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Random Thoughts

I grew up a classic liberal. I tended to think of myself as a liberal. I voted for Democrats, not exclusively but frequently. Things have changed, though.

Like many others, I don’t say simply that I left the Democrats, but rather, the Democrats left me. I didn’t leave the left. The left, left me. As a result, my views became increasingly identified, at least by others, as conservative. Eventually, because people weren’t really interested in a long-winded explanation, it became easier to simply agree. “Yes, I’m a conservative.” But that’s not quite true, either. Certainly, some of my views would be considered conservative by many people. Others would be considered quite liberal. Given my classic liberal views, why was I so reluctant (and I was very reluctant) to jump onto the libertarian wagon? My simple answer, is this: libertarian candidates have, in my view, tended to be people who did not need to walk about town without a keeper. Many of them have been, quite frankly, goofy or weird (in fact, I mentioned the need to not be weird in my previous post). I didn’t want to be associated with them. Still don’t, most of the time, but overall, it’s a better fit – I think.

While libertarians and the liberty movement are not exactly synonymous, many of the former are part of the latter. There are a lot of us out there and a lot of undeclared voters. So, why have we been, for years, so dramatically ineffective? The Tenth Amendment Center published an interesting article by Brian Roberts dealing with this. Entitled “A Tenther’s Marketing Plan,” it makes some interesting points. Of particular importance is Roberts’ thesis:

“Liberty efforts ultimately fail not because they reject establishment ideas, but because they continue to limit themselves to establishment-endorsed tactics.”

We moved a lot when I was a kid. Most years, we moved at least once. One result of so many moves was that I went to a lot of different schools. A related result was that I was frequently “the new kid” and, as a result, got in a fair number of fights with schoolyard bullies. For a short while, I bought into some pretty common ideas regarding fair fights, which included how, when and where. I got my butt kicked more than once, until my dad intervened by telling me a few things. First, he said “only a fool fights when there’s another choice.” Then, he told me there was no such thing as a “fair fight.” Finally, he told me “If you have to fight, you be the one to pick the time, place and method.” That is, I believe, very similar to Roberts’ point. Liberty movements fail because they have historically allowed the entrenched political powers to dictate the how, when and where.

What do classic liberals/libertarians really want? Sure, smaller government sounds good. “That government governs best which governs least” and all that. Fiscal responsibility sounds good, too. Those, though, are not the underlying things we want. What most of us really want, if we reduce things to their most basic form, is this: we want to be left alone. This has been the source of much of our difficulty. Real or “true” libertarians/classic liberals have no interest in telling others what to do, just as we have no interest in having others tell us what to do. We very much want to be left alone to “do our own thing.” The problem is that many of us feel this way so strongly that when we’re outside a system that compels us to comply, we have difficulty formulating a single, unified strategy and message. Getting libertarians to work together is very much like herding cats.

I once heard a man say that for many of us, our strengths and weaknesses are related. As and example of how this looks for libertarians, consider this: Progressives and conservatives (especially neocons) tend to make the following sorts of promises:

  • “we will give you more (insert benefit or entitlement of your choice)”
  • “we will protect you and the country from (insert foreign/terror threat)”
  • “we will make sure you are treated fairly”

Libertarians don’t make those sorts of promises, not really. Essentially, what libertarians promise is “we will leave you alone.” While I happen to think that’s a fine promise and political platform, we need to ask ourselves a question. Do we really think that will sell as well, especially on a national level, as what the progressives and conservatives offer?

We are also hampered by two groups who claim to fall under the libertarian umbrella. The first group is comprised of people who refuse to endorse any person or plan that does not meet their standard of 100% ideological purity. Hey, if your goal is to continue to lose ever-increasing amounts of liberty and being able to whine about how things would change if only there was a candidate or party I could completely get behind, this is a great strategy because no candidate, no party and no platform ever measures up. On the other hand, if your goal is to be free, it sucks.

The second group is comprised of those who call themselves libertarians but who not only insist of some sort of ideological purity test, but who insist your issues and my issues must be the same. We can see this when we look at libertarians from small western towns. Many of them want the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) gone and out of their lives and states. That’s simply not an issue in Charlotte, NC where BLM probably stands for “Black Lives Matter.”

The truth is, none of us in the various liberty movements probably know anyone with whom we agree on how everything should be done, even in our own town or county. How likely, then, are we to agree on how everything should be on a national level? What’s the answer then? How do we deal with this lack of 100% agreement? I think the answer is simple, though not necessarily easy. We simply (see, I told you it was simple) accept and embrace the fact that liberty in Georgia might not be identical to liberty in Idaho, simply because the people in those states have some different issues and ideals. Sure, there are similarities, but that doesn’t mean their way of “doing” or experiencing liberty is going to be identical, and that really is okay. It is, in fact, more than okay. We need to do the not easy part of being classic liberals or libertarians or whatever you want to call yourself. We need to be able to answer the question “do you really support the right of other people to live however they want as long as they don’t interfere with the rights of others” with a loud and resounding “yes” – even when living however they want includes doing things to which I object or even find repugnant. We need to either embrace liberty for everyone or stop lying to ourselves and others.

