The Fighting 49th

“Help us Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re our only hope.” – Princess Leia, Star Wars

Maybe it’s because I watched Star Wars’ Episode 1 last night – “The Phantom Menace.” Maybe listening to Matchbox 20’s “How Far We’ve Come,” or hearing my freshman Congressman speak last weekend, or maybe it was meeting with the Bread of Life Charity and talking about their mission. I’m not sure exactly what, but somethings got me all fired up again.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” – Ephesians 6:12

My district (California’s 49th) changed from Red to Blue last election. Mike Levin won a seat in the House after Darrell Issa retired and, as for me, little changed. I still believe that both of them want to do good while they are on this planet, nearly all of our elected officials are trying to be good men, and that’s the God’s honest truth – just not sure where that leaves me. Independent? Reform Party? Just Human?

“Promise me you will train the boy.. He is the chosen one… He will bring balance… Train him. Train him.” – Qui-Gon’s final words to Obi-Wan

Do the Red and Blue battle forever in hopes that one day, after we’ve kicked Evil’s ass all the way to Kingdom come, we will be left with what is best for us? I don’t know, but as I look around, it still feels to me like Darth Maul killed our Master and now we need to carry on. That’s the cross America must bear, We the People are Sovereign.

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams to Massachusetts Militia, 1798

Hearing my Congressman talk on Saturday about how he felt when taking the oath, knowing that indeed it imprints upon a man – well, it got me thinking again – renewing in me a strong sense of hope, assurance, and confidence that good men will indeed triumph. To all of you flying to DC and back every week, spending Saturday at your 198th House party, conversing with your constituents, meeting with Generals, putting out fires, working for the people around you – I say Thank You Sir.

“Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do.” – Thomas Aquinas

Stressing how America could use a balanced media diet, Congressman Levin relayed a welcome calm to the television’s tension. After a few questions, the tide turned to Trump impeachment, and I didn’t ask anything. On the way out, however, I did get the Congressman’s ear for a moment and relayed my question: “Do people in the House talk about balancing the budget? Or have we all agreed we’re not doing that anymore?”

“The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;” – Article 1, Section 8, Constitution of the United States of America

Although Congress is certainly granted the power to borrow money, I wonder whether our founders ever figured that we’d decide one day to assume as much debt as they’ll give us, talk about the good we’re doing with all the money we borrowed, and live as slaves. Weird way for us to die I think, but maybe it is indeed Fate.

“Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.” – Mayer Amschel Rothschild

I still believe the right answer is to reveal what being good looks like, show them why it looks this way, and then charter our leaders to go that direction. We need to pull the heading knob, steer the ship, take control, and be the good People we were created to become. We don’t need to borrow to live – why do we keep believing this lie?

“There were no needy ones among them, because those who owned lands or houses would sell their property, bring the proceeds from the sales, and lay them at the apostles’ feet for distribution to anyone as he had need.” – Acts 4:34-35

I now see why Communism is so attractive to some, but as for me, I still hear it loud and clear… and uh, he sounds pretty sure of himself when he says it. We were never meant to call government the disciples, give our earnings to them, and create government programs to take care of the least of us. This was never His desire for Us and, because of this, why our current course will never work.

“Hear ye, O mountains, the Lord’s controversy, and ye strong foundations of the earth: for the Lord hath a controversy with his people, and he will plead with Israel.” – Micah 6:2

We can borrow to make it look like it’s working (and we have done plenty of that, even set the interest rates at an artificial low for over a decade so that we could “afford” the exorbitant interest payments we’ve accumulated). In the end though, in our soul, we know that our nation will never thrive by borrowing. We can only change, or die this way.

“If it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time or die by suicide.” – Abraham Lincoln

That’s how I see the Sith Lord now, the Phantom Menace, and why he is so difficult to destroy. He uses your good nature to get you to engage in wars across the globe, borrow more, puff your chest out, beat “them” – all the while happy to lend you more money than your children can ever pay. The Phantom Menace gets you to destroy yourself.

“I believe the world is burning to the ground. Oh well, I guess, we’re gonna find out.”

“In order to be a good person,” he starts softly, “to show a love for your neighbor, to demonstrate that you too want to live in a pleasant world where we value one another, striving to be good and free, kind to all – you agree we are supposed to be good, right?” Forgetting now that he wields a dual bladed light saber, you nod assuredly. Yes, I do think we’re supposed to be good and free.

“Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, ‘Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” – Mark 12:13-14

“And so you agree my good Sir,” the Sith continues, “that our government should do more to help people, good citizens should support programs to aid our struggling neighbors, and what would benefit our community most is to borrow money to build more low income housing, fund the State board of Equalization, you want to be a part of a Great Society, don’t you? Whoever has money gives so we can do this great work, we will borrow as needed to assure all people are cared for, promote government assistance for all as needed. You agree this is best, right?”

