Look at what the clown is tweeting now — and that’s just why he does it


There has been an idea been rolling around in my head for the last few weeks. With each announcement of another cabinet position for President-elect Trump’s team, I find my suppositions being confirmed. He is putting some of the best, brightest and most successful people in positions around him. These are not academicians, coming down from their vaunted ivory towers to take a faculty lounge approach to governance. The list, populated with actual adults, puts some of the best possible people in key positions within the administration. Contrary to the media’s portrayal, Donald Trump is not putting mindless sycophants around him. His cabinet is not being filled with empty suits of yes-men and yes-women. He is taking his win seriously and knows he must surround himself with intelligent people who know how to achieve objectives and solve complex problems.

So, why does he continue to engage in what appears to be silly, juvenile squabbles on Twitter? When actress Meryl Streep chose to go after Trump instead of thanking the people with whom she has worked for decades, rather than let her comments fall on deaf ears, he chose to counter-attack. Those tweets, as they often do, sucked up the next 24-36 hours of the round-the-clock news cycle. Even I found myself suggesting sometimes it is better to crush your opponent with the weight of their own insignificance by remaining silent.

And that’s when the nagging thought in the back of my mind came to the fore. He was going to take a page from the Obama administration’s playbook and turn it around 180 degrees. We all know that whenever Obama wants to further his socialist agenda, he will often get us, with the help of the willing mainstream media, to look at some shiny bauble in his other hand. And, so long as the majority of his audience allow themselves to be distracted, the real agenda gets pushed from the other hand. His army of automatons will “go forth and do” as Dear Ruler commands. It’s like watching the Pharaoh Rameses in the Ten Commandments — “So let it be written; so let it be done.”

But, instead of getting us to focus on some other distraction across the room, Donald J. Trump IS the distraction. While we scoff and laugh and roll our eyes, and the media floods the news cycle with as many offended talking heads as they can find, work is being quietly done behind the scenes. The average Joe (and most of the Left) would struggle to name even three of Trump’s appointees, yet they can tell you about his tweets and can regurgitate pieces of fake news that match the narrative in which they believe: Trump is a clown; Trump is an idiot; Trump is a fool.

Since his win, the stock market has been on a rally  (contrary to all the predictions of the experts), US companies are rethinking their plans to build factories outside the US, businesses are keeping employees here and the optimism index of small business made one of the biggest jumps in its history. The mainstream media is not touting these early positives. Instead, they are digging for any story they can find, fake or otherwise, in an attempt to chop Trump’s legs out from under him. And Trump knows it!

Rather than run or explain or kowtow to the press, he helps them by jumping on Twitter and giving them round after round of nutrient rich crap in which the mushrooms of each 24 hour news cycle will grow. He knows they are out to destroy him. He knows they are not honest. He knows they will resort to fake news. In fact, he’s counting on it!

When I and others look back on the first few years of his presidency, this piece may turn out to be just as full of manure as anything the mainstream media has already been shoveling. It could be this post will be worthy of nothing more than digital fish-wrapping. But, at this moment in time, watching the events of the last few weeks through the prism of how Donald Trump has succeeded at each step where every expert assured us he would fail, it feels like Trump is playing the role of the wise fool. He’s the Yoda we first meet in the Empire Strikes Back, acting silly and talking nonsense in order to both weaken Luke’s defenses and to get to the heart of who Luke really is. It’s only when we’ve doubled-down on the certainty we are dealing with a fool that the wise soul will show itself.

I hear some of you yelling at me right now. Why am I letting the Left know what he’s up to? Why reveal the ruse?

My answer: It doesn’t matter. And, Trump knows that too! Just look at what happened over the course of the first couple of days since election night. One mainstream news outlet after the other, still with stunned looks of disbelief, acknowledged they had been wrong and needed to learn to listen to a wider array of voices. How long did that last? Not more than three days. Suddenly, instead of learning from all they did wrong, the media decided to double-down on their own narrative. It couldn’t be them. It had to be fake news, Russian hacks, stolen ballots, the FBI, FoxNews and on and on and on.

