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A Libertarian Looks at President Obama’s Same-Sex Marriage Proclamation
Our president’s views on marriage have “evolved” and now he has come out in favor of “same-sex marriage” (hereafter named “ME” for “marriage equality” in this essay).
This comes on the heels of a crushing defeat to ME advocates at the hands of the citizens of North Carolina who voted 61% to 39%, the previous day, in favor of a state constitutional amendment defining only “traditional marriage” (hereafter named “TM” in this essay) as legal.
The two Billys (Clinton and Graham) weighed in with full-page ads in North Carolina newspapers advocating ME and TM, respectively.
America is not of one mind on this issue.
I am writing this in an airport, about to fly to Mammoth Lakes, California, to perform a marriage. Fitting that I write this now.
Let me lay my cards on the table. Please don’t jump to conclusions based on this short list. My conclusions from this essay are going to surprise you:
- I am a strong advocate for TM (traditional marriage).
- I am also a strong advocate for a free society, where coercion is only used to stop aggression.
- I operate from the assumption that our government’s natural tendency is a “benevolent drift toward a total state.” Our government and leaders generally mean well and end up growing the government and its control over our lives in order to help us. Of course, I believe this generally does more harm than good.
So. On to the discussion…
I am amazed that the advocates for TM and ME are operating under an unhelpful assumption: That the government (federal or state) has the power to license adult relationships.
Marriage licenses are a relatively new thing. For most of our history marriages have been a contract (formal or informal) between individuals and/or families. A religious sanction has been seen as helpful and/or optional in most societies. A “priest” or someone of similar social standing often (but not always) presides.
For much of American history, because we are such an under-populated nation (the topic of another essay), men and women have simply found one another and moved in. They would start referring to each other as husband and wife. Priests/clergy were scarce (perhaps an occasional circuit rider) and the magistrate may well have been the equivalent buggy distance away and expense (in today’s travel time and real cost) of flying to India.
This was also true in Bible times. “He took her as his wife” is a common phrase. The main “social marking” event was a feast/reception and no mention is made of a “judge” or a “priest” showing up. Most Bible people more or less followed the pattern of Adam and Eve and just started the marriage up at their own discretion.
Marriage licenses, unfortunately, came into widespread use after the Civil War, in an effort by racists to control or end “mixed marriages” with newly freed slaves (which in fact had been happening constantly throughout our entire history going back to Jamestown).
When people perceive a “problem,” government is always all too ready to dash in and help “fix” things, and they typically end up with more control over our lives in the end. Just think of the TSA if you want an example.
Thus the widespread custom of marriage licenses was born.
Fast forward to 2012. The culture wars have latched on to the TM vs. ME battle, reinforcing Caesar’s (my favorite term for government power) hold on the role of “decider.”
Both sides, in feverishly trying to get their view adopted by 100% of the public, are playing a gigantic chess game of “Mother May I” with plebiscites and court cases.
Truth is, the opponents are taking their partisan case to a “casino” where the house (government) always wins.
It’s as if two kids get into a playground argument and, unable to settle their dispute, take it up with the school principal. After generations of this appealing to authority, the principal eventually would control all playground activity at the smallest level of detail.
Free and unsupervised playgrounds (think basketball on the public park courts of the South Side of Chicago or sandlot baseball in the Dominican Republic) always produce better performers than over-managed and over-parented suburban youth sports (think Little League dad syndrome). Liberty works.
So back to the TM/ME debate. As a strong supporter of TM (I think of it as the Creator’s “plan A.”), you may be surprised with what I am going to say.
In short, get rid of marriage licenses. Altogether. While you’re at it, get rid of equivalent licenses for barbers, real estate agents and the like. Even business licenses. I pay $100+ a year to the City of Huntington Beach for my little private S-Corporation license and $800 annually to the State of California so they can keep me on some “register.” I get nothing of value in return for either payment. Yet no one questions the right of the government to demand/coerce such money from us. We obediently write our checks.
So, what business does the government have in registering and charging for voluntary adult relationships? What’s next, a friendship tax?
The whole TM/ME argument is base on a false premise; that the “school principal” is the decider. Both sides seek exclusive permission to define marriage aligned to their opinion and then impose that opinion on the other side, with Caesar’s blessing.
Let me suggest a better way.
In a truly free, non-coercive society, people can do as they please as long as they are not aggressing against others or their property. In a state of liberty, all would be free from physical, social, legal, economic, and intellectual aggression.
Picture a society where adult citizens could live with whomever they wanted and enter, freely, into any covenants they choose with others, on whatever terms they should select.
Any attempt to hinder free people from doing so is a restriction of their liberty.
It is also, and this is often left out, a restriction of intellectual liberty to impose a viewpoint on others. Unfortunately, “liberals” often don’t see their shortcomings in this area. In pushing for marriage equality (ME), they see themselves as the defenders of liberty and forget that they are aggressively redefining marriage and hoping to force this new definition on those who hold to TM (traditional marriage) views. It is not enough, for liberals, to have ME become the law of the land, they fully intend for TM supporters to embrace it, or label them as bigots.
