Thursday, November 27, 2008


Since this is the day for it, let's talk thanks.

Appreciation, thankfulness, gratefulness... call it what you will; it's mighty powerful stuff, this ubiquitous, but often oddly empty, notion of gratitude.

Although I believe gratitude to be one of the most important emotional conceptions that human beings can ever consider, I also find it to be at times the most hollow and insincere. Even given that, there is still a nobleness to gratitude that seems to transcend its sincerity level. Sounds like we have a genuine paradox on our hands here.

It is as if we all understand that we should feel appreciation; but if we cannot, then we should fake it. Yes, unlike other key emotional concepts, we are openly taught that gratitude can and should be expressed even if we don't really feel it. This is a commonly acknowledged contract among people that plays out on a regular basis almost everywhere. In fact, the very gold standard of the "white lie" seems to be old-fashioned appreciation.

Even if the Christmas gift you receive from crazy old Aunt Sadie is bizarrely out of fashion-- and even slightly frightening to look at-- you are still expected to smile warmly and gush out a hearty-- if not heartfelt-- "thank you." Truly, if you were taught any kind of decent manners by your parents, you will know that you must reward kindness with thankfulness. To do otherwise is to invite the well-intended giver to walk away muttering unrepeatable phrases about "that damned ingrate" and other such spirit-blackening slogans. This is unthinkable to the responsible parents and so their admonition, of course, is that you must still practice the nicety, even if you don't actually like the product or action offered.

So, my first question is: does it make a difference whether you actually feel gratitude, so long as you show and express it?

I think it does make a difference. Whether or not they were able to articulate it, our parents were really trying to make us actually feel the gratitude-- to learn the art of appreciation-- so that we could express it sincerely. Most people seem to instinctively understand the power that is in it-- even if they cannot put their finger on the exact reason why. If you just know, almost instinctively, that you should say "thanks" for something, then it follows that you should feel thanks, as well, does it not?

My next question, then, is: what should you do if you do not actually feel it?

You can start by learning to differentiate between the product or action in question, and the motive behind its offering. You might argue that a motive is related to an intention, and we all know about the road to hell being paved with good ones of those. Indeed, when it comes to concrete and empirical results, I agree that motives are worth scant consideration-- but when it comes to this gratitude discussion, things change. In fact, I will posit the audacious suggestion that there is very little to really appreciate in the product or action because the only thing worth your gratitude is the motive.

The motive is what drives a person to offer the product or action in the first place. The motive is the magic spark that lights the fire of generosity. True enough that it is often tainted by selfishness and conniving self-interest; and yet, the potential for purity is just as often there. Only cynicism prevents us from looking for that purity. I say look for it every time.

What, then, are we to do when we look sincerely for the motive and we find selfishness and conniving self-interest? Well, depending on the circumstance, this is either a good time to practice some measured honesty, or to just throw out the old-fashioned, insincere "thank you." Just remember that any expression of gratitude tacitly condones the motive-- good or bad.

Speaking practically, there is sometimes nothing wrong with selfishness and conniving self-interest. From a Randian-- and basic American-- perspective, this is what makes people succeed in life. Working for our self-interest is, in some ways, the highest human calling. That is the practical side, and I find no deceit in an offer of product or action that is practical in nature. I would call this "practical giving;" and my gratitude for it, then, will be more earthly and practical, and less ethereal and idealistically centered.

In any case, the power of gratitude is liberating. Somehow, it allows our karma to be balanced-- either by a give and take exchange, or by the purity of a simple expression of human emotion. Simply stated, I find the practice of gratitude to be incredibly-- almost supernaturally-- enriching to my spirit.

Beyond the practicality of daily life, I want to look for and find the pure motive-- even though I often end up like Charlie Brown after Lucy pulls the football away... even though people will often live down to the lowest of motivations... even though cynicism is always poking at my conscience. Still, I will try to reward with my gratitude the spark of goodness that "impractical giving" holds.

In the big picture, I strive to be grateful to God for the people and the things that I have in my life. More basically, I strive to be grateful to God for the life that these people and things are in. Looking for His motive in granting me life, I find no selfishness or conniving self-interest. I find only Love, the depth of which I will not grasp so long as I live.

That makes me seek to feel a gratitude of equal depth... and equally lacking in selfishness and conniving self-interest. I will not succeed in matching His motive, but that will not keep me from trying.

~~ "If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice." --Meister Eckhart ~~

Happy Thanksgiving to all-- and to those of you who deserve it (and you know who you are), I say: THANKS!!


Friday, November 21, 2008


Let's talk extremes.

Political extremes, that is.

"Polarized" is a word that is being thrown around a lot lately to describe our country's political climate. The middle ground is ignored more now than ever before, according to the worriers. If there is any hope for the country, we have to return to a spirit of bi-partisanship. In fact, both presidential candidates bragged an awful lot about wanting to "reach across the aisle" and appeal to "moderates" and independents.

