The Liberty Professor Endorses Chris McDaniel for US Senate

McDanielPerhaps there is nothing more wonderful, more perplexing, or more troublesome than the challenge of discovering where we belong in life. As a Christian and theologian, I believe that life is God’s greatest gift to each of us. It is a gift that must be unwrapped daily, little by little. It can forever surprise and delight us.

The poet e. e. cummings was a unique person. To be oneself, he argued, is the toughest challenge of all. “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”

Yet discovering yourself is the first challenge.

I have come to realize that I am simply not called to the political arena. God has opened new possibilities for the fulfillment of my life’s genuine vocation. We academic types are used to argumentation. In some ways we even thrive on it. Others are not used to it and find it not only baffling, but confrontational as well. I do not wish my political commitments to be a barrier to those to whom I may be called to minister.

My political commitments have certainly not changed. But I will no longer be a public spokesman for those commitments. This will be the final post for The Liberty Professor.

These are unsettling times for constitutionalists. We are under fire from both sides of the political aisle. We are labelled with the cruelest of names and accused of the most vile of attitudes–for no other reason than the fact that we have asked important questions. Has government become too unwieldy? Is it too powerful? Are both major parties responsible for growing the size and scope of government for the sake of their respective agendas?

I believe the proper response to each of these questions is assuredly “yes.”

As we approach the 2014 midterm elections, Mississippi has an opportunity to make history. In my opinion, Sen. Thad Cochran has not done enough to support the Constitution. He is a big-government Republican whose time in DC should come to an end. With this post I thank him publicly for his service and I humbly ask him to return home as a private citizen.

In addition, I happily and vigorously endorse Chris McDaniel, whom I believe will bring a new voice to Washington politics on behalf of the good people of Mississippi. I have met Chris. I have heard him speak. I believe he is a genuine constitutionalist.

It goes without saying that I don’t always agree with Chris McDaniel. No one with a brain should agree with any politician all the time. There are things I would say differently than McDaniel. There are ways I would emphasize the message differently. But one thing is absolutely certain to me: Chris McDaniel is a person of profound integrity and soul-searching honesty.

I believe Chris McDaniel will join political forces with other elected officials in DC who are “fighting the good fight” to bring back to the national debate a full appreciation of the power of limited government as laid out in our Constitution. For that reason I support him without reservation.

Humbly, I ask you to give Chris your consideration. Think of the future and the burden being placed upon your children and your grandchildren. Think of the unbridled power and expense being accumulated in the halls of the federal government. Then take note of the growing clamor of false accusations and mud being slung toward McDaniel and his campaign. It speaks louder than words. It tells you that some powerful people are very afraid of the McDaniel campaign message.

Ideas are dangerous. McDaniel has a good idea: let’s be faithful to the Constitution.

Please mark your calendar. The Republican primary is set for June 3rd. I urge you to cast your vote for Chris McDaniel, and to vote for him a second time in the general election on November 4th. I have already contacted my neighbors and asked them to consider Chris. I hope you will do likewise.

It is a great honor to offer this endorsement, and it serves as a fitting way to bring this blog to a close.  May God bless America, and may God preserve the Constitution.

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Single Payer: Harry Reid Admits the Truth

congressmenWhy not start by scanning the attached photograph of prominent Democrat leadership? It includes from left to right, Pres. Barack Obama, Sen. Harry Reid, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi as they proclaim their commitment to “honest leadership and open government.” Now perhaps you’ll allow me to engage in some light-hearted, linguistic detective work.

According to the good folks at one popular online dictionary, the definition of “honest” includes not only the intention of being honorable, but also the practice of being genuine, sincere, and frank.  “Open” is defined, in part, as having interior intentions immediately accessible, free from obstruction.  I don’t intend to put words into the mouths of the online editors, but I believe it’s reasonable to suggest that “honest leadership and open government,” as a slogan, must clearly suggest that the leaders in question deal with the public in a way that is forthright: in other words, honest leaders speak truthfully. Listening to the electorate, they work in a way that is clear, without guile, and following a path that is not clouded by falsehoods and partial truths.  One might assume that “open government” means that voters can clearly see and understand the goals toward which governmental leaders are working.