“At last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi. At last we will have revenge.” – Darth Maul to Darth Sidious

Forgetting now that a free market, a free people, and a desire to be good is what is best for society, not understanding that the Sith will use your tithes to build a war machine, support his followers, entrenching his position, you find yourself nodding still, even as he sets out to make your children slaves. After all, you figure incorrectly, if government doesn’t build low income housing, no one will. Forgetting now that Oprah funds orphanages, business CEO’s fly goods to Puerto Rico, and the churches really do care for people, you begin to believe his lie, his fiction, his made up reality that a free market, a free people, and one nation under God doesn’t work, is cruel and heartless even, and we must task our government to do better.

Still one thing more, fellow citizens. A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is what is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.” – Thomas Jefferson

And this is where I go for Jefferson’s light saber, eliminate the Sith’s Apprentice, and agree to train the boy. Question is, train him to become what?

“The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'” – Luke 10:35

To give directly to the Bread of Life Charity, visit www.bolrescue.org

“I believe it all is coming to an end. Oh well, I guess we’re going to pretend.”

Yours in Faith.

#WakemeupatBalancedBudgetConstitutionalAmendment


Not Quite Dead…

“Rumors of my demise have been greatly over-exaggerated.” – Mark Twain

Happy Easter, Happy Labor Day, and God Bless everyone!  After I finished my Opus, I stopped blogging for a bit.  You ever feel like everyone in the room is all thinking you need a break?  Like the best thing in the world is to shut up, sit down, and listen for a while.  Well… it kind of felt like that… and the book is long, so I took a break.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

It’s been awesome!  Just got back from a mission trip to Africa, had a wonderful adventure, and I’m excited to report that, for the first time, the children of Risa, Kenya now have fresh water piped to a 50,000 liter water tower!  Thank you Africa Thriving, Cerrone, Pastor Daniel, and all those doing good in the world.  I am most grateful to be home again – got to spend Labor Day teaching my 16 year-old boy how to drive a car around the neighborhood.  Best Labor Day yet!

“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” – Theodore Roosevelt

On my flight home from Africa, I not only got to view the Harry Potter movies for the first time, but was able to catch the newest Avengers movie as well.  As they often do, the fictional movies cause me to ponder our non-fictional world, the 9 realms of Asgard becoming the 9 judges of our Supreme Court, or the 9 wraiths seeking the Ring of Power – depending on how you view them, Us, our political state, and the World…

“The world is changed.  I feel it in the water.  I feel it in the earth.  I smell it in the air…  Much that once was is lost; for none now live who remember it.” – Galadriel to Frodo, Fellowship of the Ring, Lord of the Rings

Maybe it’s nothing, but I do feel that way.  That a generation, our best generation, is slowly but surely boarding the Elvish ships and departing.  A humble salute to John McCain – thank you Sir for your life of service and devotion to our great nation.  But as they depart, I do wonder.  Do the Avengers and Super-Heroes ever win?  Or do we just keep borrowing?

“We cannot forever hide the truth about ourselves, from ourselves.” – John McCain

I felt an urge to start “Vision President” many years ago, and now, as I watch Super Heroes trying to defend “Vision,” fight the never-ending battle for Goodness, prevent the Enemy from winning… for me, I think about this site, what prompted me to start it, and I wonder… what would “Vision” say is the best way for a Society to function?

“So do all men who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide.  All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.” – Gandalf to Frodo, Fellowship of the Ring, Lord of the Rings

Whatever your answer, know that I treasure your right to have it.  As for “New Deal 3” manuscript, the 3rd edit is complete, book is back on Amazon, and a charitable donation will be made to “Africa Thriving” for each book sold in September.  Still not sure what all happens in Volume 2, but I’ll keep plugging away.  I’m not quite dead.

“Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible.  I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.   Fortunately I had my manuscript, so you see I was going to make a long speech, and there is a bullet – there is where the bullet went through – and it probably saved me from it going into my heart.  The bullet is in me now, so that I cannot make a very long speech, but I will try my best.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Yours in Faith for a better America and a better World.

What do you do when we reach the mountain top?

“I have a dream my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King

One day I had a Dream, a vision of the world He desired, inspired by the Lord, with the Promise that if I stayed strong, took up my cross, and followed Him, He would make it come true.  This vision became my Passion, my calling, my mission in the world.

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.” – Proverbs 16:3

After Alabama decreed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was illegal, Reverend Shuttlesworth founded the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights to continue our quest.  While meeting in Old Sardis Baptist Church in 1959, a graduate student from Ohio compiled statistics of our group.  70% of us claimed to be Americans first, then Negro.  ½ of us attended weekly mass services, and 80% favored non-violent means.  To her stats, she added a comment.  “I try to think of myself first as an American, but usually not a day passes that I am not somehow reminded that I am first a Negro.”

“Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.  Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.” – Proverbs 16:19-20

          We marched, enduring beatings and hardships; Congregated in prayer, succumbing to batons and dogs of Alabama State Troopers, spending nights on end on jail cell floors, calling for non-violence even as dynamite struck our doorsteps – so that one day you would live in a land that judged you only by the content of your character.  We could wait no longer.

