(Originally published in the East Tennessee Business Journal July 2004;
View more at Michael Badnarik visits East Tennessee)
By Jayne Andrews, East Tennessee Business Journal
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. On July 1, Libertarian Party presidential candidate, Michael Badnarik, made a five-hour visit here to meet with local supporters and answer questions from the media. He attended a luncheon at the Mandarin House sponsored by the Knox County Libertarian Party. The event attracted Republicans, Democrats, and Green Party members as well as people who said they attended because they had never met a presidential candidate in person before.
Badnarik, a computer programmer from Texas and Constitutional scholar, also teaches Constitution classes. He was nominated at the Libertarian Party's national convention, which was held in Atlanta in late May 2004.
Badnarik's vice presidential running mate is Richard Campagna, a native of New York, now living in Iowa. Campagna is an attorney who has practiced, counseled and taught law for over 25 years. He has led seminars in all 50 states and every continent of the world and has an extensive record of public and community service. Additionally, Badnarik's mother, Elaine Badnarik, is the Libertarian Party's candidate for lieutenant governor in Indiana.
The Libertarian Party is the third-largest political party in the U.S., and well known for their emphasis on smaller government, civil liberties and personal freedom, a commitment to a free market economy and adherence to the Constitution. Libertarians are against gun control and believe that the "War on Drugs" has raised the price on all drugs, making them "profitable enough to kill for." They claim the Department of Education is unconstitutional, and not doing its job. Libertarians also support a foreign policy of non-intervention, peace and free trade, as prescribed by America's founders.
Badnarik answered the following questions from East Tennessee Business Journal and the audience:
Q. Where do you stand on property rights?
A. You have a right to all of your property, but you do not have a right to anyone else's property. When the government takes someone else's property in order to give it to you although you didn't do the stealing the government did it for you, and it is still government theft.
Q. What should we do about Social Security?
A. We have two groups of people who are pitted against each other. The older people who have already paid in to Social Security are expecting some sort of benefits so they can retire when they are too old to work any longer. The young people recognize that this is a sinking ship and they don't want to be forced to continue paying into Social Security. We need to be able to separate the two groups and find a way to take care of our elderly who unfortunately allowed the government to take responsibility for their retirement, which was a bad decision. We need to allow the young people to invest their money for their retirement. The baby boomers are going to cause this problem to really explode when they begin to retire in 2008.
Q. How did you feel when you were nominated as your party's presidential candidate, and how will you campaign?
A. I was a wee bit surprised that I was the one chosen, but am very honored. My first words in my acceptance speech were, "Never in my wildest dreams." I will continue to work very hard to bring the Libertarian message to Americans all the way up to the election. I want to bring as many people as I can into the Libertarian Party, which is strongly unified right now. I have found that people like me and know that I have integrity. Our slogan is "The Party of Principle" and I try very hard to live up to that. The media has taken a great interest in my campaign, and I have interviews booked all day every day. We have three people who do nothing but field phone calls from the media and organize my interviews.
Q. Where does the Libertarian Party stand on gay marriage?
A. Some members of the Libertarian Party are pro-life, some are pro-choice. As libertarians, we respect each other's right to our own beliefs. Personally, I believe that when two people say "If do," the government has no business saying, "Oh no, you don't." Politicians don't get to decide whose baby can be baptized, who can receive Holy Communion or who can get bar mitzvahed and they shouldn't get to decide who gets married either.
Q. Where do you stand on the environment?
A. Libertarians want clean water and air, and we want to protect the environment. I think I'm a wonderful spokesperson for the environment since I was a Boy Scout for 12 years and a Scout Master for 10 years. But having the government take care of environmental matters is probably the worst solution. We all know that any time the government does something, it costs 10 times as much as it normally would, and it doesn't work it creates more problems. The Bureau of Land Management polices forest area so that paper mills can come in and clear cut. Does that sound like protecting the environment? Having more government is not the answer, which we have already seen demonstrated. We can prove that private ownership is the only way. If a paper mill owns the land, they are only going to cut selected trees and will spend a lot of money to reforest that area so they've got resources in the future.
Q. What about deficit spending?
A. Every college student that leaves home learns one simple rule you can't spend more than you bring in. If a college kid leaving home can figure this out, why can't Congress? We have a $700 billion per year deficit that's $700 billion per year they spend that is not in the budget. That's absolutely criminal, and we the people need to hold the people in Congress responsible.
Q. What would you do about economic development in the U.S. if you were elected president?
A. We would eliminate the Internal Revenue Service so people would have more money to invest. We would eliminate the Federal Reserve Bank, to stop inflating our economy and we would eliminate NAFTA and any other free trade agreement the government has come up with which doesn't provide free trade. What it does is provide "managed trade," creating a hostile economic climate for businesses large and small. It puts small businesses out of business, and causes large businesses to move jobs and manufacturing overseas. There is no possible way that American businesses can compete with the yoke of government regulations around their neck. As Libertarians, we believe in the free market and that means we are going to remove regulations and allow businesses to do what they do best provide goods and services.
