The American Interest
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Published on December 27, 2013
Yule Blog Born of a WHAT???

The specifically Christian idea of the Virgin Birth is one of the most controversial and confusing theological concepts around, and a Yuletide blog which didn’t take on the topic wouldn’t be doing its job.

It is not quite the most controversial verse in the Bible, but Luke 1:35 comes close. Mary has just replied to the angel Gabriel’s statement that she will be the mother of the Messiah with a question of her own: “How shall this be,” she says in the words of the King James Version, “seeing I know not a man?”

Don’t worry about that, says the angel. “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

In other words, Jesus would be born of a virgin, a woman who had not, in the biblical sense, known a man.

I only say this is not the most controversial verse in the Bible because the Virgin Birth of Jesus is one of the points on which most Muslims and Christians agree. In verse 21 of Sura 19 in the Quran, the angel tells Mary that although she has not known a man (verse 18) yet God will give her a child. A 2012 Pew Forum poll found that 32 percent of the world’s population is Christian and 23 percent is Muslim, so there are an awful lot of people who believe this — although of course not all Christians nor all Muslims accept the idea that their respective scriptures are literally true.  Still, since both Christianity and Islam are strongest in developing countries where more literal views of scripture are widely accepted, close to one half of the world’s population probably believes that the mother of Jesus was a virgin at the time of his birth.

Even if both the Quran and the New Testament agree on this point, they emphatically disagree on the theological meaning of Mary’s virginity. The specifically Christian idea of the Virgin Birth is one of the most controversial and confusing theological concepts around, and a Yuletide blog which didn’t take on the topic wouldn’t be doing its job. So: what does this concept mean, and why do Christians care that it’s true?

Judging by the responses of some of my students to these ideas, the first point to clear up is this: the Virgin Birth and the Immaculate Conception are not the same thing. The Virgin Birth is simply the idea that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born and that Jesus had no earthly father. The Immaculate Conception is the idea that by a special blessing from God Mary herself was born without original sin. Until the last three more skeptical centuries, the doctrine of the Virgin Birth had been accepted by virtually all Christian churches and theologians going back to Biblical times; the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, widely discussed and debated for many centuries, was officially proclaimed to be a doctrine of the Catholic Church by Pope Pius IX in 1854. Other major denominations do not accept this idea as official doctrine, although the Eastern Orthodox and some Anglicans hold the Virgin Mary in extremely high regard.

Although the ancient world abounded in stories of divine births, the basic facts of life were already well known and the claim that an actual historical personage (as opposed to legendary heroes in days gone by) had been conceived without a human father met with exactly the skepticism one would expect. From the earliest times people have raised the obvious questions about the Virgin Birth. A claim that Jesus was the son of Mary and a Roman soldier Pantherus has been making the rounds since at least 180 AD; it has recently been revived by the film director Paul Verhoeven. I’m not holding my breath for a ‘scientific’ resolution of this question; I am not sure in any case how you would check for God’s DNA in a paternity test even if you could find some of Jesus’ fingernail clippings or beard trimmings to take to the lab. People have to make their own decisions about what to believe based on the evidence that already exists. I would only observe that if you believe (as I do) that God made the universe and everything in it, and if you believe that he upholds the universe and cares passionately about the well being of each individual person on earth, then to reject the Virgin Birth as a physical impossibility seems a little forced. Swallowing camels and choking on gnats, as Jesus might put it. But that’s me: this is exactly the kind of question that everyone needs to face on his or her own.

In any case, for convinced Christians and curious non-Christians alike the question at hand isn’t really can we prove that the Virgin Birth did or did not occur; the question is what does the doctrine mean to those who hold it? Why do Christians think this is an important idea?

Some theorize that the early Christians made up the story as a cover up. This seems weak. Inventing a story about a virgin birth in order to hush up a scandal about a sexual escapade seems a little far-fetched. Mary wasn’t an ancient movie star whose private life was the subject of widespread gossip in the tabloid press. Nazareth was a small town in the boondocks, and the world at large knew little and cared less about what went on there. Mary wasn’t a single mother raising her child alone; her betrothed married her in the usual way and accepted the child as his. The early church wasn’t facing a sea of rumors about Mary’s prenuptial behavior, and if it had been there are more convincing ways of scotching rumors than proclaiming a miraculous virgin birth. The causality is the other way round: the story wasn’t concocted to squelch ugly rumors. The early church’s insistence on proclaiming the unique nature of Jesus’ birth was the cause of the ugly rumors about it. The Church proclaimed a stark improbability as undeniable fact, and that naturally led people to ask the questions they still ask today.

Some see the idea of the Virgin Birth as part of a wider Christian discomfort with human sexuality.  Believing that the baby Jesus didn’t get started in the usual way, in this view, is the result of wanting to keep the holy separated from the sexual.  Self-consciously ‘enlightened’ people who find it comforting to suppose that other people are much stupider than in fact they are often find this view a comforting one. Those silly Christians and their absurd sexual hang-ups!

No doubt there are and always have been people whose attachment to the doctrine is rooted in feelings of anxiety or guilt about sexuality, but historically the idea of the Virgin Birth has been connected with two other ideas:  one about Jesus and one about Mary as an individual and more broadly about women. By making the outrageous and inherently doubtful claim that Jesus’ mother was a virgin, the gospels are less interested in affirming Mary’s virtue than in stressing that this particular baby was unique. He wasn’t like all the other babies; he had a special relationship with God from the start.

At various points during his life, Jesus would talk about this unique relationship and later theologians would make it a centerpiece of their reflection on the meaning of Jesus’ life and career. But the gospels go out of their way from the beginning to make the assertion that Jesus was not just another baby in a just another manger. Jesus isn’t important just because he had a special message, the gospels are telling us. He is important because he is a special person.

The gospels say nothing about what Jesus looked like; we don’t know anything at all about how tall he was, what color his hair and his eyes were, whether he looked more like James Dean or Chris Farley or, for that matter, like Yasser Arafat or Malcolm X.  But the gospel writers do tell us, in the strongest, most expressive way possible, that while Jesus was a human baby with a human Mom, he was also something more, something else.

One of the most common mistakes people make about the role of Jesus in Christianity is to think that, for Christians, the most important thing about Jesus is his role as a teacher. Moses was the lawgiver of the ancient Hebrews; Confucius taught the ancient Chinese how to live; the Buddha taught his disciples how to walk a path toward enlightenment; Muhammed through revelation and example showed his followers how to submit to God’s will. Non-Christians often think that Christians think of Jesus along similar lines: as the Great Teacher who pointed out the True Way.

For Christians, Jesus’ role as a teacher — significant and inspiring as his teachings may be — is the least important thing about him. Not to denigrate an important vocation, but moral teachers are anything but rare. Humanity has many inspiring teachers and prophets.  As a species, we have a talent for giving good advice and at our best, the advice that we give is very good indeed.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  Put God first.  Duty before pleasure. Don’t use people as things. Judge by realities, not superficial appearances. Be generous and merciful to the weak and the poor. Act like a parent to orphans. Treat strangers well. Don’t steal. Don’t lie. Honor your parents.

It is all extremely good advice and we would all be much better off if we took it.  But, and I hate to break this to you, very often people ignore the good advice and sound counsel that is echoing in their ears. And when we do the wrong thing, it usually isn’t because we didn’t know the difference between right and wrong. Not many murderers, adulterers and thieves are acting in ignorance of simple moral truths. Very few people abuse their elderly parents and steal their money only because nobody ever took the time to explain to them that such behavior was wrong.

Those who see Jesus as a moral teacher or even a prophet see him as one, perhaps the greatest, perhaps one of many, in the long line of teachers and counselors who have tried to show humanity the right path and encouraged us to walk on it.

But for the gospel writers, Jesus was something much more than this.  Saying that Jesus was a moral teacher is like calling Winston Churchill a landscape painter; both statements are true (and Jesus was a much better moralist than Churchill was a painter) but in neither case does the description capture the true greatness of the man.

The gospel writers believed that Jesus came here on another mission. He didn’t come here to be one more cosmic wise man telling us the right thing to do.  He came here to do something about the real problem our species faces: our failure to take up the good advice we so readily dish out.  He came to deal with the gap that opens up between a God who demands moral excellence and a human race that is simply incapable of living right.

This is a shocking concept for many religious people, and perhaps even more shocking for idealistic secular intellectuals, but morally earnest lectures have almost nothing to do with what humanity really needs. After all, the world’s libraries are full of books giving sage and profound moral advice.  They are also full of histories that document our failure as a species to follow it.  Massacres, aggressions, oppressions, abuses, tyrannies, crimes and injustice: without these, the world’s history books would be much shorter than they are.

Jesus didn’t come because humans had somehow missed the point of moral teaching and needed to be set right on a few points and given some inspirational coaching.  He didn’t come to do TED talks. He came, the gospel writers believed, because history revealed the failure of the ‘moral approach’ to the problem of evil, and God decided that something more and something different needed to be done.

The declaration that Jesus was born of a virgin wasn’t intended to enshrine Jesus as the greatest in a succession of moral teachers; it was to set Jesus off from the other prophets and the teachers of the moral law. Something bigger was afoot; something new had come into the world. Jesus wasn’t the latest in a long line of Hebrew prophets; he wasn’t a figure in the procession of prophets from Adam to Mohammed as Muslims believe. He was the Son of God and the Savior, and he didn’t come so much to teach morality as to transcend it.

The Christian claim about the Virgin Birth is meant as a radical announcement that Christianity is different. Christianity is not another ‘how-to’ manual telling people how to act vis a vis the Creator. Christianity is much more than a group of people trying to fulfill the teaching of a revered founder; it is a community of people gathered around a world changing hero. Jesus came to save and not just to teach. He did not fulfill his mission by giving the Sermon on the Mount; he fulfilled it by dying on the cross and by rising from the dead.

More, Jesus could not have fulfilled this mission if he was simply a heroic man. The human race has many heroes and history is filled with the examples of people who gave their lives for others. You can to go the Normandy beaches and see row upon row of graves of people who gave their lives that others might live and be free. Jesus accomplished more through his death because he was more than just another human being; the gospel writers and the Christians who accept their testimony believe that Jesus was also the Son of God. It was God who died upon that cross, God who took the responsibility for human sin, God who drank the cup of human suffering to the bottom.

The story of the Virgin Birth isn’t there to set up the Sermon on the Mount as the Greatest Moral Lecture in the History of Mankind. It is there because it communicates the deepest, most important truth about Jesus: that he was a human being, but more than a human being as well. It is not an accidental detail or an embellishment; it is not an awkward defense against an embarrassing rumor. It is not the result of scientific ignorance about how babies are made; it is a statement about how this particular baby was different from all the rest.

That is the main theological point that Luke’s account makes. But he had another end in view, and this is also something to remember as we think Christmas through. The story of the Virgin Birth isn’t just a story about Jesus.  The gospels are also making a point about Mary and through her about women in general. Ancient Christian writers frequently referred to Mary as the Second Eve. The first Eve, as just about everyone knows even today, was Adam’s wife. According to the first book of the Bible (Genesis), she yielded to the temptation of the serpent in the Garden of Eden to disobey God and taste the forbidden fruit. Adam went on and tasted it for himself; ever since then men have been blaming women for all the trouble in the world. For millennia men have used the Biblical story and similar stories and folk tales to justify the second-class status to which women have been historically relegated in much of the world. (In some parts of the world, poorly behaved and uneducated young men call their vicious harassment of women “Eve-teasing.”)

The figure of the Virgin Mary marks a turning point. She is the Second Eve, the one who said ‘yes’ to God when he asked her to be the mother of his son. When God really needed help, the Bible teaches, he went to a woman, not to a man. And the woman said ‘yes,’ and out of her faith and obedience came the salvation of the world.

Seen from this angle, the biblical insistence on Mary’s virginity highlights her autonomy and underlines the vital role she played. If the gospels portrayed Mary as the partner of a man in bringing this new baby into the world, the human father would displace her at the center of the story. How the young hero surmounted the obstacles to be chosen worthy to father Jesus and win Mary’s love would be at the center of the Christmas story.

But the Bible gives us something different. Mary was the decider. Mary was the free agent whose choice opened the door for us all. At this critical moment in world history, she didn’t act with a man or through a man. She didn’t stand by her man; she wasn’t a ‘helpmeet.’ Joseph is the helpmeet in the gospel story; Joseph stands passively by and loyally supports Mary and her child.

The message is or ought to be clear. I will come back to the Virgin Mary later; she’s one of the great enigmas of the Christian religion for many contemporary Americans and it’s hard for many of us to see just what she means or can mean to people today. But for now, on this second day after Christmas, it’s enough to understand that when Christians say that Jesus was born of a virgin, there are two main points they are making: that Jesus is the son of God, connected to the author of the universe in a unique and special way with a mission that is fundamentally different from that of all the prophets and teachers who came before, and that the free choice of a strong and faithful woman opened the door to salvation for the whole human race. Jesus is unique, and women are free and equal in God’s sight: that is what we should take away from this story.

Christianity like many world religions has often been less than fair in its treatment of women.  But at the heart of historic Christianity there has always been the idea that one young single woman’s faithful choice gave God the opening he used to save the whole human race.  Christmas is a feminist holiday, a feast that celebrates the free choice of an autonomous woman.  As Christianity has risen to become the largest and most widespread religion in the world, women are coming into their own.  It cannot be otherwise; Christianity of all the world’s great religions owes its origin to the choice of a woman to cooperate with God.

