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 Health.com :

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.

 

A Response to an Old Friend

Back in the late 1990s, I joined the Libertarian Party. I became a Big “L”, putting my money and time where my political stance lay. And I was so happy to have found a political home I wanted to share it. When I got my card in the mail, I shared the news with a good friend in a glowing email. We have since parted ways for other reasons, (not politics) but we used to engage in debate, he on offense with Libertarian philosophy and I took up the defense. Back then, these conversations were conducted via email or face-to-face conversation. There was no Twitter or Facebook or Ello.

His arguments were more along the lines of the current Democratic Party platform but felt much closer to the old Soviet Union. My friend avoided the term “communist” when I finally outed him based on his opinions on what made good government. But he despised the term. He preferred “communitarian”. To date, I don’t see the difference. Yet he preferred it so I let him have it. It’s a strange thing, the way people wish to avoid the stigmatization of failed systems yet want to continue to believe the dream. Relabelling doesn’t solve the problem, but I guess it keeps hope alive.

The core of our debates went something like this: He calling the Constitution an outdated document that needed to be replaced and/or fixed. And I saying that other than slavery (that had been done away with already) and other than the failed ten year plus lifespan of the Eighteenth Amendment, the Constitution still remains the best document ever crafted on governance. And round and round we’d go.

When you read the Constitution, even if you knew nothing about the history of governments (say you’re that hypothetical alien visiting planet Earth), you would see that the writers had gone to great lengths to limit it’s ruling body. You would instantly know that the writers had prepared a document that prevented abuses. You would know immediately that it was created because prior governments had abused their people and this document was written to prevent those abuses from happening again. After all, why create a Bill of Rights if speech, religion, the press, etc. had not been abused before? Read the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. They put the big foot down in regards to limiting government.

My friend argued that the Constitution and my Libertarian arguments failed to recognize the “dynamics and sentiments of culture”. Or, to acknowledge the abuses the poor and working class suffered from land owners and barons. Yet…

The Constitution was created by considering and recognizing history. So it is, in fact, very historical and takes into account the many “dynamics and sentiments of culture”. It was put together by people who considered history and observed the many abuses of the power model of government. The writers of this Constitution went to great lengths to prevent the mistakes of history from happening here in America. The fact is, the Constitution is the ONLY document in history that was created to limit the power of government and respect the individual liberties of the people because no one else had done it before. This goes for the poor and working class as well. Opportunity is available for all. It’s up to each and every one of us, regardless of the deck we start with, to shuffle it up the best we can. Individual results may vary.

As he was proposing to do away with the Constitution and rewrite government, I could see where he was coming from. If he wanted a “communitarian” government, he’d have start from scratch. But until then, the Constitution must be accepted and government must be harnessed under its reigns. The Constitution is the supreme law of The United States of America and, until that is changed, it must be honored. If the ruling power can bypass it’s own laws and do whatever it wants, then what does that say about us as a society, especially if we accept it? Incidentally, since those 1990s conversations, our government has bypassed the Constitution on so many levels I’ve yet to find enough paper to catalog them all.

My friend continually brought out his favorite government program, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as proof that although not Constitutionally authorized, was extremely beneficial. He cited the great work of Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” as a motivator to finally get some regulation so our food wouldn’t be tainted. And I’d respond with…

Today, the Federal Government consistently bypasses the Constitution and does whatever it feels like, for better or worse. You may enjoy the FDA but the Feds had no authority to create it just as they had no authority to create NASA, the CIA, FBI, DEA and other organizations of the government alphabet soup. The only way the powers of the American government can be changed is through amending the Constitution. Right now, our government does not do this. They brush the Constitution aside as if it were a burdensome article.

Think on this a minute…

If Consumer Reports began to forcefully take your money for its projects, would you accept this?

If Ford, GM and Chrysler forcefully took your money to fund research on the next addition of automobiles, would you accept this?

If the Salvation Army began to force you, through threats of jail and/or prison, to hand over part of your paycheck for a welfare system, even if it was shown to work perfectly, would you smile and accept this?

I suspect that you probably would not. Why? Because you know that GM, Consumer Reports and the Salvation Army have no authority to forcefully take your money regardless of the benefits. The same applies to government programs. Regardless of the benefit, if an organization has no authority to do something, then it is prohibited. However, if you wanted to voluntarily donate to their cause, then that is perfectly acceptable because it is voluntary.

The issue comes down to FORCE. Government forces you to participate regardless of your support. Private companies do not have that power and no one in their right mind would allow it. Why do you support forcing people to support programs they want no part of?

You say that you like the existence of the FDA. Well, that’s fine. But if the government gives you your program, then everyone else gets theirs. The biggest problem with our government is that special interest groups run it. Whether you smoke or not, the Feds give over your tax dollars to subsidize the tobacco companies. Whether or not you support an effort in a foreign land, your government sends your tax dollars to it. It doesn’t matter if you can’t feed your children or send them to an accredited university, government will go right on building that space station with your money it took by force.

Specifically in regards to the FDA, what makes you think that it is necessary or even the most benign? After all, Consumer Reports and other private watchdog groups already exist to check the product of corporations. It makes no sense to have an FDA, not to mention that it has no Constitutional authority to exist. You are not required to fund Consumer Reports but you are required to fund the FDA only because it is a government program, not because it is the best or most productive. If, just hypothetically, the FDA did not exist, would you voluntarily give over some of your money to Consumer Reports? Maybe you would. Maybe you would not. It depends on how important the issue is to you. I suspect you’d be getting your money’s worth mainly because if Consumer Reports does not give you quality results, they would cease to exist because people would stop funding them. The FDA keeps right on going regardless of their results.

On a final note, what makes you think those government programs are better than privately run ones? Our government can’t keep people from taking drugs, it can’t make people go from welfare to work, it can’t educate your child, it can’t make blacks and whites get along, it can’t stop abortions….etc…etc…etc. Given the results of these government efforts, what makes you think that a government program can make food and drugs safer?

Government doesn’t work. It never has. A government program is no more benign than a private one. In fact, history shows them to be less productive and mainly destructive because they operate on force and not results. You may feel safer by having these government programs but I hold reservations to giving government authority to do anything, regardless of the benefits. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”.

And that was that. We stopped discussing politics because we were getting no where. He was just fine using force to support his favorite programs, I was not. I wonder what he’s doing now? Last I heard, he was quitting his job to enter the priesthood. Oh the things we’d discuss now. Maybe some other time.

What freedom is not

us-constitution-pdf-logoHappy birthday, America!

