Saturday, December 29, 2007

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to everyone and I hope you get a chance to celebrate! I'll be back on the 3rd or 4th.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Mortgage Crisis

The Federal Reserve is bailing out a lot of people that took on loans they cannot afford - otherwise known as the mortgage crises currently underway in the U.S. – by loaning $20 Billion dollars of our stolen federal tax money to banks nationwide. I’m sure more than that is on the way.

I think the rest of the country - the approximately 90% of us who did not make irresponsible choices, loans, and quests for money at the expense of others - are getting the short end of the stick.

We hear, “The Federal Reserve is going to help”, “The Feds are stepping in”, and “Washington’s trying to prevent the mortgage crisis” but what they are really saying is that you and I are going to save the day by turning our pockets inside out and having our stolen tax dollars pay for it all (at least they're going to something other than pork).

I’m going to skip over the obvious question about why shouldn’t those who made bad choices be held responsible, to include buyers and loan companies. I've heard that question already asked time and again with no results, even though the answer should be simple.

Therefore, I will instead focus on a question that has yet to be asked:

If a bailout is going to occur, why not at a lower level?

If the states handled this, instead of the federal government, that would relieve a lot of burden on taxpayers nationwide. Take the states of Virginia and California, for instance.

The population in California is far greater than that of Virginia. If the states conducted the bailout, the residents of Virginia wouldn’t have to pay for all the foreclosures in their state AND all the foreclosures in California, of which there is a far greater number of in California due to a much larger population.

Likewise for California. Virginia might have a smaller population than California, but any added amount of population is more than what you had to start with.

What about housing prices? There is a drastic difference in housing prices between states like Mississippi and Massachusetts. Why should tax dollars from residents in Mississippi be used to pay for the foreclosures of homes in Massachusetts, which are a far greater price in Massachusetts than they are in Mississippi?

How is that fair to residents of Mississippi, whose income and cost-of-living is much lower than the income and cost-of-living in Massachusetts? Factor in the population differences I mentioned a moment ago, along with the income and cost-of-living differences, and you can see we have a real problem that the federal government isn’t even considering.

And if taking it down to the state level makes more sense, which I think it does, what about an even lower level, like city, town, or county? How much more fairly distributed would the bailout be then?

What about the lowest level possible – the individual level? I’ve already talked about how places like are empowering the people themselves to break the monopoly of banks.

It’s time we start relying more on our own, localized ways and means of handling such issues. A state, local, or individual solution will always be fairer, more efficient, and more responsible than a oversized, careless, and wasteful federal bailout.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Pledge of Allegiance

I think The Pledge of Allegiance should be abolished, along with any requirement for an oath of allegiance during an immigrant's naturalization.

Some people might say that such a desire is not very patriotic. I would argue that such a desire is extremely patriotic. It’s a Free Country, and standing up for that freedom is what makes one a patriot, not allegiance.

Freedom and allegiance are not the same thing. In fact, they are polar opposites. Allegiance requires you to blindly support something, regardless of right or wrong.

If you have allegiance, you do not ask questions, you do not think for yourself, you do what is expected of you, you support something at all costs. Freedom, on the other hand, enables you to ask questions, think for yourself, act as best you see fit, and choose whether you want to support something or not.

Allegiance is for dictatorships. Freedom is for free countries.

Granted, allegiance can be given voluntarily and often is, and there is nothing wrong with such a choice if that's what you want. Freedom leaves room for that as well!

But if it's freedom itself that you want, any requirement for allegiance is a sure sign that freedom is not the top priority.

I seldom see adult citizens in the U.S. having to conduct The Pledge of Allegiance (a good thing). However, our public schools conduct it in front of our children everyday before school starts and promotes their participation. An oath of allegiance is also expected of our legal immigrants who are going through the process of naturalization.

Luckily, in public schools, our kids are no longer required to say the Pledge if they don't want to say it, but the fact is that such exposure to allegiance is still being conducted every school day in front of young and impressionable minds, year after year.

Isn't it odd that such a practice is conducted in front of those young and impressionable minds year after year but seldom, if ever, around adults who are not as impressionable?

Immigrants who are trying to become citizens of our free country are also in the position of having to recite an oath of allegiance and, unlike our children, they are not allowed the option of skipping it. On the other hand, they are not exposed to it year after year like our kids.

As I mentioned earlier, my whole point is that allegiance and freedom are not the same thing.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I'll be back on the 27th. In the meantime, here's a Christmas poem for you to enjoy:

