It’s Always Mr. Smith

There are three subject matters that have consumed most of my time. The matters are, in order of interest, woo-woo, religion and politics. What they have in common is that they are the greatest fields of inquiry where you get to see human beings acting short of reason for the sake of the magical. They’re the only fields of human activity that operate more on wishes and wants than actualities. And for that reason, I can’t see spending my days doing anything else but being fascinated by these topics.

Woo-woo and religion remain my favorite topics. I’m really surprised when I hear someone isn’t interested in UFOs or ghosts or gods or cryptids or Atlantis claims or ancient Egypt and the nonsense that’s gone into that long gone civilization. What else have you been doing with your time? This is so much fun. Even though everyone starts (where I did) with awe and wonder of these mysteries, many of us end up at a point of realizing there simply are no ghosts, no bigfeets, no gods, no Atlantis, and no silly pyramid powers. (There are, however, UFOs. If something crosses the sky and you don’t know what it is, by definition, it’s a UFO. Flying saucers, however, well, that’s different story. Spoiler: No proof they exist either). Despite this, claims of such things don’t go away. People continue to “ghost hunt”, people continue to mistake settling homes for spirits, people continue to chalk up coincidence with being saved by an angel, people continue to make claims of alien abduction, and people still fill the pews in churches every Sunday. Some of us remain in the game and investigate cases because while we no longer expect to find ghosts and goblins, every case is a chance to teach a bit of science and logical reasoning. It’s a payoff even if the extraordinary is never found. And so I never expect to not be interested in these things.

Mr. Smith with his assorted henchmen was always behind every case Scooby Doo and the gang investigated but they kept at it. People needed mysteries solved and those pesky kids and their dog did the job. And somehow Fred was able to keep that shirt sparkling white despite how dirty the job is.

The third subject consuming matter of my time has given me less of a payoff. That is politics. While it is rather easy to show someone the ghost in the room is really the wind through a wall crack behind the curtain, it’s not always easy to show the Wizard of Oz behind the functions of government. But before I start to think there is no hope, I remind myself that I’m using the same tool kit I use when examining the latest psychic prediction: Skepticism, reason, science, and facts. Every government program that fails to deliver is a chance for us Libertarians to examine and point it out. Like skeptics in the ghost hunting business, if it’s all just wind through cracks in the walls moving the curtains, we get to say so. It’s just air, people.

But let’s be just as honest about our ability to make headway. We won’t make any more progress than ghost skeptics convincing people ghosts don’t exist as long as people want to believe ghosts exist.

Right now, I’m convinced the American public are somewhat institutionalized into thinking we need a cradle to grave government in place to make the world go around. Every election that I’ve been a part of has been the Most Important Election of My Lifetime. Every. One. It’s because we put so much faith into the myth of needing someone else to get things right for us. Going to the voting booth is akin to sitting in church every Sunday. Intercessory prayer doesn’t work. And neither does an appeal to a higher power of human run government. But it persists. People keep voting for saviors to fix healthcare, to fix the roads, to fix the scary immigrants sitch-ee-a-shun.

Nothing better demonstrates this than our current president, what he’s gotten away with and how his most ardent apologists respond.

Donald Trump has said so many false things it’s nearly impossible to keep track of them. These past seventy-two hours consumed more of my time than I’d like regarding the real reason he fired FBI Director, James Comey. And this is one issue out of the uncountable. The man has even lied about the number of floors in Trump Towers. It’s something that can easily be checked with your own eyes and he says differently. This president lives in a world he manufactures and wants everyone to put on the same glasses. And there are a lot of supporters who have invested so much into him, it’s turning into They Live out there.

So people will, if they’ve invested deeply into something, whether it is ghosts, goblins or a political figure, stick to it and let cognitive dissonance do its magic. That really makes it harder for skeptics to pull back the curtains. But nevertheless, we persist.

