‘Letters to a Young Catholic’: George Weigel hits a literary home run

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George Weigel’s Letters to a Young Catholic is a wonderful book, but oddly enough I must begin this review by griping about the title — it’s something that Catholics of any age should read. In fact, the publisher does not lie by billing the book as “a modern spiritual classic,” which is why I recommend it to anyone who is interested in such issues.

Like many Catholic kids, my parents took me to Mass every Sunday growing up. And, like many Catholic kids, I was not exposed to the writings of G.K. Chesterton, George Weigel or other intellectual heavyweights. What I did have access to were kind adults who lacked the ability to articulate the faith in a way that “clicked” for me. I drifted from the Church as a young man and did not come back until I learned many painful lessons. If I were exposed to a book like this as a teenager then it probably would have saved me a lot of lost time, although I admit to having a largely impenetrable chip on my shoulder in those days. (And yes, I know that some of you would argue that it’s still there!)

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Letters to a Young Catholic is that in many ways it doubles as a must-read for those who are wondering why America’s political institutions are crumbling before our eyes. The way in which the author travels the globe, goes back in time, covers essential questions about the Catholic faith that all young people ask, and then ties it into our contemporary political landscape is like watching a gymnast who puts everything out on the floor before the judges — and nails it.

Mr. Weigel writes:

If American popular and high culture could ever agree on a theme song that captured the idea of freedom driving much of contemporary life, it would almost certainly be Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” I did it my way seems to sum up the widespread notion that freedom is a matter of asserting myself and my will — that freedom is really about choice, not about what we choose and why. Suggest that certain choices are just incompatible with human dignity and with growth in goodness, and you’ll get some very strange looks these days, whether on campus or in the workplace.

Catholicism has a different idea of freedom. In the Catholic idea of freedom, freedom and goodness go together. A great contemporary moral theologian, Father Servais Pinckaers, OP, explained all this. […] Learning to play the piano, he reminded us, is a tedious, even dreary business at first: well do I remember my own distaste for a book of technique-strengthening tortures entitled Scales, Chords, and Arpeggios. But after doing one’s exercises for a while, what originally seemed like a burden comes into clearer focus — learning to do the right thing in the right way is actually liberating. You can play anything you like, even the most difficult pieces. You can make new music on your own. Sure, Father Pinckaers writes, anybody can pound away on a piano. But that’s a rudimentary, savage sort of freedom,” not a truly human freedom. …

I did it my way teaches us an idea of freedom that Father Pinckaers calls “the freedom of indifference.” Doing things “my way,” just because it’s my way, is like banging idiotically on the piano or talking gibberish. The richer, nobler idea of freedom the Catholic Church proposes is what Father Pinckaers calls freedom for excellence — the freedom to do the right thing, in the right way, for the right reasons, as a matter of habit. That’s the truly human way. Because that’s the kind of freedom that satisfies our natural desire for happiness, which itself reflects our desire for God, who is all Good, all the way.  […] What’s all this got to do with democracy? Everything. Freedom untethered from moral truth will eventually become freedom’s worst enemy. — Weigel, George. Letters to a Young Catholic. Basic Books, 2015. 305-306.

A friend of mine texted me on Monday and said she hoped that I would cover the first U.S. presidential debate on the blog. In many ways, the text from Mr. Weigel’s book shown here tells us everything we need to know.

Why is America forced to choose between a woman who should be wearing an orange jumpsuit in a federal prison, and an egomaniac with occasionally orange skin?

Answer: Because America long ago decided it wanted to untether freedom from moral truth.

There really is no way to read Letters to a Young Catholic and not have a crystal clear understanding as to why civil society in the U.S. is unraveling. Our cultural influencers embrace a kind of nihilism “that enjoys itself on the way to oblivion, convinced that all of this — the world, us, relationships, sex, beauty, history — is really just a cosmic joke,” and we are now paying the price.

