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Which Words Work January 30, 2014

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics.
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What words mean is important.  The ability to speak, to transfer complex and symbolic knowledge from one person to another is one of the hallmarks of humanity.  When words lose their meaning communication loses its ability to transmit thoughts.  Obviously words can change their meanings over time.  One example is the word prevent.  This word now means to stop something from happening.  Hundreds of years ago it meant for one thing to happen before another: pre-event.

This is natural and is the organic outgrowth of how people speak.  All languages change over time.  What isn’t natural is when, for ideological reasons, groups work to change the meanings of words to either confuse the discussion or to attract support from people who normally would not lend them their support.

Leaving aside the natural organic change of meanings and looking instead at the contrived control of meaning for political purposes we recognize the need to establish precise meanings to convey precise thoughts.

A perfect example is how the words liberty and democracy have become intertwined and confounded.  Knowing that equality before the law is a necessary bridge on the road to liberty advocates of liberty rightfully believe that all citizens should have a share in making the law.  This is where the advocates of liberty and the proponents of the democracy movement share a preference for a means while they do not necessarily share a preference for the ends.

The advocates of liberty standing on the foundation of the enlightenment thinking of the 18th century and the classical liberal traditions of the 19th see democracy as a means for limiting the coercive power of government no matter what form that government may take.  Conversely to the dogmatic democrat the only legitimate limit on government power is the current majority opinion.

The difference between these two positions is starkly revealed if we understand what each side sees as the opposite of their idea.  To the dogmatic democrat it is authoritarianism and to the classical liberal it is totalitarianism.  Neither of these two opposites excludes the other.  It is possible for a democracy to use totalitarian methods, and an authoritarian government might implement the principles of liberty.

Both of these terms democracy and liberty are used in vague and wide references by those who seek to lead our people.  Their precise meanings have been blurred by this usage to the point where many people confound them and believe if they can vote they have liberty.  However if we can return the meaning to these words we will find that it is possible to separate the two and find clarity.

The doctrine of liberty deals with what laws ought to be.  The doctrine of democracy deals with the manner of determining what will be the law.

The advocates of liberty agree that it is best if only what the majority accepts should be law however they do not agree that all majority driven law is always good law.  They seek to persuade the majority that the principles of liberty should be the hallmark of all laws.  They accept that majority rule is the fairest method of deciding what the laws are.  They do not agree that this gives the majority the unlimited authority to decide what the laws ought to be.

The doctrinaire democrat holds that majority opinion not only decides what the law should be and that this majority opinion is also the measure of what is good law.

Therefore when we confound the concept of liberty with the use of democratic action it is natural to accept that everything democratically decided upon is an advance for liberty.  One has only to look at the fact that the German people voted to give Hitler dictatorial powers to see that this is an illusion.

For while the principles of liberty are one of the paths which may be chosen through democratic action the use of democratic action does not preclude other choices and it says nothing about what is the proper role of government.  While the spread of democracy, especially the idea of one-man-one-vote, has advanced the cause of liberty in many nations there is nothing that demands that it do so.  In America today many popular policies are advanced on the merit that they are the democratic desire of a majority.  This does not necessarily mean that they will advance the cause of liberty.  To require a citizen to purchase certain products such as health care and to use the coercive power of the state to enforce it may have passed as part of a democratic procedure; however, this does not advance the cause of liberty.

Giving someone the power to vote does not magically give them the knowledge or the information as to how to vote.  When the franchise is extended to more and more low information voters this may advance the cause of democracy; however, it does not advance the cause of liberty.  Low information voters are easily manipulated by demagogues who exploit the desires of the day to build their own kingdoms and enhance their own power without regard to our constitutional limits.

We have a growing mass of low information voters, a progressive government who makes it their business to shape the majority opinion, and a media that is dedicated to the government party.  This is the prescription for a totalitarian democracy.  The constraining hand of the constitution and tradition has fallen away and the manipulated voice of the majority calls for more entitlements, more regulation, more government to solve the problems caused by entitlements, regulations and government.