Q. What would you do to reduce the national debt?
A. I would assign my friend, Bernard von NotHaus, as the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Bernard was the royal mint master of Hawaii for over 20 years, and is the designer of the Liberty Dollar, private silver currency in the U.S. He understands the economy far better than I do. My personal reaction is that the national debt was perpetrated under fraud and could justifiably be repudiated. Bernard says that while that may satisfy my emotional instincts, there are better things we can do to eliminate the debt without causing economic distress.
Q. What would you do to downsize the scope and size of the federal government property ownership?
A. The federal government has no reason to own as much property as it does. I believe the federal government owns at least 90 percent of Nevada. While we may be able to sell off federal property, I don't know how much money it would bring in, and so I don't know how much debt we would be able to pay off. However, I would like to eliminate federal property. Property should either belong to the states or to individuals.
Q. American property owners and business owners are constantly concerned about potential lawsuits and the government shutting businesses down. How would you change this?
A. We would make the justice system actually mean something. One of the first things I would do as president would be to eliminate the idea of sovereign immunity for the government. The 1st Amendment not only protects our freedom of speech and our freedom of religion, but it also protects our right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. That's Founding Fathers' talk for you can sue the government and win. But the federal government has set itself up as bulletproof. Anytime they do something, theoretically you cannot sue them because they are the government and were obviously just doing things in your best interests. That is not true. We the people have rights, and we grant limited privileges to the government. Not only can we take those privileges away from them anytime we want, we can also file a lawsuit against the government and win.
Badnarik said that he has campaign volunteers from all 50 states, and that he believes his background as a technical trainer and computer programmer gives him the ability to communicate his party's message so that all Americans can understand it.
"If I'm talking to a Democrat, that person is usually complaining that I'll steal votes from the Democrats, " he said. "If I'm talking to a Republican, they think I'm stealing votes from the Republicans. I'd like to point out that the candidates don't own the votes. The voters do."
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
"Yes, we did produce a near perfect Republic. But will they keep it, or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom? Material abundance without character is the surest way to destruction." Thomas Jefferson
(Originally published in 2002)
The problem with revolutions, historically, has always been that the Revolutionaries themselves gradually morph into the new power structure that must again be removed by revolution. It is inevitable that the Ring of Power will ultimately, and inevitably, corrupt its wielder, no matter how iron willed or noble he or she may be. So what is a person to do?
1. Start producing your own food.
Currently we eat food extracted via "agricultural strip mining” that is over processed and shipped thousands of miles to our table. Every time we eat at McDonald’s or buy groceries at Kroger, we are supporting the monster that is strangling us. Do business at community gardens, food co-operatives, community supported agriculture, and farmer's markets. Leave nutrition, and money, right where it belongs, LOCALLY!
Besides who’s to say that the higher-ups at Kroger or Wal-Mart may decide we don't wish to be in the grocery business anymore. What will you do when you can't shop for it?
2. Start small businesses and manufacture basic needs at home.
Stop buying useless plastic crap that you saw on TV, turn off the TV! Or shoot it! Own the means of production, however modest. A good set of tools or books are worth far more than any SUV or swimming pool. Materialism is what is suffocating us. While there may be nothing wrong with having a car in and of itself or a bunch of different gadgets, simplicity is really a better way to go. Plus, you will have more time to pursue other matters that are otherwise being used to pay off your bills.
3. Own your own home.
Get the Landlord's hand out of your pocket, and assure yourself of shelter. Look for ways to make them energy efficient.
4. Get out of debt.
Buy no mortgages; send your credit card back to the credit card company (in pieces). Make life decisions based on your actual worth as opposed to being driven by debt.
Of course what bills you do have, pay them on time.
5. Consider alternative forms of information.
Cancel your magazine and newspaper subscriptions. Develop alternative sources of information. Broadcast pirate radio, operate your own newspapers, and search for alternative news on the web.
6. Get involved in local politics.
Make it clear to local politicians that following the statist or corporate agendas will result in noisy and effective locally based opposition to re-election. It is the School Board that signs the contract to feed corporate glop to our children, it is the County Sheriff who enlarges his domain with Drug War confiscations, and it is the County Executive who labors day and night to give away our lands and forests for golf courses and industrial parks.
Getting involved in local politics is almost a necessity. On the other hand, don’t live off the system.
7. Actively reduce tax bite.
Buy your needs from small biz and local manufacturers. Buy from flea markets and yard sales. Barter heavily. Avoid heavily taxed industries and products. Don't be a mindless "Consumer".
8. Own a gun.
Practice with it and see that your family and children are familiar with its use and care. If enough of us own one then there will probably never be a need to use it in anger.
9. Stop going to the hospital.
I guess it might be one thing to go if you are dying of a heart attack. Of course, if you are going to die, then you are going to die. But going because you cut your finger or because you have a headache I'm sure would at least in part contribute to these rising healthcare costs. Just walk it off or create your own medical supplies.
10. If you have to, set up a budget.
Don't look at the budget when shopping, but note the amounts you spend in the category of clothes, food, subcategory sweets, misc, etc... You would be amazed on where the money is being spent. Further, you might consider breaking them into groupings such as credit, cash, checks, liberty dollars, etc... Ask your employer about alternatives forms of payments. Ask your bank for redemption in lawful money (i.e. silver and gold coin), but don’t count on it.
