me

Do you want to know more about the guy who's on the other side of your screen, saying all this stuff?

Then come right in...

ribbons

These are my
Mission Statements.

rant

This is where I put the stuff that doesn't fall into the other categories.

The religion of hate

The religions of man are many. The various methods of expressing worship of the Deity are almost too many to count. As with all religions, there are two basic methods all religions use to recruit their members: coercion and inspiration.

Coercion takes many forms and methods and are all based on the lack of choice. Instilling the moral teachings of a religion in a child is not a bad thing and can be considered a mild form of coercion. That being said, a child does not have the learning or reasoning capacity to make such choices. A more intense form is to browbeat one emotionally and/or intellectually into believing as another. The worst method is the choice of either convert or die.

Inspiration by example is a much better way to obtain believers. But who is counting? Just because one method of worship has a billion followers and another having only ten followers does not put one of those religions over the other.

Once a person becomes truly self-aware, their spiritual quest may lead them to stay with what they know, or lead them through many different religions before they find their spiritual peace. The most important point is each person be allowed to make this journey for their own benefit.

This has been said many times before in many ways, "If your religion leads to hate others, you're in the wrong religion." Those who forcefully exclude others who do not believe in the same way actually hurt themselves, because it is by exposure to other beliefs and pools of knowledge we might come to a better understanding or modification of our own beliefs.

And just so I am perfectly clear, I see coercion of others in Christian, Muslim and most other religions as well. I am disgusted with people who use religion as a weapon. Religion and the love of Deity is supposed to be a unification of Mankind, not a violent separator. I am not naive, I know more people have died in the enforcement of one religion upon another than from any other cause. This enforcement of religion gave us that wonderful phrase, Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius. "Kill them. For the Lord knows those that are His own."

When I mean "unification," I mean that all should worship the Deity as they see Him, or Her, or Them. That they worship is much more important as how they do so.

Forcing all of Mankind into one religion would be like everyone having the same make and model of automobile. Imagine how well things would work if every person of legal driving age was given a Smart Car and only a Smart Car. You know, the two-seat car that's not too much bigger than a roller skate? While this would work fine for young, single people, or those who only transport themselves inside the city where they live, what about the couple that has five children? Or those who haul cargo long distances? Or the traveling workman who must carry his tools and materials long distances? This variety of transportation needs is why we have Smart Cars, Minivans, Tractor-Trailers and vans of all shapes and sizes. One type of car is not good for most people throughout the span of their life. Why should a much more important aspect of a persons life, their religion, be any less flexible? Would it not be better for a person to visit, observe, learn about and try other ways of worshiping Deity so they find what suits them?

I have many people in my life who do not worship as I do. And you know what? I am glad they worship as they see fit. My personal agreement for or against their religion is totally irrelevant. If I see friend A try to force their religious beliefs on friend B, who believes differently, I will step in and protect B from A. That goes equally as well of B were trying for force A, I would protect A from B.

Think about that. Think about what I have said before you start saying, "My God, the God of Love and Peace tells me to hate and destroy those who do not believe as I do!"

The war on work

I admire Mike Rowe. He is a rare breed of man. He is not afraid to get dirty. He is a champion for skilled labor. He laments about the crumbling infrastructure, then points to all of the young people who want to go to college. These young people come out of college, unprepared for real work because they have a degree in Comparative Icelandic Literature and zero practical skills. He is doing the Lords work, through his mikeroweWORKS website where he helps people learn skilled work. Plumbers, electricians, carpenters and all of the other good-paying skilled labor that would fix our infrastructure problems.

Here he is at a TED talk discussing this. The first 2/3rds is him waxing anecdotally about castrating sheep with his teeth (mentioning anagnorisis and peripeteia along the way) and being on a crab boat in 50 foot seas. The important part starts about 15:00 into the video.

 

 

As long as all of us look with disdain upon the skilled worker as some type of Morlock, this situation of empty factories and crumbling infrastructure will only get worse. The large, publicly traded companies who only have their eyes on beating next quarters' stock dividend predictions can include themselves in the blame for this predicament we are in. Many of our skilled labor jobs will change as things progress. There are many types of jobs that no longer exist and there are many jobs that no one could have conceived 30 years ago. However there are still many skilled labor positions that will be around for a long time to come.

It is time we laud their efforts and encourage young people to pursue the skilled trades.