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the land,
No candidate was stirring, or shaking a hand.
The presents were wrapped-up under the tree,
In hopes that this Christmas could be campaign-free.
The voters were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions from TV ads danced in their heads.
My sister in Dubuque and I here in Keene,
Tried hard to forget all the debates we had seen.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
If they'd found our lawn boy out by the shack,
Tancredo and Hunter would never come back.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave luster to yard signs posted below.
When what should appear to my wondering eye?
A van with the bumper strip, "Live free or die."
With a little old driver, so lively and plain,
I knew in a moment it could be McCain.
But when I saw the sign saying "Peace to you all",
I imagined Kucinich, Gravel or even Saint Paul.
Like eagles, the reporters following him came.
He whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!
"Now Russert! Now Matthews! Olbermann, Schieffer,
On Broder, on Stephanopoulous, on Lehrer, on Blitzer."
It may be Christmas but we all have our jobs.
So, "On Stewart, Colbert, O'Reilly, and Dobbs,
To the top of the world, to the top of it all.
Come push me on up; or at least break my fall."
As some candidates do when caught in a lie,
Climb up on their pedestal, high in the sky.
So up to the house-top the entourage flew,
With a sack full of earmarks and promises too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof,
The prancing and pandering of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney the next President came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
Soot on his clothes and soot in his hair,
That ruled out both Edwards and Romney right there.
His eyes, how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
Alan Keyes he was not; he just wasn't scary!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.
First I thought Biden and then I thought Dodd.
But it was all make-up, so white hair wasn't odd.
That's it! Actor's make-up removed all the doubt,
Except he was lively and quick, so Thompson was out.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
That ruled out Obama, unless he was joking,
When he promised us all that he had stopped smoking.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
Bill Richardson maybe - or Huckabee's old self.
But a wink of his eye and a shake of his head,
Let me know I was wrong without a word said.
As he filled each stocking with an American flag,
I thought, "Isn't this sort of like Rudy in drag?"
That's it. That's it. Think girls not boys.
Is Hillary the President handing out toys?
Santa sprang to the van, got the press on their bus,
And as they drove out of sight, called back to us:
"Merry Christmas to all, and don't ever forget,
Maybe the next President's not in the race yet."

Friday, December 21, 2007


We hear that word - Billions - often.

It is a word uttered by politicians from governments world-wide, particularly in America. When talking about money, politicians mention that word with ease, often, and without remorse. Why should they be remorseful? After all, 99.9% of that money is not theirs, if any of it at all.

Politicians casually toss around the word Billions like it's nothing. We hear that number so often that it has come to mean very little to us. But, the fact is that it DOES mean something. It means a LOT of YOUR money, and that goes for any country.

Steve Rankin, over at Free Citizen , sent me an interesting list that was composed by an advertising agency to help put the number Billion into perspective. At the risk of my arithmetic math skills, I tweaked what he sent me and came up with this:
1. A billion seconds ago it was 1972.

2. A billion minutes ago Jesus had finished walking the Earth 7 years prior.

3. A billion hours ago Neanderthals existed.

4. A billion days ago the formation of the Arctic polar ice cap occurred.

5. A billion dollars ago happened yesterday and is continuing to happen everyday, at the rate our federal government is spending it.

Keeping that in mind, think about the 9 Trillion in debt that we have!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Common Ground

A limited federal government overseeing multiple state governments that each provide a different possibility of government is a result of being unable to find common ground. In the search for freedom, such a solution makes sense.

No matter what community we are part of, we are each individuals. Each of us is different, no matter how much we try to become the same. We each want different things. We each have different perspectives (more to come on this later). We each have a different meaning of freedom (well, some of us have the same meaning, but certainly not all of us).

A decentralized federation is the perfect solution to the completely human problem of not finding common ground in all areas. Such a problem is perfectly normal, as a difference of opinion is what it means to be human and what it means to have liberty.

But, just because we have a government setup designed to deal with such a problem, does that mean we should never bother searching for common ground? On the contrary, I think the search for common ground is more important than ever, because of our situation.

If we live in a government designed to overcome our lack of common ground (which is the case), then it seems to me that it would be important to pay attention to any of the few times we do have common ground.

This could mean something like what I wrote in my last post about voting with your feet, or it could mean establishing a Bill of Rights that includes a various assortment of common ground everyone can agree to, such as freedom of speech and the right to be secure in our own homes.

Sometimes, however, common ground is more difficult to be found. This is because people who have something to lose if we find common ground often disguise the common ground we have. Politicians, pundits, and lobbyists are guilty of this.

For example, we are often led to believe there is nothing in common with those who are pro-life and pro-choice, with those who support drilling for more oil domestically and those who would rather see us use renewable resources instead, and those who support gun ownership and those who don’t.

All Constitutional answers aside, there is common ground to be found among those places where we are supposed to believe there are none.

For instance, the same motivation that drives those who support drilling for more oil domestically is the same for those who would rather see us use renewable resources: A desire for American energy independence.

Contrary to pro-lifers’ belief, those who are pro-choice do not like the idea of abortion. Their argument is not based on the enjoyment of abortion. No one really likes abortion.

Those who would see us with guns and those who would not have the same reason for both: Safety.

If we look past rhetoric, we can often find common ground where we are frequently told there is none.

Does common ground enhance freedom? I think it does. If there is no opposition to your preference, that is freedom. Having multiple state governments is a means to avoid opposition to our preferences and establish such freedom. Such a design is a macro example of common ground itself.

Therefore, I think it would be safe to say that seeking out actual common ground to the best of our ability could always be a worthy endeavor that enhances freedom.

It’s a Free Country!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Free State Project

I want to place the spotlight on a couple of website banners I provide on this blog and I will start with the Free State Project. They are the perfect example of freedom.

The Free State Project embodies all that I talk about here, in regards to how we can all be free through a decentralized federation. I've mentioned numerous times that what makes us a free country is the fact that we have (are supposed to have) a limited federal government that protects and organizes a collection of smaller state governments (they could be called providences, cantons, or whatever) while ensuring natural rights to all individuals.

