A Parable of Equality Misunderstood

thA reading from the Progressive Bible, First Book of Feel-Good Governance, chapter one.

There once was a chef who had a friend, an architect friend. Each was a man of talent who created amazing things in different ways. Each used the tools of his craft, tools granted unto them by the Creator. One day the architect friend came unto the chef, demanding that he be known not only as an architect, but also as a chef. “My friend,” said the chef, “you are a valued architect and I a valued chef. Let us each apply our craft as the Creator has decided, and as the Book of Diversity explains.”

“But this cannot be,” said the architect, “for lo, people are delighted by your tender meats and delectable sauces. And they do salivate eagerly unto your breads and cakes. This is greatly unfair.” In reply, the kind-hearted chef said “Truly the people do enjoy the foods I put unto them, but they remark greatly upon the beautiful things also that you create, though they differ from mine.”

This did not please the architect, who put continued demands upon his friend. “I will be recognized as a chef,” he insisted, though he had no training in the field and desired none. In his heart he cared not for his own gifts but he did covet the talents of the chef. And so he plotted with the other architects, a very small tribe with loud voices, and they did shame others into agreeing with them about the lack of chef equality in the world. Then the architects did fall into idolatry, for they worshiped at the temple of a mystical rainbow.

Wherever there did gather the tribe of chefs, the architects went unto their locale. There they did wail and gnash their teeth. “Give unto us the accolades of the chefs,” they demanded, “for we would love to have your accolades as well as our own.” And they did fashion banners and flags proclaiming “love will win,” protesting not once, or twice, but many times. And lo, there arose a terrible din, a loud commotion in the land as a strange vexing did accumulate among all the people, for the architects sought to accrue unto themselves the honors and badges of chefs, despite their own honors and badges as architects.

So great became the noise that the matter was referred unto the mighty board of Nine Deciders, a tribe unlike all others, a tribe of dour faces and black robes, known by some as the high priests of the Governing Document. These high priests did gather unto themselves, entering the sanctuary of the temple of the Governing Document. They did cry aloud unto heaven for an answer, and that answer was clear: neither chefs nor architects are mentioned in the holy writ of the Governing Document. And some among the Deciders did tremble at this, for they were bold to give unto the architects that which they unreasonably demanded.

Behold! It was then that five of the Deciders were enveloped in the invisible fog of the Dream State, a land of fantasy where all things are possible and where reason is scarce while feelings and happy thoughts reign. Verily, though the Governing Document said not a word about chefs and architects, it was revealed to the five progressive Deciders that invisible words do exist and that they alone, among all others, can discern the presence of these magic words. Alas, this fabulous five did overrule the other four among the tribe of Deciders, for lo, the other four could discern not the invisible words of happiness, and their decision was announced.

“Behold the law of the land,” they proclaimed. “For we have discovered what never existed, and we will promulgate what cannot be. For we five are able to read what none else have discerned. We do not read only with the eyes of the body, but also with the marvelous eyes of the Dream State.” And so there was great rejoicing among the tribe of architects, who accrued unto themselves the badges and honors of chefs though they wished not to be chefs. And they did wave with great enthusiasm their rainbow flags and they proclaimed, “This day love has won.”

And the chef, who himself was a man of love, was left to ask: “If love has won, then who has lost?” And some who once praised rainbows now put them away, perhaps forever.

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Obama’s Audacity: Using the Shutdown to Punish Some, Reward Others

immigration_rally_national_mall_APBarack Obama is nothing if not audacious. The title of his now-famous book seems to confirm it–The Audacity of Hope. His style of political campaigning confirms it, and although he did his best to hide the most extreme portions of his agenda, hints of it emerged during his original presidential campaign. He and Michelle want to leave a vastly different America in their wake when they leave the White House. “We’re going to have to move into a new place as a nation,” Michelle Obama promised. “We’re going to have to change our history, our traditions.”

When your agenda is that audacious, you have to destroy anyone who gets in the way. What better way is there for an community organizer to do that than to agitate all those who agree with him so that his political opponents are demonized? Let’s look at how community organizers do their work. Three methods are particularly effective: they inform their constituents of the government assistance to which they are entitled, they get them fired up and energetic about securing those entitlements while clamoring for more, and then they scapegoat any politician or political group that stands in their way.

This is exactly what Barack Obama and the Democrat party are doing at this moment with the government shutdown. Of course, “shutdown” is too strong a word. About 17% of the government has been turned off, and in some cases even furloughed workers are having to put in extra time to put up signs and ticket those brave citizens who dare trespass upon federal lands during a shutdown. It’s a selective shutdown.