To go one step further in our detective work, let’s take a look at the White House webpage concerning the so-called “Open Government Initiative.” That webpage is still accessible despite the government “shutdown.” Political regimes rarely shut down the organs of their propaganda, so while all sorts of other government websites have been curtailed at this time, mediums that pound the public with acceptable program messages continue to run. No use wasting a crisis, especially when it’s a crisis that has been manufactured for maximum political capital.

Note the emphasis on the said webpage dedicated to open government. According to the direct quotation from President Obama, we are in for quite a treat: nothing less than an “unprecedented level of openness in Government” (the capital “G” isn’t my idea–that’s how it’s done on the website, just like the capital “G” in “God”). The page is marked with another lovely idea about government: transparency.

I like the idea of honesty, openness, and transparency–especially in government. But I wonder what happened back in 2009 and 2010 when so many constitutionalists like me were engaged in debate with supporters of the so-called Affordable Care Act (ACA), Obamacare. From nearly the beginning, I argued that the intention of this law was to move us firmly and energetically toward a single-payer health system where the federal government is responsible for the healthcare of all citizens. To review my posts on the subject, click “Healthcare” on the categories list to the right. Those of us who pointed out this fact were called by the vilest of names. They said we were out of touch, we were misrepresenting the facts, we had no clue. When I and others insisted that the long-term intention of Obamacare was to so debilitate the free market so that the only remaining option would be single-payer, we were called conspiracy nuts and fringe lunatics.

Remember those days? I hope so, because Harry Reid has confirmed that we were correct. You haven’t heard about that in the “mainstream” press, have you? It happened in early August. Reid was back in his home state of Nevada during the congressional recess. As reported by the Las Vegas Sun, the shifty senator finally revealed the truth that inspired him and the Democrat majority during the debate over healthcare. Not surprisingly, he made his comments on a PBS program known as Nevada Week in Review. It must surely have delighted his viewers.

In the interview Reid made it clear that the new healthcare exchanges are only temporary. Like public opposition to the healthcare bill itself, the exchanges are something that he said “we must work our way past.”  As it presently exists, Obamacare is simply “a step in the right direction.” It won’t work forever, he said, so we’ll need something more. When questioned by a panelist on the PBS show about whether that meant the country must abandon the free-market health insurance model, Reid was emphatic: “Yes, yes. Absolutely, yes.” He then went on to make it clear that he knew the single-payer system was too unpopular in 2009 and 2010. An intermediate step was necessary.

In others words, dear reader, the Democrat leadership, while falsely claiming to be “honest” and “open,” played loose with the truth. While calling everyone else liars they themselves engaged in a full-court press of misrepresentation and falsehood. In short, we’ve been had. And I’m sure they justified it to themselves by saying that they were giving us what’s best–even against our wills. Some of us saw it for what it was at the time. Now we are vindicated by none other than the two-tongued senior senator from Nevada.

What other misrepresentations were made knowingly? What other falsehoods were foisted upon us? How many other times were truth-tellers labeled as extremists and out-of-touch partisans? How much further will US politics deteriorate before we realize that the liars are the ones pointing out everyone else and accusing them of lying?

We were told in the healthcare debate that abortions would not be covered by taxpayer funding. To guarantee this, the Stupak-Pitts Amendment was introduced but did not become part of the ACA when Pres. Obama promised an executive order to prevent such funding. Yet an accounting gimmick now makes it inevitable that abortions will be covered. You may remember that Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) was roundly condemned for yelling “You lie!” when Obama insisted that ACA funds would not be used for illegal immigrants. Now we learn that ACA funds are being targeted toward centers that routinely deal with migrant workers but those centers do not check immigration status. The list goes on and on. We were told that we will be able to keep our current coverage (Obamacare is quickly demonstrating the falsehood of that statement in more and more situations). We were told that the law would be universal in scope. Not so.  Obama is granting exemptions to businesses and the political class–but not to individuals.

In short, the Obamacare we have today is not the Obamacare that was passed in 2010. It’s a moving target with exemptions and changing provisions accomplished by way of excessive power entrusted to the US presidency. It’s a frightening reality that is about to hit the American people in their wallets and pocketbooks harder than any previous legislation in history. As fast as lies are exposed new ones are manufactured. It’s enough to dizzy a circus clown, or to make him cry.