Each one of those state governments, although dictated to be republican forms of government (one of my grievances with the Constitution), are capable of providing different laws that equate to different levels of government involvement in people's lives. Each one is capable of providing a different possibility.

Someone was smart enough to realize that freedom does not just come in the form of extremely limited government, nor does it just come in the form of controlling, big government, nor does it just come in the form of some moderate version of government involvement, nor just in any other particular level of government. It comes in all forms.

What means freedom to me might not mean freedom to you. For example, many people view government leaving them alone as a form of freedom, while many others view government taking care of them as a form of freedom, and there are many other views in-between.

How can one nation ever hope to accommodate every citizen's viewpoints? More importantly, how can any nation accommodate differing viewpoints without forcing a single ideology on everyone that only a portion of the electorate agree with?

Answer: A limited federal government that ensures natural, individual rights, while protecting and organizing any number of smaller state governments that each provide any number of possibilities.

The folks over at the Free State Project have realized this. They are people who prefer minimal government and they have recognized the state of New Hampshire as having a government that provides their preference. So, they are trying to get as many people who think like them as possible to move to New Hampshire and swell the already large number of people that think like they do.

This is what having multiple state governments which can provide multiple possibilities is all about! Your preference can and should be found in any number of state governments that exist. Any state government can and should be shaped by voters and voters with similar desires can and should group together to form the types of government they want.

That's freedom.

The Free State Project is trying to do exactly that. With enough like-minded people in a chosen state (New Hampshire, in this case), the kind of voting taking place in that state will reflect the kind of government they want. This is what it means to Vote with Your Feet.

So long as we have a limited federal government, we can have any other level of government that provides what we all want at the state level. That's why It's a Free Country. I applaud the Free State Project for utilizing what is available to all of us.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Divided We Stand, United We Fall

I came across a very interesting blog the other day called Divided We Stand, United We Fall.

This unique site declares that divided government is better for us than unified government. By divided, I mean an executive branch and legislative branch controlled by separate parties, whereas by unified I mean one-party rule over both branches.

DWSUWF states that we are best served by voting in such a manner that we continuously divide our government and pit the parties against each other into gridlock.

Federally speaking, this would be a good thing! The less our federal government does, the more freedom we have at the federal level to do what we want at the state level, with 50 different possibilities. November 2006 was a good example of people voting in this manner, breaking the one-party rule we had for 6 years.

DWSUWF even goes as far as to back this theory up with numbers on their blog, displaying the difference in spending, for example, when we have had divided and unified government. More oversight and less wars are also cited as products of divided government.

I have no doubt that the numbers are correct, but I don't think they reflect today's situation.

The only way divided government works is if the different parties in control are actually different. In recent years, the dominating parties - Republicans and Democrats - have become opposite sides of the same coin. They are now both big government parties, just in different ways. As the old saying goes, you can either have the welfare state or the warfare state, when it comes to choosing your typical Dem or Repub.

We’ve certainly seen some positive outcomes from the November 2006 divided government, such as a President locating his veto pen for the first time in 7 years, as well as congressional oversight that has been long since missing.

Unfortunately, a lot of things divided government is supposed to fix have failed to be fixed. For example, the Democrats are now expected to allow Senate Republicans to attach tens of billions of dollars for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to a $500 billion-plus government wide spending bill. There's no mention of Bush not signing such a bill, so long as a timeline is not included.

That would be in exchange for Republican support on a huge domestic spending measure, and we’ve already seen a huge domestic spending measure take place once already, one that included subsidies to nearly every kind of industry that federal government has no business supporting, as well as a forced minimum wage increase that federal government has no business forcing on companies.

We have seen no end to the wars that divided government was elected to curtail, and instead have seen a troop increase with no timeline of accountability for the Iraq government.

We seen no change in the destruction of the 4th Amendment and our civil rights - no change in the Patriot Act - only measures that allow the federal government to spy on us more than what it was doing already.

Considering all that, I find it hard to accept that divided government is working this time around. I blame the recent resemblance in the Dems and Repubs.

Once again, our best choice is to simply vote for those who will bring the change we need, whether they be 3rd party candidates, independents, or those within the Repubs or Dems who are trying to change the parties from within (Ron Paul, for example).

Nevertheless, divided government is a concept worth considering.

For starters, the words "divided we stand, united we fall", is a play on words that eludes to the decentralizing concept that I often talk about - keeping federal government limited and giving more power to 50 state governments which could provide 50 different variations and possibilities that accommodate everyone, increasing everyone's freedom.

As well, It's a Free Country, and whenever our freedom is threatened by one party growing out of control and gorging itself on power, voters must have a means to put such growth in check. If they cannot do it by voting in a candidate or party that can solve the problem, then objectively voting for divided government can certainly be the next-to-last means of keeping freedom intact...the 2nd Amendment being the last means.

Monday, December 17, 2007

To Scrooge or Not to Scrooge

In the spirit of the holidays, I watched A Christmas Carol last night, which is always one of my favorite Christmas movies.

Much has been said about the lesson that is taught in this movie, especially from a political context. Most folks argue that the lesson is based on liberal ideology, that Ebenezer Scrooge is portrayed as a villain because he is wealthy and does not want to share a single dime of his wealth with anyone, especially the poor, even at Christmastime.