The Obama administration is engaged in a calculated effort to punish some while rewarding others. As long as the political payoff is estimated to help the Democrat cause, it doesn’t matter who is harmed or what victims are made to suffer. Exemptions are gladly given, however, to those groups that support the cause.

Families of our military who have died in war since the shutdown began have been denied the death and burial benefits promised them. Chaplains have been threated with punitive action if they offer religious services to their congregations. Cancer trials for children have been halted. Parks, turnarounds, and scenic vistas–some of them nothing more than a patch of grass or concrete–have unnecessarily been blocked in order to make a point. In one case, a jogger was ticketed for being on federal land while it was declared to be closed. Private businesses that receive no federal funds are forced to close needlessly, simply because they are on federally-controlled land.

Is the average citizen so dangerous that he or she cannot even be present on federal property without supervision? Supposedly, the federal government maintains these lands on our behalf. Then why do we cower in fear when we imagine taking a stroll on “our” property?

Disgusted by the charade, a park ranger in DC explained the end game: “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can.”

Yet it is not so for all. Just two days ago a massive immigration rally was held on the National Mall in Washington, DC. That mall is officially closed due to the shutdown. The reason is simple enough. The rally was sponsored by the AFL-CIO and SEIU, two important unions serving as intimate allies to the Obama agenda.

To put it bluntly, while blaming the Republicans for the shutdown, the Democrats are refusing to budge on the issue of funding Obamacare. As long as they believe they have the upper hand they will not blink. They will cause inconvenience and even suffering–perhaps to the point of death from cancer–just to stand their ideological ground.

Harry Reid has exposed this nasty agenda on at least two occasions. He recently refused to consider a continuing resolution to fund NIH cancer trials for kids, as covered in my blog post from earlier this week. In addition, when publicly harassed by the mayor of Washington, DC for refusing to vote for funds needed by that city, Reid was inadvertently caught by cameras as telling him to quiet down. “I’m on your side,” he warned Mayor Vincent Gray, “don’t screw it up.”

As a political gamble this strategy may work. But there are hints that it may backfire. Obama’s approval rating is down to 37%, the lowest yet of his presidency. His pals in the media won’t talk much about it–and when they do, they’ll hide it someplace innocuous. A recent article from the Associated Press was headed by the announcement that the GOP is getting the blame for the shutdown, while hiding Obama’s low approval rating in the body of the article. There’s not much objectivity to be found there, as you can see. For an interesting Canadian analysis, click HERE.

This is the same government that kills American citizens overseas without benefit of arrest and trial. It is the same government that illegally passes personal data from IRS to White House. It’s the same government that places a harmful tax on medical equipment, refuses to enforce immigration law, and told us that Obamacare penalties aren’t a tax–until it argued before the Supreme Court and said that they are a tax. This audacious government will say almost anything, blame almost anyone, and give breaks and benefits to its friends and cronies. While blaming capitalism for our nation’s economic woes it engages in the worst form of crony capitalism and favoritism. We who recognize it are labeled as angry extremists.

It’s time to be angry. It’s past time. Audacity is a two-way street.

The Ghoulish World of Government-Controlled Healthcare

A dear friend wondered aloud on his Facebook page recently why so many of us are upset by the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling on the constitutionality of most of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), including the individual mandate.  I don’t have the heart to respond.  I suppose our political worlds are just too far apart. 

Political disagreement doesn’t bother me in any philosophic or personal sense.  It is in the nature of our existence as humans that we’re going to disagree about what makes life good, and about morality in general, and about the forms of government to which we ascent.  I truly do understand that. 

On the other hand, we citizens of the United States have a form of federal government that is already in place.  We can argue and debate many things, but one thing seems clear to me and it seems so clear as to be beyond debate:  the only way the Founders were able to get sovereign states to sign on to the compact known as the US Constitution was by guaranteeing that their sovereignty and the rights of their particular people would be respected.  So, while I’m not upset that people disagree about government and its purposes, I’m terribly distraught and at this point quite frightened and somewhat disillusioned that so many fail to understand the context, purpose, and intent of the Constitution.  But even worse:  I’m startled and disturbed by the manner in which the Constitution is ignored or misrepresented by most of those in the federal halls of power–now including the Supreme Court.  They appear to think that the mere passage of time has invalidated the limits placed upon the federal government.

As is well known at this point, it was the vote of Chief Justice John Roberts that brought victory for the individual mandate since the court was otherwise split on the matter.  It now appears that in the Court’s deliberations, Roberts originally found the mandate to be unconstitutional.  He agreed on this matter with Alito, Kennedy, Thomas, and Scalia.  But when they insisted that the unconstitutional mandate required the striking of the entire law, Roberts switched sides and upheld it in order to preserve the law itself.  According to the online Insurance Journal, he did this because of “a traditional Supreme Court principle that if the justices can find any constitutional grounds on which to uphold a law, they should do so.”

