Yesterday I wrote an article with the same title as this one, except it was about Democrats. Today it’s the Republican’s turn. I’m not letting them off the hook. I feel strongly that America is in a slump and yesterday I talked about part of why I feel the Democrats are to blame. The Republicans own just as much of the blame. They do not get a pass! I know it is popular to, and frankly easy, to demonstrate how bad the Democrats are but perhaps that causes people to ignore or gloss over the faults contained in the Republican party.
No Focus on Freedom
The crack between me and parties began when I read two books, 1776 & John Adams both by David McCullough.
It’s hard to describe just why. There is something contained in the history those two books tell that opens the mind and heart to the idea of liberty as the single most fundamental element of human existence. Not food, clothing and shelter as Maslow would say, liberty is the foundation supporting all human needs.
“Rights are not gifts from one man to another, nor from one class of men to another. It is impossible to discover any origin of rights otherwise than in the origin of man; it consequently follows that rights appertain to man in right of his existence, and must therefore be equal to every man.” — Thomas Paine
Perhaps more than any books I have read these two give a deep insight to the creation of America and the thinking of the men who created her government. Their thinking was overwhelmingly liberal. Now days we have to say “classically liberal” in order to define the true meaning of what the Founding Fathers were thinking. The word liberal has been stolen. I’m trying to win it back which is why I try very hard to use the word “left” or “leftist” instead calling them liberals. Today’s “liberals” are anything but.
The Republicans should be liberal in the traditional way. They are the party that was created to end slavery, to give men liberty, equality of justice. The Democrats have always been the party of slavery and the KKK. That’s not rhetoric, that’s historical fact. Then something happened. It happened a long time ago really, right at the beginning in my opinion. That something was the Civil War. While freeing the slaves will always be Lincoln’s legacy (people won’t forget that) he also was a man who created a more powerful federal government and “suspended” citizens’ rights. In fact Lincoln was much like George W. Bush in this regard. We have generally excused this as a nation because it was during a time of war. Not just any war but war with ourselves. Which is why I link the historical Republican flaws with the current ones.
We have seen that in war Republicans are all to quick to bend rights to the point of breaking them if not “suspend” them outright. The prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba is a perfect example of what I am talking about. It’s doing what is needful over doing what is right.
In order for a person not to understand the need for “Gitmo” I feel they have to just not be thinking. They haven’t, perhaps, spent the time to educate themselves about it or they are so set against it for one reason or the other that they won’t allow themselves to understand it (that happens a lot more than you think). I understand fully why it exists, I understand how one can justify a military need for it. But even though I understand it I do not like it. Regardless of which side of the political spectrum you fall on I believe that if you think about it, you won’t like it either.
Imagine being stuck in prison. Maybe you did something, maybe you didn’t. You aren’t faced with your accusers. You aren’t given a trial. You aren’t given legal representation. You aren’t given the right to remain silent. If you try to remain silent interrogators will use psychological techniques to get you to talk. Years go by. Your family and friends continue to live their lives. Maybe they guess where you are but no one knows if they are being told or not. Maybe the family of these prisoners have no clue. One day dad, husband, brother, vanishes. Is he dead?
I hope that even people who feel Gitmo is an important part of the “war on terror” can at least begin to admit, even if it’s only in their quiet moments alone, that there’s at least a chance, this behavior of ours might be wrong. For me I recognize the need for Gitmo but believe that when we say that our unalienable rights are given to us by our creator that we all share the same creator. I often make the argument that it doesn’t even matter if that creator isn’t God. Even if you think it’s aliens, or evolution, the important thing to believe is that we have these rights as a result of however it was we came into being. No human being gives them to us, no government grants them, we have them.
For those who might say, “stick them all in a hole, they deserve it!” I just say, Gitmo isn’t about justice, it’s about gathering intelligence from combatants. If what you are after is punishment then that is the purview of a court and a trial at which the accused has the right of due process. If you shout for justice then that’s what you have to give them else it isn’t justice at all. And that really is my argument against Gitmo.
I think holding people prisoner – indefinitely – without trial – is wrong.
The People Spoke and We Heard Them
Normally that would be a good thing to hear from a politician. “Hey, we hear you!” Except for in the case of the Republicans they heard the people by listening in on their cell phones and scanning their emails via the NSA. We wouldn’t have known this had it not been for Edward Snowden. Is he a traitor? Sure, of course he is, but so was John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington. Fact is, if not for Snowden we would not have known about this Republican supported program of spying that included innocent American citizens. While we can lay Gitmo and the NSA at the feet of Democrats as well since they have kept these programs alive for the last 8 years they never would have been created had the Republicans respected human rights.