Mr. Weigel counters that “against the nihilist claim that nothing is really of consequence, Catholicism insists that everything is of consequence, because everything has been redeemed by Christ. And if you believe that, it changes the way you see things. It changes the way everything looks.”

If for no other reason, wayward Catholics should read this book to realize that what they thought was Catholicism growing up was in all likelihood a grossly watered down version of the Faith that denied them knowledge of its true richness and beauty. There are numerous reasons for this, and the author does a masterful job spelling it all out. I found myself thinking, “Finally! Someone who gets it,” and I am sure you will too.

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French father tells son ‘flowers’ stop terror; ISIS school hands kids guns

A French father tells his young child that “flowers” can protect him from the Islamic State group. A teacher at a school run by ISIL hands children guns and instructs them to kill infidels.

Question: At what point does a man’s “peace at any cost” rhetoric become delusional, dangerous, and downright insulting to those who provide for the common defense?

French father flowersFrench father flowers 2French father flowers 3French flowers.jpgISIS Afghanistan schoolISIS Afghanistan infidel

The first interview came from Le Petit Journal. The second story comes from Frontline PBS’ “ISIS in Afghanistan.” In both cases, however, we see men at the far ends of an ideological spectrum.

In the case of the French father mourning last Friday’s terror attacks in Paris, he does a disservice to the child by inculcating a worldview that flat-out rejects the need for those who put their lives on the line to secure peace.

French SWAT doors

The death count in France stands at 129. How many more would have died if brave S.W.A.T. teams weren’t willing to charge into a room with men unloading AK-47s?

Police didn’t storm into the Bataclan concert hall with flowers — they went in with armor and their own weapons.

It is possible to ease a scared child’s mind without filling it with symbolic messages John Lennon would cheer after an acid trip.

Whether America and its allies want to admit it or not, we are in a clash of civilizations. World history is littered with lawlessness and tyranny. Western Civilization helped spark a period of time where universal human rights and the rule of law actually mattered. Freedom and liberty were never preserved by men with flowers because we live in a fallen world, and that is not about to change in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.

In order to maintain history’s few outposts of freedom, we will need to raise men and women who are up to task. Teaching children there is nothing worth fighting and dying for is a surefire recipe for failure.

Rep. DeLauro: I think poor people are stupid, so let’s tax every teaspoon of sugar purchased

Rosa DeLauro AP

It takes some serious gall for a legislator to turn to British taxes from 1764 for inspiration, but that’s what Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), did when she introduced the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax (SWEET Act). The Democrat’s goal: tax every teaspoon of sugar, high fructose corn syrup or caloric sweetener that you buy. The tax would start at one cent per teaspoon of sugar and increase as future masterminds in Washington, D.C. see fit.

Here’s what she had to say regarding the SWEET Act:

“Added sugar is pervasive and almost inescapable at the supermarket. And of course, many times it is the sugary foods and drinks that are the easiest for the families living on the edge of poverty to afford. When a 2 liter cola is 99 cents and blueberries are over $3.00, something has gone very wrong. As [the movie] “Fed Up” shows, this is not just the free market at work. All too often sugary foods or drinks with high fructose are cheaper as a direct result of government polices. It is long past time that we pass and support policies that work to our better health instead,” (Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.).

With that in mind, I’m working on legislation right now to tax sugar-sweetened drinks, like sodas, in a way that reflects the serious damage they are doing to our health. I hope to introduce legislation in a matter of weeks.”

How does one woman cram so much idiocy into so few words? First off, comparing the economics of blueberries to the economics of soda is just plain weird. It makes just as much sense as saying “When a box of Dunkin Donuts ‘Munchkins’ is $4.99 and a basket of cherries is $9.99, something is wrong.” Apparently the congresswoman has never taken Econ 101. The only thing “wrong” is that there is not a single area of your life — not one — that a woman like Ms. DeLauro believes is off limits to the federal government. If Ms. DeLauro doesn’t like subsidies and tariffs artificially warping sugar prices, then she should focus on getting rid of them — but she doesn’t. Why? The answer is simple: control.