If you want to know what healthcare is going to look like in America in the near future, chat with your friends who are doctors, insurance agents, and investors. Ask what they are doing to protect themselves, their careers, and their families. To pay for Obamacare (which will necessarily become even more expensive than expected because of its creeping scope), government will be reaching even further into our wallets. The talk among the liberal political class in DC already suggests that they are planning to go after retirement funds and even the cash value of life-insurance policies. And why not? We’ve turned our fears about health into a massive federal system that monitors our personal data, combines our bank accounts and health accounts with real-time government access and uses the Internal Revenue Service to enforce its requirements.

Government is a beast forever hungry. Like an addict who will say anything to get another fix, the elected elite continue to smile and to deny what we so often know to be their true intentions. With ruthless efficiency and the determined cooperation of the mainstream press, the Democrat party has raised this practice nearly to the level of art. Machiavelli or Rasputin would be proud. They are both laughing in their graves. I can hear their side-splitting cackles. Honest leadership? Open government? Sure thing … sure thing ….

When a Tea Party Conservative Fights Back

untitledHe has only been in the Senate for seven weeks, but the more I watch him, the more I like Ted Cruz (R-TX). This first-term senator is rattling the windows up in Washington. He refused to vote for an increase in the debt ceiling, he didn’t support John Kerry’s nomination to be Secretary of State, he voted against renewal of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and he spoke out forcefully against the nomination of former Republican senator Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense. Pointing to a potential cause of downfall for any high-profile member of the Defense Department, Cruz inquired of Hagel during his hearings if his bank account included any funds from Saudi Arabia or North Korea. He also brought up at the time the fact that Iran is in favor of Hagel’s nomination.

If you want to know what he’s up to, well, it’s fairly simple. He’s doing what he said he would do when he ran for office. Isn’t that refreshing? As he promised the people of Texas, he’s in DC “to shake up the status quo.” 

In response, a whole bunch of folks on the left aren’t happy with him. Pulling out an old favorite from the Democrat playbook, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) accused him of McCarthyism. “In this country we had a terrible experience with innuendo and inference when Joe McCarthy hung out in the United States Senate, and I just think we have to be more careful.” To her and to Chris Matthews at MSNBC, Cruz is just an extremist mistreating a patriot nominated to high office.

Jonathan Weisman at the New York Times bemoans the fact that Cruz is upsetting the sense of “comity,” or courtesy that normally marks relations between senators.  The Hill is a left-leaning tabloid that covers politics in DC and they have blasted Cruz as an embarrassment and a slanderer.  Ed Schultz, another MSNBC commentator, can’t understand why Republicans are filibustering a defense-secretary nominee “for the first time in a century.”   Cruz is painted by the Democrats as a joke at best, and possibly worse, because he’s supposedly endangering the nation’s security.

Politicians on the left don’t like it when Tea Party conservatives fight back, but the moral outrage on the left rings hollow. Is there any nasty political ploy that hasn’t been used by the Democrats in the last year? The truth is that they aren’t morally offended in the slightest.  They’re just shocked that a conservative Republican has decided to join in the fray and stand up for his values and the values of those who sent him to the Senate. Their words don’t come from their honest feelings–they are a script for public consumption. It works like this: they pretend to be offended, then they paint Cruz as an extremist nut job and a “teabagger,” and then wait for the left-leaning media to pick up the mantra.

Unfortunately, this methodology usually works. Why? Because so-called “moderate” Republicans like John McCain take their side and refuse to support the vocal conservatives trying to take the fight back to the Democrat front line.

Where was the moral outrage on the left when Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) accused Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney of being a felon and a tax dodger? There was no evidence whatsoever for the accusation (Reid said he had an “anonymous source”), yet at times it continues to be bandied about by Democrats even to this day. Unlike the Hagel situation, where a senator simply asked a question in a public forum with Hagel sitting before him, Reid made his accusation on the floor of the full Senate without Romney being present to defend himself. Where was Sen. McCaskill’s outrage then? Where was Democrat outrage when Nancy Pelosi said she could have GOP advisor Karl Rove arrested, or that she had dirt on former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich?

