Happy birthday, America!

declarationofindependence

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

The Declaration of Independence

July 4, 1776

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

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

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

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

Happy birthday, America!

Freedom Cocktail – Our annual report for 2014

Take a moment to see how many people the writer’s here at Freedom Cocktail were able to reach in 2014. Even the smallest voice can change the course of the future. We cannot allow ourselves to be silenced. Keep the conversation going and do no give in to politically correct social pressure. Truth should never be kept at bay in favor of keeping people in the darkness of ignorance.

To all of our readers, those who retweeted, those who shared and those who liked and commented on our posts, thank you!

Here’s to an even bigger and better 2015!

(The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.)

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 3,800 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

It’s time to remember we are a Republic

As a complement to the piece I wrote last week regarding Chick-fil-A, I wanted to delve into an area that wasn’t specifically mentioned prior.  This area deals with the difference between the actions a private citizen is free, and protected by the Constitution, to undertake versus the actions of our political leaders, who, as still presumed by our Constitution, are part of our representative Republic.

It’s important to note that we do not live in a Democracy — not a true Democracy.  If we did, we would have to embrace the tenants of mob rule.  If we were a Democracy, then the majority would get its way every time.  There are no minority rights.  If a town consists of 100 people and 51 decide it’s time for a hanging, well, too bad for someone.  The other 49 could cry out until their throats went raw and it wouldn’t matter.  Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner.

In a Republic, the majority rules, but never at the expense of the rights of the minority, which are protected within our Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  No matter how much you may dislike the opinion of someone else, they have the same right to speak their opinion as you have to voice opposition to it, so long as neither person’s rights are infringed.

Our particular form of government goes one step further by allowing its citizens to elect representatives to help manage the day-to-day operations of our nation.  Hence, we live in a representative Republic.

But these representatives have slowly been forgetting their role is to represent the majority of its citizens, with respect the rights of the minority.  In this way, their job as an elected official is to reflect the desires of his or her constituency, so long as those desires do not step on the rights of others.

This is the hallmark of the freedoms and liberties we have in the United States of America.  Think how powerful this ideology is when compared to socialist, marxist, and communist nations.  We actually believe that any individual is free to live however they choose so long as they do not cause harm to another citizen’s right to life, liberty, and property.  We do not submit to the notion that a select few should be allowed to think for everyone else, let alone have the power to enact legislation that infringes on anyone’s rights as defined by our Constitution.

However, as mentioned above, some of our elected leaders have forgotten this principle, choosing to embrace the support of a vocal, sometimes militant, minority regardless of how it infringes on the rights of other citizens.  And though I’m focused on the recent irrational strife between a business in the private sector and several elected leaders, this is not the first time we’ve seen such a clash.  We as citizens of this country need to understand why these incidents are alarming, especially to those who revere the Constitution and hold the ideals of our Founding Fathers as the example to aspire to, not dusty thoughts from which to run away.

Every individual citizen has the right to turn the TV on or off as they see fit.  They can tune into whichever radio station suits their fancy and change the station if something comes on they dislike.  Every American can choose to pay $15 for a pair of jeans or $200.  It’s within the scope of individual freedom that anyone in our country can elect to eat at one fast-food restaurant but not another.

My earlier post dealt rather sarcastically into how some people, who have a different set of core beliefs, have gone far beyond making a personal decision to not spend their money at Chick-fil-A.  In fact, there is a militant minority who are so incensed they feel compelled to label this company as hate-filled and to foster a crusade against them based solely on the same words uttered by our own President.  In fact, up until it became politically expedient to “evolve” his views, President Obama was in lock-step with the same beliefs stated recently by Dan Cathy, even using the same words.

Whether you agree with the belief that the term “marriage” means a man and a woman or you believe it should be expanded to mean any two people in love regardless of gender, neither one of those beliefs contains a hateful element.  To twist it that way not only denigrates the conversation, but also leaves those on the periphery with feelings that range from disgust to apathy.

Is that really the goal of the militant few?  To attack the personal beliefs of another person through hyperbole and zealotry in hopes of irritating everyone else?  Whether you are on one side of the debate or the other, there is a common thread joining everyone together — a sense of agitation.  Those who are in favor of a traditional definition of marriage feel like they are under attack, regardless of whether or not they have stepped foot inside a Chick-fil-A.  Those who favor a more liberal definition of marriage feel like they have to be on the attack to gain acceptance for their view.  In either case, at its best, it’s an irritating situation and, at its worst, elicits anger and hatred.  People not even connected one way or the other are feeling pressure to pick a side — as if this a sporting event where there will be one winner and one loser.

