Saturday, October 11, 2014

Who Paid for Your Freedom??

Today I saw a comment on Facebook that almost made me gag.  A friend had posted a video of some soldiers in the Great War communicating with each other via carrier pigeon.  One of her friends posted a comment: "Our Freedom was paid for with a great price."  I can only infer from the comment that this person means that American soldiers in the Great War somehow helped "pay for our freedom."  I'm not surprised, really, by this comment - it is just another shining example of the current climate of historical ignorance in this country, coupled with an uncritical and overwhelmingly favorable attitude towards the now-exalted warrior class.

Sorry, folks, but U.S. doughboys in the Great War did absolutely nothing to protect American freedom.  America was not in danger of direct attack from any of the European combatants, nor were those powers in any position to curtail any of the rights enshrined in the Constitution.  All American participation in that conflict did was tip what had previously become a stalemate in favor of the Allies, to the extent that the victors could impose very harsh terms on the vanquished, terms which many, if not most, historians agree made possible the rise of National Socialism in Germany and thus led to the events of World War II.

Aside from that result, bad enough in itself, American participation in the Great War had a very damaging effect on freedom and civil liberties at home.  Through legislation such as the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918, the federal government was effectively able to circumvent the First Amendment and silence opposition to the war.  Many of our soldiers were reluctant participants in the conflict, participating only after being drafted.  And, too, not only were some Americans deprived of their right to life (as well as their right not to be gassed or maimed in the service of the State), but many others were deprived of their personal wealth (through taxation to fund the war) and right of association (due to lost commerce with 'enemy' states, individuals, or entities).  So, the federal government forced people to accept the war, forced them to participate in it, and forced them to pay for it - hardly an example of freedom by anyone's definition (I hope).

I wish more Americans would be more aware of this simple fact, that war never makes individuals more free.  Invariably, war always chips away at civil liberties, especially during the duration of the conflict, but also to the extent that those liberties are not restored after the guns are silenced.  That said, it must necessarily follow that soldiers don't pay for our freedom - as servants of the state, they almost always help make us, be it even ever so slightly, less free.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

My Political Journey

**Note:  Yep, it's been a while since I posted here, mostly because I despaired over my tiny readership and seriously doubted I was having any effect anywhere or on anybody.  However, I was told many years ago by the Lord (scoff if you will) that I was to write, and this is one of the things I believe I'm supposed to write about.  Moreover, recently the Lord reminded me of Ezekiel 3:16-19.  Basically, I feel it's my duty to write, regardless of whether anyone responds.**
Prior to the year 2007, I was a typical right-wing evangelical.  Starting with the mid-term elections of Ronald Reagan’s first term, I had voted straight Republican in every election cycle.  Like most evangelicals, I believed that the Republican Party could best deliver those things that evangelicals most valued, such as strong economic growth, a foreign policy centered on the promotion and protection of democratic ideals, and a domestic agenda based on traditional family values.  Like evangelicals everywhere, I viewed the presidency of Ronald Reagan as a high point in U.S. history.  Democrats, on the other hand, were like The Enemy, the proponents of every kind of evil, from killing the unborn to weakening us militarily around the globe.  And, again like most evangelicals, I believed that everything would be better if only Republicans could hold all the levers of power.  I never thought twice about voting straight Republican, because for the faithful the worst Republican was better than anything the Democrats had to offer.

My disillusionment with this paradigm started slowly.  Besides being an evangelical, I believed (and still do) that the Bible is God’s infallible word, and this book contains many warnings of a global dictator yet to come.  Anything that smacked of a one-world government raised alarm bells.  And nothing smacks of world government quite like the phrase “new world order”, which Reagan’s heir to Republican greatness, George Bush, sprinkled liberally throughout his speeches.  Use of the term made me uncomfortable, but not nearly enough to break faith with the Party.  Later, I wholeheartedly supported the Gulf War.  Here was a great Republican protecting the little guy from tyranny and showing that lousy dictator, Saddam, that you don’t mess around with the world’s greatest superpower.