So why do I consider politics less of a pay off? Well because unlike the fun of flying saucers and ghosts, the failure to recognize poor government programming and everything that comes with it has real world consequences. * Every day it runs amuck is another day of excessive taxation. Another day Obamacare or its mutation remains in place is another day of skyrocketing medical costs. Every day of foreign meddling and failing government schools is another day I have to pick up the pieces. Every day the president lies and makes false claims is another day weeding through the false information in my caseload of false information that’s already too big for the briefcase I already carry.

Discouragement is always around the corner because nonsense is a Hydra of never ending heads. But I’m reminded that Batman still suits up and tries his damnedest to get those jokers back in the Arkham Insane Asylum even though every villain seems to escape so easily.

Each case of bullshit is a lesson to pass on to a waiting audience on how to dispel bullshit. I suppose it’s why I continue to dispel ghosts even though I know the next ghost story is minutes away. Likewise, every person I reach to show that government actors and programming are facades, the more people I give the tools to so they don’t fall for the next failed government program. And with each new field agent for liberty, we’re that much closer to the goal of pulling off the disguise for the big reveal that behind the mask, why it’s just old Mr. Smith and his henchmen again.

     And again.

          And again.

               And again. It’s always Mr. Smith and yet, the Mystery Van continues its mission.

*  Woo-woo does have real world consequences like the demise of the cult of Heaven’s Gate and other people being taken financially on a daily basis by psychic frauds. But nothing on the scale of harm a government program can do which affects all the people, not just those who voluntarily participate in woo-woo subjects.

Comey was fired for one reason (and Russia wasn’t it)

Trump and Comey

So, in less than 24 hours, social media has begun the tandem eruption and meltdown at the news that President Trump sent a letter of termination to James Comey, Director of the FBI. The first thing I did at hearing this was to follow the paper trail to see why this happened and how many people weighed into this decision. While the overwhelming number of Leftists (who, until yesterday, many wanted Comey’s head on a pike), led by the self-appointed tribal leader, Chuck-U Schumer, went all-in on the Russian conspiracy explanation, I took time to read the letter sent by the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein. Before I get to the germane segments, which clearly lay out what many of us have believed since the July 2016 press release given by Comey regarding the illegal e-mail server used by Hillary Clinton, we need to address why this did not happen sooner.

Several talking heads and democrat leaders have bemoaned the timing of the firing, asking why Trump didn’t take action back in January? It’s worth mentioning, the Senate did not confirm Rod Rosenstein to the position of Deputy Attorney General until April 25, 2017 by a vote of 94-6. In today’s hyper-partisan climate, that vote is worth noting. As the number two man at the Department of Justice, it is also important to note that the FBI Director reports to this position. Thus, Rosenstein become Comey’s boss on April 25th.

With all of the turmoil surrounding the FBI’s handling of the Clinton private e-mail server, it was Rosenstein’s job to determine whether or not James Comey was fit to retain his position. It only took 10 working days from his confirmation date for Rosenstein to present his determination to his boss, Jeff Sessions, the US Attorney General, on Comey’s viability to lead the FBI. The memo had the following subject: Restoring public confidence in the FBI.

That one document, which is shorter than what I am laying out here, contains all the information anyone within the drive-by media (and everyone else for that matter) needs to understand the facts and report on the circumstances on why Comey was fired. But, what am I thinking? There are pre-determined narratives at work and far too many refuse to let facts get in the way of a good story.

Contrary to the tin-hat donning conspiracy theorists out there, the firing of James Comey had nothing to do with the on-going Russian collusion investigation, or any other Russian-themed investigation. In fact, the FBI’s investigation is just one of three different, concurrent investigations. The other two are happening in the House and in the Senate. Replacing the Director of the FBI does nothing to prevent the ongoing work being performed by the agents working for the Bureau. The firing of James Comey does nothing to prevent the House or the Senate from calling him to testify or continuing their own work. The idea President Trump decided to fire James Comey to stop the investigation requires a firm belief in unicorns and flying pigs.