Ms. DeLauro feels as though she should have some amount of say in every teaspoon of sugar you consume, so she goes about creating laws that will allow her that luxury. Those laws must be overseen by men and women who think like her, so a tax is put in place to fund studies, government agencies and bureaucratic overseers. If by some strange chance that tax should happen to curb sugar consumption and cause a budget shortfall for food-policing efforts, then some other group or tax bracket would be called upon to pick up the tab (e.g., “the rich”).

There is something sick and insidious about the individual who perpetually finds new ways to encroach upon the lives of those who just want to be left alone. Such politicians justify their self-described acts of “kindness” without ever stopping to think about how much evil has been inflicted upon the world under the banner of kindness. In a different time and a different place Americans would run Ms. DeLauro out of town, but these days Americans are so used to having individual liberties stripped away by political parasites that they hardly stir from their Netflix or XBox-inspired stupor. Worst of all may be that by allowing legislation like the Affordable Care Act to pass, citizens can expect a litany of new laws in the same vein as the SWEET Act.

Let us, for a moment, go back to the time U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson asked pro-Obamacare attorneys in Florida the following question: “If [lawmakers and regulators] decided everybody needs to eat broccoli because broccoli makes us healthy, could they mandate that everybody has to eat broccoli each week?” His question was completely dodged, but honest people know exactly what he was getting at: laws are being enacted under the presumption that there is no limit to the power granted to the federal government. If you deny this, simply listen to what politicians like Rosa DeLauro say and examine the rules and regulations they tirelessly try to impose upon you.

The Declaration of Independence states:

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

People like to joke that Americans are violent people. That is not true — at least as it pertains to individuals who cherish the nation’s founding. Americans would rather suffer endless violations of their civil liberties, doled out like Chinese water torture by 535 members of Congress and the regulatory agencies of the Executive Branch, than to resort to violence. Americans are patient, but there comes a time for everyone when patience runs out. When one sugar tax too many has been passed, Americans will put an end to the long train of abuses of freedom and individual liberty inflicted upon them over the course of many, many years.

Abraham Lincoln on liberty: Are you the shepherd or the wolf?

Abraham Lincoln was a smart guy. The problem smart guys have is that they say a lot of memorable things, but for whatever reason people latch on to their most famous lines while allowing the rest to fall by the wayside. With Lincoln, there’s The Gettysburg Address, his “House Divided” speech, The Emancipation Proclamation, and then his Inaugural addresses to pull from. While they are all important, I think his Lecture on Liberty at the Sanitary Fair in Baltimore should be added to the list of “do not forget” speeches.

Lincoln understood in 1864 what so many liberty-loving Americans do not: the definition of the word ‘liberty’ for many Americans is incompatible with the country’s founding.

The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name — liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names — liberty and tyranny.

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as a liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act, as the destroyer of liberty, especially as the sheep was a black one. Plainly the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of the word liberty; and precisely the same difference prevails today among us human creatures … all professing to love liberty.” — Abraham Lincoln, April 18, 1864. Lecture on Liberty at the Sanitary Fair in Baltimore.

Are you the shepherd or the wolf? There are hundreds of wolves populating the halls of Congress, and all of them are trying to convince you they are a shepherd.

Editor’s note for regular readers: This passage will also play a role in the book I am writing.

When government gets in the gay wedding cake business, it’s a recipe for more rules, regulations

Cake

With gay marriage comes the need for gay-themed cakes. Simple, right? Sadly, no. First there were stories of bakers denying cakes on religious grounds in Denver, and now we have a similar story in Oregon. The bakers who are refusing to bake cakes for gay couples seem to be fighting an uphill battle, but should the government be in the business of telling companies who they must cater to?

CBS Seattle reports:

ORTLAND, Ore. (CBS Seattle/AP) — An Oregon bakery stands by its decision to deny a cake for a same-sex wedding.

The owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa tell KATU-TV that their religious beliefs have not changed after Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries determined the Portland-area bakery violated the civil rights of a same-sex couple. Owner Aaron Klein says it almost seems as if the state is hostile toward Christian businesses.

“We still stand by what we believe from the beginning,” Klein told KATU-TV. …

Lewis & Clark law professor Jim Oleske says Oregon is one of 21 states that protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“Based on cases in every other state that has confronted this so far, this business is likely to lose on its claim that it can be exempt from an anti-discrimination law,” Oleske told KATU.

If I owned a bakery and I had a competitor who didn’t like gay people, minorities, Muslims, Asians, white peopleany group that has a population of cake eaters among its ranks — I would make a lot of cash. I would serve all of those groups tasty cakes like they’ve never tasted before and they would return to ‘Dough Ernst’s’ for all their confectionery needs. And then I would say: “God bless the free market!”

If my wife and I walked into a bakery and the owner said, “Sorry, we don’t serve interracial couples,” I’d say, “Awesome. Thanks, jerk.” I’d walk out the door, find another bakery, and then I’d spread the word that ‘Bakery X’ doesn’t take kindly to our willingness to “dilute” our races (or whatever it is that a bigot baker would say).

The free market punishes racism and bigotry, and if the cost of upsetting large swathes of the community is worth it for a company, in most instances they should be able to do that.

Exhibit A, the Bank of Italy:

In the early 1900s, Italian immigrants were denied loans because … they were Italian. A guy named Amadeo Giannini started the Bank of Italy in San Francisco. Without getting into the history of Bank of Italy, let’s just say that in 1930 the bank was renamed Bank of America. The point is, the Bank of Italy — and all the success that followed for Mr. Giannini — would not have unfolded the way it did if other bankers simply loaned money to Italian immigrants. Given a chance to work, the free market will punish bigotry.

Once the government gets its hands in an industry, however, it’s generally a recipe for disaster. Expect all sorts of strange and bizarre lawsuits in the years ahead as a result of the gay wedding cake conflicts. The end result will be a myriad of rules and regulations heaped upon an existing mountain of them.

Piers Morgan: In another life I changed the king’s chamber pot — and loved it

Piers Morgan First Amendment

John Adams said that the American Revolution “connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.” His cousin Sam said the passage of the Declaration was the day that the colonists “restored the Sovereign to Whom alone men ought to be obedient.”

These men and many of America’s founding fathers understood the important role Christianity played in shaping our nation at its inception. In fact, it’s a good bet that if they were transported in time to 2013 that Piers Morgan would call these men religious “bigots.”

Here is what Piers Morgan said of Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson after reading the text of the interview the A&E star gave to GQ magazine:

Just as the 2nd Amendment shouldn’t protect assault rifle devotees, so the 1st Amendment shouldn’t protect vile bigots.

Here is what Mr. Robertson said:

“[Sin isn’t] logical, my man. It’s just not logical. […] Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. […] Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

The First Amendment does not exist to protect popular speech. Quite the contrary — it exists to protect unpopular speech. The fact that Piers Morgan doesn’t understand a concept that is so crucial to America’s identity indicates that in another life he probably cleaned the king’s chamber pot — and loved every second of it. He carries himself as if he once was a handmaiden to tyranny and it’s carried over into this lifetime. Sadly, he doesn’t even understand how he’s telegraphing for all the world to see that the seeds of an authoritarian monster are alive and well within him.

Americans once got to listen to Frenchmen like Charles de Montesquieu. Today, they get … Piers Morgan, who has now demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that he does not understand or respect the First or Second Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Americans once got to read the writings of Thomas Paine, who published ‘Common Sense’ on January 9, 1776. Today, they get to read the Twitter feed of men like Piers Morgan, who compensate for what they lack in common sense with blind faith in their own B.S.

What does it say about us that instead of finding this generation’s John Locke that CNN suits settled for the modern equivalent of King George III’s man-servant pooper scooper?

