Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ban guns...ban booze

In order to remain logically consistent, anybody favoring banning so-called “assault weapons,” or guns in general, must also support banning alcohol with equal passion.

Ostensibly, gun banners hold their position based on a desire to protect lives and prevent tragedies. Obama alluded to this in a statement made in the wake of the horrible mass shooting inside Sandy Hook Elementary.

“As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it is an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago, these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children. And we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics,” he said.

A few days later, the president pledged concrete action.

“But the fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing.  The fact that we can’t prevent every act of violence doesn’t mean we can’t steadily reduce the violence, and prevent the very worst violence,” he said during a press conference on Dec. 19. “The good news is there’s already a growing consensus for us to build from.  A majority of Americans support banning the sale of military-style assault weapons.  A majority of Americans support banning the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips.”

So presumably, the majority of Americans also support banning alcohol. Because the havoc wrecked on American society by booze at least equals, and in reality far exceeds, the horrors brought about by gun violence.

According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, 10,228 people died in drunk driving accidents in 2010. That compares with 11,105 deaths attributed to firearms related homicides, according to the Center for Disease control. The carnage resulting from drunk driving and gun crimes stand close to equal.
Of course, if you include suicide and gun accidents in the statistics, the number of firearms related deaths increase to 31,513.

But a CDC study in 2005 attributes a whopping 75,000 deaths per year in the United States directly to alcohol, including alcohol related diseases and non-vehicle accidents. That’s more than double the number of firearms related deaths. And that doesn’t even begin to touch the damage to families and the violence perpetrated by drunks. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, alcohol was a factor in between 19 and 37 percent of violent all crimes from 1997 to 2008.

Clearly, if we must band guns, it follows that we must ban alcohol as well.

As the president said, "We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics." 

If not a complete ban, at least a ban on the highest proof booze. And obviously, we need to outlaw high capacity containers, like “forties,” 24-packs and kegs. I mean, who can object? Nobody NEEDS alcohol after all. 

So, to sum up, if we must take immediate action to restrict guns due to some 32,000 deaths per year, we must also immediately pursue booze-bans due to the 75,000 alcohol related deaths per year. It's only logical.

From this point forward, I will completely disregard any gun-ban-nut who refuses to support alcohol bans as well..

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Don't let them steal your joy

The other day, I did a radio interview. When I was brought on air, I asked the host how he was doing.

"Well, I could give the socially acceptable answer and say, 'Fine,' but, I'm really not doing too good."

He went on to chronicle all of the things going horribly wrong in the country to justify his ill-humor.

I have to admit, most of his observations where spot-on.

The radio show host was just one of many liberty-minded folks that expressed a sense of despair as I spoke with them over the last few weeks. I guess it's pretty easy to become disillusioned, defeated and depressed if you love liberty in this day an age.

But seriously folks, look up and pull yourself out of the mud! Don't let the bastards steal your joy!

I fight for liberty and freedom because I love life. I want the opportunity to live it to the fullest. Not just for me, but for my children. That being the case, how can I justify living my life in a fog of depression every day? If I do that, I've let tyranny win. They can limit my liberty to some degree, but if I let them cage me in a pit of despair, they've truly already won. 

I believe in the importance of political activism. I spend hours every day working within the political realm. I am constantly reading about, writing about and discussing political philosophy, tactics and policy. But this doesn't define who I am.

I am a father. I am a husband. I am a friend. I am a hockey player. I am a musician. I am a jokester. I am a photographer. I am a writer.

Most significantly, I am a child of God.

There are an awful lot of reasons there to be joyful!

The apostle Paul wrote, "I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles, my joy knows no bounds."

That sounds like a much better way to live life than "woe is me."

One of the hard lessons I've learned through 45 years on planet earth is that an awful lot of things happen that I cannot control. Spending time and energy focused on things I have no control over wastes an awful lot of time and energy. So I try to live like this: focus on what I can control, and let the rest take care of itself.

People often ask me, "Doesn't all of the political activism wear you down? Don't you feel like you're just beating your head against a wall?"


But here's the thing; I am only responsible for doing what I feel called and led to do. I can't make people listen or act. I can only spread the message. The rest lies in their hands. If I do my part, my responsibility ends. I have to let the rest go. Ezekiel provides the basis of my view on this.

33 The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not heed the warning and the sword comes and takes their life, their blood will be on their own head. Since they heard the sound of the trumpet but did not heed the warning, their blood will be on their own head. If they had heeded the warning, they would have saved themselves. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.’