In a free society, we would not be free to foist our definition of marriage on those who choose to think otherwise. This goes both ways.
In other words, requiring someone who strongly supports TM to call same-sex marriage a “marriage” is a form of intellectual aggression and has no place among free people. People have a right to their own viewpoints, definitions, and opinions.
Conversely, TM supporters like me have no right to tell ME folks that they cannot consider same-sex marriage a marriage. The truth is, they already do consider it same sex “marriage” a marriage. And I don’t get to vote on what other people think. And ME supporters don’t get to vote on what I think.
Appealing to Caesar is inappropriate among free people who disagree. We need to work it out on the playground for ourselves. No one has to play jump rope. No one has to hang on the monkey bars. No one has to play tetherball.
Respect for the freedom of another person does not require validating his or her opinion, just his or her right to have that opinion, and agreeing not to aggress against it.
Let’s make this more personal. I am a staunch supporter of TM. However, I realize that there are tens of millions of people who have their minds made up that ME is the way to go. If they want to call same-sex marriage a marriage, that is up to them. I, however, do not have to consider it a marriage or call it one. I can find polite ways to avoid that word (marriage) when discussing the issue. Much as atheists in a free society do not have to believe in God, name him, or pray to him, but they are obligated to let others do so.
First of all, however, we have to get the government out of marriage. Adults would be free to enter into any contract with each other. A new private business would spring up: relational contracts. There could be standard and custom-made contracts. It would be similar to the wills and trusts business so common today—no judge or priest is needed to make it so. These contracts could be cheaper than current marriage licenses, and much more customized to suit the needs of the contract parties. It could be notarized, and you could even get a little card for your wallet designating next of kin if you are found (God forbid) in an accident.
This contract can be updated or cancelled at any time. It’s not like our current way of doing things (with a huge divorce rate) is working all that well….
Next of kin can be designated by anyone. Caesar has no right to decide who your next of kin is. Can be a blood relative, can be a spouse, can be a best friend. Sexual intimacy (or lack thereof) should play no role.
All this being said, one’s Facebook status (single, married, in a relationship, it’s complicated, etc) carries more weight these days than paper from the court house.
These adult, free-will covenants could be celebrated by a reception, a party, a religious ceremony, or whatever they like. They would be free to call it whatever they like. A marriage. A partnership. And those of us “looking in” would also be free to call it whatever we like.
Faith communities would be free to craft their own values on the marriage issue. Some would practice only TM. Some would be open to ME. The congregations or denominations could decide for themselves. Coercion would be absent.
My own Lutheran tradition, with its “two kingdoms” has already paved the way for a dual-voluntary system when it comes to marriage. A tolerant public sphere and a voluntary church sphere. We also teach that marriage is not a sacrament (as opposed to Roman Catholic teaching), and does not need clergy present to make it “real.”
The truth is, I insist on being free to hold exclusively to the TM view, and have the right to congregate with others who agree. We have the right, as a congregation, to live accordingly, just as Orthodox Jews are free to restrict themselves to a kosher diet and set their own voluntary community standards.
A same-sex couple would have every right to call their relationship a marriage. But they would not have the right to force others to call it a marriage. They would be free to try to convince and persuade others, but not to coerce them. That would violate the free thought of others.
Free societies are not “winner takes all” societies. They are truly tolerant and non-aggressive, at every level. Valuing liberty does not mean we have to like what others or doing or to approve of any opinions or behaviors.
What about taxes?
Our tax code would have to be changed to “filing individually” and “filing as a legal collective.” Much as the tax code is free of religious labeling, it would have to be neutral on this issue too, so as not to side with a partisan group. And the truth is, coercive income taxes have no place in a free society anyways. But that’s another story.
Caesar has become such a huge part of our lives that we have forgotten the ground rules of liberty.
Let me be clear. I am not advocating ME. I am advocating for my right to hold to TM within a (much) freer society which is neutral on the subject.
Let’s move toward living freely. And thinking freely.
Adam and Eve were given the Garden of Eden. Their job was to manage it and mind the boundaries.
Israel was given the Promised land, VERY conditionally. If they remained faithful to the plan, they could keep it. If not, they would lose it.
In essence, both parties were homesteaders.
The basic rule is:
1) Get land/property for free.
2) Prove it up.
3) Protect it.
4) Keep it.
Mess it up, and you lose it.
The art of life, basically speaking, is continuous homesteading, in the broadest sense of the term.
We start with little things. Take care of these fish. Take care of this pet. Take care of your toys and your room. Jesus says that if we are faithful in little things, we will be given bigger responsibilities.
Jesus also, in his parables, talks about doubling the value of what was given us (the Parable of the Talents).
In essence, we are all gardeners.
So how is your garden growing?
Is your life a garden or a junkyard?
I talked with a doctor yesterday, interviewing him for our radio show. Dr. David Steenblock may well win a Nobel Prize someday. He talked about the bodies he treats being junkyards or gardens. It’s almost impossible to plant seeds (i.e. “do medicine”) in a junkyard body.
“Garden” bodies take daily care. Are you working on your flexibility, muscle strength, bodyfat percentage, respiratory capacity, and energy level? The more you work on these things, the more your body produces stem cells, which lead to fresh tissue repair, which works against aging.