Actually, Bush wasn’t great enough to keep me from being attracted to third-party candidate Ross Perot in 1992.  It really wasn’t anything about Bush – I just liked the idea of a third-party candidate.  You know – something to shake up the status quo, based on a vague notion that the status quo somehow needed shaking up.  In any event, Perot shot himself in his own political foot, and his candidacy quickly fell by the wayside.  Oh, well – we still had Bush, and he was a Republican with a big White Hat.

I was completely dumbfounded that Bush, having just liberated Kuwait and shown the world what a great guy he was, lost the ’92 election to Bill Clinton.  I mean, seriously, Clinton was a Democrat, and even the worst Republican was better than any Democrat, right?  Especially George, I mean, c’mon.  I was sure the country would descend into Carter-like chaos over the next four years, until the Republicans could undo the damage in ’96.  I don’t think I noticed much at the time that the country actually didn’t descend into chaos over the next eight years, although there were plenty of scandals in the Clinton administration to keep the fear of chaos near the fore.

1996 turned out to be an important year on my journey.  That was the year the Republicans trotted out Bob Dole as their presidential hopeful, a candidate with about as much charisma as a tepid bowl of unsweetened oatmeal.  This is when I started asking myself, Is this the best the Republicans can come up with?  Surely there must be somebody better out there!  In spite of my misgivings about Dole, I faithfully voted Republican anyway – and Dole got blown away in the general election.  Thereafter, I started doing the unthinkable:  I started researching presidential hopefuls during the primary season and began looking seriously at ‘fringe’ candidates.

In the 2000 primaries, I voted for Alan Keyes.  Keyes was conservative, pro-life, pro-family, pro-tax reform, and, as a bonus of sorts, African-American.  Now, I’m not African-American myself, and I don’t really care what color my candidate is, but I thought that just maybe the Republicans might be interested in a candidate who could pick up votes in the hopelessly Democrat-leaning African-American community.  Turns out they weren’t interested.  Instead, they went with bland, but safe, George Bush the Younger, who barely squeaked by as-liberal-as-they-come Al Gore.  I voted for Bush, because he was a Republican, but 2000 marked the year I began to suspect there might be such a thing as The Establishment.

9/11 rolled around, and I was as gung-ho as anyone about prosecuting the War on Terror.  Riding a post-9/11 high, Bush lacked any serious challenger for the 2004 Republican nomination.  That November, I voted for him again, and once more he barely squeaked by an as-liberal-as-they-come candidate, this time being John Kerry.

Fast forward to 2007.  Once again, it was time to start researching candidates.  Little did I know that I was about to experience a political transformation, a transformation sparked by one man, Congressman Ron Paul of Texas.

But, first – 2007 was also the year of another watershed event in my life.  I purchased a piece of property, and our family built our ‘dream home’.  The problem was, though, that 2007 was the year the housing bubble burst.  I didn’t even know what a ‘bubble’ was at the time.  I do now.  Real estate prices in our area plummeted.  My first house was on the market for ages without getting any viable offers.  We finally resorted to renting it out, but rent values had also fallen, to the point that we were losing money on our first house every month.  To make matters worse, our last renters trashed our house and stiffed us on two months’ rent.  We discovered afterwards that, in addition to major cleaning, our house also needed significant structural repair, for which we had no money.  Faced with increasing our debt load just to keep a house that was bleeding money anyway, we walked away from our mortgage.  Oh, we tried hard to sell it, but not even a drastically reduced price (which would have necessitated a short sale) enticed any potential buyers.  By that time, our house had lost about two-thirds of its peak assessed value.  To add insult to injury, we were left with a huge mortgage payment on our second house, whose value was now so far underwater that we couldn’t even see sunlight glinting on top of the waves.  This brutal lesson in economics would have a profound and lasting influence on me, and the fact that it happened on the Republicans’ watch was not lost on me.

Back to politics.   Thanks to the miracle of the Internet, one could learn incredible amounts of detail about potential candidates, and what I learned about Ron Paul seemed marvelous.  Here was a pious, humble man who was conservative, pro-life, and, the thing that most appealed to me, a congressman who based every one of his votes in Congress on whether a bill or action was allowable under the U.S. constitution!  Whoa, what a concept!  He was a man of uncompromising principle, singularly unafraid to stand alone (often literally) in the face of federal government running roughshod over the supreme law of the land.  This, I thought, was the kind of man Republicans would love.