I view my work with the Tenth Amendment Center as vital. I will continue to fight for liberty and constitutional fidelity as long as I have breath. It's that important. But I refuse to let those who would try to steal my liberty steal my joy as well. My joy comes from a greater source. No human being can steal my joy unless I let them.

And I won't.

Who knows what will happen down the road? My hope is that the people will wake up and reestablish constitutional restraints, that we will devolve power away from centralized, tyrannical structures, that we will stop the runaway spending and restore civil liberties. But that may never happen. It may get worse. Heck, somebody may decide I'm dangerous someday and lock me in a cage.

But you know what? Even then, I will still have joy. And I will live free. Because nobody can shackle my spirit. It has been set free for all eternity!

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and DO NOT LET yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery."

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Why I became a foreign policy non-interventionalist

Over the last few of weeks, a couple of people have asked me why I’ve turned into such a foreign policy non-interventionalist. Or as one friend put it, “What turned you into such a bleeding-heart?”

To put the question into context, I was once quite the hawk. I supported the first Gulf War to “liberate Kuwait,” I urged on the invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11, and I stood behind G.W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq. And I’m not going to lie, I still love military hardware, I respect the toughness and dedication of our warriors, and I am awed by projections of force.

But over the last few years, I’ve struggled to develop a cohesive political philosophy that also encompasses my faith in Christ. And I’ve realized, at times, my previous “conservative” political viewpoints contradicted the tenants of my faith, even occasionally contradicting each other.

After a great deal of reading and thought, I’ve settled upon the non-aggression principle to guide my political philosophy. Simply put, I find the use of coercive force in a non-defensive context morally objectionable.This principle provides a moral constant against which I can evaluate both domestic and foreign policy.

With that in mind, it becomes clear why I can no longer support U.S. inverventionalist foreign policy.

But I recognize many people, particularly some of my conservative friends, won’t accept the non-aggression principle as a viable reason to oppose U.S. foreign policy and war-making. They will raise some valid question: don’t we need to sometimes strike preemptively to defend ourselves? Don’t we have a moral obligation to defend democracy and human rights in other parts of the world? If we withdraw from our role as the world’s “policeman,” won’t our enemies fill that power vacuum and endanger our security.

All valid questions.

But I contend that even rejecting the moral arguments against foreign intervention, several practical reasons exist to abandon the neo-conservative worldview that drives both Republican and Democratic foreign policy.

First off, we simply can’t afford any more empire building. The U.S. has emptied the bank account and maxed out the credit card. Historically, overextended empires have led to the fall of many great societies. If America insists on continuing to play the role of international cop and spending the trillions of dollars necessary, she will soon collapse. The U.S.  may  still stand as the premier world power, but the republic is quickly rotting from the inside out.

A nuclear Iran doesn’t pose the greatest threat to U.S. security.

Neither does Al Qaeda.

How about China?


The greatest threat to American security takes the form of a $16 trillion debt.

This number stares down the nose of every moral and philosophical argument for continuing U.S. interventionalist policy.

Secondly, we cannot have limited government at home while at the same time intervening in nations across the globe. As Randolph Bourne brilliantly argued, “War is the health of the state.” Constant military engagement leads to the expansion of government power and an erosion of even the most basic civil liberties. We see this playing out in the U.S. with Patriot Act Spying, NDAA indefinite detention and drone executions without due process. It even weaves its way into everyday life, taking the form of TSA groping at your local airport.

So, self-proclaimed conservatives who constantly advocate for limited government, while pushing for an every larger military and continued intervention around the world, actually stand for mutually exclusive policies.

James Madison eloquently made this point more than 200 years ago.
"Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."
Finally, U.S. foreign policy is convoluted and counter-productive. America claims to fight for democracy while supporting tyrants when expedient. The U.S. constantly engages in actions which result in blowback. And we even arm select groups, only to fight them later on.

A speech by Tom Woods served as a turning point in my journey toward non-interventionalism. He pointed out that conservatives constantly talk about the utter ineptitude of federal policymakers and government in general when it comes to domestic policy. Then he asks a profound question:  how is it that these same people suddenly become geniuses when it comes to foreign policy?

The answer is self-evident.

They don’t.

If we truly want limited government, we must not only fight for less federal control domestically. We must also oppose the warfare-state in all of its manifestations. We can’t afford it, and it hovers like an axe blade over our most basic liberties.

That is why I’ve turned into such a “bleeding heart.”