I turned 50 recently and started doing lots of strenuous Pilates work with a trainer. First time I almost cried like a little girl. After a few months, I am doing things I never thought possible and my core strength is surpassing that which I had playing football in college.
Am also working on my breathing. Most Americans get lazy with breathing and their respiratory system atrophies. Being overweight multiplies this and many of us don’t get nearly enough oxygen.
Another expert here in California, Dr. Tony Ganem (fatburning247.com) has taught me that:
1) Eating between meals
2) Sweet and diet sodas
3) Drinking liquid during meals
can add bodyfat. Look up his work to find the reasons for this…
Is your living space de-cluttered, clean, and balanced? Is disrepair piling up? Do doors squeak and are knobs coming loose?
We were given our homes with the “homesteading” mentality. Leave things better than you found them and you get to upgrade.
My theme for my home is “nothing missing, nothing broken.”
You may need help with this, and it may cost money. But it’s worth it. Too much time is spent in front of screens while we should be “proving up” our homestead.
Is your desk clear? Is your home organized? Are your windows and carpets cleaned on a regular basis? Are your media and books in order and accessible?
Are you getting rid of the “stuff” you don’t really need? Reduce, reuse, recycle!
How does your lawn, garden, plants look? Remember. You are a gardner by birthright.
Do you have clear vocational objectives? Is your workplace cleaned up? Is your place of work “upgrading” because you are on the team?
Are you working against “wear and tear” in the workspace?
The easiest way to promotion is to exceed expectations at your current “status” and have an impeccable workspace. Chip in to buy new carpet at the office. Offer to paint and decorate.
How are you cultivating your soul and spirit? Are you scheduling time for serious, intentional prayer and meditation?
Are you attending your church or spiritual community regularly? Forming community around your highest values and the “better angels of your nature?”
Is entertainment the core of your spiritual life? If so, a yellow warning light should be blinking.
What is your spiritual growing edge?
1) Cultivating an experiential and personal relationship with the Creator?
2) Letting go of material anxiety?
3) Learning not to hold bitterness toward others?
4) Working on getting rid of the “dark sectors” on your spiritual hard-drive?
THE PHILOSOPHY OF HOMESTEADING
All property ownership started with homesteading. Long ago, someone found an unused piece of land or a valuable object.
You, according to Natural Law, are entitled to “own” it as long as you care for it and “prove it up” on an ongoing basis. Let it unravel or rot, and you lose it.
If you claim too much land or property to handle, others around you will hold you accountable.
It’s like at the 4th of July parade in Huntington Beach, which goes right by our house.
Days ahead, people start to stake out, with chalk, their “spot” from which to watch the parade. If they take more space than they need, those around them “veto” it. If they choose someone’s front yard (a place someone else has been “proving up” all year), then that also will be pushed back.
We do the same deciding where to put our towels on the beach. Or where to put the BBQ outside the stadium during the tailgate party.
First come, first served, and you only get as much space as you can “prove up.”
We don’t need police or deeds to enforce this. It’s in our human social instinct.
In fact, the right to defend one’s self and property against aggression is the number one human right according to natural law.
THE GOVERNMENT AND THE BANKING SYSTEM
Right now, all of our property is tied up in government registered deeds and mortgages.
But the Federal Reserve/Property Taxation/Mortgage Banking system is breaking down. The cronyism in this “junta” is set up to put pressure on those who are rightfully homesteading. If you don’t pay your property tax, guess what happens to your property? Property tax is an affront on Natural Law and its corollary, homesteading.
And the banks are currently just an arm of the Federal Reserve, whereby bank profits are kept by execs and shareholders, but losses are “socialized” by government bailouts.
As that whole system collapses, be ready for a return to homesteading.
There’s plenty of land for everyone. Most of America is empty.
You start with less valuable land. Prove it up, and trade up.
Property “owners” in the rust belt who have let their buildings decay, are no longer rightful owners of that property. Anyone should be able to move in, make a claim, improve the property, and get to stay there.
Anyone should be able to occupy an abandoned building for free, as long as they prove it up.
Let a building crumble, and you lose it. Simple as that.
It’s a whole new world coming. We’re seeing thru the “stacked cards” of the current “ownership” society where the banks and the government really own all we have.
Are you ready to homestead?
It’s what we were all made to do.
Visit Robinwood Church on Sundays at 9:30am in Southern California
Worldwide Podcast of the Sermons on iTunes
Listen to my radio show, THE BOTTOM LINE, Monday-Friday 3-5pm Pacific. am740 KBRT.
THE BOTTOM LINE is available live worldwide at http://kbrt740.com 11pm/2300 UTC/GMT.
Did you hear the news?
California Governor Jerry Brown signed a paper that gives all of California’s “bazillion” electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote.
This is not a misprint. To the winner of the NATIONAL popular vote. Here is the LINK.
In other words, the votes of someone in Indiana will have as much effect on California’s electoral votes as mine, a taxpaying resident of the state of California.
Why did he do this?
