Archive for January 2013

Obama is Attractive   8 comments

Have you ever interacted with a sociopath?

I have. For 15 years, I worked in the mental health field as an administrator. I found that I enjoyed the clients. Many of them, despite their illness, are good people who just want respectful interactions with their fellow human beings. A handful of them are seriously dangerous when off their medications. A narrow slice of them are down-right creepy and dangerous even when on medications. Those are, usually, the sociopaths.

Sociopathy comes in degrees and can exist independent of true psychosis. Mix anti-social personality disorder severe with some degree of delusion and you may just have a serial killer, but not always. Psychiatry is still an emerging science. And there are all sorts of people who have some degree of anti-social personality disorder who are not psychotic. These are the people who see nothing wrong with cheating on their taxes, but might not cheat on their spouse or murder the neighbors.

Those with anti-social features make excellent politicians. If you can divorce yourself from the very real people your policies are harming, you can accomplish a lot more goals than if you truly care about people.

Another feature of anti-social personalities is that, often, a “normal” person will like the non-delusional ones – a lot. There is something extremely attractive about them – maybe just the self-confidence of absolute assurance that they are right in what they’re doing and that you will eventually come to agree and, if you don’t, it won’t ruin their life, but it might ruin yours. It makes you want to agree with them – even if you don’t.

Which brings us to Barack Obama.

I read his book “Dreams From My Father” before I ever saw him on TV. I didn’t agree with a great deal of what he wrote in the book and “The Audacity of Hope”, which I tried to read during the 2008 campaign, deepened my perspective that he would sell my children into economic slavery to achieve his goals of income redistribution and class leveling. Still, I love to hear the man’s speeches and I frequently find myself nodding over certain sound-bites. Then I read the transcript – I ALWAYS read the transcript – and I am not so enamored. I deprogram myself. Everybody loves people with anti-social traits. There’s something so very attractive about them that you will vote against your own interests to be seen walking in concert with them. And that’s the danger.

Watching him play chicken with the House Republicans would be fun if the nation’s future were not at stake. He’s had them beaten since election night, maybe election night of 2008. He’s not going to blink. He’s a master at the bluff because he truly believes that what he is doing is right and he does not care if anyone else agrees. If he loses a hand here and there, fine. He’s in it for the pot at the end of the game. And he’s winning mostly – for now. He also doesn’t care what happens after he leaves the table. That’s for whoever comes next to worry about. He’s going to do what he’s going to do and let the fallout happen on some else’s watch. Now, he may believe that there won’t be any negative fallout, but it won’t matter to him if there is.

I submit he’s going to go on winning more than he loses until the end of his second term. It’s not that he’s right. It’s not that he understands the people more than his detractors do. It’s that he’s got people convinced that they ought to follow him – even if it is over a cliff and into a swamp. They may even suspect that the journey’s going to end in a bad place, but they’re so enjoying basking in the warmth that they cannot help following him.

Republicans have the same problem today as they had at the start of Bill Clinton’s second term when a majority of the country might have had issues with Slick Willy, but they still found him entertaining and it annoyed them to hear him run down by his opponents. Conservatives wishing to stay with the Republicans (or even go the way of a conservative third party) need to recognize that we are not winning against that image. All our yelling and pointing out that the emperor has no clothes is working against us. It’s not wrong to point out the mistakes being made, but the histrionics are not serving us well.

Now is the perfect time for conservatives, especially in the GOP, to reevaluate and choose a different rhetorical direction. It’s not a change in principles that are needed, but a change in tone. I’m not talking about compromise. I am suggesting communication. We have reality on our side of the argument, but if we’re seen as suffering from Obama Derangement Syndrome, it won’t matter – nobody will listen to us. We should clean house, focus on restating our principles in ways that people can understand, and lay off screeching about Obama.

At the end of eight years, the country will be willing to listen to new voices offering sound principles, but only if we act like grownups in the meantime. Reasonable people will listen to reason if it appears to be coming from reasonable people.

Civil Liberties and Cell Phones   Leave a comment

How do cell phone restrictions and bans affect our civil liberties?

Nobody wants bad drivers on the road. This survey shows that most of the country agrees with that statement. I personally think there are very few drivers who can even talk on the phone hands-free safely, let alone holding the phone. I see evidence for this on the road every day. And texting while driving is pretty high on the stupidity meter.

That said, I wouldn’t ban those activities anymore than I would ban other driving distractions like talking to your kid in the passenger seat, changing the radio station, monitoring your GPS, or – if you’re wealthy and cutting edge – getting updates from your smart-car computer. None of these activities are particularly conducive to safe driving, yet we do them every day while behind the wheel of our cars. Some of us also apply makeup, eat food, drink sodas and coffee, pet the dog, and ….

These activities are all contributors to distracted driving and are bad ideas. Note that we don’t have laws against most of them. Also know that if you have an accident while doing one of those activities you may face negligent or reckless driving charges. Cops, seeing you weaving through traffic, make a judgment call if your distractions crossed that line. Distracted driving has always been negligent/reckless driving. So why do we need a law specific to cell phones?

It’s a Bandaid to make people similar to me who loath cell phone use while driving feel better, but it’s also a huge moneymaker for cops wanting to write tickets. Stuck in traffic? Decide to check that text? Now you’re a law-breaker and subject to the tyrannical arm of government. You weren’t moving! You were behind the wheel of a car, which is driving, so it doesn’t matter. It’s no longer about endangering other drivers. The focus of control has moved from protecting the public to controlling the public.

The more laws we have, the more opportunity we give the government to oppress us. We have become like Gulliver, bound to the earth by a million tiny, individually-insignificant threads. Today, I restrict the liberty of my neighbor. Tomorrow he restricts mine. Next week we’re both going to restrict yours and the week after that, the three of us will restrict someone else’s liberty. We’ll say it’s for the greater good – we’re protecting someone – but really, isn’t it more about controlling one another?

“They who would give up essential liberty for a little security deserve neither liberty or security,” Benjamin Franklin

You’re Too Stupid to Vote   8 comments


“We don’t want to restrict your religious freedoms in any way. Just keep your beliefs in the church.”

That was posted on a Christian’s forum on a writer’s site a while back. Other postings there said “Just keep your religion out of the ballot box” and “Your beliefs have no business outside of your own home and church.” To clarify, although it was not my thread, I asked “So, when I — as a Christian — vote for public officials, what should be my criteria for deciding my vote?” I received various opinions from “Christians shouldn’t vote because their opinion doesn’t support society’s (I mean, my) viewpoint” to “You should support the Democratic candidate because they really understand that Jesus came to feed everybody.” Someone finally got around to saying  “Your beliefs are irrelevant and should have no voice in the public square.” I countered “But yours should?” And it went from there.