God didn’t send Jesus into the world because he was satisfied with the status quo. God sent him here because things needed to change — and right at the top of the list of the things God wanted to change was the position of women. The change didn’t happen overnight, and even today we haven’t seen the full consequences of giving half the world its rightful due, but from the day that Mary answered Gabriel a new force has been at work in the world, and what we see today is the blossoming of a tree that was planted a very long time ago.

  • Paul B

    Amen, Walter. I am enjoying these articles about Christmas.

  • rhondawain

    Why wasn’t the child of God a woman then?

    • louis_wheeler

      You show your ignorance of the times in which Jesus was born. Would a Daughter of God have the respect of the Israelites?

      Jesus had enough troubles with Jewish authority figures: the Scribes and the Pharisees. He confronted Jewish law. This was enough for them to want him dead. Having Christ appear as a female would have been impractical. It would violate all the prophesies of the Messiah.

      Besides, who are you to tell God what to do?

      • rhondawain

        Moses and especially Abraham argued with God.

        • rhondawain

          also, why start your comment with an insult?

          • louis_wheeler

            When is it an insult to tell the truth? You showed no knowledge of the 1st century and what was culturally possible. Did you answer my question, “Would a Daughter of God have the respect of the Israelites?”

            The faithful always argue with God; it’s why we are a Stiff-Necked people. Knowledge is always hard won; It comes through overcoming ourselves. God is more far sighted than we are. Shorted sighted behavior such as wilfulness and sin are too attractive. God doesn’t want weak people, so he values those who fight him honestly.

          • rhondawain

            Christianity is the world’s largest religion because they killed or forcibly (on pain of death) converted all others for centuries. And if Jesus was a messiah, why is the world still a mess?

          • louis_wheeler

            You need to read some church history. Things are not as simple as you think. People converted by the sword often did not stay converted. See the Sephardic Marranos of Spain.

            When did the Early Church force conversions? When they were being killed for sport in the Colosseum? When St Paul was crucified upside down? When Christianity was being condemned as a slave religion? The Early Church was not a State religion for its first 300 years. Even after Constantine, Christianity had plenty of competitors. The Early Church was not unified in any sense.

            The Early Church’s main competition was Rome’s pagan religions, then Mithraism, a warrior religion. The Early Church won in the Roman Empire for complex reasons. One asset it had was that it gave women a religion where they could worship with the men.

            Another was that the late Roman Empire was in moral decline. Christians were less corrupt, and thus more effective, than a general population seduced by “Bread and Circuses.” Christians made better, more disciplined, soldiers by 300 AD than the rabble. Competent people have ways of gaining control; they have fewer debacles.

            Are you are thinking about after Rome fell to the Goths in 454 AD, who were mostly Christians?

            I won’t say that conversion by the sword didn’t happen, but it was a function of politics when it did. As late as the 17th Century, it was expected that a prince determined the official religion of his domain. Of course, that helped in their wars.

            —-
            When wasn’t the world a mess? When wasn’t it vile and corrupt? When didn’t force and politics rule? When weren’t innocents violated? All Jesus being a Messiah did was to allow an escape from pagan beliefs. Christian beliefs were more effective.

            The current pagan belief is in Socialism. This is an ideology (a faith masquerading as fact) maintaining that the government can solve all problems.

          • james warren

            rhomdawain–
            If I were to ask you to tell me all about this God you do not believe in I might hear of a nature god that causes floods and earthquakes, I might hear about some old man-like thing in the universe who comes down to earth and intervenes in human affairs. Or I might hear about some force that can be a Trinity or the Apocalypse.
            And then I would show you a Jesus who saw the divine like a loving father who forgives his sinful son. I would show you a Jesus who was passionately concerned with THIS WORLD and its poverty, war and cruelty. I would show you that Jesus was not really concerned with Heaven. It was in good shape and could take care of itself. The condemnations of others were placed into his mouth by the early church so they could feel justified in condemning others who would not bend to the Christian empire. Besides clearly showing that if this were true, then Jesus did not really “walk his talk” it is impossible to imagine why he was called Born of a Virgin, Messiah, Prince of Peace, Son of God and Savior of the World after his death. This guy was clearly no ordinary human, no matter how you slice it.

          • louis_wheeler

            James, different people serve different gods. One thing which the world does well is to expose false beliefs, but it is rather slow in doing so.

            Rhonda makes the mistake of blaming every action in a society on religion. Politics enters in here, too. Even among competing religious organizations. The reason that Rome won in the 8th century was that the kings representing the Irish monasteries lost a decisive battle in England.

            One current heresy which concerns me is idolatry of the state. Many Christians are infected with it. St. Paul was very clear, in Romans, that the state was a source of corruption. Anyone who uses state power tends to become evil or callused toward their fellow men, because the state is the organization of sanctified violence within a culture. FA Hayek made the same point about the NAZI’s; that evil organizations attract evil men. If an action is immoral when an individual does it, it does not become benign when a state takes up the practice. Any organization can slowly become evil, when evil men get in charge.

          • james warren

            Based on some of the things I have read about the real subject of this forum, you seem to be a person that has more biblical literacy than most Christians I have known. Many believe the Bible is inerrant, yet continue to insist that their understanding of the Bible is also inerrant! Maybe that other poster had some bad experiences with her early Christian experience. But I have noticed in the last 25 years or so, there is a new backlash against Christianity stirred up by real atheists who now feel brave enough to speak in the public square. Also the first-century holdovers from the early theology are being naturally seen as so longer believable to modern readers. And I can’t blame them.

            The humanists and atheists are acting just like some political ideologues. They think all Christians are bigoted and stupid and that faith in anything is insane behavior. There are certainly a lot of insane fundamentalists the world over, but this I see as a normal reaction in a time of great global change and dislocation.

            Anyway, as soon as the great historical figures began to emerge, God has been de-throned from the ancient three-leveled universe and has been enfleshed in humanity. This, I think, is the natural end of the world faiths.
            I agree with my dad who said when we die it will “be the greatest thing in the world or it will be absolutely nothing.” That is the true fact, I think. Of course my own faith is always going to be a little different from true facts but I think we will have to begin to realize that the old Christian God is not some kind of a bearded being who lives outside our universe and comes in once in a great while to cause an earthquake or punish a sinner. Jesus revised this view and that is part of why he was rejected and killed. Even today he is.

            I am trying to do my part to get myself and other Christians to start taking Jesus seriously. But there’s a lot of resistance. It is changing, though. I noted the other day (I wasn’t listening to him that day) that Rush said something about the pope is a Marxist. Well, since Jesus asked “Do you love God or mammon” that doesn’t surprise me. And the early Christians (as Paul and Luke mention) had small groups where they kept everything in common for group survival. But this pope was a former bouncer who is living in modest circumstances and approaching the rejected and the sick and trying his best to carry the same cross Jesus of Nazareth did.

            My hope is that when Jesus begins to be seen as the iconoclast he was instead of the idol that he has become, then many of the rough edges of political systems like capitalism can be confronted and dealt with with a measure of wisdom. When the pope got called a Marxist by Rush and even many liberals, he gave some answer just like the one Jesus gave about giving to Caesar and to God. He just affirmed his own beliefs and made clear he was not criticizing capitalism. He does not accept a blithe attitude about the problems of greed, but as for a Marxist, I just thought it was funny and sad that so many are so defensive about our economic triumphs that anything that is perceived as different is fixated on and blindly denounced.

          • louis_wheeler

            Pope Francis doesn’t seem to understand much about economics, but I don’t think he is a Marxist. Marxism is based on principles antithetical to Christianity. Francis could be influenced by Liberation Theology; if so, that is unfortunate, because Liberation Theology is specious. He seems to be a good man, otherwise.

            A Pope may be the head of the Catholic Church, but he is a man. If he affronts God, then God will correct him.

          • james warren

            Maybe economics is basically who has the money and who doesn’t and how it moves around based on policies.

            He used to be a bouncer, too. Jesus was a man, speaking factually. He was only the Son of God in faith language. Religious historians do not accept Caesar as Son of God or Savior of the World, even though it was on the coins and the buildings. There are some value judgements we must discard, I think, even though I am often plagued by a judgmental and evaluating mind.

          • louis_wheeler

            Economics is merely the science of how people act in markets. We know much more about what distortions are created whenever a government intervenes: prices are always higher, outcomes are poorer and people are more dissatisfied. Wealth is not created nor does it go to the person who earned it.

            We don’t know as much about how people should act to each other. Some of this is in the realm of Ethics and the rest is in Religion.

            Regarding judgements: I always judge, but I try to find a way out of it. With a very tiny portion of people, judgement is warranted, because they are evil. But, we must be wary of jumping to that conclusion.

          • james warren

            Same with your thoughts about strings attached to others. They are always there for me and they always pull. I cannot pay attention to them all. I have to pick and choose. And hopefully not get bogged down or murdered.

            There are so many socially retarded people who will kill their parents for petty cash or kill others without a second thought. No empathy. Pretty scary. I don’t know how I get up everyday, Louis. I am joking a bit but I think we all have more fear than we used to. It makes life difficult for us.

          • louis_wheeler

            Civil society will break down in a crisis. We start off, according to the FBI, at a low point in crime. It would take a big jump to get as high as during the great depression.

            But, for every bad story you hear, there will be one’s you don’t where people come together in the crisis. Children moving in with their parents could protect them from outsiders.

            Much of the crime, I see coming, will be localized in the big Blue cities. The Liberal Elites represent a juicy nearby target. If the Elites are really Leftist they are unarmed and want to be so. A Gun free zone equals safety to them, not a target of opportunity. The people in the Red States are not so deluded.

          • james warren

            We may be in the apocalypse, but we process things quickly and cannot see what has gone on until after it happens. Maybe this is a slow-motion collapse and we are getting ready to keep us surviving as long as possible. My friend is burying caches of food for when the stores close up. At least that’s what he tells me.

            I cannot go into the many matter-of-fact generalizations you have mentioned here. I see no black and whites anywhere except our human brains. And we are all deluded. No one has the whole truth and we will end up surprised at our eventual disorientation and errors of perception.

          • louis_wheeler

            I never said the Apocalypse, just bad times or hard times. Christians have survived hard times before.

            I suggest food storage, because you want the food to last. Storing food which you are accustomed to eating may sound good, but after 6 -12 months, it stops being nutritious. The bad times could be delayed for a few years, who knows? Putting food aside gives you peace of mind. If times really get bad, you can still eat. You don’t have to mob the store in a panic if the currency goes screwy.

            How much food you want to store depends on how serious you think matters are. It seems like cheap insurance to buy at least 6 months at $1200 per family member.

            Here a good source: http://www.BePrepared.com/store

            Having some silver put aside would help you through scary times.

            We don’t need the whole truth, just enough to keep us out of trouble, even if we make some errors along the way.

            I’ve studied Austrian economics so I know how interference in the marketplace works. A Deflation of the money supply or hyperinflations have happened many times before. It is a subject you can study on the web. Argentina is starting to go through a hyperinflation now. Their last hyperinflation ended 12 years ago. So this is survivable, if you know how.
            I could give you references, but I’ve given you too many already.

          • james warren

            You sure seem knowledgable to me about a lot of topics. You humble me. The more diversity in our thinking the healthier we will be mentally, I think. Where and when did your “epiphany” time or your mentor? Or did it come gradually?

            It’s cool how there are several teachers or thinkers that grab us by the lapels and shake us up a bit. Jesus didn’t do that for me until about 20 years ago when I really began studying what he was all about. I felt like I had finally been able to be a Christian and not leave my brain sitting outside the door.

          • louis_wheeler

            I’ve been at this a long time. After I joined the Liberty lobby, we had the first run-up to what seemed to be the beginnings of a hyperinflation in 78-80. I’d read Harry Brown’s, “How to profit from the coming devaluation.” It didn’t work out the way Harry projected, but I was partially prepared.

            I made some money in Gold and Silver, and lost a bit too when both plunged in late 79. I mostly bowed out when the markets went vertical. Thankfully, I was never into options, and in futures only during the early part of the run. It felt just too risky.

            I lost my interest in survivalism between ’80 and ’95. Chairman Volcker allowed interest rates to rise to 16 and then to 21%. This squeezed out inflationary expectations, for a time. The economy was too good for me to give it much attention. But, I kept reading up on it periodically. I’m a dilettante; my interests are shallow but wide. It seems as though the internet is designed for me.

            I’ll dig into a subject for a few months and tire of it. Some subjects I had to return to again and again, economics and politics.

            I’m interested in technology, so the dot-com bubble shook me. That caused me to start making my way out of LA. I had to get out of real estate first. It’s not easy to move out into the sticks even when you are approaching retirement.

            I really didn’t find God until I was in my 40′s. My health was bad, mostly from inner contradictions and bad teeth. I wasn’t taking care of myself. While I was correcting those contradictions, my relations with my wife deteriorated and we parted. I went through something of a hermitage until I could turn my life over to God. From then on, things got better. I made better decisions.

            Mostly, I’ve had no mentors. I read copiously and believe little of it. I mostly look for lessons in life and something in the Bible will reach out and grab me. In effect I ask, “Teach me, lord.”

            Since the late 90′s, the economy has looked screwy. I haven’t seen any real growth, just distortions from the FED’s money creation. I haven’t liked anything which Washington has been doing.