It’s been 238 years since the Declaration of Independence put a series of events in motion that forever changed the face of the world and redefined how government could be structured around the concept that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights and chief among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. However, our Founding Fathers recognized that man is fallible and clearly stated that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of those 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. braveheart-1-1024

At the heart of this is one word — Freedom. (Let’s all take a moment and reenact that scene from Braveheart. Ahh! Now we can continue.)

I could spend the next few hundred words or so describing what freedom means to me, but I thought a more interesting approach would be to reflect over the last few years and provide illustrations of what freedom is not. It’s not depriving a group of citizens the right to form political organizations just because they disagree with your point of view. It is not using the IRS to create a “be on the lookout” list for groups who’s names or descriptions include tea party, patriot, Israel, freedom or any other “conservative” sounding terms. It’s not forcing private businesses to discard their religious beliefs while demanding they help pay for abortifacient drugs. It is not drafting executive orders requiring businesses with federal contracts to disclose independent expenditures on federal elections. It is not an infringement of the press — the fourth estate — by seizing emails or tapping phones of reporters whose jobs it is to keep tabs on government.

The First Amendment to the Constitution was written in order to prevent all of the above from ever taking place. Yet, under our current administration, each of these has occurred.

Freedom is not a gun running scandal that ends up with at least two American border patrol agents killed as well as untold others in a foreign nation. It is not about finding creative ways of eliminating the right of every citizen to own a gun. It is clearly not the use of executive privilege to restrict over 1,300 pages of documents related to Fast and Furious from being handed over to the House Committee on Oversight and Government. It is not in demonizing a rifle simply because it’s painted black and looks scary. It is not in the issuing of at least 23 executive orders designed to further gun control and provide mandates in the Affordable Care Act allowing doctors and hospitals to ask patients if they own a firearm.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution was written in order to prevent all of the above from ever taking place. Yet, under our current administration, each of these has occurred.

Freedom is not the indiscriminate filtering of emails and the capturing of meta data, text data, social media interactions or any other forms of online communication activities. It is not the tapping or recording of cell phone calls, either of American citizens or foreign leaders. It is not the infiltration of online computer games.

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution was written in order to prevent all of the above from ever taking place. Yet, under our current administration, each of these has occurred.

Freedom is not creating a “kill list” of American citizens by drone if they are involved in terrorist actions outside of the United States, without due process.

The Firth Amendment to the Constitution was written in order to prevent the above from ever taking place. Yet, under our current administration, this has happened.

Freedom is not bailing out General Motors and Chrysler with taxpayer dollars and in the process violating creditor rights and ignoring hundreds of years of established bankruptcy law. It is not creating a command and control economy where unproven “green”  technology companies are granted millions, and in some cases billions, of taxpayer dollars only to have those companies go out of business without any hope of repayment. It is not found in ignoring the Constitution’s Taking and Due Process clauses.

The Constitution provides clear guidelines to prevent the above from ever taking place. Yet, under our current administration, each of these has occurred. 

Freedom is not found in allowing the Chief Executive to determine which laws are going to be enforced, which can be ignored and which can be modified based solely on a speech. It is not in the creation of multiple revisions of a law without any involvement by the legislative branch. It is not allowing the president to arbitrarily decide to delay employer mandates, out-of-pocket caps, insurance requirements, exemptions for Congress and staff and the IRS’s role in the regulation of penalties for the Affordable Care Act.  It is not in letting the president negotiate the release of five terrorist commanders in exchange for one captured American deserter without notifying Congress. It is not found in statements like, “If Congress can’t act, then I will,” or “We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help they need. I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.” It’s not found in making recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board when the Senate was not really in recess.

The Constitution provides clear guidelines in the areas of Separation of Powers to prevent the above from ever taking place. Yet, under our current administration, each of these has occurred. 

Most importantly, freedom cannot be found in a government willing to lie to the American people, whether overtly or through obfuscation and cover-up. The Benghazi scandal that left four dead Americans in its wake, the destruction of hard drives and emails of Lois Lerner who is in the middle of the IRS scandal, the hiding of information related to the VA scandal and the illegal call for executive privilege in the Fast and Furious scandal are all examples of what freedom is not.

Our Founding Father’s pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to create a new nation built on the principles of limited government and deriving what little power they needed from the consent of the people. Liberty and individual rights were more important than the body politic. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were crafted with one overriding goal — limiting the size and scope of government. To make sure this sentiment was made crystal clear, we need only look to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. In the Ninth, the Framers stated that enumeration of certain rights in the Constitution shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people, while the Tenth states powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Our Founding Fathers wanted to make sure the rights of the citizens and the states were vast and infinite, while the powers of the Federal government were specific and few. And, at it’s core, no one’s liberty can be put in jeopardy in favor or benefiting another. In short, no one’s individual liberty was worth more or less than another’s. The moment the rights, property or life of one person belong to someone else, either in whole or in part, is when freedom ceases to exist.

When celebrating our nation’s birthday, think about how our country was able to achieve so much in such a short amount of time. Then ask yourself, what has caused us to fall so far in an even shorter time frame? If your answer to Obama asks Jefferson about Constitution flawthe former is, “following the Constitution,” and your answer to the latter is, “ignoring the Constitution,” then you already have the answer to what freedom is.

There is still time to save our great nation. All we must do is get back to the principles of that very document that is the epitome of American exceptionalism.

Freedom isn’t the lack of government.

Freedom lies simply in the strict limitation of government.

Our writers have been working on a special Independence Day publication

declaration.of.independenceOur writers have had their noses to the political grindstone since the primary election season has been underway in our country. They have been on the campaign trail, speaking out daily on social media and trying to inspire others to get involved in the political process. We are not just about talking — we are also about doing! With such poor voter turn-out across so many states in our union, we began to wonder why we take our freedoms so for granted? It will be 238 years ago that our Founding Fathers signed their own death warrants when they put their names to the bottom of the Declaration of Independence. They pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor for a belief in freedom and independence.  Yet today, with early voting, absentee voting and voting on election day itself, scarcely 1 in 5 Americans this year have exercised one of the most important duties we have.

We are at a tipping point in our nation. We have more people on some form of government handout than ever before. We have nearly 100 million able-bodied Americans sitting at home instead of working full-time in the labor force. Our foreign policy has never been so muddled, with confused and disappointed allies and emboldened enemies. Our domestic policy is no better, with scandals involving the NSA, IRS, Justice Department, VA and immigration garnering top headlines over the last few years. We have members of the Legislative branch actively seeking to abdicate the checks and balances afforded to them in the Constitution in favor of giving the Executive branch the authority to circumvent the limitations of that very same document. We have a President who believes he has the ability to decide which laws are enforced, which are not and which can be modified by simply making a speech.