Urban vs. Rural: Are They Really that Different?

Short answer: Yes, they really are that different.

I read a post on Bayou Renaissance Man’s blog, entitled “Cities, what they do to people, and the 2016 elections.” I recommend it. It sparked some more thoughts about a topic I’ve been considering a lot, lately. To wit, the effect of cities on the cultural and political changes in the US and the differences between the views of people living in more and less densely populated areas.

I try, on a fairly regular basis, to spend time talking to people – not the easiest thing for a strong introvert to do, but I do try. Often, that is done either face to face, via some service like Skype, or over the phone. Many times, however, that “talking” takes place via text messages, email (so old school, right?) and on social media and other forums. In a lot of those conversations, people from both ends of the political spectrum will suggest cities, including their social programs and the way they vote as a whole, are primarily a reflection of the views, beliefs and attitudes of their residents. This, I have been told, is similar to how smaller towns and rural areas reflect the views of those who live there. There is, I believe, some truth to this. It is certainly true that most people tend to associate with those with whom they have things in common. Still, there is more to the story than “cities reflect the views of the people who live there.”

Bayou Renaissance Man’s post includes both a reference and a link to an article from 2012 in The Atlantic. A takeaway from the article, perhaps the most important takeaway, is summed up in this quote: “The voting data suggest that people don’t make cities liberal — cities make people liberal.” This suggestion, that there is something inherent in cities that tends to produce a liberal point of view, has some serious implications for the United States. If one is of a liberal bent, it’s pretty good news. As urbanization continues, one might reasonably expect the nation to become increasingly liberal. For conservatives, of course, the opposite is true, as it paints an ugly picture of the future, one that has a steady ongoing move toward the left. If the influence of cities is as powerful and profound as the article suggests, it will be harder and harder for each successive generation to resist. It seems that, over time, such a thing would snowball, gaining mass and momentum with each generation and exerting more and more influence over national politics. (NOTE: I’m going to proceed as if the article is largely accurate, though the extent of its accuracy is surely subject to debate)

Even more interesting, and in many ways far more disturbing, are the comments left by many who have read the article. I’d encourage you to read both the article and the comments that follow.

There are some implications, I believe, that need serious consideration by those who don’t view the increasing urbanization of this nation, and some of the accompanying or following changes in views, as a good thing.

  • Regardless of what your political, philosophical or religious beliefs might be, if you’re committed to them and think they’re of benefit to your children, you bear the primary responsibility for passing them on. This is particularly true if your beliefs run counter to those of the prevailing culture. For instance, if you are a conservative, especially one living in a city, you are in a very real sense the only thing standing between your children and a liberal world view.
  • Changing the course of the nation such that it returns to being the constitutional republic it was designed to be is going to require an understanding of some unpleasant realities and a commitment to long-term effort.
  • The Republic may already be lost.*

Many of us who view personal liberty and limited government as good things are faced with a dilemma. Of course we desire to be free. We also need to house, clothe and feed ourselves and our families. To do that, we must typically go to where the jobs are – and the jobs are frequently in cities. In moving to where the jobs are, we go to the very sorts of places we would presumably like to avoid – places that arguably have less personal liberty and more governmental involvement in the lives of people (not to mention more people per unit of area). So, what are we to do? As I’ve mentioned or alluded to before (here, herehere and here), my wife and I are building, slowly, our version of an urban homestead. We both have jobs that require us to be in an area of relatively dense population (I say “relatively” because even here in Texas there are towns and cities that are far more densely populated). As much as we might like to live in a more remote or even isolated area, it simply isn’t practical right now. Instead, we are doing what we view as the next best thing. We’re homesteading as much as we can where we are now – a sort of “bloom where you’re planted” approach, I suppose. Admittedly, we’re in a place where government interferes with our lives less than it does in many other places (though still more than I like many times), but the point is that we’re doing all we can right now to be independent, right now. Hopefully we’ll be able to change our location to somewhere more remote, less populated (and cooler) than where we are, currently. If you are in a similar situation, it’s something to consider as both a way of minimizing your dependence on government, a way of preparing for the life you might want in the future and perhaps even a kind of resistance. One of my sons put it this way in a text to me:

“We want independence. That means a community not wholly reliant on help from government and outside groups…”

“I think where groups like the Bundy’s and a lot of III types get it wrong is the all-consuming emphasis on defense. Defense is important (maybe more important now that it has ever been), but for Liberty to thrive and grow, we have to be more. We have to promote independence everywhere; not merely from a police state or enemy invasion, but at every level. If government realizes that people don’t rely on them, there is little they can do to force anything. And, independent people spread EVERYWHERE. It’s like an antibody against tyranny. Where people are self-reliant, tyranny cannot exist, much less thrive.”