          • james warren

            Sounds like you’re into economics and politics. Good combination, these days.
            I remember reading years ago (YEARS ago) someone on the business page of our Wyoming daily newspaper that in the future more and more people will be interested in and reading about economics. I remember thinking “Now THAT was weird.” People like you got in on the ground floor and I am glad somebody did. I was still listening to Beatle tunes back then.

            My stepdaughter is both a meth addict and has bi-polar disease and one of the few clinics that treated both disorders (called “dual diagnosis”) was in California. We sent her there for over 4 months and paid $1500 a day. There went my retirement money. I can sure get pissed if I want to but hey, it’s only money. Except when I focus in on thinking about it. What a waste. She fell off the wagon six months later and is now in jail after showing up and trying to extort money from us and hitting my wife with a broomstick.

            I am a little behind the curve now, although I am being kept alive by Social Security disability due to dialysis. If I had to pay out of pocket it would be something like $45,000 a month, depending on the length of the month.

            I am happy in life for the first time IN my life, though, so it doesn’t matter much to me that I have that Big Blue Door in my sightline these days.
            Life is undeniably sweet. I just wish I could hang around long enough to see how the news will be after I am gone.

            This is serious–for a joke I really want my wife to put on my tombstone in big capital letters I’M DEAD, and then put my name and dates below. I just like the idea of people being able to have a laugh when they look at my everlasting resting place…

          • louis_wheeler

            Economics doesn’t help you make money, but you do get to understand how people (politicians, usually) are ripping you off. When you are caught up in a robust economy there is little reason to learn economics. It makes more sense to concentrate on your business — making money. It’s in the uncertain times, like now, that people take up economics. It’s like reading tea leaves to see what the future will bring. Knowing what is coming can keep you from stepping in the really sticky parts.

          • james warren

            I wonder if that guy I read years ago was a market clairvoyant who would be a good friend to have right now. I need to make money, too!

          • louis_wheeler

            It’s hard enough to hang on to the purchasing power you have, let alone make money. Asset protection is where economics helps; it tells you where state interference hurts you. If other countries undergoing hyperinflation, Argentina for instance, are a good guide, The US Government will be coming after your bank accounts, pensions and other property. It’s a good time to go unnoticed – camouflaged.

            The time to make money is after the crisis is over. Bargains will be had in Real Estate and the stock market for anyone with precious metals. Of course, you need to survive the crisis, which is where food storage comes in. And if you live in one of the Big Blue Cities, you might be a riot victim.

          • louis_wheeler

            I don’t believe that the Bible is inerrant. The Bible is a history told by holy men. These men can misunderstand God. Or God may intend concepts which they have no background to fully understand. God acts through men. I deny that they become God’s slave in the process.

            Atheists tend to be Marxist, Socialist or Fascists. They can be part of the Left’s culture war to undermine Traditional American values. See Antonio Gramsci.

            Gramsci could see in the 20′s that Marxism was failing. Nothing Marx had predicted was coming true. The workers in the developed countries were growing richer, rather than being pushed toward a subsistence existence which would lead to the revolution. Earlier Marxist theorists had concluded that Colonialism the reason; privation was being exported to the colonies.

            But, anyone who studied this could see that this was untrue. The colonies were a drain on England’s wealth. England was investing in them using the resources it gained in trade between the developed nations like the US.

            The Marxists were intellectually dishonest. They invented any rational which would cover up the flaws in their theories, but they would not give up believing in the worker’s paradise.

            Socialism succeeded in autocratic Russia, not England, as a result of the chaos following the first world war. Russia, under the Czars, was strange. There had been commercial freedom when its politics were autocratic. This was similar to how China developed in the 1970s with some commercial freedom in the southern provinces.

            Gramsci said that the way to win was to erect a propaganda campaign against Western and Christian values. His followers proceeded to take over Hollywood, the Media and the Educational Establishment.

            Meanwhile, Marxist of the Hamburg School was taking over Columbia University and their ideas were extended to all universities in the late 1960s. They cooperated with the Progressives to attack the Conservatives.

            Christianity has been under attack for many centuries. The first century Christians did not see God as a “being who lives outside our universe and comes in once in a great while to cause an earthquake or punish a sinner.” The Bible clearly says that God is incorporeal: he has no body. And that the rain falls on the just and the unjust; this passage denied that rich men were a favorite of God’s.

            God may act in this universe, but he does so on his timetable, according to his goals. We are supposed to get ourselves right with God, not him with us.

          • james warren

            If I am going to claim transparency and honesty here, I too invent beliefs and rationales to cover up flaws in my own theories, but I think I see those cover-ups hidden in my confessions and my need to strengthen my own arguments. And I don’t believe in paradise, but I have hope. Perhaps an irrational one, I admit. But I am certainly not a Marxist as I understand it.

            I do not support collectivization, no private property or commerce or control of industry by workers. Both should have a say and eliminate the need for a middle man.

            But I can’t let yours or anyone else’s judgements define me. It’s none of my business.

            Getting together with management to solve issues was something we did and I did everything I could to get good at it and teach others…
            That’s what I did in my jobs. If we had a problem we went straight to management. And luckily I lived in right to work states so I never was in a union. Never saw the sense for the dues. Like taxes, I think.

          • louis_wheeler

            “And I don’t believe in paradise, but I have hope.”

            I don’t remember Jesus promising a paradise, merely that you would be with God.

            The owners are not naturally the opponents of the workers, no matter what the unions said. Some owners were loved by their employees, like George Westinghouse. There is a good two hour documentary on him on YouTube.

            Did you get a chance to watch the videos on the difference between market entrepreneurs and political entrepreneurs. I don’t imagine that you would mind working for Commodore Vanderbilt or James J. Hill.

            Some owners were evil. Often enough, their flaws would drive them out of business.

          • james warren

            Jesus was not interested in Heaven, but in life on this earth. Heaven was in good shape and could take care of itself. Just what I have picked up and concluded. “…on earth as it is in Heaven.”

      • james warren

        Before Jesus came along, the idea of the coming of the Messiah was firmly established as a militant King who would lead the Jews into battle against their enemies. The nonviolent, anti-tribal, anti-family values figure of Jesus did not qualify, until after the church began to claim he was named “Messiah” during his ministry. The fact is, Jesus was a man. But he was also called Lord, Son of God and Messiah. But these are statements of faith and not fact.

        • louis_wheeler

          I replied to Rhondawain’s Feminist absurdity of the Christ as female.

          There were many Prophesies of the Messiah, some of which Jesus met. At least, enough not to laughed at by his followers.

          Faith and fact often go together, but never for a faith’s opponents. True, the Pharisee’s expected a Messiah which a repeat of King David. But, different times call for different leadership.

          Rome was too strong for the Jews to gain success. Their 1st Century “Great Revolt” was suicidal. The Jewish Diaspora looked like a defeat, but it spread Jewish ideas across the Roman Empire. It laid a foundation for a Christian civilization which was remarkably different from what came before.

          • james warren

            I agree absolutely. But I think that fact DOES inform faith. The recent facts about the historical figure of Jesus will (and are) shaking the temple to its foundations.
            As we grow into this new global culture, the first century dogmatic formulations are no longer compelling or persuasive. The emergence of Jesus and the other individuals in the various world faiths de-throned God from his heavenly rule. For the first time in the history of humankind, the divine was “enfleshed” in humanity.
            There’s a great metaphor in the New Testament that occurs when Jesus dies on the cross: the curtain that had separated the people from the Holy of Holies where God’s presence was in the Temple magically ripped in two. No longer was God there for the priestly class. The divine was suddenly available to all. No more middle man of priest, synagogue or religion.

          • louis_wheeler

            That global culture, you speak of, rests on very shaky moral grounds. The main faiths of that culture, Materialism and Socialism, are deadly; they lead toward demoralization, privation and alienation. Hard times lie ahead. Adversity will, then, incline many of us toward choosing hard truths over expedience and comfort.

            Much is going on beneath the surface. Did you know that Christianity is the world’s largest and fastest growing religion? How could you miss that? Simple. Why would a Socialist Mainstream Media reveal this fact to you? That growth is not in the First World, though; it is in places such as South America, Africa and China. It is in places where socialism and authoritarianism have failed.

            God always had a place in our hearts. But, the power seekers tried to relocate him to temples or the tops of mountains. Jesus returned God to his rightful place. Faith always was a personal struggle.

          • james warren

            Your personal theology and political and social opinions are certainly noted.
            What is important to note is the worldwide growth of fundamentalism, which is actually a “circle the wagons” effort to stop the storms of the rapids of change we are all forced to navigate today. Christianity has seen an explosive growth in the tribal cultures of Africa. It is easy to find fertile soil in the continent. The political and social upheavals make Africa a perfect place to find a measure of dogmatic calm in the storm. The bitter irony about Jesus returning to earth is that atheists, agnostics and humanists are the ones who are enacting the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. The years 1989-90 showed more than a dozen nations underwent nonviolent revolutions and they were successful in every case but China. If you were to count up the percentage of humankind who have experienced non-violence in the 20th century, the total comes to over 60%. Violence and war have been diminishing steadily since the World Wars. Less people are effected by war and conflict than ever before. Lots of people are learning nonviolent communication skills, new ways to collaboratively problem-solve, how to mediate and negotiate nonviolent settlements, etc. I have learned to mediate a screaming conflict between two angry four-year-olds and can allow both sides to reach an agreement they can live with. The fact that millions of school children are being taught communication skills and nonviolent problem-solvilng means that there is a different generation coming in to leave a different legacy. The recent remarks of the Pope that clearly show he is taking the Galilean seriously is also a good sign. Of course, there is a lot to fear. The hysterical fixation on the declining state of the faith belies the metaphysical panic fundamentalist Christians feel. Things like a “war on Christmas” are passed through the culture every year.
            But people are beginning to finally take Jesus seriously, which is a good thing.
            Secularization has been helped by the doctrines of both the Trinity and the Incarnation. No longer is God sitting on his throne in a remote Heaven. He has not officially become “enfleshed” in Jesus, Muhammed, Buddha, etc. The Old Testament remote single deity is no more. And he doesn’t play favorites anymore. Jesus said “the Father makes his sun to shine on both the evil AND the good and sendeth rain to fall on the just as well as the unjust.” This is so, according to Jesus, that humans become the sons and daughters of God.
            Things are changing for the better. Whether or not we will see our way clear is yet unknown right now….

          • louis_wheeler

            Your comments leave me mystified. How could they be a retort to anything I said?

            It’s hard to see what God’s intent is. If end times are on us, that is God’s business, not mine. All I can do is be ready. Hard times tend to increase religious faith.

          • james warren

            I get it that those who claim Scripture is inerrant nevertheless believe their interpretation of it is also inerrant. I disagree that God is some sort of divine ethnic cleanser. The idea of a Jesus who attacks others on a white horse and the flow of the blood reaches the horse’s bridle is odious to me. It’s John of Patmos’ revenge fantasies toward imperial Rome. He presents a mythological Jesus who does not walk his talk. The Jesus I see is nonviolent, anti-patriarchal, anti-tribal and anti-Temple (anti-relgious). He trusts God and sees a Father who “makes the sun shine on both the evil AND the good and sends his rain to fall on both the just and the unjust.” Jesus’ Kingdom of God vision can be found in his parables, which clearly dislocate the default world of conventional wisdom.

          • louis_wheeler

            Again, you mystify me. Jesus was not a pacifist. He turned over the money changer’s tables at the temple, because they offended God. Jesus tried to change hearts and minds and the Pharisees killed him for it. Jesus won in the end though.

            Did I council violence? But, violence will come to us. There will be times when we need self defense.

            Most of our opponent’s tactics will destroy themselves because they are so out of accord with reality. We must withhold our sanction. Deny our oppressor any authority. If the power seekers will not hold to the Constitution, then they have no authority.

          • james warren

            When you can begin to separate the authentic voiceprint from the theology that was put into Jesus’ mouth after the crucifixion, you will begin to see the emergence of a figure who was not only non-violent, but actually admonished his first-century audience to actually LOVE one’s enemies. And the “turning the other cheek”

            “If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also” (Matt. 5:39).

            We have imagined a blow with the right fist. But such a blow would fall on the left cheek–and to hit the right cheek with a fist would require the left hand. But the left hand could be used only for unclean tasks; at Qumran, a Jewish religious community of Jesus’ day, to gesture with the left hand meant exclusion from the meeting and penance for ten days. To grasp this you must physically try it: how would you hit the other’s right cheek with your right hand? If you have tried it, you will know: the only feasible blow is a backhand.

            The backhand was not a blow to injure, but to insult, humiliate, degrade. It was not administered to an equal, but to an inferior. Masters backhanded slaves; husbands, wives; parents, children; Romans, Jews. The whole point of the blow was to force someone who was out of line back into place.

            The Jew would be, in fact, telling his opponent to treat him as an equal. Someone with human dignity.

            Likewise carrying a soldier’s gear. The rule mandated that soldiers could conscript the Jews to carry their load one mile only. The two-mile response left the soldier in a state of dislocation. Break the law or get a break?

            The apocalyptic, anti-Semitic Jesus does not “walk the talk” of the Galilean who was declared Son of God or Prince of Peace or Messiah after his death.

            This was clearly a man who did not speak as the scribes nor react violently.