Hmmm... moderates and independents, eh? Middle of the road'ers.

Okay, while all the socialists and their army of useful idiots are busy congratulating themselves on beating that ultra right-wing extremist, John McCain, let us take a moment to consider this middle thing that everyone seems so enamored with.

I suppose we start by asking just what the heck a "moderate" really is. Now, I've thought through this one for a long time, because it just seems so damned nice of a concept on the surface. I mean, who could vilify someone who's just a thoughtful person trying to avoid those "extremist" views? After all, moderates are people who just want to get along, right? They seek only the sweet utopia of rapport and compromise.

~~ "From the beginning of our history the country has been afflicted with compromise. It is by compromise that human rights have been abandoned." --Charles Sumner ~~

I'm not sure that compromise is really the only grease that slicks the moderate's engine. Somehow, that definition doesn't work for me. No, compromisers usually are calculating and/or cowardly individuals who know full-well what they want. I've seen too many schemers and cowards who use compromise like chess moves.

~~ "I'm a compromiser and a maneuverer. I try to get 'something.' That's the way our system works." --Lyndon B. Johnson ~~

Compromise is, by itself, a tasty subject for a lengthy essay. It is the buzzword that gets people feeling all warm and squishy inside, while its real essence is too often concealed by the feel-good wrapping.

~~ "Compromise is but the sacrifice of one right or good in the hope of retaining another--too often ending in the loss of both." --Tryon Edwards ~~

So, I think we have to say that for the purposes of our discussion, compromisers do not necessarily equal moderates. Although, it is fair to say that moderates will use compromise-- even wearing it as a badge of honor at times. In fact, compromise is a key tool in the moderate's limited storehouse. Still, there's more to the definition of a moderate than that.

I found a website that is all about the glory of being a moderate. Here's a proud exclamation I found there: "We moderates are suspicious of certainty."

Now that really stuck with me. I mean, here you have people who are very proud to say that they are never certain about anything. As if it is a virtue to walk around in a perpetual state of gray fog... happily moving from one issue to the next without the burden of actually forming a view on it.

~~ "I’d rather argue with a leftist than a centrist any day. The leftist at least has a structure to push against. Arguing with a ‘moderate’ is like snot wrestling." --Quote seen on the Internet ~~

This made me wonder whether the moderate's uncertainty is due to being uninformed (as opposed to misinformed, as is the case with many of the aforementioned useful idiots), either intentionally or just because he or she lacks the time or desire to study issues. If it is not a case of being uninformed, then that would mean that the moderate is informed, but then still refuses to make a decision. I would like to think that it is the former, as the latter would indicate a much deeper character problem, would it not? Still, we'll consider both.

Let's start with the argument that the moderate is not certain because he is uninformed. A very useful example of this would be the abortion debate. Most moderates take the pro-abortion side, saying that no one really knows exactly when life begins.

Take our new President-Elect, for example: he famously said that the knowledge of when life begins is "above his pay grade." So, for the sake of argument, this admittedly makes him uninformed about when life begins. In the context of the abortion issue, this is certainly the main and crucially important point. Since we are talking about human life, would it not be the definition of prudence to err on the side of caution and not destroy the thing? Even if you're not sure... I mean, just in case, you know? Is this not especially true when we are talking about a man who will have tremendous influence on this subject?

To review, our new President-Elect feigns ignorance by stating that he does not know if life begins at conception. Given that point, now consider the fact that he is a vociferous supporter of abortion. This is most certainly not erring on the side of caution.


~~ "To discuss evil in a manner implying neutrality is to sanction it." --Ayn Rand ~~

Now, how about those who claim to be informed and believe that life begins at conception, but are still pro-abortion? (In fairness, they much prefer the more aesthetic sounding "pro-choice." As for me, I'm okay with either "pro-life" or "anti-abortion," since they are both true.) In these ranks we find the moderates who love to say "I would never do it myself, but I won't force my beliefs on anyone else." Now that is a powerfully moral statement, isn't it? Really shows the deep conviction of the person uttering it. No judgment here-- only a respect for everyone else's beliefs. The very essence of Americanism, wouldn't you say? Well... maybe not so much.

~~ "The real moral precept to Judge, and be prepared to be judged." --Ayn Rand ~~

To see something as intrinsically wrong-- even immoral-- and then to say that you wouldn't judge others for it is to say that there are no metaphysical rights or wrongs... there are only "personal values." What is wrong for me is right for you. One man's crime is another man's daily ritual. Now, that is a world we all want to live in, isn't it? Oh, wait... that is a world we are already living in-- at least almost.

These moderates apparently treasure the thought of a society whose moral foundation is more of a mosaic patchwork of shifting mores and values. Moral equivalency and multiculturalism are doctrines that forbid judgment and eschew civilized principles and standards of behavior. So, the good moderate is only being true to the ways of the world when he says he won't expect others to tow a moral line.