Our Constitutional Republic will cease to be if we continue down this path. It is inevitable. We are far removed from how our Founding Fathers painstakingly crafted the framework of our government, designed to prevent a monarchy, oligarchy or dictatorship from ever taking root. Yet, they themselves admitted, should the people ever decide to forego their role in the affairs of public discourse and allow the usurpation of the Constitution to become commonplace, we would no longer be a free nation.

So, after a bit of a hiatus, each of us will be publishing a piece tomorrow, on the 4th of July, with one simple topic in mind: what does freedom mean? We hope you will find those pieces informative, thought-provoking and maybe even a little infuriating. If it helps to get you involved, we will consider it a success.

I will close with the opening of the Declaration of Independence:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. 

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.

After reading those words, ask yourself, could that document have been written today, about the very machinations of our current body politic? Do you truly believe we have been endowed with certain unalienable Rights or do you feel only government can grant those? Do you believe, in our current political climate, you have intrinsic access to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness or have you been relegated to accept you are incapable of those on your own without the yoke of government? Would you be brave enough to sign the Declaration of Independence today or are you comfortable ceding control over your life to the government?

What does “freedom” mean to you?

Will the real Messiah please stand up?

“Abolish God, and the Government becomes God…Wherever the people do not believe in something beyond the world, they will worship the world. But, above all, they will worship the strongest thing in the world.”

— G.K. Chesterton

“Well, you’ve touched on it to a degree. He made so many promises. We thought that he was going to be — I shouldn’t say this at Christmastime, but — the next Messiah.”

— Barbara Walters

barack-obama-haloWhen I was in my early 20s, a man I greatly admired once asked me, how did early governments keep people obedient? I stammered something irrelevant and nonsensical about laws and soldiers. He smiled, took a slow and deliberate drag on his cigarette, looked at me over the rim of his glasses and said, “Religion.” He went on to explain how in the earliest days of mankind, only a very small percentage of people were educated and those likely to be schooled fell into two camps: the clergy and royalty. Being learned, they realized they were vastly outnumbered by the rest of the populace. They needed to create a belief system to control the behavior of the people, thereby controlling the citizenry itself. What better way to ensure survival than the promise of paradise for civility and submission and eternal damnation for disobedience and anarchy?

The will to survive is one of the strongest drives we possess. Since our earliest days as sentient beings, this trait has become so embedded in our psyche that it’s nearly impossible to ignore and one of the explanations as to why we have religion, in all of it’s myriad forms. Humans want to believe there are bigger or greater forces at work with sway over our lives. We have an inexplicable need to believe in something outside of ourselves, whether it’s fantastical entities like God, Buddha, Allah, Cthulhu, Gaia or Mother Nature, or more tangible ones like science, mathematics or philosophy, just to name a few. The fact remains, we are wired with the need to believe in something.

As we have grown and evolved as a species, our knowledge and our capabilities have exploded. Sorcery and myth have given way to physics and logic. Yet, our underlying need for belief remains. We may never really know if the early clergy or royalty manipulated this belief to their own gain or if there really are forces at work beyond our comprehension. We can save that debate for another day.  What is of more interest is what happens if the idea of religion is diminished or eliminated? Doesn’t something have to fill the void?

The political class has been leveraging this concept for nearly as long as the invention of government. In much the same way our behaviors can be controlled through the dogma of religion, so too can the citizenry be controlled by political leaders when they convince us to place our beliefs into the collection plate of government.

George Brock Chisholm, Director of the UN from 1948 until 1953, went so far as to say, in a speech given at the Conference on Education in California on September 11, 1954, “To achieve world government, it is necessary to remove from the minds of men their individualism, loyalty to family traditions, national patriotism, and religious dogmas.” Looking back from where we are today, it becomes easy to track the progress that has been made toward this end.  Statists seek to limit or reduce the significance of the individual over the needs of the collective. The dismantling of the family has been a goal of radical progressives who seek to replace one (or both) parents with the state. Cultural relativists seek to rewrite history to remove the ‘stigma’ of patriotism and eliminate the belief in American exceptionalism. And, the assault on many of the tenants of Christianity have been underway for years. 

Today’s social liberals understand, to create a dependence on the state, other existing belief systems have to be curtailed. When a person has a well-defined and robust support structure around them, it is much harder to convince them to put their fate in the hands of the government. However, destroy the family structure, teach them there is no such thing as the “American Dream”, get them to question the merits of the Founding Fathers and shatter their belief in the relevance of the Constitution and now there is a void needing to be filled. We begin to look for a new foundation on which to place our faith. Sometimes that foundation becomes the pedestal upon which someone can stand who is willing to tell us everything we want to hear.

Obama MessiahThis helps explain the deification of President Barack Obama. Many conservatives struggled during the run up of the 2008 election to shed light on the wafer-thin veneer of Barack Obama’s “hope and change” campaign. They tried to reveal the danger in conferring such a deist-like mantle, which so many lauded without hesitation, on a mere mortal. A confluence of circumstances, however, created the perfect environment for the nomination and election of someone who promised everything to everyone. From free phones to extended unemployment to increased social program spending to the promise of cheaper and better healthcare, the never-ending list of largess promised from the coffers of the federal treasury made it feel more like we had elected Santa Claus than a President. After all, there was plenty of wealth to spread around and, at some point, everyone has made enough money. No one in our nation built their businesses on their own. It was time for the Occupiers to be recognized as the 99% who did all the work while the 1% took all the rewards. It was time to take from each, according to their abilities, and give to each, according to their needs.

And the more the naysayers forecast doom and shouted warnings about debt, unfunded mandates and impossible to fulfill promises, the bigger the giveaways and the more popular the President became.

No one had paid attention to the words of Valerie Jarrett, co-chair of Barack Obama’s transition team, to Tom Brokaw of NBC on November 10, 2008, when she said, “Given the daunting challenges that we face, it’s important that president elect Obama is prepared to really take power and begin to rule day one.” Not govern. Not support, defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, but to take power and rule.

hrzgal.obama.08And he has been allowed to do just that. His status as a near deity was not about to be challenged. After all, he ran on the mantra, “Change we can believe in.”