I don’t really know how accurate the Atlantic article is. I think there is some truth to it, I just don’t know how much. I do know this: if we are to be free, if we are to reclaim our nation as a nation of freedom and limited government, we must work where we are. When our friends ask why we have so much food in our pantry, we don’t have to tell them everything we know or believe about government, freedom and tyranny. We can simply say that we know unfortunate things can happen. Depending on where you are, those unfortunate events might be a major earthquake, a tornado, hurricane, wildfire or some other natural disaster with the potential to make, in this case, some degree of food independence a good idea. Make that point, then leave it alone. People change their perspective slowly in most cases. We must, I believe, avoid the temptation to tell people everything we know. Aside from its potential to compromise our “OpSec,” to many people it simply makes us look weird. I knew a man in Southern California who earned a significant income as a representative of what I view as one of the few legitimate MLM companies on the planet (note: I don’t represent any MLM company). For people who joined him, he always said the same thing: “Most MLM people act weird. People don’t like weird. If you want to be successful, don’t be weird.” The same is true for those of us who practice some form of preparedness and who want others to join us in our pursuit of freedom. They, like other people, will not respond well if we come across as too weird. So, don’t be weird. Again, make the point and then leave it alone. And please, if you’re talking with your relatively “unaware” friends, family and acquaintances, avoid your favorite tinfoil hat talking points (if you have any)!

*Writing that sentence was physically painful. I really hope things are not that way.

Profoundly Undesirable Doesn’t Mean Impossible

I’ve written before about my views of those who want armed revolt. It’s not a positive view. It certainly wasn’t made better by the decision of the Bundy’s to do what they did outside Burns, Oregon.*

Having said all that, there is another perspective I find at least as annoying. Before I say what it is, let me be clear, once again. I neither want, support or promote armed rebellion against the government of the United States. It is, as I’ve indicated before, a profoundly bad idea, with a less than foregone conclusion.

What is this other, equally offensive perspective? Simply this: There is a recurring theme among gun control proponents, regarding the likelihood and possibility of success of a military insurgency in the US. Though not stated plainly, it goes something like this:

  • The US military is an overwhelmingly powerful force. Its limitations and the fact an insurgency would include those with an understanding of those limitations, along with the knowledge of how to exploit them, are irrelevant
  • The presence of more privately owned weapons and ammunition in the US than that owned by any military machine in the world is irrelevant
  • The fact many gun control proponents declare many of these weapons to be “military grade” is suddenly irrelevant
  • The likelihood an armed insurgency would include a significant number of people from law enforcement with both tactical training and experience is irrelevant.
  • The likelihood an armed insurgency would include a significant number of military active duty and veterans with both tactical training and experience is irrelevant
  • The likelihood an armed insurgency would include former and active military personnel with years of training and real world experience (presumably along with with whatever clandestine contacts that entails) in asymmetrical warfare, 4th generation warfare and building and training insurgencies is irrelevant
  • The possibility(or likelihood) many of these highly trained, skilled and experienced military and law enforcement personnel have somehow already come into possession of perhaps “not quite authorized” weapons and supplies is irrelevant
  • The likelihood an armed insurgency would target those individuals in positions of leadership in what the insurgents would view as an oppressive regime, as opposed to targeting large military units, is irrelevant
  • The unavoidable vulnerability of many of those targeted people is irrelevant
  • The reluctance of most US military personnel to fire on their fellow citizens is irrelevant
  • The fact so many people who swore to support and defend the Constitution (as opposed to any person or government) take that oath very seriously is irrelevant
  • The fact that many of these highly trained, highly skilled and experienced people would be both reluctant to participate in such an insurgency and implacable foes once they chose to participate is irrelevant
  • The fact many who might participate in an armed insurgency have committed themselves to occupying the moral high ground (including not shooting first and no targeting of innocents) will not increase public sympathy and is irrelevant
  • That history teaches the outcome of an armed insurgency is a far from foregone conclusion is irrelevant

In short, what we have is a fine example of a narrative that must, in order to be maintained, ignore any fact that might contradict the narrative. It is essential that the very weapons many gun control proponents seek to restrict and /or ban would somehow pose no threat anyone associated with what insurgents would view as an oppressive regime. It is equally essential that anyone who might be associated with such a hypothetical insurgency have no training, experience, weapons or supplies that might contribute in any way to the possibility of success. They must always be portrayed as people with no skill, no training, no experience and no understanding of history or modern systems of politics and warfare. It is, I submit, pretty easy to understand why some people cling to this belief.