~~ "There is no escape from the fact that men have to make choices; so long as men have to make choices, there is no escape from moral values; so long as moral values are at stake, no moral neutrality is possible." --Ayn Rand ~~

Aside from the difficult "moral" issues, there are plenty of other things that our intrepid moderate will want to be in the middle of (positionally speaking, of course). Whether it's taxation, welfare, foreign policy, or immigration, the moderate wants desperately to avoid taking a side that could be labeled as extreme. The fact is, moderates who walk down the middle of the road are usually crushed by those with direction moving on the left and right sides of the road.

This really brings us squarely back into the uninformed-versus-informed discussion. What my life journey has shown me, above all else, is that there really is a right and a wrong. Good surely does exist, and so does evil. The more I know about an issue, the more I am able to decide for myself where I stand on it. If I don't know much about an issue, my inclination would not be to say "oh, both sides must have a point." My inclination is always to say either "I need to learn about that and form an opinion," or "I really don't care about that issue and so I will stay completely out of it."

The latter statement, of course, is a luxury reserved for us peons, and is not really an option for elected leaders who are supposed to know and care about issues. If I don't want to take the time to learn the intricacies of a bill on medical record privacy concerns, then that is not really a problem. For the legislator who is to vote on it, though, it is vital to learn all he can of the issue, then hold it up to his personal principles compass (everyone does have one of those, don't they?) to see how he should vote. To do otherwise is to be either a hack who sells his vote, or simply a fool-- and both of these are dangerous.

So, where does this leave the highly respected moderate? Clearly, it leaves him out in the intellectual and moral cold. I see a moderate as someone lacking either the courage or the conviction-- or both-- to lead a principled life. I see in the moderate a person for whom "getting along" is preferable to doing what is right.

Most moderates are just normal people who think that being in the center is a noble and good thing. The reason they think that is because they are, by their very noncommittal nature, unable-- or unwilling-- to think deeply about things. They have been spoon fed multi-cultural pablum by the media for their whole life, and they eat it up because, frankly, it is easier than taking the time and effort to dissect issues and form positions.

At the top of this piece, I made a comment about "ultra right-wing extremist John McCain." Now, to me and most anyone on the right side of things, this is a patently facetious comment. To the socialists and the useful idiots, though, it is true. There are actually people-- not joking here-- who say that McCain lost because he is too Conservative. He should have been more moderate. He should have picked a more moderate VP candidate. He should have tried harder to appeal to moderates. Yes, they say this with a straight face. To make this even better, many of the people saying this claim to be Republicans. Yep... seriously.

There is a very (very) simple equation to consider here. It is an empirical truth that anytime a democrat "runs to the center" in a national election, he wins; and anytime a Republican "runs to the center" in a national election, he loses. Let that soak in for a minute. It clearly says that for someone who is seen as "left" to move to the right is a good thing-- and for someone who is seen as "right" to move to the left is a bad thing.

The reason for this is that, in spite of the media usurpation of our collective world-view, America remains very much a center-right nation. That is precisely because right and wrong do exist and that knowledge is built into our DNA. The equivocating position of not "forcing my beliefs on someone else" is purely a product of the left's media sponsored all-out assault on societal virtue. People still hold their values strongly, for the most part, but they have been whipped relentlessly into thinking they are intolerant for having those values-- and if they don't want to be labeled as xenophobicly racist gender criminals, then they had better keep that value stuff to themselves, by God (oops... by gosh).

There. We've hit the truth of it. There is how a moderate is born. He is a person who has decided that the left is correct in saying that expressing belief in a principle is tantamount to intolerance. How great the irony that the most intolerant of all are those very voices crying "intolerance!"

Choosing a favorite Ayn Rand quote is virtually impossible for me, but one passage does stand out... and if forced, I might say it is my favorite. I shall close with it, since it is certainly germane to this discussion.

~~ "There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. The man who is wrong still retains some respect for truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice. But the man in the middle is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist, who is willing to sit out the course of any battle, willing to cash in on the blood of the innocent or to crawl on his belly to the guilty, who dispenses justice by condemning both the robber and the robbed to jail, who solves conflicts by ordering the thinker and the fool to meet each other halfway. In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit." --Ayn Rand (John Galt's Speech) ~~

Monday, November 17, 2008


Boy, this sure is some economic storm we have going, isn't it? Well, actually, it's more of a crisis, I would think. In fact, that's pretty much how everyone has been describing it: the banking crisis, the stock market crisis, etcetera. Yep, I'll have to amend that earlier statement to say that this is some kind of crisis we have going here.

Nothing like a full-blown crisis to make us all yearn for a strong leader to guide us through the rough waters.

~~ "Any excuse will serve a tyrant." --Aesop ~~

Nothing like a crisis to create a sense of community (wow- did you ever notice that the word "unity" is contained in "community?" I'm just saying.).