On that slim argument the Chief Justice of the United States gave the upper hand to an overreaching Congress and President against the liberties of the nation’s citizens.

Finding a reason to preserve a challenged law that has come before it is, constitutionally speaking and without a shade of doubt, NOT the job of the Supreme Court.  The job of that court is to judge the constitutionality of the law before it.  Or, as the Supreme Court said in its decision, “whether the Constitution grants Congress the powers it now asserts.”  One wonders how it can genuinely fulfill this self-stated responsibility while simultaneously attempting to uphold the matter being judged.  Would this qualify as schizophrenic jurisprudence?

If you find my argument less than convincing, imagine how such a lack of objectivity would function in any other court in the land.  Imagine if a judge or jury, supposedly disinterested and unbiased in order to guarantee a fair trial, were to decide that their job is to find a way to put you in jail no matter what the facts are.  See my point?

Whatever happens next with regard to Obamacare, so-called progressives will not rest until the United States has a centralized single-payer system administered by the federal government.  That was the goal of the Affordable Care Act and it remains the purpose toward which its implementation is moving us.  Federal regulations on insurers, limitations on insurance contracts and provisions, and even changes to the military insurance program (TRICARE) are designed with this end in sight.

Here are a few things we can look forward to if Obamacare if not overturned and if we continue moving toward a single-payer system as we are doing now.  My predictions aren’t the product of gazing into a crystal ball, but come simply from studying the record of government involvement in other issues of our lives, and from looking at similar programs in other welfare nations.

First, the goal is that private insurance and private medical arrangments–even if paid for by one’s own personal funds–will be illegal, and will result in severe penalties.  Waiting times will increase dramatically and the wealthy among us will simply go to other countries for the medical procedures they need.  The United States will no longer be the country where the wealthy of other countries come for surgery unless they are able to take advantage of my second prediction.

What is my second prediction?  That’s easy:  our elected officials will have access to better and quicker healthcare than the constituents they supposedly represent.  You can count on that.  No matter what happens, they’ll see that they get the best for themselves and their loved ones.  That’s one of the perks to being among the political elite.

Third, the entire plan will cost far more than anyone has even begun to suggest.  The process to realizing this has already begun. 

Fourth, in an attempt to control costs, the federal government is going to insist on massive new intrusions into our personal lives.  By federal law, our health records are already being maintained electronically.  And progressives in some states and cities are already putting intrusive food-related measures into place.  We can expect all sorts of new regulations and limitations on any substances considered unhealthy:  alcohol, edible fats, salt, types of carbohydrates, sizes of food containers, and an eventual absolute ban on tobacco.

I can easily imagine that, under a nationalized healthcare system, we’ll be forced to undergo certain medical tests to ensure that we are complying with the law.  Simple blood tests will be the espionage system that gives the truth of our activities to the government (in other words, our bodies will be tattling on us to government representatives who will then take the necessary measures to punish us through taxation or worse).  I can already imagine the conversations between doctors and patients. 

Doctor:  “Mr. Smith, I thought you told me you quit smoking six months ago.  Your blood test says otherwise.”

Patient:  “Well, doc, I tried.  I stopped for a week or two but the habit was too strong.  I went back to smoking … but hey, I was able to cut back to only half a pack a day.”

Doctor:  “Nonetheless, you realize that the law requires me to report this fact to the national health agency.  Otherwise I’ll lose my medical license.”

Patient:  “No, wait … please, doc, I can’t afford another increase in my taxes … they’re getting outrageous.  Ever since my cholesterol went up and you told the feds about it my health-related government fees are eating me alive.  My family and I are looking to sell our house and get a smaller one just so we have more money to send the government for cover our lifestyle fees.”

(By the way, if the part about downsizing a home in order to have more money to give to government sounds ridiculous, then you need to take note of the rising number of retired elderly people who are selling their homes because they can’t afford the property taxes.)

For now the part about government “lifestyle fees” is just a horror story.  But before now who would have thought that the highest court in the land would say that it’s ok for the feds to force us to buy something under penalty of law?  Justice Roberts says it’s just a tax.  I feel better already.  After all, we have massive taxation on cigarettes.  Let’s tax the heck out of butter, whole milk, and cooking oils.  While we’re at it we can impose a targeted federal tax on all fried foods and all caffeinated beverages the same as we’re targeting a federal tax already on tanning salons.  All of this stuff is just not good for you. 

I guess there is no need to worry about this anytime soon.  When the economy collapses we’ll all be getting skinny one way or the other.  I note that the latest reports from Europe state that unemployment in EU nations is higher than it’s ever been before and the entire continent is racing toward recession.  There’s nothing to worry about, I’m sure–except that our federal government seems to be emulating EU economic, financial, and regulatory policies.  I’m sure economic collapse will never happen here.  After all, our Constitution and our Supreme Court will protect the liberties that would prevent such a thing in this country.