The Left and the elitists who are opposed to Trump will not believe one word of anything I’ve said. They cannot bring themselves to believe it. So, while they will continue to throw as much fake news as they can find against the wall, hoping something sticks, Donald Trump will keep the spotlight on himself, while his team is left to quietly get to the job of undoing all of the harm wrought by President Obama. While the talking heads continue to call Trump a clown, freedom and capitalism will be returned to the marketplace. As the snowflakes and statists look for ways to protest and march in the streets, our enemies will shrink back into the shadows and our allies will be rejuvenated. And while his detractors on social media will continue to nit-pick any and everything he does, GDP will rise, the misery index will drop and America may really find itself being great again.

And, just like that, you can hear Yoda, with a twinkle in his eye, laughing as he logs onto Twitter.


Another #SOTUdrinkinggame2016


The State of the Union is tomorrow. This will be President Obama’s last of his presidency. Because we are heading into a massive election year, both nationally and locally, it’s likely the President won’t spend a lot of time (at least, not to us) on new policies or initiatives. He’s already enacted volumes of executive orders and has legislated via government regulations rather than through the Legislature. He will spend a lot of time talking about the policies he likes, the ones he’s pushing and those of his party. He’s not going to endorse a candidate, but he will endorse the current socialist road we’ve been traveling down for the last seven years.

If you think my use of “socialist” is harsh, I only point out that the Chair of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, refuses to be able to come up with the difference between being a democrat and being a socialist. Nor could Hillary Clinton, for that matter. Bernie Sanders is a self-avowed socialist, running for President under the DNC. If they see no distinction, why should I?

Moving on, tomorrow night will likely be filled with repeated calls to continue along the same road. There will be stern, paternal warnings that Republicans want to take the country back to before the Civil Rights era and the time of Jim Crow. We will sit through a cacophony of over-the-top applause from the useful idiots, while others will make a show of arm-folded scowls and exaggerated head shakes. We will get to see how Paul Ryan conducts himself beside the clown-faced grins of Joe Biden, both sitting directly behind President Obama. I’ve said this before, but if someone were to edit the #SOTU with calliope music to play in the background, the well of the House would actually look like some Kabuki merry-go-round — everyone taking turns jumping up and down, but (much like the country) going nowhere except in obstinate circles as the nation swirls the drain.

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in WashingtonAfter the #SOTU, we will then get to sit through hour after hour of political analysis. We’ll have the propagandist wing of the Democrat party (the mainstream media) telling us how brilliant and amazing he is. Turn a channel or two either way and you’ll have the opposite view.

Which brings me around to the only way I’ve been able to manage my way through the last seven of these speeches to our nation — the #SOTUdrinkinggame! Maybe this year it will be #SOTUdrinkinggame2016, who knows? What is the State of the Union drinking game, you ask? It’s really quite simple. Take a moment today or tomorrow and think about all of the words/phrases you might expect the Commander in Chief to use during his State of the Union and put them down on paper. As an option, you can choose to add a second column, detailing just how much you drink each time that word or phrase is uttered. Maybe it’s a shot! Maybe just a sip. You decide.

Here’s a partial list I’ve been working on for tomorrow night:

Words/phrases that result in taking a sip (liquor or wine) or a swallow (beer):

  • Common sense gun control
  • Plug the gun-show loophole
  • Most gun owners agree in common sense background checks
  • Easier to buy a gun than a book
  • Felons should not be able to buy an assault rifle online
  • Mocking those who think there’s a government gun grab in the works
  • Mocking the candidates running for GOP, specifically Donald Trump
  • Any use of fair, fair share or leveling the playing field
  • Gone from the worst economy under George Bush to one of the fastest growing
  • Time for the rich to stop getting wealthy off the backs of the middle class
  • Need to implement a living wage / increase the minimum wage across the country
  • Any cherry-picked stats about the growth of economy
  • Climate change and the Paris meeting held late in 2015
  • This was the hottest year on record
  • ISIL (pronounced – Eye-sill)
  • Islam is a peaceful religion
  • Affordable Care Act is working, reducing costs and providing coverage to millions who didn’t have it before
  • America will continue to welcome refugees from all nations
  • America was built by immigrants
  • Free college
  • Any mention of someone who wrote him a letter or sent him an email
  • For each guest invited by the administration who is called out in the gallery

Items that require a shot (or several large swallows of wine or beer):

  • For every 10 uses of the word, “I”
  • For every 10 uses of the word, “Me”
  • For every 10 uses of the word, “My”
  • For every 10 uses of the workd, “Mine”

There was a time when the State of the Union had it’s purpose, but that has long since been ignored. Under our current ruler, it might as well be named the State of Fundamentally Transforming America (SOFTA — which is what we’ve truly become), since this president has repeatedly shown he has no problem enforcing parts of laws he likes, changing parts he does not and ignoring others he finds unnecessary.

