Saturday, June 29, 2013

No Magu-Magu

I'd like you to look at this video produced by INEC - the Nigerian Independent National Election Commission.

(Work past the pidgin English, please... this is intended for a Nigerian audience, so you have to remember that we are visitors here. You are the one who talks funny.)

INEC is promoting voter registration. When democracy was restored in Nigeria, voter fraud was a real problem, and the Nigerians understand that fraudulent elections are not elections at all.

Their solution? A national database, picture ID, and biometrics to ensure "one man, one vote" with "no magu-magu" (rigging and fraud). They value their vote so much that casting a fraudulent vote can land you in Kiri Kiri (prison) for two years or cost you NGN200,000.  That's about $1,250 in 2011. To put that in perspective, most Nigerians live on less than $2 per day.

I love this video.  The presenter is obviously jazzed about the subject.  She's talking about hefty fines and hefty prison terms, but does so cheerfully and with a great deal of enthusiasm and appeal. Why? Because her vote matters, and it was diluted with repeat voters and fraudulent voters. A free and fair election absolutely requires one person, one vote; and that's what this system promised, and delivered. The 2011 Presidential elections in Nigeria  were the smoothest in recent memory. It wasn't without problems, or without intimidation and post-election violence, but that's to be expected until the bullies discover that the old tactics don't work anymore.

I'll repeat myself: A free and fair election absolutely requires one person, one vote. Not just one person, one vote, but the votes of those who are eligible. Those would be citizens, of lawful age, and established eligibility. That's a fair and honest election, and nobody but nobody should be apologetic about demanding it.

Yet here in the United States there are many of us who seem to be bending over backwards to throw away what the Nigerians have so recently embraced. Buried in high-minded rhetoric of "every vote counts" is the hidden message, "Please, please, PLEASE let us commit election fraud!", to which my answer is "No." Qualifying a voter isn't difficult, and in truth, the qualifications here are pretty much the same as in Nigeria.

Every eligible vote must count, once.

America, if you are really concerned with having fair elections, take the same effort you channel into the "get out the vote" efforts where you drive busloads of people to the polls, and get them down to Voter Registration. Do that NOW so that everything's in place for the next election. Promote a picture ID so that the same person doesn't show up at ten polling places. Make sure the deceased are no longer on the rolls. Block the "tombstone vote". Do not pander to people who are not properly registered. Block fraudulently cast votes. Prevent them. Only citizens are eligible to vote... so turn away illegal voters. Promote fair, honest, legal elections.

Your vote is not just your privilege; it's not just your right; it's your responsibility. Registration is easy... this site, Project Vote Smart, tells you how to do it in every state and territory in the US. You only have to do it once, and really... if you can't be bothered to register, and show up on election day sobbing about how unfair it is that you can't vote... well, as she says in the video, "Talk palm!" (i.e. "Talk to the hand!"). If you're a community organizer, don't play stupid; get out the registration. You know as well as I do that registration is what makes every vote count to its fullest extent.

Honestly, if you can't agree that no one who is not eligible may vote, and each eligible citizen votes once in any given election; you have no business whatsoever calling your politics democratic.

Note: The presenter is actress Ada Ameh, though she identifies herself as "Uduak Abasi" in the video. This may be an in-joke, as that's the name of another well-known Nigerian actress.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Kred and Klout

Well, I got this in email:

And so this, too: My Klout score is hovering around 47

Whoever's running those sites must think it means something. That's nice.

While this is all very nice that they want to turn a profit by actually measuring how popular people are, if you ever want to scare yourself, sign up for Kred or Klout and then check back to see how thoroughly they spy on you, having received permission.

Monday, June 10, 2013

On the Subjects of Drugs, Suicide and Abortion


It may be argued on philosophical grounds that everything is static, existing without change in all of Time and Space, and that both Change and Free Will are simply illusions caused by the gradual revelation of that which already is. Or, it can be argued that the Universe is Deterministic... that the laws of cause and effect are such that events unfold as they must; and that while Change exists, Free Will is again an illusion. But if Free Will is an illusion, it is an extremely strong one... so strong that even the people who make the above arguments succumb to the illusion to the extent of believing it is possible to convince someone that they're correct. After all, if they actually were correct, then such convincing would be a pointless exercise; and if they truly believed they were correct, they would act accordingly and not even make the attempt.

We have an innate, intuitive sense that Free Will exists. Our entire society... our every action... is rooted in this belief.

Free Will is what defines our lives as ours. The Liberty to exercise control over our own lives is the inalienable right of every responsible adult. Even if what we do is knowingly self-destructive, it is our choice: our decision to make. It is not our place to impose our will on other responsible people.


I think you may be able to guess my stance here. It is none of my business whether you wish to partake of recreational drugs, including alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, marijuana, etc.. That is your choice. It is your body and it is your responsibility to deal with the consequences of your decisions. Those consequences may include a shortened life-span, or addiction, or poor health. Those consequences are likewise your responsibility. I think it's pretty stupid to engage in behavior that leads to those consequences, but it's not my job to stop you.

That said, out of compassion and love, I may feel obligated to point out those consequences and try to talk you out of the behavior. But unless you want and ask for my help in avoiding them, I can't force you to reject your cigarettes or your six-packs or your joints, pills, pipes or needles.