            We live in a culture of “Violence Saves.” We are so surrounded and infiltrated with the metaphors for war and live in a culture where violence is redemptive, it is hard to take nonviolent seriously. And the hidden history of nonviolence has to be mined from the past. It is not handed to us. Although young children are being taught to work in small groups, mediate, negotiate and learn to communicate nonviolently.

            https://www.worldpeacegame.org/the-book

            Kids today are immediately living in a different universe than we are. As soon as they are born, they make their way within the framework and structure of a new mythology. It is a bitter irony that much of the non-violent teaching and real-world examples are being done by atheists, agnostics and humanists.
            Christians do not take Jesus seriously. It is my irrational hope that humankind is ultimately being forced into it. When plane crash survivors are stuck in the jungle, they need to find ways to comfort the wounded, work on the communication technology, solve problems together, pick those who can fish and hunt for food, etc. They’re not going to ask if their fellow brothers and sisters are conservative, Marxist or any of the Grand Narratives of 19th century politics.

            There are many ways to deal with conflict rather than giving in or fighting back. I cannot tell you what those ways would be, but I certainly know what they are not. They are not giving in and they are not fighting back.

          • louis_wheeler

            Reading the Bible is worthless unless we can tell the difference between an eternal and a temporary lesson.

            “Turning the other cheek” was a wonderful expedient in the first century. It kept the Christians from defying the Roman Empire, so they never had a Great Revolt or a Diaspora.

            But does non-violence work in every situation? No. Mahatma Gandhi knew that passive resistance and non-violence would work on the British because they were an ethical people.

            He was asked if non-violence would work on Hitler. He said “No. Hitler believes we are little better than insects.” Non-violence did the Jews of Germany no good as they were peacefully transported to concentration camps to be exterminated.

            There is no compromise with people who intend to kill you. If you are to die anyway, it’s better to go down fighting.

            Your plane crash scenario was quite unrealistic, because you left so much out. You never said who rules, the conservatives or the Marxists? Who determines who does what work? What reward does each get for their labor? Unless people believe that there is a fair distribution of wealth, they won’t work. They won’t invest in more productive tools.

            Hence, Marxist societies always produce high death rates. Those deaths are always among the most productive people. The hangers on, the lazy and the suck ups survive to starve equally.

          • james warren

            I actually agree with you, I am always willing to be accountable for my ideological shortcomings and to make a searching and fearless “moral inventory” of my behavior. I will always have a log in my eye that prevents me from seeing into my brothers’ or sisters’ eye. I have good reasons to challenge my irrational beliefs every day–and do. I do see Grand Narratives of History such as Marxism, socialism, fascism, etc. as pretty vestigial dogmatisms for our new existence. Marxism–limited manifestations of it–were apparently tried by the early Christians in Paul’s day. But once the number of people increases, the dysfunctionalities start kicking in. Some days I often think the gig is up, the game is over and we are living in an end-times “slow motion” collapse of human civilization. It’s probably a good thing we cannot see it self-destruct in a time frame that would show us immediately the consequences of our lives on earth. But I have seen so much hopeful changes in education, self-awareness, communication and non-violent action that I just glom onto it. Like I think I wrote before, it is something that seems still outside the purview of Christianity…

          • louis_wheeler

            I disagree with you on the Grand Narratives of History. History isn’t over yet. Marxism, Socialism and Fascism are false religions and can be fought only as such. They are various forms of idolatry of the state. The term “Capitalism” was invented as an insult by Karl Marx. I much prefer the term “Economic Freedom.” Are you against freedom? If so, Why?

            Christian Socialism, not Marxism, was tried in the Early Church and in monasteries. But, the church found that it didn’t work. It is a misunderstanding of what Jesus asked of the Apostles. Only if you are called by God to be a saint should you give up your regular life. Otherwise, you will come to resent church tyranny.

            Americans repeatedly tried Christian Socialism, but each time it failed. The Puritan’s Common Storehouse is why half the population starved to death during the first three winters. They only had a viable colony when they ended the Common Storehouse.

            The reason has to do with a flaw in Human Nature. Most people will not sacrifice themselves for a cause. We are not naturally suicidal. When push comes to shove, we are all individuals. Human initiative matters.

            Wrestling a living from the land is hard. Often, it takes a 100% effort in the early years. Even sloughing off a little can decrease crop yields greatly. So, the best time to ask for an offering is when a farmer feels he has a surplus. That he and his family will survive the winter.

            I am not ready to give up on Human Civilization; we are not as bad off as people were centuries ago. The Center of Civilization has moved over the centuries. First, it was in Northern Italy, then the (Dutch) low lands, England and the United States. It could be getting ready to move again. Or a reckoning, we have delayed for decades, is about to catch up to us.

            Hard times are ahead of us, but it is unclear whether we will lose freedom in the US. Many hopeful signs are going on.

            The Progressives (the Reform Movement, an American form of Fascism) have been subverting the US since the 1880s but they haven’t won yet.

            The coming crisis will hit hardest in places where the Progressives live. The Left Coast and the Rust Belt will go up in flames when the welfare checks stop. People will vote with their feet to get away from that. A great upheaval, and horrible uncertainty, lie ahead. I’d much rather bet on the common sense of ordinary people than on the elites pushing us into penury.

          • james warren

            I am usually just full enough with (false?) humility to be flexible enough to recognize some of my convictions need challenging from time to time. So I may be wrong. I tend to try to apprehend the framework and structure, rather than get hung up on details. It was my understanding that “Christian socialism” or Marxism actually DOES work, but if the population gets more and more numerous these systems become more and more useless. We don’t need to be “anti-communist” any longer, since these creaky old systems contain their own demise in every expression they show up in. You rarely hear people talk about our American democratic socialist formations like the military, our police and fire and our utilities or our public libraries. Any full-bore patriot has been trained to pull out a gun when people say such things. Capitalism is not what we thought it can be, either. The Chinese can be just as capitalist as anyone else. World economies are a mixture of faded systems. Christians who actually read their New Testament can find out easily what Jesus thought of both God and Mammon. The new pope is called a Marxist and an agitator, simply because he tries to follow the example of Jesus of Nazareth.

          • louis_wheeler

            The largest grouping in which Socialism can work is the family. Why? Because the members are tied together by love and blood. They will sacrifice their own needs for other family members. Every larger group of Socialists or Marxists fail. The Monasteries had to give it up because it produced too much resentment. If the Catholic Church became Marxist, which I don’t think it is, then it would fail. God would turn its back on a corrupt church. God expects us to be individualists, not collectivists. Jesus was no socialist. He did not seek power over other people, and Marxists always do,

            Have you studied Libertarianism? The beginning concept is that a person owns themselves. This also means that they own the fruits of their labors. Children, of course, are the fruit of their parents labor, so child need to be wards until they can support themselves and seek their own family. People voluntarily combine to do tasks which are greater than one person can do. So parents will combined to build a school house and pay for a teacher. Associations can enforces rule on their property. No one has a moral right to force others to do their will except in the presence of a contract freely entered into.

            Where does government enter into a Libertarian society? It either doesn’t or does in very limited ways. You seem to fall into the anarcho-capitalist mold.

            I am an Min-archest, because I do not believe that everyone will respect other people’s rights. Evil doers often become competent at doing harm and they gang up on peaceful people. So, it is useful to hire a Sheepdog (as I explained in an earlier response) to warn off, incarcerate or kill those who will nor be deterred from violence.

            The problem is that evil doers often get in control of any government. There they can do greater harm than simple felons could do. This is so with our State and Federal governments now. As the Declaration of Independence says, civil rights are a gift from God and the government’s only duty is to protect those rights. When the government fails in this duty, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish that tyranny.

          • james warren

            You may be right. I probably misunderstand Plato in many key areas. You would be remiss if you did not urge me to go back and read him again.

            I can only tell you that I myself took refuge into patterns of manipulation and coercive communication strategies. Whenever I was yelled at or humiliated or smacked, I found myself nurturing revenge fantasies and using my childish “magical thinking” to imagine the bad (my mother or father) would get their “just desserts” and I would get a sense of being protected and nurtured by the universe. Of course now I see that dynamic as the only way as a kid that I could cope within my family. I also found out that those reactions and behaviors did not work for me in the adult world. I had to face them seriously and find more useful ways of expressing and dealing with my emotions. When I would feel anger as a young adult, I was really unable to name the feeling, much less be able to look at it, get to know it and express it in helpful, mature ways.

            I was definitely a “Wolf” then and still am if I choose to go off that way. I still have issues. The good thing is I have finally found a seat at the picnic–even though it is just about over with for me.

            I think it would indeed be nice if all the good people were over here and all the “wolves” were over there. Then all we would need to do is destroy them utterly and we might be able to talk ourselves into some world peace for awhile. But to me, that line between normal and “Wolf” runs down the center of every human heart. Am I willing to destroy a part of my own heart?

            First they’re “wolves.” Then their less than human. Then we call them names and begin to throw sticks and stones their way. And finally (as history tells us over and over and over again) their bound for the camps and the ovens.

          • louis_wheeler

            Part of growing up is to stop acting on impulse and to forgive other people’s errors.

            Human Wolves are less than one percent of humanity, but some
            social organizations they run can be functionally hateful. Unless we understand
            the reality of Wolves, we cannot guard ourselves against them. The best protection against them would be limited government.

            As I said, Sheep can be led into acting like Wolves. They can do great harm at the behest of a charismatic leader – a Stalin, a Hitler or a Pol Pot. Worst are the lies that people tell each other to cover up their hate.
            The Soviets killed over a hundred million people while pointing fingers
            at other people’s tiny sins. They loved to exclaim about the very few
            lynchings in the American South while they were starving 50 million
            Kulaks to death.

            The real problem was the idolatry of the State: the belief that the state could do no wrong. The world seems to shedding itself of that false belief. When people gave up believing in God, something far worse crept into their brains.

            As bad as US administrations, under the control of the Progressives, have acted ( Eugenics, forced sterilizations of the mentally deficient, the Tuskegee experiments and WWII concentration camps for the Japanese) America never came close to European savagery. We don’t have Europe’s aristocratic classes to lead us, although the Progressives have tried.

          • james warren

            You seem to me to be a right-leaning ideologue. I don’t think conservative/liberal labels get beyond gross generalization and cruel characterizations of the Other.
            I remember when Joe (“You Lie!”) Wilson was backed into an apology by the media and the sanctimonious left. He admitted “I let my emotions get the better of me.”

            That’s the problem as I see it. We are raised to be victims of the storms and battering of our own families while growing up. If we could teach our children to recognize and name their strong feelings–and learn to “play well with others” shortly afterwards, we might get beyond the toxicity we pass on and sanction in 21st century globalism.

            I see our feedback loops (thanks in part to the nervous system of world media and communication) blowing back on us with lightening speed. Since we have to navigate in a crowded and complex world now, we are forced into paying close attention to the consequences of our every action. After all, it is ourselves that have to learn to navigate the rapids of world change.

            Because my own journey has helped me to be more flexible and nimble emotionally, I think they are both valuable and necessary skills to have in today’s world. But I do not consider myself to hold THE truth–merely A truth that works for me. I apologize to you if I have come across in our conversation to seem like someone who knows what he is talking about and has the mission to lord my ideas over to others.

            Always question authority, I say. But also listen carefully when authority answers, too.

          • louis_wheeler

            Am I a conservative? Sure, because Collectivism has never worked. It leads to death and privation. No Christian can be a collectivist, because there is no group salvation. But, many people fool themselves.

            Does Free Enterprise, a Constitutionally Limited Republic and the Rule of Law work? Sure, it did for about a hundred years. Those principles led America to the greatest wealth creation in world history. They produced the most individual freedom, peace and prosperity for the common man ever known. That, in turn, caused tens of millions of people, from all over the world, to come here to pursue the American Dream of controlling their own lives. Unfortunately, they brought with them the authoritarianism which is strangling us now.

            That American Dream is a chimera now; it has been under attack from the Progressives since the 1880s. Their goal of a heaven on earth through government has lead to the vastly over-extended federal government we have now. Obama’s administration is on the verge of collapse or a descent into tyranny.

            It’s not clear what will happen. Will we become another copy of the European Union, return to our foundations, or fracture into a smaller, more manageable number of republics?

            Joe Wilson was wrong to apologize for being rude, because Obama did lie. We are living through his lies now. Obamacare was never designed to work. It was intended to fail and lead to Socialized Medicine. The trouble was that it failed before it got out of the gate.

            I am not a Pragmatist; I want eternal truths. I want what has worked and to know why it did. Control by the State always fails, dragging down the society with it. It is no accident that England lost their empire when they adopted socialism.

            Limited government did work. The problem is getting back to it. Far too many people will opt for tyranny, so long as their ox isn’t gored.

          • james warren

            I always see a bit of good/dysfunction in both sides. I have reached that stage because of my immersion in good communication techniques to get ready for my daughter coming and to straighten out my own faults. When I was a kid I picked up a lot of behaviors that became useless and toxic when I got old enough to try joining the adult world. I think I did the best I could in my “family of origin” but–like most of us I suspect–got trapped in all-too-human behaviors because as children we have to navigate around and find our place in how we fit within our family.

            If someone asks me about politics, I have to say “Well show me the issue.” Very rarely, I have found, is it the case where words like “always,” “never,” “all,” “no one,” “everybody,” etc. hold any meaning that leads to good speech and understanding. So that’s where I am these days.

