Friday, February 27, 2009

Didn't The Original One Actually Have Something To Do With Tea?

I know I've gotten bad about reposting stuff lately. But this is really worth passing along.


Tea Party Protests Sweep the Country: But What’s the Message?

With protests taking place all around the country, there should be no doubt that the Tea Party movement is something real (see PJTV’s coverage of the Tea Party protests here). The voices are loud — and becoming louder with each successive demonstration. Disapproval of the stimulus/spending bill continues to grow, and I expect the crowds in places like Nashville, Kansas City, and, of course, Washington, D.C., will also continue to grow.

Still, if you’ve been unable to hear a message other than “We’re not happy,” you’re not alone. The objection to the spending bill is real, but other than objecting, what is the purpose of these protests?

An unscientific poll at Instapundit suggests we’re mostly protesting in order to elect fiscal hawks. I don’t know about you, but it seems like it would have been more effective to simply run fiscal hawks as candidates, rather than protest their absence less than five months after the election. Still, let’s say that is the driving factor for most Americans taking part in the Tea Party protests. Will we continue these protests until the 2010 elections? What if we don’t get what we want?

More importantly, what if the events taking place are momentous enough to be worthy of more than just our scattered and somewhat incoherent cries of protest? Is our only response a loud proclamation of opposition to the trampling of our rights? Are we allowed to protest with our voices as long as our bodies acquiesce? History tells us that is an empty freedom. Voices that have no force of authority behind them are weak weapons against the soft bondage of socialism and totalitarianism, and hollow voices of protest mean nothing when bodies willingly enter into a state of servitude.

It may be that we’re nowhere near that point, but the fact remains that far too many of us remain oblivious to the idea that we could ever face the reality of our individual liberty being subsumed by the State. Why? It’s not as if this concept of a servile nation is some heretofore unknown idea. More than 400 years ago, the philosopher Etienne de la Boetie wrote of this phenomenon in his Discourse on Voluntary Servitude. Speaking of Rome in the time of emperors, he said:

Tyrants would distribute largess, a bushel of wheat, a gallon of wine, and a sesterce: and then everybody would shamelessly cry, “Long live the King!” The fools did not realize that they were merely recovering a portion of their own property, and that their ruler could not have given them what they were receiving without having first taken it from them. … The mob has always behaved in this way — eagerly open to bribes that cannot be honorably accepted and dissolutely callous to degradation and insult that cannot be honorably endured.

A centuries-old philosopher describing a society that has been extinct for nearly 2,000 years, and yet it bears a remarkable similarity to the entitlements of our own generation. But bread and circuses are not for us, and neither are the promises of “new and saved jobs” if only we hand over unheard of amounts of money and power to our most distant form of government. We are not a mob. We are reasoned people. We are learned people. We have the ability to make our own decisions, and if we ever choose servility we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

I’d like to think that many of those protesting are worried about such things, even if they are still thinking about these dangers in an abstract sense. Isn’t it better to once again have a national conversation about these things, even in theory, rather than face the possibility of a constitutional crisis in which the American people are unprepared? I hope Americans will remember that we don’t need to take to the streets or fight a revolution. All we have to do is abide by our conscience. We don’t demand unreasonable things. We only demand that our property, our liberty, and our rights remain secure. We demand these things in the name of the Republic and the millions who have sacrificed their lives for these principles. We demand these things for the Americans not yet born, who are entitled to the right to their own property and should not have to tolerate the confiscation of their earnings to pay for our own sins.

I worry that, despite the Tea Party protests, too many of us will find it a bother to ever stand up for ourselves. La Boetie recognized this too. In fact, he wrote that tyrants are created by the people.

… when a thousand, a million men, a thousand cities, fail to protect themselves against the domination of one man, this cannot be called cowardly, for cowardice does not sink to such a depth, any more than valor can be termed the effort of one individual to scale a fortress, to attack an army, or to conquer a kingdom. What monstrous vice, then, is this which does not even deserve to be called cowardice, a vice for which no term can be found vile enough, which nature herself disavows and our tongues refuse to name?