Liberals are afraid of a repeat of the Bush/Gore election where Al won the popular vote (by a hair) and George won the electoral vote (by a dimpled chad in Florida.)
Abolish the electoral college! (shouts everyone)
How silly! (shout I)
The older I get, the more I appreciate the wisdom of the founding fathers.
On their better days, I believe they were truly inspired by God. And, like Martin Luther King, I don’t believe you can separate faith convictions from politics.
They founded the Electoral College for a reason.
A very good reason.
The envisioned each state sending its best and brightest (college presidents, business leaders, agriculturalists, journalists, clergy, intellectuals, historians, etc.) to a real meeting in Washington DC every four years. Kind of like the group that wrote the constitution in the first place….
They would choose one person to manage the country for four years. Keep it in the black. Keep it efficient.
Politicking was seen as bad form. The decision was NOT to be made ahead of time. The idea of a sitting president raising a billion (!) dollars for re-election would have resulted in deportation.
There was to be no popular vote for the president. The leaders of the country were to confer and choose one.
Because the founding fathers were afraid of two things:
1) America becoming a high-overhead imperial power (like England).
2) A spike in popular opinion putting a charismatic nut in the office of the presidency through a direct popular vote.
Thus the constitution was built with lotsa shock absorbers to cushion against instability, extremism, and hysteria.
Only the House of Representatives would fully mirror the current mood of the people. Every two years everyone is back up for election. New “movements” would get representation here (tea party, contract with America, new deal, reaganomics, great society, etc.) and a chance to gain a foothold. New ideas would be given a test drive.
The Senate was staggered so that only a third of the seats would come open at any given time. The terms were longer than the president’s; denoting higher status. They were to be chosen by state legislatures, to provide yet one more filter against extreme mood swings. The Senate was thus to be more conservative and less prone to sharp turns. They would be the ones approving foreign treaties (or basically just staying out of them).
The presidency was not an elected King/Queen. The president was to be an efficient, proven leader who could keep things on track. Not a charismatic survivor of a brutal campaign trail. Not the winner of endless debates.
George Washington was thus elected president (by a real electoral college) more or less against his will. He begged the country not to put is picture on the money and thus elevate the presidency. He insisted on “Mr. President” rather than “Your highness” or even “Your honor.” The president was to be like a city manager of a large country. Not in the news all the time.
Time to bring this great idea back. No more imperial presidency. No more sending our troops abroad without a declaration of war. No more elected emperors.
Have each state send its brightest and best; non-partisan if possible, and choose a good manager for the next four years. Peter Ueberroth would have been chosen in the 80′s after organizing the L.A. Olympics and making a profit.
Leave the electioneering to the House of Representatives, where it belongs. A popular house. Where fresh ideas are given a chance.
But the real power should be in the Senate. Longer terms than the president (six years). A compounding society of wisdom. Not susceptible to the whims of the season.
The electoral college.
A great idea.
About time we get it right.
And put the presidency in its place.
Please pass the link for this on to everyone else. Thanks!
This picture was just to get your attention. I assume it worked…
Let’s see if we can have a civil discussion on this.
I have strong opinions on abortion, and not, perhaps, for the reasons you think.
For me, it’s a natalism and justice issue, not a conservative or liberal issue.
Truth is, the word abortion is not directly mentioned in the Bible. Even the concept is not there. So arguing on biblical grounds is possible, but challenging. You have to build implicit (not explicit) biblical arguments.
Being against abortion, as I am, is also counter-intuitive for me. As a Libertarian, I don’t like government interference in anything.
But Libertarianism can only exist given the total security of each person. Only when we decide not to bully or kill one another can a Libertarian society emerge. There needs to be a bedrock sense of civility and respect for it to work. In my mind, this must include the unborn.
Some random thoughts:
1) No one, in a free society, should be coerced into paying for something deeply against his or her conscience and morals. My tax money pays for abortions. This is not OK with me. It’s like forcing abolitionists to pay for slave shackles…
2) Insurance plans also pay for abortions–virtually all of them, because of the medical coding system which protects a woman’s privacy. Oversimplistically put, a miscarriage is coded the same as an abortion. Most all Americans, thus, fund abortions. That’s a problem.
3) I truly am striving to understand the pro-choice position. I would invite you pro-choicers to do the same with our views. Seriously. We are working with a woman who is seven months pregnant right now. She will give birth to a third child from a third “father.” He is a felon and intends to hurt her when he gets out this fall. No wonder she wants an abortion. She is a second generation welfare mom, with no stable families that I can find anywhere in her extended clan. I’m not excusing her thoughts; just trying to explain them. Many women seeking abortions see no way out, and their circumstances are hard for us in Middle America to understand.
4) The justice issue. We are to protect those who have no voice. That must include the unborn babies. Someone has to speak for them.
5) Finding families to adopt babies is not a problem. I and every pastor I know has a list of hundreds of couples starving to adopt a child. Most of them make six figures and are solid as the day is long.
6) Abortion is profitable. Profit skews the ethics of those providing abortions. Everyone they convince to abort adds to their profit. If I told you some things I know about these profits, you wouldn’t believe me.