We have come full circle.  In our revolution the advocates of liberty rose up against an autocrat to demand freedom.  They then used that freedom to craft a government limited in power so that people could live their lives and build their fortunes without oppression.  Today we have elected leaders who have progressed past these limits.  Leaders who seek to control every aspect of life.  We may have reached the dreams of the democratic fathers however these dreams are turning into the nightmares of our Founders: advocates of liberty one and all.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2014 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

The Sun is Setting Tell Everyone You Know February 9, 2012

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics.
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If we say nothing while watching someone walk off a cliff and plunge to her death we would be criminally negligent.  If we ride past a home in the early morning and see smoke rising from the roof and don’t call 911 we would be criminally negligent.   Today, as we watch our nation walk off a cliff, as we watch the smoke rise from the home of the brave and the land of the free, if we do not do all we can to raise the awareness of our fellow Americans we are criminally negligent.

Those who are awake to the coming end of limited government have watched this slow motion train wreck for our entire lives.  We have watched as inch by inch the Federal Government has lured our fellow citizens into one entitlement trap after another.  We have wondered when they will wake up and pay attention.

Election after election we have marveled at the shallowness of the debate.  One side says, “If you elect them they will gut the safety net and throw Grandma off the cliff!”  And after every election no matter who wins the safety net becomes more of a hammock.  The other side says, “If you elect them they will gut the defenses and whoever the currently fashionable model of a barbarian horde happens to be will soon stifle freedom, walk upon Old Glory and turn us all into slaves.”  And after every election the defense budget grows and the policeman of the world continues to walk the beat.

Blind justice may be good but a blind electorate is falling for these two straw man arguments electing demagogues whose motto might as well be, “You know I’m lying but you like what I say.”  The social safety net will not be eliminated by any of these empty suits. It will instead become the sack the cats are sewn in before the crazy guy throws it in the river.  The defense budget will not be gutted.  It won’t even be reduced.  Baseline budgeting and secret off budget black ops funding will make sure our 900 base 130 country overseas empire continues to make sure the sun never sets on the stars and stripes.

As each constitutional guarantee falls by the wayside we wonder when enough people will turn off the game, forget about the vampires, the hoarders, and the dysfunctional non-reality reality stars and realize our nation and our children’s heritage is being transformed into what our ancestors fought a revolution to be rid of?

Most of us, even the comatose can recite, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”  Our assembly line public education has drilled that into our heads.

What our one more brick in the wall system hopes we don’t recall is the next line, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,”  And they pray that we don’t shout the next line, “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.”

When a government uses the excuse of security to tap our phones, monitor electronic communications, and generally read our mail without a warrant, to arrest and detain American citizens on American soil without a warrant, and hold them indefinitely without trial, to wage war without declaration or even congressional approval what we have here is more than a failure to communicate.  What we have is a central government establishing a tyranny in the name of providing security.

Ben Franklin told us, “Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”

Looking for substance we tune into the ad nauseam insipid debates organized and orchestrated by a partisan press merely trying to make the Republicans look like the bar scene from Star Wars.  What do we hear?  Except for the lone exception we hear one after another big government professional calling for less spending, less regulations and more war.  Out of that list all we will get is more war.  And the lone exception is continuously relegated to the status of an also ran by every news organization including the supposedly conservative one.

On the other side we are offered four more years of this: four more years of total transformation until we wake up one day in the Progressive version of Heaven: a cradle-to-grave nanny state fighting endless wars for peace.  Regimented, controlled, secure and listening as the same comatose voters who brought us to this place repeat the pabulum that jumps off the teleprompters into the mouths of the info-announcers as if these were their own opinions.

We cannot, we must not allow this to happen without at the very least exerting every effort to wake up anyone within the sound of our voice.  To do this we of course must be awake and aware ourselves.

If we do not know where we came from how can we know where we are?  If we don’t know where we are, how can we know where we are going?

