on Courage

“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.” ~ Mark Twain

What is courage? I know that many of us often equate courage with risking one’s physical life for the sake of a cause or of another human being, but that is not always the case. While courage is often displayed by our soldiers, or our first responders, I am of the belief that a courageous heart begins long before the decision is made to sacrifice oneself to save another. True courage comes when one chooses to live their life standing for the right thing; I don’t think the choice to risk one’s life comes at the last minute. Courageous men and women have usually already been practicing courage in every area of their lives.

So how does one practice courage? Well, that is done through sacrifice. Rarely are we called upon to risk our physical lives for something, but all of us are usually called upon at one time or another to risk a part of our lives for something bigger. Sometimes it is time, sometimes it is popularity, sometimes it is friendships, sometimes it is a job promotion, sometimes it is even the job itself. The main requirement of courage is always sacrifice, and unfortunately, far too many Americans feel this can be done by proxy, i.e. expecting others to do it on their behalf.

In my political travels I have certainly encountered a lot of frustration from the populace regarding the state of affairs in our country. They complain about Democrats, they complain about Republicans, they expect our elected leaders to do better, be better, exhibit honor, bravery and be worthy of trust. And rightly they should. However, as I probed deeper, I discovered that few of these complainers voted in very election (city, school, county, state), even fewer had contacted their elected officials, and even less gave up personal time and energy to lobby for change. Some even indignantly said that they are so tired of voting for the lesser of two evils that they refused to participate altogether, and stopped voting entirely. I ask you this – is that what a courageous American looks like?

There is only one person who has ever walked on water, and sadly, He is not running for office. I hate to break it to you, but since our political choices will always be limited to human beings, we will always be choosing between the imperfect, the lesser of two evils. So get over it. And keep in mind this: the electoral choices which present themselves are a direct reflection of the level of courage the American populace has to get involved in the process. So, if you don’t like your choices my dearies, then perhaps you should get off your pretty butts and get involved. Stop being the frustrated excuse-makers and become the bold participators.

Ask yourself this: do I have the courage to give up some personal time for the sake of our country? Or give up some football? Or some money? Or even alienate some friends?  If more of us were willing to do this, we would become a force to be reckoned with – no entity, not even a corrupt government – has long stood before men and women of purpose who refuse to be distracted by the comfort of this world.  So kiss your spouse, close that tailgate, put down the remote, sharpen your pencil, stretch your typing fingers, raise your voice and join the rest of us trying to move this liberty-killing mountain of government back to its Constitutional boundaries. Our Republic needs you. You have a part to play because you are worthy, because you are an American and because Americans just don’t put up with this kind of crap.

Courage. It’s not always about dying. Sometimes it’s just about dying to self.

What really counts is not the immediate act of courage or of valor, but those who bear the struggle day in and day out — not the sunshine patriots but those who are willing to stand for a long period of time”. ~ U.S. President John F. Kennedy, Remarks at the White House to Members of the American Legion (70), March 1, 1962, Public Papers of the Presidents: John F. Kennedy, 1962

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on Traitors

“The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.” ~ James Madison (1751-1836) 4th U.S. President

For the last few weeks I have discussed the existing law on the books regarding treason, sedition, and rebellion, and how it can be applied to members of our government. For some reason, our government has evolved over the last century into a mindset that the laws of the land do not apply to them, that their ways are the best ways, and that the future they desire for this country is the one that must be, regardless of whether or not the American people want the same. In other words, our elected leaders mean to be like kings, and in doing so they become like traitors.

If one were to read the Declaration of Independence, one would find an eerie similarity between the abuses of old King George and the current three branches of the U.S. federal government… or four branches, if you count the bloated federal bureaucracy. The Declaration planted the seed of Revolution, when men and women were willing to risk everything for the very idea that all men are created equal, that no one is above them but God, that the law is applicable to all, and that ultimately government is to be the servant of the people, not their master. Our Founders believed that since liberty came from God, it was worth the pledge of their lives, their property, and their sacred honor to defend.