There are people who have abandoned the idea that self-defense is an inherent human right. This is reflected not only in our so frequent discussions of gun control, but also in the laws that restrict the size and type of blades one can carry on one’s person ( I find this interesting in light of the fact many gun control proponents will insist “you can defend yourself adequately with a knife”). Since none of us wants to be the victim of violence the alternative to taking any real responsibility for one’s own defense is to pay mercenaries to use weapons in one’s stead, creating and widening a gulf between society and those whose job it is to protect society as law enforcement becomes increasingly militarized as a result, in part, of a refusal on the part of many to take responsibility for their own defense and for that of their own neighborhoods, towns and cities.

This abdication of personal responsibility, the desire to have other people take care of us and the belief that such a thing can be done, and even more tellingly should be done, is difficult to overcome.

In my life coaching practice I quickly became aware of a few things. First of all, I learned the people most in need of the services of a life coach were the people least likely to avail themselves of such services, even if they were offered for free. Second, I learned the urge or tendency to abdicate personal responsibility is present in virtually everyone. Third, I learned people give in to this tendency in different ways. That is, the area of life for which people want others to be responsible and ensure a given outcome varies from person to person. Finally, I realized no one likes to face up to their abdication of personal responsibility and that the more one is committed to this abdication, the more one has riding on it, whether socially, psychologically, emotionally (usually it’s some combination of these), the less likely and the less able one is to face up to the reality of that abdication. And so, the narrative, whatever form it takes, must be protected. It must be protected because it is psychologically, emotionally and socially comforting. The alternative to this abdication is so profoundly uncomfortable, so psychologically, emotionally and socially threatening, that it cannot be tolerated. The alternative must be denied. It must be strongly opposed. Those who support the alternative to abdicating personal responsibility must be denigrated and disparaged.

While revolution is profoundly undesirable (and truly, it is), that doesn’t make it impossible.

As a general rule people love the benefits of freedom. They just don’t like its cost. The cost of freedom is personal responsibility. I do not think it is possible to overstate how important personal responsibility is to freedom. In fact, I believe personal responsibility is essential to freedom. One cannot be free if one does not accept responsibility for one’s own life. I know a man who has two ideas or thoughts that are pertinent to this topic. The first one he calls “Ken’s Constant:” because freedom requires personal responsibility people will do anything they can to avoid being free. He calls the second one “Ken’s Corollary:” if you can convince a man he is free when he is not, he will allow you to do anything you want to him.

*Note: As much as I’d like to think all the thoughts here are original with me, the truth is, reading the writings of others has helped clarify some things for me. Of particular note are the writings of Stewart Rhodes, available here, and those of the Bayou Renaissance Man. I share some views in common with both of them. I also disagree with both of them on some things. So what? People who love freedom aren’t required to agree on all things. We just need to be devoted to liberty. My thoughts about some things didn’t really change, but my ability to express them more clearly surely has. For that, I owe both of them a significant debt.

Things People say About…guns

I run into all sorts of arguments against private citizens owning firearms. Here, for your edification and enjoyment, are some of the more typical ones I’ve encountered in the past 30 days. The frustrating part? These are the arguments I’ve been hearing for years. I’ll try to give a brief, and simple, answer to each.
  1. If you have a firearm in your home, you are much more likely to get shot with it than a person who does not.
    1. Duh. A person with a backyard pool is more likely to drown in it than a person who doesn’t have one. A person who drinks alcohol is much more likely to get drunk than one who does not.
  2. You know that guns, especially semiautomatic handguns, sometimes just go off by themselves without anybody touching them, right?
    1. No. No, they do not. I own a number of them. Until and unless you touch the trigger, you can do pretty much anything you want to them and they simply will not fire.
  3. There’s not really any difference between automatic and semi-automatic weapons.
    1. Yes, there is. A fully automatic weapon will fire for as long as you hold the trigger or until it fires its multiround burst. A semiautomatic wepon fires 1 round every time you pull the trigger.
  4. Repeating weapons did not exist when the Constitution was written.
    1. Actually, they did. You should read more.
  5. The ammunition for the AR-15 is too powerful for deer hunting. That’s why it’s not legal to use it in most States.
    1. It’s illegal for deer hunting in most states because it is deemed too weak for deer hunting.
  6. The AR-15 is just like the M16. Both of them can fire thousands of rounds in a minute.
    1. No, it is not. The AR-15 is a semiautomatic rifle. The M-16 is capable of automatic fire. Please see #3, above.
    2. Even in “full auto” mode, the M16A4 has a cycluc rate of fire of about 950 rounds per minute. The AR-15 has an effective rate of 45-60 rounds per minute.
  7. It’s easy to convert an AR-15 to fully automatic fire.
    1. No, it is not. The necessary parts cannot be cannabalized from an M16 because they do not fit. To make it fully automatic requires the services of a skilled gunsmith with an adequate machine shop. I’ve yet to meet one who was willing to face the wrath of the ATF to do such a thing.
  8. Using a gun to defend yourself against someone who attacks you with his hands, or even a knife, gives you an unfair advantage.
    1. Well, I certainly hope so.
  9. “Bear arms” means to raise your feudal lord’s standard in combat.
    1. Yes. Of course it does. Because people who were inspired by the Enlightenment and who had just fought a war in part because of the actions of the English monarch, were all about living under feudalism.
  10. Gun Owners just want to kill somebody.
    1. No, though we would very much like to not be killed. That is why so many of us own firearms for self defense. Allow me to suggest you’re projecting, just a bit.
  11. You are obviously compensating for a small penis.
    1. This is not the 4th grade.

