Thursday, February 21, 2008

Proud of my "country"

When Michelle Obama spoke for her husband Monday in Milwaukee, she drew a firewall of rants from "patriotic Americans" (i.e., nationalists) when she said, "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country," implying she was not proud before. She drew angry rebuttals from Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, National Review's Jim Geraghty, Bill O'Reilly, and John McCain's wife Cindy. In fact, O'Reilly used the words "lynching party" when referring to Obama. I guess the conservative pundits are a little steamed!

But what does Obama mean when she said "country" in the aforementioned quote? Country means America, I know that, but "country" is a vague term. Does she mean the American people? Or does she mean the American history? Or does she mean the American government? I simply don't know.

As for the people, I speak of the people as individuals, not groups. But on the average, there is a difference among the people of different nations. Americans as a whole are more independent-minded and rugged as compared to Iraqis or Spanish. And (on the average) there is a difference among different states within the United States. Although there are some exceptions, the people of Texas or New Hampshire are more independent-minded than the people of California or New Jersey. Now I am a Christian, and God's two greatest Commandments are to love God and to love your neighbor (i.e., people), so as a whole, I am proud of the people of my country.

As for the history, I am proud of American history in the late 18th/early 19th century, not 20th century and today. I would be happier if the presidents were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Q. Adams, and Andrew Jackson; not Franklin Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, or George W. Bush. When America was young, America was a country of independent and free people, who take care of themselves. But America today is a country of weak and timid people who need government for everything. I am more proud of my country back then compared to now.

As for the government, it's similar to history. I am proud of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights--I am proud of all our founding documents. In the late 18th/early 19th century, the American government was small and limited; it only got its power from the Constitution, as it should. Now, American government is huge and bloated; it has unlimited power, and seeks more every day.

For example, back then, America got its money from gold and silver; now, it gets its money from the Federal Reserve, an unconstitutional cartel of private banks which prints its inflationary "money" (i.e., fiat-paper notes with no backing) out of thin air. Back then, Americans had no income tax. The people could keep all what they earned, and they could decide how to spend/save/invest their earnings; now, 40% or more of the people's earnings, the government (not the people) gets to decide what to do with it.

Back then, people who wanted to protect themselves, their families, and their property simply carried a firearm--no licenses, no permits, no restrictions, no anything; they just carried and went along their way. Now, if the people want to defend themselves, they have to apply for a permit, take a CCW class, get finger-printed (like a common criminal), wait for three months (or more) in order to receive a permit, and then the guns are not allowed in government buildings, schools, court houses, and anywhere else the government wants to restrict--and some states won't allow guns, period!

And thus (back then), America was growing and thriving; now, America is on a road to disaster. I would be skeptical back then when the elected officials supposed to honor their oaths, but I don't trust them now when they don't. In any case, the adjective "proud" is not a word I will use to describe the government.

Now there is one thing that Obama feels proud now but not before, but I can't comment. It is because she is black and I am white. I am blind of the racial segregation, Jim Crow laws, and all that entails to be growing up black in the '60s and the '70s. Now she might be blind of how the government did and does things to her and the people around her (which I covered before), as well as me (i.e., government abuse is colorblind). But there is no getting around the fact that I am not black.

What did Michelle Obama meant when she said her quote from the first paragraph? Only she (and God) knows for sure.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

NRA: friend or foe of the 2nd Amendment?

From a recent solicitation letter I received from the National Rifle Association in order to increase membership, I excerpt the following quote: “We actively work to fight anti-gun media bias by encouraging law-abiding gun owners like you to stand tall and defend our freedoms without apology or compromise.”

For our purposes, let’s set aside the misnomer of defending freedom while remaining “law-abiding.” Thoreau, I suspect, among others--myself included--might have had a thing or two to say about that all by itself. It is also arguable that from a libertarian standpoint, being a member of any organization that actively lobbies government in any form is counterproductive and antithetical to freedom. Insofar as this is true, I must admit that for several years I have been a member of Gun Owners of America, which prides itself on being “the only no-compromise gun lobby.” In all the time I’ve been a member, I’ve seen nothing to dissuade me from the contention that the staff at GOA are genuine in this assertion. It’s what, in part, makes the aforementioned quote from the NRA so breathtaking. Let’s have a look at some additional recent events:

In the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, Congress ginned up the so-named “Veterans Disarmament Act.” This bill, in essence, expanded the infamous Brady background check law. To anyone who knows anything about government, this should come as no surprise. What is shocking is that this bill had the full backing and blessings of the NRA. In fact, the NRA staff worked very closely with none other than Senator Chuck Schumer and Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy--both long-time and rabid attackers of gun ownership--in order to get the bill passed. To quote Schumer in speaking with the Associated Press on September 27, 2007 , he said: “When the NRA and Chuck Schumer agree, that tells you it’s something worth doing.”

Here’s something just as maddening. Congressman John D. Dingell, in actually speaking before an NRA audience, told the assembled crowd, “In times of great stress, it is permissible to walk side by side with the devil to get to the other side of the bridge.” In so saying, he was quoting his self-proclaimed “hero”, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who had originally made the statement in defense of working hand in hand with Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in World War II.

But here’s the kicker, the thing that should make everyone stand up and take notice. In a letter from Iloilo Marguerite Jones of the Fully Informed Jurors Association (FIJA) to Larry Pratt, Executive Director of GOA, published in the Winter 2007 issue of American Juror, in which Ms. Jones refers to a recently produced FIJA jury nullification brochure focusing on gun rights, she had the following to say: “Because you, Larry, had the courage to distribute this brochure, other groups, knowing you had done so, have been distributing the brochure as well, including Liberty Belles and JPFO (Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership). NRA has ignored our offers and correspondence regarding the brochure, which we offered to provide them to mail to their entire membership, more than once” (italics are mine).

I first received a copy of the brochure in question because of my GOA membership. It is of the highest possible quality, and upon subsequently contacting Ms. Jones to congratulate her for having done such an outstanding job, she graciously provided me with a large quantity of the brochures, and has subsequently sent me even more jury nullification materials at no cost to myself. So I can arrive at no other conclusion than this: The NRA, for all of its hyperbole, does not even want its own membership to be aware of the concept of jury nullification, even when an innocent gun owner may be standing in the dock. I can think of no legitimate excuse for that kind of behavior from a gun rights organization that claims to encourage defending freedom “without apology or compromise.” None. Can you?

I must admit that, as a libertarian, I remain a GOA member not to engage government, but because I enjoy staying informed, and also as an insurance policy: GOA has been known on numerous occasions to assist its members who run afoul of government thugs. Not just in high-profile cases, either; often just regular folks like you or me. Having said that, I’m not going to go so far, necessarily, as to accuse the NRA of being little more than a front organization for the forces of gun control--although one might, based on the evidence, well make that assertion. What I am going to say, however, is only that which should be obvious by now: the NRA is no friend of freedom!