Briefly this is a plan for seizing the means of production and taking back control of our lives. You might choose to do one, a few or all of these things and more. It won't be easy. Old habits die hard. When it appears that the plan may actually be succeeding, rest assured you will get your chance to die for the cause. But we owe it to our children to see that it does succeed.
The key is to do it eventually and it will be done in phases. You might do one of these things, some of them or all of them and more. Learn about architecture. Learn about agriculture. Learn other ways to do things in order to be self-sufficient. If you have a car, don't buy one every three years. Take a bus or learn to ride a bicycle. Riding a horse also works. It takes some time to phase out elements of your current lifestyle and work in the new.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
"I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class thug for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents." Smedley Butler, Maj. Gen., USMC
Why has the United States government been sending troops to Haiti while at the same time preventing aid workers from being able to get to the injured workers? For example, a French plane with an emergency field hospital was turned back Friday. Doctors Without Borders said that its cargo plane with 12 tons of medical supplies had been turned away from Port-au-Prince airport 3 times since Sunday.
Since I was a teenager, I've known about the U.S. foreign policy aims particularly in Central and South America. Troops have been sent to Guatemala on behalf of the American Fruit Company (now Chiquita), Standard Oil Company in Venezuela, the CIA has staged coups and funded death squads, not to mention involvement in Cuba, The Philippines, Tonga, and numerous other places around the world going back to 1800. This is not something you would read about in your school textbooks.
Which brings us to Haiti. Troops were first sent there in 1915 and the government has been involved in its affairs on and off since that time. In a nutshell, it is due to oil. There will be some who claim that the military is there to stabilize the situation on the ground and open the roads for aid workers. The military is trained for a very specific purpose and it isn't to render aid to people. As many as 20,000 people are dying per day while what is being uploaded are military supplies and troops. Very little humanitarian aid has been let in. This should disturb those who have a conscience. As the saying goes, "Never let a crisis go to waste".
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
So finally the race to fill Ted Kennedy's seat is over with Scott Brown winning 53% of the vote in a three-way race against Martha Coakley and Joe Kennedy.
I suppose if I was voting, I would have chosen Joe Kennedy since I'm not inclined to vote for any proponent of expanded government regardless of party label. But all in all, I could care less. So yeah, they still claim that they can "[c]reate jobs, reduce pollution, and stop sending billions overseas for foreign oil from countries that would do us harm." It is the same old argument every election cycle, but nothing changes.
Presidential candidates in 2008 spent over 1 billion dollars. That is on top of the very individuals who take 50% of our money in the form of taxes and run up debts in the trillions of dollars in order to fund things like animal mating habits, swine odor and manure management or recreational grounds. We donate money and vote for candidates on the basis that they will make our lives comfortable or make our problems go away, the very problems they create in the first place or they make worse by meddling where they have no business meddling.
With $1 billion dollars, the food banks and pantries could purchase enough food to feed five million people every day for a year. Around the world in a year, around 10 million people starve to death and close to a billion people are malnourished. Is it due to the Earth outgrowing it capacity? No, it is something else entirely. As Walter Williams so succinctly put it, "[The] problems are really a result of socialistic government practices that reduce the capacity of people to educate, clothe, house and feed themselves. Poor countries are rife with agricultural restrictions controls, export and import controls, restrictive licensing, price controls, not to mention gross human rights abuses that encourage their most productive people to emigrate. The most promising anti-poverty tool for poor people and poor countries is personal liberty."
With $1 billion using $100,000 as a baseline, 10,000 housing units could be built. Depending on how many people live in each unit, we could give tens of thousands of people housing while they could then be able to work on whatever caused them to wind up homeless in the first place whether it is job loss, depression, alcoholism, etc... It beats having to return to sleeping on concrete or cardboard boxes every night while they can have the chance to put their lives back to together and it beats having billions being wasted on social welfare programs overseen by career bureaucrats who have an interest in keeping the status quo going.
Hopefully, this will be something to think about the next time you head to the polls. As for me, I'm thinking about writing in None of the Above.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow,
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
In every cry of every Man,
In every Infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear.
How the Chimney-sweeper's cry
Every black'ning Church appalls;
And the hapless Soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls.
But most thro' midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlot's curse
Blasts the new born Infant's tear,
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.
William Blake, London
"London" was written by William Blake in 1794. I couldn't help but to notice the rather interesting correlation between what Blake was referring to in the late 18th century and what so many people are dealing with in the 21st century. Just more proof that indeed on a fundamental level, human beings haven't really changed all that much and especially not in politics where sadly enough the masses think that change is supposed to occur.
Around the same time, Thomas Jefferson wrote these words: "If it is believed that elementary schools will be better managed by the governor and council, the commissioners of the literary fund or any other general authority of the government than by the parents within each ward, it is a belief against all experience. Try the principle one step further, and commit to the governor and council the management of all our farms, our mills and merchants' stores."
Yet what kind of world do we live in? We are told what to do by our parents, the teachers, experts, politicians, talking heads, reality shows and non reality shows. Our lives are run by costume designers, script writers, stunt men, producers, directors, assistant directors, acrobats, football players and wet t-shirt contestants. I personally prefer to watch the mud and oil wrestling myself.