You have the right to treat your body as you please. But as a responsible adult, you don't have the right to drag others down with you. It is no one's responsibility to feed your habit. It is no one's responsibility to hold your hair while you throw up, or to buy you a new liver or lungs. No one owes you treatment or counseling when you screw up your life. Again, out of compassion and love, I contribute to organizations that provide treatment and counseling. That is a charitable act... it is not your "due", nor is it Society's "responsibility". I believe that those who think it is are horribly misinformed. As there is nothing of "charity" in stealing from one man for the benefit of another, and no one is responsible for your health but you, I do not support the idea of tax-funded programs to slough off onto the impersonal State those things that human beings should be doing for one another.

Nor do you have a right to a particularly dignified exit from a predicament that you, of your own free will and accord, got yourself into. If you want the freedom to do drugs, and wind up screwing up your life to the point where you need assistance from the public to extricate yourself, then it's up to you to display that very minimal bit of humility required to ask for the assistance... even if that's at the prompting of some charitable soul who offers it.

Your freedom is innate... but the consequences of your actions are earned. And if you prey on someone else, I will be first in line to fuck you up.

I don't find this to be a particularly harsh stance when people are informed of it as part of their upbringing.... and I think everyone should be. It is not unjust to leave someone to the fate he has chosen. In fact, when we offer treatment through charitable organizations we are putting Love above our sense of Justice. However, it is unjust to choose a self-destructive course of action and then assert that you are entitled to impose upon everyone else to make it all better for you. That is a selfish and wrong attitude that no healthy society should encourage.


"Suicide should be illegal, and the penalty should be Death" -- Unknown

If you've read Dune by Frank Herbert (or seen one of the film adaptations) you may remember the words of Paul Atreides: "He who can destroy a thing, controls a thing." As with drugs, your life is yours, to the extent that you may choose to end it. Again, I think this -- in most cases -- is destructive and wrong. I will attempt to talk you out of it and/or offer counseling, but the ultimate decision is yours.

In some cases, I think this is a perfectly reasonable, intelligent, and understandable decision. My mother died of an incurable form of lymphoma. While she chose to live to the very end of her natural life, her last few weeks were spent in inconceivable pain. She bore it with a superhuman tolerance provided by her unshakable faith. Nevertheless, I can certainly understand if a person would choose not to bear that pain. I can certainly understand that a person may even wish to end his life cheerfully, while still in full possession of his faculties. Knowing that every single person will die, I see no harm to Society in recognizing that a person has a natural right to determine how.

That said, don't ask me to murder you. While the legal definition of murder is defined as "the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being", my conscience is a bit broader, requiring serious examination of that word 'unlawful'. The legal definition I just quoted implies that it would be OK to slaughter redheads so long as we pass a law saying "they need killin'". Obviously that's an unsatisfactory definition, but we don't really have a good one. The requirement for 'malice aforethought' would allow mercy killings and assisted suicide, both of which may be wide open to abuse when privately performed. While I would defer to majority rule regarding assisted suicide, I would have to insist that it be done by trusted professionals, and only at the well-documented request of the person to die.


While you have the right to destroy your life with drugs or even kill yourself outright, your right to destruction stops with yourself. In my post, Libertarian, I note that as my ability increased my parents' responsibility decreased. Now, this rightly implies that the younger I am, the more they hold the reigns of responsibility. So the question is, at the ultimate stage of vulnerability, do they have the right to kill me?

Well, first you have to understand how this issue of "responsibility" works. While your parents are responsible for you as a child, and your actions, they do not wield that responsibility on their own behalf. Rather, they must wield it in your best interest. They are your guardians, not your owners. Though this is true at any age, the younger the child, the more we emphasize it. For instance, a parent cannot sexually pleasure himself (or herself) with a child, and certainly not a baby! The younger the child, the more heinous this is. Beating a teen to a pulp is bad; beating a baby to a pulp is worse. We recognize that even though a child not fully formed... that its brain and body continue to develop throughout childhood... and sometimes either the brain or the body never fully develops... we still recognize that this is a person with rights that must be guarded.

Nevertheless, there are those who seriously argue that these rights appear from nothing with the cutting of an umbilical cord, allowing partial-birth abortionists to sever a spinal cord instead, arguing that it's a matter of choice because it's "the mother's body".

Well, no. It isn't. One has only to examine the DNA to expose that untruth. Even in the womb, the child's body is distinct. It is the same DNA that this person will carry to the grave, completely unique except in the case of identical twins. The blood of the mother and child do not mix: you may have a different blood type from your mother. Furthermore, that DNA, upon the very closest of examination, is fully human. The fetus is a distinct and individual human life. So in arguments over abortion on these grounds, science fully supports the notion that this is not the mother's body. Of course, this isn't in accord with the dogma of the self-proclaimed 'scientific' Left, so they choose to discard ALL of this science and instead focus on 'viability' and 'personhood'.