I will no longer sacrifice my Character

Before anything is said, I am not a representative of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, nor any of the Masonic Lodges I belong to. I am speaking only for myself.

Unless you have been under a rock the past couple of months, you probably heard about two Tennessee Masons who got married in a same-sex marriage after Obergefell v. Hodges was decided by the Supreme Court (my thoughts on that decision are here) and posted that event on social media. They were consequently suspended from the fraternity for a year.

I realize I do not know all of the particulars pertaining to the facts of this issue. I have read and heard what the Grand Lodge (which I will abbreviate as GL from here on out) has said about this issue. I have received information from the suspended brothers and I have spoken with brothers from the lodge where they are members. I realize I will never know all of the facts and quite frankly, I don't want to know all of them. It's none of my business.

During our GL Annual Communication held in March 2016, there were several proposals to change sections of our code to address issues like this. The code proposals were properly submitted, discussed and voted upon by the members of the GL. I, as a Past Master and member of the GL, was there when the discussions were held and the votes cast. The membership of the GL consists of the Master, Senior and Junior Wardens of all lodges and all men who have served and completed their year as Master, who are called Past Masters.

I am not going to second-guess the Grand Master of Masons of the State of Tennessee, nor am I going to criticize him for the decisions, judgements or rulings of him or his appointees in this matter. It is not my place to do so, and in order for me to do it properly, I would need the facts of the matter, which I just said I do not have, I never will have and would not want them in the first place.

This post is not about any of that.

Before I begin talking about this situation, I have to "set the table" so everyone has a clear understanding of the context where this situation has come about and why I am doing this.

The Masons are a fraternity that has been around in its present form since 1717. We trace our history all the way back to the stonemasons who built King Solomon's Temple. We use metaphors and allegory to inculcate (teach) certain moral principles and duties we owe to each other and all mankind. Our only requirements to join are that you be a male of legal adult age and believe in a Supreme Being. Who that Supreme Being is exactly, we don't care. The Masons only care that you want to better yourself, morally and spiritually. We embrace men of every county, religious sect and opinion.

Masons are taught that each man takes his own path toward enlightenment. We are taught and reminded that there is no "wrong" or "right" way to interpret the symbols and allegories used to inculcate our lessons. What a particular symbol or allegory means to one Mason can be very similar or totally different to what it means to the brother sitting next to him. We freely discuss what these mean to us personally without trying to force our view on our brother. As I like to say, we travel "individually together" in our journey for enlightenment.

We are constantly reminded that we should be in harmony with each other and support, protect and aid all mankind, especially our brothers. There are no qualifiers in this obligation other than we must take care of ourselves and families before we can help anyone else. This is what I was taught when I became a Mason and it is in agreement with how I have tried to live my life before I became a Mason. Subjects such as religion and politics are considered divisive and are specifically not discussed in lodge.

Above all this, we are taught to regard our honor, integrity and character as second only to our love and devotion to our Supreme Being. A man without these traits is to be avoided.

Now that the table is set, let's sit down and break this bitter, unleavened bread.

What I am very angry about is how the situation has been handled. I am angry that this situation is going to have very long-range repercussions on this fraternity. Most of all, I am angry over the choice I have been forced to make about this situation. I should have spoken out on this several months ago. The cost to hold my silence has been great and the cost I will likely have to pay as a consequence of speaking out will also be great.

What I am going to criticize is the fact that I and every other Mason in the State of Tennessee have been ordered to remain quiet on this issue in public, especially on social media. No comments for or against, no "likes" of any related topic or anything. The Grand Master's words were:

Brethren, this Masonic matter is to be handled by the GL of Tennessee within the State of Tennessee and any further unauthorized discussion on this matter outside of the Tennessee Masonic fraternity will be considered a Masonic offense and will be dealt with accordingly.

Those who speak out are to be brought up on Masonic Charges. If found guilty, those who violate this order could be suspended or even expelled from the Fraternity. This Grand Master is now out of office, as the Grand Master's term ends at the close of the Annual Communcation. I am unaware of any renewal of that edict by the new Grand Master.

I remained silent because I wished to speak on this subject during the Annual Communication, which I did. This enforced silence was painful for me, because I wanted to voice my views on this subject. I believed I compromised my honor, integrity and character by my silence. I will not repeat this error.