I cannot accept that Americans who speak so fervently in favor of liberty are only paying lip service to that exalted ideal. I cannot believe that those who see danger in our current policies will choose to ignore the crisis and leave it up to our children to fight our battles, though they will be less equipped and less inclined to fight for their liberties. In fact, if the current situation is as dire as our pundits believe it to be, by the time our children are old enough to stand up for themselves, they will have forgotten what it means to do so.

La Boetie anticipated this as well. He believed that once liberty is lost, it becomes nearly impossible to regain, because of society’s “forgetfulness of its freedom.”

It is true that in the beginning men submit under constraint and by force; but those who come after them obey without regret and perform willingly what their predecessors had done because they had to. This is why men born under the yoke and then nourished and reared in slavery are content, without further effort, to live in their native circumstance, unaware of any other state or right, and considering as quite natural the condition into which they were born.

This is why we must be ever vigilant to our entering into a state of voluntary servitude. There are real dangers that if we leave it to the next generation to deal with the loss of liberty, they will not even recognize what they no longer have. Diminished liberty will be the new normal, and those of us who believe in limited government, the right of the individual, and the ultimate authority of the people will be left on the fringes of political philosophy. Perhaps that will not be the case, and our children will be the ones embodied with the boldness to act. They will be acting against interests that will be more entrenched and that will make their job more difficult. If we ever determine that we are in fact becoming a servile people, we cannot stand idly by while liberty is dismembered.

La Boetie wasn’t the only philosopher concerned with voluntary servitude. John Dickinson, a moderate who ultimately refused to sign the Declaration of Independence (but still fought in the Continental Army after independence was declared), believed voluntary servitude should be resisted. He, along with Thomas Jefferson, wrote in 1775:

We have counted the cost of this contest, and find nothing so dreadful as voluntary slavery. Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. As we wonder how far we may have fallen towards a state of voluntary servitude, it may help to think back to the original Tea Party participants. In 1774, as a direct consequence of the Boston Tea Party, British Parliament passed a series of punitive economic measures that came to be known in the colonies as the “Intolerable Acts.” What, I wonder, would we consider intolerable, as opposed to ill-advised or merely detrimental acts of our own Congress? The answer to that question may not be as theoretical as we think, and could help determine the future course of this nation in the months and years to come.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Trust, But Verify

Have you heard the one about Obama changing the armed forces oath?

It goes like this:

One day, deciding to comment on Obama's disregard for our Constitution, a blogger wrote a satire piece, pretending to be posting a news article claiming that Obama is going to change the military oath from stating loyalty to the Constitution, to loyalty to the President, namely, Obama.

The people latched onto it and it spread like wildfire, only not the way the original blogger had intended.

Somehow, through the beauty of the internet, the satirical nature of this post was lost, and many other blogs and aggregators began treating this piece as though it were legitimate news.

The reason is obvious; it's just so darn believable.

But it's not true.

Here is the original post, clearly stating this is not to be taken seriously.

If you want a good laugh, read the comment section.

You can check it out on Snopes, too.

In the words of the Great Communicator, "Trust, but verify."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bill to Require Full Disclosure of Adoption Fees Heads to Full Senate

HAT TIP to Okiecampaigns.

A measure to create more uniformity in adoptions and ensure full disclosure of fees has cleared its first major hurdle in the Senate. Senate Bill 1029, by Sen. Steve Russell, was approved by the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Russell, R-Oklahoma City, said that as an adoptive parent, it was an area of law of special concern to him.

In Oklahoma, prospective adoptive parents can utilize public and private agencies as well as attorney-assisted adoptions. Russell said while those are all good options, a 2006 grand jury investigation uncovered a number of abuses that need to be addressed, including some cases of “adoption” fees being used for personal vehicles, computers and other items.

“My legislation requires full disclosure of all fees, so that adoptive parents know exactly what is required up front and what all the fees are for,” Russell said. “We need to make sure we have a uniform standard for adoptions. Under current law, some things, like home studies, can be waived. Procedures aimed at ensuring the safety of the adoptive child should be enforced.”