A side-note: the investigation over Russian-Trump collusion (separate from Russian hacking or meddling) has been going on quietly for nearly a year now and, thus far, even Trump’s most determined opponents have had to admit there has been no evidence discovered to prove Trump was actively working with Russian agents to steal the election. The other investigations are looking into alleged hacking of systems and release of information by Russian actors trying to influence the election. None of these have been stopped as a result of the firing of James Comey. So, if you are among those who believe wholeheartedly President Trump actively worked with the Russians to steal the election away from Hillary Clinton, rest easy knowing those investigations are still underway.

Now that I have addressed the Left, let me move to those on the Right who think the firing of Comey was due to him not going after Hillary Clinton. Sorry, but that is not the reason, either. As much as many hoped the FBI would have brought formal charges against then candidate Clinton, his decision not to is not why he received his walking papers.

The memo produced by Deputy Director Rosenstein explains both succinctly and elegantly that FBI Director Comey did not treat Hillary Clinton properly or fairly during the called press conference on July 5, 2016. Yes, you heard me correctly. James Comey was fired by President Trump, at the recommendation of both the Deputy AG and the Attorney General of the United States, because he did not treat Hillary Clinton fairly.

Though I would strongly advise anyone to read the full text of Deputy AG Rosenstein’s memo, here are the relevant paragraphs, which reveal why Comey was fired:

The director was wrong to usurp the Attorney General’s authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution. It is not the function of the Director to make such an announcement. At most, the Director should have said the FBI had completed its investigation and presented its findings to federal prosecutors. The Director now defends his decision by asserting that he believed attorney General Loretta Lynch had a conflict. But the FBI Director is never empowered to supplant federal prosecutors and assume command of the Justice Department. There is a well-established process for other officials to step in when a conflict requires the recusal of the Attorney General. On July 5, however, the Director announced his own conclusions about the nation’s most sensitive criminal investigation, without the authorization of duly appointed Justice Department leaders.

As stated, FBI Director James Comey chose to be both investigator AND prosecutor in the Hillary Clinton private email server case. He did not follow the longstanding protocol that exists between the FBI and the Justice Department. But, he did more than just put himself in (then) AG Loretta Lynch’s role, he went on to list all of the reasons Clinton broke the law during a called public press conference:

Compounding the error, the Director ignored another longstanding principle: we do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation. Derogatory information sometimes is disclosed in the course of criminal investigations and prosecutions, but we never release it gratuitously. The Director laid out his version of the facts for the news media as if it were a closing argument, but without a trial. It is a textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do.

Many, me included, heard that “closing argument” on July 5 and found ourselves hopeful that the untouchable Hillary Clinton was about to be charged. The list was thorough and detailed. All of the transgressions were listed. The statues broken. The careless and irresponsible handling of national secrets. But, in the final paragraph, Comey pulled a 180 and made the assertion that he could find no “intent” to do wrong, something that does not need to be present and is not a requirement for breaking our intelligence laws. He then took on the role of prosecutor and spoke on behalf of everyone in the Justice Department, declaring, “…our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”

James Comey’s egregious error in judgment is what led to his firing. He should have never held a public press conference. He should have made his recommendations as an investigator to the Justice Department and let them determine whether or not a case could be made to prosecute Hillary Clinton. He interjected a legal concept of “intent,” which does not exist in our intelligence laws and statutes — acting a bit like Chief Justice Roberts who helped to fix the Affordable Care Act by rewriting a portion of the bill ¹.

What we must decide is whether or not the memo of Deputy AG Rosenstein accurately describes the actions taken by FBI Director Comey. Did he overstep his role? Did he mistreat Hillary Clinton as a result? Did he subvert the traditions of the FBI? Did he provide the textbook example of what agents and prosecutors are not supposed to do? Before you jump into the fray, parroting the narratives being shouted by DNC leaders and members of the mainstream media, take a moment to read the memo and understand the facts of the case rather than invented machinations of political elites.