Just remember, this president has made a legacy for himself of stating facts as he sees them, quoting data he believes to be correct and making up everything else in between. He’s Harold with his purple crayon, creating his own reality while being devoid of any sense of the word. It must be a nice affliction to have — to invent history and facts as you need them to be, to align with your worldview. It may be a way to live in Lenin’s push for blissful ignorance, but it’s not how I would expect the leader of the free world to behave.

And for that reason, I’ll be playing the #SOTUdrinkinggame2016 with much gusto. It’s about the only way I’ll be able to make it to the end. BTW…if you are interested, I’ll be real-time tweeting throughout, so follow me on Twitter (@alanjsanders) and see how bad my typing gets by the end! I’ll just blame it on Siri.



Believing lies and helping spread them; or, What it means to be liberal

liberalpillarsLiberals love being lied to. They enjoy being manipulated and played like puppets by the mainstream media, race-baiters and the leadership in the Democrat party. Liberals will not look beyond the surface so long as the talking points are coming from sources they admire and, if they happen to come across conflicting information, it is in their prerogative to dismiss such things in order to pledge blind allegiance to their masters and continue to regurgitate the original narrative force-fed to them from on high.

That’s a powerful accusation to level on a segment of the population. But where is the proof? How can I make such a claim? Where is my justification?

I could run through a litany of events that have occurred within the last six years of Democrat reign (having had a super majority in the Senate for the first two years of the inaugural term of President Obama, a simple majority in the Senate the following four and a majority in the House from 2006 until the 2010 midterms), but that may cause such a partisan turning up of the nose that anyone who proudly wears the label, or lives in suspicion they do, of liberal, may not bother to continue reading.

To illustrate my point, I will turn to an item that occurred just a few months ago during the run-up to the 2014 midterms. A group called the New Georgia Project worked with the NAACP to register “voters of color” and other minorities in and around the city of Atlanta. This included Democrat strongholds of Fulton, Dekalb and Clayton counties. They helped collect 80,000 new voter registrations in a state that many hoped would turn blue, thanks to Michelle Nunn (running on her Daddy’s name and reputation) and Jason Carter (running on his granddaddy’s name and, well…his name) running to take a seat in the US Senate and the Georgia Governorship, respectively.

A couple weeks before the elections, the group brought a lawsuit on the Secretary of State’s office and the state of Georgia, decrying that more than half of the registrations were not being processed or were being held up by election officials with a political agenda. “We are concerned, given the speed of the election, that if we don’t resolve this quickly and through legal means, that these will be 40,000-plus disenfranchised voters in the state of Georgia,” said State Rep. Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta), who heads the New Georgia Project.

Without waiting for the investigation to conclude (or stopping to look for facts), the willing accomplices of misinformation and propaganda splashed their headlines all over social media and print news, stating that Georgia was refusing to process between 40,000 and 50,000 new voter applications. The Huffington Post, The Daily Kos, ThinkProgress.org, NPR, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The New York Times were some of the biggest hitters and their headlines were shared across the whole of social media.

Look! They cried. See how Republicans are cheating the voters? They refuse to process over 40,000 brand new voters because that’s the only way they know how to win. This is a clear case of voter disenfranchisement.

It didn’t matter if there was any validity to the claims. Most low-information voters don’t bother to look past the headline or the 10 second sound bite. All that mattered was the sources for liberal ideology had used the appropriate key words and phrases. Conclusions were reached and there was never a moment’s pause to question further. And the mindless Leninites went about their merry way, parroting the message over and over like the useful idiots the purveyors of propaganda rely on them to do. “Georgia won’t process over 40,000 new voter applications! Voter disenfranchisement in areas made up predominantly of people of color.”

And so the lie was already halfway around the world before the truth had time to get out of bed.