While the Declaration may have been the birth of the soul of our country, the U.S. Constitution is the body that contains it. In their wisdom our Founders understood that even the most noble of men (or women) are susceptible to the lure of power over their fellow man, if not bound down with the chains of something bigger. The U.S. Constitution was designed to leave power in the hands of the people. Diluted power, as opposed to centralized power, is the best way to ensure the protection of individual liberty.

Power can easily make traitors of even those of exceptional character, and no man or woman is above the law, not even those we elect to write it, enforce it, and interpret it. For too long have we turned a blind eye to the shenanigans of our servants. For too long we have allowed the line to be moved on what we will tolerate. For too long we have been distracted in living our own lives and taken our attention away from holding those with this delegated power accountable.  And, the tiny, imperceptible compromises that once seemed so insignificant in their day, have together succeeded in finally breaking through the wall of protection that is our Constitution. To quote Mike Vanderboegh, anyone who tells us that “it would never happen here” or “they would never do that”, “is whistling past the graveyard of history. There is no ‘house rule’ that bars tyranny coming to America. History is replete with republics whose people grew complacent and descended into imperial butchery and chaos”.

We have come to the time when we can no longer trust by default the words and deeds of many of our elected (and unelected) officials in government, no matter the party affiliation. We need to stop assuming that the best consequences will happen with a passed law, an awarded grant, a new regulation or a new ruling, and live in reality: these folks are imperfect humans just like the rest of us. Perhaps if we start having the foresight to see the potential negative aftermath of decisions our leaders make, we can be more preemptive in halting them before they go too far. In fact, our Founders even warned us to keep a wary eye on the people in power, even those we trust.  This is our job as citizens, and if we love our country as much as we say we do, it’s time that we start doing it.  After all, according to the Constitution, all authority ultimately rests in our hands, the people’s hands.

So, get informed. Read the founding documents our leaders won’t. Read the bills they won’t. Follow the money. Then, get involved. You don’t have to run for office – just find something for which you are passionate about and let your voice be heard to provide accountability, support or even a spine to those we elect. Stand up for our liberty and the future of our republic. Only we can put a halt to the forward march of the traitors.

“It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of citizens and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The freemen of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle. We revere this lesson too much … to forget it” ~ James Madison (1751-1836) 4th U.S. President

 

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on Rebellion

“Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.” 18 U.S. Code § 2383

America is a nation of laws and the majority of Americans are law abiding. We believe in right and wrong. We also believe that the purpose of law and government is to further the former and punish the latter. Life and property cannot be protected if criminals are allowed to prosper. Liberty cannot be preserved thru chaos. The pursuit of happiness fails if no one is assigned to keep the peace.

The word “rebellion” does not always have a positive connotation, but I suppose that usually depends on which side you are on. For instance, the British called the American colonists rebels because we opposed being their subjects without basic human rights. And the American North called the American South rebels when they seceded from the Union in order to protect the business of slavery. And today, the barbaric Islamist extremists all over the Middle East are called rebels because they oppose the authority of any government that is not Sharia, as well as the right of anyone to exist who is not Muslim or “Muslim enough”. So, in some cases rebellion began in order to protect basic human rights, and in others it began to take them away. So, this begs the question: can the pursuit of rebellion ever be noble? Can rebellion ever take peaceful forms?

I believe that acts of rebellion can be noble, if it furthers the protection of human life, the protection of personal property, the protection of personal liberty, and the protection of one’s ability to seek their happiness. The American Revolution began with these seeds of truth: the dignity of the human condition and the value given to it by God made it worthy enough to fight for it. Unfortunately, fighting for this truth and the protection of natural rights has historically been more bloody than peaceful. There always seems to be a violent force fighting against that which God Himself deemed as “very good”, and therefore sadly, requires an equally violent response to stop it.  While there have been cases of more peaceful rebellions- a.k.a. civil disobedience- in which more violence was perpetrated by those seeking to quash the peaceful rebellion that those actually pursuing it (as in the Women’s Suffrage and Civil Rights movements), these have been more the rarity than the norm.