How many of us still believe that fairy tale?

Constitutionalists: Where Do We Go From Here?

Don’t turn Left. Don’t turn Right. Return to the Constitution.

I am merely a citizen.  My only influence upon American society is as a person who possesses a tremendous love and respect for constitutional governance, along with a voice and a blog.  In my opinion, however, this nation is facing a constitutional crisis as great as we’ve ever faced before in our history.  My intuition tells me that I am not alone in this thinking.  Pressure is building, along with disgust.  Like a pot of boiling water it will eventually spill over.  Like a pressure cooker it will eventually explode.  Hard-working, everyday Americans continue to see the erosion of their liberties as well as unreasonable limitations placed upon their economic opportunities by an overreaching federal government.  It seems of late that each day brings another more obvious–more egregious–example.  We try to find comfort by assuring ourselves that the latest wound will be the last, but then we awake the next morning to find another blow to the inalienable rights guaranteed by the Constitution.  As I post this, it is Saturday evening.  What new assault on constitutional liberties will be made known on Monday? 

Ideology and power have become the starting points for law rather than the Constitution.  The nation’s Founders did all they could to leave us a workable and realistic system of federal governance that, by separating and balancing powers, would be the strongest preventitive for tryanical government–government run amuck.  Yet thousands and thousands of pages of regulation are produced by Congress each year.  There are so many new laws that at times citizens are arrested for things they never knew to be illegal.  Money is created by declaration rather than by attachment to anything of real value.  Government failures are covered up with more regulation and the private sector is blamed for massive economic fault lines caused by government (the Dodd-Frank Act is a primary example of this).  The President picks and chooses the laws he and his administration will enforce.  He then puts political and legal pressure upon states that continue to uphold the laws he disdains.  Through executive order he enforces his will in a manner that more resembles a royal monarch than a federal presidency.  George Washington refused the office of king.  Barack Obama relishes it. 

The Hindenburg and the Constitution: Similar Fates?

The American constitutional experiment can be compared to the Hindenburg disaster just prior to explosion on May 6, 1937.  There is still time to right the course; with every passing day that time becomes less and less.  The nation is being remade in an unconstitutional manner before our very eyes. The answer is not to turn again to the tired ways of the political badminton game in which we alternate between big-government Democrats and big-government Republicans.  Turning right won’t fix what’s wrong with the Left.  Turning left won’t fix what’s wrong with the Right.  More power to the federal government isn’t the answer, obviously.  But neither will giving more power to large corporations be our answer.  The revolving door between big government and big corporations is a big part of the problem. Our only hope is limited federal government.  Return power to the states and their people.

The sovereign states that compose our national compact must refuse to cooperate with any and all federal measures that violate their sovereignty.  Constitutionally speaking, the United States are not a single people–we are a set of peoples organized by states.  Through our states we have agreed to a federal form of government possessing limited enumerated powers.  If the people of Massachusetts want state-sponsored healthcare, that is a conversation for the people of Massachusetts.  If the people of Mississippi wish to require identification in order to vote, that debate belongs with them.  If the people of New York want to require restaurants to remove salt from their tables, that argument is theirs.  Wisdom and folly alike can be debated by the people of the states.  Ill-considered laws and regulations can more easily changed on the state level than on the federal level. This is the vision that inspired the Founders. 

The states, in the understanding of the Founders, were not obligated to adhere to federal laws that went beyond the enumerated federal powers.  Today’s state leaders who value constitutional government must reclaim their state sovereignty.  Sovereignty is no mere motto for state seals but is a constitutional reality that they can exercise by legislative acts of nullification. Nullification is a legal theory proposing that a state can refuse to comply with any federal legislation it finds unconstitutional.  Although the Supreme Court has rejected this theory, the announcement on the matter of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate demonstrates that constitutionalists can no longer depend upon the majority of the Court.  It is stacked with legal minds who refuse to defend constitutional limits on the federal government. 

Obviously, state nullification of federal regulations would have far-reaching consequences.  The spigot of federal money would quickly be shut off as a punishment.  Is it worth the effort?  Only time will tell.  How many more constitutional offences will occur before enough really is enough?

 

A Supreme and Colossal Failure

The waiting is over.  By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court has upheld the Obamacare “individual mandate” requiring citizens to purchase healthcare coverage.  In failing to defend the constitutional system of limited federal government, the Supreme Court has become a colossal failure.