The viability argument is that so long as the fetus can't survive on its own, it's the mother's body. There are a couple of difficulties here. The first is that even a newborn isn't viable in that sense. It cannot forage, it cannot feed unassisted. Yet, we universally acknowledge that it's an individual. Second, the moments it takes for the fetus to exit the body and be called a 'baby' do nothing to alter its viability. Children are routinely extracted from their mothers via C-section, as were all three of my sons..Here we have the incremental problem of "how many grains of sand does it take to make a 'pile'?" There must be a scale of viability and we must find some point on that scale, and say "HERE". Any decision we make in this regard is to some extent arbitrary, and complicated by the argument of 'personhood'.

We have a very hard time defining exactly what a person is, or when personhood exists, or even whether -- as the brain develops -- one individual is more of a "person" than another. Clearly, we start off believing that potential must have some role in it. After all, a monkey is more accomplished than a newborn human, but we allow that the human has more rights. Certainly, if you were to test the two, you'd conclude that the monkey is smarter. But the child generally has potential that far outstrips that of the monkey, and that potential is present from conception. Only, in some humans it's not. Of course, I'm thinking here of those humans who do not develop normally; who have genetic dysfunctions that limit their potential. So can we conclude that one human is more of a "person" than another human? Again, I look around and see that it's it's universally acclaimed on both Left and Right that 'special' children are persons in every respect, to the same extent as budding geniuses, and having the same right to life. So we're obliged to discard our initial assumptions about potential, and even ability. In fact, we're left with no clear definition at all, leaving us with the disturbing conclusion that pro-abortionists advocate the termination of a distinct, individual human life solely due to its location.

This leads to something that you probably don't think about, and wouldn't expect. The idea that a baby is only human after it takes its first breath is based in the the common law that originated in England, many centuries past. It is based on the knowledge that existed before we understood DNA, and genetics, and before we had a complete picture of the circulatory system, and how the umbilical cord operates, and the developmental process. This is one of those areas where the Right embraces modern science, but the Left prefers to remain mired in the medicine of the Middle Ages.

Of course, there are arguments about "the life of the mother", which then get stretched to "the life or health of the mother", with the definition of "health" getting stretched and abused to include desire or economic inconvenience. None of these are compelling except for the immediate loss of the life of the mother should the child not be aborted. There are also the arguments of rape or incest, neither of which change the fact that this is a distinct, individual human life. I think they support arguments in favor of sympathy, compassion, assistance, and adoption, but not abortion. Not murder.

In my mind, it's pretty clear that except for that instance of the immediate decision of saving the mother or child, that abortion is properly described as 'murder'. It is the intentional killing of another human being with malice aforethought. With that one exception it certainly can't be anything but malice. It is a deliberate imposition of death, certainly not done in the best interest of the child. It is only the word 'legal' in the court's definition of 'murder' that prevents it from being exactly that.

Given that I'm averse to murder; given that I have no more or less idea than you do when 'personhood' starts, or even what it IS; given that I fully subscribe to the notion that the more helpless a person is, the more responsibility we have toward them; given that this is true even when you're not legally responsible for a person (which compels a human being to offer assistance to someone who's being mugged, or has been in an accident); I have NO motivation to draw any line, arbitrarily or otherwise, and say, THIS is when it's OK to kill a child. If I err, then I choose to err on the side of caution and in favor of a new human life.

Even then, I don't think this is a normally a matter for Federal jurisdiction. Quite simply, there is so much disagreement and so much room for error that the decisions should be made as close to the People as possible. Unless it occurs on Federal property or affects significant Federal interests, even murder is not a Federal offense, but a matter left to the States. This is an issue on which we should rely heavily on individual conscience, with the People of a State being free to set their rules accordingly; and so that, should you find yourself in a State where you think the law (whatever it may be) is unconscionable, you can re-locate.

Again... all that said, my vote is pro-Life. But the law is what it is. Even though the majority says you can abort, there's nothing that compels you to. I advocate and encourage you to choose in favor of Life and adoption; and leave the decision to you without malice, knowing that for many people either choice is difficult and heart-wrenching

Link to index of Some Political Opinions

Saturday, June 08, 2013

On the Subject of Marriage

I'm from what is commonly termed a "broken home", though at the time I wouldn't have known what you were talking about if you used the phrase. My father was abusive and my mother left him, with us, when I was six years old. She re-married a couple of years later. The ceremony was performed by a Justice of the Peace on a Christmas Eve. Neither I nor my brothers were there, but we woke up Christmas morning to a new father and a new home. Now, my mother re-married because she believed that we needed a father. She married this particular man because he agreed with her on a great many things regarding family, religion, and politics. They respected each other and found each other reasonably attractive. My stepfather had been likewise married before, and thus was "once bitten, twice shy". Knowing much more about marriage than they did before, they were very careful about the arrangement. They were introduced by the man who had been our neighbor, who told my mother that his cousin was "a good man... he'll treat you well."

I think you might have noticed that 'Love' wasn't way up on that list of reasons. Rather, they focused on those things that enable a partnership to work independently of emotion, and trusted that God would provide them with Love... which He did. When they entered into a marriage contract, they each decided to turn over their lives to the task of providing for the happiness of the other. What is Love if not caring for someone else more than you care for yourself? In retrospect, it's pretty obvious that Love is a thing you may choose.