The lesson to be taught, in this case, is that owning vast amounts of wealth is wrong unless you are willing to share it with those who do not have wealth.

Naturally, conservatives argue that this is a poor lesson to be taught. They, along with many libertarians, see Ebenezer Scrooge as a hero, instead of a villain, putting forth the effort to be as successful as he can be and appreciating the wealth he has obtained due to the hard work he has achieved.

They see Bob Cratchit (Scrooge's poorly paid employee) as the villain, as opposed to being the hero in the liberal point-of-view, due to Cratchit's unwillingness to improve himself and get a better job in order to better support his family, especially since he has a crippled son (Tiny Tim).

The lesson here, instead, is that there is nothing wrong with owning wealth, particularly if you worked hard to achieve it, and if you don't want to give any of it away to people who would rather get a hand-out instead of achieve their own success, then there is nothing wrong with that.

I would like to offer my own, alternative lesson that can and possibly should be applied to this story. It's a lesson about freedom.

I don't think there is anything wrong with either scenario that I have explained above. If someone who is wealthy and well-to-do wants to share their wealth with others who have not worked as hard or improved themselves as much or who are less fortunate, there is nothing wrong with that. It's Scrooge's wealth; he should be able to do what he wants with it. That's freedom.

On the other hand, if someone does not want to share the wealth they have worked hard to obtain or were fortunate enough to receive with people who do not have wealth, then there is nothing wrong with that either. Once again, it's Scrooge's wealth, he should be able to do what he wants with it. That's freedom.

Expecting people to do one thing or the other with their wealth shows a lack of consideration for freedom. Even worse, once we start legislating what someone should do with their wealth, that's tyranny. The only exception to that tyranny is if such legislation is kept at the state level, where the people have options to choose from.

In the end, the argument over whether or not someone should share their wealth is pointless and futile because It's a Free Country. In a free country, people should be able to hoard their wealth or share their wealth as they please.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Internet's Power of Freedom

We all know that the Internet has changed the world. What I find most interesting is how it will continue to change the world and in what way.

Hands down, one if the largest, most prominent allies of freedom, if not THE largest, most prominent, is the Internet. With the Internet, we have been able to achieve stretches of freedom that we have never been able to achieve before in the past, and we will continue to achieve even more.

I needn't bore you with examples of how freedom has been enhanced in the past thanks to the Internet. Unless you've been living under a rock, you are probably already aware that the voice of the people has been expanded in every direction, the probability of people sustaining themselves with low overhead costs and regulation (many making fortunes in the 90's) has been increased, and the enormity of information that has exploded and made available with the push of a button has empowered people to no ends.

Instead, I'll talk about what we could possibly expect to come. I think we can expect many more changes, but one in particular fascinates me: The power of the people to potentially control the outcome of world events.

We are already seeing a near revolution taking place in America by people who want change and searching for that change in a new president. The Ron Paul Phenomenon, as it's called, is providing a perfect example of how the Internet is enabling the people to mobilize on their own, for the cause that they believe in, destroying all preconceived notions dictated to us by status-quo media and those who control the outcome of our elections. Just Google Ron Paul and you will see what I am talking about.

As if that's not a large enough example, I think there is another case-in-point that has even greater ramifications:

For example, relations with America and Iran are on edge. Saber rattling is common and the potential for war is very high. Yet, how many of the people in either country actually want such a war? For that matter, stop and think about how many of the people in any country that has been in any war that has occurred on Earth really wanted such a war?

As is the case throughout all of human history and as long as the concept of government has existed, it's been the governments of humankind who have started wars, not the people.

Yet, the people have never had a choice but to along with it. They have never had the power to stop it. They have never had the ability to really know the true justification of the war. They have had no ability to change the course. They seldom had any ability to question it. This has been the way for all of history and it is only recently beginning to change.

The Internet can accelerate that change immensely.

As a suggestion, think about the Internet and what it can do. Think about the instant communication that can occur anywhere in the world without government regulation (although corporate conglomerates are trying their damnedest to regulate it, with the help of government).

I want to call your attention to the small, red dot in the country of Iran that exists on Visitor Locations meter of this blog (right side, scroll down a bit). Someone from Iran visited this site.

Granted, that visitor could have been a government official. But, what if it was just a regular "Joe", just like me? And what could stop us regular Joes from America and Iran from talking to one another, communicating, and connecting over the Internet?

And when that happens, who is to say that we will not discover that neither one of us wants our countries to go to war with the other, much unlike our respective governments do. And when that happens, who is to say that we will not discover that the majority of the people in both of countries do not want such war, with all of us talking to one another?

Our own governments won't even talk to one another! But Iranian "Joe" and I can. And so can every other Iranian Joe and American Joe (and Janes). Once the people begin to communicate with one another, side-stepping government oversight, governments will lose their ability to lead the people into wars and other world situations where the majority of regular people might not want to be. That's freedom.

One might say that we have always been able to communicate with other people in other countries. After all, we've always been able to mail letters. Uh-huh...and who controls that system? Answer: The government. How reliable is that system? What is the speed of service for that system?

What about big media news networks doing reports overseas? Well, how many of those news networks are putting you into personal contact with the people of another country? Doing a story is not the same thing. To make the situation worse, all major media (in America) is owned by only 4-5 corporations, who control what is said and what is done.