Students of American history will look back to this moment as a turning point in the history of the United States of America.  That much is certain.  What remains unknown is whether the US by then will have returned to the limited form of federal government mandated by its Constitution or if it will have moved into the nightmare world of utopian activism guided by whichever “feel-good ideology” happens to be popular between our time and theirs.  Where they happen to find themselves in the future will be decided by how we decide to respond today.

The only constitutionally valid response was that of Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing on behalf of the minority:  “The entire act before us in invalid in its entirety.”

Whether you call it Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act and whether you see more good or more danger in its nearly 3000 pages of legal dictates, one deeply disturbing question remains:  if the federal government, supposedly for our own good, can force every citizen to purchase health insurance or otherwise to face fines and penalties, what else can it force us to buy?

How did the “Infamous Five” decide this?  By referring to the penalty placed upon those who refuse to purchase mandated healthcare as a tax.  That’s right–it’s the tax that wasn’t a tax that was a tax before it wasn’t.  In other words, the Supreme Court has perpetrated a bizarre twist of damnable magic upon the nation’s citizenry by waving the same magician’s wand used by the Obama administration in arguing its case before the Court.

Essentially, the healthcare mandate is whatever powerful people want it to be–simply because they have authority over us and they want to see that authority upheld.  Their agenda is said to be good for us all, no matter how much it costs and no matter whose liberties are curtailed to obtain that agenda.

While writing this post, I overhead a member of the clergy remark that “we’re going to have a healthier country.”  I’m willing to bet not, though it’s a sure bet that we’re going to have a poorer one.

As the patriot Thomas Paine once wrote of his own revolutionary travails, “these are the times that try men’s souls.”  What will our reply be?  What will our labors be from this point onward?  Will we be silent … or will we act?  Most will cower and do as they are told.  Some will act.  Even if our political activism should bring about the repeal of this mandate, the Supreme Court has done us a profound injustice by setting a dangerous precedent.

If the motto of the first American Revolution can rightly be described as “Give me liberty of give me death,” perhaps a fitting motto for a second American Revolution can be “We will not reply.”  I’m already practicing.

Passionate Political Speech: What’s Appropriate?

One of the most interesting parts of political activism is the opportunity to debate and dialogue with others.  Disagreement is nothing to fear.  Argumentation doesn’t have to mean the end of a friendship.  I have tremendous political differences with one of my dearest friends!  My regular readers know that I enjoy etymology, so please let me remind us all that the English word “argue” comes from Latin, arguere, meaning “to make clear.”  There is nothing inherently wrong with arguing–it’s how we argue that makes the difference.

Political speech that happens to be passionate and frank is not the same thing as hate speech.  Too many people think that if they hate what you’re saying, then what you’re saying must be inappropriate.  Too many people think that if your language offends someone, then it must be illegal, or they believe that if it evokes strong feelings then it must be condemned.  Each of these propositions has to be false, or why else would our nation’s Founders have gone to such lengths to protect freedom of speech?

It seems to me that it’s the nature of political speech that it is going to be offensive to someone.  That’s why it’s protected.  The same can probably be said about religious speech, or speech that contains any ethical or moral component.  Say it aloud, or write it down and publish it, and you’re going to attract energetic denunciation and calls for censorship.  Why should this surprise anyone, especially those of us who make a habit of speaking our minds in public?  Think about it:  speech that doesn’t offend anybody never needs to be protected.

This topic is being broached here simply because I am occasionally challenged on the appropriateness of my political comments or with regard to articles that I reference here or post on Facebook.  Let me be honest:  I am delighted and honored that people take me seriously enough to comment, and this includes everyone’s comments and not just those who agree with me.  On those occasions when the appropriateness of my comments or those I post from others is challenged, my usual response is twofold:  first, I welcome the challenge and the chance to argue (to advance clarity); second, I ask for specifics.

In other words, I’m open to the criticism (only fools refuse to be critiqued), but specifics are required if the discussion is going to be advanced.  What, specifically, have I written that is deemed to be inappropriate?  What, specifically, have I posted from someone else that is inappropriate?  Once the offending comment is identified, the next requirement is to explain why it is deemed inappopriate.  Truthfully, when I do this, I usually get no response.  Perhaps the person is too busy.  Or, as I suspect, perhaps the person wrongly thought that because he or she doesn’t like the comments they qualify as inappropriate.

Occasionally the respondent is engaged and informed, and the debate ends up as a demonstration that I was inaccurate or that I overlooked something that genuinely is inappropriate.  Once this is demonstrated I’m eager to remove the inaccuracy or the inappropriate comment.  Sometimes entire articles or blog posts have to be deleted.  My principles demand that I do so.  In such a case I’ve not been censored at all.  What I’ve done is to exercise mature reflective judgment.  And I hope in those cases I’ve been an example of good citizenship.