Why do I say it was a lie? In less than 10 minutes, I was able to pull up the findings of an internal investigation that had begun the moment the lawsuit had been filed and the allegations made. Of the “over 40,000 registrations” that the New Georgia Project and the NAACP said were not being processed, a little more than 39,000 were already on the voter roles; 513 were found to be dead; over 1,600 had felony arrest records, which made them ineligible to vote; almost 2,200 had an invalid or out-of-state zip code; and, over 2,100 had no valid birth year listed. And, the cherry on top of this investigation? 9,900 applications were in a pending status because the applications were incomplete and each of those 9,900 had been notified by letter to finish their forms through their county election office.

To summarize:

  • 39,276 are active voters
  • 513 are deceased
  • 1,637 have felony record, so they can’t vote
  • 2,195 had an invalid or out-of-state zip code
  • 2,124 had no valid year of birth
  • 9,900 pending due to incomplete form

Total = 55,645

Within days, a judge, who looked at the same information I’ve just presented to you, threw out the case without batting an eye. All of the other new voter applications were processed through each county’s elections office. There was no disenfranchisement. There was no attempt to prevent newly registered voters from getting to the polls. There was no story.

But, it didn’t matter. The lie had ginned up the emotions of the faithful and the headlines were written and shared and tweeted and liked all around the country. Was there ever a retraction from any of the entities that were quick to post their false and misleading stories? Did anyone make a point of fixing their egregious mistake on social media? Was there any attempt to right the wrong?


The vast majority of liberals who had read the headlines had already made up their minds and regardless of the facts, were set to run with it, content to let their strings be pulled like good marionettes. The wording of those headlines met the liberal narrative: Republicans cheat, Republicans don’t like anyone “of color,” Republicans only want rich, white people in charge. And even after all of the facts were placed in front of them, it didn’t matter. They were content to dismiss anything that ran contrary to the narrative.

It is a willful act of choosing to ignore the truth (or the parts they don’t like) and knowingly repeat the lie for as long as it takes. It is an exercise in wanton ignorance. It is what defines the low-information voter and is what Ministers of Propaganda in every oppressive regime throughout history rely upon to suppress freedom and subjugate the masses.

And, because it is a conscious, willful act, one must conclude that liberals love being lied to. They love to be manipulated by half-truths and outright fabrications. They like to be misled. They yearn to be used, spreading those very same lies themselves. It is an active display of groupthink, where the capacity for self-thought and cognitive discernment by the individual is lost, supplanting the desire to question and discover facts for themselves. It’s how the ruling class can get away with flouting the Constitution. It’s how facts can be ignored, hidden, Photoshopped or edited and it is accepted without hesitation. It’s how mobs form. It’s how looting takes place. It’s how the destruction of lives and property becomes justifiable.

It’s how a lie makes it halfway around the world before the truth even gets out of bed.

This is how something like the Fast and Furious scandal can go under the radar for years. Or the IRS targeting scandal can hide behind the help of the mainstream media. Or how President Obama can ignore the Constitution with his many executive orders and it’s sold to Americans as commonplace. Or how tapping phones and hacking the computers of reporters who are reporting on the activities within the Administration is allowed to take place. Or how a dozen other scandals have been allowed to occur in rampant fashion.

And it’s how something like Ferguson can happen.



#SOTU in three words and a drinking game

Social media is amazing.

We can use it to show people what we are currently eating , who we are with and what we plan to do next. We update our families and friends on our vacations, sporting events or just lounging at home. Businesses hope to get free marketing from it while consumers can spread the word on deals (or bad service) almost instantly.

Part of social media is the use of the hashtag…the pound sign…the tic-tac-toe board…the #!

Any particular subject can be made searchable by adding that simple character in front. Discussions online can be categorized and followed using these hashtags. And, thanks to these user-created categories, I bring you today’s blog post.

state-of-the-union-296x222The State of the Union tradition arises from the following line in Article II, Section 3 of the US Constitution, “He shall, from time-to-time, give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” While not required to deliver a formal speech, every president since Woodrow Wilson has made at least one State of the Union report as a speech delivered before a joint session of Congress. Before that time, most presidents delivered the State of the Union as a written report. Since the advent of radio, and then television, the speech has been broadcast live on most networks.