Even though there is no official edict forcing my silence, the possible consequences of this post making its way across the Internet are these:

  • Nothing. The GL of Tennessee doesn't find out about this post, or decides to take no action. (.000001% chance of that happening)
  • I am charged with a Masonic offense, tried, found guilty and suspended for a certain term from the Masons. During my suspension I cannot attend visit a lodge except for public events. I cannot speak about any Masonic subject with a brother during that time. Any lodge who lets me visit or brother who supports me would suffer a similar fate. (Most likely)
  • I am expelled from the fraternity entirely. I can never attend or join another regular Masonic lodge for the rest of my life. (Possible, not probable)
  • Absolutely nothing. This is different than the first possibility, but far worse than even being expelled. I have aspirations of advancing in the GL hierarchy (District Chairman, Grand Lecturer or something similar) and/or obtaining my Pin of Excellence. I would like to be considered for positions of authority in the several appendant bodies I belong to. With this possibility, all of these would vanish. I would be an equivalent to "that Ensign" that spills coffee on the Admiral and finds himself permanently stationed in Alaska until he resigns or retires, never advancing in rank past Ensign. (90+% chance of this in any case except expulsion)

While I understand how and why this fraternity has responded (generally with silence) to such incidents in the past, this kind of response is no longer a viable option. In the "Old Days," an incident like this would likely remain a local issue, and never venture beyond the city or county borders. Today, all it takes is one blogger to say something, or someone posts the news channel video to YouTube or Facebook and suddenly a lot more people know about this issue. When this happens, a large number of people now know that this happened, with very few of the facts of the matter with none of the context. Silence and stonewalling is not an appropriate response to situations like this anymore. Misinformation has to be fought with correct information.

There are people out there who upon seeing the words "Gays Suspended from the Masons in Tennessee" together go off on a tirade "OMG-WTF-SMH-SJW" and all the rest. Those people cannot be reached nor convinced of anything beyond what they have already made their mind up about. The good news is there are enough people who want context and more information before they decide. Those people understand that there is more than one side and there are multiple forces in play. Those are the people you need to reach.

The current consequences of the enforcement of this Tennessee Masonic Code has been the GL’s of California and the District of Columbia have suspended recognition of the GL of Tennessee. The GL of Belgium was waiting for what came of our Annual Communication before making a decision. A suspension of recognition means I cannot travel to these areas and sit in lodges there. Other GL's have spanned the spectrum from fully supporting the GL of Tennessee, respecting our decision but not agreeing with it, to no comment.

No one really knows the future. My experience convinces me that this issue is forcing religion and politics into every lodge where it does not belong. This will affect every lodge across the United States, if not the world. Our membership has been declining worldwide for years and this decision can only accelerate that decline. Every organization needs young people to join and remain members if it is to survive and grow. Young men across this country who do not share this mindset will regard the Masons as an organization they wish to have no part of, because of the decisions of the GL's of Tennessee and Georgia.

More GL's may also decide to suspend recognition of the GL of Tennessee. This will lead to a patchwork of recognition and confusion.

What makes this worse is that it is very difficult to change this from within, because if you can become an officer of a lodge, it generally takes 4-6 years from when you "join the line" until you become the Master of the lodge. It will take 15-20 years minimum to be able to change the direction of the GL, as the older and more stalwart members have to die off to negate their votes and views.

I weep for this fraternity. I am a third-generation Mason, as my father, his father and two of my great-grandfathers were Masons before me. It saddens me beyond words to see and experience this divisiveness in an institution meant to unite men of every country, sect and opinion. 

Pranks are not nice

People who prank others are bullies that are in denial about being bullies. I understand that there are shades to this. My standard to this is, if you are actively interfering with the actions of another as they go through their life, even if you are just "having fun," you are bullying others.

This is a case in point. The audio is NSFW.

This bully decided to modify his R/C car with the intent of moving golf balls on the nearby green. This guy actively planned and worked to negatively impact other peoples day.

One of the golfers that was bullied decided to do something about it. He took his golf club and gave a whack to said R/C car, seriously damaging it. At this point the bully rushes out to save his car and is genuinely angry about his victim not acting like a victim and destroying the R/C car. The bully and his cameraman also almost get their ass kicked by the golfers.

I see this as a simple situation. If the bully didn't send his car to bother those golfers, I am 100% sure his R/C car wouldn't have been destroyed by the golfers.