The Internet is instantaneous. It's reliable. It's not controlled by governments. Only it's connection is controlled by corporations, not the content (unless we allow that to happen). And the Internet provides peer-to-peer connection.

This is a power that the people have never known, until recent decades. Once we begin to use it to the degree I have mentioned (and we will), governments will no longer begin to lead us into one war after another. If a majority of the people in either country whose governments are leading to war disagree with going to war, how will governments be able to make it happen? After all, governments are a very small minority of people. The People are a huge, massive majority.

The Internet still has a long ways to go and I recommend to any freedom lovers out there that you cherish it's existence. It is slowly but surely providing a level of freedom to the world such has never been known before.

And there are all kinds of powers-that-be who will try to control it, limit it, and regulate it, because without such regulation, the people will have a power of freedom that cannot be controlled.

I hope we begin using that power more. I'll set the example and reach out to the Iranian who visited this site. Whoever you are from Iran that visited this site, please send me an email. I want to talk. We need to talk. Unless you are a government official. Then we have nothing to talk about.

Have a great weekend everybody and remember that It's a Free Country.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

One of the President's Jobs

There's been much talk among our presidential candidates on whether or not they would communicate with foreign leaders deemed to be against U.S. interests.

Most of this discussion started in the aftermath of the Democratic YouTube debate and has been going on since. During that debate, Obama got hammered for his response to a question asked to him about whether or not he would be willing to meet with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea.

Obama's response: "I would." He went on to say, "The notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them, which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration, is ridiculous".

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of people who think otherwise, including Hillary who immediately pounced by responding, "I will not promise to meet with the leaders of these countries during my first year."

As Charles Krauthammer and everyone else who slammed Obama's response put it, Hillary began "ticking off the reasons any graduate student would tick off: You don't want to be used for their propaganda. You need to know their intentions. Such a meeting can make the situation worse."

This sort of viewpoint has carried on to the Republican candidates as well, since most of them have declared that they, too, would not engage in conversation with such leaders (Giuliani would rather bomb them, in fact). Ron Paul was recently booed at the Republican debate in Iowa for stating he would communicate and interact with Fidel Castro of Cuba.

Here is my take on the things that Mr. Krauthammer said are being taught to our graduate students:

1. Propaganda - Leaders refusing to meet with leaders for reasons of propaganda is the beginning of propaganda itself.

2. Knowing their Intentions - How do you really know their intentions if you don't talk to them? How do they really know yours?

3. Making the Situation Worse - By this logic, I should never cross the street because I could always be hit by a car. Things are going to go wrong, sometimes. But not attempting to do anything will guarantee that they go wrong every time.

Perhaps the interaction that Ron Paul and others plan to use - talking to our enemies - is not the way we usually do things, but it should stand to reason that the way we have been doing things isn't working.

It should stand to reason that perhaps much of the mess that we are in today throughout the world is due to "the way we have always done things" - the notion that "an American president should not share the honor of his office with malevolent clowns like Hugo Chavez", as Mr. Krauthammer put it in his article.

It's this sort of elitism that has steered us in the wrong direction throughout the world. An attitude such as the one I just described is nothing more than pure ego, a false sense of identity, fear, and poison for interaction among nations in the world and society in general.

Don't get me wrong, I think Chavez and the others are poor examples of leaders. But, this does not mean we should not communicate with him or others like him.

The Cold War was won by this method without a wartime shot fired. Direct talks occurred between Regan and Gorbachev. One might say that the Soviet Union was "worth" the direct talk because they were a superpower. So, that makes other countries like Venezuela and Iran not worth talking to, directly, because they are not a superpower and because they have leaders who have caused trouble for us? Incorrect.

The leaders of those countries are still leaders, nonetheless. They might be poor examples of leaders, but they are still that country's leader. If we think the leaders of North Korea and Cuba, for example, are such bad leaders, then that's all the more reason to talk to them, to show them the way, to show them how good leadership is conducted, and to show the world how good leadership is conducted. That's good leadership.

Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution allows for a President "to make Treaties". One cannot do that if one does not communicate with other leaders.

How can anyone be the President of a free country - a country that allows dissent and disagreement - yet not be willing to talk to foreign leaders who disagree and dissent? It's a Free Country, and what's good for us should be good for others as well.

We need a President that leads by such an example - the example of freedom.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

I almost hesitate writing a post about this subject because I have yet to hear much of anything on this standard, yearly argument we have in America.

It’s been quiet lately…nothing from the talking heads on Fox News or CNN, nothing in the papers, very little on the Net, and I’ve yet to hear any personal conversations about it. Perhaps we are finally starting to wise up.

In fear of igniting this controversial issue, I will make this post as an act of laying flowers on the grave of a (hopefully) dead subject, or this post will (hopefully) be that which puts the subject in its grave, flowers be damned.

What we need to remember is what this blog is all about – It’s a Free Country. That means, when it comes to the holidays, anyone should be able to say anything they want, with one, minor exception.

Do you celebrate Christmas? Then why not say “Merry Christmas”? Do you celebrate Hanukkah? Then why not say “Happy Hanukkah”? Do you celebrate Kwanzaa? Then why not say “Happy Kwanzaa”? The list goes on.