George Washington delivered the first regular annual message before a joint session of Congress on January 8, 1790. However, in 1801, Thomas Jefferson discontinued the practice of delivering the address in person, regarding it as too monarchical. Instead, the address was written and then sent to Congress to be read by a clerk and this practice was followed until the early 20th century.

How I wish that were still the case. Even better, in our age of technology, just post the text version of the #SOTU online so we can read it in our Facebook news feeds or from a link on Twitter. Instead, we are going to be made to sit through a cacophony of over-the-top applause from the sycophants, arms-folded scowls from the obstinate and circus-like chicanery from the leads of both the House and Senate. We might as well queue up our favorite calliope music to play in the background the entire time the speech is going.

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in WashingtonWe are going to be treated to well over an hour of promises, edicts, vehement calls for change and a showcase of biological props in the gallery to illustrate all of the points being sold by the President of the United States of America. We then have to sit through the minority response, the alternative response, the off-the-beaten path response and the ever elusive who-gives-a-damn response. THEN we get to sit through hour after hour of political analysis. We’ll have the propagandist wing of the Democrat party, aka the Mainstream Media, telling us how brilliant and amazing the speech was. Many will even dare to predict that the current falling poll numbers will get a much needed bounce. Turn a channel or two either way and you’ll have the opposite view doing their best to convince the audience that the president has sealed his fate as a lame-duck and a pariah for any Democrats running in the 2014 midterm.

tumblr_lybfd7jwJC1qzx3jto1_1280Which brings me around to the point of today’s blog. If we must be forced to deal with this travesty of what our Founding Father’s envisioned, many have devised coping mechanisms to get us through tonight’s ridiculous display. Let’s all play the #SOTUdrinkinggame! Take a moment before tonight’s speech and come up with a list of terms/phrases/words that you believe will be used over and over again. Anytime you hear the #POTUS (President of the United States) utter anything on your list, take a drink. Here’s a partial list of what I plan to use tonight:

Items that result in taking a shot

  • Fair, fair share (or any variant of the words equal, equality or same playing field)
  • Government is a good thing
  • Global warming
  • Increasing the minimum wage
  • Economy growing (or any positive spin) based on my policies
  • Unemployment dropping (or any positive spin) based on my policies
  • It’s the right thing to do
  • Wage gap
  • Gender gap
  • War on women
  • Affordable Care Act is working (or any positive spin)
  • Healthcare.gov is working (or any positive spin)
  • Any stats that are used to backup any of the above
  • And for each guest invited by the administration who is called out in the gallery

Items that require only a sip (or you’ll be passed out before it ends)

  • I
  • Me
  • My
  • Mine

Another game that will be fun to play started this morning on Twitter by fellow blogger, Michelle Ray (@GaltsGirl) called, #SOTUinthreewords or State of the Union in three words. See if you can come up with a list of themes that will define tonight’s #SOTU in three words. Here is my current list:

  • Who needs Congress?
  • Why Socialism works
  • Redistribution is good
  • Still Bush’s economy
  • Not my fault
  • I didn’t know
  • Ready to rule
  • Executive orders ready
  • Shredding the Constitution
  • Spreading wealth around
  • Errr…ahhh…ummm

There was a time when the State of the Union had it’s purpose, but that has long since been forgotten under the heavily crafted showmanship it has become. And, under our current administration, it might as well be named the State of the Coup, since this president has no problem enforcing parts of laws he likes, changing parts he doesn’t, and ignoring others as he deigns unnecessary. It’s like the worries of Thomas Jefferson have come to life with this Administration when they made it clear they came to rule and not to govern. 

Some final thoughts before tonight. One subject the President will definitely not touch will be the success of Governor Scott Walker’s conservative policies in Wisconsin. I’d be shocked. He cannot afford to shed any light on policies that succeeded to which he is diametrically opposed. He will not waste a single breath on reducing the size of government. He may say he has a plan to reduce the debt, but when you go through the litany of new programs he plans to offer, it won’t take a mathematician to realize it’s just another lie meant to placate the low-information voter. He will play to emotions, but will not once employ logic. He will pull at the heartstrings, but he will not apply reason. In short, he will pander to his followers like the Pied Piper, playing a mesmerizing message to those who want nothing more than to be lied to and told everything will be all right.