Right now, we are all losers.

It’s not enough for the zealots (and rage-fueled zealotry on either side of the political spectrum always leads to poor policy) to craft a firestorm over a religious difference of opinion, it’s moved toward an orchestrated campaign, including fake tweets, social media spamming of bitter political cartoons and user-created anti-Chick-fil-A posters (which are just as hate-filled as the subject they purport to reflect).  Now we have elected politicians in San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia making monarchy-like edicts that they will not allow another building permit for this business so long as they are in charge.  If you are a militant activist, this may fill you with pride, but the old saying applies, “Careful what you wish for, you just might get it.”

Today, your crusade may be to ruin a private business simply because you disagree with their views.  Do we really want to engage in this kind of mob rule?  Do we want to have our elected officials feel they can infringe on the rights of others simply because it gains them favor from a vocal subset of the electorate?

Take the particular subject off the table but leave the construct.  Let’s play a version of Mad-Libs where the story is locked in place with appropriate blanks for nouns, verbs and adjectives.  What would you be saying if those same leaders made the following statement:

The values of the gun control lobby are not in line with those of our city.  We are not going to allow them to build their anti-gun propaganda facility in our community.  We stand with the owners of assault weapons and will continue to support ownership of the most powerful guns available.

Suddenly, it may not sound so appealing to get all excited about government believing they can ignore the rights of some in order to cater to the views of others.  Shouldn’t this worry everyone in our country, irrespective of your views on the definition of marriage?  This way of thinking is not unlike what happened to Jewish owned businesses in Germany in the mid 1930’s.  If you weren’t Jewish, seeing someone else’s business shut down based on a differing religious view may not have bothered you at all.  In fact, you may have cheered about it.  But, look what happened when leadership become emboldened after being allowed to infringe on the rights of a sub-set of the population — a fascist regime came to power with a dictator at its helm.

This is something our Founding Fathers feared above anything else — that a form of monarchy would take root in our own country.  The crafting of our Constitution was a painstaking process for precisely this reason.  Regardless of personal philosophy, the one common outcome each of the framers wanted was to ensure individuals in our country would be able to live a life of independence, freedom and liberty, free from the tyranny of a central government.

Any citizen in our country is free to express themselves and to choose to support or not support any private business.  A gray area begins to form when individuals feel it is necessary to craft a campaign based on exaggeration, anger and spin in order to inflame others.  But there is no mistaking that elected officials are completely wrong to take a position that allows them to infringe on the rights of others.

It doesn’t matter how angry those officials may get over someone else’s personal views, we have the freedom in this country to think differently and spend our money as we want, so long as it does not take away someone else’s rights.  It’s a simple concept, but one that is so hard to keep in mind when someone has really upset you.  The degree to which you truly believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights does not get tested when you are in agreement with someone.  The true test comes from when someone is diametrically opposed to your views and you are still willing to fight for them as much as if you had agreed.  Heck, even the ladies on The View understand that.

We should all feel great concern when any politician feels it’s in his or her interest to ignore the Constitution.  That document was specifically designed to tell government what it cannot do.  The rights called out in that document do not come from government — they exist within each of us and come from a much grander place than a man-made institution.  The moment we feel it is okay to ignore its precepts because of an emotional tide is the moment we cease to be a free nation.  To seek the ruin of a business (and the thousands of lives connected to it) for no other reason than over a religious difference is tantamount to endorsing anarchy.  Not a single person’s rights, as defined by the Constitution, have been abused by the words of Dan Cathy (or Louis Farrakhan for that matter).

And by the way, no where in our Constitution or the Bill of Rights does it state you have the right to not be offended.

Personally, I believe that words have meaning and it is not up to the whim of others to change those definitions.  Marriage, throughout the earliest of times, has been described as the union of a man and a woman.  On the flip side, I embrace freedom and individualism and believe there should be legal protections for same-sex unions to give those couples the exact same legal rights that married unions have — shared insurance benefits, survivorship benefits, rights to shared assets, etc.  This makes legal sense and should be enacted and can make for a topic on another day.

Suffice it to say, I want as much freedom in this country as possible.  Am I a hate monger because my definition is different from yours?  Do I deserve to have an orchestrated campaign against me, my family and my business for having those beliefs?  I want to see the same legal benefits for any committed couple, I just do not want to redefine a word and the religious connotations that I have had for my entire life.