For the record, I think everyone should have a say in the public square. I’m a civil libertarian, so I’m fine with idiots stating their opinions. I think the best ideas will usually win out in the marketplace of ideas because as ideas are adopted, we see which ones work and which ones don’t. The problem is when idiots get together to control the government and forget this little thing called the Constitution and the first amendment to that document and start insisting that anyone who doesn’t agree with them should be silenced.

The church is not a cloister. Certain Catholic orders aside, most Christians live in the real world, where we own property, raise children, work or own businesses, spend our money and vote our consciences. Our private beliefs fuel our public acts. That’s as it should be and there’s no shortage of non-Christians doing that.

President Obama (and you can argue with me about whether he’s a Christian or not, if you want, but I have the Bible on my side of the definition) claims he took his public stand on same-sex marriage based on conversations with his daughters and his interpretation of Jesus’ teachings. He brought his private beliefs into the public square. Although his stance and interpretation of Jesus’ teachings were criticized, I can’t recall any of the criticism being directed toward his promoting his private beliefs in public. If we’re going to be fair and equal, shouldn’t everybody hold their private beliefs in their home and not make them public?

Reverend Canon Gary Hall, Dean of the National Cathedral in Washington DC, offered a prayer at the opening of Senator Diane Feinstein’s anti-gun press conference in which he said “Everyone in this city seems to live in terror of the gun lobby, but I believe that the gun lobby is no match for the cross lobby.’”

So, a clergyman opens a Senate-related press conference with prayer, invoking the cross and calling on Americans to fulfill their moral duty, and the secular media does not howl in protest. What about “separation of Church and State”? Can you imagine what the reaction would have been if, hypothetically, Senator Tom Coburn had invited Rev. Franklin Graham to pray and offer comments before a press conference defending the right to bear arms? How long would it have taken for shrill cries of “Religious Jihadists!” to ring through the airwaves?

The hypocritical double standard is so thick you need a chainsaw to cut it.

In America today, there is a vocal minority that believes that those with spiritual or moral convictions are welcome to their beliefs so long as they don’t vote or act based on those beliefs. They have deemed our convictions immoral and wrong, therefore, we must submit to tyranny (governed without representation or even voice in public) and since we can’t be trusted not to vote our convictions we shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

I particularly enjoyed the PBS article that said “misinformed” voters shouldn’t be allowed to vote when the writer himself put forth misinformation in his article. How will our society make the determination of who is misinformed? And what if the disenfranchised voter doesn’t agree that he is misinformed? How do our atheists intend to decide which Christians are delusional and which are sane?

America has worked for 230 years based upon the idea — modified over time — that reasonable people can govern themselves. We have never agreed with one another, but we’ve always given our opposition the right to speak their minds and — if they have a good argument — win the public to their way of thinking. Yet, today, we have those who would silence anyone holding an opinion that they disagree with.

How did we get here? Really, liberals, please explain why you think this is a good idea?

Localized Tyranny   6 comments

Have you ever noticed that when you try to have a reasonable conversation about gun control, someone always spouts off that it’s ridiculous to think American government is or would become tyrannical and, even if it did, a handful of people would have no chance against the US Army? Practically speaking, that’s true. The semi-autos that civilians have access to, even the “assault style” ones, are not the same as the fully-automatic weapons our military carries into combat. While I submit that this is an unconstitutional usurpation of the right of the people to be at least as well armed as the standing army “…but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people, while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights…” (Alexander Hamilton speaking of standing armies in Federalist 29.))”  Alexander Hamilton, perhaps the most government-friendly of our founders, recognized that the people needed to be as well armed as the standing army or the standing army could easily abuse the people. We’re already past that point, but let’s recognize that resistance started small in the Revolution and it will start, if it starts at all, at the local level, in the 21st century. If it ever comes down to American citizens fighting against government it’s not likely we’re going to storm Washington DC or even Ft. Wainwright. It’s more likely the first battles will take place locally, against local governments that have overstepped their bounds.

I’ll preface this by saying — I am not advocating violence. I am pointing out that it is sometimes necessary for the people to stand against their government and that the right to bear arms was enshrined in the constitution because our Founders believed liberty sometimes required the people to bring the government back into line. And there is precedence in the last 100 years for such actions being necessary.


On 2 August 1946, some Americans, brutalized by their county government, used armed force to overturn it because they wanted honest, open elections. After years of asking state and federal election monitors to prevent vote fraud — forged ballots, secret ballot counts, and intimidation by armed sheriff’s deputies — by the local political boss and receiving no help, they took matters into their own hands.

The Tennesseans of McMinn County, which is located between Chattanooga and Knoxville in the eastern part of the state, had long been independent political thinkers, but for more than a decade they had accepted bribe-taking by politicians, primarily the Sheriff, to overlook illicit bootlegging and gambling. The Sheriff’s department was financed from fines, usually for speeding or public drunkenness, promoting false arrests and harassment of citizens and especially visitors. The voting fraud extended to both Democrats and Republicans. This was despite Tennessee laws barring voting fraud, requiring that ballot boxes be certified as empty before voting, poll-watchers be in attendance, armed law enforcement officers were barred from polling stations, and ballots had to be counted publicly.

The Great Depression had ravaged McMinn County and federal patronage was successfully secured by electing Paul Cantrell, a local wealthy supporter of Franklin D Roosevelt in 1932. County fortunes improved and Cantrell was reelected to Sheriff (the principle political position in the county) in 1936, 1938 and 1940. He was elected to the State Senate in 1942 and his chief deputy, Pat Mansfield, was elected sheriff. In 1946, Cantrell against sought the office of Sheriff. However, several veterans returning to McMinn County from World War II observed how Mansfield’s deputies had brutalized the population. Holding Cantrell politically responsible for Mansfield’s policies (which apparently were a continuation of his own), they decided to challenge Cantrell politically by offering an all ex-GI, non-partisan ticket and promising a fraud-free election followed by reform of the county government if they won.

These Americans’ absolute refusal to knuckle-under had been hardened by service in World War II. Having fought to free other countries from murderous regimes, they rejected vicious abuse by their county government. These Americans had a choice. Their state’s Constitution – Article 1, Section 26 – recorded their right to keep and bear arms for the common defense. No federal or state “gun control” laws had been enacted.

“‘The principals that we fought for in this past war do not exist in McMinn County. We fought for democracy because we believe in democracy but not the form we live under in this county.'” (Daily Post-Athenian, 17 June 1946, p. 1).

At end-July 1946, 159 McMinn County GIs petitioned the FBI to send election monitors. There was no response. The Department of Justice had not responded to McMinn Countians’ complaints of election fraud in 1940, 1942, and 1944.