Over the last five years, the Executive Branch has played fast and loose with which laws they choose to enforce (or pieces of them) and which they will not. The lies and obfuscation mount daily on one scandal after another, from the targeting of conservative groups and individuals by the IRS (where there is obvious collusion between the FEC and the IRS)  to the “what difference does it make” cover-up surrounding the Benghazi attack. They continue to obfuscate the facts around the gun running operation, Fast and Furious, that led to the deaths of two Americans and countless other Mexicans. Instead of seeking answers from Eric Holder and the Justice Department, the government chose to sue the state of Arizona for enforcing the laws of the United States and the state of Texas and North Carolina for enforcing voter ID laws. The NSA has been revealed to be spying on anything and everyone, not just around the globe, but in our own country and nothing has been done to rein in these mass data sweeps and unwarranted seizures supposedly protected under the fourth amendment.

And, speaking of amendments, let’s look at the damage that has been done to three of them as a result of all of the aforementioned scandals: the first (IRS), second (Fast and Furious) and fourth (NSA). The only amendment they seem to want to keep 100% intact is the fifth!

Now, with the culmination of this executive power overreach, Americans are being forced to deal with the abomination that is the Affordable Care Act, aka, Obamacare. Millions have already lost health insurance and millions more will follow. Enrollment is abysmal and the young, healthy enrollees the government counted on to offset the older, sicker ones, are non-existent. By a ratio of 3 to 1, enrollees are being placed in Medicaid instead of a private insurance plan, promising to break an already overburdened social program. The national website, Healthcare.gov, ended up costing in excess of $600 million dollars (HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified that $677 billion had been allocated thus far, but could go higher). This is roughly 13 times what was budgeted and it still does not work. Add to that all of the patches and fixes being kludged together and the cost will exceed a billion taxpayer dollars wasted on a website that should have never been launched in the first place. obamacare-identity-theft-cartoonThe security flaws alone make it a national security risk and by the latest count, over 700 fraudulent sites have been built by identity thieves to mine the treasure trove of personal information available to them thanks to the sheer stupidity of a White House too smart to listen to anyone but themselves. It’s like President Ronald Reagan so famously put it, “The trouble with our Liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”

Maybe those who have been beguiled by the promises and the incessant campaigning of the President are finally starting to see the serious flaw in the deification of any politician. Like Barbara Walters admits, expecting Barack Obama to be the next Messiah was too much to ask. Maybe now the tendency of so many to turn their gaze the other way with respect to all of the political scandals in Washington, D.C. will fade. Maybe those who put all of their faith in President Obama will start to realize he is only a man.

Perhaps, he should have been properly vetted, like any other candidate running for any other office. Perhaps we should not have taken it on blind faith that he would be the panacea for all our ills. Perhaps we should have realized how shortsighted it is to blindly give our allegiance to a politician based on the promise of a few baubles and an award-winning smile.

Human beings may be wired to put their belief in something but, when forced to place that belief in something as flawed and weak as a single human being, we should not be surprised when the biggest lies being told to us aren’t from that politician, but from ourselves. It’s time to put our beliefs into something bigger and stronger.

There is still time.

Straddling the Walls of Versailles

Henry the VIII, unhappy with the rules of the Catholic Church regarding divorce, simply usurped the commands of the Vatican, instituted the Church of England and called himself Supreme Head of the new agency. There, all better. No more threats of excommunication from Rome. When one in power doesn’t get his way, he may change the rules.

Even my hero, Thomas Jefferson, wasn’t above changing the rules to fit a personal “feel good”. When he authorized the Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon Bonaparte he was questioned on the Constitutional authority of doing so. While acknowledging the Constitution should have been first amended to allow the acquisition of new lands, Mr. Jefferson felt the urgency to just get on with it. Later, in recollecting the decision, he wrote, “It is the case of a guardian, investing the money of his ward in purchasing an important adjacent territory; & saying to him when of age, I did this for your good…” So even he wasn’t above acting parental when given the means to do so. And I don’t think the American government has quite recovered from being any less fatherly on a regular basis.

We may look back on taking advantage of the Hero of Toulon and accept that the breach of power was wise. I say we, understanding that this only applies to members of the original thirteen colonies and those who benefited their Westward Ho. But if you are a descendant of any of the Native American Tribes, well, maybe not so much. But I digress.

Government is made up of people who get to tell other people (the governed) what to do. Politics is, by definition, the study and implementation on “how a society should be”. Those holding government appointments can choose to do the will of the people, letting the people guide their votes. Or they can declare that they were elected because they know best. And with that, set out to “better” the people as they see fit. This later group falls in a time and land of kings and dictators who rule by decree. And, these appointments, if you will, are for life. America was born out of that and steered away, into the group that chose to declare there were Natural Rights and no authority of any kind could remove them (except for punishment when said Rights are abused).

So it is that in the United States, in this Constitutional Republic, politicians hold seats for a small period of time, perform a civic duty, then return home to pursue a private life of…

And that’s where we can all LOL. None of them go home. They just keep getting re-elected. Or jumping from city to state to federal and then governor or judge all the while, staying in the public service. That term, “Public Service” is such a misnomer. I’ve yet to meet one of them (save for the Paul Family) who pursued those positions because they felt the need to keep people free. Powerful positions attract people who want power.

On November 21, 2013, Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-Nevada), one who has held an esteemed political seat of one house or another since 1968, moved to change the rules of the Senate. The rule changed so that a Filibuster could no longer be used to block judicial and executive branch nominees (same for Supreme Court nominees). At the moment, this favors the Democrats, who are ahead in the Senate in numbers. What this effectively achieves is to allow the majority more leverage to practice arbitrary, unchecked power. Harry Reid, like prior kings needing a good pair of short-sighted glasses, doesn’t seem to understand that should the tables turn and the Republicans find themselves on top, they can use it to their advantage. The checks and balances are reduced. Even President Obama and Vice-President Biden agree with the Nuclear Option, showing a childish sense of instant gratification. The Filibuster was designed to give the minority a voice. Now…gone. It’s a winner take all game that’s afoot.

The Nuclear Option is another in a long line of abuses for short term privileges. It’s also another sign that those who have the power to change the rules, tend to.

Right now, it is the minor party, the GOP, up in arms over this change. But during the George W. Bush administration (2000 – 2008) when the GOP power grabbed, it went unchallenged from within. The War on Drugs, the push to amend the Constitution to disallow gay marriage, the PATRIOT Act, and so on ALL had majority GOP support with majority Democrat dissent.