We live in a world where the machine rules. The past 100-150 years have been about the assembly line, the telephone, the machine gun, first steamboats, now airlines which has extremely poor customer service. It was a joyful ride on trains and now we are always in a rush to get to work every day in our automobiles. Even our vacations are a rush if we have a vacation at all.
We live in a world where our lives are planned out from birth to death. It is the "social security card", medicare, medicaid, get our degrees and we are set for life kind of living. We have Blackberries, palm pilots, faxes, computers, cell phone in one hand, steering wheel in the other.
You were once a boy who used to play baseball or football, but for whatever reason you aren't playing now. You are working the graveyard shift pushing carts and merchandise around. You were once a girl who began dance lessons when you were 5, you dreamed of being a professional ballet dancer, dreamed of being a figure skater or an actress, but for whatever reason, you aren't doing it now. You worked the same factory job for 30 years. But now at age 50, with only a high school diploma, where do you go from here? Do you go to school and seek to become a nurse? Do you open your own business making cakes and cookies? Do you commit suicide because you are trapped by mind-forg'd manacles?
Now I want all of you to get up. Take a deep breath. Move away from your computers and television sets, put down your Blackberries and just walk away. Walk into your bathroom (which is about the only place you have any quiet time for yourself) and look at yourself in the mirror. Don't say anything. Just look. Then ask yourself this question: What shall I do with my life?" Only you can answer that question. No one else. Not your teacher nor the experts. So what shall YOU do with your life?
Friday, January 15, 2010
The Tennessee Volunteers apparently have its new football coach lined up in Derek Dooley. But we will know for sure at a scheduled press conference at 9 p.m. EST (after the department originally stated that the conference would take place at 9 tomorrow morning). Anything can happen between now and then. I will reserve judgment on Dooley specifically until after he has been given a chance.
Unlike most people, I know better than to believe everything I hear or read including official reports. I have to give the local media a poor grade for just jumping on every tidbit of info and rumors as if it meant anything. First it as Muschamp, then Cutcliffe, then Fulmer and everyone in between. Whatever happened to accuracy and fairness? Such is the world we live in. I think I speak for many people when I say that there is a part of me that is disgusted with the undue influence that money and politics has in pro sports. We've witnessed the same nonsense at the college level. This topic is nothing new. I've read accounts from the 1920's dealing with these same issues.
I figured as early as September of 2008 that it was probably going to be Phil Fulmer's last year. I had mixed feelings about it all. I had to acknowledge his dedication and passion for the university, but also recognized that perhaps he became too comfortable and with that, he was so set in his ways that he was unable to make necessary adjustments. Then again, making adjustments wasn't his strong point in coaching.
Too often, football coaches and administrators only look at the $$$ and ignore people who are in coaching or want to coach because they love it. Mike Hamilton has set the UT football program back a few years with this nonsense. He couldn't even get Will Muschamp to come here for $3 million a year. Either Mr. Hamilton is doing a poor job of salesmanship or there is something I am missing. Neyland Stadium speaks for itself. 100,000+ fans, fantastic facilities, and the traditions speak volumes. Yet, there were a handful of coaches turning the position down before they were even approached. So my conclusion is that Mr. Hamilton is way in over his head as Athletic Director. His background is in banking and fundraising. He is an administrator. He should just sign the paychecks and accept donations. But the tasks of hiring and firing coaches, contract negotiations and day to day operations of the athletic department should be reassigned to someone else.
Of course, if this hire doesn't work out, Mr. Hamilton could still contact me.
I'm willing and able.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
As I already gathered, the so-called attempted bombing on Christmas was nothing more than another false flag designed to further the grips of tyranny over the people. Did you notice recently Michael Chertoff has been making the rounds on the news channels suggesting that body scanners be installed in the airports?
Rapiscan Systems which is a subsidiary of OSI Systems Co is the company that stands to benefit from the installation of the body scanners in the airports. Michael Chertoff is one of their major stockholders and their Congressional lobbyist. I will leave you to connect the dots from here.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
"You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU...WILL...ATONE! [calmly] Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale?"
When I was a kid, I dreamed of being a professional baseball or football player. Unfortunately, I never had the size or pure athletic ability to go with my desire. I am doing reasonably well. I'm not where I want to be in terms of a career, but I'm working on it. I am working towards getting a degree in physical education and perhaps teach it or go into coaching. Then again, ten years ago, I had dreams of working in the movies or producing music videos. But then there was a layoff, didn't get calls back in spite of sending out hundreds of resumes, you know the drill. What can I say? I should have been born in the earlier half of the 20th century, not the later half. So if my own past experiences are any indication, I expect my current plans to be disrupted by forces outside my control. I am not loaded with money nor did I descend from the royal families of Europe. I'm rich in terms of how I look at the world and my ideas about how to make things better. I've come to realize my purpose doesn't involve being famous, rich or even to be acknowledged. I'm answering to a higher calling. Over the past number of years, my mind has thought less in terms of what I wanted to be when I grow up and more to do with the world at large. In fact, I've even given a great deal of thought to how the galaxies are formed and the age of the universe. It makes me realize that in comparison, we are microscopic and that our natural lives on Earth amounts to a few seconds.
