundaries will be overstepped. I risk extreme criticism with this next sentence. I’m okay with it if it always falls on the side of more freedom. Yes, admittedly this is a slippery slope. But let’s also be realists. How often does it happen? And how often are the results so tragic that a war is going to break out? I’ll say it once more, I’m okay with it if it always falls on the side of more freedom. And because of this, the Supreme Court made the right decision favoring gay and lesbian marriage in all fifty states.

The final thing to note is that fellow Libertarians have been complaining that letting gays and lesbians marry isn’t the point. The point is that government should not be defining social contracts between consenting adults. I agree. But government is involved in social contracts, giving out benefits and licensing for married people. So as long as this is happening, government must recognize same sex marriages too. If you want to change all this and get government out of marriages, file a petition. Get the ball moving. Or just join the Libertarian Party where all freedoms all the time are being pursued. We even got souvenirs.

King’s dream dying in a race-obsessed world

What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form, in moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals!

Hamlet, Act II, Sc. 2

SHAKESPEARE-WORDS-facebookI’ve read this passage from Hamlet over and over in the last few days. I keep looking for the obvious racial tags that I’m told exist, but can’t find them. I have said these words aloud and in front of the mirror, trying to find any micro-aggressions (as coined by Columbia professor Derald Sue to refer to “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color”) that must exist. After all, Shakespeare was a white, Anglo-Saxon, male and therefore is inherently racist. So, I search over and over, wondering where those racist words or phrases exist.

“What a piece of work is a man!”

Hurm? There is no mention of color or any particular race, but just a human being in general. Can’t be there.

“How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty!”

No indication of race, yet, and the words ‘noble’ and ‘infinite in faculty’ are positive and uplifting, so there doesn’t appear to be anything aggressive there.

“In form, in moving, how express and admirable!”

Still no racial indicators and to be admired certainly isn’t negative.

“In action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god!”

Again, nothing here seems to call out the color of one’s skin, country of origin, ethnicity or cultural upbringing. If anything, there may be a bit of hyperbole given that no one is perfect, but at least it seems this part of the passage errs on the side of human beings wanting to strive for excellence, rather than being pejorative.

“The beauty of the world! the paragon of animals!”

Dammit. Still nothing to indicate the micro-aggressions and racist thoughts that must exist in the collected works of William Shakespeare. How can this be? After all, Dana Dusbiber, a Sacramento English teacher, says she avoids Hamlet and all of Shakespeare’s works because she believes her minority students should not be expected to study “a dead, white guy.”

Therein lies the deceit. In an effort to be all-inclusive, non-offensive and politically correct, while staying racially and culturally sensitive, Leftists have given rise to the unintended consequence of judging the merits of an individual solely by pigmentation rather than the quality of their character. After all, if you accept the premise of this teacher (and many who think the same way), you would have to conclude minorities cannot identify with such topics as lust, greed, anger and remorse. They lack the ability to relate to infatuation, teenage love, anger at one’s parents or being treated unfairly. They cannot relate to the notions of the power of kings, the machinations of tyrants, the manipulations of advisers and the benevolence of the clergy. Apparently, these subject matters, and many others cutting across the complete works of Shakespeare, only relate to those with fair complexions.

This is patently absurd! Which is more offensive, a belief that non-whites cannot relate to any of the above, or choosing to consciously deny the words of Shakespeare to them?

mlkihaveadreamgogoThis Leftist mindset of determining worth based on race is like a raging weed, taking hold and spreading it’s choking roots. Rather than help usher in the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who looked to the day when his “four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”, it has turned the goal of a colorblind society into one that is becoming solely obsessed with race. Think about many of the stories told in the mainstream media and across social media in the last several years. There is an obsession in our current culture with bringing race into the discussion, either as an excuse or as an indictment. And the problem with any obsession is it creates a paradigm of embracing a pinhole, tunnel vision of the world. It looks to find the one subject that fits into its lens, while ignoring everything else. It’s like the phenomenon married couples experience when they are getting ready to have a baby. Suddenly, they see pregnant women everywhere. Of course, “everyone” isn’t going through pregnancy, but it appears that way to the person who is focused on their own condition. The same applies when an obsession with race takes hold. Regardless of facts, it will seem as though evidence of racism is everywhere. If someone wants to see racist signs and intentions everywhere, they will.

So, what’s the best way to combat this presumption that all whites are inherently racist? If you buy into that notion, you have no choice but to elevate the minorities who are its target and denigrate the offenders. Therein lies the shift in Dr. King’s dream. It’s no longer about looking at the qualities an individual brings to the table, it’s only about countering the belief that all whites are racist and all minorities are victims; therefore, all whites are bad and anyone “of color” is good. This simplistic, one-dimensional, good/bad scale is such a dangerous way to approach any issue, let alone that of race. When the paradigm shifts to such a degree as to convince a person the color of their skin alone is the litmus test that labels them as victim or subjugator, all logic and reason is lost in the wide brush strokes of true bigotry. It leads to the belief that the only way to bolster a minority is to punish the non-minority. Rather than embracing the idea of a rising tide lifting all boats, it chooses instead to support the concept of drilling a hole in someone else’s boat so yours will eventually be higher than the one you sank.

By the way, I wonder if that teacher knows Shakespeare had a mistress? Though he was married to a white woman, he wrote passionately about a secret love. Here’s a sample of one of his most famous sonnets about her:

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

– Sonnet 130

If the poetry of Shakespeare’s sonnet to his mistress is hard to follow, all you need to do is break down the descriptions and see what images form in your own mind. His mistress’ eyes are not bright like the sun, but dark; her lips, too, are on the opposite end of the ‘red’ spectrum, dark and brown; her breasts are also dark (“dun”); and, her hairs feel like black wires on her head. Is there any mistaking that Shakespeare’s mistress is of African decent? To refuse to teach the words of the Bard is to not only deny someone access to one of the greatest writers in the Western world, but also to ignore the fact that he saw through race and color in his own time, falling in love with his dark lady.

Like Shakespeare who saw past the color of one’s skin, it’s time to return to Dr. King’s dream and take the current discussion on race back onto the path where color is no longer a reason to be pro or con. Judging someone, either positively or negatively, based solely on color, is an act of bigotry that not only will continue to erase the gains of the civil rights movement as it exists today, but also, if left unchecked, threatens to consume our nation in a tide of anger and hatred over such a shortsighted, ignorant and ill-conceived stance.

Shakespeare is not the enemy. Yes, he was white. So what? Does that diminish the worth of his contributions to the world? Alexandre Dumas was black, born in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), the son of a French nobleman and a slave girl. Should we elevate his works over others simply because of his skin tone? Or do those unforgettable words of his Musketeers stand on their own regardless of his race — “one for all and all for one!”

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have a real conversation on race with those words of the Musketeers in mind, rather than the ones we are having rammed down our throats today, where we are being told color actually does make a difference, keeping us from being all for one and one for all? Is that what Dr. King would support if he were sitting at the table? Dumas? Shakespeare?

Shylock, in The Merchant of Venice, notes we are all the same when he states:

If you prick us, do we not
bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you
poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall
we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will
resemble you in that.

When you take away the surface, we are all the same underneath, each with our own gifts and flaws. Our skin has no bearing on our contributions to the world — only our actions. Our color does not make a person good or bad. It does not determine someone’s intellect, honor, civility or disposition. It is as thin of substance as the air and more inconstant than the wind.

In our day, isn’t it time we got back to putting the content of ones character over the color of their skin?


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