That raises an urgent question.  What qualifies as inappropriate political speech?  I argue that it’s inappropriate if it is untrue, or if it threatens violence, when it’s overly vulgar, or if it avoids a legitimate issue by attacking the personhood of another through demonization, marginalization, or name-calling (the last of these being nothing more than a form of bullying).

Of course, some of this is open to interpretation.  Nonetheless, these are the self-imposed rules that I live and write by when addressing political issues or any other issues of deep human significance (religion, morality, lifestyles, etc.).  I have occasionally erred, and I’ve had to apologize; for the most part, however, I believe myself successful in avoiding what’s inappropriate.  On the other hand, something isn’t necessarily inappropriate because someone else finds it disagreeable or offensive.  Those who find this blog or my Facebook posts helpful can draw upon them as resources or they can disagree.  If they so desire, they can voice their disagreement.  If I sold advertising on this site they could purchase or cancel such advertising or they could frequent the advertisers or boycott them.  That is their right.  As a constitutional conservative, I defend the right of all citizens to shop as they like, to spend as they like, and to fraternize with those whom they choose while avoiding those with whom they prefer not to socialize.

If I lie intentionally, that’s inappropriate and it’s disingenuous.  It would also demonstrate that I lack integrity and that you, the gentle reader, should spend your valuable time reading elsewhere.  If I make an error and then refuse to correct or retract when it is made obvious to me, that is also inappropriate.  Vile and nasty comments are inappropriate, along with picking on the family of political opponents, giving out their home address, threatening or even joking about violence, or making judgments about their relationship with God or their eternal salvation.  (Seems to me that the folks on the Left are better at this stuff anyway.)

On the other hand, I deem that it is not inappropriate to tell the truth about a political or governmental official, even if the truth is painful or causes anger or disagreement.  If an official behaves like a Roman emperor, spends irresponsibly, vacations too often, ignores the Constitution, takes action that arguably causes me economic harm, endangers the country, has more in common with Marxist ideology than American values, or causes me to have a strong dislike for that official–well, I am free to appropriately and passionately express my understanding of these issues with all of the energy I can muster.

I do it with gusto.  It is not inappropriate.

When the President of the United States, during his first State of the Union address, publicly calls down the Supreme Court, that is inappropriate.  When members of the US Senate falsely accuse Tea-Party members as racists, that is inappropriate.  When the President inserts himself into local police issues as if he is the national judge and jury of local jurisdictional concerns, that is inappropriate.  When members of the House of Representatives publicly prejudice a police investigation  into the death of a teen more than a thousand miles from DC, that is inappropriate.  When the President, a former professor of constitutional law, lies about the Supreme Court as it fulfills its constititionally-mandated duties, that is not only inappropriate, it’s a vile form of bullying.

There are bullies in the world and their actions are dangerous, not just inappropriate.  Some of those bullies hold elected office.

The Audacity of Falsehood

As a college professor and theologian, I’m interested in truth.  I seek out the truth in spite of myself.  I fully realize that we broken humans far too often mistake our own ideologies and prejudices for truth.  To paraphrase an important document of my own church, sometimes we humans discover what is true; at other times we simply think we have discovered what’s true.  Sometimes we are so focused on a goal, a political agenda, or a partial understanding of the truth that we aren’t really open to learning at all.  I honestly try to avoid that pitfall.  As a sign of this commitment I’ve actually removed blog posts and Facebook posts when my position has been demonstrated to be false.

In the midst of a search for accuracy in a recent class of graduate students, one of the participants finally asked how to define truth.  To be specific, she asked, “How do we define what is true?”  I chose my words carefully, and with mindfulness.  As I articulated each word I considered whether or not it expressed my intention.  Here is what I came up with:  Truth is quantifiable.  Something can be more true or less true.  Truth is judged by how much an idea or proposition actually conforms to reality.

Discovering what is true is not always as easy as it seems.  Let’s take the proverbial statement we’ve all heard before:  the sky is blue.  Yes, it is, that’s true.  But the sky is also azul in Spain, bleu in France, and gorm in Ireland.  There are many other things that are true about the sky that can be stated … and let’s not forget that sometimes the sky doesn’t appear blue at all!  An old Latin proverb proposes that “the one who divides well learns well,” suggesting that the wise among us will reflect on reality in such a way as to allow us to make important distinctions as we get to the truth of the colors that mark the sky.  But that doesn’t mean that truth can’t be misrepresented.  Just because we’ve identified the complications of a particular topic, that doesn’t mean that there’s no such thing as a lie, or deceit, or intentional falsehood.  For all the discussions we can have about what makes the sky usually appear blue, there are many things we can say about the sky that simply are not true.  It’s not made of meringue, or bleu cheese, and we can’t lasso the stars in order to pull them down and present them to our loved ones.