Here's an example of how a potential greeting could occur: If you celebrate Hanukkah and someone you meet celebrates Christmas, they should be able to say “Merry Christmas” to you, because they celebrate Christmas. Your reply, in return, could then be “Happy Hanukkah”, because you celebrate Hanukkah.

In a free country, people should be able to give the greeting that corresponds to what they celebrate, no matter what anyone else celebrates. It’s just that simple.

Even if you celebrate Christmas, you don’t have to say Merry Christmas. If you want to say "Happy Holidays" or anything else, so be it. In a free country, it shouldn’t matter what seasonal greeting you want to say and it shouldn’t matter what seasonal greeting you get in return, if any. Not only is that the mark of a free country, that’s also the mark of simple maturity and rationalism.

I mentioned there being an exception. The only exception to being able to say whatever you want to say for the holidays is if you work for an employer who wants you, as the employee (if you are an employee), to say a particular greeting to customers.

The thing to remember here is that the employer is either the owner of the business or the person who runs it. It’s their business, not yours (the employee). If you don’t like having to say what the employer wants you to say in their business, in a free country, you are free to leave that job and find another.

On a personal note, I don’t know why any business would not want their employees to say something neutral like “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings”. Businesses are in the business of making profit and people of all persuasions are potential customers. Relating to each of those customers should be in the interest of a business. But, that’s just my opinion.

All that being said, I hope you enjoy whatever holiday you celebrate, no matter what country you are in.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Project Vote Smart

Action speaks louder than words. Don't listen to what candidates and your elected officials say. Look at what they do.

At Project Vote Smart, you can do exactly that. Every candidate and elected official is listed on this site and you can look each of them up and see a library of information on each of them organized in five categories: biographical information, issue positions, voting records, campaign finances, and interest group ratings.

This site is a wealth of information and does what it was intended to do...educate the public. Often, we make voting choices based on the 30-second soundbites, rhetoric, and straight-up lies that are projected to us on a daily basis. At Project Vote Smart, we can now make choices based on solid information, straight-forward information, and truth.

The founder of Project Vote Smart, Richard Kimball, had some very important words to say in the introduction of Project Vote Smart's 2006 Voters Self-Defense Manual . I think he hit the nail on the head:

"Recently reading about Alexander Tytler, a Scottish historian at the time of the American Revolution, put our challenge in fresh perspective for me. He made the most persuasive arguments against Jefferson, Madison, Adams and Washington I have ever heard.

He said we were doomed to failure, for if you began with bondage that might lead to the courage of revolution, and if revolution were successful that would lead to liberty, and liberty to great abundance. But eventually abundance would lead to greed and selfishness, which would bring about complacency and apathy. This would inevitably lead us back to dependence and a return to bondage.

He felt that in a free self-governing society the masses would eventually learn that they could vote themselves gifts from the [federal] public treasury and that would lead to their end. That was, of course, the general position of the world in 1776, and the nation’s founders worried about it.

They all worried...that if they did this weird thing and cast out power to the masses, in the words of Washington, it “would recoil upon us.” They feared that “factions” (their term for political parties and special interests) would organize and strip the people of the one crucial component to self govern successfully: accurate, abundant, relevant information.

That is precisely what the Project is struggling to prevent. The modern candidate has simply found it more economical to move people’s prejudices and fears. In a 30 second commercial you can do that, but you cannot discuss a concern facing society and the options for dealing with it in 30 seconds, so there is no longer any effort by the political parties to do so. As one leader of my own party once argued with me, “It is not our job to educate, Richard. It is our job to win.”

I don't think it's possible for me to disagree any more than I already do with that last statement from the unknown politician and apparently Richard Kimball doesn't agree either.

Don't make your choice based on what you see in the media; the media is crap. It's owned by those with an agenda and you will never get the total truth. Don't even trust blogs; they are full of opinions too. Trust facts. Facts are displayed in your elected official or candidate's voting record. Facts are displayed in the list of campaign contributions your elected official or candidate receives.

Granted, you won't have this luxury with candidates who have never held office before but you do have this luxury with the majority of those whom we are to vote for before the primaries. Use this luxury. It's there for you, to empower you, to empower us as a nation.

Incidentally, when the presidential campaigns started some time ago, I used Project Vote Smart on some of the candidates whom I had a particular view about. After seeing their voting record, my views were affected, and rightfully so.

I encourage each of you to test your own favorites. It's a Free Country, and in a free country, it only makes sense to use this opportunity.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Death of Politics

It's almost ironic, perhaps hypocritical, that I write this blog about politics. Why? Because I think politics need not exist in our world.

Think about Leonardo di Vinci, arguably the most ingenious man who ever lived - the original Renaissance Man who was a master in the realms of anatomy, astronomy, botany, geology, flight, geography, inventing, art, engineering, physics, hydrostatics, optics, mathematics, mechanics, a bit of philosophy, and much more.

Yet, he didn't touch politics, despite politics being very prevalent in his time. Search as you may, you will be very hard pressed to find any accomplishments, much less activity, of Leonardo da Vinci in any discipline related to politics. Why do you think that is? Could it be because it takes a genius intellect to discover that politics is unnecessary in our world?