Nothing like a crisis to get people into lock-step and keep everyone's oars going the same way.

Nothing like a crisis to bring like-mindedness to a group of people who should all, ostensibly, have the same stake in the resolution of said crisis.

There is also nothing like a crisis to allow certain inconvenient rights and privileges to be held in abeyance... only until the crisis passes, of course. The leader must do what is right, and he can't be afraid to let old-fashioned rules and regulations get in the way of doing what is right. Right?

~~ "I begin by taking. I shall find scholars later to demonstrate my perfect right." --Euripides ~~

Indeed, without a crisis, how would a soft-totalitarian, populist leader ever get political traction? How would he get the people fired up enough to take to the streets and demand that someone take care of the damn crisis? I mean, someone has to do something-- anything! Don't they?

~~ "Under conditions of tyranny it is far easier to act than to think." --Hannah Arendt ~~

History is replete with examples of crisis born authoritarianism. Nary a dictator has been created without the vital ingredient of a crisis-- or crises, if he is very skillful. Crises, in fact, are always welcome to the despot-- or would-be despot.

~~ "This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector." --Plato ~~

If Fortune cannot be relied upon to send along a crisis, then the enterprising tyrant must be willing and able to manufacture his own. If one does come, but is insufficiently severe, then the autocrat must be able to embellish it to the point that the magic kicks in.

What magic, you ask? Why, the mesmerizing magic that comes from a population being controlled by fear. Something almost mystical happens when large groups of people are caught up in panic and fear. True to human nature, they look to someone-- anyone!-- to get them through the frightful circumstance.

~~ "'Necessity' is the tyrant's plea. --John Milton ~~

So, you see, appealing to the most basic insecurities and concerns will almost always guarantee the dictator the fealty of the masses-- that is, if he is skillful enough to play those fears like a well-tuned instrument. This almost always involves a call to do this or that for the "good of the people," or "the common good," or for "national unity." (There's that word again!)

~~ "The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience." --Albert Camus ~~

History offers many examples of this-- and not just the obvious ones. For every Hitler or Mussolini, there is a Wilson or an FDR. The main difference is that the latter two were burdened with some semblance of power-checking, which kept them from overstepping the way the former two did, and thereby allowed them to fare much better in the long-term P.R. department. They also avoided the over-the-top excesses that helped bring down the curtain on Il Duce and the Mad Corporal.

~~ "A great wave of oppressive tyranny isn't going to strike, but rather a slow seepage of oppressive laws and regulations from within will sink the American dream of liberty." --George Baumler ~~

What they all do have in common is that crises either brought them to power, or solidified their power to the point where they were virtually almighty. The poetic beauty of that is that all of the aforementioned leaders assumed to their thrones on top of an enthusiastic population-- because the huddled masses honestly believed these men to be deliverers; and they were, to a large extent, just that.

~~ "But thou know'st this, 'Tis time to fear when tyrants seem to kiss." --William Shakespeare ~~

Remember, the truly gifted potentate will always give something of value to the hordes he controls; and will try to maintain the ratio of fear-to-leadership that got him to the top in the first place. To do otherwise usually leads to very unpleasant endings-- as we see in cases such as Caligula and Nicolae Ceausescu. Still, it is in the "goodies" that the tyrant offers where we see the truth of the whole thing.

Almost without fail, they offer the impossible-- or, at least that which cannot be sustained. It could be Hitler's promise to lead the Aryan people to the promised land of racial purity and Valhalla on Earth. Maybe it's Wilson's pledge to establish God's own kingdom in America. Or, perhaps it could be miraculous tax cuts that go to ninety-five percent of the population, and yet the money for which has no real discernible source of origin.

Whatever they offer and give, though, is tainted by the fine print which states that acceptance of the leader's magnanimous gifts implies loyalty and acceptance of the rest of the package... and the rest of the package is never what the trusting souls expected or wanted.

~~ "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive." --C.S. Lewis ~~

No matter how we look at it, the stark truth of the matter is that people under tyranny almost always get there voluntarily. Why is it so common and so hard to avoid? I suppose that the nature of man-- or rather "men"-- is the real culprit. Every civilization has buried inside of it a flock of scared sheep, wanting nothing more than to be taken care of. This is endemic to the human animal-- and most especially visible where people live together in large numbers.

It is also worth mentioning that the idea of being a benevolent dictator is powerful stuff, and does not always begin with evil intent. Many a good man started out his march to despotism with grand goals and a sincere heart. Plus, it must be said that the perks are inarguably attractive. Who wouldn't want to be "The Man?"

~~ "Slaves would be tyrants were the chance theirs." --Victor Hugo ~~

How, then, is a thinking populace to avoid such a thing? I believe the answer is that "the people" cannot avoid it. Really, only "the person" can fight off this cancer. That is, along with his fellow "the persons," of course.

