An American 13 year old has never seen the United States not involved in some form of war, combat or violent act. Welcome to the USA children!
It would seem that we, the people, are more than willing to spend enormous sums of our money on military weapons. We are willing to use our military power all of the time all over the place.
We weren’t always like this. Nor do we have to be.
That’s what I’ve been thinking about.
I heard that we recently fired something like 40 cruise missiles at a secondary Al Qaeda organization. A cruise missile costs over a million smackeroos. That’s a lot of smackeroos!
The overthrow and execution of Saddam Hussein has cost at least $1.7 trillion dollars.
Benjamin Franklin observed that “Wars are not paid for during wartime, the bill comes later.”
That’s just money. How about the price paid in blood? What is that cost?
I am very much in favor of limited government, but if I must have Big Brother looking out for my best interests, then I say to Big Brother, and I mean it – I know that my best interest is living peaceably with everyone through social interaction and commerce.
The cool thing is that we have the resources and capability available in quantities large enough to effect some real change …
…So back to what I’ve been thinking: Instead of destruction and violence, how about bombing people with love? How about covert random acts of kindness? How about special ops teams committing senseless acts of beauty?
I have a feeling that the results would be much better for all concerned.
Let me relay to you a conversation that occurred not long after Iraq War I – Desert Storm, but well before America toppled Saddam Hussein: This was told to me by a stand-up guy regarding a talk that he had with a Prince of the royal family of Kuwait. He asked the Prince what he thought of Saddam Hussein. The Prince said that he thought Hussein was a very bad man, but the only man that could rule Iraq and keep it in check. My guy was more than a little surprised to get this answer. My guy pointed out that Saddam Hussein had invaded the Prince’s country, raped its people and destroyed many things of value. The Prince acknowledged the heavy price paid at Hussein’s hands, but reiterated that Saddam Hussein was still the best man for the job for all concerned.
Now let’s go forward to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the others…all of whom could be tried for war crimes in my opinion. They lied about the weapons of mass destruction – there weren’t any. They lied about Muslim Jihadists being supported by Iraq – there were none (at least there weren’t until we showed up). They asked us, the American people, to believe them in this. Most of us did. Our Republican and Democrat representatives told the administration “bombs away.” The Senate voted 77-23 while the House voted 297-133 in favor of the Iraq War Resolution.
I remember watching Colin Powell present the administration’s case to the United Nations. Powell was a man that I respected, and still would like to respect, but he really looked strained and uncomfortable making his argument…the way people look when they are saying something they do not believe, but feel compelled to say it anyway. Whatever his reasons, he supported the wrong cause.
We were told if we didn’t want another imminent 9/11 on our hands that America needed to make a pre-emptive strike against Hussein. From my knowledge of history, virtually all pre-emptive strikes are framed in this manner to justify the action, but the underlying reality is sinister and self serving. We, the People, got swindled by our elected representatives. It was a cowardly act of war – one that will probably shame us forever.
Funny too in that we had unprecedented world support before we turned our guns on Iraq. What a waste of goodwill.
Now I am hearing self righteous sabre rattling from the chicken hawk right. Now I am hearing “we don’t get fooled again” from the progressive left. Now I am hearing we were never fooled and we told you so from the libertarians.
Personally, on the record, I was opposed to our offensive war against Iraq. The subsequent facts reinforced my belief established in the ‘60’s about our government, which is: the only thing I can believe from our government is that I cannot believe our government.
But I am personally troubled because of one pretty significant reality: We did this thing to Iraq. We created this mess. I do not think that this can be disputed.
For your consideration, like it or not, do we have an ethical obligation to clean-up the mess we made even though we were lied to?
Benjamin Franklin said, “Wars are not paid for during wartime, the bill comes later.” Though I am far from an expert on the sectarian issues in Iraq, whether we own up to what we did or not, we will probably be paying that bill forever… one way or another.
Candidate for Senate Elizabeth Warren Says:
“I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever. No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody.You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did.
“Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless — keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”
Frankly Francis Says:
After we each follow our natural compulsion to sing a verse of “Kumbaya,” let’s take a look at what is going on underneath those words.