¹ – In case you are puzzled by the comparison, Congress makes/writes the law and the Justices’ role is to determine Constitutionality. By making corrections, Chief Justice Roberts was doing the job of the Legislature, thereby legislating from the bench. He should have pointed out the problem with the language, voted against the ACA and let Congress fix the wording. Instead, he decided to play both roles, ignoring the checks and balances inherent in our Constitution.

 

The Case for Listening Ears

Today I watched several fellow writers complain that the Trump Health Care Act (is that the official title?) is going to do severe damage to them as writers. In other words, they won’t have as good of health care under it as they perceive under Obamacare. I am confused by this. How do they know? How does anyone know the impact? Has anyone read it? We know no one doing the voting read it before voting on it. The GOP has picked up what Nancy Pelosi laid down the time they passed Obamacare. They had to pass it to see what’s in it.

So my first thought was to jump in and give a “well, what gives you the right to have chosen a risky career to now demand your neighbors fill in your gaps?” I was tempted to tweet, tweety-eet, “You chose the path of a writer. Why should any of us be forced to subsidize your hobby?”

Let’s face it. It takes a lot. A whole lot to call writing a career. Most of us do it because we like to, it’s a hobby. Or we write but in a professional capacity, such as, text books, paid journalism or legal or whatever. We do this while we work on that play, novel and essay. And this is the rub: They were complaining they can’t afford health care due to their choice of how they spend their day (or night). They screamed, “I wanna stay at home or in a coffee shop and tell a story! And I might get sick while doing it and…”

Wait, let’s back up…

Let’s say you churn out several paintings a month. And let’s say you attend several art shows to display and sell them. And let’s say you sell one for two-hundred-and-fifty dollars. That’s your salary for the month Two-hundred-and-fifty dollars. That was your choice. What else did you do with your time? What other ways did you attempt to market yourself to feed yourself and family, provide shelter, necessities or life and otherwise? If all you did was paint, you earned what you got.

Okay, enough of that. Really, although all that is true, it doesn’t get anyone to come to the free market side of health care. So I didn’t tweet tweety-eet any of that…although it’s true.

The point of this post is that telling people they did this to themselves does not sell them on any idea. In fact, pointing blame and saying deal with it, pushes people away from you no matter how right you may be. The best approach is to spend today and the next few weeks, quite frankly, listening to and reading those having a hard time securing health care. Find out what their main fear is. Then address that very specific fear. Show them how taking government out of health care will give them a better chance of achieving what they want. (I’m defending a free market health care option here, not TrumpCare. I have no idea what that is. I haven’t read it. Neither have you).

Here’s a better way of selling free market health care. It involves sympathy and understanding everyone wants the same thing: quality, affordable health care.

I say, “I have a condition too. I have this and that. I’m hoping my kids can find adequate care at affordable prices as well. Yeah, I hear you. That heart valve defect is awful. And you know what? I have an idea on how to fix all this without a government program and get us both good care and deals. Wanna hear about it?

If they don’t, move on to the next subject. Stop there. Go on to sports or Dancing With the Stars or anything else. You won’t reach everyone. What you’re looking for is the fence sitters. The fence sitters will wanna hear about it.

And say, “I can’t wait until I can negotiate a price for the medicines and services from doctors just like I do for just about everything else in life. I can’t wait until I have a selection of medical services, just like a selection of grocery stores and otherwise, that do their best to offer me the best at the lowest cost. We can get there but we have to get government out.”

If they’re still with you, you may proceed with good arguments for a free market health care system.

Sometimes you won’t even have to give a speech like my quotes above. Sometimes just being a listening ear is enough for someone to open the door to your ideas. Maybe letting them vent and letting them breath out and then you replying, “I hear ya, want another beer?” and never offering a solution until the next time is enough for them to welcome a next time. Maybe it will take months or years to convert. But you can be that pry bar in the door. That’s your only job for starters. Until then, listen.