I would put forth that whenever a populace acts in the collective, it advances its own march toward tyranny. The populace would be well served to understand that the "common good" most certainly leads to common misery, and even outright slavery.

In fact, by my account, there has been exactly one social experiment in the history of the world that stood a chance against impending totalitarianism. Care to guess which experiment that was?

Only in America has the world seen a government put in check; with its very design compelling it to defer to the individual.

Only in America has the individual been allowed (encouraged, rallied, cheered) to seek his own way and go as far as his own talents and will would let him-- all without interference from government; so long as he did no wrong to another individual's rights.

Only in America has the idea of a benevolent "nanny government" been seen and called what it really is: soft-tyranny.

Our founders absolutely knew of the dangers of creeping authoritarianism. They knew them and they called them out by name. The framers of our great system swore to one another and to their posterity that they would-- and we should-- remain vigilant and fight against this Leviathan at all times and at all costs. Truly, they felt there was no higher calling than to ensure freedom's fire stayed lit.

I'll close with a few choice words from men whose equal I will never be, but whose example I will treasure and strive to emulate all the days of my life.

What do you say, fellow person... want to join me?

~~ "The liberties of our country, the freedoms of our civil Constitution are worth defending at all hazards; it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors. They purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood. It will bring a mark of everlasting infamy on the present generation – enlightened as it is – if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence, without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of designing men." --Samuel Adams ~~

~~ "Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value." --Thomas Paine ~~

~~ "I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." --Thomas Jefferson ~~


Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Have you heard it?

It's the proclamation that's sweeping the nation!

It's the command from the left that must be obeyed!

It's the message of fundamental change!

It's Unity.

Yes, all the cool kids are singing the praises of "Unity." From every hilltop, they are calling for a big old American group hug. They are ready to let bygones be bygones and move into the changeful (I might have made up that word) future.

I know what you're thinking-- where the heck were these people for the past eight years? Well, come on now-- that's just loser talk. Let's not keep getting caught up in the old politics of divisiveness and hate.


Yes, yes, yes... I realize that President-Elect Obama has spent the last two years trashing America and the Constitution-- telling us that the sins of America are why the world is such a horrible place. I understand that Obama has shown his utter disdain for "regular" Americans and their peculiar habit of clinging to certain things. It is true that he is friends with a good many people who actively hate America-- and some who have actually tried to destroy America through violence.

All of this is true, but inconsequential. The only thing that matters now is that he won the election, and that means...


You know, like when George W. won in 2000 and 2004.

Oh, no, wait... not that kind of unity. That was different, you see. Bush was evil and it was patriotic to call him childish names and "fight" against everything he tried to do. Remember, Hillary told us all that "dissent is patriotic." Of course, that was while they were trying to defeat Bush in 2004. Anyway, that is all in the past and we have to move into the future now-- and the future is Unity.

Now, please understand: the Unity they are calling for now is not anything new, so please don't be afraid. This brand of Unity has been tested many times, and it works very well-- so long as your goal is totalitarianism. In fact, some of the great "unifiers" in history used calls for Unity to do all sorts of wonderful things. Take for example the recent opening ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics. Now that was some Unity! Please don't bother reading the back story on all the human rights violations and what not that went into it. The important thing is that they all beat those drums together... in unison!

Heck, just go back to the 20th century to see what Unity accomplished: Mussolini "made the trains run on time," even if it meant the loss of most individual rights-- in the name of Unity! Wilson got us into World War I and used brute squads and other, less compassionate measures to make sure no one back home spoke against it-- in the name of Unity! Hitler made sure those dirty Jews paid for their sins-- in the name of Unity! Stalin killed several million "haters" to prevent them from ruining the Communist dream for everyone else-- in the name of Unity! Castro and Che Guevara forged a paradise in Cuba by eliminating filthy Capitalists and other "traitors to the revolution"-- in the name of Unity! Pol Pot got rid of a few million pesky enemies of the people-- in the name of Unity!

Even President-Elect Obama's friends got in on the act. Bill Ayers and his wife Bernadine Dohrn had a perky little group called the Weather Underground who wanted nothing more than Unity. In fact, they even knew that if they were to achieve it, they would have to first overthrow the U.S. Government, and then eliminate an estimated 25 million "haters" who would just not understand Unity and were, therefore, a threat to it.

Now we can add Barack Obama to the long and illustrious list of famous and charismatic leaders who successfully used Unity to advance their gentle causes.

Remember: whenever you are doing something in the name of "the people," then you can't really be wrong, now can you? After all, how could anyone who is trying to do something for "the people" possibly be anything but altruistic and pure?

The only thing we have to overcome to achieve the utopia that Obama promises is our outdated and "selfish" notions of individual rights. How can we possibly attain Unity if we're all running around worrying about ourselves, instead of the collective-- oops! Didn't mean to use that word. Anyway, the idea that we can move forward as individuals is ridiculous. What have individuals ever accomplished?