It is man who has always been engaged in rebellion against our God-given natural right of equality to each other. Man has always sought power and domination through the ages, and unfortunately, sometimes government easily lends itself to the perpetration of this if not watched carefully and held to account early. Under the Constitution, the American people assigned a group of men and women to keep the peace, to protect life and property, and to ensure that government gets out of the way of an individual’s pursuit of happiness. This is the ultimate purpose of our Constitutional government, and as a nation we are unique in that the majority of Americans still see our government as one that should be subservient to us. It is not there to tell us what to do. It is not there to protect us from ourselves. It is not there to further what a small band of citizens in Des Moines or DC deem to be the common good at the expense of others. It is there to further what the individual deems as his or her personal good. You see, our Constitution was written with the individual in mind, not the collective. If our government continues to try to distort the plain meaning of its words in order to overthrow this document’s legal authority, if it continues to use its power to punish those that try to hold them accountable to the same laws the rest of us must follow, and if it continues to give aid and comfort to those who enable the same, then one must ask: who now is truly engaging in rebellion?

 “There are two potential violators of man’s rights: the criminals and the government. The great achievement of the United States was to draw a distinction between these two — by forbidding to the second the legalized version of the activities of the first.” ~ Ayn Rand (1905-1982) from her 1963 essay, Man’s Rights

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on Sedition

“If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both”. 18 U.S. Code § 2384

While there has been a lot of talk by elected leaders lately regarding treason (curiously, mostly from Democrats), it bears mentioning that perhaps the accusation of “sedition” might be a better place to start regarding the behavior of our President. Surely much of what he is doing can be seen as preventing or hindering the law of the United States. The fiasco that is Obamacare alone would fall into that definition, considering how many times he has changed the law without Congressional approval, as well as his lack of enforcement of current immigration law that is now putting our country’s health, economy and citizen safety at risk. Our President’s behavior is undermining the stability of this country, as well as the trust of the American people in the leaders that they elected. While he may not have his own physical army to put down our government in the literal sense, he is using the army of bureaucrats that he has at his disposal to overthrow the very foundation upon which our government is built: the Constitution.

Every government is supposed to fear its people, not the other way around. We are always to be wary of what our government is doing, and double check their work. In fact it was James Madison, at the Constitutional Convention in July of 1787 who said: “All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree”. He also said later, in 1788, that “What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” Our founders understood that human nature is imperfect, and as such a government of men, even of those we respect, must be mistrusted with the power delegated to them, as it can easily be misused, either out of fear or corruption. Some of us now decry the Patriot Act or the NDAA, but did you know that even the 5th Congress fell prey to similar human failings, when blinded by the fear of a war with France, it passed Sedition Act of 1798 during the aftermath of French Revolution. Under this act, one could be accused of sedition, fined and thrown in jail, just by writing publications critical of the U.S. government, or associating with those that did the same. While this Congress did have the wisdom to place an expiration date on it (a good idea that we should replicate), the damage they caused to liberty during their time of enforcement even had Thomas Jefferson and James Madison giving it high criticism.

I have always found it interesting that our government makes so many laws on how to prosecute the American citizen for disloyalty to the government, but no laws to prosecute itself for disloyalty to the Constitution. Yet, if one were to sit back and evaluate these laws, like the U.S. Code above regarding sedition, I think we can easily find that many acts of our President and his bureaucratic administration do measure up quite nicely to the definition of sedition, if not the more weighty measure of treason. Has his administration not opposed the authority of the law, by refusing to enforce the laws of this country, by redefining “legal” immigration, welfare eligibility, Obamacare and marriage (DOMA)? Has he not armed the enemies of our people by giving drug cartels guns in Operation Fast and Furious, who are now crossing the border unhindered, akin to a small invasion? Has he not refused to protect our borders, instead giving aid and comfort to those who seek to do our country and its people harm? Has he not tried to take private U.S. land, property, and money by force, with new regulations under the EPA, BLM, FTC, and IRS? Has he not willfully tried to hide all this activity from the people, our Congress and our courts? Have not others provided him assistance in all this as well, and would therefore stand equally accused?

