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.

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,100 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Selling The News

I like to imagine that a lot of people perform the cliché end-of-year introspection ritual. I like to imagine that people who take the time, genuinely enjoy the review of the good moments, and intend to do something to keep from repeating the not so good moments. I’ll get around to my own, but  I’ve spent the last few days reviewing the incredible impact that media, mainstream and social,  has had on conversations in my personal circle of influence and influencers this year.  The conclusions are cringe-worthy.

Late in 2012, Twitter released its top trends report. Conservative new media crowed about the popularity of #tcot , and Democrats laughed.  As difficult as it is to read what passes for media in mainstream and more left leaning outlets, the facts of that particular headline is accurate in terms of public opinion and political reality. In March, Pew released a poll indicating that sentiment on Twitter is often at odds with public opinion.  That poll has stuck in my mind as I watch debates unfold on social media.

The whole of 2013 brought little good in the way of restored freedoms for America.  What 2013 did bring, was a more-than-ever polarized media. Yahoo’s most searched stories reveals that consumers of news were treated to very little in the way of good news in 2013.  Nearly every issue on their list ( and many that didn’t make the top ten list) was a catalyst for heated political debate in some form or another… on social media.  Much of that debate has shifted to the credibility and coverage by the media outlets, themselves. Comes now the New York Times reviving the video-to-blame narrative on Benghazi and MSNBC criticizing Romney’s family for interracial adoption, and the #tcot Twitter force attacking ( rightfully) the facts.. but forgetting the WHY of both of these stories.  There are narratives to preserve, and the general population still believes them.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I do music. I couldn’t couldn’t have written a better anthem to describe my opinion of state of media, including new media than this:

What in 2014 for conservative/libertarian/constitutional media? Fox has a secure place in news delivery, and will hold its own. Conservative new media struggles to find that balance between presenting their own narrative and fact while appealing to a broader base. Breaking out of the echo chamber must be a 2014 priority for #tcot and #tlot media, and I see good beginnings in some bloggers reaching out to traditionally left-leaning sites,  but I caution strongly against adopting the style guide of left-leaning media.  I also hope that the new media pundits keep in mind that they cannot just inform.  With midterms here, we are way behind in community organizing. Take a few lessons from the left on ends, not means. Work to inspire your audience to do more than vote.  Urge them to get physically involved. We should already be working on ensuring a 2016 presidential field that loves liberty .

Appeal, but don’t appease. Be above factual reproach. Fact isn’t fiction, but suspicion is the new (media) religion.

Freedom is…?

If you follow us on Twitter, you have seen that over the past few months, Freedom Cocktail has been spitting out quotes, old and recent, regarding the issue of Freedom. On this Fourth of July, we asked our contributors to reflect on their own. And in no particular order other than alphabetical order, here are the responses:

Jeff Rhodes

Freedom is a barbeque sandwich, a beer, and a trip to the beach. Freedom is a fireworks show, an Uncle Sam costume, and a baseball game. Freedom says it’s OK to church or to go fishing on a Sunday morning. Freedom is a Lee Greenwood song about being an American. Freedom is waving a flag at a parade and clapping for a group of soldiers at the airport. These things constitute the just the holiday version of freedom – a marketing pitch, a TV commercial. But…. REAL freedom means so much more than this shallow concept that we all too often celebrate on the Fourth of July.

Real Freedom is:

Unusual. The history of mankind is one of the powerful conquering and enslaving the weak. It is incredibly rare for the powerful to voluntarily cede their power to the masses.

Costly. Because it cuts against human nature, freedom most be constantly and forcibly won and defended. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have taken up arms in far-away places, – and never returned home – not to conquer and pillage, but in defense of the American idea of freedom.

Divine. The scriptural texts of most of the world’s religions speak of an escape from the oppression of a worldly existence, where the righteous are delivered from tyranny (both cultural and self-imposed) and become close to God. Free.

Work. As children, we needed the protection of loving parents. As teenagers, we began to develop the knowledge and skills to become more self-reliant and we get the first tastes of freedom. As young adults, we are finally granted freedom – and then realize that freedom isn’t just about doing what you want. As the parental veil of protection is lifted, the responsibility of self-sufficiency is revealed.