Not just profitable. Predatory. Wanna find an abortion clinic? Go to the same poor neighborhoods that get targeted for lottery tickets and 40-oz malt liquors.
The once-vibrant African-American community here in L.A. is disappearing. At one time they even elected a black mayor, Tom Bradley. Now they are sidelined, swallowed up in a sea of Anglos, Asians, and Latinos. Remember, Planned Parenthood was started by a eugenics fan who doubted the viability of “inferior races.” Disgusting…
7) “What about rape?” is a copout. Does that automatically make it the baby’s fault? Instant death penalty? One of our worship leaders at Robinwood Church was conceived in rape. I cannot imagine a world without her. Using an extreme (but very real) example to push for abortion on demand in all cases is not helpful.
8. Late term abortions are repulsive. No matter how you look at it. And yet they are legal. How does this happen in a democracy where an overwhelming majority of Americans find late term abortions an outrage?
9) I go to the Long Beach abortion clinic and stand on the sidewalk. Totally legal. Not protesting. Not hindering. I ask women approaching the building “If we gave you another option, would you take it?” About 1/3 say yes, immediately. We take care of them at http://hisnestingplace.org for months on end.
10) Are human beings an asset or a liability? If they are an asset, we need to keep them. If they are a liability….
11) I’m not a full-blown natalist, but I have some natalist tendencies. I believe in big families. I don’t believe in over-population. I fly all over America. Trust me, most of it is totally empty.
12) I don’t like the phrase “You can’t legislate morality.” Our entire legal system is legislated morality. Don’t kill. Don’t steal. Etc. etc.
13) I don’t like the idea that we can’t use our faith in political arguments. Tell that to Martin Luther King. Tell that to those who ran the Underground Railroad. Tell that to the committed Christians who fought for the right for women to be able to vote. Tell that to our strident borderline-scary faith-filled women (and a few men) who founded our hospitals and universities (usually in a black and white picture, standing in mud with a shovel, next to the pictures of today’s board members in hospital hallways).
14) Feminism shows us some truth in this issue. It’s the woman who often suffers most from an unwanted pregnancy. Pro-lifers would do better to try to understand this and not just de-value this argument in favor of the baby. “You should have known better” is not a real helpful thing to say to a scared, pregnant woman.
15) Think how much a baby develops in his or her first year of life. The 9 months of pregnancy show even much more dramatic, miraculous development. Is it just me, or does stopping that seem deeply wrong at some level?
That should get us going.
Keep it civil, or I WILL delete you.
Let’s strive to understand each other.
I want to end abortion. Others disagree.
What do you think?
Come home, America.
Now would be the time.
Al Qaeda has been decapitated. The seven dwarves of wannabe Bin Ladens are hopeless.
The Cold War is over in Europe. As over as leisure suits.
We get most of our oil from the Western Hemisphere. No real reason to import it from the psycho-political Middle East.
Libya is not our problem. The chaos in Mexico is.
Time to come home, America.
We are a New World nation.
We started dabbling in Old World politics in McKinley’s administration with the “White Man’s Burden” and the Philippines. It was a slippery slope. 110 years of adventure with a ton of heartache.
Now is the time to realize the great promise of the New World.
The founding fathers warned us against “entangling alliances” in the Old World.
We ignored them.
And we have paid.
In gold and blood.
We had no business in World War One. None. No one is even sure what the war was about, almost a century later. Why send our young men into that meat grinder?
And had we never messed around in the Philippines and taken over Hawaii in a sleazy way there would have been no Pearl Harbor. Russia would have eventually defeated the Nazis without us (do the math). There may not have ever been Nazis in the first place if we had not tipped the scales of WW1 so that Germany was crushed.
It is time for America to come home.
If Europe cannot defend itself without our help, then that’s their problem. Why did they need us to straighten out Kosovo?
If Korea is hopeless without us, then Asia has to band together to subdue the nut case pariah nation of North Korea.
We are obsessed with the Middle East. As Dr. Phil would say: How’s it workin’ for you now? Israel is plenty able to kick the pooey out of anyone who messes with them. And last time someone fired scuds at them it was because our soldiers were shooting up Mesopotamia. We get the Israelis in more trouble than anything else.
These fights are not our fight.
Our natural GNP level is 20% of the global total (with 4% of the population), this has held steady for a century. We had a short percentage spike in the 1950′s while the rest of the world rebuilt after the disaster of WW2. It’s time to go back to our “natural” sphere of influence of 1/5 of the globe. Right now, we are acting like we own the whole enchilada. Imperial over-reach has killed more empires than anything else.
It is time to:
- Pull our troops out of Europe.
- Pull our troops out of Korea.
- Leave the Eastern Hemisphere, militarily. 100% withdrawal.
- Help Mexico fix Mexico.
- Establish a free trade zone in the Western Hemisphere, the New World.
- Stop worrying about trade with India and China. If they won’t play nice (which they will), then transfer those jobs to North and Latin America.
- We won’t even start with the schizophrenic nation of Pakistan, our worst ally…ever.
- Build a world-class freight railroad system from Alaska to the tip of Chile.