And for that reason, I’ll be playing the #SOTUdrinkinggame with much gusto. It’s about the only way I’ll be able to make it to the end.


ICYMI: Why we looked back while keeping eye on midterms

The holidays have come and gone. College football has a new BCS champion. The NFL wildcard games lived up to their name and the Superbowl is just around the corner. 2014 is underway and this will be a huge year in terms of politics in our nation with the midterms elections set for November.

Many are getting back into the swing of their day-to-day routine now that kids are back in school. To start off this year, it seemed appropriate to remind everyone of the four recent end-of-year posts that were published here on Freedom Cocktail. In many ways, they not only marked the end of 2013, they all worked together as four chapters of a single work to shed differing points of light on the coming year.


Eric Wojciechowski

The first asked, “Why another blog?”  Eric Wojciechowski’s, Scattered Tea Leaves, addresses the topic of why it’s important to keep the conversation going, even if it feels like we are sometimes preaching to the choir. He offers suggestions of more cooperation and a focus on the bigger picture. He spends some time asking if it makes sense to add a new voice to those already in place and closes by coming to the conclusion that if it means we can get back to a Constitutional Republic, then the answer is yes! At heart, Eric is a staunch Libertarian, but even he is keeping his options open if the right candidate rises to the top of the GOP.


Jeff Rhodes

The second asked, “Why fight?” In Jeff Rhodes post entitled, Looking Back on 2013, he catalogs some of the political mile markers of 2013, from the re-election of President Obama to the Democrats continuing hold of the Senate, and suggests that, as conservatives, it wasn’t a banner year for any appreciable offense and the losses outweighed what few wins there were. But, in the face of the odds, looking at the ongoing debacle that is the Affordable Care Act, aka, Obamacare, it’s not a time to give up — rather, in 2014, it’s more important than ever to fight for the Constitution.


Alan J. Sanders

The third asked, “Why forget?” Yours truly looked at the events of 2013 through the prism of the concept of time with a post called, Exit…Father Time, Even. We all like to think that time is constant — seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, etc. — but, it is a fluid and malleable phenomenon that can dull our memories and lessen our emotions. With the 2014 midterms 11 months away, it’s more important than ever for conservatives to remember, pay attention and vote. The way we fight, the way we don’t forget, is to keep the conversation going (blogging, social media) and get to the polls. It’s time our politicians realize they can no longer hide behind the forgiving aspects of the passage of time itself.


Michelle Ray

And our final post asked, “Why believe the mainstream media?” when Michelle Ray wrote, Selling the News. 2013 was a banner year for the mainstream (traditional) media to craft the news and sell it to the low-information crowd in easily digested, bite-sized chunks. The majority of voters will not read a full news story anymore, settling for crafted headline and sound bites shared/regurgitated on television, cable news and via social media channels. The mainstream is on a mission to convince us that fact is fiction. We cannot let them control the narrative, which means getting out, being active and not running away from the conversations necessary to bring the facts to life. Appeal, but don’t appease. Be above factual reproach. Fact isn’t fiction, but suspicion is the new (media) religion.

As we move through the coming weeks and months, we will continue to publish works along many different topics, but all with the same underlying goal:  To convince more Americans that individual freedom and liberty are cornerstones to be demanded, not surrendered, and a less intrusive and smaller government must be the ends to our means. You can all be a part of this effort by linking to or sharing our work, in emails, in posts of your own and throughout the entire spectrum of social media options.


If you have a love for the Constitution and for our Republic, stay informed and please don’t forget to research the candidates vying for your vote and make an intelligent choice based on facts and principle, not hype and a desire to look hip.

Our country deserves so much better.

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.

Culture of yes-men do what is expected of them

I had a pleasant conversation recently with a business leader about my time in the Navy and my career since then.  It started off innocently enough.  We’d gone out to eat together along with our wives and then decided to continue the evening at their home.  We settled in and grabbed a drink.  Our wives went into the sunroom and continued their conversation, leaving us to have ours.

At the time, I had no idea I would stumble across a profundity worthy of some additional introspection.  It wasn’t until I started to kick around current events that the connections came together and the proverbial light bulb exploded.

First, let me bring you up-to-speed by summarizing the discussion.