To gender neutralize the common phrase – no one is an island. We all exist in society because of mutual cooperation. And I think even the dimmest of us knows, no matter what our circumstances, we all have had help along the way. But…
To Ms. Warren’s point, note that she repeatedly says “the rest of us paid for” throughout her argument. She never says “we all paid for” or “the rich along with all other Americans paid for.” She, for some reason, excludes the rich as paying for anything that they utilized, while the rest of us subsidized their success.
Well then, who did pay for that?
Now considering that at least 46% of all Americans pay no federal income taxes at all, almost half of us paid for nothing she mentions but got the benefit of all that stuff.
According to the National Taxpayers Union, in 2009, the top 25% income earners paid 87.3% of all income taxes.
I think one might make a reasonable case that the rich that Ms. Warren castigates did indeed pay for almost all of what we collectively have. And they have already paid for the next kid who comes along too. Such inconvenient truths for Ms. Warren’s argument, I am almost sorry to mention it.
President Obama Says: “There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.”
“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”
Frankly Francis Says:
First, I am pretty sure that Al Gore built the Internet, but regardless, and let us not re-write history here, it was built for the purpose of information sharing, not so that all the companies could make money off of the Internet. Entrepreneurs saw an opportunity to improve the market for consumers – they took significant financial risk and effort to provide that. Everyone has benefitted from the creation of new jobs, a more efficient economy, better processes and services for consumers, and that also includes the government receiving additional tax revenues.
President Obama says that there are a lot of smart people out there. I completely agree, but being smart, in and of itself, does not produce a successful business or riches. It requires much more than that.
And President Obama says that there are a lot of hard working people out there. Of course there are. Not to be callous, but if just hard work actually meant anything, I think you would find the rich furiously digging ditches with small hand shovels.
Success does involve hard work and smarts, but it also requires taking personal and financial risk, being innovative, being intensely committed to succeeding as a way of life, and being responsible to the people that you employ, amongst even more energy and time consuming things. A little old fashioned luck never hurts either as it is a highly competitive undertaking – 80% of small businesses fail within their first five years.
If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
Speaking of our public school system, there were a couple of teachers in my youth that were inspiring, but most were not. Most were just collecting their paychecks. And I am not saying that doing the job expected of you and being compensated is wrong, but that is not praise worthy either. Should we receive extra special attention for doing just what we are being paid to do?
You are right President Obama when you say “Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive,” – that somebody would be the Founding Fathers who risked their lives to publish the Declaration of Independence, the men and women in military service who gave their lives for our freedoms, and then to all of the working Americans who turned that into a reality through their efforts and drive, in spite of government’s corruption and its waste.
But hear this –
Matt Welch Says: “Note here how all government spending is equated to roads, public education, and electrical power, which–despite massive spending increases–account for a very small fraction of federal spending. You could (and should!) lop the federal budget in half without touching these line items.”
“Note, too, how increased government spending has not noticeably improved the very areas of service Warren names. K-12 results are flat over 40 years despite more than doubling per-pupil spending. The electricity grid is inefficient, wasteful, and expensive. The latest federal transportation bill continues squandering money without building or maintaining anything near highway capacity, and is best described as “pathetic.” We are getting much less return on our “investment,” while being asked to pony up more.”
So the old axiom that when the government does it, “you pay twice as much to get half as much” may well in spirit apply here.
One might get the feeling from the foregoing that the government thinks it has been slighted for its efforts and deserves more credit…perhaps a lot more credit.
It seems that the government is really serious about this, and with the erosion of so many of our civil liberties, just to be personally safe, it might be wise to thank the government when you receive your Eagle Scout award, when you accept that Oscar at the Academy Awards, when you invent the next life changing advancement, when you graduate from an academic institution, when the government approves your marriage license…whenever you have the selfish notion that you actually did something.
Not long before his death, I had the opportunity to meet and have lunch with my favorite author Kurt Vonnegut. It just so happened that his last published work, “A Man Without A Country” was released on that very day.
During the course of our meal, I said to him, “Mr. Vonnegut, I obviously haven’t had the chance to read your new book, but I do understand that it involves a lot of your belief that America has gone in such a poor direction, has become so gluttonous in its consumption of resources, and is generally an embarrassment from a global point of view, that you no longer feel as if you have a country.”