Except they didn’t.  Not only did they not love him, they seemed to take great delight in ignoring, marginalizing, mischaracterizing, misrepresenting, and even mocking him.  I was shocked.  It was then that I realized that there was Something Wrong with the system, and I began reading to try to find out more about what this Something was.  I began reading a lot, books on politics, foreign policy, history, and economics.  I read books by Ron Paul, Tom Woods, Thomas DiLorenzo, F.A. Hayek, Lew Rockwell, and others.  I found Lew’s website and started voraciously reading the essays posted there, great pieces of writing by the men already listed, but also works by Laurence Vance, Ludwig von Mises, and more.  I stopped listening to conservative talk radio and started scouring the Internet for alternative news sources, and there were plenty of such sources available for anyone with the courage to doubt that Fox News held a monopoly on “fair and balanced”.  I learned about the Austrian theory of the business cycle and the difference between nonintervention and isolationism.  I learned about central banking.  I learned about the warfare state and ‘American exceptionalism’.  I learned some interesting new words and phrases, including neo-conservativism, blowback, ‘croney capitalism’, statism, quantitative easing, and anarcho-capitalism.  I began to see that much of what I had long believed to be true about our nation and its place in the world was, in fact, a carefully constructed myth, a myth constructed by the very people I thought were the good guys.

Just as importantly, I began to realize there was a question that few evangelical Republicans were even aware needed asking (and I’ll call this Big Question #1):  Why was there a huge disconnect between what Republicans said they would do, if elected, and what they actually did once elected?  Republicans say they are pro-life, yet abortion is still legal in all 50 states, in spite of the fact that Republicans have, at times, simultaneously controlled all three branches of the federal government.  Republicans say they want lower taxes, yet they have repeatedly raised them.  Republicans say they want less government, but they have repeatedly increased the size of government.  Republicans say they want balanced budgets, but they have added huge increases to the national debt.  Republicans say they favor the middle class, but the party elite are hopelessly in bed with Big Business and Big Finance.

The light bulb went off.  I realized the emperor had no clothes.  It was like that scene in Logan’s Run where Logan says, “There is no sanctuary.”  I realized the truth, and it set me free:

There was no significant difference between the Republican and Democrat parties.

Oh, sure, they talk up their differences all the time, and most of the masses still believe there is a difference.  Both parties depend for their existence on maintaining this illusion of difference.  But the truth is when the Democrats are in power, we get more government; when the Republicans are in power, we get more government.  When the Democrats are in power, we get more debt; when the Republicans are in power, we get more debt.  When the Democrats are in power, we get more war; when the Republicans are in power, we get more war.  When the Democrats are in power, we get curtailed civil liberties; when the Republicans are in power, we get curtailed civil liberties.

And that is why Ron Paul was attacked and denigrated by the Republican Party establishment – because he was threatening to pull back the veil on the party’s precious myths.  It wasn’t enough to get him out of the primaries; he had to be crushed and discredited.  But it’s like what Princess Leia said to Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars, “The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”  The Republicans tightened their grip, but millions of disillusioned voters had slipped between their fingers (and many more continue to slip through to this day).  I was one of those voters.  I voted for Ron Paul in 2008 and again in 2012.  After the 2008 election, I switched my party preference on my voter registration from Republican to independent.  I haven’t voted for an establishment Republican since then, and I couldn’t be happier about it.  I consider myself somewhere in the libertarian/voluntarist  camp, and I continue to agitate for the libertarian/voluntarist/nonintervention/free market cause whenever I can.