Yes, I know that our Founding Fathers gave a lot of lip service to "individual rights." I think we can all agree, though, that they were just posturing to get a point across to that evil King George. Besides, that was a simpler time when things weren't as nuanced as they are now. They didn't yet understand the bliss that can only come with Unity.

Think of how great our country could have been if those early Founders had instituted things like universal health care and state funded abortions! Why, I can't even imagine how our early economy would have soared if they had only had a "progressive" tax system that punished those who over-benefitted from their own success! No, as smart as those men seemed to be, the real truth of Unity escaped them. That is further evidenced by the fact that they put in place so many "checks and balances" that were ostensibly designed to prevent the glory of one-party rule-- which is, when you think about it, an important road to Unity.

No, it seems that Americans have for centuries been brainwashed into thinking that individuals matter more than the people do-- that the rights of "the person" trump the rights of "the people." Just look at what that old-fashioned General Patton said: "If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn't thinking." Come on! That is ridiculous! He just said that everyone was thinking alike-- and that must mean that they were thinking-- right? See how confusing all of these advocates for individualism are?

As a much more enlightened nation today, we have to listen to people like Michelle Obama, who wisely noted that "Someone is going to have to give up a piece of their pie so that someone else can have more." Now that is clear as a bell.

What else do we need to know? Well, how about democrat Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia's now famous statement that we've too long been guided by a "simplistic notion that people who have wealth are entitled to keep it." Also very clear, right?

If an achiever gains wealth and actually keeps it, then that means an un-achiever (okay, I made that one up, too) won't have any. Is that fair? Is that enlightened? Is that unifying? Hell no! I say more pie for everyone! And don't bother asking me who will make all these pies-- that's just more confusing and gratuitous fact-flinging.

We have an historic opportunity here. We have finally elected another leader like Wilson and Roosevelt and Johnson... one who gets it. Those three aforementioned Presidents tried their level best to achieve Unity and, truth be told-- they made good progress. After they were out of power, though, we always seemed to slip back into the old ways of selfishness and individual rights and all that malarky.

Now, Presidents Carter and Clinton wanted to get us to Unity, but they were just victims of bad timing and circumstance. Carter tried to make us understand that we were in a period of "malaise" after he successfully brought the economy down where it belonged; but then along came that has-been actor, pumping up all the individuals with his optimism and economic solutions. Clinton tried, in his first two years with a democrat controlled Congress, to get taxes back up where they belong and punish the succeeders (that word is real). His dreams of Unity were crushed, though, by the individualistic Newt Gingrich and a Republican revolution in Congress in 1994. After that, all we got was a better economy and a lot of feel-good legislation to protect commerce and rights. What a waste.

It's different this time... this time we can do it. We can go all the way. I know we can, because Obama says we can. Don't believe me? Just ask any one of the people who support him-- ask them: "Can we do it? Can we become a full-blown Marxist state?" They will undoubtably answer:

"Si se puede!"


"Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception."

--George Orwell


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Potential Patriots

Let's play with some words, shall we?

First, "patriot." Depending on which dictionary you use, there are many variations of the definition. They are all fairly close, though-- the consensus definition being something along the lines of "one who loves and loyally or zealously supports one's own country."

Next, "revolutionary." With this one, the consensus definition is "someone wanting to bring about a sudden, radical, or complete and fundamental change in political organization; especially the overthrow or renunciation of one government or ruler and the substitution of another fundamentally different socioeconomic situation."

Finally, since it is germane to this discussion, let's take a quick look at one of President-Elect Obama's favorite words: "fundamental." As in: "we are going to fundamentally change this country." Going back to our trusty dictionary, we find fundamental defined thusly: "of or relating to essential structure, function, or facts -- belonging to one's innate or ingrained characteristics."

Okay, so, how are we to label someone who supports their country, what it stands for, its founding principles, and its actions domestically and around the world? Well, using the above dictionary definition, that person would be a patriot.

Following that, then, how do we label someone who supports what they think their country could possibly become, rather than what it has historically been-- and wants to fundamentally change the founding principles of the country? Again, using a dictionary definition, that person would be a revolutionary.

Now that we've defined these terms, can we move into some intellectual honesty? Can we agree that someone who loves America only for what it has the potential to become is not-- by definition-- a patriot?

Can we then further agree that someone who seeks "fundamental change" to America is not-- again, by definition-- a patriot? If we can just get that far, then maybe we can begin to get a handle on what is happening in America today.

On November 4th, millions of people voted for "change"-- that cannot be argued. Some of them, it can be reasonably assumed, actually had some ideas on what kind of change it should be. These are people who do know and understand Mr. Obama, and who want America to be something besides what it is and what it has been. These people are what I will term, for now, "potential patriots."