As I said, these are the same arguments, a word I’m using lightly, I’ve been encountering for years. Other pro Second Amendment people tell the same story. It’s almost as if gun control proponents either don’t listen or simply don’t care that their arguments are false and/or, well, stupid.

Mike Vanderboegh

It is with sadness that I note Mike Vanderboegh passed away Wednesday, August 10, 2016. Usually, when a person writes words like that, what follows is a long discussion of his relationship with the person who has recently died, their common interests, their friendship and the things they shared. Most of that* I will not include here for a very simple reason. I did not know Mike Vanderboegh. We never met. While I read his blog fairly regularly, I was not a subscriber. I have no illusions that he even knew my blog existed. We never exchanged emails. We did not write each other letters. We have never been speakers at the same event (largely because my public speaking has been largely limited to preaching and because I am pretty much unknown in the liberty or patriot movement). Further, based upon what I have read of his blog I suspect he and I differed on any number of things. Why then the sadness? To explain, I need to give you a brief overview of my understanding of Mike Vanderboegh. It won’t take long. I’m going to try to cut out all the non-essential things and just say what I think matters the most.
Mike Vanderboegh loved freedom.He loved liberty. He loved of the United States of America. There are a lot of people who claim to love freedom, liberty and their country. There are far fewer whose passion will lead them to sacrifice greatly in the interest of those things. They are, I submit, a distinct minority. Their passion makes other people, the majority of people, uncomfortable. Passionate people do that to the dispassionate – especially if the passion of the passionate seems to be almost all-encompassing. If the thing about which someone is passionate is frisbee golf, then perhaps that person’s passion is just an annoyance. If their passion is related to the multi-level marketing company with which they just affiliated themselves, then perhaps it is a little more annoying. In both cases it is annoying  because people outside their circle of fellow enthusiasts I simply don’t see what is so exciting about frisbee golf or one more multi-level marketing company. But what if their passion is related to something more fundamental? What if their passion is for something that underlies the very fabric of a nation? What if their passion is so great it calls into question my commitment or your commitment to the founding principles of our nation? What if a person’s passion is so great it calls into question my love of home and country? At this point I become more than annoyed. At this point you become more and then uncomfortable when this passionate person comes around and begins to talk. Now his passion makes it clear that though I may claim to love freedom, liberty and nation, my claim may have little to do with reality. More than that, such a passion for liberty must invariably call into question whether a given government has become an impediment to the people being able to exercise their liberty. It calls into question the extent to which an ostensibly free people are truly free. And, it calls into question whether the policies and actions of government and its agents are consistent with a love of country. It’s no wonder, then, that such people are so quickly and easy labeled “fanatics” and “extremists.”
Mr. Vanderboegh (I didn’t know him and so won’t presume to simply call him “Mike” and using his first and last name has become unwieldy) seems to have aroused those negative responses in a lot of people, private citizens and agents of the government alike. We shouldn’t be surprised. Unfortunate though such responses are, that’s just the nature of the beast. People don’t like feeling uncomfortable and they often actively dislike those who arouse their feelings of discomfort – and inadequacy. People become angry with men and women like Mr. Vanderboegh because such men and women expose the huge gap between what people say and what they do. They become angry because they fear being exposed, to themselves and others, for what they are. Anger arising out of fear is simply human nature. Anger, however, isn’t the only response to the discomfort.
As a RN I’ve worked in a lot of clinical areas. One of my favorites has been psych/mental-health. I’m also a hypnotist and executive life coach. In both fields I’ve learned there are some universal truths regarding change. One of the most important is this: Change is painful. Staying the way we are can be painful, too. People don’t like pain, so they avoid change if they can because it seems more painful than staying the way we are. This means people, all people, only change when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing. While the discomfort caused by the passionate leads many to annoyance and anger, it leads some to change. This is why the death of a man I did not know saddens me. I am convinced his passion for liberty and freedom led some people to change and to become more dedicated in their own defense of liberty and freedom. The sort of passion I see on his blog always leads some to change is such positive ways. The change may be small or great. It doesn’t matter. If people become more committed to what matters, that cannot be anything but good for freedom, liberty and America.
We desperately need people like Mike Vanderboegh, Stewart Rhodes and others. We need them, not because they can make us free, but because they lead others to do what they do – they set “brush fires of freedom in the minds of men.” This leads to the “irate, tireless minority” without whom we cannot be free.
Thank you, Michael Brian Vanderboegh… I did not know you, but your words have changed me and my approach to liberty for the better.
*The things I’m confident we had in common were a love for freedom, liberty and the US. 