When I initially joined the Navy, it was a combination of a sense of patriotism, family tradition and financial necessity.  My father had been in the Army his entire adult life, mostly as a reservist.  It had always provided additional income and became a failsafe when his career evaporated in Detroit back in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

My military involvement began during Operation: Desert Shield in the fall of 1990.  As that situation escalated over the course of several months, it was changed to Operation: Desert Storm.  I had just completed my first semester in college and was floundering for money to continue.  I spoke with a recruiter and they went over the Reserve G.I. Bill program, which would help offset the cost of getting my degree.  I’d have to commit to two years of active duty service and six years as a reservist.

So, I went and spent the summer of 1991 in boot camp in Orlando, Florida and went immediately to my Class “A” school in my specialty — Cryptology.  I was, as the joke goes, becoming a member of military intelligence.  I graduated with a perfect 4.0 and was assigned to a unit in Atlanta.

Shortly afterwards, I began to have doubts about staying in the military.  My sub-specialty was as a computer operator.  With each passing month, I kept wondering why I was trained to handle so many manual and redundant tasks when a computer program could do it faster and more efficiently.  I mentioned this to my supervisor, then my Chief and eventually to my C.O. They all agreed, but they all said we had to stick to procedures.  Each explained that the “higher ups” wanted it done a certain way and it wasn’t their job to change things.  Their job was to ensure everyone below them knew their place — knew what was expected of them — and could perform without thinking.

Now, in combat, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind about that model.  Questioning authority or trying to do something unproven with life or death on the line is illogical and foolhardy.  Each member of a team, squad, platoon, division, etc. has to know how to work as one oiled machine.

However, the concept of performing “without thinking” didn’t seem to make sense when it came to leveraging innovation and technology.  I wasn’t questioning the need for information or why it needed to be kept secure, I was asking why we couldn’t make it better and faster?  That’s when I realized, I wasn’t right for a career in the military.  A few years later, I was offered the option of an early out with an Honorable Discharge.  I took it.

Fast-forward to my civilian career, where my rise in responsibility had less to do with my years and more to do with my creativity.  Innovative ideas and finding better methods to achieve ends was rewarded when I worked for IBM.  I was lucky enough to have been hired by a company with such a corporate culture, thanks to then, CEO, Louis V. Gerstner.  Two of his maxims that he brought to IBM have stuck with me this very day:

  1. Don’t get being busy mixed up with being productive; and,
  2. Work smarter, not harder.

I loved that ideology.  I still follow those principles today in all I do or attempt.  Louis Gerstner took a culture of “doing what we have always done, because we have always been doing it that way,” and said, “No more!”  He wanted everyone, not just senior management, to be innovative again.  He wanted to remove the shackles of stagnation.  He implemented open door policies that went straight to his office.  And, in his tenure, he took a multi-billion dollar corporation that was on the brink of being broken apart and sold off in pieces, to one of the greatest IT powerhouses in the world.  He transformed the culture in IBM through his leadership.  In just a few years, the management team began to reflect this new methodology and it trickled all the way down to the lowest rung of the corporate ladder.

Now, let’s catch up to my friend and I sitting in his kitchen, slowly nursing our drinks while ruminating over our employment histories.  It was at this point I made a general comment that I could never imagine myself as a “yes man.”  I remonstrated over my frustration at how some businesses are filled with employees who only know how to tow-the-line without thinking.  I bemoaned the concept of self-preservation being more important to today’s future business leaders than risk-taking.

It was at this point that my friend looked me in the eye and said, “Let me explain something.  People know where they get their paychecks.  They know that someone else is paying their bills.  And, if they wanted to keep their place, they had to learn how to stay in line.  They know what is expected of them.”

I thought that over for a moment.  I could see logic in that statement, but it felt too simplistic.  I responded that I wasn’t extolling the notion of rebellion or being disagreeable for the sake of creating an impediment.  I offered that there is a difference, to me, between bringing new ideas forward that could benefit the entire organization versus pretending to know what the CEO wants without even talking to him (or her).

The response: I know what my boss likes and doesn’t like; what he expects and what he doesn’t want to see.  It’s my job to make sure it stays that way.  He trusts me to do that for him and I will.