And let’s not forget the other hypocrisy being perpetrated on the left. Ted Cruz is the son of a Cuban immigrant by the name of Rafael Cruz. He should be a darling of the Democrats. But his crime, of course, is that he’s a conservative. Hispanics and immigrants are praised by the left only when they are liberals.

Keep it up, Ted. Take the ideological battle to the front lines. Stay on the offensive. The only way to falsely paint the Tea Party as a bunch of extremists is to allow the radical left to remain in the mainstream. Don’t give up an inch of territory. They aren’t mainstream at all–but those in that camp have seduced enough voters with their rhetoric against “the rich” and their promises of government benefits to retain power. Playing nice isn’t going to get us any closer to reclaiming our constitutional values.

Honestly, I praise Ted Cruz and I am thrilled with his leadership. At this point the GOP has little to lose–but America has much to lose if Republicans lose their spine.

It’s time to play a new game. Let’s call it “conservative hardball.” It should be played fearlessly, and with a bat of extra-large proportions. Suit up, Democrats. Ted Cruz isn’t the bad boy of the Senate. He’s a conservative Texan who’s tired of playing defense. He has switched to the game of offense and he’s lighting a fire in the halls of the political elites.

Oh, here’s another message for the Democrats: you can stop pretending to be outraged. The needle fell off your moral compass years ago.

Madame Secretary Dodges, Ducks, and Deflects

untitledThe second imperial presidency of King Barack I began with a bang this week as a well-prepared Hillary Clinton appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  The goal of this hearing was to get to the bottom of what went wrong in Libya on September 11, 2012. As Secretary of State, Clinton stands at the very top of a system that failed on that day, leaving four Americans dead, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

The transcript of Clinton’s opening statement is worthy of analysis.  Such analysis will easily demonstrate that the woman who would be president accepts little genuine responsibility for what happened just 137 days ago in Benghazi.  Oh, perhaps you had forgotten.  You can’t be blamed, really.  The pro-Democrat “mainstream” press has mostly ignored the incident.  For them and for the Obama administration, our ambassador and his three defenders were expendable. Now they need to be forgotten lest they tarnish the Obama legacy or prevent the ascendancy of Hillary Clinton.

Madame Secretary’s statement began by mentioning the names of our honored dead from Benghazi, but quickly moved past them. She placed recent events into the context of other security failures since 1988 and boldly proclaimed that “our security professionals get it right 99 percent of the time.” Then she mentioned the presidential administrations and congressional members of “both parties” and their attempts to learn from past tragedies.

This was political speak in its highest form. It was the narrative version of a wink and a nod, meaning that we all just need to move on. Mistakes have been made before and they’ll be made again. Powerful political players enjoy their salaries and perks, but they don’t enjoy being in the spotlight of blame.

She then listed all the ways that she and the State Department under her leadership rose to the occasion on that fateful day in September–and what has been done since. According to her, these actions under her vigilance have been designed to “increase the safety of our diplomats.” Then, oddly, she stated that “concerns about terrorism and instability in North Africa are not new.”

She dutifully recalled how difficult it was to watch the flag-draped coffins of our citizens return stateside and offered a moving and patriotic ending. “Every time that blue-and-white airplane carrying the words ‘United States of America’ touches down in some far-off capital, I feel again the honor it is to represent the world’s indispensable nation.”

Then, as if to cement her camraderie with the members of the Senate committee, she thanked them for their “partnership” and “shared sense of responsibility.”

Let me be as fair as I can here.  Admittedly, Hillary Clinton said that she takes responsibility for Benghazi: “As I have said many times since September 11, I take responsibility. Nobody is more committed to getting this right.” Reading the convoluted message delivered to the Senate, however, I have grave doubts.

Getting it right in the future was not the only reason for this hearing. The questions left unanswered by Clinton’s self-supporting statement include “What went wrong back in September?” and “Why was our ambassador left in such a vulnerable position on a day that is soaked with bloody meaning for the terrorists determined to harm the United States?”