About the same time I realized the existence of Big Question #1, I started becoming aware of a Big Question #2:  Was the Republican Party agenda compatible with a Christian worldview?  This is another question that I find a dismayingly small number of believers willing to consider.  The more I considered this question, the more I came to believe that a libertarian/voluntarist political philosophy is superior to the prevailing neo-conservative Republican philosophy with regards to biblical compatibility.  The whole New Testament paradigm of salvation is voluntary in nature – the offer of salvation is both freely given and freely received.  The Republican Party, on the other hand, is shot through-and-through with the use of force (as is the Democratic Party as well).  Government relies in large part on the threat of force (arrest, imprisonment, fines, asset forfeiture, etc.) to compel compliance with its ever burgeoning list of demands, and, in almost all cases, holds a monopoly on this threat of force.  For example, if the government demands money from you (a tax or fee), and you refuse to pay, the government can send you to prison.  This is not only considered normal in most circles, but fine and good as well.  If you, on the other hand, demand money from your neighbor and threaten harm against him in the event of non-payment, this is called ‘blackmail’ or ‘extortion’ and is generally frowned upon.  Insofar as Republicans are totally cool with the prevailing clime of taxation and use of government force, they can hardly be considered models of living the Golden Rule.  Strangely, most evangelical Republicans are unaware of this moral quandary and rarely, if ever, wonder about the paradox of wanting the government to ban, under the threat of personal harm, certain ‘bad’ items, like drugs or unpasteurized milk, but not certain other ‘good’ items, like guns or prayer in schools.  They do not question the arbitrary threat of force, only what that threat should be used for.

A far bigger turn-off, for me, has been the almost wholesale support by evangelical Republicans of practically every form of abuse of civil liberty in the name of the ‘War on Terror’ – especially if said abuse was done on a Republican watch.   Every article in the Bill of Rights has been weakened in the wake of 9/11 (indefinite detention, torture, targeted killings, mass surveillance, warrantless spying, etc.), and much of this began during the Bush II administration.  And both Bush and Obama have been equally guilty of massive amounts of innocent blood (Orwellianly referred to as ‘collateral damage’) shed in the name of fighting terrorism.  A great deal of ignoring or mangling of scripture must be done in order to justify these unconstitutional wars, yet evangelicals seem to want, if anything, more violence.  How this is compatible with Jesus’ clear commands to leave room for God’s wrath (Romans 12) and to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28), I do not know, yet I’m reasonably certain that these days the church sends more of its sons and daughters to the lost as U.S. Marines than as missionaries.

So, that’s pretty much the story of how I went from being a drum-beating, Dem-hating, neoconservative pawn to a free-thinking, noninterventionist, libertarian-leaning, free-market-loving voluntarist.  I only hope that more of my brothers and sisters will break free of the heinous hold the Republican Party has over their minds and hearts.  It saddens me to see that they are so afraid of what might happen if the Republicans lose power that they cannot see the glorious potential of any alternative to the hopelessly restrictive left-right, two-party paradigm.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Stupid Is as Stupid Does

U.S. foreign policy in Yemen will fail in spectacular, unforeseen fashion.  I give you my solemn guarantee on this.  What?  Does anyone (other than the deluded covert ops people in Mordor) really believe ratcheting up the number of drone strikes in Yemen will make the average citizen in Amerika more safe?  The average citizen in Sanaa  (the capitol of Yemen, for those who may be geographically challenged) hates the drone strike policy and hates the corrupt military government, who are milking the al Qaeda threat for all the military 'aid' they can possibly extort.  Think this is winning us any friends in Yemen?  Think this will actually quench the desire for revenge on the part of future would-be jihadis?  Has it worked yet?  And if it hasn't worked yet, what makes anyone think it will succeed at some future point?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

More 'Heroes' In Action

How many more examples are necessary before Americans will relinquish their childish belief that every man or woman who dons a U.S. military uniform is a 'hero' out defending our freedom?  There are many, many instances out there of U.S. armed forces members brutalizing foreign civilians under occupation, brutalizing American citizens when they come home and become law enforcement personnel, brutalizing themselves or their loved ones because they can't cope with the stress, and now brutalizing for hire by Mexican drug cartels.

I have said this many times and will continue to say it: Modern military service is degrading to the human spirit.  In order to become efficient killing machines, recruits must first be stripped of moral and cultural inhibitions against violence and murder.  Why are people surprised when these thus-morally-corrupted individuals perpetrate atrocities, be it here or anywhere else on the globe?  Why do parents still glow with pride when they send their sons and daughters off to be part of the slaughter?  Why are even Christian parents not immune to this insanity?