What is the most likely reason a politician get votes? Is it because they have great ideas? Nope. I could write a doctoral thesis on how politics are made over feelz vs realz. You usually can’t reason someone into a position they didn’t use reason to get into. So, nope. Politicians don’t have to have great ideas. In fact, listen to them campaign. Never any solutions, only memes and slogans that sound great. No meat at all.

They get elected because they’re likable. Child development studies show that a child will want to be like her parents if she likes her parents. And studies show that if you’re likable, even if your peer group disagrees with your ideas, they’ll stick around. And you may rub off on them. The last thing you want to ever do is be right and be a prick. So be right and be kind. Don’t compromise your belief. But don’t be a jackass about it. Especially on the subject of health care where we could really be talking about life or death. All anyone wants is to ensure themselves and their kids and loved one’s survival. Listen more than talking. And you’ll be surprised how a closed mouth will pay off more than a yakity-yak. And speaking of that, it’s time for me to shut my trap.

Congressman Loudermilk on Bartow’s Morning News

Congressman Barry Loudermilk from Georgia’s 11th Congressional district called into Bartow’s Morning News to talk about the work being done in Congress since their return from the Easter break. We discussed the revised healthcare bill that seems to have the support of the Freedom Caucus, President Trump’s proposed revision of the tax code, the problems with North Korea and the upcoming budget battle for the remainder of the fiscal year.

The Black Blood of Modernity

About ten years ago I was having a conversation with a friend about climate change. (I think we called it global warming at that time). I concluded that if warming was happening by natural causes, there was nothing we could do about it. So humans would have to adapt through artificial means. If warming was man-made, there’s also nothing we can do about it because the world runs on fossil fuels. And the world’s infrastructure is set up for them and them alone. So again, humans would have to adapt through artificial means. In other words, there is no plan of attack regardless of the cause so why worry about it. Why even investigate it. It’s coming, so just deal with it. And so I never bothered to figure it out.

But then the term “Peak Oil” was brought to my attention and I was forced to realize that even if man was causing global warming and had a magic solution to stop it, we still had a bigger problem coming.

People usually think of fossil fuels in terms of energy and emissions. Our fossil fuel infrastructure is more than transportation. It’s cooking, lighting, heating, cooling, communications. It’s also plastics. Without oil, there are no plastics. Or synthetic rubber. Or asphalt. Or medicine. Or some fabrics and foods. There’s no pesticides in some cases too. No solar, wind or tidal power will replace that.

Talking just in terms of energy/fuel, it takes decades, maybe fifty-plus years for energy infrastructures to become large enough to make the switch from one energy source to another. From railroad to diesel/gasoline vehicles to the future, change is slow. So even if we had the technology in renewables that gave us the same bang for our buck as fossil fuels do, we simply have no established grid or delivery system.

But energy/fuel aside, nothing can replace what oil gives us in the non-energy/fuel items listed above. So even if we started the major social and tech commitment to change from one energy source to another, we’d still need oil for everything else. Even if we had affordable electric cars, oil still makes up the seats, dashboards and panelling, tires, lubricants, and more. Even if we had solar powered homes, our televisions, computers, radios, foods, medicine, furniture…all oil dependant.

Oil drives just about everything we do. And by all accounts, the easy to get at reserves are either gone or just about gone ∗. Even if there was no climate change or global warmingness, the looming loss of easy oil is coming and the cost of everything is going to escalate as we approach it. Harder to get at oil means more costly means to get at it and the costs get passed down. And oil is a finite resource. Unlike wind and solar, when a well drys up, it’s gone. So some day, I have no idea when, but some day, the human race will have to learn to live without oil. And considering what we’ve just covered above, that is going to be real hard.