Folks, the buck does not stop with our President. It does not stop with our Congress. It does not even stop with our Supreme Court. It stops at the Constitution. It stops at “We the People”.  Our Founders understood that we would always have a government of fallen men, and therefore set this country up as a Republic in order to give us the best shot at preserving human dignity and freedom. But that can only happen if we stop treating our government as if it was run by gods, immune to the very same humanity as we, and exempt from the same laws we must honor. They too make mistakes. They too make decisions out of fear, self-preservation, or lust for power. We must see them for the imperfect men (& women) they are, and remind ourselves that the survival of our county ultimately relies on us and what we choose to abide. Is it wise to take the future from our own hands and blindly hand it over to a stranger?

Remember, the government we have is the government we allow. Government cannot save us. It is only designed to save itself.

“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country.” Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), 26th President of the United States

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on Treason

“Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States”. Title 18 U.S. Code Chapter 115 § 2381

There has been a lot of talk of treason lately, especially in terms of the behavior of our President. Many feel that he has betrayed his oath of allegiance and committed high treason by both ignoring and rewriting law, granting favor to our enemies, and failing to put Americans first. But what really is treason? Well, Dictionary.com defines it thusly:

  1. the offense of acting to overthrow one’s government or to harm or kill its sovereign
  2. a violation of allegiance to one’s sovereign or to one’s state
  3. the betrayal of a trust or confidence; breach of faith; treachery.

Our Founders were keenly aware of the importance of the public trust in order to ensure that our great Republic endured. It has been taken so seriously that up until the mid-twentieth century, acts of treason were punishable by death.  As you can see above, that punishment is even still in the current  U.S. code as one of the options, along with jail time, a $10,000 fine (we need to update that amount – $10k used to be considered a lot), and stripped of the right to hold any office under the United States.  Now, I am sure that to the liberal mind, the death penalty seems a bit extreme for committing treason. However, if one is a student of real history, one would know how acts of treason had far reaching consequences, damaging not only our government, but putting the welfare of both the people it serves and those that work for it at risk. Treason was taken very seriously because of its ability to negatively impact a great many lives.

Sadly, our government has moved so far away from what is honorable and good that treasonous acts now seem to be looked upon with the same level of apathetic derision as political corruption- to be expected and tolerated by everyone within the DC bubble. The problem with this is that the consequences of the violations to oaths of office are very rarely felt by those within this bubble –  yet it is very much felt by those outside of it. It is American families who feel the loss when their children die abandoned in Benghazi. It is American families who suffer when their soldiers are deployed to only be killed by the very weapons our federal government supplied to our enemies. It is American families who lose their property, their religious liberty and their self-protection rights when the President rewrites, ignores, or allows others to ignore laws. It is American families who have their liberty restricted when Congress fails to pass legislation that abides by the Constitution. It is American families who are persecuted when unelected bureaucrats target people because of their political views. It is American families who have less because our government takes more in order to give to those who have not earned it. What do you call men and woman who violate the very principles for which we fought and died for in an eight year war with England? What do you call those who put themselves and their favorite foreigners ahead of their own country and its citizens? It is called treason, and those that participate in it are called traitors.

The seriousness with which we as Americans view treason can only reflect the seriousness with which we view our rights as individuals. Sadly, because generations of children have not and still are not learning the truth about the sacrifices our Founders – and those who followed them – made for our nation, they no longer understand the damage that would occur to the foundation of our country and our rights if we allow the treasonous acts to stand. When we remain mute in the face of treasonous behavior, we give tacit acceptance to it, and undermine the very principles that made this nation great. Just as the discipline of children must be swift and immediate otherwise they don’t learn how to be better, so too must we do the same to those that willingly, and repeatedly, violate our trust as a people, putting their own personal welfare, and that of our enemies, ahead of those they took an oath to protect. And just in case you were wondering, yes, the comparison of politicians to misbehaving children was intentional.

As I have said before, there is a great deal of difference between a statesmen and a politician. Until we start punishing the latter, we will not get more of the former, if at all. Beginning next week, I will be doing a series discussing further Title 18 US Code Chapter 115, which defines acts of treason, sedition and subversive activities. It is then up to you to decide if you can continue to remain silent in the face of this administration’s continued disloyalty and bold treachery of the American people.

“In the clear mind of virtue treason can find no hiding-place”. ~ Sir P. Sidney (1554-1586) English poet, courtier, and soldier

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