On the other side, there were millions more who also voted-- but these people voted for "conserving" what they see as the America of the past. Their ideas of change do not involve any fundamental shifting in how our country operates. Instead, they seek a return to the principles that America was founded upon: small government, free enterprise, and above all else, individual rights. These people are, then, "actual patriots."

If the potential patriots-- hereafter logically called "revolutionaries"-- would stop acting injured whenever an actual patriot tells them they are not patriotic, then we could openly and honestly advance the dialogue. If they would just speak the words "we don't like the old America-- we want a new one," then we might be able to get somewhere.

The facts are clear and obvious. We must get past the silly notion that a patriot can be defined as one who seeks "fundamental change" to America's principles. This is simply-- not to mention grammatically-- inaccurate.

If the revolutionaries want the actual patriots to respect them, then they must start being intellectually honest in the arena of ideas. Only by presenting both cases to the "masses" (they love that word), can we get a fair and honest hearing on what America wants to be. Only when ideologues on both sides openly and honestly state their cases can the individual person be allowed to make a real and fair judgment.

I have no doubt that a significant number of people who voted for President-Elect Obama are "actual patriots." I think that they have absolutely no idea that he has openly admitted his disdain for our Constitution. I am sure that they do not know that our newest President favors international law over American law. In fact, there are innumerable items in Mr. Obama's ideological closet that bear very little resemblance to anything those other "guys on the dollar bills" believed.

Deliberately and masterfully, the Obama campaign-- aided and abetted by the useful idiots of a willing, if often ignorant, media cartel-- concealed his true ideology, and used obfuscation as a very potent weapon in the election. As all successful leftist/fascistic movements do, they knew that reason would not fare well in a war with passion and faith-- and so they used our humanity against us by appealing to the most base emotions and desires of their chosen sheep. They were supremely successful in presenting the case for a man that nobody really seems to know. The masses of people who voted for "change" are, for the most part, completely ignorant of just what it is Barack Obama stands for. Furthermore, I am convinced that they do not have an inkling of just how much "change" is coming our way.

Sadly, most of them-- and the rest of us-- will find out soon enough.

As for the revolutionaries who knowingly voted for change: they know only too well what is coming, and they are gleefully anticipating it. Many of them have even more disdain for our founding principles than does the new President-Elect. Many of them have been openly hostile to America. In fact, some of them have openly expressed their contempt for all things American. The change that Mr. Obama is bringing is something these people have craved for decades.

So, what is a staggeringly divided nation to do? What can the actual patriots do in this electric environment of change? Well, we can try to support the new President-- always keeping a weather-eye on the change meter. We can try to give him the benefit of the doubt-- that he will actually "govern from the center," as Bill Clinton was forced to do at times. We can pray that he will come to an epiphany-- once he is surrounded by the trappings of the office and the real, tangible problems he will face-- and try to do the right thing... at least some of the time.

What happens, then, when none of that happens-- when the change crosses the line? Will it be a civil war of sorts? Or, as is usually the case, will the American electorate snap out of this daydream and vote to change things back to some semblance of American principles? That is, if it is not too late.

2010 will be the first chance for us to find out which way that wind will blow.

In the meantime, maybe the revolutionaries will come out of their closets and begin to engage us openly and honestly on the field of ideas. I, for one, welcome that opportunity and will relish it should it ever come.

I am not hopeful that it will come, though.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I'm Back...

...for a minute, anyway. I wanted to share this thing that I wrote for my family and friends.


Now What?

Wow. That hurt, eh? Can we get a recount—oh, never mind.

The strangest things can pop into your mind at a time like this. As I sat contemplating all the bad things that are sure to befall our country under this new administration, I had a sudden recollection of a sappy but sincere little poem that I wrote some years back. It is about overcoming pain, sadness, and sorrow to find a good and happy future. The key, according to my witty little verse, is not being controlled by fear—which is, as we all know, the great motivator.

Well, fear is what motivated all of us to get out and vote on Tuesday, and we see where that got us. The reason it didn’t work is because it was too late. We waited for fear to motivate us, instead of maintaining real vigilance on our country. We were too complacent for too long, and it caught up to us… they caught up to us. Accept that so we can move on.

At the close of the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787, as Benjamin Franklin left the hall in Philadelphia, he was asked, "What kind of government have you given us, Dr. Franklin?" He replied: "A republic, if you can keep it."

For generations, most people who read that quote were not sure exactly what he meant. How about now? Does it make more sense now?

The perspective necessary to understand today’s problem cannot be achieved until one understands our history. Before anyone thinks that this is the worst thing that has ever happened to America, allow me to mention a few other “progressive” democrat Presidents with aspirations of dictatorial powers who came before our new messiah.

Under Woodrow Wilson and—less than a generation later—Franklin D. Roosevelt, America was under the thumb of virtual totalitarianism. Individual rights shrank at a level inversely proportional to the mushrooming size of the federal government. The good of “The People” soundly trumped the good of the person. Never in our history had individual rights been so curtailed. In fact, Obama—as our newest would-be Il Duce—will have to work very hard to get to the level of fascism that Wilson and Roosevelt attained. If he does not succeed, I am sure it will not be for lack of trying.