            I voted for Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Ross Perot, Ralph Nader and Obama. In my view, reality is complex and nuanced and I am left to puzzle out things on my own. I do read activist blogs on as many sides of the “fence” as I can. I will go to Drudge, Huffington Post or freerepublic.com to get a sense of how my fellow citizens are doing these days. My health sort of prevents me from traveling around the way I used to. At my age I would love to connect with some of my high school buddies and gals. Maybe I can spring for a class reunion or something. We are on Social Security (and disability) so that it gets hard to save money.

            I think I got my deep understanding of others because of my fervent wish to help keep the peace in my childhood family. I eventually became a mediator–helping disputants find the language and get knowledgable about their feelings so they could make lasting agreements. I also nearly finished schooling in drug/alcohol counseling. I love studying communication. I majored in journalism in school and one of my interests is aikido–the only martial art that deals with one’s opponent without harming them. And when my physical frame made it hard to keep up with aikido lessons, I learned “psychological aikido”–giving in to get your way. I also worked on an oncology floor of a city hospital working with end-stage patients and their families. For the past 5 years I have been studying non-violence activism, though it is only in my personal interactions with others that I practice it. I am too old and too busy to march in the streets, I think.

            Today one of my old teammates on that job told me that our floor has made it into the top one percentile of customer satisfaction in the nation. I am feeling humble and affirmed today!

            I used to actually believe when I got older and retired things would slow down and I could take the time to relax that I had been working toward since my teenage years. It’s not that way, though. Curses!

            Part of me goes into admiration and a bit of jealousy for people like yourself who have it all figured out enough for yourself to make those dividing lines between the “right way” and the “wrong way.” But with me, it is what it is. Every day I am blessed by being able to look at any of my fellow human beings with a bit of empathy and understanding. In my experience, being able to connect with what is alive in myself and others has enabled me to finally have a happy life. I certainly deserve it, I think. I didn’t really get on board until my late 30s–early 40s. I had to do a lot of “self work” to get where I am today. There was something valuable I saw underlying the superficial narcissism of the 60s that could help make me a better citizen, a better father, a better husband and a better friend. So I selectively used that uprising to add to my toolbox. My sometimes arrogance that I have THE truth instead of A truth does make me see the world as one big nut and bolt for my shiny new tools to fix. I can sure understand how tiresome that can be to others.

          • louis_wheeler

            Ultimately, these issues are moral choices. You either respect people and their property or you don’t. Those on the Left tend to have no respect. They think they can cut corners through using government. An act which is illegal or immoral for an individual to do, a Christian say, is fine if the government does it FOR them. There in, lies the rub.

            This belief sets into motion a destructive cycle. Every issue gets turned into politics and everything devolves down to governmental force. If you have a need, you don’t work hard to improve yourself, because any surplus you make will be taken from you. Instead, you try to game the system so that the government gives every need to you.

            This is Marxism, pure and simple. “From each, according to their ability; to each, according to their need.” This is socially destructive. It incites envy and destroys freedom.

            Why work if you can get goods and services for free? Why work if what you earn will be taken from you? Why work if you can become part of the government, control spreading the wealth around and skim off a bit for yourself? Why work when everyone is getting poorer by this system? The people in control protect themselves. This is why the Soviet Union had barbed wire fences on the borders: to keep people from escaping. This is how you get a totalitarian state.

            The Russian Empire was one of the fastest growing countries before 1917. It had a free markets, a booming industry, a small government and fair laws. Socialism reduced them to incredible poverty in less than a century. All they could sell after 1929 was raw materials which foreign companies controlled for them.

            Will America go down this path? I think not. We are not Europe; most of us don’t have the slave mentality. The coming crisis will hit before Americans have fully placed chains on themselves. Some places, such as the Red States, will have food, services and energy. What will the Blue States, where the elites and the Democrats are in control, have to trade? Who needs financial services when the dollar is worthless?

            Obama seems to changing the Generals in the Army to get personal loyalty in a crisis, but will the Majors and Colonels obey unconstitutional orders? Will the troops fire on unarmed, American, civilian protesters? We’ll have to see.

            Given your left of center orientation, you probably live on the Left Coast or the Rust Belt. Those locations are not safe, in my opinion. It’s hard to move, but think about it.

            Ps. Truth is what works; it is reality. Reality can be put off but only for so long. Even Leftists will get scared in the coming crisis. They idolize the State, so they believe that they will prosper. After all, they have in the past. Why should this time be different?

          • james warren

            Painted on the wall of a dialysis clinic are two musketeers brandishing swords. In large letters the sentence “All for one and one for all.”

            If that is socialism, I have no fear of it. But I believe all human formations of government and rule spring from profound human truths we all share.

            I also believe that logical and rational formulations such as A plus B equals C are basically bankrupt at describing lived reality today. The conclusions we have reached when we are thinking ideologically are bogus and unnecessary in a world that demands of us collaborative problem-solving.

            You still seem defined by putting the meme “trying to destroy our freedoms” with everything Barry Hussein does. It negates the diversity of human complexity and serves to limit our horizons in finding common ground together. It just makes me sad because I think I understand where your feelings come from. It is not an easy time to be alive for a lot of us. We seem to have lost our compass and our national morality has collapsed back into the abyss of a tragic reality.

            That’s why I put my faith in the larger structures that contain the troubling details. When I see things in a Balkanized patchwork of isolated collisions and collusions, I start to feel less like I am a human being on my game. Only by realizing that absolute truth is that which highlights the conflict of opposing ideologies can I settle into a space that makes life blessed and worth living. Gratefulness is the heart of my prayers these days.

            I am willing to be judged as a RINO but that says more about my judgers than it does about me.

          • louis_wheeler

            The question is whether you have a system that works. Socialism does not. The Iron laws of economics still apply. There is no free lunch. Everyone must work to feed themselves.

            Oh! You can cobble together a system that will totter on for a while. But, unless a system is based on reality, it must fail.

            Is it any accident that the Obamacare implimentation has turned out so badly? They can’t even get a web page to work. Just how competent do you think these people are?

            And you expect people to place their lives in Obama’s hands? When he has never achieved anything but run for office?

          • james warren

            You are already coming across to me like you know what is “reality” and I don’t. I get that and I understand where you are coming from. But please know this:

            I cannot recognize and point out behaviors and opinions in others that I myself am not familiar with inside my OWN heart and brain. So when I point out things about you, just imagine that the fist I am pointing my index finger from has THREE fingers pointing back square at myself.

            Jesus talks about recognizing the log in our own eye before we point out the speck of sawdust in our neighbor’s. I realize that is a bit of “pop psychology” but to me it demonstrates a truth and an ethical stance with some integrity.

            I just hope I have come across to you in a way that is natural, normal and humble. That’s all I can really care about.

            I wish my fellow conservatives could read all sides of an issue. The liberal station in my area that I watch is NBC and they had a report on the rollout of Romney’s plan. Some 28 people had signed up during the first two weeks. And his plan was actually modeled on a policy paper from the Heritage Foundation, as I understand it.

            I guess I just see the logs in our eyes, but at least I feel I am responsible for my own blindness and error. I can only hope everyone will recognize and talk about their own blind spots.

          • louis_wheeler

            I’m willing to make a case of what reality is. I’ll take your verbal slings and arrows.

            Mostly, I look to see what worked in the past, since human nature doesn’t change. Then, I look to see if the changes in practices have in them the seeds of their destruction. That is, some form of immorality is included.

            The social welfare state is unsustainable along with the huge federal bureaucracy. Both are based on hidden coercion. Is this opinion so far from being reasonable?

            I am not making personal slurs. Good people can do harmful actions, but if they do enough harm, they stop being good people. Look at F. A. Hayek’s “The road to serfdom.”

          • james warren

            I apologize to you, Louis. I had no idea I was coming across like that. My good intentions are to give everyone the respect that they deserve. Even if you were a flaming liberal, I would hope that I would treat you with what is your natural right: with fairness and good regard. And understanding.

            Thanks for pointing out my rudeness. I am sad and humbled by your judgement.
            The meaning of anything I say to others will always be found in the response I get from others. And if I don’t like that response, I am responsible for changing MY behavior–not blaming or attacking you for “not getting it.”

            I hope you can understand me here, but at the same time I also know that when I feel pushed, I tend to push back. Usually I am aware of my deeper emotions and have learned to name them and express them without falling back on adolescent patterns and rudeness. But I missed the mark obviously.

            I have noted for years that in America we tend to use metaphors in our language that reflect armed conflict. “You got me there,” “Take your best shot,” “destroying your premises,” and on and on and on. It is a pretty deep-seated anger and irritation that is characteristic of too many of us today.

            I have read Hayek when I went to the University of Wyoming. He and Keynes worked side by side, literally, to defend Britain during the bombing raids.
            I later realized that Hayek was an ideologue who preached a religion, not a workable system. Free markets that are untouched by democratic intervention, he wrote, could somehow make everyone richer and create an economic utopia, despite its failure wherever and whenever it has been tried.

            He was what I would call a “neoliberal.” They were overwhelmingly rejected after the Depression and the war. They were banished to the edges of economic thinking. But from those fringes, they have been plotting a comeback and are more influential in our nation since about Reagan and later, Bill Clinton.

          • louis_wheeler

            I enjoy a spirited debate. I got over being thin-skinned, long ago. If you insult me, make it humorous.

            I think you are wrong about F.A. Hayek. In the “Road to Serfdom,” he gave clear reasons why Fascism cannot work. In part, it was that good people, inside a corrupt or harmful system, leave.

            Keynes theories were adopted by politicians, because it gave them reasons to inflate the money supply to pay for government programs which bought votes. Since 1913 and the creation of the Federal Reserve system, the value of the US Dollar lost 98% of its purchasing power. Where did all that wealth go?

            You seem to believe in Governmental controls when the Bible clearly says to “not place your faith in Princes.”

            Business people are not saints, but their actions are moderated by competition. Adam Smith said that every party he attended had people complaining about competition and asking each other to combine to stamp out price cutting. He also said that those cartels failed. The incentives are to pretend to combine in a cartel and to price cut when no one is looking. Only a government can enforce a cartel, as it did under Roosevelt’s NRA. Why do you blame this process on business people in general, when some are good and some bad? Why not blame it on politicians?

            Free markets did increase wealth and the standard of living for common people in the early 19th Century, with mixed result later. Of course, Free markets are not perfect. Not all parts of the American economy was free. The Bankers were causing price inflation, runs on bank and banking panics. Those bank panics were short term until 1929, when Hoover intervened to prop up wages and prices. Price controls do not work and produce dire results. They kill jobs and new businesses. Eventually, people lie and get around them.

            The 1921 banking panic, caused by deficit financing to pay for WWI, was over in 9 months. Hoover and Roosevelt dragged out the Great Depression from 1929 to 1946 when a Republican Congress cut taxes and government spending. Succeeding administrations reversed this tax cutting, mostly during Democrat administrations, but not always. Neither Party leadership favors small government, now. The TEA Party does, which is why both party leaderships hate it.

          • james warren

            I get frustrated when people catalogue every factoid of Nazi rule and society and then jump with glee whenever a disputant talks about or mentions any of these historical and moral trends as possibly applying to themselves or their in-group.

            There is a big difference, sir, between understanding Adolf Hitler and excusing his evil behavior. He is responsible for the awful choices he made to satisfy his underlying intentions. We need to realize his intentions were good and human-based. A person kills others for many reasons. The mentally ill often see others as demons masquerading as humans and they are convinced God tells them to kill. I can’t say I would do any different if I was delusional. A mentally ill gal went into a 7-11 here and shot all the men because she was convinced they were child molesters. I feel her anger. Some kill others because they were never taught empathy and think other people are mammal robots. Last year some daughter and her friends killed her grandmother for $200 cash. Is capitalism to blame for that? Well, as Jesus said “Love God, not mammon.” People have good reasons for doing and acting as they do. That woman wanted money. Why? What could possibly be a good intention to want to kill a helpless relative for it? She obviously felt she “needed” the money. She never learned the discipline as a child to learn that our economy of currency has to do more with personal morality than it does a ledger sheet. She was never encouraged to use her imagination to think of better and more ethical ways to solve her problems. She was never given the basic social tools to realize her own humanity and the humanity of others. She ended up doing something just as evil and repellent as we can imagine. She needs to spend her life in a concrete hovel, in my opinion. But I would certainly study the hell out of her. If there could be one thing we could learn from a person like that, it will be worth it.
            We are already aware of animal torturing or social retardation among would-be serial killers. We are slowly becoming enlightened. Imagine how we can monitor angry kids in schools now. We don’t always catch them beforehand but we are doing it more and more thanks to education and common sense.

          • louis_wheeler

            Are you saying that there is nothing to learn from the NAZI regime? What if I disagree with your illustration of the NAZI’s or Hitler? Am I to say nothing?

            Hitler’s intentions were not good. He was a believer in state control – a totalitarian. He was not mentally ill, he was evil. Even if he decided not to kill the Jews, the mentally defectives, the cripples, the homosexuals, the gypsies, the Polish, the communists and the Christians, he would have wrecked Germany and done great harm. Is that not worth preventing? Can we learn from the NAZI’s so that Obama does not follow Hitler’s path, if he is so inclined?