I think that's one of the more important lessons that I've ever learned. Love isn't some magical, mystical force that drives people together and causes them to cleave (that's "cleave" in both senses... Love is commonly credited with bringing families together and tearing them apart). Now, our ancestors knew this, and they knew that the hormonal infatuation that children label "love" causes those children to disregard pretty much all of those things that must be considered to make a marriage work, in favor of the one thing that they would have had anyway. I think it can be rightly argued that infatuation -- pop-culture-love -- makes you temporarily insane. So our ancestors deemed it a very good idea to arrange those marriages on behalf of their children. It was very smart, and it worked very well... still does, as a matter of fact. Did you know that while the divorce rate in the US is almost 53%, the worldwide divorce rate for arranged marriages is only 6%?

Obviously, on the average, we're not doing it right.

I bring this up because most of those arranged marriages are not Christian, and yet they last and are productive and successful. My parents' re-marriage was very much an arranged thing. Though they did the arranging themselves, they did it with a very strong "business sense". As I said, it was a civil ceremony, and there was no mention of God among any of the formalities and legalities required by the State. They simply signed a contract and filed it with the Clerk of Court. But God was there in that He was present in them. And in their last years, when my stepfather was infirm and diabetic; and my mother had contracted lymphoma; she prayed daily that she would out-live him so that he wouldn't have to suffer without her to care for him. He died first, and within months of his death she followed him. In the end, the Love they chose for themselves was stronger than any human bond I have ever witnessed. I would readily say that though they did not have a Christian ceremony, my parents assuredly had a Christian marriage. Based on the stats, many people who have Christian ceremonies do not have Christian marriages. The Christian sacrament of marriage and the civil contract of marriage are two completely different things.

Though I came from a broken home, I didn't grow up in one.

Now, I've said all of this to make my conclusions clear: I'm against any legislation of marriage whatsoever. A State marriage has nothing to do with any religion; it is merely a contract. It is YOU who chooses to bring God into your marriage (or not). Furthermore, non-Christians are no less successful at marriage than Christians. In the absence of religious bigotry, there is no legal or Constitutional principle by which it is even remotely possible to successfully argue in favor of imposing Christian ideals on the civil state of matrimony. Rather, Christians are free to marry in the body of Christ of their own accord, just as Atheists are free to simply love without acknowledging Christ. The State is not allowed to distinguish between them.

In addition, it's none of our business who someone chooses to love. I love a great many people, both women and men, and I wouldn't marry most of them. While arranged marriages work, I think they work because the people who submit to them are raised in a culture where they're taught what the marriage is about. They don't have false expectations. This is a very practical education, as opposed to our idealized "happily-ever-after" fantasies against which reality always falls short. People in arranged marriages choose to follow a system that works, and I will not say that they either can't or must follow a different one.

Furthermore, many marriages are barren. Many couples are incapable of having children at all. Though I have two brothers, one sister, two step-brothers, and two step-sisters. But my mother and step-father never had children together. They united not for the purpose of procreation -- that was over and done with -- but mutual support. It isn't remotely possible to argue on natural grounds that a marriage must be contingent on the potential for procreation.

And frankly, I don't want the State to have any say in the religious sacrament of marriage, so I refuse to give them permission to violate the First Amendment, even a little bit.

For all of these reasons, I would repeal the "Defense of Marriage Act". I find it un-Constitutional, as it establishes a particular religious position within legislation, precisely where Congress is clearly required to "make no law".

Am I in favor of gay marriage? No, not at all... I demonstrated that by not marrying a guy. But homosexuals exist, and nobody appointed me to be the bully in charge of making them miserable. Am I in favor of Christian marriage? Well, yeah, I'm a Christian, so I obviously think the benefits of bringing Christian Love into your marriage cannot be understated. But that doesn't give me the right to force you to act like a Christian even when you're not. It does not give me the right to fantasize that a civil contract requiring only signature and a filing fee is the same as a "Christian sacrament". That both cheapens the sacrament and lies about the civil contract. And I recognize that marriage is strengthened by merely agreeing on religion no matter what that religion actually is.

Bottom Line: It's none of my business who someone else chooses as a partner, or why, and it's none of your business either. Rather than spinning in a control-freak frenzy over whether someone else might be happy doing something you didn't personally pre-authorize, spend your time working on your own happiness. Instead of worrying that someone else's marriage might demean yours, work on the meaning of yours. Elevate what you have; don't denigrate what they have.  And get over it. 

link to Some Political Opinions

Postscript: Many people are in favor of "civil unions", touting them as a marriage in everything but name, and thus seek to "preserve the sanctity" of male-female marriages. With all due respect... bollocks.  It's not up to you to label someone else's relationship. If they say they're married, then they're married. You can, however, exercise that control for yourself. Instead of saying that what they have isn't "marriage" (even though you've already allowed that it is for atheists), say that yours is a consecrated marriage. There. Problem solved.

Some Political Opinions

In my post called Libertarian, I give a list of the matters of politics I was taught. There are some opinions I hold that aren't on that list, that I arrived at through reflection. In large measure these have to do with the application of the principles I was taught, and the things I've observed, so I'm going to present a little background on each subject.

I started out writing this as one long blog post, but quickly realized that it has to be broken down into manageable pieces. This post will simply serve as the Table of Contents, which I will have to update as content is added. I'll also link an old post or two, as appropriate.