Freedom has a Price

This is a truth many of us find uncomfortable. Oh, we’re often willing to speak of the price others have paid for our freedoms. We can speak of how much it cost those in the past for us to be free now. What we prefer to not dwell on is this: freedom not only has a price, it has a price that must be paid by every generation. When we fail to recognize the cost, when we say the price of being disturbed from our comfortable lives is to high, we are on the verge of losing the freedom we take for granted.

“Freedom has cost too much blood and agony to be relinquished at the cheap price of rhetoric.” ~ Thomas Sowell

“Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it.” ~ John Adams

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” ~ Desmond Tutu

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” ~ Thomas Charlton

“Responsibility is the price of freedom.” ~ Elbert Hubbard

Each one of these quotes, some of which are debated as to authorship, has something important to say. The freedom we now enjoy, even with ongoing efforts to chip away ever more of it, has cost far too much for us to allow it to be taken away in response to mere rhetoric. We really do have an obligation to use well the liberty that has been handed down to us. Remaining vigilant and recognizing all the things, events and people who might take away or severely reduce our liberty is a price we must pay if we wish to remain free. Ultimately, we are, indeed, responsible  for our freedom – and its loss, if we abdicate that responsibility.

Of all the things that might go on sale, of all the things we might purchase at true wholesale prices, freedom is not one of them. Freedom, I submit, must always be purchased at full retail and the price is outrageously high – especially to those for whom freedom is an inheritance. Our failure as a nation to recognize freedom carries a high price tag, coupled with what seems to be an ever increasing reluctance to pay full retail has placed that freedom at great risk. I believe we are most likely to experience that reluctance when my freedom is going to come with a cost we must pay. It is one thing to have others pay the cost. We can thank and even cheer them for their sacrifice(s) in the name of freedom. It is an altogether different thing when each of us, individually, must feel the burden of freedom’s sometimes overwhelming cost, or when it must be paid by those we hold dear or are sworn to protect.

I found the following quote on Quora. It is from Paul Harding, a law enforcement officer. Sadly, my techno ignorance is such that I can’t provide a link to the source. I share it with you because it shows the personal cost of freedom in all its stark relief.

“I, personally, and on more than one occasion, have sat across a table from men who, I felt fairly certain, had raped young children. On more than one occasion, I have looked that man right in the eye and said, “You’re free to go.”

When I said he was “free to go,” I meant it. I didn’t do a single thing to interfere with him in any way after that. One or more of those men might be raping a child right now, as you read this.

Why haven’t I done anything to prevent those men from getting near other children? We, at least, have this whole “registered sex offender” thing in this country, right? Should I have put them on “a list?”

The reason I didn’t do anything other than say “You’re free to go” is because the foundational laws of our country don’t allow me to do anything else. I won’t lecture, this time, on the specific functions of each amendment and how they apply, but at that point, the Constitution prohibited me from interfering with that man’s liberty in any way.

I can interfere with people’s liberty when certain standards of proof are met.

Reasonable Suspicion: I can detain a person for a few minutes and do a minimally-invasive pat down for weapons.

Probable Cause: I can take a person to jail, do a more thorough search for weapons or contraband. A judge, within 48 hours, will review this case and check that, at least, my side of the story actually indicates probable cause. The judge MAY impose certain bail conditions, limiting the person’s liberties while he awaits trial, or the judge may order the person left in jail to await trial.
at no point in that process do I have the lawful “power” to interfere with a person’s liberty in any way without being able to prove probable cause, with the exception of a few minutes of detention under reasonable suspicion.

I couldn’t prove probable cause on that suspected child rapist, so I couldn’t interfere with his liberty in any way. The Constitution says so.

The FBI couldn’t prove probable cause on the Orlando shooter, so they couldn’t interfere with HIS liberty in any way. The Constitution says so.

That’s why he was able to go buy guns, and that’s why my suspected child molester may, right now, just be finishing up that child rape that he started when you were reading the beginning of this answer.