I went on with a certain amount of hopeful trepidation for how my comment was going to be received. After all, I was speaking with Kurt Vonnegut…
I continued, “While I certainly agree with you in this regard, I would like to be able to say that I am a man without a country simply because I would prefer to be regarded as a citizen of the planet earth.”
Vonnegut ignored my thought completely, didn’t seem too pleased with my interpretation of his title, and immediately changed the subject. I certainly didn’t score any points with the big guy with that. So it goes…
But, I do think that many of our human troubles are based on human defined borders.
Think About It…
We all revolve around the sun together on the same planet. We are all stuck on the same rock in a universe that is far too big for anyone of us to fully comprehend. We cannot empirically answer the simplest of philosophical questions.
This should be enough to make us all realize the most common bond we share, that being that we are all in the same proverbial boat, but in our case, we have a paddle.
Humanity is indeed becoming more humane, but the pathway has not yet been linear. We still have so much more to achieve.
I would be so bold as to suggest that when we lose the zeal of patriotism for our country uber alles, when we no longer are so convinced that God is only on our side against the enemy, when we can look at anyone and everyone and realize that they are probably just as confused about things as we are, then, maybe, just maybe, we will begin to live in a better place.
You don’t have to be John Lennon to imagine…
And seriously, to Elvis Costello’s question, what indeed is so funny about peace, love and understanding?
I think it might be prudent to judge our social evolution on how well we interact with our fellow human beings socially and in trade. Interventionist military conflicts would be viewed as failure in regard to the foregoing, obviously. If we are to talk the talk, then we need to walk the walk.
But, on its present course, America is not seeking that world. America is seeking to be an empire. I find that counterproductive and ultimately doomed (as all empires are) to failure…
I would suggest that our individual and personal life experience is far more important than nationalism in the big picture of things. Let’s historically face it, America is much, much more of a philosophy than a country.
Do not think me naïve. What I am suggesting is not realistic presently. But that only makes the need for us to be thinking that way even more important.
I am a resident of planet Earth, as are we all. I have become a free man living in an un-free world.
I just happened to be born in the USA.
For those of my national tribe, I am not disrespecting our country…I am, for fact, trying to expand the principles upon which it was founded.
And I think that Mr. Vonnegut, in his writing, is largely responsible for at least planting the seed of these thoughts in my head. That is something that I will never have the resources to repay.
In the interest of full disclosure, and as a self diagnostic, I must start by saying that I am a pre-disposed individualist, never much of a joiner, always a rebel of the status quo, never politically correct, and always as true to myself as I can be. And in spite of how my perspective may sound, I do not take myself too seriously. Dear Reader, you would be well advised to not take me too seriously either.
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect” – Mark Twain
And I must also say that I enjoy freedom of thought and ideas. I believe that diversity is the thing that makes us the strongest. So while we may disagree in our beliefs, I welcome discussion that is contrary to my own values. I am pretty sure that when we interact that way, we are all the better for it.
I was Once a Young Man
While the Vietnam War was going on, I began to suspect that the American ideal I had been trained to believe in was not being practiced. I took particular interest studying the historical pathway of humanity in learning to live together. I realized just how revolutionary the Declaration of Independence was.
What a lucky break for me to be born when and where I was! But when I looked around at my fellow Americans, very few seemed to get it. And “it” can be best described this way:
“There are those who would say that the liberation of humanity, the freedom of man and mind, is nothing but a dream. They are right. It is the American dream“- Archibald McLeish
Such a powerful and wonderful thought. How few of us that have ever revolved around the sun on this planet have had this opportunity?
Instead, I watched America reverting to a centrally controlled government with aspirations of ruling the world, while subjugating its own citizens.
“Don’t it always seem to go, they paved paradise and put up a parking lot” – Joni Mitchell
In the midst of this, I stumbled upon the Libertarian Party.
My first formal exposure occurred when I made an exploratory phone call to the office of the NYC Libertarian Party. It started off this way:
Frankly Francis: “I’m interested in learning about the Libertarian Party. What can you tell me about it?”
Libertarian Representative: “Basically, we want to do some good before we become corrupt.”
I appreciated the forthright honesty.
Actually, I was Intrigued
I learned that libertarians take the Constitution really seriously. Seriously…really seriously.