The election was held on 1 August. To intimidate voters, Mansfield brought in some 200 armed “deputies”. When the polls closed, perhaps fearing the growing crowd of concerned voters, took the ballot boxes to the jail — in violation of the rule requiring a public count.

Mansfield took the ballot boxes to the jail for counting, barred the doors and armed deputies with weapons including a submachine “Tommy” gun.

Short of firearms and ammunition, the GIs scoured the county to find them. By borrowing keys to the National Guard and State Guard Armories, they got three M-1 rifles, five .45 semi-automatic pistols, and 24 British Enfield rifles. The armories were nearly empty after the war’s end. They headed for the jail to get the ballot boxes. Occupying high ground they initiated a fire fight while deliberately leaving the back door unguarded to give the jail’s defenders an easy way out.

Running low on ammunition, the GIs eventually forced the issue by dynamiting the jail’s porch, which breached the barred door. The panicked deputies surrendered. GIs quickly secured the building.

In five precincts free of vote fraud, the GI candidate for Sheriff, Knox Henry, won 1,168 votes to Cantrell’s 789. Other GI candidates won by similar margins. McMinn Countians, having restored the Rule of Law, returned to their daily lives.

The Battle of Athens, as it became known, made national headlines. Most outsiders’ reports had the errors usual in coverage of large-scale, night-time events. A New York Times editorialist on 3 August savaged the GIs, who:

“…quite obviously – though we hope erroneously – felt that there was no city, county, or State agency to whom they could turn for justice.

… “There is a warning for all of us in the occurrence…and above all a warning for the veterans of McMinn County, who also violated a fundamental principle of democracy when they arrogated to themselves the right of law enforcement for which they had no election mandate. Corruption, when and where it exists, demands reform, and even in the most corrupt and boss-ridden communities there are peaceful means by which reform can be achieved. But there is no substitute, in a democracy, for orderly process.” (NYT, 3 Aug 1946, p. 14.)

Those who took up arms in Athens, Tennessee:

  • wanted honest elections, a cornerstone of our Constitutional order;
  • had repeatedly tried to get Federal or State election monitors — to no avail;
  • used armed force so as to minimize harm to the law-breakers;
  • showed little malice to the defeated law-breakers, who were allowed to go home to their lives without arrest (Paul Cantrell lived the rest of his life in the county as a successful auto dealership owner);
  • restored lawful government.

The Battle of Athens clearly shows:

  • how Americans can and should lawfully use armed force;
  • why the Rule of Law requires unrestricted access to firearms;
  • how civilians with military-type firearms can beat the forces of “law and order”.

Dictators believe that public order is more important than the Rule of Law. Americans have historically rejected that idea. Brutal political repression – as practiced by Cantrell and Mansfield – is lethal to many. An individual criminal can harm a handful of people, but governments alone can brutalize thousands, or millions. The world saw as many as 60 million people killed under brutal genocidal regimes in the 20th century.

Law-abiding McMinn Countians won the Battle of Athens because they were not hamstrung by “gun control”. McMinn Countians showed us when citizens can and should use armed force to support the Rule of Law. We are all in their debt.

We don’t think it can happen in America, but it already has. We think there’ll never be a need to stand up to an American government that has grown tyrannical, but there has already been that need. We think that ordinary citizens cannot stand up to armed government agents, but they already have. We’re not arguing theory here. We’re arguing history. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it and Americans in the 21st century apparently are wholly ignorant of our own history.

The GOP Needs to Change Everything … Except Principles   Leave a comment

I am an avowed conservative non-partisan who is sincerely planning to vote third-party over the coming 2-4 years. I think the GOP treats conservatives like useful idiots and we need to stop letting them get away with that. So, when I hear a Republican actually taking his party to task for issues that I have with the GOP, I do a little happy dance.

I also have to say that I like Bobby Jindal. I don’t agree with him on every issue, but he has mostly conservative principles and I haven’t yet caught him lying. Similar to Sarah Palin, he’s been willing to make unpopular decisions at the state level and take the heat for it. Hopefully, he has more intestinal fortitude on the national scene than she did. (Someday, I’ll blog on that from an Alaskan perspective).

So … the GOP needs to change everything … except its principles … and including its leadership.

Jindal’s speech is long, but worth the read.

The Health of America Is Not About Government

By Gov. Bobby Jindal – January 25, 2013

Remarks by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to the Republican National Committee in Charlotte, N.C., January 24, 2013.

Thank you all for having me here tonight. And thank you Reince for the outstanding leadership you provide to the Republican Party. And I want to thank our great RNC members from Louisiana, Chairman Roger Villere, National Committeewoman Lenar Whitney, and National Committeeman Ross Little for all of their hard work.

Let me warn you in advance that I plan to talk big picture here tonight, and I plan to say some things that may challenge your assumptions.

You may not agree with all of it, but that’s ok, ours is a party that can handle real discussions.

And now, after losing two Presidential elections in a row, is certainly the time for some candid discussion.

I. America is not the federal government.

The first concept I want to talk about is simply this – America is not the federal government.

Take a minute to let that thought sink in. America is not the federal government.

In fact, America is not much about government at all. In America, government is one of those things you have to have, but you sure don’t want too much of it…kind of like your in-laws.

This is of course the polar opposite of the political debate in our country today.

At present we have one party that wants to be in charge of the federal government so they can expand it, and one party that wants to be in charge of the federal government so they can get it under control.

It’s a terrible debate, it’s a debate fought entirely on our opponents’ terms.

A debate about which party can better manage the federal government is a very small and shortsighted debate.

If our vision is not bigger than that, we do not deserve to win.

In our public discourse today, America is pretty much defined by government, by the latest moves that occur in Washington.

If you landed from outer space…and read the news…and watched TV for a week…you would have to conclude that Washington is the hub of America and that what happens in Washington is what drives and dictates the success or failure of America.

In addition to Washington, there are a bunch of outlying areas we call states, but they are pretty much just adjuncts of the federal government.

This is not the idea of America. But…this is what America will become if we do not reorient our way of thinking right away.

As government grows ever larger, it will become what America is all about…if we let it. This is our challenge; this is what we are here for.

Look at the debates that have dominated Washington in just the last few weeks:

The fiscal cliff, the debt ceiling, and Joe Biden’s gun control task force.

These are in reality sideshows in Washington that we have allowed to take center stage in our country – and as conservatives, we are falling into the sideshow trap.

All of these sideshow debates are about government.

Government and government power are the leading lady and the leading man.

Today’s conservatism is completely wrapped up in solving the hideous mess that is the federal budget, the burgeoning deficits, the mammoth federal debt, the shortfall in our entitlement programs…even as we invent new entitlement programs.

We seem to have an obsession with government bookkeeping.

This is a rigged game, and it is the wrong game for us to play.