Just like I fully understand the need for Gitmo I fully understand the need for the NSA spying. As Edward Snowden himself has said, “not all spying is bad”. But arbitrary spying is. For you environmentalists out there think of it this way, you’re the dolphin caught in the fisherman’s net. He wasn’t looking for you, but scooped you up anyway.
Just like with Gitmo and those who say, “they deserve it” there is a group when faced with NSA spying truth will say, “If I’ve done nothing wrong, I have nothing to hide. So why should I care about any of this?” To which my friend Top Monkey would say, “slap yourself in the head to save me the trouble of doing if for you!” Think of someone coming onto your property and stealing an old car you had parked there. It doesn’t run but they tow it away. You call the cops and they say, “What do you care, you weren’t using it anyway?” to which you would angrily shout, “That’s not the point! It’s MY car!” Well, you being an innocent citizen who isn’t doing anything wrong, isn’t the point either. Saying so is a slight of hand.
Then there are those who, likely for lack of knowledge, say, “It’s only metadata” well folks, Google works off of metadata. Think of how much you can find out using a few search words and some metadata! It’s not JUST meta data, it’s META DATA! Trust me when I tell you, I can find out where you drink your coffee, where your kids go to school, and what books you read, based on meta data. Sticking in the qualifier “just” is meant to make people think that it isn’t a powerful tool for information gathering and people love to point this. Those people fail to ask one simple question, “If meta data isn’t very powerful why is the NSA scooping it up?”
You Are No Longer Free to Move Around the Country
Two things fall into this category, the TSA and so-called border checkpoints. I say so-called because as you may have noticed they aren’t on the border at all. One of the fundamental aspects of the United States of America is that little part about us being states that are united. That means we don’t need paperwork or checkpoints to go from state to state and that commerce between the states is free. I can sell something to someone in California or Texas if I want to even if I don’t live in those states. Border checkpoints stop citizens with no reasonable suspicion that they have violated any laws. But perhaps worse than this is the TSA.
I wrote an article about the TSA and a teddy bear which is one example of how they violate rights. In that article I wrote:
Then there is the absolute fact that TSA does not prevent terrorist attacks or make us safer. If you have ever been groped by the TSA it’s a traumatic experience, one that no American should have to go through without the above mentioned due process of law. In as much as our law makers have created this beast it’s up to them to dismantle it. But they won’t unless they hear from their constituents. Therein lies the problem, while a poll found that 87% of frequent fliers are dissatisfied with the TSA another poll found that only “…57% of adult fliers were bothered or angered by security pat-downs, while 42% felt that way about full-body scans.” meaning that not even a majority of people objected to scans and a scant majority object to pat-downs.
If law makers got calls, or if airlines didn’t make money, something would change. Yet as long as so few people object and many blindly support this useless exercise that objectively does not make us safer but does reduce our freedom to move about the country nothing will change.
This is all for show. More Air Marshalls and greater public awareness of terrorism are all that’s needed to thwart another attack. No need to scan us, grope us, or take our teddy bears.
While it is true again that the Democrats are also responsible for keeping this beast alive, again it is the creation of the Republicans.
I consider myself a moral person. I have a code of morality I believe in. I try to do what’s right. Just like everyone else on earth I don’t always succeed but I do always recognize my failure and make every attempt to do better next time. That’s really the best any of us can do. Try, fail, try again. It’s when I fail to try, or to try again that I am no longer a moral person. I feel my moral code is a good one. In fact I will go so far as to say I feel it’s the best one. I would hope every single one of you would say that of your own moral code. If I didn’t think mine was the best one, I would search until I found one I could say that of. Part of my moral code is the belief that all people have agency. Agency is the right to chose for oneself. Agency is one of the unalienable and inherent rights of mankind. Many religions have this and often call it “freewill”. That fact makes legislating morality all the more stupefying to me. Here we have people who have strongly held religious beliefs that men are free to choose making laws to take away their right to choose.
The only morality of law is the protection of rights and the equal administration of justice.
Two men live next door to each other. One is gay, the other isn’t. The one who is gay believes that all men should be gay. Being gay is the right way to be. He happens to be a legislator and he rams a law through that makes being straight illegal. “But, that’s not a good example,” I can hear some of you saying, “being straight is normal and being gay isn’t.” That’s just another slight of hand. The fact remains that when it’s YOUR morality being legislated you feel just fine about it. But when it’s not you piss and moan. The solution to changing morality, to differences in belief, is to simply not legislate moral behavior. I firmly believe that if God wants America to be a moral nation that He wants it to be by choice. Meaning that all the laws in the land don’t make us moral. Morality is only achieved by choice. Take adultery for an example. There are a few states that still have laws against it on the books, but they aren’t enforced anymore and most states have taken the effort to remove them. Imagine this. A man turns to his wife and says, “I really want to have an affair with Doris down the street and she’s willing but it’s illegal so we haven’t.” Has that man really been moral? Do you think his wife is comforted one bit?