“We may be tossed upon the ocean where we can see no land – nor, perhaps, the sun or stars. But there is a chart and a compass for us to study, to consult, and to obey. That chart is the Constitution” – Daniel Webster
The Libertarian Party motto is:
The Party of Principle: Minimum Government, Maximum Freedom
This suited me well. Upon further study…
I Became a Libertarian
I remember back, over 25 years ago, when I spoke with people about my libertarian point of view, those little few who knew about libertarian philosophy laughed at me. Those who didn’t laughed at me when I explained its tenets.
I was a real mirth maker back then, spreading joy to all of those around me.
And there is inherent off-beat humor in being of the libertarian persuasion – the Libertarian Party is an oxymoron. As libertarians are, by their very core beliefs, individualists, I think that one of the biggest challenges libertarians face is being part of an organized group, even their own political party.
Some Libertarian Perspective:
If I were to apply Occam’s razor to libertarianism, I would describe it thusly:
“My right to throw a punch ends at your nose”
First and foremost, my life is mine to do with as I please, provided that my actions do not infringe upon anyone else’s rights. Like most of our Founding Fathers, I believe that everyone is better off when the individual is valued over the group.
Government is a Necessary Evil
Libertarians are not as naïve as some claim – I know that there are no utopian solutions, but when government’s purpose is limited to protecting the rights and property of the individual, I believe that humanity will have made the next great leap forward.
“What’s so funny about peace, love, and understanding?” – Elvis Costello
I confess to being an idealist who would rather be considered a resident of planet Earth than an American. But until such time as that is practical, I believe that our military should be so strong that no one would be stupid enough to attack us on our own soil.
“Let my actions speak so loudly that no one can hear my words” – Marv Levy
I don’t think that we need to evangelize ourselves to the world. If we have a compelling way of life, our example will be enough for others to want to adopt it. I suspect that this is where organized religions get it wrong; they spend too much time selling their product rather than living it.
We just need to be what we say we are.
The American Government is the Best Government…That Money Can Buy
We would be so much better off with a free market economy fairly regulated by government. Don’t be deceived however; America has nothing resembling a free market economy. And don’t be further deceived, the government does not fairly regulate the economy – it plays within it and gets bribed by big business.
I Love Competition
An even playing field of fair competition brings out the best in each of us and for each of us. And as a consumer, I love competition because I get the best value for the least price. It leads to new life improving developments…who isn’t in favor of new life improving developments?
Capitalism is the natural by-product of liberty that allows each of us to be whatever we choose to be.
Live and Let Live
And we need to grow-up a bit. While I do not advocate drugs, prostitution or gambling, none of these are criminal acts. Nor is government the authority over marriage or civil unions. Let’s get over it. Government has never been able to legislate morality, nor should it; we each need to do that for ourselves.
In recent times, we have endured the “War on Poverty,” “The War on Drugs,” the government’s intervention into healthcare, the bail-outs of government’s good time business buddies, undeclared wars that clearly violate the Constitution, government openly stealing from us by devaluing the dollar, along with foreign policy actions that breed terrorism, enabling the government to strip us of our essential rights.
“I place economy among the first and most important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers to be feared. To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. If we run into such debts, we must be taxed in our meat and drink, in our necessities and in our comforts, in our labor and in our amusements. If we can prevent the government from wasting the labor of the people, under the pretense of caring for them, they will be happy” – Thomas Jefferson
I confess that I am stupefied by the prevailing belief that more government is the solution, based on the actual results of government’s actions.
But We Digress…
Our founding was labeled “The Great American Experiment” and it did, for fact, produce the best standard of living in recorded history…until we somehow decided that the experiment was no longer worthwhile. We chose the intoxication of other ideals.
We let our government take over the spirit and law of our Constitution. That’s what governments do. I am not saying that it is right; government can’t help it. Like all other biological and social organisms, government lives to grow for its own purposes. Its growth has become cancerous.
Using “The New Deal” of the 1930’s as a baseline, it has taken us about 80 years to clearly devolve from the intent of the Declaration of Independence.
If we could even possibly re-boot America, it might take even longer to dial back what has happened.
But I don’t think that is in the cards for America. America has gone empire, and I am pretty sure that there is no coming back from that. No empire ever has before.
Though humanity is becoming more humane, the pathway has not yet been linear. And it has at times been downright ugly. But if we do not socially evolve through America, I do believe that humanity will utilize American principles in some other place, in some other time in a better way.