But until then, the world will continue to burn fossil fuels as if that time isn’t approaching. The globe will continue to suffer from the pollution that comes with it and things will get more costly. There’s nothing anyone is going to do to stop it. I’m sorry to tell you this. But no government policy, programming, marching, protesting, conferences, tweeting or otherwise is going to change the world’s need and use of oil (and other fossil fuels). And even if the United States government had the magic policy, that only goes for my country. It doesn’t apply to China or India, two of the world’s fastest developers and consumers of natural resources. One country’s policies do not apply to anyone else. This is a world issue, not a country issue. Pollution of fossil fuels will continue and costs of maintaining our civilization from the wonders of oil will rise.

The only change you can make is one for yourself.

This brings me full circle to the top of this essay: Nothing is going to change about our need for oil and other fossil fuels so it’s time to adapt. Here’s some recommendations regarding adaptation.

Unless I have to drive a car, I walk where I need to go. Or I bike. In good weather, longer trips are easier. I also started gardening about ten years ago. Learning how food grows and how to prepare it is a great skill. I also fish. Teach others to do so, it’s good for them. I also spend more time reading and writing than having electronics on (although music is usually playing in some corner somewhere). And instead of the obligatory hotel on vacations, my wife and I have used camp grounds on several occasions. Nothing like learning to put up a tent, make a fire, and all that comes with it. And for god’s sake, learn to use a firearm if you can. It’s a tool, a good tool that can be used for defense as well as hunting for food. I recommend doing as much local as possible. Not only are you supporting people in your own community, you’re learning to live with what is around you.

I’m not talking about living off the grid in a cave somewhere although you’re welcome to do that. I’m simply talking about adding any and all self-reliant tools to your life-skill tool belt. I’m talking about having skills for times when modernity is not available. Practice now what your descendants will need later.

We live in a “just in time” community. That means, the grocery store shelves are stocked just in time. The gas stations are replenished, just in time. In August 2003, we got something of a test run on what would happen if we lost power on a wide scale for a lengthy time. The electrical grid went down from New York to Michigan. It lasted several days. What if it lasted several weeks? The stores and gas stations would be empty. What would you do if you had no supplies or means to travel? Having some of the skills mentioned above would come in handy.

But what if it turns out the center of the Earth is a creamy, gooey gob of infinite oil and the planet wasn’t warming? So what, you’re not wasting your time by doing anything that makes you more self-reliant. You’d at least be ready come temporary energy outages. What else are you going to do, watch more reality tv? Reality is passing by while you watch that garbage. Go out and live your own reality.

∗ The study of oil reserves and when we will start drying up (sometimes called Peak Oil) has a nice summary here.

 

 

Islam: The Third and Troubling Child

It’s no secret, I think all religion, being a practice on faith rather than reason, is a poor life style. However, current events demonstrate there is only one deserving special attention if not out right combat for hearts and minds. That is Islam.

I’ve addressed my concerns herehere and here. And here. This short piece is a reminder in light of current events that it’s still a generational battle. The question is, why does this seem to only come from Islam and not its older siblings of Judeo-Christianity?

Let’s spell some things out.

Judaism, as told in the Tanakh, justified through mythological origins a piece of land known as Israel for the Hebrews. No more, no less. Despite the tales of conquest of the land by Moses, Joshua, etc, these are not historical. Therefore, unlike Islam, there never was a time of conquering armies for the Jewish people. At most, they’ve been the most oppressed. And all Israel wants today is Israel. Not the world.

Christianity did one better. The first Christians did their best to separate from society. Their secrecy is what got them into trouble with Rome. Romans 13 tells them to not interfere with existing government. And in the very first gospel the other three copied from, Mark 12:17 has Jesus saying, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” So Christianity started as non-combative, non-interfering in the lives of others, despite what happened centuries later. They didn’t even want land. Their souls and bodies were enough.

Islam, however, began as a political philosophy that Muhammad could not convince people to follow. And therefore, started forcing it at the point of the sword from Saudi Arabia all the way to Spain. Read the damn Qur’an already. It’s impossible to miss the orders to kill any non-Muslim, conquer the lands of others, etc. Until you understand what Islam is, you’re doomed to be its victim.