This has been the necessary question screaming for an answer yet to be given. It remains unanswered because an honest assessment must point to the very highest echelons of our government. This failure is one of epic proportions and it falls upon the shoulders of President Barack Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton. This is why, from the beginning, an anti-Islamic video was falsely blamed for the attack. That poor excuse was intended to give the political cover that Obama and Clinton so badly needed. If the nation were convinced that the attack was spontaneous, then the blame would be minimal.  Or so they hoped. When they were caught in their lie they perpetrated a second lie by claiming that they never acted in the way in which they clearly did act.

It’s all quite an impressive show.  But it has little to do with honesty or an attempt to get to the facts. “It’s been a cover-up from the beginning,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) reminded us. And the cover-up continued in this week’s hearing. It became especially disgusting when Clinton was questioned by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) who wondered about the official version of what happened in the days immediately after Benghazi.

The pressure was too much for Clinton. The light of responsibility was shining directly at her. She did what the guilty often do: she deflected. She dodged and she ducked, and she acted as if the senator had done something wrong by daring to raise the issue. Irritated, she lectured him. “What difference at this point does it make?” she yelled. “It is our job to figure out what happened and to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.”

This is Hillary Clinton unhinged. Ever looking to the future and a possible bid for the presidency, this is Hillary Clinton dodging her responsibility and refusing to allow her failure to take root in the very spot where it belongs.

Ambassador Chris Stevens on September 11, 2012. Shortly after this photograph was taken he was gang-raped and murdered in the streets of Benghazi.

Ambassador Chris Stevens on September 11, 2012. Shortly after this photograph was taken he was gang-raped and murdered in the streets of Benghazi.

Madame Secretary, you’re out of line. You ask what difference it makes. It makes a great deal of difference. On the most dangerous anniversary in American history outside of declared warfare, you and your State Department were caught off guard. You were unprepared. You left our personnel in harm’s way. Then, when there was still time to save our ambassador, someone gave the command to stand down.

This colossal failure belongs to you and to President Obama. Sadly, as his re-election shows, it didn’t stick to him. Tragically, it probably won’t stick to you either. But it does matter. And it will always matter, regardless of how the media may ignore it.

Don’t give us sob stories about watching coffins as they are unloaded from transport. Your emotions are not the cause of our national grief. The bodies inside those coffins are the cause. You and President Obama put them there.

Why Republicans Are Losing to Obama

imagesApproximately twenty-five hundred years ago a Chinese general named Sun Tzu is said to have written a treatise known as The Art of War. Of all the strategic advice it offers perhaps none is more important than this: for success, you must know your enemy and know yourself. It applies to politics as well as war.

When it comes to dealing with Barack Obama, it appears that the GOP leadership doesn’t get it. They fail to understand who it is they are dealing with or the ideology that inspires their political opponent. Republicans complain that since Congress is deadlocked between a Democrat Senate and Republican House, the president should lead us away from the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

Senator Roy Blount (R-MO) recognizes that President Obama admires Abraham Lincoln. He used that recognition to make a point.  Referencing the new Spielberg movie, Lincoln, Blount said that “the lesson of that movie is that to get hard things done the president has to decide he wants something done.”  He seems to think the president wants a preventive measure to be found that will avoid the expiration of the tax cuts that have been in place since the administration of George W. Bush. Speaker of the House John Boehner seems to be negotiating with the same premise.

Republicans are focused only on the short term, hoping to stop an increase in taxes during a period of economic decline.  Obama is focused on his ultimate goal, the redistribution of wealth away from the producers and investors whose success he believes to be the product of a great immorality. His rhetoric about protecting the middle class is nothing more than a political ploy to achieve his goal of remaking America into a welfare state where taxes are higher on all producers and earners, but especially high on anyone he refers to as “the wealthy.”

Obama’s goal–and the legacy by which he wishes to be remembered–is not a stronger, more prosperous economy. It’s an economy of redistribution. The long-term cost is of little concern to him. Like Lincoln, whom he admires, Obama will do whatever he must to achieve his goal.

Lincoln’s goal was the forced preservation of the American union. Using an invading army in states that had declared themselves separated from his authority, he presided over scorched-earth tactics, declared martial law and imprisoned Americans without legal authority, closed hundreds of dissenting newspapers, ignored constitutional limits on government, and oversaw the arrest and deportation of a member of Congress because he had sympathies for the states in rebellion. Sadly, in this case, might really does make right. Lincoln successfully remade America into nation where membership could be compelled by force of arms and states were no longer sovereign.