We are never going to get rid of bullies. That personality type is part of the human condition. There will always be people who are insecure about an aspect of their life and use bullying others they think are inferior to them to improve their internal self-worth. When I grew up, bullies were eventually taught that their actions became personally expensive. Either by a destruction of their things, or they were beat down. Once the bully received the "training" that being a bully had short-term emotional gains that led to a more expensive results from the people who grew tired from being picked on, they generally stopped being bullies.

All it took is them realizing that the "expenses" of being a bully is more than the "income" from being said bully.

Bad Mindsets

I found a video from the CBS affiliate in Miami. I can't post it because Joomla doesn't support that video player. The article I found about it is here. It relates how a teen was shot and killed after he burglarized a home. The video discussed several points that raised my suspicions about the shooting. Not knowing all of the circumstances of the event and Florida law, I am going to refrain from commenting on it.

What I am going to discuss is the comments made by the burglar's cousin:

"I don't care if she have her gun license or any of that. That is way beyond law... way beyond. He was not supposed to die like this. He had a future ahead of him. Trevon had goals... he was a funny guy, very big on education, loved learning.

You have to look at it from every child's point of view that was raised in the hood. You have to understand... how he gonna get his money to have clothes to go to school? You have to look at it from his point of view."

Umm, young lady, perhaps his parent(s) could purchase the clothes for him? How about he could get a legal job to earn the money?

This mindset that some people are entitled to the property of others (both in hoodlums and politicians) has to stop. If you engage in the actions of entering another persons space, be it their home or personal space, with the intent of depriving the other person of their possessions, you should fully expect to wind up seriously injured or dead. That should be the regular outcome, rather than the exception.

Before we had police, if you stole from another and got caught, you could fully expect a serious ass-whuppin' at a minimum. In Islamic cultures, they cut your hand off. While jail or prison today is by far from a pleasant place to be, for some people it's an upgrade in living standards. Punishment for violating the laws is supposed to be an incentive to not repeat those bad acts.

I don't know if Trevon was going to grow up to be a world-renowned surgeon, the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, or even President of the United States. We will never know now that he has assumed ambient temperature. That being said, based on what caused his death (if he had survived) I think his most likely outcome would have been a life of crime, interspersed with stints in prison before dying in his 20's, either being killed by another criminal in a "deal-gone-bad" or by an armed citizen protecting their property.

Ronald Reagan said, "History teaches that wars begin when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap." This can be translated in this case to "History teaches criminals that they can commit crimes with impunity when the price of punishment is cheap." I don't know if Trevon had a police record, but I think it's a safe bet that was not his first burglary nor petty crime.

Wisdoms Posted

As I like to say, "Some people collect cars, some like to collect stamps, I like to collect wisdoms."

I have finally managed to get all 1,100+ posted here. I had to take them from Excel to word, then to Notepad to add the HTML formatting, then copy-and-paste about 200 at a time, otherwise I choked the Joomla word processor.

Wisdoms.

Let's be "fair"

Well, President Obama has nominated Judge Merrick Garland this morning to sit on the Supreme Court. He was seated in the DC Circuit US Court of Appeals in 1997 and has been the Chief Judge since 2013.  I do not know how he has voted, nor his political leanings and beliefs.

That being said, Obama has invoked the Liberal cry word of "fair."

The article states:

Republican senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have outright refused to hold a hearing for Obama's nominee, no matter who he chose. The president called for the Senate to act in a "fair," bipartisan manner.

Obama has 310 days left in office, a little under a year. Yet, Chuck Schumer said this on 7/27/07, with 543 days (about 18 months) left in the Bush Presidency:

This again proves that the Liberal definition of words like "fair" and "bipartisan" means, "The Republicans should compromise and do it the Democrats way."

I am willing to listen to anyone who can provide evidence that the Republicans called on the Democrats to be "fair and do it our way" the Democrats did so. Because I don't think that has ever happened.

Art vs. Science

There has long been a debate over certain fields of study are an "art" or "science." Let me make this perfectly clear: If you can measure it, quantify it, reduce it to numbers and have a fairly predictable cause and effect, it's science. If you cannot do the aforementioned things, it's an art.