We must study to show ourselves approved.  If we lose the foundation how will the structure stand?  We must know and understand the constitutional and historical underpinnings of this noble experiment in human freedom if we are to preserve it.  We must know and understand the flow of current events if we wish to shape the future.

Study, learn, share, and look for the lights in the tower.  One if by land and two if by sea, we must recognize the signs of the times and try to wake up as many people as we can.  The time is late, the hour is dark, but the right shall prevail.

Forty-seven years ago a young pre-rap poet songwriter tried to wake people up to the intrusion of government and the need to recognize it when he said, “Maggie comes fleet foot face full of black soot talkin’ that the heat put plants in the bed but the phone’s tapped anyway Maggie says that many say they must bust in early May orders from the D.A.  Look out kid Don’t matter what you did. Walk on your tiptoes don’t try “No-Doz” better stay away from those that carry around a fire hose keep a clean nose watch the plain clothes you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows”

Knowing which way the wind blows should tell us that we must do our duty to save our country or it will be lost.  I don’t know about you but in the future when my grandchildren ask, “What did you do to hold back the night?”  I want to be able to say more than, “I didn’t notice the darkness.”

Keep the faith, keep the peace, we shall overcome.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2012 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens

 

Now is the Time! January 26, 2012

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics.
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Sarah Palin was just about to drag the Progressive John McCain over the finish line.  Then the economy collapsed and Senator McCain suspended his campaign to fly back to Washington and add his, “Me too” as President Bush said, “I’ve abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system.”  An economic downturn, a weak contender, and unpopular never-ending wars let Barak Obama win the presidency with vague promises of hope and change.

I personally met people who voted for Mr. Obama because they thought he was for lower taxes.  Ones who thought he was pro-business.  I even met people who voted for him because they thought he was pro-life.  His blank slate promises were interpreted by many to be whatever they thought they wanted.  He was the “Anyone would be better than what we have now” candidate.  Combine that with some of the best political theater in American History, slick advertising, a complicit media and a community organizer from the most corrupt community in the country becomes the most powerful man in the world.

The information about who Mr. Obama is, where he comes from, and what he stands for was readily available before the election to anyone interested enough to look.  Instead of researching, a majority of voters relying on television ads and sound bites, disgusted with the way the country was going under Bush the Younger, decided to give the unknown and untried man from Chicago a chance.

Flash forward three years and many of those who thought they could vote for anyone and the country would survive realize they may have placed that bet once too often.  It is now obvious for all to see Barack Obama is a strident left wing ideologue who applies the political strategies of the late Chicago communist Saul Alinsky, strategies he used to teach his followers in Chicago.  He uses the Bully Pulpit to advance a radical agenda of class warfare.  He is at war with capitalism and dedicated to spreading the wealth around.  Our President is no longer hiding behind vague platitudes.  He is no longer trying to sell us a pig-in-a-poke.  Instead he is now trying to sell us a societal bridge to nowhere as he campaigns openly on transforming America into a country based on centrally-planed redistribution and social planning as he channels the grandfather of Progressivism: Teddy Roosevelt.

The gloves are off.  The false fronts have been discarded, and we have come face-to-face with the ultimate goal of the Progressive agenda: an America that has evolved past the Constitution leaving limited government, personal liberty, and economic freedom as mere memories.  A new America confined by regulations and intimidated by an ever more intrusive security apparatus.  A new America hostile to Christianity where being successful invites attack.

If President Obama wins re-election with this blatant appeal to class warfare and interest group divisions with no need to worry about re-election and having already said he will impose his agenda without Congress, there will be no check and no balance.  He will claim a mandate to complete his vision for a completely transformed America.

Congress has already shown that it will not stand up to President Obama’s naked power grabs.  When he initiated an illegal war against Libya without even consulting Congress the perpetually re-elected did nothing.  When he made recess appointments while Congress was still in session the parties of power were silent.  Congress has legislated away their own power for years, passing vague laws and allowing bureaucrats to fill them in with legally binding regulations.  They have made themselves irrelevant, and we now have a President who is ready to rule without them.