Today it’s the fiscal cliff, tomorrow it’s the fiscal apocalypse, and then it will be the fiscal Armageddon.

But I have news for you; our government already went off the fiscal cliff.

It happened years ago, and has happened every year for many years.

Today’s conservatism is in love with zeroes.

We think if we can just unite behind a proposal to cut the deficit and debt…if we can just put together a spreadsheet and a power point and a TV ad….all will be well.

This obsession with zeroes has everyone in our party focused on what? Government.

By obsessing with zeroes on the budget spreadsheet, we send a not-so-subtle signal that the focus of our country is on the phony economy of Washington – instead of the real economy out here in Charlotte, and Shreveport, and Cheyenne.

We as Republicans have to accept that government number crunching – even conservative number crunching – is not the answer to our nation’s problems.

We also must face one more cold hard fact – Washington is so dysfunctional that any budget proposal based on fiscal sanity will be deemed ‘not-serious’ by the media, it will fail in the Senate, and it won’t even make it to the President’s desk where it would be vetoed anyway.

In fact, any serious proposal to restrain government growth is immediately deemed ‘not-serious’ in Washington. The Balanced Budget is deemed ‘not-serious’ in Washington.

Term Limits are deemed ‘not-serious’ in Washington. Capping federal growth by tying it to private sector economic growth is deemed ‘not-serious’ in Washington.

The truth is nothing serious is deemed serious in Washington.

When then-Senator Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling, he said he was doing so because the national debt was at an outrageous 8 trillion dollars…and he clarified for effect, saying that is “trillion with a T.”

Now President Obama has our national debt over 16 trillion dollars and climbing…larger than our entire economy. And he’s not worried about it in the least.

He calls it progress. You remember his campaign slogan, he says it is “Forward.”

I have news for the President – If Washington’s debt is going forward, America’s economy is going backward.

Instead of worrying about managing government, it’s time for us to address how we can lead America… to a place where she can once again become the land of opportunity, where she can once again become a place of growth and opportunity.

We should put all of our eggs in that basket.

Yes, we certainly do need folks in Washington who will devote themselves to the task of stopping this President from taking America so far off the ledge that we cannot get back.

We must do all we can to stop what is rapidly becoming the bankrupting of our federal government.

But we as conservatives must dedicate our energies and our efforts to growing America, to growing the American economy, to showing the younger generations how America can win the future.

That path does not lie in government. If more government were the answer, our economy would be booming right now. That path has been tried.

You can’t hire enough government workers or give enough taxpayer money to your friends who own green energy companies to create prosperity. The facts are in, it’s a disaster.

Balancing our government’s books is not what matters most. Government is not the end all and be all.

The health of America is not about government at all. Balancing government’s books is a nice goal, but that is not our primary objective.

Our objective is to grow the private sector. We need to focus our efforts on ideas to grow the American economy, not the government economy.

If you take nothing else away from what I say today, please understand this – We must not become the party of austerity. We must become the party of growth. Of course we know that government is out of control. The public knows that too. And yet we just lost an election.

Again, we cannot afford to fight on our opponents’ terms. The Republican Party must become the party of growth, the party of a prosperous future that is based in our economic growth and opportunity that is based in every community in this great country and that is not based in Washington, DC.

We have fallen into a trap of believing that the world revolves around Washington, that the economy is based there. If we keep believing that, government will grow so big that it will take us all down with it.

If our end goal is to simply better manage the disaster that is the federal government, count me out, I’m not signing up for that. It’s not a goal worth attaining.

Which of you wants to sign up to help manage the slow decline of the United States of America? I sure don’t. That’s what we have Democrats for.

The Democrats promise to be the party of “more from government,” but they are actually the party of less. They are the party of economic contraction, austerity and less from the economy. The Republican Party is the party of “more,” the party that creates “more from the economy.”

As Margaret Thatcher famously observed – first you must win the argument, then you can win the elections. And by the way, it’s time for all of us to remember that we are not in this just to win elections.

We are in this to make America the greatest she can be, to make America the prosperous land of opportunity that she can be. To do this, we will certainly have to win some elections, but first we must win the argument.

If this election taught us anything – it is that we will not win elections by simply pointing out the failures of the other side. We must boldly paint the picture of what America can be, of just how incredibly bright America’s future can be.

II. How we win the argument

So…you ask…what does that future look like? How do we win this argument?

For starters, we have to recalibrate the compass of conservatism.

We do not need to change what we believe as conservatives – our principles are timeless.

But we do need to re-orient our focus to the place where conservatism thrives – in the real world beyond the Washington Beltway.

We must lay out the contrast between liberalism’s top-down government solutions and our Bottom-Up real world philosophy.

We believe in creating abundance, not redistributing scarcity.

We should let the other side try to sell Washington’s ability to help the economy, while we promote the entrepreneur, the risk-taker, the self-employed woman who is one sale away from hiring her first employee.

Let the Democrats sell the stale power of more federal programs, while we promote the rejuvenating power of new businesses.

We don’t believe old, top-down, industrial-age government becomes a good idea just because it agrees with us or because we are running it.

We must focus on the empowerment of citizens making relevant and different decisions in their communities while Democrats sell factory-style government that cranks out one dumbed-down answer for the whole country.

This means re-thinking nearly every social program in Washington. Very few of them work in my view, and frankly, the one-size fits all crowd has had its chance.

If any rational human being were to create our government anew, today, from a blank piece of paper – we would have about one fourth of the buildings we have in Washington and about half of the government workers.

We would replace most of its bureaucracy with a handful of good websites.

If we created American government today, we would not dream of taking money out of people’s pockets, sending it all the way to Washington, handing it over to politicians and bureaucrats to staple thousands of pages of artificial and political instructions to it, then wear that money out by grinding it through the engine of bureaucratic friction…and then sending what’s left of it back to the states, where it all started, in order to grow the American economy.

What we are doing now to govern ourselves is not just wrong. It is out of date and it is a failure.

We believe in planting the seeds of growth in the fertile soil of your economy, where you live, where you work, invest, and dream, not in the barren concrete of Washington.

If it’s worth doing, block grant it to the states.

If it’s something you don’t trust the states to do, then maybe Washington shouldn’t do it at all.

We believe solving problems closer to home should always be our first, not last, option.

We believe hiring others, far away, is the last and least effective way to meet our social responsibilities to others.

States should not face a moral dilemma when they try to right size their own budgets and federal strings stand in the way.

While the Democrats work on taking more from working Americans, we should stand for radically simplifying our tax code – not for the benefit of Washington, but to get the Washington out of the way.

Get rid of the loopholes paid for by lobbyists and blow up the incentives that Washington uses to coerce behavior from the top-down.