A question popped into my head during the gay marriage debate American had. I asked myself one day, “What business does government have telling anyone who they can marry or not and why should I have to get a license to marry?” This was a legitimate question that I had, up to that point, never thought of nor heard anyone voice. I can’t marry unless the state tells me I can? Hogwash! If they passed a law tomorrow saying your marriage was no longer recognized by the state would you suddenly be unmarried? Would your relationship with your wife suddenly be invalid because of it? Of course not! Who I marry is none of their business and who you marry is none of mine. Will people make poor choices and immoral ones? Yes. They will. But do those choices violate any of your rights? No.
What About Abortion?
Though abortion has been something legislated as a morality issue I stand firmly against it on the issue of rights. Though all people possess all rights equally, all rights are not created equal to each other. The right to be alive is a high right. So while a mother does have the right to her body, she does not have the right to the body of another even if that other is living inside of her. Our rights are not dependent upon our developmental stage. The right to life is more than just the right not to be killed, it’s the right to be alive. The instant egg and sperm meet a new human exists. New DNA and a new life process has begun. At that instant they are alive and fully human even though not fully formed.
But I do not think abortion is always wrong. The mother’s right to not be fat, to not waddle, to not get stretch marks, does not out weight the child’s right to be alive, but her own life most certainly does. If the mother is likely to die, she has the right to protect her own life even at the expense of the child. This is similar to the right any of us have to shoot someone who is going to shoot us. I know people who have been faced with that choice. No doctor would tell them otherwise. The baby could not remain and the mother live. I’ve known others for whom it was a maybe, and they chose to risk it, but in this case it was no maybe. I do not count her as immoral for having saved her own life.
I feel laws to protect the rights of the child should exist and should recognize that the right of the mother to protect her own life must be a part of that. Some abortion, but not all. Not because it’s immoral but because it’s a matter of promised rights, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are all taken from an aborted child. Perhaps liberty and the pursuit of happiness are temporarily taken from the woman, but her life is not. It’s about rights, not morality.
The War on Drugs
Below is from an article I previously wrote on the subject of drug legalization.
Why is it the state’s job to decide what a person ingests?
It’s very difficult to have a discussion of this sort because people know the dangers of drug use and drugs are culturally taboo. Be it right or wrong the fact remains that people who use drugs are looked down on by the rest of society. Legalization of Marijuana, though recently appearing popular is still an issue largely thought of as an issue of losers and deadbeats. I suspect that a large part of legalization support comes from people who either want potheads to shut up about it already or who realize that someone else’s drug use is only as harmful as someone else’s alcohol use but not because they actually support the use of drugs.
We tried prohibition of alcohol and that didn’t work so well.
In the Philippines Duterte has made the war on drugs more than just an expression, he’s made it a real war with real killing. I’m a huge fan of the ad absurdum argumentative style. By distilling something down to the logical end we can show quite clearly why something is good or bad. If using drugs is bad, immoral, evil, then killing people who use drugs is the logical conclusion. Warped, but logical. All it takes to get from where we are to one possible ad absurdum end is a madman like Duterte.
It causes one to question the entire notion of drugs being illegal. While being killed by the government isn’t something happening in the United States over the war on drugs (some would argue it is), there are plenty of people in jail because of it. What are they actually in jail for? Of course some will quickly answer “because it’s illegal! They broke the law. What else do they expect to happen?” fair enough. But then I ask, “why is it against the law?” to which they likely answer, “because drugs are harmful. They are bad for you.” Okay, I concede that point as well. They are dangerous and unhealthy; long term use has been proved (even marijuana) to cause cognitive and neurological damage as well as a host of other physiological problems. Anyone who argues these findings is being intellectually dishonest. They do it as a way to overcome those arguments much in the same way Climate Changers bring up the non-existent 97% of scientists. It’s not true but it supports their narrative so they cling to it. They are harmful. Telling people otherwise will simply solidify their view on drugs and not help your cause at all. Telling someone that what they know to be true isn’t does not make them side with your cause.
There is, however, a good argument to be made if people simply answered, “I know they are. It’s a risk I’m willing to take. I think it should be up to me, not you, what I ingest or inhale.”
It’s a lot like skydiving. It’s dangerous, you could die, but people do it anyway. For that matter it’s like driving a car.
Republicans are not the party of freedom any longer.
“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.” – George Washington
“There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.” – John Adams
Republicans are the other side of the same coin as the Democrats. They both want to take away your liberty but just have different excuses for doing it. The more the parties drifted apart on ideas the closer they moved together in methodology. If you want to be free, and truly represented in Washington DC then parties are not the way to achieve it. They are in it for themselves. The Founding Fathers feared this.