Get ready for too much information:







Thursday, June 06, 2013


You're not going to read this. You should, but you won't. I'm mostly writing this so that it is published, and I can point to it in the future and say this is what I said, and so that people can hold me accountable.

I grew up in a Christian, Republican household in the 1960s and 1970s in the city of Columbia in South Carolina. Growing up were I did, and when I did, I was actually taught about the Constitution, and was taught certain political values. Now, you might be an Atheist, or of some other religion than I, and thus you may disagree with the reasons or motivations I give for certain of these; but I doubt you entirely disagree with their importance on secular grounds. For instance, though we may disagree on the origin of 'inalienable rights', it's more likely than not that you agree they exist, even though you may struggle to articulate why.

  1. I was taught that the dignity and worth of humans are not granted to them by other humans as a favor or reward, but by God as gift of inestimable value. The primary hallmark of this gift of Life is free will. Free will is what defines our lives as ours. What is given by God cannot be stolen by anyone. This is the meaning of 'inalienable'. 
  2. I was taught that people have individual responsibilities to themselves. It's your body... take care of it. It's your soul... nurture it. My parents knew that it was their responsibility to teach me to do that, and that as my ability increased, their responsibility decreased proportionately. They having completed their job, I am required to stand as a self-sufficient adult.  To the maximum extent possible, power and control over an individual's life rests with the individual himself, and the exercise of his own free will. This is the meaning of 'liberty'.
  3. All of the rights we have... speech, assembly, religion, self-defense, due process, etc... and all of the abuses we're protected from ... self-incrimination,  martial oppression, etc... are merely re-statements of our inalienable right to Liberty. They are -- all of them -- guards against tyranny and oppression. It is certain that the tyrant who would oppress you is the first person who will tell you that it is silly to guard against tyranny. For that reason we can never assign the task of maintaining vigilance to the very government it is our responsibility to oversee. We can never give up our Vote or the 2nd Amendment. This is the meaning of 'civic duty'.
  4. I was taught that "a man's home is his castle" is a truism. The family is the smallest unit of collective government above the individual's responsibilities. Within the boundaries of our property line, and in all matters for which no State or Federal legislation existed, our parents' word WAS law. I actually knew that this principle was stated right there in the Constitution, in the 10th Amendment. This is the meaning of 'autonomy'.
  5. I was taught that freedom comes with responsibility. That among our first responsibilities is to respect the rights of others. As such, I was taught that regarding a great many things, what someone else does is none of my business. They may be immoral, impecunious, sacrilegious, self-destructive, or just plain crude; and it is their right.  As we value our rights, so must we value theirs. This is the meaning of 'respect'.
  6. I was taught that sometimes, other peoples' actions are my business, and I have the responsibility to work out when that's appropriate. It's appropriate when another person - particularly one who is helpless - is being oppressed. It's appropriate when I'm asked for assistance that I'm able and willing to provide. It's appropriate when a person is incapable of exercising his own free will. This is the meaning of 'social consciousness'.
  7. I was taught that contrary to common usage, your freedom does NOT end where another man's begins. My freedom is inalienable: so is yours. That means you cannot use yours as a wedge or lever against me. Instead we must be willing to co-exist. This is the meaning of 'tolerance'.
  8. I was taught that prosperity is a blessing. and as such should be shared. We are blessed with more than money. We have talents, abilities, strength, knowledge, space, time, and things we no longer need. Any of these can be shared with someone who has a greater need for them than we do. Because our gifts are blessings, sharing them should be done freely, out of Love. Caritas is the Latin word for 'Love'. This is the meaning of 'charity'
  9. Charity is not the giving of alms... it is the reason for the giving. And I was taught that I neither need nor should demand an 'incentive' to perform charitable acts. If you give with expectation of receiving something, it is not charity; it's a purchase. However... we are tasked with only one great commandment: we are enjoined to treat others as we would wish to be treated. Charity is given to those in need with the understanding that were it not for the grace of God we ourselves might be in that same predicament. We treat others as we would wish to be treated, and assist them in bettering their condition. This is the meaning of 'compassion'.
  10. I was taught that it is not shameful to receive charity. How could it be...? Charity is an act of Love. To receive love is never shameful.  However, to demand love is. A great many things have been re-labeled 'entitlements' rather than 'charity' so that they may be demanded by the people receiving them. 'Compassion'  literally means 'with feeling'... there is nothing of compassion in an entitlement... an entitlement maintains a condition, it does not better it. There is nothing of love in a demand.... it is not generosity to be a victim of robbery. Therefore, though they may be necessary in extreme circumstances, the receiving of 'entitlements' is a shameful state; and should we find ourselves there, we should do everything in our power to get out of that state as quickly as we can before necessity gives way to expectation and demand. This is the meaning of 'self-esteem'.
  11. I was taught that we have the right to join with others of like mind to act in concert. So we form churches, and charities, and societies, clubs, and fraternities. We can form PACs to make our concerns known, and can appoint lobbyists to present our arguments to legislators. This is the exercise of 'democracy'. The government has no more business regulating these than they have regulating our individual freedoms. But should you want me to subsidize your club, at the very least it should be my informed choice, not covert diversion of funds though bureaucrats I've never heard of. You say you're doing good and need money...? Ask me for it. Because of this, such an organization cannot expect autonomy should they invite the government to join. So it seems axiomatic that seeking tax exempt status is, in most cases, a very bad idea.
  12. I was taught that my money and my property are mine. So are yours. We earned them. They are not "the government's".  NOTHING belongs to the government at all... rather, those things the government claims belong to each citizen in equal measure. People often use the term 'fairness' when they mean 'equity'. They're not the same. There is nothing whatsoever fair about stealing that which I earned and handing it over to someone who did not earn it in the name of equity. Out of charity and compassion,  I choose where and how to redistribute my own wealth. This opportunity is denied to me when those assets are forcibly removed. Therefore, each person should pay as little to the government as is required to operate only those agencies and functions that are necessary. The tax code should be simple enough for a child to understand. The tax rate should be low enough that exemptions are unnecessary. It should be intelligent enough that the same money doesn't get taxed repeatedly. It should be an unobtrusive means for the People to fund their government. Instead, it is used to coerce, control, and punish the citizenry, who live in direct, abject fear of the agents who are allowed to wield direct and extra-ordinary powers. This is the meaning of 'oppression'.  Yet the current tax code, as published by the GPO, fills a 20-volume set of books. (That's the part written by the IRS). Combined with Title 26 (that's the part written by Congress), it comes to 16, 845 pages. It requires an entire government agency and a commercial industry of lawyers, accountants, and specialists to comply with and collect money from this mountain of regulation... all to just to say, "How much did you make? Send part of it here." This is the meaning of 'unacceptable'.