It shouldn’t be complicated for a taxpayer to fill out his taxes…or to live his life without fear of the tax consequences of his or her choices.

When it comes to education — let the Democrats extoll the virtues of our hopelessly antiquated one-size-fits-all factory schools where the child follows the dollars.

Meanwhile, let us feature the success of child-centered education solutions that meet the needs of the digital age, education where the dollars follow the child.

These are but a few examples of the way we must fight the battle of ideas, or as Thatcher said, how we must win the argument.

One thing we have to get straight — Washington has spent a generation trying to bribe our citizens and extort our states.

As Republicans, it’s time to quit arguing around the edges of that corrupt system.

III. How we win the election

Now let me shift gears and speak to changes I believe we must make if we are to win elections.

As I indicated before, I am not one of those who believe we should moderate, equivocate, or otherwise abandon our principles.

This badly disappoints many of the liberals in the national media of course. For them, real change means:

-Supporting abortion on demand without apology
-Abandoning traditional marriage between one man and one woman
-Embracing government growth as the key to American success
-Agreeing to higher taxes every year to pay for government expansion
-And endorsing the enlightened policies of European socialism

That is what real change looks like to the New York Times editorial board.

But that’s crazy talk. America already has one liberal party, she doesn’t need another one.

Government spending still does not grow our economy.

American weakness on the world stage still does not lead to peace.

Higher taxes still do not create prosperity for all. And more government still does not grow jobs.

If you believe in higher taxes, more debt, more government spending, weakness abroad, and taking guns from law-abiding citizens – you already have a party that is well represented in Washington.

No, the Republican Party does not need to change our principles…but we might need to change just about everything else we do.

Here are seven things that I believe we must change if we are to amass a following worthy of our principles, and if we are to be in position to win elections and lead America:

1. We must stop looking backward. We have to boldly show what the future can look like with the free market policies that we believe in. Many of our Governors are doing just that. Conservative ideals are aspirational, and our country is aspirational. Nostalgia about the good old days is heart-warming, but the battle of ideas must be waged in the future.

2. We must compete for every single vote. The 47 percent and the 53 percent. And any other combination of numbers that adds up to 100 percent. President Barack Obama and the Democrats can continue trying to divide America into groups of warring communities with competing interests, but we will have none of it. We are going after every vote as we work to unite all Americans.

3. We must reject identity politics. The old notion that ours should be a colorblind society is the right one, and we should pursue that with vigor. Identity politics is corrosive to the great American melting pot and we reject it. We must reject the notion that demography is destiny, the pathetic and simplistic notion that skin pigmentation dictates voter behavior. We must treat all people as individuals rather than as members of special interest groups. The first step in getting the voters to like you is to demonstrate that you like them.

4. We must stop being the stupid party. It’s time for a new Republican party that talks like adults. It’s time for us to articulate our plans and visions for America in real terms. We had a number of Republicans damage the brand this year with offensive and bizarre comments. We’ve had enough of that.

5. We must stop insulting the intelligence of voters. We need to trust the smarts of the American people. We have to stop dumbing down our ideas and stop reducing everything to mindless slogans and tag lines for 30-second ads. We must be willing to provide details in describing our views.

6. We must quit “big.” We are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, or big anything. We must not be the party that simply protects the well off so they can keep their toys. We have to be the party that shows all Americans how they can thrive. We are the party whose ideas will help the middle class, and help more folks join the middle class. We are a populist party and need to make that clear.

7. We must focus on real people outside of Washington, not the lobbyists and government inside Washington. We must stop competing with Democrats for the job of “Government Manager,” and lay out ideas that can unleash the dynamic abilities of the American people. We need an equal opportunity society, one in which government does not see its job as picking winners and losers. Where do you go if you want special favors? Government. Where do you go if you want a tax break? Government. Where do you go if you want a handout? Government. This must stop. Our government must pursue a level playing field. At present, government is the un-leveler of the playing field.

This is a pathway forward for the Republican Party, one that honors our principles, the American people, and also, will help us win elections.

IV. Conclusion

Let me conclude by making this observation – America is facing her greatest choice, and the hour is late.

We can either go down the Government path or the American path.

The left is trying to turn the government path into the American path.

Shame on us if we let them do that.

We believe freedom incentivizes ordinary people to do extraordinary things and that makes America an exceptional nation.

In the last few years it has become fashionable to talk about American Exceptionalism – the idea that this country is better and different than any other on the planet.

As Republicans we have criticized President Obama for not believing in American exceptionalism.

It is imperative that we not only promote America’s exceptionalism, we must also define it.

During the inauguration I heard a lot of commentators remark on the uniquely peaceful transfer of power we have in this country.

But let us not get confused….

Even as we must never take for granted the peaceful transition of power, America is not great because of the design of our government.

Our nation is not exceptional because of its commitment to free elections.

The genius of America is that our strength and power and growth come from the individual actions of our people.

Government does not order greatness. Government cannot command outcomes that exceed those in other nations.

But free individuals…taking risks…building businesses…inventing things from thin air…and passing immutable values from one generation to the next…that is the root of America’s greatness.

And that is our mission as we build a new Republican Party.

We must shift the eye line and the ambition of our conservative movement away from managing government and toward the mission of growth.

It falls to us to show the younger generations the wisdom and the great benefit of the American path.

It falls to us to unleash a new dawning of the American Dream – the dream my parents came to America for – a dream of growth, prosperity, and equal opportunity.

It is our responsibility to seize this opportunity and lead our country into a new era of possibility, progress, and prosperity.

It falls to us to take the ever-fresh principles of freedom and apply them to the future.

Make no mistake; I’m not calling for a period of introspection and navel gazing. Far from it.

I’m calling for us to get busy winning the argument…and then, after that…winning the next election.

Thank you, and may God richly bless you.

GOP Declares War on … Republicans?   3 comments

I give credit where credit is due. This is based on an analytical article by Scott Rasmassen from two weeks ago. As a non-partisan, I have no allegiance to a political party and not much surprises me coming from the GOP anymore. You know, since they tried to convince conservatives that Mitt Romney was one of us, they lack a certain credibility in my view.


While Washington media and pundits hailed the “fiscal cliff” deal as a significant bipartisan accomplishment, voters around the country didn’t much agree. According to Rasmussen polls, seven out of 10 Democrats approved of the deal while seven out of 10 Republicans disapproved. I’d say that nine of ten non-partisan conservatives disapproved too.

Coming on the heels of this agreement, Politico reported another area of bipartisan agreement. While Washington Democrats have always viewed GOP voters as a problem, Washington Republicans “… in many a post-election soul-searching session” have come to agree. The article said that, in light of the party’s election failures of 2012, establishment Republicans (the elites of the party) have concluded that they have a “primary problem.”