We think that more education or getting a college degree will solve our problems. But it is no secret that something is seriously lacking in the education field. How many people are just going through the motions and collecting a paycheck? How many people have a college degree, yet they can't even get a job cleaning dishes or houses? I don't think the problem is with teachers per se, but a system that punishes success and creativity and rewards partisanship and failure.
Clearly, something is wrong, bad wrong. Sadly, most people are so stuck in their ways that they refuse to change for the better. Fortunately, I came to realize we were heading in this direction at the turn of the century. We have not a free-market economy, but a combination of communism and fascism rolled up into one. This can be traced back to the so-called Progressive Era. You have to get the government's "permission" to get married, tie your shoes, pray to your God, etc... If the bureaucrats don't give you permission, I guess you are out of luck. Real substantial change will have to come at the grassroots level, not the top down. Until enough people understand this, we can forget about improving the national or international situation anytime soon. Hopefully on an individual level, you can go about freeing yourself so as not to get pinned down or killed by the zombies.
So if you had no obstacles standing in your way, what would you do with your life? Would you be playing professional baseball, running a dance studio, or baking wedding cakes? Perhaps the 21st century should be about doing what YOU want to do and not allow obstacles to stand in your way whether real or imagined. Don't let someone else plan your life. Follow your heart! Short-term, it will be frustrating and painful, but there could be a pot of gold at the end of the road.
So I've taken the following quote by Fox Mulder to heart: "Whatever happened to playing a hunch, Scully? The element of surprise, random acts of unpredictability? If we fail to anticipate the unforeseen or expect the unexpected in a universe of infinite possibilities, we may find ourselves at the mercy of anyone or anything that cannot be programmed, categorized or easily referenced."
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Many Americans particularly if they were born here in the civil and literal sense will say they are "Proud to be an American". For others, being an American would be going through the naturalization process and handling all the paperwork. Is being an American merely about paperwork? Perhaps the Native Americans should have been asking for ID and passport when the Europeans started coming over en masse beginning around 500 years ago. The primary reason at least for most northern Europeans was to escape religious persecution that was coming at the hands of the monarchs and bishops. The second wave of immigration from southern Europe that would come in the 19th-20th century was primarily economic and cultural more than religious.
What about assimilation? Are people from China or Mexico supposed to dress the same way Europeans do? Speaking of Mexico, the Aztecs were there first. Are English speaking Americans supposed to eat the same foods as Greek-Americans or Italian Americans? Should a man's name be John Smith or Bob Wilson? Or would Kim (Marilyn) Novak be an issue? At least the Hollywood studio boss Harry Cohn had an issue with it. It was "too Polish" to him although Novak is actually Czech-American.
What about languages? I could understand perhaps learning English or some dialect of English in order to function on a day to day basis. But suppose the French had won the French and Indian War? Would it be an issue if the American people turned out to be generally French speaking? If I was to visit Spain or live in Finland part of the year, perhaps it would be fitting to at least learn some of the language. But if a person wants to keep some of their cultural heritage, then it shouldn't be held against them. After all, didn't immigrants come to this land because it was to be about the opportunity to be themselves?
Are we supposed to be of the same religion? If we are of the same religion, denomination or what have you, is that by choice or coercion? I can tell you as a Baptist, that contrary to what is being portrayed, Baptists are not walking lockstep beating to a single drummer. It is diverse to the point of having disputes about various issues. The issues are less about theological doctrine and more about personalities and politics.
Is being an American about belonging to a political party? If you believed most of the stories you hear, you would think that there are two parties: Democrats and Republicans. But yet, there are the Libertarian Party, Green Party, Constitution Party among others. If you go back further, there was the Bull Moose Party, the Whigs, and the Federalists to provide a small sampling. Any way you cut it, it is absurd to think that two political parties which in reality aren't all that different can sufficiently represent 300 million people. Or as the saying goes, put ten people in a room and you will get eleven different opinions.
How about our entertainment choices? Entertainment choices during ancient times generally were for civic and political purposes. Also the notion of individual rights and free-market economics in a societal sense only started to take hold in the past 200+ years. The main reason this notion took so long to gain traction is because human beings are primarily social animals. We want to associate, belong, be part of the team, tribe, or organization. In one sense such as being part of a football team, that is fine. But taken to its extreme, you end up with the gladiators (who were mostly slaves) or the rise of the Third Reich. So these days, entertainment is primarily personal. I like to watch some TV shows and not others. One person may like to watch pro wrestling whereas someone else likes to watch ladies oil wrestling.
What about the American Flag? What does it stand for? What do the colors represent? One take on the colors is that red means hardiness and valor.
White signifies purity and innocence. Blue is the color of the Chief. The star symbolizes heaven and the goal all man have been striving for. The stripe is a ray of light from the sun. Should one salute the flag? I suppose the simple act isn't a problem and I've done it before too. But as I became an adult and learned more about the history of the Pledge and symbolism, there has been a certain unease that overcomes me. Do I put my allegiance to the flag over my allegiance to God? Sadly most Christians in 1930's Germany did just that. While practicing your religion and attending church wasn't prohibited initially, loyalty was to the state first and foremost. It was the same way during the time of the Roman Empire.