Liberals, when they trust and believe their feelings over quantified numbers, have to resort to this:

Miracle

This is what has happened in the "Fight for $15" in Seattle. This open letter was written in January 2014 to the President and Congress in support of a $10.10 minimum wage, signed by over 600 Economists. The last paragraph reads:

In recent years there have been important developments in the academic literature on the effect of increases in the minimum wage on employment, with the weight of evidence now showing that increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market. Research suggests that a minimum-wage increase could have a small stimulative effect on the economy as low-wage workers spend their additional earnings, raising demand and job growth, and providing some help on the jobs front.

However, when we see this enacted in real life, outside of the ivory towers of academia, we can clearly see the true cause-and-effect of such policies and laws.

In February 2016, Mark J. Perry wrote for the American Enterprise Institute an article titled, "New evidence suggests that Seattle’s ‘radical experiment’ might be a model for the rest of the nation not to follow."

Using the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) own data, you can see that jobs started tanking the moment Seattle's minimum wage law went into effect in April 2015 through December 2015. No matter if you look at the raw numbers, or the "seasonally adjusted" numbers, it's dropping hard after five years of steady growth. That's just Seattle. When you page down to near the bottom of the article, you see another chart that shows both the employment numbers of Seattle only, versus just the metropolitan area surrounding Seattle. Seattle went down 11,000 jobs, while in the same period the metro area outside of Seattle increased by 57,000 jobs. This shows that there is still job growth in the area and many workers who lost jobs inside Seattle probably became employed in the suburbs.

Even the New York Post admits this might be a bad idea, How the $15 wage is already killing Seattle jobs. The money quote:

Bottom line: A $15 law in New York is guaranteed to destroy jobs here — and boost employment in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and even Vermont.

Seattle is learning that it can’t unilaterally ignore basic economics. Businesses adapt to government dictates. To survive mandated pay hikes, they lay off employees, or avoid new new hires to control costs.

Now, I can tell you where people are getting paid $15 an hour to work fast food. Where you ask? In the oil boom area up in North and South Dakota. The oil boom is drawing workers of all trades and in order to support them, there have to be lots of jobs like fast food workers. In order to attract workers to menial jobs into an area where the snow can cover telephone poles, you have to pay them more to make it worth their while to move long distances to live and and work in a harsh environment.

Seattle and the Dakotas are two examples of how market forces work.

If you want to earn more money, upgrade your skills so you are worth more. Knowledge + hustle + a positive work ethic = more pay. If I was hiring someone, I would be much more inclined to hire someone who may not have the skillset needed but is willing to learn and work hard than someone who meets the skillsets but puts forth minimum work.

Stupid people in government

When I was in Guam, someone proposed to build a golf course directly over the northern aquifer where Guam got most of its drinking water. When someone asked, "What about the fertilizers and herbicides you'll be using on the golf course? Won't that end up in the drinking water?" The response of government was, "We will lay down a sheet of plastic under the entire course, keeping all of that bad stuff out of the water."

I'll let you think for yourself about the potential problems and consequences of that on your own.

I bring this up because there is a proposal to start a rock quarry just outside of Nashville. The location was poorly selected, because it's very close (a couple hundred yards at most) to an earthen dam which holds Old Hickory Lake back from running down the Cumberland River.

In May 2010, a record amount of rain hit the Nashville area. The dam that holds Old Hickory Lake back was opened to "save" Nashville, because it was either open the dam to relieve the pressure, or let the dam fail and things would have been significantly worse. A good friend and former co-worker of mine lost her house in that flooding. Nashville was flooded to the tune (if you excuse the pun) of $2 Billion in damages.

Just think about the blasting that will have to happen to excavate the stone from that quarry. Each blast doesn't have to be much, it would be a cumulative effect. All it would take is a trickle of water at first, almost imperceptible. A drop a minute would lead quickly to a drop a second, then a steady stream and finally to complete failure of the dam. All of that could happen very quickly.

Old Hickory Lake is about 20,000 acres in size. Imagine if the dam fails and just the top 10 feet of water rushes down the Cumberland river. That's 8.7 million cubic feet or a bit over 65 billion gallons that would be in downtown Nashville about 10 minutes after the dam fails.

Catastrophic could not begin to describe the carnage and devastation. A failure of this dam could functionally wipe Nashville off the face of the earth.

Now, it may never happen. Are you willing to take that chance that it won't? Are you willing to bet the lives of hundreds, perhaps thousands of people and $20+ Billion in damages on a hope and magical thinking that a failure of the dam won't happen? Would those making the decisions to move forward on this be willing to live on the banks of the Cumberland? I didn't think so.