“When you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: ‘ Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?’  When you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of ‘nobodiness’ then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.” – MLK, Letter from Birmingham Jail

My brothers and sisters, my Dream today is that We would realize that these inner fears and outer resentments, this degenerating sense of ‘nobodiness’ is a yoke we are meant to cast off!  By God, I know this to be True.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

Brothers and sisters, you who now attend desegregated schools, walking freely in a land where Funtown welcomes your children, who march unopposed to Capitol buildings, having no fear of dynamite in your neighborhood churches, I ask you today, what is your Dream?  What nation did you hope to create?

“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!  It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.  How long will you lie there, you sluggard?  When will you get up from your sleep?  A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.  – Proverbs 6:6-11

Be humble, contrite, serving those around you.  Obtain your diploma, refrain from drug abuse, attend weekly mass service, marry under God before bringing children into this world, raise them in His ways, run from the adulteress, avoid groups of fools; Seek Wisdom.

“My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them.  If they say, ‘Come along with us; let’s lie in wait for innocent blood, let’s ambush some harmless soul; let’s swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder;  cast lots with us; we will all share the loot’ – My son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths; for their feet rush into evil, they are swift to shed blood.  How useless to spread a net where every bird can see it!  These men lie in wait for their own blood, ambushing only themselves!  Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it.” – Proverbs 1:8-19

Seek the Lord first.  Have faith He will provide for you, and all these things will be given unto you.  Accept that you are a child of God, embrace His Grace, respond to His calling, and Be Good.

“Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.” – Psalm 97:10

America, land that I love, today I give you my children, strong in character, steadfast in determination, sober in mind, and kind in heart.  Treat them as your own, for indeed they are.

“Repent at my rebuke!  Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings.  But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you – when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you.  Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord.  Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.  For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” – Proverbs 1:23-33

Yours in Faith.

“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power.  We have guided missiles and misguided men.” – Martin Luther King

Happy 4th of July!!!

“FRIENDS AND FELLOW-CITIZENS,

Called upon to undertake the duties of the first executive office of our country, I avail myself of the presence of that portion of my fellow-citizens which is here assembled to express my grateful thanks for the favor with which they have been pleased to look toward me, to declare a sincere consciousness that the task is above my talents, and that I approach it with those anxious and awful presentiments which the greatness of the charge and the weakness of my powers so justly inspire. A rising nation, spread over a wide and fruitful land, traversing all the seas with the rich productions of their industry, engaged in commerce with nations who feel power and forget right, advancing rapidly to destinies beyond the reach of mortal eye – when I contemplate these transcendent objects, and see the honor, the happiness, and the hopes of this beloved country committed to the issue and the auspices of this day, I shrink from the contemplation, and humble myself before the magnitude of the undertaking. Utterly, indeed, should I despair did not the presence of many whom I here see remind me that in the other high authorities provided by our Constitution I shall find resources of wisdom, of virtue, and of zeal on which to rely under all difficulties. To you, then, gentlemen, who are charged with the sovereign functions of legislation, and to those associated with you, I look with encouragement for that guidance and support which may enable us to steer with safety the vessel in which we are all embarked amidst the conflicting elements of a troubled world.” – Thomas Jefferson, 1st Inaugural Address

    Felt re-energized singing the chorus of “God Bless America” in church yesterday.  If you missed it, here are the words.

While the storm clouds gather far across the sea

Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free

Let us all be grateful for a land so fair

As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer:

God Bless AMERICA, land that I love

Stand beside her, and guide her,

Through the night with a light from above.

From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans

White with foam.

God Bless AMERICA, my home sweet home,

God Bless AMERICA, my home sweet home!

  Motivated me enough to buy a new flag and some piano sheet music.  If it’s anything like “Happy Birthday to you,” I’m pretty sure I’ll have a hell of a time trying to make any sense of it.

“Life’s tough; but it’s tougher when you’re stupid.” – John Wayne

  Sometimes, when I reflect on our national debt, student loans, trade policies, banking regulations, Federal Reserve, school system, prison system, drug and healthcare policies, government aid programs… as I consider our political parties, monopolies, mortgage and financial industries, and military presence across the globe, I wonder how free we are…

“Peace, Commerce, and honest friendship with all nations.  Entangling alliances with none.” – Thomas Jefferson

Happy Independence Day!

Yours in Faith for a better America and a better world.

Audit the Fed, S2232

Link

“Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny; and it is believed that the most effectual means of preventing this would be, to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large.” – Thomas Jefferson

   Last week, my church Pastor said now was the time of the year when Pastors walk their dogs, talk to God, and create their SMART goals for next year (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Readily Achievable, and Timely).  Seeing how he was taking some time to think, I thought I’d let my mind wander as well. 