Those of the Morgan-mold are obsessed with banning things they do not like. Whether we are talking about physical objects like guns or something much more precious — like ideas — the modern man of the left has a never-ending “to do” list that involves using force to get you to comply with his vision for the world.

While conservatives believe that A&E viewers are smart enough to decide on their own whether Phil Robertson still belongs on the airwaves, the Piers Morgans of the world feel as though only they can be trusted to make the right call. They do not like talk of God because they see themselves as gods — elite masterminds who must mandate their great ideas to you when you do not accept them. The beatings will continue until morale improves…

Whether or not you think Phil Robertson is a “bigot” for his faith in the Bible, one thing is certain: Men like Piers Morgan are a greater threat to freedom and individual liberties than the Duck Dynasty family or their fans will ever be.

“We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job,” said Phil. “We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?”

Piers Morgan? Not only is he filled with hate, but he believes he should have the moral authority to impose restrictions on the kinds of thoughts and feelings that disturb his sensibilities.

Related: Operation Mindcrime: Media take out Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson

Ben Franklin’s thoughts on the rattlesnake as a symbol of America: ‘Don’t tread on me’

Gadsen Flag

Once upon a time, Americans listened to men like Benjamin Franklin. Today, they get unhealthy doses of Sen. Harry Reid. Given that, I thought I’d share a few excerpts from ‘The Completed Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin,’ which was compiled and edited by Mark Skousen, Ph.D.

I like Archer just as much as the next guy, but Archer is not Ben Franklin. If I had one piece of advice to give to young people it would to turn off the television for a year or two and read the works of the men who helped shape America’s identity at its inception. Learn from the wisdom preserved for us by the best and brightest minds ever turned out by Western Civilization. Once you do that, you will realize who it is within the political class and the entertainment community that wants you to wander through life like a zombie. You will be able to discern who is telling you what you want to hear and who is telling you what you need to hear. You will be able to tell the difference between the man who is snake oil salesman from the man who is like the rattlesnake.

The rattlesnake as a symbol of America: ‘Don’t tread on me’

“I observed on one of the drums belonging to the Marines being raised that there was painted a rattlesnake, with this modest motto under it, “Don’t tread on me.” It occurred to me that the rattlesnake, being found in no other quarter of the world besides America, might therefore be chose to represent her. Having frequently seen the rattlesnake, I ran over in my mind every property by which she was distinguished.

I recollect that her eye excelled in brightness, that of any other animal, and that she has no eye-lids. She may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance. She never begins an attack, not, when once engaged, ever surrenders; she is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage.

As if anxious to prevent all pretensions of quarreling with her, the weapons with which nature has furnished her she conceals in the roof of her mouth, so that, to those who are unacquainted with her, she appears to be a most defenseless animal, and even when those weapons are shown and extended for their defense, they appear weak and contemptible; but their wounds however small, are decisive and fatal. Conscious of this, she never wounds till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her.

I confess I was wholly at a loss what to make of the rattles until I went back and counted them and found them just thirteen, exactly the number of the colonies united in America; and I recollected too that this was the only part of the snake that increased in numbers; perhaps it might be only fancy, but, I conceited the painter had shown a half formed additional rattle, which, I suppose, might have been intended to represent the province of Canada.

‘Tis curious and amazing to observe how distinct and independent of each other the rattles of this animal are, and yet how firmly they are united together, so as never to be separated but by breaking them to pieces. One of those rattles singly is incapable of producing sound, but the ringing of thirteen together is sufficient to alarm the boldest man living.

The rattlesnake is solitary and associated with her kind only when it is necessary for their preservation. In winter, the warmth of a number together will preserve their lives, while singly they would probably perish.

The power of fascination attributed to her, by a generous construction, may be understood to mean that those who consider the liberty and blessing which America affords, and once come over to her, never afterwards leave her, but spend their lives with her. She strongly resembles America in this, that she is beautiful in youth and her beauty increases with age, “her tongue also is blue and forked as the lightning, and her abode is among impenetrable rocks.”