What about interactions between people of different skin colors or different religious beliefs? What about a man who is originally from England, is Anglican and a writer marrying a woman who is from Turkey who is a Gypsy and a belly dancer?
Is one un-American if they criticize the president or disagree with official state policies? Or is one un-American for not criticizing the president or questioning official state policies?
What do you make of Samuel Adams when he wrote "Contemplate the mangled bodies of your countrymen, and then say 'what should be the reward of such sacrifices?' Bid us and our posterity bow the knee, supplicate the friendship and plough, and sow, and reap, to glut the avarice of the men who have let loose on us the dogs of war to riot in our blood and hunt us from the face of the earth? If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!"
It seems like a swipe at the John Rockefellers and J.P. Morgans or the military-industrial complex itself which is a topic that I've written a great deal on.
Does being an American represent something else? Perhaps it is about ideas. Was Thomas Jefferson wrong when he wrote "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Is this idea strictly limited to Americans or to the physical United States of America itself? I suggest we take the ideas of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness and spread it throughout the world. This is ultimately an intellectual and moral endeavor, not a military endeavor.
Needless to say, this country is diverse to the point of having a sense of opportunity, mystery, frustration and tension all rolled up into a ball of fire.
It is what we do with our own ball of fire that makes the difference.
Monday, January 4, 2010
"Neocons are not classical liberals nor are they conservatives in the Old Right sense. They are in fact socialists who derive their inspiration from national socialism (hence all the talk about the homeland aka fatherland) and support the social welfare programs of the Progressives thus appealing to the communist branch of socialism. It is an attempt to unite socialism under one roof."
For a little run-down in our times where this approach has been used, go to "Will There Be A War With China?"
According to "The Foreign Policy of the Third Reich" by Klaus Hildebrand, "Göring was certainly an ardent Nazi and utterly loyal to Hitler. But his preferences in foreign policy were different. Besides Hitler's foreign policy program that there existed three other rival foreign programs held by factions in the Nazi Party, whom Hildebrand dubbed the agrarians, the revolutionary socialists, and the Wilhelmine Imperialists. Göring was the most prominent of the "Wilhelmine Imperialist" group in the Nazi regime. This group wanted to restore the German frontiers of 1914, regain the pre-1914 overseas empire, and make Eastern Europe Germany's exclusive sphere of influence. This was a much more limited set of goals than Hitler's dream of Lebensraum seized in merciless racial wars. By contrast, Göring and the "Wilhelmine Imperialist" faction were more guided by traditional Machtpolitik in their foreign policy conceptions. Furthermore, the "Wilhelmine Imperialists" expected to achieve their goals within the established international order. While not rejecting war as an option, they preferred diplomacy, and sought political domination in eastern Europe rather than the military conquests envisioned by Hitler. And they rejected Hitler's mystical vision of war as a necessary ordeal for the nation, and of perpetual war as desirable. Göring himself feared that a major war might interfere with his luxurious lifestyle."
In our modern times, U.S. political policy runs between progressive communism and incremental fascism which is derived from the Latin word fasces. This nation has not had a free market economy in around 100 years or so. Fascism and communism are merely two brands of socialism. Both find classical liberalism (rights of the individual to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) to be repulsive.
In terms of economic policy, many fascist leaders have claimed it was a "Third Way" in economic policy, which they believed superior to both the rampant individualism of the free market and state socialism. This was to be achieved by establishing significant government control over business and labor. Italian fascist leader Mussolini called his nation's system "the corporate state".
In theory, communism and its derivatives is supposed to result in a classless, stateless and oppression-free society. Generally, communists would be opposed to the imperial aims that most European nations have embarked on since ancient times, but see a struggle of the workers rising up in every nation against what they see as oppressive capitalism. Economic decisions are supposedly made in a democratic fashion, but in fact is determined by a central planning committee. In a nutshell, whenever communism theory has been put to practice, the end result was a disaster. Communist leaders like Stalin and Mao justified their collectivist policies as being for the public good or that he was modernizing society and his means of doing this led to a cult of personality, famine or terror. According to R.J. Rummel, in the 20th century alone, 262,000,000 people have been murdered as a result of democide.
So basically, while both systems were undoubtedly collectivist, they differed greatly in their socio-economic content. For Communism was a genuine revolutionary movement that ruthlessly displaced and overthrew the old ruling elites; while fascism, on the contrary, cemented into power the old ruling classes. Therefore, fascism was a counter-revolutionary movement that froze a set of monopolistic privileges upon society. This was the reason that Fascism proved so attractive (which Communism, of course, never did) to big business interests in the West throughout much of the 20th century.
Given that the Communist approach would not work in the revolutionary sense, it had to adopt a different tactic. Thus it adopted the ways of the Fabian Society vis a vis gradualist and reformist, rather than revolutionary. In a nutshell, communism became institutionalized. Is it any wonder why people are graduating from college with economic degrees, but couldn't tell you the first thing about how to run a small business or know what fractional reserve banking is?
Essentially war is done for the benefit of the state and to detriment of the people. Historically, wars have been justified in the name of building an empire that reflected a rulers rightful sphere on Earth similar to the God's sphere in the universe. They would even admit that they were doing it "because the Gods told me to". Given that this method of explanation would not work in Western society, it had to be subtextual. Progressive communists would justify war as being for the public good, to liberate the poor from evil capitalism, or to make us all "equal" which flies in the face of recognizing every person as a unique individual with a unique personality. "The ends justify the means!"