Let me offer another definition if I may.  What is a lie?  Here’s a working definition.  A lie is an intentional misstatement of truth, a false statement uttered with intent.  People don’t lie by accident.  They may be mistaken, but they can’t lie accidently because the idea of lying includes intention.  People lie for all sorts of reasons.  Sometimes they lie because they don’t want to accept responsibility or because they fear punishment or rejection.  They lie because they fear a loss of esteem or social status, or because it advances the cause of something they want personally or something they want to see accomplished.  They lie in order to gain prestige, fame, money or other valuables.  Quite often they lie to gain power over others.

Lies are most effectively used with busy people, with those who don’t have the time to confirm the statements being falsified.  That, dear readers, is precisely why it’s important to choose as friends and leaders people who possess great character and integrity.  If your friends are lying to you, then you need new ones.  If your financial advisor is lying to you, then your economic future is probably not as bright as you think it is.  If your children are lying, they have something to hide.  But what if your political leaders are lying?  What if your President is a liar?

Let’s get this out on the table:  lying is nothing new when it comes to political gamesmanship.  When it becomes a full-time preoccupation, however, a nation is in deep trouble.  In a society inspired by democratic values there are only two ways to gain political power.  A leader or would-be leader can gain power by courting and securing votes, or by seizing power.  Thank God we haven’t faced the second option in the United States (at least not yet).

Too often in our political system, a leader who needs votes secures them not by being truthful about his or her ideas and plans, but by telling various constituencies the things they want to hear.  Quite often we voters play along.  In the end we get what we deserve, and based on what we’re seeing in Washington DC these days, what we deserve will get worse unless a majority of us come to our senses.  That’s probably going to be a tough sell, however, since the number of citizens on the government dole and paying no federal income tax is rising rapidly.

Now let’s talk specifics.  If falsehood were a kingdom, Barack Obama would be its king.  He has raised lying to a disastrous art form.  He is master of the “straw man” argument (falsely misrepresenting your opponent’s position in order to knock it down) and an expert with ad hominem attacks (attacks on persons instead of ideas).  Personally, I believe that the word “unpresidential” in the dictionary should include his photograph.  His willing assistants in the perpetuation of falsehood include most of the “mainstream” press, the powerful unions that benefit from his spending (especially SEIU), his chosen “green energy” corporations, and those who think that government can print money forever without economic repercussions.

In Obama’s political world, truth is what he says it is.  And truth becomes something different depending on who is being talked down to at the moment.  When the IRS starts penalizing citizens who haven’t purchased health insurance, that’s not a tax.  When the IRS startes penalizing them it is a tax.  Do you get it yet?  Both statements are true for Obama and his cronies; it depends on who’s listening.  The goal of Obamacare is not a single-payer system.  Yet it was designed to advance that eventual goal.  There will be no death panels, but panels of government officials will be making life-and-death decisions.

Do you want to know the definition of audacity?  Here it is:  Barack Obama will say anything, and because his radical Marxist-inspired agenda has been embraced by the press and the unions he will get away with it.  Everything, even truth, takes a back seat to ideology.  The great conservative commentator, Dr. Thomas Sowell, agrees with my assessment of Mr. Obama being a liar of epic proportions.

“If you tell a lie that is big enough, and if you keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”  Those are the words of a bank clerk who studied romantic literature in graduate school.  He was a bright man with a PhD from a fine university.  His parents were humble workers in an industrial town.  His name was Joseph Goebbels, German propaganda minister during the Second World War.

In a nation that professes democratic values, fooling the people is the primary tool for maintaining power–and for remaking the nation.  As Michelle Obama informed us, “Barack knows that we are going to have to make sacrifices; we are going to have to change our conversation; we’re going to have to change our traditions, our history; we’re going to have to move into a different place as a nation.”

Obama’s propaganda ministers are working eagerly, and he is leading the way.  In a nation where power is vested in the people and politicians need them in order to stay in office, anger and division must be raised to the level of a devouring flame.  The falsehoods are terrifying.  Many are fooled.