We still keep sending them, and innocents still keep paying the price. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Let's Do It Again

These people are frickin' idiots:

Dempsey Outlines Syria Options

Do these people speak for you?  Because they certainly don't speak for me.  I most certainly have not given them my consent to go mucking around in the internal affairs of other nations, using my tax dollars to pick winners and losers, all with no idea of how this will ultimately play out.  When the CIA toppled Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953, did they foresee the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979?  When the U.S. backed Hosni Mubarak in 1981, did they foresee the Muslim Brotherhood in 2011?  When Bush I moved into Saudi Arabia in 1990, did he foresee al Qaeda in 2001?  When Bush II knocked off Sadam Hussein in 2003, did he foresee warm relations between Baghdad and Tehran in 2005? 

Then what makes these fools think this time will be any different?  Mark my words - this will turn out badly.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Idiocy and Apathy

It's been quiet around here of late.  I'm having too much fun working on my pet summer break projects.  But that doesn't mean I haven't been following the news - or lack thereof.

So, a quick 'quick thoughts' piece is probably in order.  I chose the title for this post based on my perception that the American public is, in the main, well - idiotic and apathetic.  That is, Boobus americanus spends entirely much too much time up in arms over things that are petty and ultimately irrelevant, and not enough time focused on the matters that will ultimately undo the republic.  Examples to follow.

1.)  Much ado is being made over Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's picture being on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.  The only proper response to this picture should be: So what?  Last I recall, we still have protected free speech in this country, so Rolling Stone should be able to publish whatever they want on their cover.  Moreover, it seems some people are worried the cover shot might result in Tsarnaev becoming a 'pop icon'.  I think it's pretty hard to become a pop icon when the caption on your photo says "THE BOMBER" in large print.  Moreover #2, Tsarnaev hasn't even been convicted yet in a court of law, so screaming "The Bomber" on the cover of your magazine might turn out to be premature.  And if you think the case against Tsarnaev is iron-clad (spoon-fed as it is from the federal government and its media mouthpieces), you're being entirely too credulous, my friend.  A republic needs citizens possessed of a healthy reasonable suspicion of all things government.

2.)  The response of the black community to the outcome of the Zimmerman trial is not helping the credibility of the black community.  It's one thing to shout "racist" when your children are being barred from universities and lynch mobs are operating in your neighborhoods.  It's an entirely different thing to shout "racist" when your team can't make their case in court.  Especially after what came out in court is that your guy was apparently bashing the defendant's head repeatedly against the sidewalk.  Increasingly it is looking like Zimmerman is the one having his civil rights violated, while the black community is coming off as the side with the true color blinders on.  In my neck of the woods, it's Latinos who feel targeted for prosecution, and surprisingly little has been said about their reaction to the Zimmerman verdict.

3.)  Sideshows like the Zimmerman trial and the Rolling Stone cover keep America's attention from matters that really matter.  While page one at Faux News is dominated by the Tsarnaev photo, little or no attention is being given to
  • the IRS selected scrutiny of conservative groups
  • the NSA spying scandal
  • efforts by the US to train and equip Syrian rebels
  • the farm bill (a perfect, shining example of how the government wastes enormous amounts of time and money haggling over legislation it has no constitutional authority to craft in the first place)
  • draconian legislation pending in our most populous state, California, to further infringe upon gun ownership
  • efforts by various state and local governments to nullify federal gun control and indefinite detainment laws.
Whether George Zimmerman went to prison or not is a subject that had little direct impact on the life of the average citizen, but there are many, many examples out there of government continuously straining to increase its control over what we do, with whom we associate, how we do business, where we travel, and with what we may defend ourselves should the day ever come (hopefully it won't) in which we have to defend ourselves from the government.  One would think these sad facts would stir up the nation to be increasingly vigilant and demanding of accountability.  Unfortunately, it seems more and more as though the public is becoming inured to the assaults on our liberties and that the republic may pass not with a bang, but with nary a whimper.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Picking and Choosing

Our betters in Mordor seem hell-bent on abusing, ignoring, and/or trammeling our constitutional rights.  Particularly it appears they wish to deprive us of the protections enumerated in the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Amendments.  With the 5th, on the other hand, they have no problem.