So while it is worthwhile to draw attention to the lack of logic in religion in general, Islam is the one that needs our most attention today.

ISIS isn’t a deviation. ISIS is it.

Read the damn Qur’an to understand what the civilized world is up against.

Interview with Congressman Barry Loudermilk on WBHF – March 16, 2017

ICYMI: Here is my interview with Congressman Barry Loudermilk from Georgia’s 11th congressional district. We discussed President Trump’s revised travel ban and a Hawaiian judge blocking it. We discussed the proposed budget and numerous cuts to agencies. We also covered a bill being pushed through Congress to shorten the time it takes to fire a federal employee. We wrapped up the discussion talking about the hyper-partisan climate that currently exists in Washington, D.C.

 

The Great Drug War Wall

On January 25, 2017, President Trump issued the executive order that authorized the construction of the Great Wall of America. Expected to run about the length of one-thousand-three-hundred miles, costing anywhere from sixteen to twenty-six billion dollars to build, seven-hundred-fifty-million a year to maintain and taking four or twenty years to build, * it looks like he’s sure keeping his biggest promise: To keep out the worst of the Mexicans, those drug traffickers and gangs. He’s also pretty much included the people who come here to do the jobs Americans won’t do but, his biggest concern and broken record speech is mainly centered on drug traffickers and gangs.

We could examine the effectiveness of the Wall by comparing it to the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall, etc. But the fact is, we only need look at the six-hundred-fifty feet of already existing wall and fencing to see it does not work. People wanting to cross borders will find a way. In fact, recently someone pointed me to the use of good old fashion trebuchets to send drug packages over existing fencing.

A Wall is thousands-year old technology going against the ever clever human being. It’s like never upgrading the mouse trap beyond a cup and string; yet mice have evolved into the space age. Although, you don’t even need to be that sophisticated. Just using thousand-year old tech can defeat a wall. Exhibit back to the use of trebuchets. Oh and a ladder.

There’s a better solution to keep out drug traffickers and the gangs that roll with them:

End the Drug War.

We learned from 1920 to 1933 what happens when you take a perfectly legal product and make it illegal. The War on Alcohol gave us Al Capone, gunfights in the streets (with assault weapons, oh my!), police and judge corruption if only to partake in a little brandy from time to time. We got premarture deaths and injuries from poisonous bathtub gin. It was such a failure that by 1933, the 18th Amendment was repealed by the 21st.

But unlike the prohibition of alcohol which was conducted through amending the Constitution, the War on Drugs has been all legislation. The first big one was the Harrison Narcotics Tax of 1914 which regulated opiates and coca. And the noose just got tighter ever since, including more substances and offering tougher penalities for not only trafficking but use.

So it’s been over one-hundred years for this drug war and we haven’t learned the lesson that we should have with just thirteen-years of alcohol prohibition.

Because alcohol is legal, we no longer see gangs causing violence in the streets for sales and territory. When was the last time you saw Labatts and Budweiser have a tommy gun shoot out in your neighborhood?

If we end the prohibition of drugs currently listed as illegal, we will take the profits out of the illegal drug trade. Drugs wouldn’t be cut with “filler”, making them more dangerous t user’s health like bathtub gin once did. All drugs could be treated as we treat alcohol today.

And that means no need for Trump’s Wall to keep out drug traffickers who no longer exist. I mean, really, when is the last time a group of smugglers were caught crossing into Arizona with a case of Corona and arrested? Maybe 1925 when it rolled out for the first time?

We have to ask ourselves, do we want to treat drugs as a health issue? Or criminal? The years of treating it criminally have failed, made enemies with neighbors, caused injuries and death, corrupted law enforcement and so on. Ending the War on Drugs will not only find us Americans no longer needing a Wall, but maybe on better terms with Mexico in the long run.

* Figures bounce dramatically depending on what source you review. One thing I’m certain of, however, is that with any government project, not only won’t it work. But it will cost millions/billions more than projected.