Before Bush, we had eight years of Democrat rule. Under William Jefferson Clinton, the Rapist-in-Chief, got away with bombing indiscriminately, most offensively the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan as a distraction over Monica Lewinsky’s testimony. We got banks into reporting your transactions, snooping with Know Your Customer. We got more censorship with chips in our televisions. Ad Infinitum. Yet the best the Republican Party could do was Impeach Mr. Clinton on lying to a Grand Jury over an extra-marital affair for if they went after him for anything else, they knew they were just as complicit. Just as guilty of a bloated federal budget, just as guilty of inflating federal reach and trampling of State rights. Just as guilty of increase in government power all around, except, in lying to a Grand Jury (for now). No, the GOP didn’t go after President Clinton for an over reach of executive power, they went after him for the only thing they could without getting a finger pointed at themselves in a big, “Well you do too”.

Each major party has abused the system when they’ve been at the controls. When the Republicans have the gear shift, we go fast and when the Democrats have the wheel, we steer off the cliff. In either case, the stale oldies, non-goodies are increasingly becoming obsolete…unless.

In two previous articles here and here, I noted where the Republican Party could come back. (I have no hope for the Democrats who have no base in personal liberty). I noted how the GOP could differentiate themselves from the Big Government party. The last thing that needs to be done is institute a way to end career politicians. Make these positions part-time. Without the incentive of being in a privileged position of round-the-clock security (only to pass laws restricting everyone outside the castle walls from choosing their mode of self protection), being privileged to have their own chauffeur, being catered to with meals and vacations and housing and frickin’ privilege, these positions would end up attracting only those who wish to operate and then get back home to regular jobs like lawyers, doctors, farmers, dog catchers. These would be community service jobs, ones worth noting on a resume but considered less of an achievement. What I’m talking about, is Term Limits.

And these Limits should not be limited to how long the congressman or otherwise can run for and hold office. This should apply to those benefits that go on even after they leave office. For instance, end Secret Service protection and pensions for ex-presidents. You leave office, you become a serf again. End retirement packages for all positions. Someone putting in ten or less years in congress is not a career anymore than a teenager putting in about the same amount of time in the food service business from high school through college. Benjamin Franklin suggested no payment at all while serving. Maybe that would be a good idea too. And for crying out loud, how do we let them get away with voting for pay raises for themselves? How isn’t this something put on the ballots instead? When these guys leave “service” they hardly return to regular lives, which is why many can’t and why few ever give up and we have more incumbents than newbies.

Again, strip the royalty, strip the privilege, strip it down to the community service position it was meant to be and we’ll get less decrees from the emperor. We’ll get less laws passed against the masses because the one holding the office would be acutely aware that soon, they’d have to live under that same law. They wouldn’t be able to stay for long behind the fortress of milk and honey, remaining as inept as King Louis the XVI in addressing the needs of the governed, running up a debt crisis and promising failing reforms. Surely, everyone has learned the lesson of Maximilien Robespierre as well?

It should be reminded that Thomas Jefferson didn’t seem to feel that holding the office of Secretary of State, Vice and President Actual were important. He instructed that only three things be put on his tombstone: Author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom and Father of the University of Virginia. I suspect that, at least to him, being a federal office holder was secondary to a real achievement. Being a politician was to be temporary, a service rendered, and then to return to a civilian life.

Term Limits for position and benefits. And shall I add, a part-time congress. Let them meet, perhaps once or twice a year to discuss federal business. Then go back home and sleep in the beds they make from the capital. It works rather well for some State governments. I’m looking at you New Hampshire…Dakota One and Two.

Green Eggs & Prayer

So we had another Filibuster. Although this one is a little “f”. It didn’t stop a vote. It stalled it. The blabby-blab-blabathon clocked in at over twenty-one hours. Technically, not a big “F” filibuster but…did it work? No. The intention was missed and the Republican Party is being called all sorts of nasty names round the InterWebs. But was it worth it? I’m not rhetorically asking Senator Cruz. Kudos to his effort. One person can make a difference. But I’m pretty sure, unlike Senator Paul’s demand over the Drone issue, Senator Cruz knew this wasn’t going to work. In the end, surely he knew he was engaging in showmanship. But maybe that was the point. Maybe it was to draw attention to the issue, much like the homeless guy, Ricky, does at an intersection I go through daily – doing the robot, circus tricks with his “PLEASE HELP” sign. Maybe Senator Cruz is scoring points with his base for a presidential run. Who knows, but what it did do is show everyone’s cards. It showed who was a Republican willing to appease versus a Republican willing to do something, anything, for smaller government, knowing the next day he’s going to be Twitter fodder. The line got drawn and the McCains lined up to say, “There, there..let’s get along and play scat with our principles” and the Liberty-Minded Republicans who stood with Cruz said, “No, this is worth it”. By watching who declared Cruz’s performance a waste of time and who called in wishing the soles of his shoes stay firm, we were able to identify who was who. The Republican Party shows it’s split ends.

It’s been said you are defined by the company you keep. As well as your actions too, but the company you keep can influence your actions. You could find yourself acting out behaviors you wouldn’t otherwise do if it wasn’t for the group-think. This is the only way I can rationalize a liberty-minded individual turning big government once in office. Either that or power does indeed corrupt absolutely.

Over the past few years, stories of parents letting their children die of rather curable afflictions have become more common than rampaging lunatics swinging AR-15 rifles. Parents who, instead of taking their children to the hospital, take them to a house of worship, or pray over their bodies as they lay in very avoidable pain in the discomfort of their own beds. These parental units are very loving parents, no doubt. They are just stupid. They’ve probably at least heard of medicine yet choose to let their children suffer from disease and virus because they’d rather pray instead of use what proves to work. They do not intend on hurting their children, quite the contrary, they love their children so much they’re hoping God will answer said prayers and cure their light of the world. Yet, when the inevitable fails, they’ll shed a tear but claim it is God’s Will. On occasion, the State will step in and file charges of neglect or indirect murder. Regardless of the outcome, a collective head shake of shame is shared throughout the land and life goes on. Until the next one.

When the government shuts down, I see it as a dead child that didn’t have to be. I see it along similar grounds of knowing what you should do but doing the wrong thing. I see the politicians telling us they love the child so much, they must pass just one more bill – one more prayer. Both halves of the parental unit (Democrats and Republicans) engage in illogical behaviors, hoping and wishing, yet the child dies. That child is the United States Government and the people it hurts. Yet, unlike the ignorant parents who use prayer over their human offspring, we can resurrect the government.