Personally, I think it only takes common sense. It is well known that da Vinci lived as a "free soul" and I think that sense of freedom he lived in throughout his life gives us the answer to how and why politics is unnecessary.

Freedom could be the death of politics as we know it.

The only reason why we have politics is because we each try to pull and tug the other person in the direction we want them to go, instead of only worrying about what direction we want to go. We worry more about what others are doing instead of worrying more about what we ourselves are doing.

We try to acquire the kind of freedom that we want at the expense of the kind of freedom that others want, by making our version the only way. And we do this through politics. We argue and fight and try to "best" one another, constantly putting more and more legislation in place, only to limit ourselves more and more, in the hopes that our version of freedom will triumph and destroy our adversary's version. We have people that make this happen for us and we call them politicians.

Such politicians inevitably feed off our selfish and hardline desires and become fat with greed and power themselves, caring less about what's good for The People and more about what's good for them or those who line their pockets with money, simply making our situation worse.

Politicians begin campaigns designed to tear We the People apart and divide us, pitting us all against one another - us against them - we're right and they're wrong - my way or no way - you belong to this camp and not that camp. We fight for what is "right" and seldom ever get anything other than more fighting.

The truth is that everyone is right, until they begin forcing others to conform to their way.

Freedom enables us to move past all of that. In other words, freedom kills politics.

In a free world, anyone can live in a society of their choosing, whether they prefer big government intervention in their lives, or whether they prefer government to stay out of their lives, or some combination in-between, with neither being forced to accept the other (easily done at the state level).

In a free world, people utilize a voting system that they prefer, whether they prefer to vote for representatives, or vote democratically (directly), or not vote at all (once again, easily done at the state level).

Certain, basic rights that enable and stabilize freedom, such as those presented in the Bill of Rights, are enshrined and branded into the law of the land, guaranteed to everyone, denied to no one, and never neglected.

And despite the different levels or forms of government that people choose to experience, they are well protected from harm and a uniform system of justice and commerce are available for everyone to utilize.

People are free to live their lives as they choose, so long as no force or coercion is used (unless those receiving the force and coercion choose to receive it).

The leaders that are elected, if leaders are elected at all, are nothing more than figureheads. They do nothing more than tend this constant form of freedom, acting only as a giant maintenance crew keeping the chain oiled and the wheels spinning. The people need not really even care who is running for office because whomever it is simply does the same thing: Ensuring we can live our lives the way we intend.

We could do away with politics right now, if we really wanted to. That's what can happen when...

It's a Free Country!

...And that can only happen when we realize that each of our lives are the only thing that each of us control.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Questioning Religion of our Politicians

Lately, I've noticed some religion bashing (as I call it) of and by some of our 2008 presidential candidates.

From the "questioning" done by Hillary Clinton's team of Barrack Obama's religious background, to this speech given by Mitt Romney in response to all of the questioning and bashing of his religion from various portions of the electorate, there has been a lot of "questioning" of candidates' religion.

I need only remind everyone - candidates and the people alike - of two things:

Article VI and Amendment I of the Constitution.

Officially, in a free country, religion should not be an issue. It shouldn't matter whether a President is Mormon, Christian, Atheist, Agnostic, Pagan, or Muslim. The same is true of The People. In fact, it has been branded into law (see above) that such considerations don't matter.

Unofficially, it's a different story. People should have the freedom to personally question any religion they want. That freedom does exist in America. That's freedom. It might be rude. It might be intolerant. But that's be able to question whatever you want.

So long as such questioning isn't done officially by the government, or so long as such preferences for certain religions are not promoted by federal government or into federal legislation, there is no problem. The latter is one issue I have with Mitt Romney, when he says that "religion should be conducted in the public square".

Privately, yes, a public official should be able to practice whatever religion he or she wants. But, a religion promoted by the government in a free country is wrong. In a country where multiple religions exist, the federal government has no damn business promoting any one, single religion, much less putting the money (tax money) from all of its citizens (who represent all reglions or none) toward any one religion. Let's not forget that such action distorts the First Amendment. With comments like this, Romney shows he doesn't deserve to be the leader of a free country.

I also can't condone personal questioning by presidential candidates, as I can from The People, as Hillary did to Obama. To me, someone who is trying to become the leader of a free country should not be questioning anyone's faith, at least not publicly.

Personally, I don't question anyone's faith. But that's just me. I have to go along with what Congressman Ron Paul once stated when he responded to the questioning of Romney's religion:

"We live in times of great uncertainty when men of faith must stand up for American values and traditions before they are washed away in a sea of fear and relativism. I have never been one who is particularly comfortable talking about my faith in the political arena, and I find the pandering that typically occurs in the election season to be distasteful.

Our nation was founded to be a place where religion is freely practiced and differences are tolerated and respected. I come to my faith through Jesus Christ and have accepted him as my personal savior. At the same time, I have worked tirelessly to defend and restore individual rights and religious freedom for all Americans.

The recent attacks and insinuations, both direct and subtle, that Gov. Romney may be less fit to serve as president of our United States because of his faith fly in the face of everything America stands for. Gov. Romney should be judged fairly, on his record and his character, not on the church he attends."

Now that sounds like a man who knows:

It's a Free Country!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The YouTube Debates

I love them.

Nothing could be better than to hear the thoughts, opinions, and concerns of The People themselves during debates with the future leader of our free country.