Slavery could have been ended without warfare, as it was elsewhere. There were already southern leaders preparing for the end of this immoral institution. Political conflicts could have been settled without the violation of states’ rights. Constitutional limits on federal power could have been preserved. But Lincoln wanted a stronger, more powerful federal government. He could not allow threats to this goal to stand. As Prof. Thomas DiLorenzo has pointed out, “the Lincoln regime destroyed the system of federalism, or states’ rights, that was established by the founding fathers.”

For Obama, the economy is a zero-sum game. It’s a pie with only so many pieces–a pie that belongs ultimately to federal authority. It can therefore be seized and divided any way the government sees fit. He fails to understand even the most basic of economic principles. Why should he? He has never operated a business, paid employees, taken a risk to expand services or hire new workers. He has always been a leader among those who criticize the investors, planters, growers, makers, and builders–unless those growers are building a bigger government.

What he will not, cannot see, is that economies can grow and expand. Governmental power can be used to fashion an environment where that can happen or it can be used in a way that impedes it. The pie of economic vitality can actually grow and assist everyone in securing increased prosperity. That idea, however, is anathema to Obama. He sees economic growth as an injustice perpetrated upon workers rather than a form of economic cooperation bringing rewards to all.

Republicans, stop negotiating as if Obama wants to avoid economic disaster. He doesn’t. You do. Take a hint from the ancient writings of Sun Tzu. Know Obama and know yourselves.

A Frightening Double Standard on Gun Control

untitledIt never fails to amaze me when I see people arguing to limit the rights of other citizens while insisting on the preservation of their own.  It’s a putrid form of elitism that sadly infects journalists, Hollywood stars, and political leaders.

You may find it interesting that the etymological roots of our word “elite” come from Old French and Latin, specifying someone who has been chosen from among the rest. Based upon their high self-regard, elitists often tend to see their own contributions to society as more important than those of average citizens. It’s nothing more than an expression of the human tendency toward egotism and self-inflation.

Obviously, we are all susceptible to the temptation of thinking that we’re more valuable or more important than others. Perhaps we base this upon our social status or the amount of money in our possession, a leadership position we hold, or an excessive appreciation for a particular talent we enjoy. Whatever its cause may be it gives rise to a wide array of double standards.

Let’s take a look at a few examples that are particularly troubling as the nation engages the debate on gun control.

A couple of days before Christmas, NBC journalist David Gregory grilled an NRA executive on the television program known as “Meet the Press.”  During the exchange he displayed a thirty-round ammo clip from a high-capacity rifle. It appears that in doing so he violated a local ordinance prohibiting the possession of such an item within the city of Washington, DC.

Local police are now investigating; it’s possible that charges could be filed. NBC had requested permission to use the clip but this was denied by local authorities. They used it anyway.

From the manner in which Gregory responded to the NRA representative, it’s clear that he favors increased gun control–the type of control that will force law-abiding citizens to surrender their weapons of self-defense. In his interview he seemed to mock NRA’s Wayne LaPierre for proposing that armed guards be assigned to schools. Yet his own children attend the famous Sidwell Friends School in DC, an institution with a large security department in which many of the employees are known as “Special Police Officers.”  These officers are obviously armed since this designation requires training in the use of weaponry.  This is the same school attended by Sasha and Malia Obama, accompanied by armed agents of the United States Secret Service.

I’m sure Gregory doesn’t wish to be prosecuted for breaking the law, but he certainly favors harsher gun control and that means the prosecution of law-abiding gun owners who refuse to surrender their weapons. Perhaps the good of the nation depends upon the ability of journalists to receive special status when it comes to possession of gun-related items. Not being among the nation’s elite, the rest of us don’t get that privilege.

Rosie O’Donnell is another example. On more than one occasion she has pushed an anti-gun agenda, even going so far as to propose that gun owners should be imprisoned. Yet she enjoys the protection of armed bodyguards and pushed to get permission for an armed bodyguard to accompany her children to school.