“If the Bank really be a grievance, why is it that no one of the real people is found to ask redress of it? The truth is, no such oppression exists. If it did, our table would groan with memorials and petitions, and we would not be permitted to rest day or night, till we had put it down.” – Abraham Lincoln

  The Senate’s Audit the Fed vote was today and, as people today are crying foul, watching helplessly as trillions of their dollars are given to bankers, and as Abe’s birthday is again approaching, I thought it appropriate to look at January 11, 1837, President Abraham Lincoln rising to deliver his Speech concerning the State Bank to Illinois’ State Legislature. 

“Some gentlemen have the stock in their hands, while others, who have more money than they know what to do with, want it; and this, and this alone, is the question, to settle which we are called on to squander thousands of the people’s money.  What interest, let me ask, have the people in the settlement of this question? What difference is it to them whether the stock is owned by Judge Smith or Sam. Wiggins?  If any gentleman be entitled to stock in the Bank, which he is kept out of possession of by others, let him assert his right in the Supreme Court, and let him or his antagonist, whichever may be found in the wrong, pay the costs of suit. It is an old maxim and a very sound one, that he that dances should always pay the fiddler. Now, sir, in the present case, if any gentlemen, whose money is a burden to them, choose to lead off a dance, I am decidedly opposed to the people’s money being used to pay the fiddler.” – Abraham Lincoln

When I started my quest, a banker friend of mine sent me a note, “I took your journey back when I was 35.  The problem with peeling an onion is, the more layers you peel, the more it stinks.”  Attached with his note was the book, “Currency Wars.”  I’ve never been the same.

“These capitalists work harmoniously and in concert to fleece the people.” – Abraham Lincoln

Dear Abe, since you left they created a Federal Reserve composed only of big bankers, whose profits they’ve guaranteed by making the people liable for them.  They’ve created “covered” transactions, made foreign dealings un-auditable by our Congress, and removed silver or gold from our legal tender.  Your nation now owes more than the rest of the world combined.  What do we do now?  I thought a look at S2232, Audit the Fed, might be illuminating.

“Be sincere; be brief; be seated.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

So what is Audit the Fed?  What is Bill S2232?

Audit the Fed bill advocates:

 a) striking everything after “in writing” of subsection b of section 714 of Title 31, and

b) striking subsection f in its entirety.

What does that mean?  The links are above, but I’ve also pasted the application sections below.  Read for yourself, but to my pea brain, it sounds like it allows an actual Audit by Congress, the ones who created the Federal Reserve, the ones who are charged with managing our purse strings, the very ones we count on to be ‘in the know.’  Why would ‘transactions for or with a foreign bank, government of a foreign country, or non-private international financing organization’ be exempt from purview?  Elizabeth Warren, you truly seem to be for the people.  Harry Reid, Bob Corker,  somebody, please tell us why the 80% of Americans who support a full audit of the Federal Reserve are wrong.  Why don’t you support Audit the Fed?

“The basis of our political system is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.” – George Washington

(b)  Under regulations of the Comptroller General, the Comptroller General shall audit an agency, but may carry out an onsite examination of an open insured bank or bank holding company only if the appropriate agency has consented in writing.  Audits of the Board and Federal reserve banks may not include—

(1)   transactions for or with a foreign central bank, government of a foreign country, or nonprivate international financing organization;

(2)   deliberations, decisions, or actions on monetary policy matters, including discount window operations, reserves of member banks, securities credit, interest on deposits, and open market operations;

(3)   transactions made under the direction of the Federal Open Market Committee; or

(4)   a part of a discussion or communication among or between members of the Board and officers and employees of the Federal Reserve System related to clauses (1)–(3) of this subsection.

1. and

2. (f)  Audits of Credit Facilities of the Federal Reserve System.—

(1) Definitions.—In this subsection, the following definitions shall apply:

(A) Credit facility.—

The term “credit facility” means a program or facility, including any special purpose vehicle or other entity established by or on behalf of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System or a Federal reserve bank, authorized by the Board of Governors under section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act (12 U.S.C. 343), that is not subject to audit under subsection (e).

(B) Covered transaction.—

The term “covered transaction” means any open market transaction or discount window advance that meets the definition of “covered transaction” in section 11(s) of the Federal Reserve Act.

 

 

The Interview

Watching the movie, The Interview, a fictional comedy in which the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, agrees to be interviewed by an American dummy like myself, reminded me of an assignment we were given in War College. We were tasked with the following question: If you were the combatant commander of the Pacific (our military leader in charge of Pacific forces), what advice would you give the President?

“Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.” – Thomas Jefferson

I advocated that we give China the world prestige it both desires and deserves by shifting the region’s stabilization role to the Chinese, recommended removal of our combat forces in South Korea, and, believing that our Grand Strategy is best served by shrinking the footprint of our forces on foreign soil, argued it was time to diminish our role as the world’s policeman, shift the eagle’s talon from arrow to olive branch, and resume the noble cause of our great nation.