Individual Rights and liberty are extremely dangerous propositions. In this country, there are real-life victims of your rights to due process, your right to be free from the removals of your liberties every time someone likeme suspects you of being a child rapist.

Some people don’t like guns. That’s a political issue. I get it. Do you like kids though? Do you like NOT being published on the internet as a legally-registered child rapist when you’re innocent? The price of keeping you (and me) off of that list when we’re innocent is that cops can’t put people on that list until a court finds proof of guilt, beyond a reasonable doubt. At the least, a court must find probable cause before even bail conditions can be imposed.

You’ve probably heard “price of freedom” so often you’ve learned to tune it out. That child rapist who, right about now, is cleaning himself off while warning that kid to never tell anyone what happened? The suffering of that poor kid IS the price of freedom.

You and I are enjoying the freedom from unreasonable intrusion upon our liberties every time a cop suspects us, and that poor kid is paying the price for it. Want to give up that freedom?

If any of those men I released did hurt another kid, I have to live with the fact that I could have stopped them. I couldn’t have stopped them legally. I didn’t have the evidence. I could have stopped them though. I could have designed a frame up on another charge. I could have just murdered them – become a one-man lynch mob. I didn’t do those things though. I obeyed the Constitution. If that kid is suffering now, he’s paying the biggest price, but wondering whether that is happening right now, I have to admit, is exacting a little price on me as well.

100 or so people shot in Orlando, countless lives destroyed,- That IS the price of freedom – your freedom and my freedom to not have our liberties restricted for more than a few minutes by a cop with no more than reasonable suspicion.

The people in Orlando, and their families, really did pay that price. We all risk paying that price every day . We all pay that price, to a lesser extent, every time we agonize over whether it would have been better to violate the principles of the Constitution. . . Just this one time.

It IS scary. It is terrifying when you think hard about it. That is why, in America, just before we say “Play Ball” we sing a song which reminds us that if you want to live in the Land of the Free, then you had better be sure you’re the Home of the Brave.

Free Speech for people who right about now are thinking this whole freedom thing is just too scary and should be done away with. . .

Yeah, those guys are scary too when people listen to them, but that IS the price of freedom.

We can’t understand the value of the liberties in the Bill of Rights until we understand the price we are paying for them.:


Who is to Blame?

I’ve written before that I’m just not a believer in conspiracy. That really hasn’t changed. For purposes of clarification, let me explain a little about what I mean. I really do believe most of the things about which many want to scream “conspiracy” can really be more accurately and reasonable ascribed to confluence, convergence and synergy. Here’s what that means, at least to me.

People, including you and me, tend to seek out and associate with those with whom we have things in common. If I’m a Christian who actively seeks to live according to my faith, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll be spending a lot of time with other Christians. If I fly expensive RC airplanes, I’ll probably spend time with other enthusiasts. Democrats, Progressives, Libertarians, Republicans and members of other parties tend to spend a lot of time with those with whom they share a particular political view. Business people tend to spend time with other business people. Gun people spend time with other gun people. The more passionate we are about something, the more likely we are to interact a lot with those who share our passion and beliefs. We see it all around us in the people with whom we come in contact every day. If this is true, and I believe the evidence overwhelmingly says it is true, that it is simply a basic fact of human nature, then it explains a great deal, does it not?

Let’s take this a step further. Since I’m a pretty strict Constitutionalist, is it really surprising that I spend a lot of time talking with others who believe the document is best understood in light of its original context? Is it surprising that when I talk with these other folks we spend a lot of time not just discussing the meaning of the document’s text in context, but also talking about how to get others to see it the way we see it and apply it in practical ways? I don’t think that is surprising at all. In fact, it would be surprising if we didn’t do that. I’m a pro 2nd Amendment guy. Are you surprised I spend a good bit of time discussing the 2A with people, including trying to get others to understand why I believe the amendment is so very important? I doubt you are surprised at all. If I knew the things that matter greatly to you, I would not be at all surprised to learn you spend a significant matter of time 1) with people who see things the way you do, and 2) trying to help others see things your way. So, if this normal human tendency is true of you and me…

George Soros may be evil. I don’t know. I’ve never met the man and I won’t share my opinion of him here. The same is true of, say, the Koch brothers, if we look at what is ostensibly the other end of the spectrum. Would it be surprising, given our tendency to seek out those with whom we have something in common, to learn that Soros, or the Koch brothers, spend time with others who share their views? Should we be shocked if we learn they spend time trying to get others to see things their way? Let’s go further and look at the 2A and gun rights.