Viewed from the ivory towers of the DC power structure, the problem for the GOP is that Republican voters think it’s okay to replace incumbent senators and congressmen who do not represent the views of their constituents. In 2012, Republican voters in Indiana dumped longtime Sen. Richard Lugar in a primary battle. In 2010, Alaskan Republican voters dumped Sen. Lisa Murkowski in a primary battle (although she came back as a write-in candidate to win a 32% plurality, which was just enough to secure her Senate seat from her Republican challenger, Joe Miller). The Indiana battle infuriated establishment Republicans because they liked how Lugar worked and the replacement candidate was flawed and allowed Democrats to win what should have been a safe Republican seat. In Alaska, establishment Republicans also liked Murkowski as opposed to her more conservative GOP opponent, but there was no risk of the Democrat winning the election (which makes one wonder about conspiracies in the halls of power).

Politico reports that the Washington GOP team is gearing up a new effort to protect incumbents and limit the ability of Republican voters to successfully challenge establishment candidates. There’s logic in that move for those whose sole aim is to win a majority in Congress rather than change the course of government policy. Seen from a non-partisan perspective, however, it looks like the professional politicians (the political class as some have called it) are saying that the only way to win is to pick candidates who closely resemble themselves. So why should conservatives, even Republican conservatives, bother to vote if they won’t be allowed to select candidates who represent their values? This may explain why more than two-thirds of Republican voters believe GOP officials in Washington have lost touch with the party’s base and it may also explain the significant drop in GOP participating in this election, despite party registrations making it the largest party in the nation.

It may explain why party elites believe that Mitt Romney was just too conservative for American voters while most conservative voters thought Mitt Romney was a progressive RINO to the point that many of them stayed home on November 6, 2012. This is evidence of the divide between the leadership of the Republican Party and the voters the leaders would like to call their base; a gulf that widens with every election cycle. This cycle some voters stayed home rather than vote for the party anointed; in 2016, they may start voting Libertarian or Constitution Party as a viable option to select a candidate who will represent them.

The GOP establishment has a choice to make. They can either act like grown-up leaders of a national political party in a representative democratic republic or they can protect their own self-interest like any good oligarchy.

An oligarchy protects its self-interest and stays in power no matter who it has to sell out. After decades of pandering to conservative voters to keep us as their base, the GOP establishment has now decided it must, at least in the short-term, pander to other groups to try to bring them into the big tent. With all due respect, you are never going to please conservatives by spending a lot of money on unpopular programs like welfare and auto company bailouts. We want smaller government that spends less and is paying down the debt. You might win the mushy middle, but what good does that do you if you lose the 38% of the electorate that self-describe as conservative?  And recognize that the 30.3% of voters who are registered unaffiliated include voters like me who are CONSERVATIVES to the right of the GOP base but willing to vote with you-all if you give us at least some of what we want.

If the GOP elite want to act like a national party in a representative democratic republic, they need to understand their constituents. Mature party leaders would spend significant amounts of time listening to Republican voters rather than isolating themselves further from them. They’d ask the tough questions about why we prefer “tea party” candidates over their establishment anointed candidates. They would seriously ponder why just half of GOP voters have a favorable opinion of House Speaker John Boehner, who is the current face of the Republican leadership. They would analyze why only 37 percent of Republicans believe the economy is mediocre – not good, but merely fair.  And, they’d take responsibility like grown-ups and acknowledge that government spending in the US has gone up every year since 1954 regardless of whether Republicans or Democrats were in the majority. Then, after some real soul searching, these party elitist would-be leaders would chart a realistic course to address those concerns. That new “contract with America” would include some bitter medicine for the political elite of the GOP, such as giving up corporate welfare programs that benefit their friends and allies. Then they would take the bold step of sharing this plan of correction with the voters and helping Republican voters identify primary candidates who challenge the establishment who could also be effective on the campaign trail without sounding like Democrats.

My prediction is that the GOP elite will continue to protect the insiders from the voters and keep their perks rather than represent their constituency. Expect more “centrist” candidates who will promise greater spending and more programs that appeal to the optimistically misinformed. Don’t be surprised if your state GOP announces a move to Republican caucus primaries that favor insiders away from primary elections that favor the general electorate. This confirmation of the GOP oligarchy should be a signal for GOP conservatives (and anyone else who thinks our elected officials should represent us rather than themselves) to leave the Grand Old Party in droves and seek third-party representation that more closely resembles our values.

Gridlock Is Good   1 comment

Back when Ross Perot ran for president, a friend new to Alaska expressed her concern that this man was getting involved in politics. “We should leave that to the politicians,” she said. “They know what they’re doing.” The younger adults of our church, all gathered in someone’s kitchen, all stared at her like she’d grown two heads. That was soooo not an Alaskan way to think of things. Apparently she didn’t realize that voting was established to give people a say in politics.

So, these days, a politicalyl naïve position is that gridlock is bad. Seriously? Apparently. The idea is that we send politicians to Congress to get things done. Compromise. If you’re the minority, just go along with the majority so that the legislation gets passed. We want progress. Of course, if you’re a voter on the minority side, you might object if your representative ignores the reason you voted for him was to represent your values, but then he compromises and moves things further from your values.

So, if you’re opposed to a legislation like, for example, the Affordable Care Act, you’ll take gridlock over it being rushed through both houses of Congress without review. Of course, when we as a nation give both houses of Congress and the presidency to one party, gridlock isn’t a problem.

What many people don’t understand is that the United States Constitution was written to create gridlock. The Framers planned it that way. They didn’t trust government. They thought government was inherently tyrannical. They wanted to keep it small and controlled by the people.

The design of the constitution was to pit faction against faction to gum up the works until there was broad consensus. If they never reached that point – all the better because that wasn’t a law the people wanted. Bills would start in the House where everyone has to stand for election every two years. So they’re going to be careful not to irritate the folks back home. Then things pass through the Senate, where they stand for election every six years and can get away with voting against the people (at the time, they were appointed by the legislature of their states and often voted accordingly. This acted as a brake on the people’s passions.  Then there’s the president who can veto any legislation. Beyond that, there’s the Supreme Court that can declare laws unconstitutional.

The framers were all about making legislation hard. In periods of gridlock, smaller legislation gets bottled up while bigger legislation gets through – at least in the past. Tax reform in the 1980s, welfare reform in the 1990s happened during times of divided leadership, but they were large and rather consensus based.

So why are we concerned with gridlock in the 21st century? Is it worse than it was in the past?

Not necessarily, but I think TV plays a huge role in convincing the public that gridlock is bad. The more strident the political opinion, the more likely the quote or sound bite are to be printed, broadcast or communicated over the Web. The loudest shouting often reaches the most ears. Keep complaining that the “other side” is creating gridlock in an environment where people expect action, and it may work to get you reelected.