“My first wish is to see this plague of mankind, war, banished from the earth.” – George Washington

Watching the movie resurged some of my old feelings, caused my nagging spidey sense to tingle, and now I offer Kim Jong-un my Interview questions:

“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” – Abraham Lincoln

  1. Your grandfather, Kim Il-sung, led the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Your father, Kim Jong-il, was General Secretary of the Worker’s Party of Korea. Your family’s vision, as I have heard it, has always been the unification of the Korean people, One Nation, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  As a man living over here in the Democratic People’s Republic of America (we called it the United States), I wonder – are you willing to embrace a true Democratic Republic in Korea, a government of the people, determined by the people, working for the people? Is this the “Democratic Republic” you envision, or is it something else?
  2. With 49 million people south of the DMZ and only 24 million north, a “united” Democratic Republic of Korea would presumably look more like South Korea than North Korea. Is this agreeable? Would you be willing to recognize Seoul as the capital of a united Korea if that’s what the people wanted?
  3. George Washington, the first leader of our budding Democratic Republic, declined the opportunity to become its Supreme Leader, refused the temptation to be President indefinitely, and instead, chose to give up power. He recognized that his Vision precluded his Rule, and for that, We chiseled his likeness into a mountain and celebrate his birthday. Are you willing to do likewise? If the US were to remove all forces from Korea, would you, recognizing that a Democratic Republic is incongruent with an authoritarian family dynasty, leave politics altogether and cede power to the people?
  4. If the armistice and demilitarized zone from your grandfather’s day were today taken to the next logical step, if the UN Security Council recognized a united nation of Korea, assuring both its sovereignty and security, if lifted sanctions were coupled with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear inspections, if united Korea was welcomed into the fold of peace-seeking nations on this planet, would you support UN monitored elections and remove yourself as a potential candidate for election?

Sometimes, when I look at our world, I wonder if the solution sits right in front of us.

“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.” – Colin Powell

Memorial Day

“How could man rejoice in victory and delight in the slaughter of men?” – Lao Tzu

Memorial Day remembers those who got it – those good people who recognized that Life is a test and then stepped up in faith, love, and honor to overcome.  Personally, I do believe that Life is a test.  I believe that my life is God’s way of forming me, grinding me into a stone suitable for Solomon’s temple, teaching me the lessons I need to internalize before I move on, trying to make a diamond out of the rough – that’s what life is.  You are the Gladiator, thrust into the ring of earth, with the unseen watching and wondering – what you will do with this test?

“Every man dies.  Not every man really lives.” – William Wallace

Although I’ve failed many times and will fail again, that’s how I try to look at life – a test.  A hungry family, there to highlight not only my many blessings, but the problems of our society, the world at large, and to offer me an opportunity to help – and that, in and of itself, forcing me to ask the question, “How do I, and how does a society, best ‘help’ our struggling?”  It’s a difficult test with no easy answers – such is life.

“There is no better than adversity.  Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.” – Malcolm X

As soon as you think the answer is to promote a Great Society, people lay claim to hours of another’s work but then neglect to volunteer in the community themselves, instead engaging in criminal enterprises to exploit their neighbor, all the while voting for more ‘aid’ and counting on their neighbors good souls to continue providing for them, whether by food and housing subsidies or prison budgets.  These people exist to show us some truths about our Self, for they are Us, and they make us question our aid approach, our prison policy, our war on drugs…  They force the questions, “Are they working?  How does a society best encourage its youth?  And how does it prevent the lazy and self-centered from exploiting the hard working and caring?  How do I raise my own children not to feel entitled, but to want to help?

“A tough lesson in life that one has to learn is that not everybody wishes you well.” – Dan Rather

There are people who have enough riches for 14 lifetimes but still exploit the common man for more, engaging in Ponzi schemes, frauds, and illegal market manipulation – these people force us to evaluate whether we have Freedom or Chaos, many times demonstrating that what is legal is not what is right, they show us what we can become as well as who We are.  That is life, a trial, a test, a forging of metal through fire, hammer, and anvil.

“John Henry said to his captain,
‘A man is nothing but a man,
But before I let your steam drill beat me down,
I’d die with a hammer in my hand, Lord, Lord,
I’d die with a hammer in my hand.'” – Ballad of John Henry
.

Life, everything and everyone, past and present, all of it, is there as a mirror of Us – so we can see who We were, who We are, and then decide who We wish to become.  All of us are humbly invited to take the test of the mirror on the wall and see how close to Snow White we can be.  Anyway, that’s what Life is to me – a trial, a test, a training grounds.  And Memorial Day, a holy day to remember those who passed it.

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” – Epictetus

There are people, people not very much different from me and you, who watched as a grenade came down from the sky, saw it land in their trench, and thought “this is a trial, a test to see if I am, indeed, one of the good guys.”  And they jumped on that grenade.  Or rushed out of the bunker to save a comrade.  Here’s to you, you Heroes of Mankind.  To all of you good spirits that jumped on the grenade, you who actually chose to sacrifice your life for your brother, We, those of us you left behind, we most humbly thank you.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13

But Memorial Day isn’t only meant to remember the military veterans who selflessly paid the ultimate price.  Memorial Day is about all good people, martyrs, and Saints – and not just those who came before us, but those who live with us now… it’s about you.  Yes, believe it or not, there will be someone, many years from now, who remembers you on Memorial Day.  They will know that you were indeed one of the good guys, and they will thank God that a person such as you lived.