            We are seeing a breakdown of American society. The reasons are complex. Part of this is symptomatic of the “fourth cycle” we are in. This is not about capitalism, but ethics and morality. Are they still being taught?

            The great civilizer of Europe was Christianity. Was there still crime? Yes.

            What is the cause of the incidents you mention? Are the incidents greater than in the past? The FBI says that violent crimes and murders are at historic lows. This is because 18 to 25 years old have become a smaller portion of the US population. They are not insane; they are just criminals. We have always had criminals. The birth control pill and abortion prevented many people in this age group from being born.

          • james warren

            No. If I have ever intimated that you say nothing to my thoughts and feelings, then I sincerely apologize.

            If you cannot see the humanity in yourself and others, then maybe I should just bow out when it comes to Nazism. I could tell you lots of instances when Nazis actually helped Jews escape or did something good and humane. To claim these people were “never REALLY Nazis” is an innocent conclusion, but it is just as suspect to say that these Nazis who did moral action “never WERE really moral.”

            We are complex and we can change. Transformation does not always come as a result of religion, otherwise millions of Christians would support better ways of solving conflict rather than giving in or fighting back. Real justice and real mercy are real. I see it every day.

          • louis_wheeler

            We are all sinners. I can see the echos of my sins in others. We all make mistakes and trust the wrong people. We can choose false methods. We can deny our humanity. We can become insane, irrational and hurtful. But, that’s just the weakness of people.

            What causes a society to become insane? How did idolatry of the state in Germany and Russia cause people to abandon their humanity? Some writers I’ve read blame both NAZIism and Communism on the first world war. That this conflict traumatized Europe so much that it disconnected both societies from the restraints of tradition, custom and church.

            Socialism, in all its variants, is quite old. At no time, has it worked to produce well being, security and prosperity of the people. Why did these age old tyrannies arise in Europe? Why did authoritarianism arise in England after WW2?

            What is so absurd that these tyrannies arose just when it was clear, in America, that prosperity resulted from freedom.

            My belief is that no culture is homogeneous; there is always an elite class. That class is tiny and maintains its position though violence by the state. It seems reasonable that free markets and representative government unhinged the elite classes. They fought back through increasing the power of the state. What did it matter if the society became poor, so long as they remained in their exalted position?

          • james warren

            One thing I have found out about Germany from the 1890s to the 30s and 40s is that their pedagogy was totally all about screaming commands and beating kids into submission. Even their dog training literature was full of similar behavior.
            Notice they called their nation “Fatherland” insuring a patriarchal metaphor for easy discipline. The people needed a strong father to replicate their common background. And the surrender terms of World War I were pretty destructive to Germany–especially psychologically. Hitler knew what he was doing and the moment was ripe.

            I sure hate it that you can accuse me of excusing evil behavior. I feel sort of down about that and realize I have to think of better words and descriptions to get across what I mean. All we have are words and behavior and we make judgements as human beings. I judge everyone, sorry to say.

          • louis_wheeler

            This Pedagogy is called the Prussian method. It distorts the Trivium and the Quadrivium to produce a dependent mind.

            American public schools adopted this method in the 1880s with some modifications. John Taylor Gatto and Charlotte Iserbyt talk about how dysfunctional our Public Schools have become. Google their names and “The mis-education of America.”

            The saving grace of education is Home Schooling or UnSchooling. I can direct you to some video’s if you are interested in the latter. It is also known as child directed education.

            If a child is interested in a topic, they can learn it very fast. Another part of both is that regimentation and discipline are inappropriate in education. Children want to learn everything, until they have been in the public schools for a while.

            The Fascism of each country is different, because there are different special interest groups. The Aristocratic Militarists were very powerful in Germany. They created a regimental version of education while, in America, we reproduced a factory system.

          • james warren

            Trivium and the Quadrivium ?

            We homeschooled our daughter, then put her in public school before she went to college.

          • louis_wheeler

            That’s good. You probably avoided most of her indoctrination.

            I suggest you watch the video below by John Taylor Gatto. Skip the first five minutes, because it is an explanation of the video in Arabic.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yb1HWw9Mvl8&feature=related

            In medieval universities, the trivium comprised the three subjects that were taught first: grammar, logic, and rhetoric.

            The quadrivium, which consists of geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, and music. It matters how the matters are taught.

          • james warren

            That;s funny; I was thought it was me that was indoctrinating HER.

            Years later, she bought a T-shirt that said “You’re Unique; Just Like Everybody Else.”

            Did you take Latin? I wish I had. My vocabulary would be better. I just use the same old words over and over again…. For years now.

          • louis_wheeler

            I was a dummy at school. Too mixed to concentrate.

            But yes, I would have liked a classical education. My serious reading shows me how much I missed. I really shouldn’t have been an engineer. Technical writer, maybe.

          • louis_wheeler

            James, we are fighting really bad ideas. And bad people.

            Good people can get caught in a corrupt state and be afraid to rebel. They can act covertly to help people. The largest Resistance movement in WWII was the German resistance. They were killed whenever they were discovered. Were the German resistance members, even though they wore a NAZi uniform, good NAZI’s? No.

            Some collaborators in conquered lands were good NAZI’s. They were the people who turned in the hidden Jews of Holland, like Anne Frank, so that they died in the concentration camps.

            Unfortunately, the Progressives adopted many ideas from the NAZI’s, the regulation of businesses to serve social ends, for instance. It is fair to call the Progressives out on that.

            We shouldn’t use the word Fascism as a curse word, as the Progressives do, to shield themselves from our accusations.

            There are collaborators among the Christians. They are nominal Catholics but they practice Progressive ideas. They can be politicians like Teddy Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi who pretend to be catholic. The situation is so serious that the Catholic Church needs to start ex-communicating them.

          • james warren

            Behind every stout lover of freedom there is a Nazi lurking in some areas of the brain. Like those old-fashioned brain maps where every emotion or idea is marked off like the counties in a state. And every Nazi has good, definitely UN-Nazi qualities. There were many who saved Jews during the war and turned themselves into freedom fighters against the thugs in their own nation.

          • louis_wheeler

            No man is unalloyed evil. Hitler loved Eva Braun and dogs. All of us are sinners. What gods did Hitler serve?

            World War II was a disaster. It was a rejection of the Liberal Society, the rule of law and representative government.

            It is odd that no one ever hears about the German Resistance, even though it was the largest and the most daring. I’ve heard it said that the resistance alone would have ended the war even if the Allies never arrived.

            It is also odd that few speak of the role of American Progressives and their corporations in the rise of Hitler and the Soviets. The Roosevelt’s, General Motors and Ford Motor Company were instrumental in Germany.
            http://www.reformed-theology.org/html/books/wall_street/index.html

            Standard oil drilled Russia’s oil in Baku and David Rockefeller financed the Kama River motor plant in Volgograd which produced autos and tanks.
            http://www.reformed-theology.org/html/books/bolshevik_revolution/index.html

          • james warren

            I know about the pre-war corporate ties. Prescott Bush was right in there, too. You cannot blame it all on progressives, Louis. We have to be responsible for our own part in history.

          • louis_wheeler

            What made you think Prescott Bush wasn’t a Right Progressive?

            These ties continued through the war. The plants owned by the crony American corporations in Germany weren’t bombed by the British.

          • james warren

            I didn’t think of it. As far as the “ties continued through the war, Hitler rarely even wore a tie, didn’t he?” :)

            I didn’t know about the bombing decisions, but it makes sense now that you mentioned it. Money is more important and usually undergirds most of our own foreign affairs policies.

          • louis_wheeler

            You seem to be a Johnny-one-note. The only way that you respond to people is as a therapist. There are many reasons why this approach is ineffective: a person feels they don’t need help, they are dishonest or they believe that you don’t have information which can help them. Two of those reasons would apply to me: I’m honest, but I don’t feel the need to change my mind and you don’t seem to have information which is valid.

            I will change my mind only if you can present a good case. You have not and your thinking is flawed. You want to promote nonviolence, but you don’t understand that Marxism is inherently violent. You use emotional techniques to try to change my mind and that doesn’t work. You won’t respond to my pointing out your errors, nor will you effectively defend your beliefs. This makes me think that you are not intellectually honest.

            The point about a conversation is to effectively present your position, and perhaps, gain another person’s agreement.

            There are people with whom conversation will not work. There can be no meeting of the minds with someone who is dishonest or disagrees so much with you that they will choose deception or violence.

            I prefer non violence, non interference and a rational conversation. If, at the end, we cannot agree, then let us cordially part company. I must recognize that there are people who, given the chance, would willingly use violence against me, so I must reserve a way of dealing with them.

            I cannot know what that is until I get into a situation. Restraint might work, or calling in the authorities where they have committed crimes, or in a last ditch effort, I may use self defense. But, I won’t give up these responses, even though I have no desire to use them.

          • james warren

            That makes a lot of sense. I was surrounded by conflict I felt helpless in. My family was not the wisest one around and they acted (and I went right along) in ways that were not wise or helpful to support each other. I am surprised you see me as a therapist-type. That kind of turns my stomach, simply because I have known people like that and I sometimes feel irritated at their manner and attitude. But who has the problem here? It is ME that has the problem. They are doing the best they can. It’s me that feels tiresome and angry with them.

            Now I am able to tell them how I feel and criticize them with respect and courtesy. I certainly don’t WANT to come across that way.

            Nowadays people tell me that I listen extremely well and can usually be understood (after awhile, sometimes). This means I can reach understanding and agreements with others much more rapidly and effectively. What I have learned about the stupidity and bull-headedness of my own behavior has benefited me in using better techniques for being understood.

            Maybe if I was younger I could have been a clinician or a doctor but usually those professions are off-putting to me because of the jargon and the “pop psychology” stuff. I know I am looking at it through my own lens, but I often feel like such people are superficial, think they are better than others and see everything in terms of “I am an elite professional and you are a dumb idiot.”

            So I am REALLY upset at your remarks, even though I know you have good reasons for your opinion. When my wife gets back from her visit with her sister I am going to sit down at our special “coffee time” when I am not at breakfast with my friends and ask for her opinion. The only thing I can tell you is that I don’t see myself as a therapist because if I was she would have divorced me long ago.

            But someone at the hospital once said I was a “wounded healer.” That means someone who was so screwed up and wounded in their life that they can help others get through the same bad experiences sometimes. Later I saw an interesting thing on Wikipedia about it that really helped me understand where the person was coming from. Were they “right”? Well, I don’t think it is part of me but this person definitely saw that.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wounded_healer

          • louis_wheeler

            You kept talking about good intentions. It seemed as though you were excusing evil.

            Jesus was quite clear about this. A belief in God is hard. Jesus said that he bought a sword to his followers. Following Jesus caused many of the Apostles to lose everything. You can serve God or mammon, but not both. Truth and error are incompatible. We can disagree about what truth is, but still see the need for it.

          • james warren

            I think Jesus used a lot of metaphor and paradox, and it is not easy to get some sort of operating standard to help tell the difference. I know the last thing he said to his friends was to “put away your sword.” And of course, loving one’s enemies was just as inconceivable and crazy then as it is now.

          • louis_wheeler

            Jesus said this when he was being lead away to his death. He said earlier that he would die. (Lord, take this cup from me.) He seemed reconciled to the need of it.

            We can worry about other people (even the one’s who want us dead,) want the best for them (which usually means that they don’t succeed in killing us,) and still not know how to help them. We can see the pain which is coming for them and not know if is our responsibility to come to their aid. Would they take our aid if we gave it, knowing that aid always comes with strings attached?

          • louis_wheeler

            It’s said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. What matters if a person has programs which work and are moral. Hitler’s intentions were never good. He wanted revenge for the failure of World War one. He wanted national greatness through military power. He wanted to conquer surrounding countries to get living room. This was nothing which a Christian or a lover of freedom would want.

            Most of the problems in this world are not with the mentally ill. Our greatest enemies are those who seek power over us or want to live well at other people’s expense.

          • james warren

            Like I said, we have a lot of democratic versions of socialist systems all over in our culture–including our government.

            Marxism works, I understand, but only within a small population. That is what was probably responsible for the success of the early Christian movement. They were able to keep it together, but then they got in bed with the Roman Empire in the 4th century.

            It used to be a commandment against joining an army and committing violence on others. But when Christianity became part of Constantine’s rule, it suddenly became a rule that every healthy Christian man HAD to join the Roman army.

          • louis_wheeler

            Those socialist systems in our society, you speak of, will fail when the economy does. The welfare system is not Christian Charity. It does not count as Good Works. It is corrupt and counter productive. It creates an underclass.

            The Early Church was not Marxist. Christianity is individualistic, no collectivist. The Christians needed fellowship in their church and they carried on the Jewish belief that it was an individual responsibility to care for the poor, sick and widowed. The reasons for Christian success in the Roman Empire are quite complex.

            Did the Christians climb in bed with the Romans, or did the Romans slowly stop being pagan? Times were getting scary in the 4th century. Part of what a soldier does is in defend the society; the Roman Empire was under assault from all sides. Pagan Rome was not worth the Christians defending. Oddly enough, the German barbarians who conquered Rome were Christians.

          • james warren

            Maybe you are right and these systems will fail. My stepdaughter is drug addicted (she uses it to feel “normal”) as well as psychotic and schizophrenia. In her case, the safety net saved her life and got her back on the wagon. She had to have a food stamp card and housing to survive. The problem was the methamphetamines. She lives in a situation where she is surrounded by old friends who are addicts. We had to pay for counseling and pay the rent on her home until I got end-state kidney problems. Now she is in jail or either on the streets. She will not live long, believe me.