For those of you interested in the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory, I am an INTP. In practical terms that means that among other things, I am not much of a joiner. In fact, since I’ve become an adult, I’ve joined exactly 3 groups.* One of those is the NRA, which I joined less than 1 year ago (congratulations, Mr. President, you managed to do something that was beyond the ability of your predecessors). Now, what has that meant? Aside from the money I sent them, it has led me, the non-joiner, to become more active in seeking to help at least those who are ambivalent about gun rights perhaps come to see things a little more from the perspective of us pro gun rights folks. It has also meant I’ve spent time thinking and sharing how to bring about a significant shift in the way the majority of the American people view guns, with the end goal of having even more people view them in a positive light. I do the same thing regarding the Constitution. Sometimes, pretty frequently really, I spend time mapping out with others strategies for getting people to understand the Constitution the way we do, including how to get this view into schools, the media and other institutions and industries. In all of this, I doubt many of the folks with whom I do these things view themselves as participants in a conspiracy.

If I’m George Soros – and no, I am not – and I, along with those of my peers who see things my way, spend time and effort trying to get a majority of people to see things the way we do, is that a conspiracy? Does it become a conspiracy because we have access, as a result of our vast collective wealth, to greater resources to bring about what we see as desirable? No, it does not. What, then, might make something a conspiracy?

Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary defines conspiracy as:

  • a secret plan made by two or more people to  do something that is harmful or illegal
  • the act of secretly planning to do something that is harmful or illegal

Here’s the important part. To truly be a conspiracy, the thing we plan or do must be both secret and have the goal of doing something harmful or illegal.

So, as say you and I plan out ways to get future generations to see the Constitution the way we do, we may or may not be really open to one and all about our intentions. One could argue, for instance, that if we are truly transparent about what we plan, we might face great difficulty getting people like us into positions to make such a thing happen. How would we go about getting people into education, the media and academia if we let it be known what our long-term goals are? Does that make what we do a conspiracy? I don’t think so (by the way, I’m not necessarily arguing either way regarding transparency, here). It’s not a conspiracy, I submit, because it doesn’t have the end goal of something harmful or illegal. There are some, though, who would undoubtedly see things differently. They really do believe those of us who view the Constitution as meaning what it says, and as severely limiting the power and role of government, seek to promote something harmful. I believe their reasoning is sadly deficient, but that’s a different topic.

When we look at globalists, of whom I’ve actually met a few, I suspect the same thing is true. Most of them, including George Soros, are pretty plain about what they favor, what they hope to see and even what they hope to bring about. Now, I tend to think what they want is frightfully harmful. I don’t see as ever coming about, the benefits so many globalists tout. But, to the extent it is not planned in secret, I don’t see it as a conspiracy.

See, in my view we don’t have to have conspiracies, vast or small, to explain most things. We just have to have people who see things the same way working to bring them about. Honestly, I don’t even believe a conspiracy is necessary for our freedoms to be in danger. Neither my freedom nor yours is at risk primarily because of what George Soros, the Federal Reserve or George Bush do or did. Now, I believe our freedoms are at great risk. I believe we are on the verge of seeing our nation transformed even further into something most of my generation will not recognize if it comes about. I just don’t lay the bulk of the blame at the feet of conspirators, existent or nonexistent. No, the blame lies somewhere else.

NavyJack, in a post on the Oath Keepers site, lays the blame at the feet of your neighbor. He writes:

“…the real villain here is your neighbor. You see, had your neighbor not become complacent with their liberty and freedom we would not be having this discussion. Had your neighbor not accepted state control of the media, unfettered spying on their life’s activities, social safety nets that have been abused for decades and the willingness to disarm for paltry promises of greater safety, this discussion would not be required.”

The only thing I would add to the above excerpt is this: It is not just your neighbor’s fault or my neighbor’s fault. It is your fault and it is mine. We have all failed to treasure our liberty enough. We have all failed to become active enough early enough and we failed to teach enough others to have avoided being where we are now. We are where we are because we the people abdicated our responsibility. The watch and the vigilance it requires has always been ours to keep. In that we have failed. It is that vigilance we must regain. I may disagree with what seems to be his view of Soros and others, but it hardly matters if the results are the same – the loss of freedom.

In the context of this topic I truly do not care if you think there is a vast conspiracy to deprive us of our freedom. Further, I do not care what you think of this billionaire or that one. I do not care what you think about banks or central banking. I do not care what you think about this political party or that one. I do not care what you read or the kind of music you prefer. I do not care about your faith or the lack thereof. I do not care about your race or gender. I do not care who you sleep with or how many. I do not care if you own no guns or if your armory contains a load out sufficient for a US Marine Corps rifle company. I most certainly do not care what you think about me. Here is what I care about: do you treasure freedom enough to fight for it? Is liberty important enough for you to sacrifice everything in its defense?

*For what it’s worth, those three groups are the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the National Rifle Association and Oath Keepers.