But We Go Forward…
“You can say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one” – John Lennon
Unlike decades ago, hardly a day goes by when I don’t run into the word “libertarian” in the media. There are now libertarians hosting national TV and radio talk shows.
Perhaps it’s not too little, too late. In the past, due to the largess of my vanity, I have said that I look forward to saying that I was a libertarian before it was cool to be a libertarian. Maybe I will get the chance. It really doesn’t matter; vanity certainly never does.
So We Close…
But don’t kid yourself, there is a real battle going on right now: Will we be a centralized corporatist state or the land of the free and the brave? Will we continue on our empire course or will we be good neighbors to the rest of the planet? Will the government continue its quest to control every aspect of our lives or will we reclaim our unalienable rights, among these, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
OK, it’s time for my periodic plea for us to come to our senses when it comes to our never ending “War on Drugs.”
But before I begin, it is essential to state that my beliefs on this topic stem from the knowledge that the right to my life is mine and mine alone. Along with that comes the right to make choices for myself, the consequences of which I also bear full responsibility for.
The Declaration of Independence clearly states that I have inalienable rights, among them the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Most, if not all, of the major religions are based on the concept that people have free will and therefore must make decisions for themselves of eternal consequence, which is a pretty heavy responsibility.
I concur with the words of one of my favorite authors:
Now what I contend is that my body is my own, at least I have always so regarded it. If I do harm through my experimenting with it, it is I who suffers, not the state – Mark Twain
Back in the early 1970’s, I thought it only a matter of time before marijuana was re-legalized. A short matter of time.
A Couple of Serious Facts:
Marijuana has never been proven to be addictive.
There has never been a documented death due to marijuana use.
Could we say the same of widely accepted alcohol use, which is arguably the most dangerous drug of all?
The Social Cost
It has been said that smoking marijuana is a victimless crime.
As I understand criminal acts, there needs to be a perpetrator of the crime and a victim of the crime. This makes sense, right?
So when a person goes to jail for smoking marijuana, then the person is both the perpetrator and the victim. This does not make sense, right?
In fact it makes as much sense as the tabloid headline I once saw in a supermarket checkout line:
Siamese Twins to be Executed for Murder – One Says, “But I Didn’t Do It!”
American jails are filled, and many in them are incarcerated for non-violent drug use or possession.
It’s like sending children to live with pedophiles. They live with and make friends with murderers, rapists, muggers and robbers. They probably forfeited their personal property to the government in the process.
It’s costly to house an inmate in a jail.
And they come out with knowledge and skills they didn’t have when they went in…
As a society we pay a steep price because trading in drugs, due to demand and its illegality, is very profitable. This leads to organized crime syndicates and violence in our communities, along with police and government corruption.
The organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) has this to say:
We believe that drug prohibition is the true cause of much of the social and personal damage that has historically been attributed to drug use. It is prohibition that makes marijuana worth more than gold, and heroin worth more than uranium – while giving criminals a monopoly over their supply. Driven by the huge profits from this monopoly, criminal gangs bribe and kill each other, law enforcers, and children. Their trade is unregulated and they are, therefore, beyond our control.
History has shown that drug prohibition reduces neither use nor abuse. After a rapist is arrested, there are fewer rapes. After a drug dealer is arrested, however, neither the supply nor the demand for drugs is seriously changed. The arrest merely creates a job opening for an endless stream of drug entrepreneurs who will take huge risks for the sake of the enormous profits created by prohibition. Prohibition costs taxpayers tens of billions of dollars every year, yet 40 years and some 40 million arrests later, drugs are cheaper, more potent and far more widely used than at the beginning of this futile crusade.
We believe that by eliminating prohibition of all drugs for adults and establishing appropriate regulation and standards for distribution and use, law enforcement could focus more on crimes of violence, such as rape, aggravated assault, child abuse and murder, making our communities much safer. We believe that sending parents to prison for non-violent personal drug use destroys families. We believe that in a regulated and controlled environment, drugs will be safer for adult use and less accessible to our children. And we believe that by placing drug abuse in the hands of medical professionals instead of the criminal justice system, we will reduce rates of addiction and overdose deaths.
This comes from an organization of individuals involved in law enforcement…
I suggest you read it again. And maybe once more.