SB 1029 would also ensure parents have a full disclosure of all state laws dealing with adoption as well as regulations impacting the adoption of children of Native American ancestry.

“Making sure all adoption laws and fees are completely transparent will improve the process and help eliminate the potential for abuse,” Russell said. “This is simply good public policy.”

Russell’s legislation now moves to the full Senate for further consideration.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Red Envelope Project

I stumbled across this recently and thought I would pass it along.

As a method of a peaceful, tangible form of protest, someone (I haven't yet found out who) came up with the idea of the Red Envelope Project.

The Red Envelope Project is to allow anyone who can afford a stamp and chance to show President Obama that we do not support his pro-abortion and pro-infanticide policies.

Here's the idea:

Get a red envelope.

On the front, address it to:

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500

Don't put anything inside.

Seal it and on the back, write the following message:

This envelope represents one child who died in abortion. It is empty because that life was unable to offer anything to the world. Responsibility begins with conception.

Put a stamp on it and mail it.

It's that simple.

All it costs you is the price of a stamp.

Will it do anything? You never know. There are never any guarantees.

But what will doing nothing accomplish?

Monday, February 9, 2009

"Progressive" History

Amazingly, this is not a joke.

The Society to Preserve Indigenous Rights and Indigenous Traditions, aka SPIRIT, has created a petition to end the traditional Land Run Activities in Oklahoma's public schools.

Their reason? "[R]e-enacting the Land Run in public schools and in communities in Oklahoma is demeaning and humiliating to Oklahoma Indians."

Really. You can see it at the petition's blog:

Okay, I was homeschooled in elementary, so I didn't do the 2nd grade Land Run day like everyone else. But when I got into high school I helped one year when my school had Land Run day.

The little kids, some wearing cowboy hats and boots, brought basket lunches and wagons, got in teams of two or three, and raced onto the little field by our building and sat down in some arbitrary spot. Then they ate lunch.

What was missing from this little 2-minute excuse to eat lunch outside of the industrial-themed school building? Any overt or implicit acts of hatred, bigotry or racism.

Seriously, what do these people think, that teachers tell the kids to scream "Kill the redskins!" when they run? That they force some poor randomly-selected children to "play Indian" and try to scalp the "Boomers" as they find the most level ground to lay out their Lunchables?

Incidentally, for those of you not from here, this is where the term Boomer Sooner comes from. But that's another blog.

Have these SPIRIT people considered that the majority of these schoolkids, unless they are first-generation Oklahomans, are most likely part-Indian, like me?

I would copy and paste some of their group and rally pictures here to give you an idea of the way they are demeaning and humiliating Oklahoma tribes with their antagonism to those of us not living on government benefits, but these are probably the kind of people who would sue me in spite of Fair Use.

If you want to see them, you can look at their myspace page.

I guess this is what happens when you have so much time on your hands you've got nothing to do but sit and think about all the ways you can play victim.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Where Were You?

This previous Sunday, February 1st, was the Legislative Prayer Gathering here in Oklahoma. I posted the press release on here. Invited people to it on facebook and through email. And all of you people who told me "he's your president now, too, remember to pray for him," if you knew me at all, then you knew it was happening.

My question is: where were you?

Where were you Sunday afternoon when over 200 people gathered at our State Capitol to prayer walk for our leaders?

Where were you, pastors and Sunday School teachers who are supposed to lead us and teach us the Scripture, which happens to include how we are supposed to intercede for all our governmental authority, which the Bible states is established by God?

Where were you, who have come back and haughtily proclaimed victory in this last election cycle as though it was of your own doing?

Where were you, the perennial apathetic holier-than-thou who considers yourself above such worldly goings-on, like developing an active political conscience?

If you really meant what you said the necessity and responsibility of praying for our leadership, if you really believed what the Bible said in I Timothy 2 about offering intercession for all in authority, if you really practiced what you preached - you would have been there.

This was your chance to put your money where your mouth is. But now we know the truth.