Take the Outsider Test

Through the Obama years, Democrats had no problem with his pen and phone approach. If he couldn’t get it his way with GOP support, he was determined to go it alone. And while he was doing this, there was zero opposition from members of his team. But now that Trump is in power and the GOP hold most of the cards in Congress, the Democrats are going nuts over Trump’s pen and phone approach. What gives?  He’s doing the same thing Obama was doing. It’s been real interesting seeing Democrats (and socialists alike) suddenly in favor of state’s rights and limited government.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Republicans made Hillary Clinton’s private email server the issue to go after her on. Commercials and talks about how she put American security at risk dwarfed just about everything else bad about Clinton. And the Democrats, in fact Clinton’s biggest rival, Bernie Sanders, declared they were done hearing about her damn emails. But now Trump is in office. And Trump has a lot of smoke related to ties with Russia, both financially and politically. And the GOP has decided it doesn’t care to hear anymore about Trump’s damn ties while the Democrats are now up in arms about security. Again, what gives?

In both cases we have the same problems. In our first discussion, we have authoritarian power. In our second, we have American security. And what we find is that the party of the guilty looks the other way as long as they’re of the same party. Only the opposition complains. So it’s not about authoritarianism or security. It’s about who has the ball.

This starts a dark road into tribalism where facts and decency don’t matter. So before we get there (even if we probably already are), it’s time for everyone to take the Outsider Test.

John W. Loftus, once a practicing ordained minister and student of none other than William C. Craig, is now an atheist, challenging others once like him to examine the Christian faith. In March 2013, his book, “The Outsider Test For Faith” was published. The subtitle is, “How to Know Which Religion is True.” The premise of the book goes back to David Hume as Hume used the same kind of argument against Islam and Catholicism. But it’s Loftus who wraps up the test perfectly.

The test is simple: Critique your religion as if you were not part of it. Then see if it holds up. You should ponder on your beliefs and consider what someone outside your religion thinks of them.

The Outsider Test doesn’t have to be with just religion. I believe both major political parties in the United States need to take the Outsider Test.

What if during the presidential campaign, the roles of Trump were reversed with Clinton. What if it was Clinton who was encouraging more leaks from the GOP and encouraging Russia to hack Trump’s email? What if it was Clinton who fawned over Putin? What if Clinton refused to release her tax returns? What if Clinton’s choice of National Security Advisor quickly resigned over contacts with Russia during the campaign?

I can tell you exactly what would happen. The reverse of what is happening today. It would be the GOP going after her, calling for an investigation and the Democrats would be ignoring it. How do I know? Because the GOP went after Clinton on her emails, calling out FBI Director Comey for claiming she engaged in no wilful crime, for Clinton’s husband meeting on the tarmac with Attorney General, Loretta Lynch shortly before Comey said there was nothing to see here.

Both parties, all parties, all peoples of these parties are descending into tribalism. And might I add, when their own side engages in what they’d hate from the other side, there’s been a lot of special pleading going on. The best approach is to be as consistent as possible.

Ask yourself, would you be okay if the other side was doing such and such? If you answer “yes”, then sit back, relax, you’re being consistent. But if you say “no”, it’s time to take the Outsider Test.

A few years ago, here and here, I called on members of my own political leanings to point out some areas needing improvement. It is more important to put on your own oxygen mask first before you can help others. I think this very simple test does the trick. The question is, are you good enough to accept the results?

Morning interview with US Congressman Barry Loudermilk

I got a chance to catch up with one of our local representatives today on Bartow’s Morning News. 11th Congressional district representative Barry Loudermilk joined us from D.C. to talk about several current items being discussed in our nation. We discussed President Trump’s order to make the transgender bathroom issue a states-rights issue and not a federal one. We also discussed the protection of the press under the first amendment, about the press choosing sides and dishonesty in general. Additionally, the topic of immigration law was discussed and that Congress has not passed any new laws, the Administration is only enforcing existing law and working on immigration reform.