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.  Rather we should thank God that such men lived.” – George S. Patton

You who volunteer to teach kid’s lacrosse, you who help in the student classroom, you who give your time at the food bank – thank you for living a life worth remembering.  God’s test of “will you do the right thing here?” is not always a grenade, and I’m thankful that there are people doing great things right now – people passing the test.  And then of course, there are sinners like me…

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

We’re all sinners, in case you didn’t know (uh-oh, the big secret is out).  And I’m so glad that every day has a sun rise, that each day is Easter, that we are born again and risen white as snow in the eyes of God.  God provides the ram, Jesus makes us white, a Father loves his Son even after he chooses poorly – however the message got through for you.  The point is, you are going to go home one day, and the test, the question before you now is, “will you do the right thing here?”  Sometimes answering “Yes” isn’t as easy as it might seem.

“A president’s hardest task is not to do what is right, but to know what is right.” – Lyndon B. Johnson

I think we have a profound respect for those who sacrificed in battle because in our hearts we know that, ultimately, they passed their final exam.  I believe this is why, when America finally balances its budget and becomes whatever it is we are destined to be, we will take care of our military veterans – we will take care of those who served Us.  I don’t maintain that our current defined benefit system of paying a 38 year-old half salary, automatic inflation raises, and healthcare for the rest of their lifetime (however long that will be in decades to come is anyone’s guess) is a financial obligation that our children must owe… but I am saying that, if we’re to do this right in the end, we better decide to get rid of our tanks and warplanes before we stiff our good people who served.

“To give victory to the right, not bloody bullets, but peaceful ballots only, are necessary.” – Abraham Lincoln

I admit it, I’ve become a Dove over this last decade.  The Hawks may be right, that if we went back to being weak America – you know, the one we once were and hoped to remain when we started out – that again the powers of Europe or Asia would bring armies to bear against us and burn down our White House.  But I for one think it’s high time we test that theory again.  We do want to keep trying to live in peace, right?

“I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist. I am willing to fight for peace. Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.” – Albert Einstein

I don’t know about you, but I am one war-weary citizen in this world of ours.  I don’t like our role of world policeman.  On the contrary, I think it’s time for the Giant to go back to sleep.  I feel like we are the Hulk in a scene from The Avengers, with the world wondering when we will stop punching stuff.  Sometimes, as I count the dead and injured, I begin to wonder whether or not we are the good guys… and that concerns me.

“It is good that war is so horrible, or we might grow to like it.” – Robert E. Lee

If we do need these wars for a peaceful future… if we do need to “help” foreign countries to discover freedom and democracy… if we do need government programs to assist those of us who have fallen on hard times as a result of our “current” economic times… then I say this:  Let’s pay for it in our Generation.  Let’s jump on the grenade.  Let’s BE who it is we are remembering this Memorial Day.

“The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.” – Socrates

Let’s balance our budget.  Let’s take the shrapnel now and save the generations behind us, instead of watching the debt grenade until it explodes on all of us.  If we jump on it and it’s a dud, great.  Who knows, there may even still be time to disarm it…  this might be a cause for MacGruber, but perhaps we can still beat our Self.  We have to try to win, right?

“The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself; to be conquered by yourself is of all things most shameful and vile.” – Plato

Is it our political system that forces us to sell off our children’s future?  Or do We actually prefer inflation, interest payments to bankers, and unfunded government promises?  Memorial Day has got me all fired up again – let’s do the right thing.  If given the choice, let’s choose to become a martyr.  Come on my good super friends, let’s balance our budget.  Let’s put away our fear and jump on the damned grenade.  Let’s become the people we admire.

“The only thing we have to fear is Fear itself.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

“A diplomat is a person who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip.” – Caskie Stinnett

Calling all Joes

“In the first place, God made idiots.  That was for practice.  Then he made school boards.” – Mark Twain

I recently witnessed the mockery that is a school board meeting to “consider” whether or not a charter school should be allowed to compete against the public schools.  My best friend is spear-heading a drive to bring Oxford Preparatory Academy (OPA), a top-tier charter school, to our district so I had the opportunity to view the circus that ensues when a good charter school applies for entry.

“Ignorance is bliss.  I wish I still had some.” – Adam Pascal

To little surprise but much dismay, San Diego County’s school board denied OPA’s charter.  Yes, even though Oxford Preparatory Academy is a top-rate charter organization with multiple campuses… even though their track record is impeccable (Oxford took a failing school in Chino and elevated it to #1 – with ESL students experiencing the largest jump)… even though concerned and motivated parents amassed nearly a thousand interest signatures, lawyers filled out numerous state application forms, and Oxford boasts a $375,000 grant to open… even though the Andre Agassi Foundation and other charities financially back OPA’s proven instructional techniques… and even though no student would have to go to OPA – on the contrary, lotteries would be held to see which lucky students would get to go – this phenomenal organization’s charter submission was “denied.”