The primary reason for the Shutdown has to do with a dispute over Obamacare. The Republicans want to defund it and the Democrats want to let the Obama Adminstration’s most shining moment wave high. Is this really worth holding so many other government services hostage? Well, only if you like the services you’re getting. But this is how government works. And this is why the politicians practicing this all encompassing, parental form of governing find themselves with their babies on life support.

Everything it controls becomes a political football to be held hostage or taken out behind the shed and shot. Maybe you want Obamacare. And what if it turns out to be awesome despite my own reservations? Well, it’s still a government program. It’s always going to be in danger of modification or defunding or over-complicating the next round of politicians that take over. If, as now, one party or a majority dislike something, they may taketh away or change to their liking. Never yours.

You’ll never get what you want if you continue to ask government to take care of your problems. The problem here was an alleged poor health care system and the government instituted Obamacare as an answer. If you could implement your own government program, your idea may start out as a wonderful solution but when you make it a government program, it’s bound to not be what you thought it would.

Before you can turn your idea into law, you have to gather a group of people who feel the same way about your plan and promote it. But since no one person is exactly alike as the other, you’re bound to make a few compromises to retain your support. Then you’re required to bring it to your Congressmen’s attention and if they wish to work with it, you’re going to end up with even more compromises and changes.

Once in government, your idea will go through various committees and debates. All participants in the plan will modify and change it to suite their needs. Your idea is slowly becoming someone else’s and will no longer represent your intentions.

When and if it gets past this point, you will not be the one to write the law, the politicians will. They will be the same politicians who made the many failed programs you object to now. Then once law, you will not be the one to enforce it, bureaucrats will. They will enforce only the parts they agree with and end up using it to appease their political cohorts.

Of course the new law will have its opponents, so it will end up before the courts which will have their way of interpreting it as well.

By the time your idea ends up running the gamete of government, it will not be what you intended it to be. It will now be another political football for the politicians to use against each other and to satisfy their political supporters. And you’ll look back on all that time you wasted asking government to solve your problem.

I don’t dislike Obamacare because it comes from the Democrats. I dislike Obamacare because it’s another government program. You’re stuck with it. And the above process is how it came to be. Cruz’s stand didn’t have any affect but to bring happy faces to his supporters and draw up lines within the Republican Party (which I consider to be the greater good of it).

So you have a choice. You can either associate yourself with the Free Market, liberty-minded peoples, looking for free and non-coercive ways of solving problems, otherwise known as “What Works”. Or you can associate yourself with hoping and wishing that just this time, this government program will work, that Obamacare is different. Praying that the child lives. Because this time, with government involved in health care, YOUR child is right along with Isaac. And I wonder, will God retract Abraham’s hand a second time?

Incidentally, Senator Rand Paul is a doctor.

Healthcare is not a right

To delve into this topic, we first need to understand and agree upon the definition of “rights” as used and implemented by the Founding Fathers and the framers of our Constitution.  The first stop is the philosopher, John Locke, who put forth the theory of natural rights, which states everyone is born with an equality of certain rights, regardless of their nationality.  Since they come from nature or from God, natural rights cannot be justly taken away without consent.

For the sake of this discussion, let us not get bogged down in a theist v. atheist argument.  Even the Founders made sure to side-step this by using the terms of both God and nature.  They were very clear:  natural rights are not granted by man or by government, they exist solely by one’s own existence.

The Founders believed that one of the primary roles of government was to protect the natural rights of it’s citizens, which include those mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as well as those specifically enumerated in the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights.  They were of one mind in this respect.  Though several of those present at the drafting of our nation’s Constitution believed it unnecessary to add the Bill of Rights (they argued it would be a redundant action given that the Constitution was already crafted with language to protect the natural rights of the people and limit the powers of government), they nonetheless conceded to add the first ten amendments to make the protection of those rights abundantly clear.

We must also bear in mind that our Founding Father’s had lived all their lives under the tyranny of a monarchical system of government, where the power of a king or queen could usurp the right’s of the citizenry without question.  They feared creating any kind of governmental system that could eventually mirror what it was they fought so hard against during the Revolutionary War.  So, even though some felt a “bill of rights” was redundant, there was no argument that those rights existed outside of government and thus were not a gift from government.

Our rights cannot be taken away or infringed upon without our consent, which includes the implicit consent inherent with infringing on the rights of others, or, more easily stated, breaking the law.  Unless an individual’s actions take away or infringe on the rights of someone else’s, their rights remain intact and cannot be taken away.  Here’s a simple example:

The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the citizens of the United States of America a right to freedom of speech.  This means we have the right to speak our minds without fear of government reprisal for having a dissenting opinion over the actions of our elected leadership.  However, that right does not allow an individual to falsely yell, “Fire!” in a crowded theater, thereby creating a panic that risks injury to others.  By creating a false stampede, not only have the rights of individuals to their happiness been infringed, but also a potential infringement to their lives and property.

Our individual rights exist only to such extent that they do not deny another individual their rights.  If we can agree upon this concept, we can proceed.  However, if at this point you choose not to accept the premise used by our Founding Fathers and feel, as our current President, Barack Obama, does, that the Constitution is flawed because it is a document of “negative liberties” — in that it tells government what it cannot do instead of what it should do (especially as it relates to redistribution) — then the rest of this reasoned and logical discussion will fall on deaf ears.

Before we move to the subject of healthcare and health insurance (two related, but very different subjects), we must now discuss wealth, which is an extension of property.  It is something we own or possess.

Thomas Jefferson was once asked to provide his thoughts on whether the government should take more from those who have and give to those with less.  He writes:

To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.

letter to Joseph Milligan, April 6, 1816.

Individuals own their wealth, regardless of the form it takes.  Money, land, buildings, stocks, investments and more all factor into the personal wealth of a citizen.  As a collective, this block of “wealth” is synonymous with property because it is, in fact, owned.

Keep this in mind while we shift gears for a moment to provide an illustration.

You and I are walking down the sidewalk when we come upon a destitute individual wearing ragged clothing and holding a cardboard sign that reads: Homeless, please help.  Now, we are both moved by the plight of the individual.  We both feel compelled to help that person.  If I reach into my wallet and remove a $20 bill, I am voluntarily taking part of my property and giving it to someone else.  It is my choice to provide a charitable hand-out.  However, if you put your hand into my wallet, remove a $20 bill and give it to the homeless individual, this is called theft, because you have infringed on my rights — my property.

When I make the choice over what to do with my own property, I have not infringed on the rights of anyone else.  However, when someone else takes my property, even though it is for the same purpose (to help an individual in desperate circumstances), my rights have been deprived as surely as a thief deprives me of my property.