- Re-align the military to protect the Western Hemisphere. Seamlessly. With big oceans on both sides and no natural enemies, we are easy, and cheap, to defend.
- Develop a joint Western Hemisphere Navy (like NATO was) to which we would supply 3, not 12, carrier groups.
- Thus save trillions in military expenditures and foreign aid, all the while enhancing our security. Oh, by the way, this would balance the budget.
- Be on good terms with the Old World, but stay out of their un-solvable feuds.
- Have every student in our hemisphere learn English and Spanish in addition to his/her native tongue. No exceptions.
- Create a national volunteer service throughout the hemisphere to build the infrastructure. Mandatory two years after high school. Get our young people out from in front of screens with video games and Simpsons reruns and out doing some good.
- Eliminate drug cartels.
To resurrect a term, it is our manifest destiny to be the leading nation (with great partners) in the New World.
Come home, America.
This vision made it into the epilogue of The Blackberry Bush, my 2011 novel.
Please pass a link to this article to everyone you know. Thanks.
PS: Just was reminded by a friend that McGovern’s acceptance speech in 1972 was entitled, “Come home, America.” 8-track, flashback! Here are the closing lines:
So join with me in this campaign. Lend me your strength and your support, and together we will call America home to the ideals that nourished us from the beginning.
From secrecy and deception in high places; come home, America
From military spending so wasteful that it weakens our nation; come home, America.
From the entrenchment of special privileges in tax favoritism; from the waste of idle lands to the joy of useful labor; from the prejudice based on race and sex; from the loneliness of the aging poor and the despair of the neglected sick — come home, America.
Come home to the affirmation that we have a dream. Come home to the conviction that we can move our country forward.
Come home to the belief that we can seek a newer world, and let us be joyful in that homecoming, for this “is your land, this land is my land — from California to New York island, from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters — this land was made for you and me.”
So let us close on this note: May God grant each one of us the wisdom to cherish this good land and to meet the great challenge that beckons us home.
And now is the time to meet that challenge.
Good night, and Godspeed to you all.
-George McGovern, 1972, who lost to Nixon, who resigned in disgrace shortly thereafter…
Middle America celebrates spontaneously.
Much like the day we achieved victory over Japan, the revelers were overwhelmingly young.
I am struck by the negativity of the far right and the far left.
The far right:
This gang has a huge Obama allergy. Even if he does something the right wing would normally cheer, there must be something “wrong.”
This allergy clouds their thinking to the point where they parse out his speeches looking for proof of “narcissism,” and accuse him of timing the whole thing to coincide with re-election strategies.
They are even accusing him of lying about the timing of the attack, since they have proof that DNA takes longer to evaluate. Never mind all the Pakistanis in the Abbottobad neighborhood who were tweeting like crazy about helicopters overhead exactly when Obama said they were there.
Since he is a “bad man,” or so the thinking goes, everything he does, even if they agree with it, must be wrong. Thus, he deserves zero credit for leadership or calling the shot.
The far left:
This has always been the whinier voice in America. They are upset with the young celebrants in Times Square and outside the White House, because we should not be celebrating the death of any human being.
Much of this is tinged with Christian language implying we should love our enemies. This view clearly attempts to come across as more civilized than the U-S-A chanters. Martin Luther King is invoked (i.e. we should have used non-violence against Bin Laden).
I’m just glad MLK was not in Churchill’s chair during World War Two or all the European Jews would be dead and my wife and her Dutch family would be working the fields of ethnically cleansed Russia.
A sophisticated chronic embarrassment about all things American is the basic vibe underlying all far-left language.
Meanwhile, Middle America celebrates.
These are the people that provide the soldiers, pay the taxes, and head into the WTC fires with FDNY on their jackets.
These are the people with fragile small businesses which have been shaky in the economy which has been chronically unstable since 9-11.
These are the young people who have grown up for half of their lives with Osama bin Laden’s work forcing grandmas to take off their shoes before getting on planes and having to show up way before their flight, having their water bottles confiscated.
These are the honest people who have all of their banking tracked and their hard earned paychecks put on hold to “clear.”
America has had the jitters, economically and otherwise, since 9-11. The man who started it all has been brought to justice.
Let’s let the young people celebrate.
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I find the whole birther thing fascinating.
Donald Trump is the latest in a long line of populists.
Sounds like a good thing, “people” and “popular” come to mind.
Populism, however, in America, is, as the picture above illustrates, an intellectual bad hair day.
Populism has tended, in our history, to have racist overtones. Demagogues would heat up the less educated chunk of the white majority, and prey on their fears. Xenophobia (fear of everything foreign) is the easiest fear to nail.
Barack Hussein Obama is the first US president to have a non-country-club name.
Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, George Bush, Bill Clinton.
All WASP-y names that bear the homey scent of a Norman Rockwell painting, complete with the turkey dinner.
And now we get a half white-Kansas, half black-Kenyan in office with a Muslim-sounding name.
And his being a Columbia-Harvard type distances him even more from the Bubbas at Chatterbox Cafe diner.
For a lot of Americans, he doesn’t feel like “one of us.”