The Economic Cost
These are tough economic times. Our government has run up debt that our children and grandchildren will not be able to pay back. Some gift to our kids. Cutting expenses and adding income should be of paramount concern. We could achieve significant budget cuts to law enforcement agencies, the courts and the prison system, not to mention increased tax revenues from users and sellers if marijuana were re-legalized.
What About the Trees and Our Environment?
It has been widely speculated that marijuana became illegal at the behest of big business. This is not the result of capitalism; it is the result of corporatism where business connives with government for control of a market segment. I maintain that the American government is the best government…that money can buy.
Jeffrey Blum, an associate professor of law, in response to a request from a federal judge, contends that a significant reason for making marijuana illegal was to protect the interests of the paper and synthetic fiber industries from competition with hemp producers.
It has been calculated that hemp can produce, acre for acre, four times as much paper pulp as trees.
Bye-Bye Trees, Bye-Bye Rain Forests…
Hemp has many uses according to Hemp USA:
Hemp can be used to produce a very large variety of products from clothing to paper to building supplies to cars to fuels to food products to much, much more. Some people have called hemp the plant of 30,000 uses because it combines the utility of the soybean, the cotton plant and the Douglas Fir tree into one green package. Hemp is an environmental, renewable, reusable and recyclable resource.
Notable People Are More Openly in Favor of Re-legalization
While it goes without saying that many in movies, music and the arts, such as Tommy Chong, are publicly calling for the end of pot prohibition, there are a growing number of people, such as television host and activist Bill Maher, former US Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders, mega-businessman Richard Branson, author Stephen King, and congressman Ron Paul, who have joined the ranks.
Eve Conant writes:
Certainly, the Republican Party is a long way from becoming the Pot Party. Although a handful of conservative thinkers like Milton Friedman, George Shultz, and William F. Buckley have argued the merits of legalization over the years (Buckley even mocked those who called marijuana a gateway to addiction, saying it was “on the order of saying that every rapist began by masturbating”), most Republicans still oppose the idea.
These are influential people even if most Republicans still oppose it. And to be fair, how many Democrats are openly calling for re-legalization? Only the growing Libertarian Party openly supports re-legalization.
Pundits like Fox News’s Glenn Beck and former judge Andrew Napolitano have also joined in the debate, on the pro-legalization side. “You know what, I think it’s about time we legalize marijuana. Hear me out for a second…” Beck told viewers in April. “We have to make a choice in this country. We have to either put people who are smoking marijuana behind bars, or we legalize it. But this little game we’re playing in the middle is not helping us, is not helping Mexico, and is causing massive violence on our southern border.”
I can’t say I am a fan of Mr. Beck, but he has that right.
We each have a right to what we put into our bodies – will you continue to be told what you can and cannot do with your body?
You can bet that the mob and the cartels don’t want to see marijuana re-legalized – will you continue to support them?
Allowing hemp to be grown is much better for the planet than cutting down trees – will you continue to support environmental destruction?
American drug policies defy every sensibility when you look at the big picture. They cause so much harm in so many aspects that I think future generations will be puzzled by our point of view.
Let’s change this. Let’s grow-up. It may not be a great leap forward, but a leap forward nonetheless.
Hey Nephew – You’ve been talking about joining the Marines for a long time. As you know, each time that you do, I grimace and then remind you that on my side of the family, we are Air Force men. Your grandfather, your father, and I, your loving uncle, all served honorably in the USAF.
And if you have our aim, you should definitely avoid having anything to do with guns. As your grandfather has pointed out, during his pistol training, trying his hardest, he couldn’t even hit the target. Of course from that, we made note that should he ever go postal, as long as he was aiming at us we should be completely safe.
You joined the Marines and are expected to begin active duty soon, but can decline at any time before your report date.
You did, however, grant me an open ear to dissuade you. And that is what I intend to do. If this doesn’t do it, then I’ll have to come up with a better plan. But if I fail to convince you not to do this thing, I will respect your decision as I have respected the decision of another nephew who previously joined the Army.
I was just old enough to have to register with the draft board during the Vietnam days. I complied. I was very opposed to our involvement in that war. I decided that I would not serve in the military in any capacity and if drafted, I would relinquish my citizenship and move to another country. Conventional wisdom suggests that wars and killing can be “just,” but there was nothing coming close to that in ‘Nam.