And, with that, we both agreed that there were merits to both views and moved onto discussions of sports, firearms and a host of other topics.  But, in the back of my mind, I could sense something more profound at the periphery of my mind’s eye.  Something that related to our government.  But, it stayed just below the surface, out of my view.

Until today.

Our Federal government is in the midst of several scandals.  With each passing day and week, items from Benghazi, the IRS, and wire taps of the AP by the Justice Department continue to reveal a focused effort to wage a silent war against any groups or citizens who strongly oppose the policies of the current administration.  And, at each step, many of the mainstream media, senior White House officials and leadership within the Democrat party continue to insulate the President from these findings.  Even the President himself feigns knowledge over the actions of those under the purview of the Executive Branch and many believe him.  After all, there are no direct memos or emails.  No one has gone on record saying the orders were coming from the Commander in Chief.  And, if I were to bet the family fortune (what little there is), I would suspect there never will be.

This is where the leftists in the country begin to laugh and extoll how amazing and worthy our leader is for weathering a storm that has nothing to do with him.  This is when they mock those seeking answers, saying they are only out to create political harm for their party’s own expedience.

And that’s when it hit me.  The President doesn’t have to order anyone to do anything.

Louis Gerstner never sent me an email saying, “I need you to figure out a better way to reconcile the invoicing process we have with all of the vendors we use for contractor labor.”  When I took stock over how the team reconciled billing, I realized the flaws and knew there was a way to leverage technology to make the process faster and more accurate.  I made a pitch to my management team and they gave me the freedom to work with a development team.  Within six months, we launched an application and, by the end of the year, we recovered $1.05 million dollars in revenue that had been lost in the cracks.  By the end of year two, we had recovered $2.1 million dollars in errant billing.

The culture in IBM had changed to allow freedom of thought, which empowered me to find solutions.  I wasn’t a yes-man.  I was an individual.  My managers had been empowered to listen to ideas from everyone…not just those who thought similarly.  They were not yes-men, either.  The CEO had removed the concept of micromanaging human resources.  IBM no longer suffered from groupthink.  The cultural tone of freedom of thought and expression, though carried out throughout the organization, was set by the CEO.  It was the expectation he set for everyone below.

Why would it be any different for any chief executive in any organization?  How difficult is it, then, to believe that President Obama never had to put specifics in writing, if the culture in the Executive branch had been established to empower those around him to act as they believe they are supposed to act?  When the President (any President) is able to place leaders around him who have the same core beliefs as he subscribes to, and are not allowed to deviate, can it not be said he has surrounded himself with the ultimate team of yes-men?  They all know what is expected of them.  They know what he wants to hear and what he does not want to see.  They know where they get their paychecks and they know that if they want to stay where they are, they have to tow-the-line.  It all revolves around the expectations of the CEO and, therefore, so does the accountability.

President Harry S. Truman understood this concept so well that he placed the now famous quote right on the his desk:  “The buck stops here.”  Ultimately, when you have surrounded yourself with automatons shaped in your own political image, you have to accept the responsibility of the actions of those around you.  That is leadership.  That is what we have always expected from every CEO.

When the BP oil platform exploded, did Congress bring the manager of the local BP into their hallowed halls?  No!  They brought in the CEO — a man who likely never once stepped foot on that rig.  But, that isn’t the point.  He is the head of the company and thus answerable for the actions of that company.

It’s time Americans understood that the same applies to the very governance enacted by the Founding Fathers in our Constitution.  Our President is the CEO of our country.  Take the labels off of the players and stick to the facts.  An administration using the IRS to go after an opposing group, should be intolerable, regardless of party.  An administration illegally tapping the phonelines and emails of members of the press does not suddenly become legal by choosing one party over another.  Conspiring to mislead the American people over the facts and timeline of an attack on a U.S. embassy is unacceptable regardless of (R), (D), (I) or (L).

Ultimately, it’s time for us to realize that the issues of this administration are not the fault of one person.  However, it is the fault of the mindset that has been allowed to settle into the Executive branch and the only way to change it is to change the culture.  As long as the yes-men are allowed to remain where they are, and the current culture is protected and insulated by the press and the leadership, then we should not be surprised when a continued misuse of power is demonstrated over and over and over again.

It’s what we have come to expect.

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.