But, let’s ask ourselves something honestly. Are we really helped when Congress acts in concert without gridlock? Think about the mass of legislation that swept through both houses of Congress during the first two years of the Obama administration. Many of us were very unhappy with that avalanche because we didn’t agree with much of it. At the mid-term election in 2010, the House saw the greatest turnover from one party to another since 1950, indicating that the people instinctively embrace gridlock. We like divided government if the alternative is masses of legislation we don’t approve.

Do laws make our lives better? I will submit that we’d be better off if Congress spent the next year reviewing all the old legislation and regulations and dumping anything that is too complicated, too heavy-handed, outmoded, etc. We’d be better off with FEWER laws rather than more.

Our Raging World   6 comments

The United States has become an angry society. Lots of people would like to blame the gun culture, video games and movies for our growing culture of violence, but I think we need to examine ourselves. Do you drive? Are you a respectful driver who stays in your lane, maintains a moderate speed and smiles at the toll booth girl? Or are you weaving in and out of traffic, accelerating rapidly, slamming on your brakes and gesturing menacingly at your fellow drivers?

Before I wrote a word, I went out and researched this topic. The issue of aggressive driving has been addressed in plenty of articles, but it was the comments to those articles that fascinated me. “Well, for every aggressive driver out there there’s 3 or 4 bad drivers that force the rest of us to deal with them. Get the bad drivers off the road and aggression would end.”  I suspect this commenter is in the second group of drivers and the “bad” drivers are in the first. His frustration with their polite driving is a symptom of the rage that you can see all throughout society.

I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but the 21st century has mostly been a decade of venting our spleens and now our young men are shooting strangers in public venues. What is wrong with us? Is it really just that we have guns in our homes? Maybe we need to take the cars away too because road rage kills far more people than guns do. According to the FBI’s latest statistics, so do fists and feet. We can’t do without those, so maybe we need to look elsewhere – away from the tools of rage to the source of our rage itself.

Politically, we’re a deeply divided nation struggling among ourselves over the fundamental nature of our governmental system. Economically, nothing makes you angrier than not being able to find a job so you can feed your family or feeling trapped in a job you hate because of limited choices in the job market. Socially, we’re also grown extremely divisive. For every us there is a them and there is an increasing desire among some groups to control “them”. As a society, we feel overwhelmed and overstimulated, in debt, trapped, failing, undervalued, invisible and silent, tyrannized by greater powers, and unable to control the environment around us. If the United States were an individual, we’d be at risk for domestic violence. And, what a surprise – we collectively show all the symptoms!

Anger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion. There’s nothing wrong with being irritated over some of life’s difficulties. Your husband leaves the toilet seat up and you fall in. Do you feel valuable to him? Does your wife leave the grounds in the coffee maker for you to deal with? Do you feel validated? Those are normal life reactions. The instinctive, natural way to express anger is to respond aggressively. Slam the seat down, call your husband a jerk and leave the coffee grounds in the maker for him to deal with. Biologically, our bodies don’t know the difference between irritation and response to a threat. Anger is a natural, adaptive response to threats; it inspires powerful, often aggressive, feelings and behaviors, which allow us to fight and to defend ourselves when we are attacked. A certain amount of anger, therefore, is necessary to our survival. When life’s stressors are coming at you at a million miles an hour whenever you’re awake, you’re in a constant state of adaptive response to threat. Our modern society, with our instant access to news on a 24-hour cycle and all the stressors of jobs, government, regulation, debt, smart phones, and just the sheer number of activities we feel obligated to participate in … no wonder we’re angry to the point of rage. We have left the realm of normality as a society and we wish we could slap someone to set everything right.

We, rightly, think that walking into a mall or movie theater with a collection of guns and randomly shooting at people is not a normal reaction to life stressors. If only we were still normal! Our society is collectively stressed out and constantly enraged. Our driving behavior and Internet communications show that far too many of us think it’s acceptable to inflict emotional harm on others when they’re stressing us out. Add to that a little schizophrenia, thousands of images of simulated murder, an absent father, a society that does not value those who can’t handle stress and is constantly presenting new threats to deal with and I don’t wonder that an occasional 20-something man starts shooting at strangers in a gun-free zone.

Thirty years ago, there was a popular psychological movement that said “holding in anger is unhealthy. You should let it all hang out. Yell at your spouse, flip off the bad drivers, and tell subculture groups you don’t like that they’re evil.” Psychologists now say that this is a dangerous myth that drives an increase in anger in general and pushes some people to hurt others. Research has found that “letting it rip” with anger actually escalates anger and aggression and does nothing to help you (or the person you’re angry with) resolve the situation.

So what’s the answer? We don’t need more laws to change our collective behavior. Taking control away from people who are already feeling out-of-control escalates the behavior. A top-down approach will breed rebellion. Society is made up of individuals, so individuals working toward a common goal can affect society for the better. We need individual self-examination and individual self-control. Shut off the smart phone and the TV. Spend some time contemplating your navel or read a book. Take a deep breath. Relax. Mind your mouth (or your typing fingers). Don’t say it. Don’t use the gesture you want to use. Control yourself. Adopt reason. Few things in life are the end of the world and getting angry over trivial issues leaves you with no energy to address big ones.

Sometimes, our anger and frustration are caused by very real and inescapable problems in our lives. The economy stinks and our government is making it worse. Some of us are drowning in debt and the rapidly inflating cost of living. Anger over that is not misplaced, and it may provide the energy for change in our society, but I submit that there are no quick fixes. The cultural belief that every problem has a solution and that the problem is “other people who just won’t get on board” adds to our frustration. A society built on individual rights and responsibilities may not provide immediate solutions. It doesn’t mean you subjugate the half of society that values personal liberty in order to force your “solution” on society. Tyranny rarely provides ownership and maybe our solutions will ultimately be found in how we handle and face problems rather than solving the problem itself.

Maybe if we’d all slow down, listen to one another, consider that the “other guy” may have a sliver of sense among a wagon load of stupidity, stop jumping to conclusions over sound bites, and recognize that “other people” doing things differently from me or you is not necessarily a societal apocalypse – maybe we’ll find solutions just in the process of letting some of our anger and frustration go.

We are the problem and we must be the solution.

Where are the Dads?   2 comments

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a woman. When women take men to task for being less-than-adequate parents, I’m usually the first to point out that they need to take their own inventory before they smear the male gender, but in dealing with the causation of our culture of violence, I found myself circling this issue a few too many times. To avoid overstepping my personal boundaries, let me introduce my husband as guest co-blogger and/or interviewee.  He is not responsible for everything written here, but he was a large contributor.