And they shall come for them in the night

Ladies and gentlemen, in 2014, right after the Bundy standoff, I made this post, A Second American Revolution. I had to dig it out of my last site's XML file and post it here, because I haven't been able to restore the entirety of the archives yet.

Anyway, I said in my OP, "The BLM will be back, and they will win, unless the entirety of the government is stopped."

Today, I find this press release, dated Thursday March 3rd, from the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Nevada. This press release states that they have charged fourteen people (nineteen total) in connection with the Bundy Ranch Standoff.

A superseding criminal indictment was returned by the grand jury on Wednesday, March 2, and now charges a total of 19 defendants. The 14 new defendants are Melvin D. Bundy, 41, of Round Mountain, Nev., David H. Bundy, 39, of Delta, Utah, Brian D. Cavalier, 44, of Bunkerville, Nev., Blaine Cooper, 36, of Humboldt, Ariz., Gerald A. DeLemus, 61, of Rochester, N.H., Eric J. Parker, 32, of Hailey, Idaho, O. Scott Drexler, 44, of Challis, Idaho, Richard R. Lovelien, 52, of Westville, Okla., Steven A. Stewart, 36, of Hailey, Idaho, Todd C. Engel, 48, of Boundary County, Idaho, Gregory P. Burleson, 52, of Phoenix, Ariz., Joseph D. O’Shaughnessy, 43, of Cottonwood, Ariz., and Micah L. McGuire, 31, and Jason D. Woods, 30, both of Chandler, Ariz. 

Twelve defendants were arrested earlier today.  Two defendants, Brian D. Cavalier and Blaine Cooper, were already in federal custody in the District of Oregon.

The charges being brought against these citizens?

The newly-added defendants are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and conspiracy to impede or injure a federal officer, and at least one count of using and carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, assault on a federal officer, threatening a federal law enforcement officer, obstruction of the due administration of justice, interference with interstate commerce by extortion, and interstate travel in aid of extortion.  The indictment also alleges five counts of criminal forfeiture which upon conviction would require forfeiture of property derived from the proceeds of the crimes totaling at least $3 million, as well as the firearms and ammunition possessed and used on April 12, 2014.

This is what I find sadly laughable. The last paragraph of the press release states:

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

I am now convinced that the United States is a Police State. Why? Because of this incident. When the government makes laws that are so vaguely written that they may be used in almost any circumstance, then arbitrarily decides that it has control over something, the only possible ending is bad for the citizens. Because when citizens stand up against governmental infringement and are punished for it, it means we as citizens no longer control the government as our Founding Fathers intended. The government now controls us.

This family claimed and worked land for 140 years, until the BLM "decided" that they (the BLM) would take control of it. When the Bundy's and some armed friends said "No," the government went away, let things diffuse and people forget. Now they are back, quietly charging anyone who stood against them with vague and broadly-interpreted laws. I mean, really, "conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States"? Can you get more vague than that?

Ringtones updated

For those of you who don't like the standard ringtones that come with your phone, I collect and make them. If you visit my Ringtones page, you will find the most esoteric, strange and geekiest ringtones. You can download a zip file full of M4R's for Apples, or a zip file with the same ringtones in MP3 format. The page includes a list of all of the ringtones. Enjoy!

Godspeed, John Glenn

On February 20th, 1962, fifty-four years ago, Astronaut John Glenn, USMC became the first American to orbit the Earth. That was back during a time when you literally put your life into God's Hands, as when you strapped yourself onto the top of a rocket (made by the lowest bidder), you had just as much chance of experiencing a "flight anomaly" (i.e., blowing up) as it did delivering you safely into orbit.

I admire Colonel Glenn for his many years of service to his country and his many achievements. I don't always agree with his politics, however that does not prevent me from supporting his stances on topics I agree with.

The crushing of free speech

This is chilling. The Oregon Standoff was the culmination of multiple root causes all stemming from a systematic curtailment of liberty and personal rights of these people. A bullying federal government purposely destroyed farms and livestock in the area to perform a successful operation to intimidate others in the area and prevent support of these men and women from growing.

The seizure of a place or individuals to protest against the government is the last resort of reasonable men and women. The bad news is, it is defensive warfare and defensive warfare can only lead to defeat. Your supplies are limited, you are surrounded, your relief is not coming. It is only a matter of time until the patience of the other side wears thin and the final crushing blow is delivered.