So we have to find something to prove that hunch. Birth certificates. Grades. LSAT scores. The birther thing is not going to go away; it will just move on to other suspicions. They are scouring the nation to find something, anything, to prove that their queasyness is legit.
I’m surprised it took someone so long (Trump) to cash in on it. A (very) white Presbyterian, plain-talking guy (with a few things of his own to hide).
If anything will win the election for the Democrats, it’s this. The populist/birther thing will energize the less educated part of the far right, but it will alienate the moderate middle.
And it’s the moderate middle that decides every election. The 49 to 51 percent voter in the dead center decides every election.
Truth is, though (and truth is always important), there are more white people in America than ever before. It’s just that we’ve been joined by a lot of Asians and Latinos. The African-American population is substantially lower (by percentage of the total population) than it was right before the civil war (then about 20% of Americans were black).
Why have we been joined by so many others? Because we are an open society with great opportunity. By the end of this century, or certainly by the end of the next, we will most likely mirror the racial mix of the whole world:
43% Caucasian (including Latinos and those Caucasians from Northern India)
34% East (Chinese/Japanese) and SE Asian
11% Non-Caucasian Asian Indian
That’s because America SHOULD be an exceptional country where the best and brightest from everywhere want to come here.
You know, Statue of Liberty stuff.
We need to embrace an American exceptionalism, but not one based on being white, or being afraid of the world. One based on free enterprise, democracy, civil rights, hard work, and a continent-wide energy level unknown anywhere else on earth.
If you vote against Obama (as I did in the last election), do so because of his politics or track record, not because of his vague “foreign-ness.”
Time to put the birther thing to bed.
We are a great nation and we have work to do.
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If you are a conservative or a Christian (I am both), one of the boxes you seem to have to “tick” is “pro-Israel.”
This also seems to imply, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim.
I am a great admirer of Israel. They have the best democracy and the most vital and diversified economy (from electronics to agriculture) in the Middle East.
The Israeli national anthem “Ha-Tikvah” stirs me emotionally.
The Hebrew Bible is one of my happy places. Our congregation, Robinwood Church, is preaching through the Psalms (have been at it for a year and a half).
One of my mentors, Prof. Dr. Ralph Gehrke, read Isaiah in Hebrew with me every Saturday for ages.
However, I find that some of the black-and-white pro-Israel sentiment in the circles in which I run is often un-reflected at best. Ignorant at worst.
Here are some random thoughts:
- We don’t need to “defend Israel.” They have a formidable military and a credible nuclear deterrent. We have never fired a shot in defense of Israel and have never needed to intervene to help them. They buy our arms. Fine. So do many Arab states.
- We need to focus less on the Eastern Hemisphere and more on the Western Hemisphere. We have a fixation on the Middle East. Because we import oil? Most of our imported oil comes from Canada, Mexico, and South America. We are only 4% of the world population, and the main reason for our budget deficit is our bloated “police the whole world” military. We got entangled in the Eastern Hemisphere during McKinley’s term (Philippines) and we have been messed up ever since, with very little to show for it. The Founding Fathers warned us against “entangling alliances” in the Old World. We have the resources to make the Western Hemisphere a democratic, prosperous heaven on earth.
- Although there is much overlap, biblical Israel and modern Israel are not exactly the same thing. Modern Judaism was hatched after the New Testament was written, when the temple was destroyed in 70 AD, and they had to reinvent themselves. As did Christianity, Judaism had a Reformation in the 1500s (the hasidic/lurianic impulse) that still affects them to this day.
- You can’t draw a straight ethnic line between ancient Israel and the modern state of Israel. Golda Meir was born in Milwaukee. Most of modern Israel has Rhineland into Eastern European (Ashkenazi) and Spanish/Portuguese (Sephardi) bloodlines. Middle Eastern DNA roots among them are sketchy at best. You can look up Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jewish lineage on Wikipedia.
- The main tribe (of the 12) remaining somewhat intact is the tribe of Judah. From which we get the word “Jew.” The “ten lost tribes” are, well…lost. The tribe of Judah was NOT given the entire holy land, only a county-sized area around Jerusalem. The tribe of Judah can lay no biblical claim to the northern West Bank (Samaria), the area around Tel Aviv, the areas of Galilee and the Golan Heights. God never, in the whole Old Testament, gave the entire land of Israel to the tribe of Judah. The other tribes are gone, as are their claims. It’s like Texans coming back after centuries and laying claim to the whole former USA territory. Not saying that Jews all over Israel (or anywhere in the world for that matter) don’t have a right to their homes, I’m just saying that their saying “the Bible says so” is overstated. There is another tribe, Levi, from which we get the Kohenim (priests), but they were, expressly according to the Bible, to be given no land. Just for the record, I believe Jews (and all of us) have a right to own land anywhere in the world, including the West Bank and Gaza, if they want to buy it. Being a libertarian, I believe in open borders.
- There are lots of Palestinian Arab Christians. But conservative US Christians prefer non-Christian Israeli Jews over them anytime. They actually got angry when a Palestinian Christian got elected to be the head of the Lutheran World Federation. A pastor told me last week: “He’s probably really a Muslim.”