“I believe public education is the new civil rights battle and I support charter schools.” – Andrew Cuomo

Now, as if designed in hell as part of some cruel game, the system requires Oxford to appeal to the State of California to see if it can get the chance to compete against… well, the State of California.  Naïve, concerned parents will show up at the meeting believing that the “No” outcome is not pre-determined – but it is.  I now know what happens.  The parents receive less than a minute to say something, the board votes “No,” the parents cry, and everyone goes home.  That’s how it works – or more appropriately, that’s why it doesn’t work.  And we wonder why our State education system is failing our children.

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” – Nelson Mandela

After the meeting, I went and saw the new “GI Joe” movie.  There is a scene in the movie where the “Joes” get betrayed, their team is destroyed, and Cobra runs the State.  The only survivors are a trinity of Joes who submerge themselves in well water to avoid being killed.  To me, that’s what Oxford Preparatory Academy supporters are – a small group of average Joes, a collection of baptized good guys, who are bound and determined to fight the good fight.

“I’m your average Joe guy. I don’t really care for politicians.” – John Mellencamp

From my viewpoint, the odds are definitely stacked against our concerned parents – it appears the Joes have been given “Mission Impossible.”  Because you see, the people who are on the School Boards, the politicians who decide whether or not to allow charter schools, they are only allowed on the election ballot after appeasing the powerful Teacher’s Union and State Education Administrators – the very people who despise competition to public schooling.  The Joes actually have to fight Cobra at Cobra headquarters.

What I found really appalling were the “reasons” the School Board gave for denying Oxford’s application:

1) the charter school is unlikely to be able to stay open after the 1st year

2) the charter school fails to meet the State’s criteria for application

3) the charter school has an inadequate education method.

It’s as if years ago, after the first fool’s application was denied, the school boards just kept using that same template to deny anyone and everyone ever since.  I mean, come on School Board, before you give us your pre-determined “No” answer, can you at least make a small effort to pretend like you’re actually trying to determine whether or not this is a good and viable charter school?

“The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.” – Socrates

Couldn’t you at least change your denial criteria to reflect the fact that Oxford Preparatory Academy isn’t some Mom and Pop charter school likely to fail after one year?  Are you really claiming that Oxford isn’t likely to remain open even though it possesses a grant, is supported by the Andre Agassi Foundation, and – well let’s see – how about the fact that it already has multiple campuses, right here and now, that are and have been open for years!

“One of the cruelest things you can do to another person is pretend you care about them.” – Doug Coupland

Come on school board, really?!  You claim Oxford has an inadequate education method even though their well proven instructional techniques rank it #1 of all schools in Chino – a conversion school which, before Oxford took it over, was failing?  Really?!  How can it be ranked better than all of the public schools yet still be considered inadequate to compete?!  You can’t possibly expect us to believe that… or are you just that confident the citizenry will simply continue to plod on in ignorance?

“To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.” – Mark Twain

That’s what I found most disturbing – the school board simply paraded the same old denial criteria it always uses and smiled at the helpless parents around them as it voted to deny the charter.  I sat and watched as good people presented irrefutable academic numbers to a disinterested board.  I witnessed the absurdity of the vote, observed the pre-determined outcome, and thought, what’s wrong with Us?  Have we stopped caring?  Are we too busy?  Or are we just powerless?

“The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.” – Diogenes

If a recognized, successful, and established organization like Oxford Preparatory Academy cannot get its charter approved, then tell me, who can?  I’ve got to be honest with you my friends – this political journey is rapidly sapping my strength.  I didn’t know it was this bad.  There is a scene in “GI Joe” where the few surviving Joes send out a distress call to see if there are any other Joes alive out there.  I suppose that’s where I am now.  I feel very much like a downed pilot, wandering alone in enemy territory, hoping desperately that we Joes can take back our government.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

So here I am.  I’m broadcasting on the only channel us good Joes use – free, open, and in the clear – is there no help for the widow’s son?  I’m lighting the Bat Signal, sending out an SOS, encoding a message in this R2 unit – help me Obi-wan Kenobi, you’re our only hope.  Here’s the deal “Joes” out there in America.  Cobra blew up the whole gang.  Duke is dead… it’s… it’s just us left – those of US of America who managed to submerge in the well and stay alive.

“I don’t know if you’ve been keeping up on current events, but we just got our asses kicked!” – Pvt Hudson, Aliens

I salute those of you who attended the school board meeting and are trying to make a positive difference in this world.  Stand up and be one of the Good Guys – it’s the message of every good book, every good movie – it’s The Message.  So keep at it Joes.  After witnessing how quickly and efficiently the school board denied OPA’s charter, it does look like Mission Impossible… but it takes only a few Joes and the Grace of God to make a world of difference.