Now is the time to become... unreasonable.

I bring this up because a journalist named Pete Santilli has been arrested and charged with conspiracy for his coverage of this standoff. He is currently being held without bond in a clear attempt to silence him. To be fair, I don't know this man, nor have I heard him or read any of his writings. The fact that he is being silenced due to his words is a chilling warning.

The First Amendment was written to protect the free exercise of all speech and specifically political speech. If the government can jail a person based only on his words is the most sincere evidence that we are transitioning from a Republic to a police state.

Mat dos Santos, the legal director of the ACLU of Oregon, said, "Situations like this - where words alone are used to label a speaker so dangerous or somehow threatening as to warrant the deprivations of his liberty - demand the highest caution. When there is any question, we should err on the side of the speaker." He also said, "If all of our statements can be cherry-picked and strung together over a number of years to label us a 'danger,' we risk silencing our civil discourse."

Those who seek to control the populace have taken to heart the lessons of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. In that novel, the State controlled the people, in large part by its control of the language. If there are no words to express the concept of freedom or liberty, we might feel it in ourselves, however lacking those words, how can we communicate it to others? We have seen the restriction of speech progressively impede our free speech.

From the failed widespread use of "hyphenated Americans" (African-Americans, Jewish-Americans, etc.) which only served to divide and pigeon-hole us, to restriction of use of terms like "master/slave" regarding equipment. We now have an active movement to eliminate "hateful speech," which those who seek to limit it means, "things I don't want to hear or think about." Today we have movements calling for the elimination of the Confederate flag and any other symbols of that time as well as any other "unpleasant" aspects of our history.

We need to remember these events of our past so they do not happen again. If we do not learn, understand and remember these lessons, we are truly doomed to repeat them.

I do not call for an uprising against the government. I do wish to remind then that there are hundreds of thousands of veterans like myself, who swore to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. Despite my discharge 20+ years ago, I have not been relieved of my duties under that oath. Veterans very well know they can trace their lineage to the men who stood at Lexington and Concord. We all swore to protect the concept of the United States, not the interests of whomever is in power. I want to remind those with evil intentions against this country that those descendants are well trained in the fine art of warfare, chaos and havoc.

Those with evil intentions should pray the switch we turned off when we left the service never gets returned to the "On" position. Maybe that is why our veterans are subjected to a demoralizing VA where the only "help" they receive is a further restriction on their rights.

Economic freedom clearly explained

While I have heard of the name of Milton Friedman, I am ashamed to admit I never really studied him. I am currently in the process of correcting that error.

I have found a sampling of two YouTube videos I want to share with you. In the first clip, he takes Donahue to task. Donahue asks about all of the people in poverty in the world. Milton says simply:

"The world runs on individuals pursuing their own self-interests...The only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you are talking about is where they had capitalism and largely free trade."

Some years ago, I had a conversation with a co-worker who openly stated government should confiscate the wealth of the rich. She could not answer my question, "How many poor people do you know who create jobs by employing people?"

This second video shows Dr. Friedman skewering a lady who was complaining about "too many millionaires." While she did realize what the millionaires were doing (investing their money instead of keeping it under their mattress), she did not realize that their investment in purchasing equipment and expanding production capacity made more wealth for everybody, especially the creation of jobs.

If the only thing a person can do is what someone else (namely government) tells them to do, that's all they will do. If you tell someone they can do anything they want, most will still do what they are told, some will do nothing and very few will do just that, pursue an idea they have, be it to create something new or to improve something already there and make something that changes the world.

To be able to invoke our own self-interest, to be in control of our own future and reap the benefits of our labor, this is what inspires people to do great things. When government stifles or destroys the incentive for greatness, there is no innovation or improvement of the lot of the common man. "They pretend to pay us, we pretend to work" is a common line from the workers of the now-dead Soviet Union.

Which brings me to the "Socialist Heaven" of Venezuela. Probably not too many people remember, but a couple of years ago the Venezuelan government (which owns or controls most industries in the country) had to purchase two billion rolls of toilet paper. Toilet paper. Their own country could not produce something so simple and inexpensive as toilet paper. Today, they can't provide enough food for their own people. As I said in an earlier post, the Soviet Union (another controlled economy) had to purchase American wheat to feed its own people, as their own farmland (they had more farm land than the United States had land, period) could not feed its own people.