But, more importantly, I do not want an elected official to feel as though he or she is the ultimate arbiter — judge, jury and executioner — of the personal beliefs of individuals over which they feel they have dominion.  Regardless of your personal beliefs, you, too, should fear where that leads.

It’s time to realize

There is something alarming taking place in our country and I think it’s time for us here at Freedom Cocktail to weigh in on it. After all, we tout ourselves as a site focused on the deliberate application of logic and reason when trying to understand the events of the day. And it’s time to do that here.

There is an organization in our country with roots dating all the way back to 1946. Since that time, they have managed to expand to over 1,615 locations in 39 states and Washington, D.C., with annual sales over $4.1 billion. They have had 44 consecutive years of positive gains in the market, even though they choose to remain closed 14% of the year.

Fifteen years ago, this organization had the audacity to be the first-ever title sponsor of the Peach Bowl, eventually having it renamed after their enterprise five years later. This bowl is the annual site of a classic college football match-up and longest-running rivalry between Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and Southeastern Conference (SEC) teams. The bowl continues to set records. Just last year, that bowl drew a 15th consecutive sellout crowd to Atlanta’s Georgia Dome to witness the December 31 clash between the ACC’s Virginia Cavaliers and the SEC’s Auburn Tigers.

Because of this, that one game continues to lead all bowls in charitable donations to a variety of charities, including WinShape Homes, and provided a record $6.7 million total payout to participating universities. They have even gone further in college sports to become a corporate sponsor and partner with the Big 12.

Continuing their reach into the world of academia, this company created a Leadership Scholarship Program, offering $1,000 college scholarships to qualified employees, a tradition that has awarded over $30 million in scholarships thus far.

But this is only the tip of this iceberg.

With such wealth, the business owners (who may or may not have done this all on their own — that jury seems to still be out depending on whether you are driven by logic or emotion) created the WinShape Foundation more than 20 years ago.

Under the WinShape Foundation umbrella, there are several programs, including WinShape Homes, which currently operates 11 foster care homes in Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama. The WinShape College Program at Berry College in Rome, Georgia, is a co-op program offering joint four-year scholarship funding to incoming freshmen of up to $32,000. WinShape Camps offers boys and girls summer programs, which will be attended by more than 15,000 campers this year alone.

Additionally, WinShape also operates the WinShape Retreat, which offers a sequestered setting for marriage support and counseling and other gatherings on the Mountain Campus of Berry College. Held at WinShape Retreat, WinShape Marriage aims to help married couples by offering intervention for couples in crisis, preparation for engaged couples and enrichment for those interested in growing their marriage.

And, like those late-night TV infomercials, just wait, there’s more!

WinShape Wilderness is dedicated to using adventure to equip people to experience real change, not just in a team setting, but also through personal transformation. WinShape Wilderness is an outdoor adventure program that facilitates experiential learning for all audiences in ropes course settings as well as canoeing, rock climbing and backpacking venues.

And WinShape International was founded in January 2005 with a mission to mobilize leaders to transform young people and communities around the world.

BUT…

They are a Christian-based company. They have the audacity to put their faith and their respect for the traditional family before profits, electing to close every single location on Sundays. They have deluded themselves into thinking that this nation of ours was based on the principles of religious freedom. They further elicit a lack of understanding of our society by believing there is right to freedom of speech and expression. They honestly believe that they have the freedom to structure their business as they want — to enact policies and procedures that align with their moral and religious core.

Where do they think they live? This is America, dammit, a land where everyone is free to think what they want as long as it’s not different from those on the militant left. Liberals will fight tooth and nail for Islamists to build a mosque at ground zero, even though the tenants of Islam are far more severe against homosexuality than their Christian brethren, while fighting equally hard to make sure this company never opens another shop again. Why? Because this business chooses to believe in the traditional definition of marriage.

How dare they?

Now, they may have never refused to serve someone based on age, ethnicity, gender, orientation or religious view, but that doesn’t matter. They choose to revere the family and keep a religious center and this is why they must pay. It’s better for the more than 35,000 people to have their jobs taken away so they can go work for a more acceptable company — one for which the left has provided its stamp of approval. After all, history is replete with examples of how much better society is when the fringe can make decisions for everyone else.