- I often hear people say “God is pro-Israel so I am pro-Israel.” It’s simply not that simple. The Israelites were the “good guys” in the Bible, so anyone who uses the label Israel today must be the “good guy.” Often, but not always. Israel was very fallible in the Old Testament, and not always the object of admiration. You could bring that line or reasoning to its breaking point by being “Pro-Ahab” because he was the king of Israel. And using the label “Israel” today, which modern Israel has more of a right to do than anyone else, does not equate you with biblical Israel. The two nations (biblical and modern) are deeply related, but not identical.
- The Bible is ambiguous as to whether Israel is a physical or a spiritual nation. Galatians 6:16 makes it clear that the two are not necessarily mirror images of each other (you can be one without being the other).
- The Bible is also ambiguous as to whether or not the promise of the land (ha-aretz) is conditional upon Israel’s faithfulness, or permanent. According to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, only 57% of Israelis believe in a “higher power.” Israel is a much more secular nation than the United States.
Not asking anyone to be anti-Israel. The whole world should love and admire Israel. Modern Israel is an amazing nation. I tip my hat to them. I want to see them prevail. They have much to add to the world.
Just asking us to consider de-emphasizing our American fixation with the Eastern Hemisphere in general and the Middle East in particular. Had we stayed in the Western Hemisphere, our homeland, the New World; well then, Pearl Harbor and 9-11 would never have happened.
Also asking us to question the “straight line” thinking that equates ancient Israel with modern Israel. One was the mother nation of us all, at some level. The other is a different and amazing contemporary society. Sure, there are deep connections. But there are also some disconnects.
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Communications technology has rocketed forward in my lifetime.
Your reading this is evidence of that.
There is more computing power in my Droid phone than, well, virtually anything in 1960, 51 years ago.
I can watch movies on my phone, whenever I want. Tens of thousands of people will read this essay.
The events in the Libyan revolution are coming at me in a Twitter stream. More reliable than any other source.
You can look things up on Wikipedia, even correct errors you find if you’d like to.
What is true for communication and information is not true for transportation.
I live in LA. It takes longer for me to get from the front step of my home to standing in New York’s Times Square than it did in 1960.
We won’t even talk about how much longer it takes to get around in LA.
In 1960, we got virtually all of our oil from domestic sources. Now, 58 to 63% of it, depending on whom you ask, comes from foreign wells.
In a nutshell, our ability to communicate has exploded and our ability to move around has stagnated.
DC-8 and 707 jetliners were linking the globe in 1960, and today’s newest airliner, the 787, isn’t one MPH faster. Add congestion to and from airports, parking, and (expletive deleted) security lines, and we have actually gotten slower in our continental travel.
There is less train travel available today than there was in 1960. And it isn’t any faster. Most of the stretches, on rusting rails, are slower.
In a nutshell, it takes me longer to get around town and longer to get to other cities in North America.
Truth is, we still get around on 1960 technology: paved freeways, gasoline-run cars and trucks, and 1960-era jetliners (which are really just WW2 B-29 bombers with jet engines).
The communication equivalent would be rotary dial phones and telegrams.
Here are some bad ideas:
- Build more freeways and add freeway lanes.
- Put the whole world in gasoline cars (1 billion in China, 1 billion in India, and hundreds of millions in Africa).
- Build more airports.
- Increase airport security.
- Build more busses. Trains can fly over or under traffic. Busses are stuck in it. Time to retire the “loser cruiser.”
Here are some good ideas, but only upgrades of what we have:
- Find cleaner fuel
- Generate cleaner energy
- High speed rail to regional destinations. (e.g. LA to Las Vegas, Chicago to St. Louis, etc.). North America is too big for high speed rail all the way across the country, we can already go three times as fast (600 mph) in the air vs. 200mph on TGV rails. It only works for medium sized trips, where it is, in total, faster than flying.
- Invest in urban public transportation. Go to Europe, Japan, or Hong Kong. You will never disagree with this again. I guarantee it.
- Increase bicycle usage in milder climates.
Here are some problems we need to solve:
- We need to become energy independent, at least as a North American continent.
- We need to find cheaper, cleaner sources of local and small-unit power (for cars, homes, laptops, flashlights, etc.)
- We need to find a breakthrough in distance travel (i.e. to New York from LA)
- We need to start building our housing developments around people (villages) and not around cars (lifeless, boring, isolating tract housing). Human scale. This also aids public transportation.
- We need to find an alternative to the gasoline car for China and India that will allow personal mobility.
- Figure out inexpensive continental overland freight transport. Semi-trucks are profoundly inefficient and require huge public highway subsidies.
Cheap, safe, fast transportation (of goods and people) is good for any society. It increases commerce and upgrades the ability to add value with others. Imagine a small business with 7 employees spread out over the whole country that could easily have lunch together every Thursday.
You see, speed of transportation took giant leaps between 1840 (it was about the same speed then as in Bible times) and 1960. That’s when progress stopped.
There will need to be cooperation between private and public sectors to make it work. It’s not an either-or. Private enterprise did not build the Roman Roads, and it took government direction to build the Interstates and to put astronauts on the moon.
But we are America. We can accomplish these things.