We are now equipped with the building blocks to understand why healthcare and health insurance are not rights, but, indeed, privileges and, therefore, wants!

When someone in this country goes to school and spends their wealth on becoming a doctor, they have made a significant investment in their chosen career.  They own their degree and certification as well as their knowledge and skill.  It is that person’s personal property, both physical and intellectual.  They may then make the choice to enter into a contract with other individuals who are in need of their services.

If I fall off my porch and break my arm, I lack the ability to know how to properly set and care for that injury, so I seek the skills of a physician who does.  In exchange for his expertise, I agree to part with some of my property.  My property takes the form of currency and his takes the form of both materials and services.

But, that doctor is not the only doctor within my community.  His terms and conditions for entering into a contract for services are not the same as someone else in his profession.  Some may charge more for their abilities and some may charge less.  I have the choice with whom I decide to engage in services.

The same applies for the concept of health insurance.  (I am going to proceed under the auspicious that we all understand that “healthcare” refers to the actual action of receiving care from a member of the health industry, whereas “health insurance” relates solely to purchasing a financial plan to help make the cost of healthcare more affordable.)  I do not need to own health insurance to get healthcare.  One has nothing to do with the other.

There is no emergency room in this country who will deny anyone healthcare.  In the years of hearing this mantra, that healthcare is a right, no where can anyone find a case where a hospital has pre-screened the financial solvency of a patient before treating them.  This is not to say they won’t pursue every avenue available to them to get reimbursed for those services, but this is a different subject and irrelevant to our discussion today.  We are not here to discuss the cost of healthcare.

Rights cannot be taken away without our consent.  The Federal government was designed by our Founding Father’s to not only limit the extent of government, but also protect the natural rights inherent to every person.  When someone proffers the argument that healthcare is a right, they are, in essence, saying that their rights supersede yours.  They are wanting you to surrender a portion of your property because they lack their own ability to take care of themselves.

Thus, if healthcare (and health insurance) is a “right”, then I have no control over my own property, which, by that very statement, is in direct contradiction to the theory of natural rights as understood by the Framers of our Constitution.  Remember, our individual rights exist only to such extent that they do not deny another individual their rights, which includes the right to our property.

And, more importantly, if we have no control over our property, then where does that infringement stop?  Does someone have a right to a seven-course meal every day?  What about the right to have a home?  How about a right to a mode of transportation?  Occupiers and the D-15 movement feel they have a right to a “living wage” (whatever that is, since one person’s definition of living is rarely the same as another’s, it is a puerile statement at best).  Where do you draw the line between Capitalism and Communism?

More often than not, our society has desperately tried to make the word “want” synonymous with “right” and those two words, as far as the Constitution is concerned, are not even remotely similar and are not exchangeable.  The sooner we can stop those in our society from deluding themselves with misinformation, the sooner we can actually begin to address the true issue that drives today’s topic — the cost of care.

For now, let us hope we have taken a first step toward helping others understand the fundamental difference between rights and wants and why those two terms can never be allowed to share the same meaning, lest we make an irrevocable leap toward a complete loss of personal liberty.  Our rights are our own and are not conferred on us from any person or government.  Abdicating those rights is tantamount to an endorsement of tyrannical rule, returning us to the very place from which our Founding Father’s fought so hard and sacrificed so much to avoid.

America Through PRISM Colored Glasses

Edward Snowden.

Say the name and the Feds go wilder than a college girl in a Joe Francis film. Intelligence Agents go deeper into the Rabbit Hole. And journalists keep regurgitating ‘Official Sources’, poor investigative journalism.

Edward Snowden.

What he represents, what this story demonstrates, is that it only takes one, ONE, to inform the world while the majority remain silent. Who said that a single vote doesn’t count, that one person can’t bring about change?

A few weeks ago, Edward Snowden, now ex-employee of the National Security Agency (NSA), felt he’d had enough. After obtaining documents on the NSA PRISM program, he forwarded them to the Guardian and Washington Post. The PRISM program is NSA’s covert surveillance program that snoops on every kind of communication in existence, looking for…

Who the hell knows. It’s classified. But rumors are that it’s gobbling up any and all data passing through major communications and information systems: Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Verizon, Dropbox, etc. And then there’s some filtering going on to flag keywords and…

Who the hell knows. It’s classified.

We’re not exactly sure how it chooses targets: En masse, gobbling with filters or filtering only chosen targets, letting harmless sexting pass. This ambiguity leaves us commoners screaming doom and gloom, 1984. And the Guberment says, “Trust Us Mr. Mulder”.

It’s fracking classified!

Until all the chips fall and the technology is declassified with all the Kennedy documents (never), I’m afraid we’re not going to know. And that’s where it gets dangerous. The more government snooping and secrecy, the more breeding of distrust. The more Big-Brother peeking at our diaries, the more we seeth at Washington. The more seething, the more massing of the masses against the castle walls. President Obama promised a “transparent” government. Telling the commoners to settle down and it’s not really like clerks are reading our emails, well, we don’t really know that do we? About as transparent as my fogged over headlights on my 2001 ageing Ford Focus.

PRISM isn’t the first data gobbler. October 1997 saw the advent of Carnivore. This Windows based computer sat in an ISP and, with a court order, sniffed out emails of targets for the FBI. But even older than that, we have ECHELON. A communication intercepting system used by the United States, England, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. It’s intent was to spy on the Soviet Union. However, it has the capability to intercept worldwide. The United States arm of ECHELON is…guess who? The NSA. How often has it been used domestically? We don’t know because…

We have many, numerous intelligence agencies. One man came out of the NSA to expose PRISM. What about the CIA? FBI? Office of Naval Intelligence? Department of Blah-Blah? What programs do they have running? Anything domestically?

The number of NSA employees is classified (duh). But in comparison to other intelligence agencies, we can reasonably figure the NSA has several thousand on the roster. Yet only one, ONE, man came forward to tell the American people about the PRISM program. ONE came forward to say enough is enough and tried to sound the alarm. One. This isn’t Highlander. Why aren’t more coming forward to confirm things like this? It’s an easy answer.

Money, health care, support of family, taking care of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Those are hard things to give up if taken care of by your job. Let’s examine Mr. Snowden. He threw away an intelligence career which earned him over $150,000 a year, he left his home in the United States with hopes he could receive asylum in Hong Kong and left behind a girlfriend who appears to have been rather engaged with him. That is quite a lot to give up to be a Paul Revere. But someone’s gotta do it, right?