It turned out that I was never called to duty, but years later I voluntarily joined the military. I followed orders and did my best to do a good job. If you do decide to join, I know that you will do the same. And under the present circumstances, that’s exactly why I don’t want you to join.
Let me say that I have nothing but respect and gratitude for those serving in America’s armed services. I don’t say that because it is so politically correct to say it. I say it because I have been there.
Here’s the way I see it – If you join the Marines, you will undoubtedly spend time in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Let’s take a very abbreviated look at both:
America invaded Iraq because of the supposed threat of hidden WMD, because of the supposed Al Qaeda presence and because of the supposed threat of Iraq’s future actions against America.
Hitler pointed out that the bigger the lie, the more likely that the people will believe it. Man, he sure was right.
There were no weapons of mass destruction. Al Qaeda wasn’t there. And we did a most un-American thing by making a pre-emptive strike against, at best, a mouse that might roar.
Of course, Al Qaeda is there now – our presence made sure of that.
Of course, we will be enmeshed in Iraq forever.
Frankly Francis score: Unjust War 1 – Just War 0
We very quickly invaded Afghanistan after the despicable acts of terror on September 11, 2001. The “supposed” purpose was to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice and remove the Al Qaeda supporting Taliban. Well almost 10 years later that’s sure worked out swell, wouldn’t you say? It’s at best another forever presence that will accomplish nothing.
Frankly Francis score: Unjust War 2 – Just War 0
Frankly Francis Side Note: And as long as I’ve mentioned our Enemy Number One, Sarah Palin has recently suggested that we hunt down the WikiLeaks front man like Bin Laden. Seriously, or at least as seriously as one can take that statement, that should make the guy feel pretty safe and comfortable…
That’s Not the Worst of It
The number of innocent civilians killed by the U.S. military is staggering. And I say this carefully and with the utmost of respect, but even conservatively, they are so massive that they make the number of innocents lost on 9/11 miniscule in comparison.
Maybe, underneath it all, it is revenge we are seeking…and if so, what is the ratio of other innocent deaths to our innocent deaths that we must achieve? 1:1, 2:1, 5:1, 10:1? We are already far above those ratios. So how many more innocent people must die to avenge our loss?
Perhaps There’s Worse Than That
The innocent civilians that survive American attacks have this nasty tendency to want revenge against us. Thus, our very actions are creating more terrorists. YIKES!
I can only imagine, but it must be very difficult to kill another human being, even if they have it coming. To kill innocent people must make life unbearable.
Your well intentioned uncle knows that you would never choose to suffer the blood of innocents at your own hands. But if you join, at best you will be much closer to that process and at worst, a direct part.
And while I know that innocent casualties occur in any conflict, I can’t help but think that it is worse when the war was not just to begin with.
Again, I’ll respect your decision to join the military, but I urge you to consider my thoughts before you go off to war.
There’s much being made about having your privates groped or doing a radiated digital strip tease in order to board an airplane these days. Emotions are running high on both sides of the issue.
Has it really come to this?
So how did it come to this?
Social and political issues are not typically one-offs. They are usually part of an intertwined pattern of events and circumstances… actions and reactions.
This is how I sort it:
America has had its hand in foreign countries for a long while now. Post World War II, American foreign aid in rebuilding decimated nations and economies was certainly noteworthy. America was viewed pretty well throughout the world.
It went to our heads.
We decided that we knew better.
We felt a deep obligation to mold the world in our own image.
America began meddling in affairs of other countries using money to get its way, commencing military affairs and even using black ops assassination teams. We began an all out effort to deploy our military everywhere. We propped up tyrants at the expense of their citizens. We became involved in combat operations all over the place. America made a pre-emptive strike against Iraq. From there we began openly utilizing methods of interrogation that involve torture.
Some people do not like being subjected to the atrocities committed by their puppet government held in place by the Americans. Some people resent the fact that American military actions result in the deaths of their innocent loved ones. Some religious folks truly believe that American presence on their soil is sacrilegious to their beliefs.
Some of all of these types of people had their lives so shattered by American actions in their lands that they vowed to make America hurt. Terrorism resulted.
That’s the way it works – you get in somebody’s face, they get back in yours. Guaranteed blowback.
For the record, I strongly condemn the initiation of violence.