I communicated my sentiments to a neighbor of mine, who had a surprising readiness at guessing everything which related to public affairs. He instantly declared it as his sentiments that the Congress meant to allude to Lord North’s declaration in the House of Commons that he never would relax his measure until he had brought America to his feet, and to intimate to his Lordship that were she brought to his feet, it would be dangerous treading on her.” — The Completed Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, compiled and edited by Mark Skousen, Ph.D. Pages 112-114.

Rebellion to Tyrants is obedience to God

“Only July 4 I had been appointed to a committee, along with Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, to design the great seal of the United States. I urged the following to be adopted: Moses standing on the shore, and extending his hand over the sea, thereby causing the same to overwhelm Pharaoh who is sitting in an open chariot, a crown on his head and a sword in his hand. Rays from a pillar of fire in the clouds reach to Moses to express that he acts by command of the Deity. Motto: Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” — The Completed Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, compiled and edited by Mark Skousen, Ph.D. Page 124.

Take a few moments to really think about America’s founding and what it meant to have men like Franklin at the helm when the fate of the nation hung in the balance. And then, when you’re done…if you really must, go back to the cartoons.

Seattle tries socialism, hopes to duplicate Venezuelan toilet paper shortages

Seattle Socialist

Venezuela’s socialist revolution is working out so incredibly well that Seattle has decided to follow suit. The city recently elected its first Socialist Councilmember, Kshama Sawant, and she’s already out in public supporting the kind of actions that lead to rolling brownouts, toilet paper shortages (which produces more brown in places you don’t want it), and businessmen who literally have to sell their products at arbitrary prices while guns are pointed at their backs.

Kshama Sawant’s first order of business? Letting the world know that private property rights are merely an obstacle to her socialist utopia — she thinks Boeing’s union members should “take over” the factories if they don’t get their way in an ongoing contract dispute.

“The workers should take over the factories, and shut down Boeing’s profit-making machine,” Sawant announced to a cheering crowd of union supporters in Seattle’s Westlake Park Monday night. …

“The only response we can have if Boeing executives do not agree to keep the plant here is for the machinists to say the machines are here, the workers are here, we will do the job, we don’t need the executives. The executives don’t do the work, the machinists do,” Ms. Sawant said.

Sawant calls that “democratic ownership,” topping it all off with: “We can re-tool the machines to produce mass transit like buses, instead of destructive, you know, war machines,” she told KIRO 7.

To the Socialist, Holocaust-denying mullah’s in the Middle East or Chinese state-sponsored hackers should not prompt a nation to provide for the common defense because the “real” bad guys are the businessmen right here at home. The real enemies of America are Americans — particularly those who hold dear to antiquated ideas like “private property” and “individual liberty.” In the Socialist utopia, people should be paid to dig ditches and fill them back up again, and they should be transported to in from work every day packed in buses like glorious sardines. To fight this vision for the world is to fight progress.

To recap: Boeing seeks a contract that would result in work for eight years on the new 777X airliner — provided that new employees go without a guaranteed pension — and if that doesn’t come to pass then the employees should forcibly take over the factories. Got it. It would be smart for Boeing to run — fast — from Seattle, if an absolute disregard for private property is what gets people elected in the city these days.

There are individuals who have zero fidelity to the rights enshrined the in the Declaration of Independence and codified into law by the Constitution, and these days there are enclaves where they have considerable political power. The real enemies of freedom are not the job creators, but those who actively encourage captive audiences to take the law into their own hands, using Orwellian euphemisms like “democratic ownership” to describe theft and criminality.

Gandalf, from ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” says it well: “We’ve been blind. And in our blindness, our enemy has returned.”

Gandalf We have been blind
“We’ve been blind. And in our blindness, our enemy has returned.” — Gandalf

Returned? They never went away.