How, then, did we ever recover from such periods? The real answer is that we never really did. Fortunately, the American people swung back the other way after each of those periods—first by electing Harding and Coolidge, then with Truman and Eisenhower. This allowed the country to regain at least some of its equilibrium. The damage, though, was real and lasting. Rather than viewing the Wilson and Roosevelt eras as individual anomalies, it is far more accurate to say that they were the ice breakers for “the movement.”

The next standard bearer for the movement was LBJ, who brought us the “Great Society.” Like the New Deal before it, this was another grand scheme that grew the government exponentially while promising to end poverty and bring prosperity and fairness to all. LBJ’s plans, coming on the cusp of the “counter-culture revolution” of the sixties, were designed to take maximum advantage of the fears and financial hard times that some people were feeling, while simultaneously demonizing “the rich” (sound familiar?).

Also noteworthy was the stunning hypocrisy of LBJ and the democrats—evidenced by their campaigning against Barry Goldwater by calling him a warmonger, as they themselves were embroiling us in Vietnam.

{ As a more than slightly disturbing side-note: look back at the last hundred years and see who got us into wars… was it the “warmongering” Republicans? WW-I: Wilson (d), WW-II: Roosevelt (d), Korea: Truman (d), Vietnam: Kennedy/Johnson (d). }

All of these past democrat tyrants have much in common. First, through populism and class warfare rhetoric, they fooled a significant portion of the population into supporting them. Next, they used their power in an attempt to force “fairness,” which was really just another way to say socialism. Finally, they all attracted a certain kind of thuggish followers, who were more than willing to use force and corruption to further the movement. You can ascribe evil to these past Presidents’ motives if you wish—but I like to believe that, for the most part, they really did believe in their ideas and wanted what they thought was best for the country. The problem was, they lost sight of the fact that America was never designed to be shaped by government. In fact, the exact opposite is true.

Again the question comes: how did this happen? Well, you need look no farther than one of our old enemies to find the answer:

We can't expect the American People to jump from Capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of Socialism, until they awaken one day to find that they have communism.” --Nikita Khrushchev, former Soviet Premier

The Marxists were a lot of things, but stupid wasn’t one of them. They knew us and they knew that our fundamental weakness would be that our society would get soft and complacent over time. And, indisputably, we did.

So, there’s our brief history detour—now, back to today. We have a choice to make right now. We can choose to stick our heads in the sand and just wait out this newest crisis of government; or, we can take this as the final wake-up call that it is and get involved. I mean really get involved. We must absolutely ensure that we never again let fear be our last resort. How, you ask?

For starters, we can get to know what is happening with local politics. It all starts with the school boards and the city councils and the county commissions. There is no one closer to our everyday lives than our local politicians… and yet we have come to systematically ignore them. All of these social degradations—schools, culture, etc.—came about because we were all too busy with our lives to get involved.

Next, we can take a lesson from the leftists and make our voices heard when something goes against what we know to be right. Not just on the big things like illegal immigration, but on everything that could affect our lives or the lives of our children. I know we all have jobs and lives and cannot be professional demonstrators like the “anti’s” are… but still, when it counts, we have to let ourselves be heard. The era of the silent majority has brought us to where we are today, and we have to stop that trend immediately.

Finally, we can remain strongly attached to the principles that we claim to have. The only way to do that is to live them and defend them. This means we constantly remind ourselves what is important to us and what we will not tolerate. It means that we will teach our children right from wrong, and enforce those things in everyday life. No more sliding into decadence (or, as Judge Robert Bork so eloquently put it: Slouching towards Gomorrah).

So, what are you going to do with your life now? As an American, as a Conservative, and mostly as a Christian and a family man, I am going to rededicate myself to the principles that brought America to life. I am going to make it my business to redouble my efforts to educate my fellow citizens whenever I can. I am going to keep my eye on our elected officials—because I am going to remind myself time and again that they work for us!

My advice to all of my fellow Patriots:

Feel right… because you are.

Live right… because you should.

Remember, everyone sets an example, one way or another. So, set the right example and keep your head up with the pride that comes from living right.

I’ll close as I opened: with my sappy little poem. I just now read it again, and I have to say that it is some pretty damned good advice… I think I’ll take it, and I hope you do, too.

The Other Side

On the other side of sorrow,
I tell myself each day,
Is a doorway to tomorrow,
Through which we'll find our way.

On the other side of sadness,
It must be true as well,
The answers to our madness,
O'er there must surely dwell.

On the other side of all that pain,
Just waiting to be found,
Is all the good we stand to gain,
Once fear stops leading us around.

....... ©1998 kmg

Kurt M. Grinstead, Gunnery Sergeant, USMC (Retired)

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