The biggest question left concerning America’s ever accelerating slide into Progressivism’s version of socialism’s version of communism is whether or not there will be a real choice this November.  Will the Republican wing of the Party of Power nominate another Progressive: an Obama Lite? Or will the rank and file break through and nominate a candidate who stands for a return to Constitutional government?

The Media wing of the party of Power is working 24/7 to frame the debate and manage the primaries.  Every broadcast, every cable show builds up the candidates they favor and ignores or demeans the ones they find unacceptable.  Will the voters follow like sheep or will they think for themselves?  Will they affirm the choice of the big government social engineers or will they see the blinders used to focus their attention on the anointed candidates?

If there is no choice there will be no chance.  If there is a choice America may yet pull itself out of the decline we see all around us.  A return to limited government, personal liberty, and economic freedom would once again release the energy and creativity that made America the greatest nation in the History of the world.  A renunciation of collectivism, class warfare, and social engineering will once again open the door for a return to morning in America.  The re-election of President Obama will mean a solidification of his transformed America and a shabby darkness will settle over the land.

We who seek a return to limited government must look at the candidates, discern which one has a consistent record of supporting constitutional government, and then we must use every opportunity to influence others to unite behind that candidate.  If we don’t this may be our last chance to stop the Progressive transformation of America before they lead us into the dreary dead end of their collectivist dystopia.  Now is the time for all good Americans to come to the aid of the country, or as Ronald Reagan once said, “If not us – who?”  If not now – when?”

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2012 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens

 

Imperial Republics Fall October 21, 2011

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Uncategorized.
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Historians spend their life looking backwards.  Futurists spend their life looking forward.  My goal has been to blend the two disciplines into one seamless endeavor.

When I was studying to become a Historian I came to a point where I had to declare a field of special study. This is where my obsession with current events intersected with my love for History.  This is when I realized that current events are the forever unfolding always receding conveyor belt of reality.  This is when I first verbalized the perception that as the future slides into the present and the present slides into the past our lives are the history of the future.   Therefore in my writings I seek to frame the flow of today with knowledge of yesterday to create a window into tomorrow.

History tells us that Imperial Republics fall.  We have the examples of Athens and all the other grasping Greek republics that followed her.  We have Rome the example always deferred to of a republic that allowed empire to stifle freedom.  The list however does not end there, we can look at Venice and the various republics of Renaissance Italy and of course the First Republic of France which was birthed in blood and died in fire.  The siren song of empire has seduced republics down through history to trade in their freedom for power which eventually cost them both their freedom and the power.

Is it time to re-think America’s international military commitments?  Though settled by European kingdoms seeking empires the United States wasn’t founded to become an empire.  Individuals fought against the empire building tyrants until their determination and resolve won independence against all odds.  Then, although the world was filled with despotic kings, our Framers gave us a Republic.  However, it is worth remembering the exchange that took place between Ben Franklin, the elder statesman of the Constitutional Convention and an unknown woman.  As he left Independence Hall he was asked, “Well Doctor what we have got a republic or a monarchy?”   Appealing to his legendary wit Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”   We and our ancestors have been blessed by the Republic for hundreds of years.  We’ve benefited from the liberty to live our lives and pursue our happiness.  Now we’ve arrived at the “if you can keep it” phase of our journey.

At the cost of hundreds of billions and thousands of lives we doubled-down in Afghanistan.  At the cost of over a trillion and thousands of lives we conquered Iraq and deposed Saddam.  We spearheaded the bombing campaign in Libya.  Our drones strike suspected enemies far and near.  Troops have been dispatched to central Africa.  And the perennial war drums still beat at the very mention of Iran.

We have sent our fellow citizens to fight long hard slogs in countries whose names are the very synonym for Quagmire.  As our economy was being outsourced, our debt monetized, and our infrastructure crumbled we meekly followed our leaders deeper into thankless nation-building campaigns in nation after nation including one that’s resisted and foiled every empire from Alexander to Moscow.