“It’s bad enough that you weren’t prepared to be a father … you might have considered using contraception to prevent that, Dad. But failing to be there for your kids and then not holding yourself accountable for whom they become is far worse.”

For a young boy, the most important human relationship is between himself and his father. The offspring looks up to his progenitor, learns from his example and hangs on his every word. Many young boys see their fathers as heroes wholly blameless and without flaw. To a young male, Dad is who he aspires to be.

Though no man is perfect, a father who sets a terrible example makes it so much harder for his young son to be a good man. The basic notions of what it takes to be a man are imprinted on the child from his experiences with his father. My father was (and remains) a functional alcoholic, womanizer and workaholic, and his lack of character led to estrangement from my mother (another topic altogether that I’ll leave in Lela’s capable hands) and lack of full attachment with me. He chose himself over his son, medicating himself with booze, wealth, wives, mistresses and possessions. He is an extremely charming and callow man who has both adoring fans and bitter enemies, two ex-wives and one who wishes she were a widow, four children (that he knows of) with various opinions of him, and siblings who keep their hands on their wallets when he comes around. It’s not all his fault. He had a poor example for a father too.

Despite experiencing firsthand the damage alcohol causes and a strong Christian faith that teaches me that alcohol is not an answer, whenever I’m faced with a stressful situation, my first instinct is to have a drink. My father impressed on me that men handle stress through alcohol, and that basic instinctual reaction is extremely difficult to overcome. Some fathers beat their sons. Others display a stoic lack of emotion, reducing the father-son relationship to a never-ending chase for approval on the part of the son. Patterns of behavior are learned and often repeated; however poorly the example is set, it defines the son’s life.

My father’s example to me was piss-poor, but I still needed him in my life. My adolescence was a troubled time, as adolescence often is. Not knowing my father well left me with huge holes in coming to know myself. I could give tons of examples where he neglected me – from living 1500 miles apart, to showing up once a year to drop me off at camp, to never once coming to see me play sports or act in a play, to scoffing at my skateboarding. I would have traded camp and the lavish gifts for a weekend of undivided attention from my sober father. He could have taught me to shave. Yeah, probably the most pivotal point of transforming from boy to man, I was alone because my father had neglected his duty to his son. I think of that now as my son deals with acne and searching for whiskers on his smooth young skin.

With single-parent families becoming more common, the traditional family unit is harder to find. Courts generally keep children with the mother in custody cases, but it remains imperative that the father strives to maintain access to his children, however limited. Yes, there are extreme situations where no contact is better, but in my opinion having a relationship with both parents is crucial. Even if one parent is a poor example, it is better for the child to have discovered this for themselves, as unanswered questions and biased perceptions impair the youngster’s development through adolescence and self-discovery. Lela’s older half-brother knew his father who sounds like he would have liked hanging out with my dad; in the end, though his father was a poor example, he chose to buck the trend knowing he was swimming against the flow. I don’t have that and it still hurts.

The onus is on parents to maintain these relationships in safe and mutually acceptable venues. When parents use children as weapons in custody battles, or allow their own opinions of each other to cloud their parental judgment, it is the child who suffers the most. Parents need to remember that just because somebody is a bad partner, it does not make him or her a bad parent.

A child needs to know who his parents are first-hand. A boy needs to know who his father is, unfiltered by those who either love him or hate him.

There are always going to be situations where the parents are absent through no fault of their own; they may be sent to war or pass away from an illness or tragic accident. Sometimes, absence is unavoidable. Addiction, laziness, or personal disputes between parents aren’t acceptable excuses. They will damage the children in ways adults cannot foresee.

Becoming a parent isn’t something that should be taken lightly. It is a lifelong commitment, and as a parent, your duty is to do your very best by your child. Your own wants and desires are secondary to the development and nurturing of your offspring. If, for instance, you have an addiction, you need to seek the help that is available — not tomorrow, not after “one last binge”—now. If you are in dispute with your ex-partner, resolve it. If you are scared your child will reject you, risk it.

Don’t be an absentee father. However long it has been, whatever mistakes you have made, pick up the phone and make the call. You’re a parent—and you owe that to your child.

In seeking to identify the problems that exist within our society that might cause young men to be so angry that they want to kill strangers, the absence of fathers in so many homes stood out to me. Dads, where are you?


It’s All About Me   Leave a comment

Continuing my inventory of the trends within American society that have caused and will continue to cause the impersonal, undirected rage that leads to mass shootings, I’d like to point my finger in your face … recognizing that there are three more pointing back at me. We are the problem and we will be the solution … if we’re brave enough.

In mental health circles, where I spent the last 15 years as an administrator, narcisstic personality disorder can be boiled down to a simple phrase – it’s all about me and anything that is about you, either doesn’t matter or needs to be beaten to death. I can’t think of a better term than “narcissistic” to describe a father who abandons his mentally ill child, even if he supplies a six figure income to that child’s mother. What is there to say for a mother who prioritizes vacationing over the care and supervision of her unstable son? American culture preaches a crass consumerism that encourages citizens to place the flimsiest of their whims over the needs of others. Murder – for thrill, glory, or whatever Lanza’s unknown motive – is the ultimate manifestation of narcissism. It is the literal destruction of another’s life in the hopes of enhancing one’s own.

As a country, we praise the virtue of the selfless heroics of the Sandy Hook teachers who tried to save the lives of their students with their unarmed bodies, but we ignore as our president orders innocent women and children killed in drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. While we engage in media approved mourning for Sandy Hook we ignore the decades of slaughter in our inner cities. We prioritize our own interests over those of foreigners and the poor in our own country, which is narcissism.

We can use the Newtown massacre as an opportunity to intellectually, morally and spiritually grow into citizens that cultivate communities of strength, love and interdependence that treat others with respect and care or we can continue to float along as islands, ignorant to the mentally ill in our own families and oblivious to the struggles of people in houses next door to us. We can fearlessly confront the issues that drive violence in our country by addressing the underlying issues as they exist right in our own homes and communities.

But when we lock up all the legal guns so that the average citizen has no means to protect himself, what will we blame when madmen like Adam Lanza use suicide vests, knives, cars driven into crowds, or illegally manufactured guns to take out their victims? These sorts of spree killings happen in countries where personal ownership of guns is highly restricted, evidencing something deeper than just “a culture of guns” is at work in modern man.

Are we so stuck on ourselves that we really can’t see that “the other guy” is no more at fault than we are and that, ultimately, the man or woman in the mirror is the only person we can affect for the better? This country was founded on individual liberty and responsibility and for most of our history, that was the ideal that we followed. What makes any of us think that we are so smart that we can force the man next to us to comply to our will and that will somehow make the world a better place.

That’s narcissism and from our president down to people on the street corner, we are a nation evidencing all the symptoms.

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