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world.  For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” – Margaret Mead

Boo-yah!

Dungeons and Dragons

“Somebody said they threw their copy of Dungeons and Dragons into the fire, and it screamed.  It’s a game!  The magic spells in it are as real as the gold.  Try retiring on that stuff.” – Gary Gygax

OK, you got me… I have a confession to make…  I played Dungeons and Dragons as a kid.  I bought the lead figures, Monster Manual books I and II, I even sprung for Fiend Folio – and then I went off adventuring.

“Adventure is not outside man; it is within.” – George Eliot

Full confession – I went on to play a similar game in college with a group of fraternity brothers (I’m still not sure why you assassinated my Duelist Vaughn!).  It’s all true – so as cool as I like to think I am, in truth I’m a bit of a dweeb… no regrets though – those were some fun adventures!

 “Christ.  Seven years of college down the drain.  Might as well join the fucking Peace Corps.” – Bluto, Animal House

It’s been over 20 years, but it all came back recently.  You see, my kids were unpacking an old ammunition box I had stored away in the garage and, you guessed it, it was packed full of Dungeons and Dragons paraphernalia.  There it was… after all these years.  Character sheets from when my brother and I used to play… the 20 sided die… even some lead figures (a few beautifully painted by my brother – or so we thought back then).

“Life is either a great adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller

Kids these days (mine anyway) don’t want to play board games or adventure games – they prefer the Wii, the Kindle, the Xbox.  I tried to play XBox with my kids but was killed in less than a minute.

“I just moved into the world of Xbox Live. And I’ve discovered that everyone on the Internet is a lot better than me. I spent half an hour the other day designing a boxer, and I got knocked out twice in the first round.” – Daniel Radcliffe

In any case, for my kids “Minecraft” is the latest craze.  In “Minecraft,” you play a character, try to find gold and other precious ores so that you can buy armor, weapons, and other items that can help you… then you fight off wolves, creepers, pig men and then… hey, wait!  I know why kids love this game!  And so I figured, what the hell?  Open the box kids, role some dice, and let’s play Dungeons and Dragons!

“If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation has a fifty percent chance of being right.” – Bill Cosby

Although the game ended in fighting, crying, and a disbanded group of adventurers, it was an awesome and enlightening experience.  My oldest son chose to be a thief, my daughter picked magic-user, and I knew my youngest was a fighter.  We didn’t get too far before my daughter realized that her older brother wasn’t sharing all of the treasure – I explained to her that he is a thief, if you want him to sneak into the cave and see what’s there before your unarmored magic-user enters, you should probably expect him to pocket a few items… And that’s when all hell broke loose.

“Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something.” – Thomas A. Edison

Helping the kids to create a character caused me to have one of those “introspection” moments… I was explaining to the kids that they needed to pick an Alignment.  They could be Lawful, Neutral, or Chaotic…  “What does that mean?” they asked, and I tried to do my best:  A “Lawful” character believes that a society very much benefits from state laws, penalties, courts, police, fines – they believe that a society without laws will allow the evil people to thrive and take over… On the other hand, a “Chaotic” character might well believe the law, courts, and fines from the state to be the very evil that has been and is continuing to thrive, offering that people would be better off if they were more allowed to be themselves… And of course, a “Neutral” character is in the middle.  Same thing goes for Evil, Good, and Neutral I told them.  Anyway, in the process I asked myself, “What is my alignment?”

“I don’t like to commit myself about heaven and hell – you see, I have friends in both places.” – Mark Twain

I would love to hear your alignment… and then, what you think ours should be?  As for me, I think that the Good Ole USA, the Us over here in America, I think ours is Neutral Good.  As I see it, that’s our alignment, at least what I believe it is supposed to be.  I think this is why I get so frustrated with politics – in particular, our two party system of Red vs. Blue.  We are given a false premise, as if the alignment question were binary.  Do you want to be Chaotic or Lawful, which one is it?  And we’re supposed to be Neutral there – Neutral Good.

“Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.” – Paulo Freire

The discussion then is hampered by the parties implying Evil to the Chaotic or Lawful question, framing it now as:  Do you think there should be no Laws or Regulations in your society, every man should just be out for himself, and he should be allowed to hurt his neighbor, exploit his workers, and damage the environment however he wants?  Or do you think that the State should set up vast tax laws and regulations, create extensive oversight committees, inspection requirements, bureaus, and then ensure the “proper” redistribution of wealth from the working to the unemployed and elderly?  Tell me, what alignment do you want Us to be?  You can hear more debates on the television if you’d like.

“Debate is the death of conversation.” – Kitty O’Neill Collins

But I don’t want Us to be Lawful or Chaotic, nor do I think Us Evil.  I think We are Neutral and Good… and they won’t let me vote for that.

“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Yours in Faith.