Instead of using our cruise missiles and stealth capabilities we fell into the trap announced and laid by Bin Laden.  Whose strategy was as Lawrence Wright told us in his seminal book Looming Towers to, “lure America into the same trap the Soviets had fallen into: Afghanistan.”  How did he plan to do it?  “To continually attack until the U.S. forces invaded; then the mujahedeen would swarm upon them and bleed them until the entire American empire fell from its wounds. It had happened to Great Britain and to the Soviet Union. He was certain it would happen to America.”

There were twists and turns on our journey from republic to empire.

George Washington warned us to avoid foreign entanglements.  Thomas Jefferson outlined the essential principles of our government which included this advice concerning foreign affairs, “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations entangling alliances with none.”

For more than one hundred years we concentrated on using our liberty to build a mighty nation.  Then the temptation of empire captured the American imagination in the 1890s, a time when Europe was rushing to gobble up the last places open for colonization or carving up those areas unsuited for colonies into spheres of influence.  Under President McKinley the United States entered the scramble for colonies in the Spanish-American War winning Puerto Pico and the Philippines

Teddy Roosevelt followed McKinley walking softly while carrying a big stick in the form of the Great White Fleet and multiple intrusions into the sovereignty of Latin American countries.  After being re-elected on the promise to keep America neutral President Wilson proclaimed America must fight World War I to “Make the World Safe for Democracy.”  An adventure which cost over 300, 000 casualties and which actually expanded the empires of England, France, and Japan.  After the war, the Congress of the United States re-asserted control by rejecting the international entanglements of the League of Nations Treaty returning to the traditional American foreign policy of freedom of trade and freedom of action.

Under FDR America fought an undeclared naval war against Germany in 1940 and 41 and imposed draconian embargoes against Japan prior to Pearl Harbor.  Once we were attacked we had to defend ourselves.  However, when World War II ended not with the defeat of totalitarianism but instead with the expansion of it in Eastern Europe the guiding light of American foreign policy seems to have been permanently extinguished.  As the British Empire sailed into the sunset we filled the void taking up the role of leader of the West in the Cold War.   For forty-six years we faced the Soviets until they collapsed.  Then instead of coming home we spread our wings even further embracing Eastern Europe promising to send young Americans to fight for Estonia and Slovakia among others, and so the sun never set upon the American Empire.

Not only is it against the founding principles of America to establish and maintain an empire of far-flung outposts, we cannot afford to be the Policeman of the world.  We cannot afford to build nations for people who don’t want them. How did a peaceful nation of free citizens become the advocate of pre-emptive attack and endless occupation?  How much blood and treasure will we invest in Iraq, and what will be the result?  A Shi’a ally for Iran.  The war in Afghanistan was obviously defensive and retaliatory in nature given the Taliban’s support for Al Qaeda.  But ten years later what’s it all about?  Are we really dedicated to building a modern nation for tribal people who have no sense of nationhood?  Or have we walked into the same trap that brought the Soviets to their knees?

Currently the United States has armed forces in over 130 countries.  We’re committed to defend most of these countries against aggression.  Where were all these allies on 9-11?  Where are they in Afghanistan?   Why do we have treaties binding us to go to war to defend those who refuse to support us when we’re attacked?  If these policies are counter-productive are there any alternatives?

Close the foreign bases and bring our troops home.  Station them on the border to protect us from the on-going invasion of illegal immigrants who’re overloading our systems.  We can seal and secure the mountainous border between the Koreas and we can secure our own borders if we have the wisdom and the will.  If we need to project American power use the carrier battle-groups designed for that purpose.  Protect America and rebuild our infrastructure instead of everyone else’s.  When asked what to do with the American Military after World War I Will Rogers said, “Get ‘em all home, add to their number, add to their training, then just sit tight with a great feeling of security and just read about foreign wars. That’s the best thing in the world to do with them.”

If we want to save the Republic we need to lose the empire or we can cling to the empire and lose both.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2011 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens

 

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