As I said, I grew up in a Christian, Republican household, and with respect to Politics, these were the highly Conservative values that we were taught. We were taught to do what's right because it's Right, not because we're forced to. To force your will upon others was, to put it simply, EVIL. 

Nevertheless, politicians have become increasingly evil over time, and most self-described "Conservatives" haven't even noticed it.  From a religious perspective, I say this without hesitation: it is EVIL to legislate morality. Free Will is the one great gift we are granted. It is so precious to God that, even when we use it to reject Him, He will not stop us. Who are you to deny someone that gift? Proselytize... fine. Witness... fine. Best of all, be an example. But people will disagree with you, just as they disagree with God. You cannot assign yourself the power to force them to your will. You cannot declare for yourself a responsibility to do what God Himself will not. That is lunacy. Yet the Right has embraced that very lunacy, and in doing so they have reserved for themselves the word "Conservative".  I would personally prefer this word to be reserved for those who wish to preserve the letter and spirit of the Constitution, and this is not what they do despite strong rhetoric to the contrary. "Republicans", as the name implies, remember that we are a representative Republic. However, they under-stress the 'representative' part of that description, choosing to force your actions into conformity with their beliefs. Keeping in mind that under the Constitution, anything not prohibited by law is legal, each and every law represents some limitation of your right to self-determination. Every law, no matter how high-minded and noble, is an erosion of your Liberty, and Republicans have demonstrated their time and again their love for laws to control you. They preach Liberty and practice oppression. This is their country; not their church. It is a distinction they fail to make, though it is not difficult.

The Left has their very own form of lunacy. Branding themselves "Democrats", they would centralize as much control as they can through the confiscation of money, and then re-distribute it so as to create a grateful horde of dependent vassals. They would then modify the government to leverage the voting power of their bought-and-paid-for majority. Thus you see constantly increasing Democratic calls for new entitlements (both enslaving the taxpayer and denigrating the recipient), constant alarms should existing entitlements fail to increase apace (they call any slowing of the rate of increase a 'cut') and vociferous calls for the direct popular vote of the President. They purposely avoid the uncomfortable fact that our system is deliberately set up to avoid the oppression of mob rule, calling the system 'antiquated', as if mob rule has been eradicated. In setting up their nanny state of dependency, they would insist that you relinquish your 2nd Amendment right, 'trusting' them to police themselves; and they do so by directly lying to you about the nature of the 2nd Amendment. THEY will take your money, THEY will give it to whom THEY want; YOU will work for THEM. And yet, they have the nerve to say they act in the interest of "the People".  Maybe once upon a time the Democrats did, but it's difficult if not impossible to find an era where they didn't either have controlling membership in the KKK or engage in the Power Politics of divisive class and racial envy.

The Left like to imagine themselves as scientific and progressive while the Right is repressive and superstitious.  This is an opium dream, and nothing more than marketing.  According to a 2011 Gallup Poll, 90% of Americans are spiritual. You can match every Bible-thumper on the Right with some practitioner of New Age woo on the Left. The only reason the Right appears to be more religious is that they tend to pull in the same direction, as opposed to the Brownian motion of Leftist spirituality. There is nothing particularly logical or scientific about the outrageous thoughtless dogma that dominates the outlying wings of both major parties.

Let's look at a graphic:
Graphic source: the Libertarian Party of Ohio
It's pretty close to guaranteed that the vast bulk of Americans agree with every principle listed in the center of that diagram, bracketed by the yellow box. Even when they pursue policies of economic oppression,  Liberals claim they are for economic freedom. Even when they pursue policies of moral persecution, Conservatives claim they are for personal freedom. Both groups claim a lot of things they refuse to put into practice. 