            Jesus was square in the tradition of caring for the “orphan and the widow.”
            People in ancient times did not “believe” in God–they KNEW God. They were alert to the suffering around them and naturally found ways to include the destitute and the misshapen and diseased. Of course the priestly class’s growing power made this a dysfunctional system after awhile. And Jesus’s vision went back to the basics by showing his followers a divine way of being on earth as it is in Heaven.

            Historical researchers have identified Marxist and Socialist-based systems in the framework of the early church around Paul’s time. It talks about this in Acts. And they worked, although I don’t know if they were able to adapt as the number of people increased.

            I like your calling my attention to who was exploiting who as far as the Christian movement and the empire. I always think on the barriers and boundaries is where they exciting stuff happens. Even on our borders in Mexico, there is a diverse atmosphere of blending of people and cultures on the border towns. They don’t see things in black/white because they are living their lives everyday in a culture of interaction and normal dependency with those we up north characterize in “either/or” black and white terms and labels.

            Conservatism keeps things separated that should be apart, while liberalism tears down some walls (like civil rights) that should have never been put up in the first place. I try to keep apart the holy and the profane in my own life, and I am also aware that people like yourself can easily judge me as doing the wrong thing.

          • louis_wheeler

            You are judging me wrongly. I am not harsh at all. We are all sinners. Each of us must curb our self destructive inclinations.

            Nor do I judge people. I merely see the results of improper actions.

            We need to help the infirm, but it is important how we do it. We must meet their needs, while gently inclining them away from destructive behaviors. Using the government, except for basic things like the police and military, has very bad side effects. Soon enough, our public servants become our masters.

            The government distorts any social agency it takes over, because it is based on violence. It is too prone to greed and arrogance, because it need not ask us for funds. It demands and punishes us if we disobey. A bureaucracy protects itself; It becomes resistant to the needs of the citizenry. Competence does not matter; influence does. What works in the small, becomes a disaster in the large because evil people get in charge.

            Thus, a Welfare System is not Christian Charity. Government Schools destroy learning through inculcating indoctrination. A regulatory system does not moderate the excesses of businesses, competition does. A regulated Press becomes the mouth piece for the elites, and then, a propaganda machine for the powerful. Honest money is distorted by the government, then it is replaced by paper promises which become worthless. Any commonly owned or Government controlled lands are abused.

            History is replete with examples of this. “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts, absolutely. Therefore, Great Men are rarely Good Men.”

            Voluntary social systems police themselves. There is little money so it is apparent when evil people get in charge. People flee from a corrupt private agency, so it collapses. This does little harm, because there are a multitude of helping agencies. Some do good works, some do not.

            The Founders were wise in trying to keep governmental powers limited. But, just as sinners are always with us, so are the power seekers and those who would live at other people’s expense. Only by keeping governmental powers limited and close to those who pay for them can a society be kept safe from the power seekers. Powerful governments, far away from the people, are often tyrannical.

          • james warren

            I am thinking these days that the billionaire Economic Royalists want tyranny for Americans. In the last 6 months, I have been realizing that what is going on now has been planned for decades by the elites and Big Tobacco joining forces. The concept of a Tea Party was thought out long ago. In fact, online you can still see the actual website of the Tea Party movement back then. Once things are privatized, freedom goes out the window except for those who religiously believe in an unregulated free market.

            It seems so transparent to me now. Reading the history of our founding has taught me a bit of hope. We Americans still have some DNA of liberty and freedom. That’s my hope. The original Tea Party of 1773 was a nonviolent action against the East India Tea Company–the closest thing to a global corporation in its day. Mussolini taught us that the definition of fascism is the merger of big business and corporations with government. We will never be beaten down to “pure” fascism as those unsullied terms do not really reflect reality any more.

            But my hope is that we will be forced to find new language, different metaphors and more myths to exist in our sort of world experience today.
            I like what St. Paul wrote that “the old men will see visions and the young men will have dreams.”

          • louis_wheeler

            Let me see If I have this right? You think that the Elites are controlling the TEA Party? LOL John Boehner and Phil Graham hate Ted Cruz and TEA Party.

            I see Boehner and Graham as Republican power seekers. It wouldn’t take much for them to join the Dems if the country moved further to the right.

            Look, I’ve been part of the liberty movement since 1968. There have been patriots fighting the Progressives since the 1890s. We have external enemies such as Communists and Fascists but the worst are the internal threats, such as the Progressives who now control both party leadership.

            There is privatization only if a government ceases control of an activity. This is rarely done. NAFTA was a 1000 page bill. A real free trade agreement would take single paragraph.

            You need to read up on Mussolini. There was no merger between business and government. The government took control through regulation. It was a pretense that those companies were free. Our American form of Fascism through Roosevelt’s National Recovery Act set up cartels to limit competition. Those companies were guaranteed a modest return on investment in return for stability. They got so hide bound that they died in the 80s from a tiny amount of foreign competition.

            What I want is freedom and we are a long way from that. Freedom is that you own yourself and can do as you please so long as you hurt no one else. You own the fruits of your labor. You can sell your labor to whomever will purchase it. You can save resources and purchase capital goods which lowers the cost to produce. No phoney fiat currencies which the central banks can inflate. No central banks. No barriers to entry and no Trade Unions to jack up labor prices. No cartels, no favorites. The consumer decides what they want to buy. Companies fold if they can’t compete. Sounds a bit “pie in the sky,” but we had that in America once.

          • james warren

            I call them elites because they are so far removed from people I know who are in my class of citizens. You might want to refer to the corporations as “partners” because that might be more in keeping with your own political vision. All I have found out is that there is a definite tie-in between the folks upset about losing power and dignity and the big outfits that underwrite them. Freedom Works is one of the outfits. The Tea Party was originally grassroots but, like the 60s for the lefties, it got corrupted and overtaken by the powerful. It happens all through history. The details are actually prosaic when you look into it.

            I am so curious and interested in what I see as “rewriting history,” such as your take away of Mussolini. The fascism of his day is used in dictionaries as the standard definition of the term. But I can see why you might fear the liberals have taken over defining words to reflect their own vision. That’s maybe why there is such defensiveness and victimhood in the face of academics and intellectuals. I think it goes back to the “clever city slicker” and the “country bumpkin” myth. It’s a common dynamic still playing itself out.

            I could almost bet you would squeeze present events to fit your “good/evil” “either/or” formulations. I see it differently than you do. I don’t see today’s existence depending much any more on using lenses like yours to see what’s real now. But I am always willing to do soul-searching and change my convictions if needed. I have always been unafraid to entertain the fact that I am no expert on much of anything except for my own life.

          • louis_wheeler

            What we have in America now is crony capitalism. It comes from many different sources, but mostly from Progressivism. It makes a pretense of a market economy. Big businesses are cartelized through the central bank. The government uses NAZI style regulations to limit competition of businesses. We have a state controlled Press. The Progressives indoctrinate our children through state schools. None of this works very well; it’s all falling apart. Most other countries have even less freedom than we do, but that is changing fast under Obama.

            My political vision does not support major corporations. I favor small to medium sized businesses. There have been large businesses which gained their markets without political favors, so I can support them. It’s the Progressives who support Big Business, Big Labor and Big Government, not me.

            It’s silly to think that a decentralized grass roots organization, like the TEA Party, can be co-opted by the elites. Every time the elites say that the TEA Party is dead, it pops back up again.

            Dictionaries may not necessarily tell the truth. There are many forms of fascism. Each type has the theme that a government can assume total control, by majority rule. Mussolini was a disenchanted Communist. He never gave up on governmental control, just the Marxist version. No Fascist regime has succeeded. Fascism always leads to problems, because it limits freedom. Fascism need not necessarily lead to militarism, but often it goes there to resolve internal dissension. Wars are a dandy means of distracting the Sheep.

            I suggest you look into the Blue State Model by Walter Russell Mead. It discribes the events of the last century rather well. The problem is that the Blue Model is breaking down and it is unclear what will replace it.

            We no longer need big factories, mass labor markets or even cities. New technologies are on the horizon, such as 3-D printing, which will replace the factory system. Manufracturing is returning to the US, but the jobs are not. Grunt labor is becoming obsolete. The US economy doesn’t have enough freedom to create jobs. Perhaps that will change after the next financial debacle when the Dollar stops being the world’s reserve currency.

          • james warren

            I have been where you have ended up, I think. You see yourself as a victim who is hemmed in by fascist dictionaries, inhuman liberals, a national culture that just gives you more and more reasons to feel paranoia and retreat into an almost fundamentalist posture. The meaning of my own message is found in the response I get. And I do not like this response I am getting from you. But rather than blame you for “not getting it,” I need to change the way *I* am behaving. And if I STILL don’t get the response from you I am hoping for, I need to do something else until I do.

            I think I have been as careful as I can be to try and get you to acknowledge that I am only speaking “my” truth, not “the” truth. But you seem unwilling to do that with me.

            It is what it is, Louis. I guess you’ll just have to shoot me.

          • louis_wheeler

            I’m not paranoid, nor a victim. There are real problems ahead. The social and economic schemes set up by the Progressives are failing. This has real world consequences. I’m just dealing with that.

            This is not, strictly, about Obama, either. He is, merely, the representative of the elitist class. Their “Pie in the sky” governmental controls are failing. But, you would need to see through their propaganda to perceive that.

            If don’t see the dangers in this, that is not my problem. All I do is tell the truth as I see it. If I am wrong, I will be informed by reality of that. I am not being doctrinaire. If you have good logical case, I’d like to hear it. So far, you have been wishy-washy, almost passive aggressive. You seem to stand for nothing firm.

            Why would I shoot you? What threat do you represent to me? Will you Kumbaya me to death?

          • james warren

            You make me confused. First you claim you are not a “victim” yet at the same time you exaggerate all the little details and incidents that you seem to claim are destroying the nation we love.

            Well since you have literally stated to me “If you have a good, logical case, I’d like to hear it.” Any native speaker of English knows that you are sitting back and licking your lips, just waiting for me to pass by like a lame gazelle in front of a hungry lion. You seem to be always thinking of ways to denigrate and criticize me. If I had ready some conservative actions that are just “pie in the sky” policies, I think you would be unable to see the equivalence.

            You certainly came back a bit too much at me when I mentioned the real facts of conservative states and slave states, or the collusion of big business interests and Big Tobacco a decade ago. They called their plan the “Tea Party” and have been working to organize and fund today’s Tea Party for years and years.
            They are, unfortunately, the monetary engine that is driving the Tea Party and lately, the over-the-top decimation of ObamaCare.

            The billionaires masquerade as “grassroot” Freedom Works, Tea Party Patriots, Generation of Opportunity and the Chamber of Commerce. They pay for the buses to bus members into where demonstrations are planned and they often spring for a box lunch for everyone. This is no different than Soros and his grab for influence and manipulation did the last few years. He has stopped for awhile. I think his concerns have moved from domestic and national to more global concerns. At any rate, there are plenty of liberal billionaires who run front organizations, too.

            Your blithe dismissal of real facts, data and evidence just makes me shake my head in confused disbelief. If we cannot recognize a legitimate standard of information on which to base our opinions and interpretations, then we have run off the rails of civilized culture.

          • louis_wheeler

            There are problems coming which we must deal with. I’d rather take evasive action than feel sorry for myself. I need to know what the problems are before I can decide what to do.

            I moved from LA, because it started to look dangerous. There were too many people in a confined space, hardly any of them were self reliant and too many were part of a large welfare class. There was only a three day supply of food stored locally thanks to just-in-time inventory systems and next to none it was grown locally. LA seemed to have multiple points of failure in a crisis: food, energy, water, safety and stable incomes.

            Of course, what you do about this depends on how much trust you have in future stability. Or if you believe the Keynesian economists who say that deficits don’t have to be paid for. I studied economic and politics. There is ample evidence of bad times ahead.

            The politics in Washington seems insane. The Democrats want huge new spending programs in a time of recession. That’s unreal. I expect problems with the dollar, so I prepare in many ways: food storage, guns, bottles of propane, precious metals, etc. I think of it as insurance. I’d rather the money go to waste than to be hungry, cold and unsafe if events get scary.

            It’s not as though I caused any of these problems. Nor can I do anything about them directly. The Federal Reserve Bank was in existence long before I was born. The federal government grew during all my life. I’ve tried political activism and saw no improvement.

            I’ve decided that what will be, will be. God is good, but he is also just. America will get what it deserves. Perhaps, then it will learn. I just want to ride out the consequences of bad public policy as easily as possible.

            We need to be careful about the groups we claim are doing harm. There are a number of elites in America, some bad, others just lame exploiters. Did you google “the Progressives?” Do you know what they stand for? And how they led to the mess we are in? Did you look up Walter Russell Mead? And his Blue State model? I’m being very direct about my position.

            Lies in the Media abound about the TEA Party; it’s hard to know what to believe. Some groups probably are AstroTurf. Most aren’t. Rather than make a blanket accusation, why not cite some sources? Make a case; try to prove something.

            Activism comes and goes. I don’t know what good they do. The Fedraral govt. keeps growing and becoming more intrusive. The federal deficits and the national debt get larger. This can’t go on forever. My study of economic says that bad times are coming. It will get ugly when the dollar fails, no matter what tactic the FED uses.