National Socialism hence the word NAZI (National Socialist Workers Party) would justify war in terms of racial purity, or that one nation is infinitely superior to another nation in terms of its culture, industry, religion, etc... Thus if a nation wants to attack another nation, it was justified as we were just civilizing them. "Might makes right!"
In any event, tyranny is almost always justified along the lines of God's will or "the will of the people." That being said, it is the inherent right and duty of the people, regardless of what labels you attach to yourself or to others, to resist socialism in all its forms. Only when we recognize that individual liberty and the right of each individual to have the opportunity to make something of themselves however they may see fit that we can reduce pain and suffering and solve many of the problems that occupy our existence.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Perhaps the most talked about and most misunderstood book of the New Testament is Book of Revelation. Most people recognize that the language is symbolic. Where most people fall short is in their interpretation and the method of storytelling that is being used. Revelation is NOT a prediction of what is going to happen in the future, but is instead referring to the author's own time and the past and is being addressed to "the seven churches in Asia." The modern day claims that Revelation is referring to the modern United Nations creation of Israel are false and heretical. If that were true, then why didn't John of Patmos just write in his letters: "In 1948, ..." or "In 2010, Jesus will return?" Not even Jesus knew when he would return. The doctrine of dispensationalism was advocated heavily by John Nelson Darby (thought to have been inspired in part by an incident involving Margaret MacDonald). Later, it was seized upon and tinkered with twists that fit the times by Hal Lindsay, Pat Robertson, Tim LaHaye among others. The Anti-Christ has been everybody and thing from Nero, the Pope, The Black Death, Martin Luther, Napoleon (20th century view), Hitler, Ronald Reagan, the Soviet Union and now Islam. Anybody can twist words to fit an agenda or viewpoint. Beware of false doctrines. The conflicts in the Middle East while historically rooted in thousands of years of precedence is not due to some uncontrollable chain of events that would usher in an Anti-Christ or cosmic battle, but in large part due to distortions of religious texts and propaganda designed to keep the masses dumbed down if not dead altogether. "What good fortune for those in power that people do not think" Adolf Hitler
This book was composed near the end of Domitian's reign, around the year 95 by John of Patmos who most likely was living in exile. What is clear is that the Christians are in the minority and being persecuted by both local audiences who object to their emphasis on monotheism and from Roman governors because they serve one master, thus the false claim that Christians were attempting social unrest. Religion primarily had been a endeavor of the state for the purpose of social harmony and worship of the state as the God's supposed emissary on Earth. So as you can imagine, the notion that the state has no say in matters of religion didn't sit well up until a few centuries ago.
It would be helpful to be familiar with Daniel 7-12, Enoch, 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch in coming to understand Revelation. The use of symbols and numbers stand out in this text. Babylon is a reference to Rome as both of them destroyed the temple. The same goes for the numbers used. Numbers in ancient times were used for symbolic representations whereas in modern times, we use numbers for adding, subtracting, budgets, etc... Keep in mind, that only around 5% of the general population could read and write sufficiently. So symbols and images were used to communicate messages. The seven seals, seven trumphets, seven bowls, etc... are all used symbolically to represent God's perfect plan. 12 stood for the people of God. Hence 144,000 is 12x12x1,000. It does not mean that only 144,000 people are going to heaven as some have claimed. If that were true, all of us would be out of luck.
6 meant imperfection or falling short of God's plan. So what do you think 666 referred to? It was referring to Satan who really falls short of God's perfection.
Revelation used an ancient method of storytelling called recapitulation i.e. repeating the same story in different ways or circular storytelling. Modern audiences tell stories using a linear concept. Recapitulation was primarily relating the past and present times to its audience, not what was going to happen 200 years or 2,000 years later. John was not using a crystal ball. The central message of the book is that we should hold fast to our convictions in spite of persecution and while things are bad now, in the long run, God's justice will prevail.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Before you read any further, I recommend you read this: I'm Taking A Break From Politics!
For those who have been at this political stuff for a while, you already know what I'm talking about. Chances are that you are reading this because you want to change unfair drug laws, be part of that "reform movement" you've heard about, reduce property taxes, etc..., but you are unsure how to begin. Chances are you or either someone you know was affected in some manner and it made you realize that something wasn't right and it inspired you to get involved.
You don't need experience in organizing to take action now. If you're motivated to make (real) changes, and to work with others who feel the way you do, then that is a start. Events can be a neighborhood planning meeting, a media interview, or a potluck, to name a few examples.
My own experiences have taught me three important lessons: First, real change begins with you. Think Globally, Act Locally! Today, it is a given that "everyone" has an automobile or cell phone. But how did we get here? Well because 100 and something years ago, some people had the crazy idea to create a mechanical horse in their kitchen or the stable. Now if we were to see a horse today, we wouldn't know what to think. Things don't all of the sudden happen at once. Real change operates very much in the same manner as dynamite. It doesn't blow up at once, it begins with a spark.