The YouTube debates are beginning to change the landscape of how the Q & A sessions carefully masterminded by big media are done and not a moment too soon. In a free country, we should be hearing more from The People themselves.

Typical questions from pundits by big media during debates are exactly that...typical. They are often sterilized, expected, and seldom get to the heart of what concerns people (a.k.a. - the folks whom our government is supposed to be working for).

Hearing from The People themselves gets us down into the trenches, onto the deck plates, and into reality. More importantly, it gets the candidates there.

I applaud this effort and I hope to see it develop. Naturally, however, its development will not be without resistance.

There are many people who prefer the standard, institutionalized method of Q & A for the debates that we are used to putting up with. There are several reasons why, but one that erks me the most - the one I hear the most - is that such a format is "beneath the dignity of the man or woman who would lead the free world".

When the Democratic YouTube debates were complete, I heard this sort of dribble from all sources...talking heads on big media, journalists, bloggers, and everyday people I met on the street or in the workplace (although I also heard just as much support for the format).

Worst of all, I even heard it from some of the GOP presidential hopefuls (Giuliani was the biggest protester) who even hinted at refusing to participate in such a debate, simply because there were snowmen and children asking questions.

The latest complaint I've heard is from an article I recently read here, written by famed columnist Kathleen Parker whose writing is syndicated to multiple papers around the country.

Of particular concern to me were comments made by Ms. Parker in her article that included such things as a comparison of the YouTube debates to athletes who should avoid playing with "lesser mortals" for fear that they will "bring down your game."

She also classified the debate as "sophomoric" and said the debate was "an insult to voters' intelligence". And, of course, she threw out "the YouTube debates were beneath the dignity of the man or woman who would lead the free world".

I decided to respond to Ms. Parker, and I sent her a short email. This is what it said:

Ms. Parker,

I read your article about how you thought "the YouTube debate was beneath the dignity of the man or woman who would lead the free world".

The way I see it, any candidate who resents having to respond to the free expression of the very people that he or she will be leading in a free country has no business leading a free country, much less a free world.


Her email address is . I encourage anyone to write and explain to her how responding to the free expressions of The People, no matter how creative those expressions are, should be something that a future/current leader of the same free people should take great pleasure in doing, because:

It's a Free Country! (that he or she will be leading)

Monday, December 3, 2007

How is it a Free Country?

What is it about the phrase, "It's a Free Country" that makes the phrase true? How is it that we are a free country? What is it that makes us free?

Does it have to do with the strong will and drive of so many in America who try to keep government limited, small, and out of our lives? Is it the constant effort by so many to increase the size of government in order to intervene and take care of us more? Does the work of so many who fight to keep the government on track with the Constitution have anything to do with it? What about those pushing a socialist agenda? Or a green agenda?

The answer to all of those questions is the exact same:

All of the above, and more.

T.S. Eliot once put it the way I think best describes what makes the United States a free country when he said, "The intense happiness of our union is derived in a high degree from the perfect freedom with which we each follow and declare our own impressions."

What does that mean? It means that everyone looks at the world his or her own way. Everyone has their own impressions. Everyone has their own perceptions. Everyone has their own desires, wants, and needs.

Attempting to find a one-size-fits-all for all of those impressions, perceptions, and desires is not only illogical, it's also unrealistic and foolish. Such an attempt is the reason for nearly all human conflict in the world and it provides an example of force and coercion - a lack of freedom.

But how, might you ask, can multiple preferences be utilized at the same time? There are a few, good solutions out there but, by far, one of the best is decentralization. This is what we have done (or did, a long time ago) in the United States. Instead of an all-encompassing, centralized government that controls everything, we have a decentralized government where the federal government is very limited over multiple states, each with their own governments.

So long as the federal government remains limited to the basics (national defense, a justice system, regulation of commerce and foreign trade, ensuring civil rights), every one of those state governments can act as a different experiment or variation of government.

At present day, we have 50 states. That's 50 different possibilities we could have for types of government. And that doesn't even include all of the local governments within those 50 states. Add in the local governments and we are talking about hundreds upon hundreds of possibilities and choices!

Decentralized down to the state level, we can/should have any form of government that we want, all under the same roof of a federal government that provides defense for them all (while still allowing for their own defense), unifies trade and commerce, protects all individual civil rights, and all through the insurance of a written Constitution.

That's freedom.

Currently, we are doing this in America (though it's getting more difficult as time goes on). For example, there is a very obvious difference in states like Michigan and New Hampshire in regards to the kinds of laws, regulations, and taxes that exist between the two states. Michigan is very liberal, whereas New Hampshire is very libertarian.

What about Massachusetts as opposed to Florida? What about Alaska as opposed to Alabama? What about Washington D.C. as opposed to Las Vegas? How much of a difference in regulation and laws are there among those governments? Answer: A huge difference.

The key, however, is a limited federal government. With limited federal government, not only can limited government enthusiasts have their way at the state and local level, but big government enthusiast can/should have their way at the state and local level as well. If the federal government expands, however, only those who enjoy big government can prosper at the state and local level.

For freedom to flourish, decentralization needs to occur, allowing multiple state governments to exist under a limited federal government, each with their own capacity to provide any level or type of government that the people want.

That's freedom, and that's how It's a Free Country!