Perhaps Thomas Jefferson says it best: “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”

‘The True Believer’: Eric Hoffer’s classic from 1951 is essential reading for Americans today

Eric Hoffer’s ‘True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements’ was published in 1951, but its wisdom is more relevant now than ever. Hoffer, the “longshoreman philosopher,” was an intellectual giant; his observations on human nature are essential reading for all Americans. In recent years, the split between the defenders of individual liberty and those who yearn to be lost in the collective has widened. The United States of America is united in name only, and the seeds of sinister things to come have shifted the cultural dirt with germination.

While I will always be grateful for the education I received at the University of Southern California, the bulk of my intellectual growth during my early twenties occurred because I was willing to seek out books my college professors never included on their recommended reading’ lists. I learned a lot by listening to my professors, but I knew that my greatest expansion would happen when I figured out what they didn’t want me to hear.

Eric Hoffer was kept from me by the “intellectuals” who were paid (handsomely) to introduce me to the best and brightest minds of human history. Don’t let his work be kept from you:

People whose lives are barren and insecure seem to show a greater willingness to obey than people who are self sufficient and self-confident. To the frustrated, freedom from responsibility is more attractive than freedom from restraint. They are eager to barter their independence for relief from the burdens of willing, deciding and being responsible for inevitable failure. They willingly abdicate the directing of their lives to those who want to plan, command and shoulder all responsibility. Moreover, submission by all to a supreme leader is an approach to their ideal of equality. …

The frustrated are also likely to be the most steadfast followers. It is remarkable, that, in a co-operative effort, the least self-reliant are the least likely to be discouraged by defeat. For they join others in a common undertaking not so much to ensure the success of a cherished project as to avoid an individual shouldering of blame in case of failure. When the common undertaking fails, they are still spared the one thing they fear most, namely, the showing up of their individual shortcomings. Their faith remains unimpaired and they are eager to follow in a new attempt.

The frustrated follow a leader less because of their faith that he is leading them to a promised land than because of their immediate feeling that he is leading them away from their unwanted selves. Surrender to a leader is not a means to an end but a fulfillment. Whither they are led is of secondary importance. (Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements. 118-119.)

Sounds familiar? If not, you haven’t been paying attention to the American political landscape since 2008. The election (and re-election) of the Marshall Applewhite of modern American politics — and the blithe acceptance of policies anathema to the long-term health of a free nation — have been harbingers of things to come.

Don’t believe me? Ask yourself how it’s possible for a modern Paul Revere like Mark Dice was able to get Californians to willingly sign a petition to support an “Orwellian police state” with “Nazi Germany” as its model. Any way you slice it, the “Orwellian Police State” video is a sad commentary on the state of union. A certain percentage of the population will always be clueless, but there are some encounters that should receive near-universal revulsion. A request to sign up for a “police state” is one of them.

The stage is set for America to change drastically overnight. The room is filled with the fumes of tyranny, and all that is required for destruction and pain on an unprecedented scale is a spark. Perhaps an economic crash somewhere around the $25 trillion debt mark? Iran officially going nuclear? A large-scale terror attack on American soil? Take your pick.

Perhaps the final piece of the puzzle will fall into place when Americans, now content to bludgeon each other with violent rhetoric, tire of blaming political rivals and turn their attention to external boogeymen.

The Americans are poor haters in international affairs because of their innate feeling of superiority over all foreigners. An American’s hatred for a fellow American … is far more virulent than any antipathy he can work up against foreigners. … Should Americans begin to hate foreigners whole-heartedly, it will be an indication that they have lost confidence in their own way of life.” (Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements. 96)

If you are concerned about the nation, I suggest reading ‘True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements.’ While most institutions of higher learning these days are not interested in introducing you to men like Eric Hoffer, plenty of bloggers are happy to do so. Search them out, read their work, and together we might be able to pass on a freer society to future generations of Americans.