Second, network with like-minded people. Once in the distant past, people lived as family units, tribes, hunter-gatherer types. Over the course of time, as more people with all their unique aspects come into interaction with each other, some people had the idea that we should find a way to handle disagreements and various disputes that inevitably arose. Thus we had the appointment of councils in which sitting members were chosen by the general population or the heads of the families. From there, we had the rise of city-states, empires, and republics to name a few.
Today, it is easier to find people with common interests all over the world and locally to get involved by simply joining a social networking site like Facebook or Meetup. It is very much the technology of our time much like the telegraph and printing press were in another era. Through the use of these technologies which are more cost-effective and easier to operate, it enables the average person on the street to get more involved in the process whereas creating and owning a television network, a newspaper company or radio station generally takes a bit more investment and capitol which may not be readily available.
Thirdly, be your own leader. Be yourself even as you work with like-minded people or work to hash out differences that you have. For more, read "When You Have To Rely on Bredesen." I'm a Christian who is single, has no kids, and a college student to put it in a nutshell. Yet I have worked with atheists, Jews, homosexuals, democrats, republicans, blacks, women to name a few where we had an issue or several issues in common. My way of looking at it is that it won't make much of a difference what your label is when in the end, we are rounded up and sent to a death camp. Some people prefer the terms concentration camp or reservation. It is merely a matter of semantics. Just as real change for the better doesn't happen all at once, tyranny doesn't come in a single night either. It took Adolf Hitler in the neighborhood of 10-15 years from the time he began until the time he was even appointed chancellor of Germany. The rest should speak for itself.
In any given situation where you are interacting, be it family members, friends, classmates and so on and so on, you are always going to have those who are more assertive than others, those who stand out more or those who have this thing about them. Put me in a small discussion group and I can generally do pretty well. But if you ask me to give a speech in front of a bunch of people, I would most likely decline and just refer people to my blog. I am very much in my element being the person who organizes the campaign, but I will never been the candidate so help me God.
So, go ahead and get it done. Best Wishes!
Friday, January 1, 2010
"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." Mahatma Gandhi
It has been said by many people in various ways that Christians are like strangers in a strange land or that they should stand apart from the world they are in. Most people when they want to get an idea of "what Jesus would do", they turn to the Four Gospels. Some people are disappointed that Jesus himself was not known to have written any letters and if he did, we aren't aware of them. Much discussion especially around Easter center on "Who Killed Jesus?".
Other people aren't too thrilled that what is written about Jesus comes decades after his time and written by people who generally did not know Jesus personally or actually having met him. Today, biographies, magazines, talk shows, you name it talk about every little detail of people's lives. We want to know Jesus through the views of our modern culture and even if Jesus was here today claiming to be the Messiah, we would declare him insane. About 2,000 years ago, he was hanged on the cross. I guess you could say we are more civilized to a certain extent. Other people try to find scriptures in the Bible that addresses specific issues that are part of current political and social discussions.
Mark is generally thought to have been the first Gospel written sometime in the 70's A.D., Matthew and Luke in the 80's and John in the 90's. Many of Paul's letters (or letters dictated by his scribes) beginning with 1 and II Thessalonians were written between 52 A.D. and the time of his death in 64 A.D. But Paul certainly could have written more letters, but they just don't all appear in the Canon.
The Gospel writers used a method of writing called BIOS (You would not read a love poem in the same manner as you would a recipe for chocolate chip cookies)! If you wanted to capture the essential character or nature of a person, you would use stories that reflect on this criteria. You would not be concerned about his bathroom habits or what brand of shoes he wore unless it was to reflect on his character. What does this have to do with the title of this post? Just about everyone has their own take on the "Bible" and what Jesus was like. The King James Version completed in 1611 is the most referenced version today.
Matthew portrays Jesus as fulfilling the Old Testament, a redeemer, restorer of the Law. Mark portrays Jesus as one who suffers, is misunderstood and he goes out of his way to not be heard or seen, but to do his deeds quietly. Luke portrays Jesus as being one who came to save the outcasts, the blind, the poor, the sick, women, and Lazarus. John portrays Jesus as one who goes out of his way to let people know he is divine and even on the cross, he is the one in control. The disciples doubted him, his family doubted him and the authorities doubted him. Only the demons and the Centurion acknowledged that perhaps he was who he said he was.
It has been said that God doesn't change His ways to suit our agendas and desires. If this is how Jesus was portrayed in the decades after his death and if indeed the writers wrote because they were inspired by the Spirit of God, are we anywhere close to mirroring this portrayal?
Take for example the Progressive Movement. While the "Progressives" claim that they are doing God's will in feeding the poor, clothing the naked and providing shelter to the homeless, they are doing it via the authority of Earthly kings and institutions which in essence would be making Jesus out to be a hypocrite, a liar and a thief. Notice that Jesus himself rejected political power when Satan offered him the chance to take it.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have the view of Jesus as a warrior, a liberator, one who conquers sin. This view of Jesus was twisted by the church in the Middle Ages in order to justify wars in God's name, burnings at the stake, and witch-hunts. This view has also been adopted by the neo-conservatives in their supposed "War on Terror". So in essence, by their words and actions, they are claiming that Jesus was a fraud, a murderer, and a rapist.
Basically our modern way of viewing Jesus is far from the view as portrayed in the New Testament.