Well as it turns out, we still have this wonderful, if not completely forgotten and misused document known as the constitution which very clearly states that the federal government is responsible to the people for the defense of America – note the word “defense.” It also clearly states that Americans cannot be subjected to unreasonable search.
We the people need to understand that when we gave up our liberty, the terrorists won.
Now try this on:
Isn’t it ironic that when America is the world’s most powerful country, that we are actually more at risk and more afraid to live on our own soil? All of our great power and force has only brought violence directly to us.
Here’s Bill Bonner’s take:
We’ve never been mistreated by an agent of the TSA. Bullied, yes. Threatened, yes. They’ve been impolite on occasion. We’ve been patted down so vigorously we didn’t know whether to leave a tip or lodge a complaint.
But we try to maintain a sense of humor.
“The trouble with you, is you just don’t get it,” said a paranoid friend lately. “Can’t you see? This TSA has nothing to do with keeping out bad guys. It’s about keeping us in. They’re not really there to make the airlines safer. Instead, it is just a preparation. They are getting Americans accustomed to following orders, standing in line, and acting like half-wits. They are also training up a whole class of goons. These guys don’t ask whether it really makes sense to pat down girl scouts and look at old ladies naked. They just do whatever they’re told to do. And they probably enjoy it.
“There are always some people like that – ready to be concentration camp guards and exterminators. The TSA program helps the authorities identify these people.”
“Why”” we asked.
“Who knows…maybe they just want power. Maybe they just want a docile population so they can do what they want.”
A few years back we took a family trip to NYC. We were selected for the enhanced search. As American citizens with no cause for suspicion, I was humiliated when I saw my nearly 80 year old mother-in-law’s arms out in the “airplane” position. I understood how the Nazis pulled off the Holocaust.
I get the feeling that a lot of people are under the mistaken impression that submitting to the government mandates is necessary for the privilege of flying. But Americans never sacrifice their constitutional rights to the government.
As bizarre as it seems today, in truth, it is the government’s obligation to protect our rights – not take them away.
When you board a plane, if you have not given the authorities reasonable grounds to search you, then they cannot legally search you. It’s that simple. It really is. Seriously, it really is.
And I don’t want to hear that tired line, “if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.” The very existence of that line gives one much to fear.
If you believe that the government’s rules and actions are protecting you, I would respectfully ask you to think that through again.
I’ve heard some comments from those in support of cooperating with invasive body inspections that if someone doesn’t want to go through the procedure, that’s OK – they should take another mode of transportation. I would suggest that if you are willing to give up your liberty by complying with unconstitutional actions then it is you who should find another mode of transportation.
Don’t let them touch your liberty.
P.S. I don’t vouch for the accuracy of the following demonstration of the radiation strip scanners, but on the surface it seems reasonable. Be forewarned that it is graphic and should not be watched if you are sensitive to reality.
People can certainly be savage, but there is great nobleness within us as well.
People can certainly do stupid things (re: amending the constitution to prohibit alcohol), but we also do some wonderful things. As Sir Winston Churchill said, “Americans always do the right thing. After they have tried everything else.”
People can actually want to be controlled by authority and be told what to they can do, but even the densest of us knows that this experience, whatever it may be, should be uniquely our own to live our own way.
And I think that if We the People would stop to think about it, we would take cognitive note of the vast difference between Patriotism and Nationalism. Seriously.
Time marches on. In life, the only constant is change.
We have been choosing a growing central authority. I do not think that this is wise.
Kurt Vonnegut, the curmudgeon that he was notwithstanding, was so alienated that his final book was entitled “A Man Without a Country.”
David Bowie wrote the song “I’m Afraid of Americans.”
I certainly understand where they are coming from. As an American, I’m afraid of Americans.
I’m afraid that we are giving up still revolutionary freedom and liberty in exchange for centralized government control, which historically, at best, doesn’t work as well.
It is really painfully obvious that if we don’t remember the mistakes we made in the past, we are likely to make them again.
From my point of view, we are reverting to the very systems that caused our forebears to come to America in the first place. Going full circle, so to speak.
Perhaps we are trying to reach the future through the past.
We are putting out fires with gasoline. It won’t work.
Instead, we must continue the revolution that we were born into. It’s still the best one yet in recorded history.