3D printing drives statists crazy; expect tyrants to double their efforts

Liberator Forbes

3D printing is here. Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed wanted to make the first weapon that was fully printed (except for the firing pin) and he has succeed. The blueprints were released online and the result has been amazing: 100,000 downloads before the feds stepped in to put a stop to it.

Forbes reports:

If gun control advocates hoped to prevent blueprints for the world’s first fully 3D-printable gun from spreading online, that horse has now left the barn about a hundred thousand times.

That’s the number of downloads of the 3D-printable file for the so-called “Liberator” gun that the high-tech gunsmithing group Defense Distributed has seen in just the last two days, a member of the group tells me. The gun’s CAD files have been ten times more popular than any component the group has previously made available, parts that have included the body of an AR-15 and the magazine for an AK-47.

As I said, Uncle Sam is not happy. Since the State Department couldn’t protect Ambassador Stevens from real guns, it is now going after Americans:

On Thursday, Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson received a letter from the State Department Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance demanding that he take down the online blueprints for the 3D-printable “Liberator” handgun that his group released Monday, along with nine other 3D-printable firearms components hosted on the group’s website Defcad.org. The government says it wants to review the files for compliance with arms export control laws known as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or ITAR. By uploading the weapons files to the Internet and allowing them to be downloaded abroad, the letter implies Wilson’s high-tech gun group may have violated those export controls.

Here’s the deal: technology keeps breaking down barriers faster and faster and faster, and a big bloated federal government simply can not keep up with the speed. The statists are confused because suddenly we’re on the brink of the stuff technological revolutions are made out of and they don’t like it because it will free millions from their regulatory vice grip.

If Williams-Sonoma gets so freaked out by pressure cookers in the wake of the Boston bombing that it pulls them from the shelves, what are the Jr. Sonomas in Congress going to do when faced with a population armed with 3D printers? Time to ban plastic, people!

In all seriousness though, one possible outcome is that faced with a world that is running faster than it can write regulations, the “soft tyranny” Americans have seen in recent decades will be replaced with good old fashioned, boot-on-your-throat tyranny.

Don’t think it could happen? I give you New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg:

“The people who are worried about privacy have a legitimate worry. But we live in a complex world where you’re going to have to have a level of security greater than you did back in the olden days, if you will. And our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change,” (Michael Bloomberg, April 23, 2013).

He has money. He has power. And he has a mindset that is extremely, extremely dangerous. So much for unalienable rights, eh? That is exactly why I have always said that once you take out rights endowed to us “by the Creator,” you are left with rights “endowed by dangerous megalomaniacs like Michael Bloomberg.”

Still don’t believe me? Take a look at the Boston manhunt.

Nothing like putting an entire city on lock down for one guy, and then dragging women and children from their homes at gunpoint. Question: At what point did local police departments being to need equipment reserved for the national guard?
Nothing like putting an entire city on lock down for one guy, and then dragging women and children from their homes at gunpoint. (Image: Associated Press)

Boston police

Or better yet, I’ll let Bill Maher talk about the whole ordeal. It’s funny how he’s come around on taxes (i.e., “Liberals, you can actually lose me. It’s ridiculous.”), entitlements and now the dangers of a bloated federal government in such a short amount of time.

“This country is becoming a police state and it is very troubling to me,” (Bill Maher).

Get used to it Bill, because it’s only going to get worse before it gets better. It’s just very interesting to have watched you for all these years with your smug delivery suddenly looking a little shaken and unsure of yourself. We tried to tell you that a government that was big enough to give you whatever you wanted was big enough to take it all away, and you called us ‘teabaggers.’ We tried to tell you that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and you called us dumb hicks. And now that your taxes are through the roof and S.W.A.T. guys are only a single terrorist away from landing on your roof you’ve got a quizzical look on your face. Hear that? That’s the sound of your quixotic worldview crashing down around you.

There is hope for Bill yet, and I think the response by power hungry bureaucrats to future advances in technology can make him come around.

How about you?