David Brock is the founder of Media Matters for America, a left-leaning organization that claims a mission to monitor and counteract conservative commentators. The group has enjoyed considerable funding from Democrat financier George Soros. The organization has consistently attacked those who support permits to carry concealed weapons and has wrongly argued that carry permits do not decrease crime levels.  Despite all of this, or perhaps because of it, Brock feels he may be in danger from right-wing conspirators and snipers.  One employee of Media Matters insists that he has “more security than a Third-World dictator.”

When it comes to these people defending themselves and their families, I have no words of condemnation. On the other hand, if they and their loved ones are kept safe by the ready presence of a loaded weapon then my family can–and should–enjoy the same right. That’s the whole point, after all. In a nation of misguided excessive regulation, however, such rights end up being taken from the average American who builds a peaceful life of work and leisure. Then the ability to defend oneself becomes the exclusive prerogative of criminals and elites.

My own experience is suggestive of this fact. I never owned a weapon until I ran for public office in 1989. At the time a not-too-veiled threat was published in the sound-off column of a small newspaper in Gulfport (it’s now out of business). The next day I purchased a double-action .38 revolver. It seldom sees the light of day except for an occasional practice round and cleaning, but I sleep better knowing that it is within reach. It is nothing more than a tool.  Like all tools, it is available if needed.  I hope never to need it.

In the wake of the terrible tragedy of Newtown, level-headed and rational discussion is necessary about how to keep weapons out of the hands of those who are mentally ill or have been convicted of a violent crime. Banning a weapon simply because it fires rapidly or because its magazine holds more than a few rounds won’t accomplish these goals. An overreaching agenda such as that being proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) might be called a knee-jerk reaction except for the fact that it represents a long-time goal of those on the left who wish to put severe limits on legal gun ownership.  Should it become law, peaceful citizens will gain nothing but vulnerability while outlaws gain more power to loot, maim, and kill.

When I argue such things some of my friends ask searching questions such as why a law-abiding citizen should need this or that weapon. We hear too many such questions these days: “Why does anyone need a gun like that?” “Why should anybody have so much money?” “Why would someone want to drive an expensive car like that?”

The answers to these questions, and many others, are found in the hidden recesses of the human heart. As the wise have always said, there really is no accounting for taste. In a nation that has claimed to revere liberty such issues are left to the heart of the individual person, guided by conscience, religious conviction, and personal philosophic orientation.

Debate, argue, discuss, and compare values if you wish. This is what an open and free society should do. But at the end of the day, allow your neighbor to return home unmolested to live by his or her own values. Barring mental illness or conviction for violence, the kind and number of weapons your neighbor owns is his business and his alone. Be grateful that he owns those weapons. There may yet come a day when you and your neighbor must support one another in defense of your homes and your lives.

The Second Amendment to the US Constitution plainly reads:  “the right of the people to keep and to bear Arms shall not be infringed.” There are reasons for this. At the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven we can do away with this guarantee because we’ll no longer need it. Until then, it remains a right guaranteed by the Constitution–no matter how often and how severely it is curtailed by lack of wisdom among our elected elite.

Taxation Stupidity–It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way

untitledI had an interesting chat with a friend the other day.  He works in a technical field and makes about twice what I make a year–and that fact doesn’t bother me a bit.  What I adore about being an educator is that I get lots of time “off” from the job, which means that I can read, study, and write.  It’s what I’m called to do.  Other people are called to other things and their salary, like mine, should be determined by the forces of the free market.  What people want, they pay for.

Success doesn’t bother me.  And since I’m not a greedy person, I don’t have hateful or covetous emotions when I see others doing well.  That applies even when their income is more than mine.

Recently, a valued colleague at the college where I teach shared with me something from Martin Luther’s Large Catechism. I’d like to adopt it for my own and live by it. I encourage you to do likewise. Here is the quotation: “If our neighbor has property, we are to be glad about it, allow him to enjoy it, and promote and protect everything that may be of service to him.” An attitude such as this is certainly a far cry from what we’re hearing from the politicians in Washington, DC these days. While they pit citizens of differing economic strata against one another, the elected elite in that city of power and glory are making a darned fine living … far beyond what most Americans experience.