Squandered. So many Americans want to enjoy the benefits of freedom, without the duty of self-reliance. “I want to say what I want, go where I want, and do what I want – And somebody’d better pay for that – ‘cause I’M supposed to be free.” Those Americans only THINK that they are free. In fact, they are enslaved by their support mechanisms – never truly reaping the rewards of individual accomplishment.

Right. Even though the achievement of personal freedom is historically rare, it is the natural way for individuals to exist. The human spirit always calls out for freedom. Something deep within us – our soul, our nature, our sprit, our being – drives us to achieve our potential, free from dependence on others.

As we celebrate Independence Day – the celebration of a uniquely American ideal of personal liberty – let us not reduce the concept to a simple cursory nod. Freedom is hard, but great; rare, but natural; an individual endeavor, but a gift from God. Enjoy your freedom, but understand and treasure it as well.

Happy 4th!

Alan Sanders

  • Freedom is the right to move up to one-hundred-eight-five pounds on the seated dip machine and do three sets of twenty.
  • Freedom is choosing the comfort of a minivan for a family of six.
  • Freedom is realizing we are not victims and can take active control of our own lives.
  • Freedom costs a buck-o’-five.
  • Freedom is being able to write, direct and act in your own movie, while recognizing your audience has the freedom to not watch it.
  • Freedom is revealed in the knowledge that someone can have an opinion that is one-hundred-eighty-degrees opposite of your own and yet you will fight for their right to say it.
  • Freedom is knowing we still have a Bill of Rights.
  • Freedom IS the Bill of Rights.
  • Freedom is grilling a steak while your vegetarian neighbor grills veggie-kabobs and you both smile and wave because to each their own.
  • Freedom is watching your kids play in the park without worrying about a bullet or bomb.
  • Freedom is being able to pull your honey close and kiss no matter where you are.
  • Freedom is giving your children as many, if not more, opportunities as you had.
  • Freedom is choosing to spend a three-day weekend watching the LOTR trilogy, back-to-back, with your baby –Director’s cut on Blu-Ray, of course.
  • Freedom is deciding to switch parties when you realize how far they’ve moved from their core principles.
  • Freedom is about being able to choose the doctor you want, not the other way around.
  • Freedom is about being able to post your thoughts on freedom without fear that the NSA, FBI, White House, IRS or any other agency is going to pounce on you with their own special brand of thought police.
  • Freedom IS America.

Eric Wojciechowski

  • Freedom is the right to provide for my own self-defense with whatever I feel comfortable with: A firearm or a book of spells.
  • Freedom is the right to read a banned or censored book. I’m looking at you, Alice in Wonderland.
  • Freedom is the right to blast Material Girl out my car speakers at the age of forty-three.
  • Freedom is the right to go fishing instead of watching football.
  • Freedom is the right to disregard religion or worship Zeus, Indra, Ishtar, Anu, Mithra, or Mothra.
  • Freedom is the right to eat tasty animals instead of being a vegetarian.
  • Freedom is the right to seek out employment in any field I wish, understanding I may not get hired because of several possible reasons.
  • Freedom is the right to declare the Smiths the greatest band ever.
  • Freedom is the right to burn the flag of your country, accepting that some may yell at you.
  • Freedom is the right to consider Godzilla better than Gamera.
  • Freedom is the right to injest anything I wish into my body, provided that along with the pleasures, I accept responsibility for the risks.
  • Freedom is the right to declare Star Wars was just okay.
  • Freedom is the right to think DC is better than Marvel.
  • Freedom is the right to seek out an education in any field I wish understanding I can not force anyone or any institution to be my teacher.
  • Freedom is the right to declare The Patriot a good movie, despite its lead being a numbskull.
  • Freedom is the right for me to call Mel Gibson, “numbskull”.
  • Freedom is the right to go to the voting booth and choose a representative.
  • And Freedom is the right to speak freely on this blog without, short of making a direct threat, the government shutting it down.

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That’s that. A few thoughts and definitions from Freedom Cocktail for you to consider. What are yours?

And remember to keep choosing freedom for yourselves, every day, not just today. That’s what the Fourth of July is supposed to be about, a remembrance about what you may have forgotten. So have a Freedom Cocktail with that BBQ. But drink it slow. Savor it. Consider how easy it can be spilled. Hold with both hands.

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.