It’s easier to ask others to be heros, to risk others life and property, than to do the deed yourself. Studies in psychology reveal that people help less the more people there are in any given situation. A man grasping his chest and collapsing in a crowded shopping mall will have more gawkers than assistants. I suppose with thousands of complicit employees in the intelligence community, maybe we’re seeing something on that level. I can’t say I’d be as brave as Edward Snowden. Or as a Julian Assange or Daniel Ellsberg. I can imagine being a hero, rising to the occasion, but none of us can really say for sure. How many of us slow down at the scene of a fresh car accident, to get a better look at the bodies, only to drive on our merry way and figure, “eh, surely first responders are on the way.”

So while this ain’t going away any time soon, in the meantime, if you wanna have a little cacophonous fun, maybe copy/paste “Bomb”, “Overthrow”, “Jefferson”, “Damn Guberment”, “Constitution” and “Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Epic!” at the end of each email, text, fax and FaceBook post. Remember the first time Neo met Mr. Smith? You could relive it in your very own adventure. Or be like Michael Douglas in The Game. *

* Individual results may vary, not recommended for those who can’t shimmy down a tall building scaffolding system, may contain peanuts, call before you dig, live wire, offer void in Nebraska.

All or Nothing?

Rand Paul said, “I’m not a Libertarian.”
Rand Paul said, “I’m a Libertarian Republican.”
Rand Paul said, “I’m a Constitutional Conservative.”

He said all these things on May 10, 2013 at a luncheon with several evangelical pastors in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He made it rather clear he wasn’t a Libertarian when he advised he was not in favor of ending the Drug War, that he was more in favor of a “Virtuous Society” with people practicing “Self Restraint.” Damn. Doesn’t it seem we, Ron Paul fans, got suckered by the Son? Doesn’t first glance suggest the Filibuster was a stunt? Maybe.

Rand Paul hasn’t quite practiced small government all the time. He voted in favor of sanctions against Iran. And he said that 900 US military bases worldwide was a lot but made it clear, he wouldn’t make reducing foreign intervention a priority. Regarding marriage, Senator Paul advised he thinks it’s a mistake to support a federal ban on gay marriage because they are going to “lose” that debate right now. So he’s not in favor of gay marriage. He just doesn’t think it’s a winning battle right now. Finally, the ultimate insult, was that for the 2012 presidential election, he cast his lot for Mitt Romney. NOT for his own father, who is very Libertarian.

All the offenses listed above could confirm what we Libertarians have been saying for years. That Republicans always campaign like Libertarians but end up governing like Democrats. All, except the elder Paul. But Rand Paul did filibuster until Attorney General Holder confirmed, in writing, that the President does not have the authority to kill non-combative Americans on American soil with armed drones. He is also in favor of term limits, reductions in taxation and in favor of gun rights (right to self-defense). And despite recently telling his evangelical audience that they’d lose the battle right now on gay marriage, in an earlier interview, he advised that despite being in favor of traditional One Man/One Woman marriage, he would rather the federal government remain neutral on the subject as it’s a subject more for the States. This is very Libertarian: I tolerate your life choices and; in turn, you tolerate mine.

So what are we to make of him? It’s clear and he knows it, he’s not a Libertarian. But it’s also clear but doesn’t know it, he’s not a Constitutional Conservative. The Drug War, the vast foreign meddling, those are very non-Constitutional policies. Perhaps he’s using the term as a buzz word, an ear catcher to the Tea Party that supported him from the beginning. He is, at best, correct that he’s a Libertarian Republican. Senator Paul cherry picks from both platforms. I suspect as the 2016 presidential election approaches, we’ll hear Senator Paul continue to use the words, “Libertarian”, “Republican”, “Constitution” and “Conservative”. Consider Rand Paul a connection-point between four political views. Like the one corner that the States Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico share, Rand Paul sits right there as the thread holding said political views together.

Some of my colleagues in the Libertarian Party are cautioning it’s members from supporting Senator Paul. They argue, a half-assed (small L) libertarian isn’t worth our vote. We should only vote for candidates that support the complete return to the limits of the Constitution. We should only support Libertarian candidates who run from the Libertarian Platform under the LP Banner. But I say, let’s think about that.

By the 2016 presidential election, I will have put in twenty-years of campaigning (directly and indirectly) for the Libertarian Party. And despite my efforts and the extraordinary efforts of members better qualified and dedicated than myself, we’re still clocking in at around 1% of the presidential vote. There are reasons for this. Check out the link and come back to this post. It appears we’ve been so far away from freedom, we don’t know how to get back. Maybe instead of an All or Nothing philosophy, we need to take steps. And saying this, even entertaining it gently, makes me cringe. But I’m ready to try something different.

I’ll say it again, we are so far away from the simplicity of a Constitutional government, even gradual, small steps are gratifying. It’s working for drugs. Medical marijuana is popular and States are passing favorable laws more often. Washington and Colorado voted in favor of legalization of small amounts of marijuana, having nothing to do with medicinal purposes. As people see the sky isn’t falling, more legalization will occur. The end of illegal plants is coming to an end. Isn’t this considered a victory?

In my home state, Michigan, riders of motorcycles were recently allowed to decide for themselves if they wanted to wear helmets. Instead of government mandates, the rider is now allowed to make his/her own safety decisions. That step, once the sky doesn’t fall, could lead to relaxed mandatory seat belts and air bags. Yes?

An All or Nothing stance may never get us where we want to be. I hesitated several times writing those words. Forever and a day, until today, I was an All or Nothing Libertarian. But it isn’t working. A candidate like Rand Paul is still worthy. Much better than, say, a John McCain. Some Libertarian is better than No Libertarian. Right now, I think Rand Paul is our best bridge. It took a Nirvana to bridge Metal and Punk fans.

Harry Browne once took a question on his radio show where the questioner wondered if we could even remove the Post Office from the Constitution now that we have private delivery companies like FedEx and UPS. Mr. Browne advised that we were so far away from the Constitution we needed to get back to at least the Constitution before we hacked further. This, is sound to me.

Right now, as much as I want ALL of the Libertarian Platform, a candidate like Rand Paul could be our medical marijuana. He’s worth continuing to support and look at. I say support and look at. If he falls further from the Tree of Liberty, then by all means, let’s dump him. But right now, I think he deserves a continued admiration for not giving in everywhere.

A final thought on All or Nothing. Ask a cancer patient (me) if chemotherapy and radiation reduction of a tumor is better than waiting for a complete cure. They won’t complain if the tumor is still there. But they’ll dance and sing when the bloated bastard shrinks.