Effective propaganda turns the world upside down and changes the color scheme of everything.  People who get up and report to work each day after feeding their children and getting them to school become the selfish who have no interest in the plight of the poor.  Those who are successful and who employ others so they can care for themselves and their families are greedy, money-hungry capitalists.  The business owner who can’t invest in more employees because taxes are so high is now described as mean-spirited and hateful.  Those having trouble paying for gasoline are derisively told to check the pressure in their tires and show more concern for the environment.  If you wish to prevent voter fraud by requiring some form of identification you are labelled as racist while people hoping to secure our borders are bigots.  Economists and politicians who warn us about our national debt are now irresponsible rabble rousers who would hold back the economy.  Conservatives who want more personal and economic freedom for everyone are described as backward and out of touch.  Even the Supreme Court is threatened and misrepresented.  Though charged by the Constitution with a mandate to oversee challenges to the laws enacted by Congress, it is described now by the President as an “unelected group of people” seeking to “overturn a duly constituted and passed law.”  Barack Obama, the nation’s biggest bully, learned his lessons well in Chicago; now he tells us that the Supreme Court is a gang of black-robed thugs out to destroy democracy.  It is so odd a turn of events as to be unbelievable.  Yet it is true.

Here are other examples of the “brave new world” into which Mr. Obama is leading us:

“This is my last election and after my last election I have more flexibility.”  (Comment of Barack Obama speaking about our nation’s defensive missile system to the President of Russia, who oddly seems to think that it’s a bad idea that America is able to defend itself.)

“Disguised as [a] deficit-reduction plan, it’s really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country.  It’s nothing but thinly veiled Social Darwinism.”  (Barack Obama speaking of GOP congressional plans to cut irresponsible spending before it’s too late and comparing the plan to the type of pseudo-science used to suppress minorities in the past; it was also used by the Nazis in their suppression of European Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, and other “less-than-human” nationalities.)

“Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections.”  (Barack Obama, lecturing the Supreme Court in his first State of the Union address as members of that Court sat before him.  In response, Justice Samuel Alito could clearly be seen to shake his head, saying “that’s not true.”  Alito has not attended another State of the Union address since.  In the face of such partisan abuse who could blame him except the ultra-liberals at MSNBC?)

“I think when you spread the wealth around it’s good for everybody.”  (Another Obama quotation that sounds good–but fails to mention that we already have a wealth-spreading system in this country called free-market enterprise.  What Obama wants is more power for government to take from some and give to others, amounting to seizure and redistribution of wealth rather than spreading it around.)

“Members of Congress have a simple choice to make. They can stand with big oil  companies, or they can stand with the American people.”  (Obama comment recently made in the Rose Garden at the White House, failing to mention that the federal tax on gasoline is higher than the profit margin for oil companies in the United States.)

“And I’d just remind conservative commentators that, for years, what we have heard is, the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism, or a lack of judicial restraint, that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.”  (Obama warning that if the Supreme Court declares Obamacare to be unconstitutional it will amount to judicial activism.   This is so obvious a falsehood as to be laughable.  Judicial activism is a product of courts trying to manipulate and rewrite laws, not striking them down due to lack of constitutionality.)

“We’re getting close to reaching universal coverage of health care — full, free health care coverage for all people up to 18 years of age, including cancer coverage.  Of the 112 million Mexicans, 106 million will have efficient, effective universal health care coverage.  So I would say that I would hope that one of the greatest economies in the world, such as the United States, could follow our example in achieving this, because it was a great thing.”  (Recent comment by the President of Mexico after President Obama offered his warning about healthcare to the Supreme Court.  If Mexican healthcare is so good, one wonders why so many Mexicans are crossing the border into the US to escape all of that free medical assistance.)

“We believe that the U.S. government’s inability to act promptly and decisively to put in place a national policy related to immigration–attentive to international guarantees related to individual workers’ rights as well as to the rights of trade unions with immigrant members–has given the space to individual states to enact laws that are in flagrant violation of international norms.”  (Excerpt from the complaint filed with the United Nations by the Service Employees International Union [SEIU] over state laws to prevent illegal immigration in the United States.)

“For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country.”  (Michelle Obama during the campaign of her husband for the presidency, ignoring all the reasons she should have been proud of her country all along:  her education, her security against hunger, her freedom to raise her family as she sees fit, the triumph of Dr. Martin Luther King’s civil rights dream,  and America’s sacrifices to defend the freedom of Europe in World War II.)

Barack Obama “is not acting presidential. He is behaving in a way designed in my opinion to divide us, to make us look at each other with skepticism, with suspicion. That is the end of America as we know it.  The destruction he is inflicting by his behavior will carry on long after we settle the debt limit.”  (Analysis of Kenneth Langone, former director of the New York Stock Exchange.)

“I won’t have to worry about putting gas in my car. I won’t have to worry about paying my mortgage.”  (Peggy Joseph, an Obama supporter, a few days before her idol was elected President.)

The political world of Barack Obama depends upon a nation divided along racial and economic lines.  It’s the only tool in his re-election tool box.  He panders to those who believe America to be a place where only the greedy find success, and to those who want to find someone else to pay for their education, their housing, and their birth control.  If his lies are not fully defeated in November, the prediction of Karl Marx may come true.  Democracy may well be the beginning stage of socialism.