Libertarians, on the other hand, actually believe what they claim to believe. Imagine that! People who are honest for a change! Of the political parties of which I have some knowledge, the Libertarian party is the ONE that matches every single one of the political principles I grew up to believe without wrapping it up in a particular pointed agenda (like the Green Party). 

So in the 2012 Presidential Election I cast a vote for Gary Johnson and the Libertarian Party... one of only about 16 thousand people to do so in South Carolina. 

Now, I've been asked why I wasted my vote, since "my guy" couldn't win. Well, to that I respond first that "my guy" could have won if everyone else hadn't wasted their vote. Republicans wasted theirs on someone who didn't win, and so have no great claim to superiority on that count; and Democrats wasted theirs on someone who lied to them, and who has spent his Presidency eroding your Liberty and burying himself in scandal.... allowing American diplomats to die... spying on citizens by seizing records of all of their phone calls through at least one provider... targeting citizen groups for bullying by the IRS... giving weapons to Mexican drug cartels... raising the cost of healthcare across the country. More Democrats wasted their votes more thoroughly than did the members all other parties combined.

But also I respond that it's not a waste to honestly cast a vote in accordance with your sincere beliefs. An election is about representation; it's not about your ability to pick a winner. That mentality is truly ludicrous. For the electorate, politics is dirt simple: if you do not vote for the representation you want, then you will never get it. There is no incrementalism possible. You will never march back toward Liberty by electing a Republican or Democratic candidate whose most strenuous promises will always amount to a mere slowing of the continued march away from it. I refuse to do that again. 

So today I'm not a "centrist Republican". I'm not "Libertarian in principle".  Though I've failed to admit it, it's been true for a very long time.

I'm Libertarian. 
And if you're perfectly honest, you probably are, too.

Link to index of Some Political Opinions

Monday, June 03, 2013

What to do about Islamic incursions?

My friend Eric, posting on Facebook, has asked me a question. And because my answer will prove to be lengthy, I'm responding here. The discussion is in reference to whether we should oppose Islam, to which my position was "If someone is a terrorist, you nail his ass. But you do it because he's a TERRORIST, not because you're a bigot."

Here is his follow-up question in its entirety:

Dave, you answered well. With wisdom, Priest. Let me rephrase, because I wasn't clear.

As a high level ranger-monk, I respect the arts of war. And I spy, with my elven eye, conflict on the horizon. Priests of Allah & their flocks, are settling in our lands. As a whole, this cult finds our freedoms insulting to their faith; which often produces holy bezerkers.

So, we have a hostile culture, immigrating & growing 2x to 3x faster, and our hands are tied. As lawful-good types, we can't persecute or attack individual cultists, until they have broken our laws. We must allow flag burners to burn our symbol of freedom, or it it will fail to symbolize freedom. But, if we don't do something, there WILL come a time when we can do nothing.

So, what do we do? Wait until they raise their numbers high enough to replace Republic with Sharia? What of our own barbarians and crusaders, that will initiate hostilities with the hostiles? I can almost smell the smoke of a thousand holy fires, burning down mosques, churches and synagogues.

My battle experiences have fused into trusted consciousness; a combat calculator. And, your priestly wisdom should give consideration to the brewing storm.

Our actions must be Just, but we must act. This steady & silent invasion will take our streets, our armies, our senate, and then our Rome.

Battles are fought long before wars are declared. What would you suggest we do? Wait, fight or legislate?

My Answer:

Wait, fight, or legislate.

It's option 4, thus far overlooked, that got us into this mess, and is best positioned to get us out of it. Option 4 is "educate". This is accompanied by another task, which I'm going to call "de-legislate" (as in "repeal"); and yet another, "enforce". Always, we must be careful not to throw out our brains with our idealism.

As I've mentioned previously, we used to teach Civics, and quite properly so. But at some point, individuals of a "more enlightened" point of view decided that it wasn't proper to indoctrinate children with propaganda about outmoded and provincial concepts such as patriotism and respect. Hyphenated diversity became more important than the melting pot of Americanism. The fundamental differences between the rights of citizenship and basic human rights were blurred to insignificance; and as a result, the concept of a "sovereign nation" has been largely forgotten. This is the reason immigration is a problem.

And now, though all of this is blatantly obvious, the intellectual heirs of these same "enlightened" individuals wonder what the hell happened.

If you don't feel like reading the bulk of this admittedly long-winded soapbox rant, feel free to skip to the Summary, below.

Our government was designed to be a representative Republic, and not a simple Democracy, to defend against the tyranny of mob rule. It was balanced between States rights and central rule for the very same reason, so that the few urban centers do not ride roughshod over the rest of the dispersed populace. Different people in different places have different needs, and our Constitution states outright that the powers not specifically granted to the Federal government in that document are left to the various States, or to the People. This is simply because - to maximum extent - the power of daily government should be kept as close to the People as possible.

Our entire Constitution is designed to thwart tyranny. That includes the Bill of Rights, which grants freedoms of speech and press, so that tyranny may be exposed; and freedom of religion to guard against exactly the sort of abuses of sharia law. It includes the Second Amendment, which gives teeth to the People to safeguard all of the other guarantees. Nevertheless there now exist those who are wholly ignorant enough to believe that the Second Amendment has anything at all to do with hunting and sporting. It doesn't. Nor can we allocate our responsibilities as citizens to the very government it is our duty to oversee.