It’s time this company recognizes that individuality and uniqueness are no longer acceptable and the sooner they can merge with the collective and embrace sameness, the better. Life is always more enjoyable when we are all identical, with the same beliefs, especially when those beliefs are force-fed to us.

One final note: it’s time to recognize that when a militant movement is filled with indignation, anger, bile and outrage, anything they say is good and righteous. Yes, that may seem like an oxymoron, but that’s only because most people in this country are not educated enough to understand intellectual nuance. When the militant minority, who isn’t having a single right infringed upon, runs into a group that thinks differently than they do, it’s their duty to tear that group apart. They deserve to be impugned, castigated, vilified and eventually destroyed. And since that is being done for a good reason, there is nothing hateful about doing this.

For example, Roseanne Barr nailed it with her back-to-back tweets:

“Anyone who eats S%#@ Fil-A deserves to get the cancer that is sure to come from eating antibiotic filled tortured chickens 4Christ,” later adding, “off to grab a s%#@ fil-A sandwich on my way to worshipping Christ, supporting Aipac and war in Iran.”

This is not hateful because, as we have said, her self-righteous position absolves her from any negative connotation. Her comments represent a wish and hope for the greater good — a wish for people who disagree to contract cancer and die, therefore eliminating those wicked individuals. See how this works? Because the greater good is achieved (the elimination of those who think the wrong way), the comments cannot possibly hold any rancor. Again, as history has demonstrated, this way of thinking always leads to a positive outcome.

True hate can only come from an inherent belief in family traditions, Christian values and the Constitution along with the Bill of Rights.

And that’s why Chick-fil-A is hateful and evil and must burn!

Oh, if you haven’t figured out my tone by now, do us all a favor and stay home on November 6th.

And eat a burger.

Or a celery stalk.

Freedom Cocktail — serving up reason from the North and logic from the South

Another endeavor of late has been the creation of a politically focused blog site called, Freedom Cocktail. It is currently a venture with a friend of mine from Michigan. Eric and I met in the 8th grade and have not lost touch since. He still lives in Michigan; I live in Georgia. Our lives have taken different paths, but our philosophies have stayed fairly well rooted in a love of the Constitution (as written), the astonishing wisdom of our Forefathers, and an inherent love of liberty, freedom, and the rights of the individual.

For years, Eric has written blogs or contributed to forums as his way of trying to make a difference. For me, I’ve used the radio and social media, specifically Facebook and Twitter. Maybe it’s been percolating for the last decade or so, but something clicked in the recent weeks and we decided it was time to pool our efforts into our own blog.

A lot goes into the setup. And, once it’s up, who’s going to read it? Ultimately, the former is much easier than the latter. It takes a lot of effort to craft not only the site, but also the content, but it’s a manageable undertaking. The bigger issue will be trying to grow the audience. After all, much like the theatre analogy, it doesn’t matter if you have the best performance of the year taking place on the stage if the house is empty.

Hence, we decided on the concept of the pub or bar as a metaphor for our blog home. We liked the idea of all kinds of people bellying up to the bar and talking with the bartender and the customers. Our bar is open to anyone and everyone. We want to encourage the discussion as well as for our visitors to take time to actually listen to the dialogue. We are your servers, sitting behind the bar and fixing your drinks and nudging the topics along.

Over the coming weeks and months, we hope our audience does, in fact, grow. We appreciate all of the help you will give us by sharing, tweeting, texting, and talking about our site.

Enjoy!

Federalist Resurrection

We don’t need another political blog! Yep, I heard ya yell it when you clicked the button and fell upon us. But I disagree. We DO need another political blog. We need one in favor of the American Republic as envisioned by Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and all those other old dead guys. There are numerous Socialist, Democrat and Communitarian (my personal favorite of the rename-game) out there that the more the merrier when it comes to comment to the contrary.

Let’s recall the Federalist Papers. While the Founding Fathers were debating whether or not to ratify the Constitution, those in favor wrote opinion pieces that were meant to persuade the public. Consider Freedom Cocktail to be a continuation of those Papers, an attempt to get the United States back to it’s roots, it’s freedoms and personal responsibilities.

If the message gets repeated, the chances are greater that change can be accomplished. (Damn, my first post and I used the word “change”).

As a note, us Contributors quibble sometimes on certain issues but note that no one anywhere ever will agree on 100% of topics. Each of us Contributors is his own entity and what one says doesn’t necessarily reflect the exact opinion of the other. However, we desperately wish to get back to the Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness the Founding Fathers envisioned and we’re working together to assist in it’s return.