Anyway, my techno-friend shared with me the fact that, although his employer didn’t have as good a year as before the economic downturn, he still offered generous bonuses to his employees.  My friend received a bonus of $1000.

Sounds nice, doesn’t it?  After taxes, however, his actual income was $560.  That’s right. State and federal taxes gobbled up 44% of this extra bounty.

Admittedly, my friend and his wife are “DINKS”; they’re a married working couple without children, “Dual Income and No KidS.”  She works as an administrative assistant for a legal firm and together they make about $125,000 a year.  Neither their home nor their lifestyle is extravagant.  They are both good citizens, at least as far as I can tell.  Above all, they’re productive.

In other words, they are exactly the type of people who probably deserve a financial reward from their employers.  Yet when the primary wage earner in the family gets that reward, government (mostly federal government) steps in to take almost half before a single cent of it makes it into the wager earner’s pocket.

Perhaps you’re thinking that this is reasonable. After all, look at the benefits that this couple enjoys. Certainly, if you think this way, to a certain extent you are correct. But the fact is that taxation comes with a high price. It’s a price that is probably higher than you realize.

Imagine my friend to be in a situation where he can choose to earn that extra $1000 by doing more than usual.  Rather than a bonus, imagine that the $1000 is offered to those in his company who want to put in an extra number of hours or complete a certain number of additional projects. Most would probably jump at the offer, except for one thing. If they know my friend’s story they might hesitate.

Why? Well, because in government terms $1000 isn’t $1000.  For those in my friend’s tax bracket it’s only $560.  So when they decide if it’s worth the trouble they have to decide not about the $1000 but about the 56% of $1000.  And a certain percentage of those workers will simply decline the offer.

That’s right.  They’ll decline the offer. For whatever reason, they’ll decide that the payoff isn’t worth the trouble or the worry or the extra time or the hours away from home. It doesn’t really matter why because time belongs to them. They get to decide how to use it.

Here’s the lesson, dear friends: taxation comes with a price. And not only that, but taxation is by its nature punitive and regressive. The more success you have, the more taxes you pay. For most of you, the more hours you put in and the more money you make, the more the government smiles as it banks on your determination and strenuous efforts. That hurts everybody. It cripples our economy. I suspect that all across this nation there are millions who are choosing to work less because the incentive to do more is lower than they’re willing to accept.  I say that as a business owner in conversation with other business owners.  And there is no reason to think that we’re unique.

Let’s add insult to injury as we remind you that the US Tax Code is supposedly “progressive.” That means that as you earn more, you not only pay more dollars in the same tax bracket, you actually move up into new brackets and the percentage of your income that goes to government becomes even higher.

Are you feeling good about your hard work yet? Are those extra hours paying off?  Of course they are!  Well, not for you … but for the politicians who take your money and use it to purchase votes. For them it’s a great investment.  They get the big salary, the perks and benefits, and the parties and trips paid for by corporate backers: free trips for themselves and family, houses in the Caribbean, and a whole host of gifts that the average American taxpayer will never be able to afford. How many members of Congress became millionaires after being elected to the House or Senate?  Sounds fishy to me.

If we go over “the fiscal cliff” on January 1st, the money going to DC will increase tremendously.  And don’t be fooled by the rhetoric.  Everyone will pay for it, not just the so-called “rich.”

Washington isn’t the “District of Columbia.”  It’s the “District of Covetousness.”

Instead of punishing success, America needs a taxation system that rewards hard work.  What if extra work was taxed at a lower rate?  What if every hour after 35 in a week was taxed less rather than more?  What would happen if the elected elite who decide our tax burden realized that incentive actually means something and that people work less when they believe the payoff isn’t worthwhile?

What if taxation were for the purpose of funding the constitutionally-mandated functions of government rather than placating particular voting constituencies and ensuring the re-election of incumbent politicians?

Such questions serve as the explanation for why I support term limits–drastic term limits. This nation needs men and women who serve to solve problems, not those who serve to advance personal or party agendas.

What if taxation encouraged rather than discouraged hard work and extra effort? We have smart cars and smart phones, so why not smart taxation?

What a novel idea.