But while the Second Amendment is an anti-tyrannical safeguard, it's one that doesn't need to be used so long as people understand, respect, and live by the provisions of the Constitution as a whole. This means heavy education on sound Constitutional principles. It means pledging allegiance, and I personally don't give a rat's ass as to whether you include "under God" or not, as you prefer (see 1st Amendment). It means teaching tolerance... in the sense of "this ain't your business", and seeing that everybody knows what that means. It's none of your business whether I pray or who to; and it's none of my business who you marry.

And with regard to the First Amendment, "Congress shall make no law" means CONGRESS SHALL MAKE. NO. LAW. It takes a serious dumbass to screw that one up, and a bigger dumbass to attempt to defend the screw-up.

Let's look at an example... gays can't marry, not because there's no law to allow them to, but because there are laws prohibiting it. Yet, rather than repeal the stupid laws, people want to pile new laws on top of them. The fact is, there shouldn't be a law at all. In a free society, that which is not prohibited is allowed. We need a lot fewer laws, and a lot more attention paid to the ones remaining.

Citizens have certain responsibilities, and elevated rights beyond those basic human rights. Non-citizens should look to their own countries to provide for them; and should they find that they want the benefits of United States citizenship, they should only be able to do so through one path, which includes a solid Civics education and a pledge of allegiance to this country, forsaking all others. And if they don't want to do that, then I fully support their right to attempt to re-shape their own country to conform to their ideals.

We have a steady influx of immigrating hostiles only because we allow it. As a nation, we allow it because we have been misinformed as to the nature of patriotism, nationalism, and sovereignty. We are misinformed on these points because those who have held the reigns of our education system, in their zeal to be progressive and enlightened, have failed in considering the inevitable consequences of their philosophy... and in a very few cases, because this is exactly the desired result. They have guilt-tripped and manipulated Americans into actually believing that all the people of the world have an indiscriminate God-given right to plop their asses down within these borders.  To stem the "invasion" we need to reverse that mistake. Only those who are educated as to their responsibilities, who accept them, and who pledge conformity with them should be granted citizenship. All others should go home... we do not need a subversive underground.

Sadly, those who have grown up under the present broken, self-destructive philosophy are now legislating, enforcing, and interpreting our laws. They began by disregarding the plain language of the Tenth Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." The "it" in that statement refers to the Constitution, not the Federal government. As a result the vast bulk of our government rests on the shakiest of foundations based on a Supreme Court (mis)interpretation that this amendment is merely a "truism". In other words, in most circumstances they really don't much care whether it's enforced. The problem with that interpretation is that it is only a truism so long as the practice is actually followed. By failing to uphold the Tenth Amendment, the Supreme Court has ensured that it is no longer a truism, such that it is clear the issue should now be re-interpreted.

As a result, a great many Federal laws should be struck down. Here is the rule of thumb: the Federal government can do only what it is allowed to do by the Constitution; the citizenry is free to do anything that they're not lawfully prohibited from doing; and the fact that the Federal government can't make a law doesn't mean your State or local government can't do it, within the boundaries set by their own constitutions and so long as they're not prohibited from doing so by the Constitution of the United States. Generally this means that the Constitution prohibits localities from passing laws that violate your rights and prohibit you from exercising your guaranteed freedoms.  Limiting the Federal government doesn't mean advocating anarchy; it's advocating local and home rule. This not only maximizes your freedoms and your influence, but ensures that should you really not like your local government and feel yourself powerless to change it, you don't find yourself in a Procrustean bed of centralized control. You can find a place that suits you.

At least that how it works on paper, and should work in practice.


It boils down to this:
    Afraid of Muslims? Then insist on wholly Constitutional government.
    Afraid of Christians? Then insist on wholly Constitutional government.
    Afraid of Atheists? Then insist on wholly Constitutional government.
    In ALL cases, insist on wholly Constitutional government so you don't HAVE to be afraid.
And educate, educate, educate. If you want to call it "indoctrination", so be it. Embrace the indoctrination, or buy a compass and a prayer mat... you may need them.

I have Liberal friends and relatives who I will surely piss off with my suggestion that we actually control our borders and reserve to citizens those things that should be reserved to citizens. I have Conservative friends and relatives who I will surely piss off with my insistence that moral judgement should be left to God alone and if you fear Him then you should look after your own behavior. I will surely piss off both groups by insisting that "make no law" includes the laws they want.

For my part, I am pissed off at Democrats and Republicans both who polish this or that isolated phrase on which to hang their attempts to control behavior that is blatantly none of their business. I am equally pissed off at both by their refusal to execute the duties that blatantly are their business. There is no duty more strongly incumbent upon all three branches of government than to maintain our sovereignty. Without this primary responsibility, there can be no such thing as a "guarantee" of any freedom in any form whatsoever.

Is education a viable solution? Only if the majority of United States citizens wake up and reject the mountains of shit they've been handed over the last 50 years. Personally I have my doubts as to whether they will... lately they've proven themselves to be both ignorant and gullible to the extreme.