            I have no idea about how bad it will get where I live. Or how long the problems will last. It is safer to be out in the boonies.

          • james warren

            Thanks, Louis, for your more detailed and interesting account of where you are now and what you see around you. Believe it or not, even though I feel I can see both sides (or all sides) of our national difficulties I am right with you in that I share your same fears and despair at times. It’s just that my own journey and opinions and interpretations have enabled me to look forward (long term) for some signs of hope. I can say that I have finally found a seat at life’s picnic, even though it’s just about over for me.

            It still looks to me as if you are still pretty quick on the draw to gun for the liberals/progressive/Democrats. I have experienced the danger in my own life of labeling other groups with ineffective generalizations that only serve to divide our citizenry. Both sides have good intentions, I now believe. It’s just that they rarely pay attention to the EFFECTS of those good intentions. And the ways in which they express their underlying intentions is too often less than ideal.

            Here’s one link among many of the evolution of our Tea Party:

            http://wallstreetonparade.com/2013/05/irs-sleuths-were-on-the-right-track-big-tobacco-created-tea-party-in-1994/

            And here’s a bit on those maps that were pointed out to me recently:

            http://www.salon.com/2012/10/10/slave_states_vs_free_states_2012/

            I guess my final concern is that you will read those two links and then come up with good reasons why not to believe the source(s). I tell the truth when I say I get that. The only reason why I can be confident of this is because I have been too familiar with those same thoughts in my own life. Studying communication, human cognition and behavior tells me we know nothing of others unless we can first unwittingly connect with those same thoughts and behaviors in ourselves first.

            I worry about my brothers like yourself who have apparently been forced to retreat into the safety of your own domain and view any facts or opinions that you disagree with as personal attacks. For myself, that way lies madness for me. We citizens have an amazing and little-talked-about common ground but distrust and division are being deliberately encouraged by the elites.

            I see people all over the globe coming to this same realization. The Founders’ fears are becoming realized and citizens are beginning to stand up to face the power which keeps their dignity down and their understanding clouded.
            So that’s my hope. Like you, I actively search for confirmations of my hope and I see it in my interpersonal relationships as well as from the news coming from an increasingly interconnected world.

            I feel sorry that we are all trying to navigate the rapids of change. And I just want to pass along my wish that you are not alone. Just try to keep your mind and heart open to your fellow citizens. At least in my experience I have found this to be surprisingly rewarding and edifying. We have a lot of good DNA that we share with others.

            I see little breakthroughs every day. Sometimes a dislocating change can be caused by the weight of a single, tiny snowflake. It only takes one to cause the entire tree-laden clump of snow to fall to the forest floor. Another metaphor I like to use is the massive oak tree in the hurricane. It can easily be snapped in two by the high winds. But the grass in the fields bends with the forces and is there the next day dry and still alive.

            I studied aikido–both the physical and the psychological. It is the only martial art characterized by dealing with one’s opponent without hurting them.
            The founder, Morihei Ueshiba, can be seen on YouTube in his 80s being attacked by four or five young men in the dojo. They fly off of him like blown leaves. Amazing forces in the universe that just need to be tapped into.

            Of COURSE I am sometimes hit by rude and adolescent ridicule from others.
            I understand that totally. Nonviolent communication and action does work, though. But it is not for the sanctimonious or the despairing. The woman who recently negotiated that school shooter to put down his rifle while she kept things calm and called 9-11 was a wonderful example of using her human skills to quell a dangerous situation. And of course lefties and conservatives made fun of her and said she did the wrong thing and should have been carrying a firearm.

          • louis_wheeler

            “It still looks to me as if you are still pretty quick on the draw to gun for the liberals/progressive/Democrats.”

            I have studied their beliefs for decades. History is clear about what works and doesn’t. A country can afford socialist programs when it is rich, but America is getting quite poor.

            Stresses are building against the elites. It’s unclear to me what will happen. So, I try to cover the major scenarios: Deflation of the money supply, hyperinflation, states nullifying federal demands, Obama declaring martial law to avoid new elections, secession of states from the US on Red/ Blue lines and civil war. We live in interesting times.

            Your “wallstreetonparade” link was unsatisfying. It is clearly biased. It fails the rules I learned in my logic class. It provides no proof which would stand up in court. It’s just the author’s opinion.

            The Salon link was interesting, but unpersuasive, because I could see its biases. It sought to diminish and demean Conservatives and the TEA Party. But, it’s too soon to do that. The TEA Party is in a long term struggle which isn’t over yet.

            Also, The US is moving steadily toward the right as the US Census moves 7 to 9 representatives out of Blue states into the Red. The US is in flux with surprising results and the bad news hasn’t really hit us yet. Some low population states, such as Colorado and Nevada, were Red and became Blue because of population shifts. The left’s culture war is still in process. The Left is losing its control of Hollywood, TV, the Media and the Educational Establishment, but It thinks it is powerful enough to attack Christian beliefs.

            The US has changed over the last hundred years. The slaveholders, and their grandchildren, in the South are dead. The US has other concerns now. The electorate is evenly divided. This is why we can have great swings between the parties. If Obama allows the next elections to go forward, the country will be moving toward the right again. I see Obama as a last ditch effort while the Left still has influence. I hope he doesn’t try to become a despot; that would shake the country apart when there is little holding the Red and Blue states together.

            “I worry about my brothers like yourself who have apparently been forced
            to retreat into the safety of your own domain and view any facts or
            opinions that you disagree with as personal attacks.”

            I don’t take anything personal. If I did, I’d stop talking.

            We seem to be approaching dire events. It won’t happen because Conservatives are provoking this. The Progressive have set into motion trends which are ending. The Obama administration is steadily grabbing ever more power. The economy will get worse and Price Inflation will increase. The government is doing nothing to improve the lives of its citizens.

            Young people were conned into believing that increasing governmental power was the solution. They are learning, as times get worse, and the government gets more controlling, that this is not so. They will unlikely to vote republican; they are likely to not vote at all.

          • james warren

            There is a clear difference between bias (which everyone has) and factually correct information. Certain powerful elites who own billions and are trying to spread their political ideology have planned the Tea Party movement going back years. I am really frustrated that you seem so quick to look at facts, data and evidence and then say it is all made up. I have seen information about this that show a picture of the original website screen. I have to retreat now. I cannot figure out how to communicate these historical actions to you, simply because you have already decided it is some kind of con.

            I try to read both west coast news outlets, east coast and southern newspapers. I will read all the conspiracy theories as well as the Middle Path in journalism. I also take seriously Russ Baker and other investigative reporters who are not locked into the corporate media. I also read underground journalism occasionally. As well as activist blogs of all sorts. When I go to the library I keep up with National Review as well as Time and National Georgraphic. And many, many other diverse news outlets. In the doctor’s waiting room I find a lot of trade magazines that I would usually just skip over. I can always learn more. Even when I got an A on a test or a paper, I knew that I could have learned the material even better.

            It is really hard to discuss topics without agreeing to some legitimate standard of what is true and what is not.

            I understand your need to see some truths as spurious. I do the same thing.
            But I usually check out information I get from all sources so I can verify the facts and be able to separate them from the whole. Since you are basically calling me some sort of liar and sneak by blithely dismissing the information on the Tea Party, I feel like I should stop with the period at the end of this sentence.

          • louis_wheeler

            You’re correct: everyone has opinions. The only question is whether those opinions can be substanciated. Can you build a good case? Can you back it up with evidence?

            Let’s take the TEA Party, for instance. It is either grassroots or it is not. Any one group can be bought off. God knows, George Soros has enough money if you can be bribed.

            But a true grass roots movement cannot be suborned. There are just too many people, in too many groups, each having varying backgrounds and different political persuasions, albeit not hard left. I’ve met Conservatives and Scoop Jackson Liberals there; the latter have a greater tolerance for the welfare system and social security than I do. I think both systems will bankrupt the US.

            I’ve been a part of the Liberty movement since 1968, and the TEA Party members are new to the cause. My meetings with them indicate that this is a mass movement, so I don’t worry about the Astroturf, any more that I do the agents provokateurs.

            Your opinion may vary. But, only time will tell if this is a real movement or if it can force changes on Washington. Lord knows, we Conservatives don’t have anything else. The Republican leadership are power seekers. They are not as leftward leaning as the Dems, but they go along to attain power. I haven’t liked any Republican programs out of Washington. TSA, The Patriot act, No Child Left Behind, Tarp, etc were disappointing.

            My doubts about your sources don’t call you a liar; we all can be mistaken.

            I have serious doubt of the mainstream media. I don’t trust them much. Neither article felt like factual reporting; both were doing advocacy
            (spin) and I am wary of that.

            The Salon article didn’t tell me anything new. The nation is evenly divided, so there are radical reversals. Does it matter if the Former Slaves states now vote Republican? What caused the South to change? I think it was the New Left and the Vietnam war. The Democrat Party became, in their view, more leftist and un-American. Reagan put together a winning set of issues which took the Democrat party a long time to counter. I didn’t disagree with the information, so much as the implication which the author drew from them.

            Salon has had an interesting history. It started off on the right 15 or so years ago and has steadily moved toward the left. I don’t put them in the same class as Firedoglake or Media Matters, but they are in the same camp.

            I am a conservative. My long study tells me that the Founders were right. They merely could not predict future events and how the power seeker would corrupt the Republic. I read the Leftist sources, too, because I what to know their position and how they are presenting their messages.

          • james warren

            First you tell me that those maps I saw were lies, now you say that it doesn’t matter if they were true or not. Speaking from my own personal experience, I find it hard to confront my own contradictions. I not only have to do a lot of studying and comparison, I have to spend a lot of time at it.

            If we all had more personal time we would all be out protesting on the streets.

            Here’s a link I found that tells me my online searches about Big Tobacco and the Tea party were a waste of time. The truth, as always, is much more complex than what I had found out before.

            http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/02/25/1189761/-Big-Tobacco-Had-Nothing-to-Do-With-Tea-Party-Formation#

            I am still amazed you believe you can always tell the difference between what is factually correct and what is opinion or interpretation.

          • louis_wheeler

            What I said was that I didn’t trust what the author was implying. The maps may be accurate, but misleading. They may have no relationship to the truth. I didn’t agree with the author’s character assessment of the Red States. Part of this is that his article was pushing a message he could not prove.

            The New England Blue States were rife with smuggling during the colonial period. It would be absurd If I claimed that they still were. It would be character assassination.

            I said that the electorate was evenly balanced. The Tabacco industry may have some political action groups; that is their right, by law. But, I saw no evidence that their groups coincided with the TEA Party. As I’ve said, I’ve been in the Liberty Movement for a long time. I’ve seen a lot of phonies come and go on both the Left and Right.

            The DailyKos is a far left group funded by George Soros. I read it occasionally, when I want a laugh.

          • james warren

            The website I gave you should not be laughed at, any more than we would laugh at anyone. I read information from all over the place and I am glad I do. The problem is when I mention some facts, evidence or data and someone like you just laughs at it or says it is deliberately wrong.

            As far as the maps are concerned, we should always be aware that the “map” is NEVER “the territory.” It is only a map. And a menu is not the meal.
            I gave you that link because it exposed the mistake of thinking Big Tobacco corporations were behind the Tea Party. The link told the real facts behind the information. I saw nothing funny about it.

            I thought Soros was so disappointed and upset by the left that he was no longer giving money to them. But I am willing to be responsible for my empty-headedness. Always.

          • louis_wheeler

            Be careful. There are always liars about. We can always be misled. Saul Alinsky in his book “Rules for Radicals” promoted using lies, distortions and character assassination against the right. The Left often try to confuse an issue; they personalize it when the truth is not on their side.

            The best way to respond to absurdity is with a laugh. I’m not laughing at them as people, but at what they are trying to sell me. Call me skeptical.

            I’m not laughing at you. But, I don’t have to agree either. Your assertions do not coincide with my experience with TEA Party members. I could be in error, but I’ve been in the Liberty Movement a long time. You can usually tell people’s intentions by what memes they are pushing.

            The people funding the movements, come and go. The Progressives are quite steady in their funding of the left. Their big spenders vastly outspend the right. The Koch brothers are pikers in comparison.

            Also, I suggest you re-read my response, since I made some clarifications.

          • james warren

            “If you go looking for the bad in a man, expecting to find it, you surely will.”
            –Lincoln

            If someone says something *I THINK” is absurd, I simply say “That sounded kind of absurd to me. Did you mean it that way?”

            The memes I see being passed around are by and large corporate and liberal ones. They seem to want to keep us busy and divided. It has happened all through history and We the People eventually have our say.

          • louis_wheeler

            The problem is that there are evil people we should be wary of. And evil ideas. If someone offers you something for free, look for the strings attached.

            What will be, will be. Trends continue until they must end. It looks to me that some trends will be ending soon. We cannot afford the government programs we have now, let alone add more.

          • james warren

            Hitler’s underlying good intentions may have had something to do with making his nation great in the eyes of the world again. Nothing wrong with that. It’s just he used evil acts do carry out that intention. He also bragged about being able to stand motionless and emotionless when being savagely beaten by his grandfather as a young child.

            Those who have been hit, hit others. Those who were humiliated, humiliate. Those whose young souls were murdered go on to murder others. We treat others the way we ourselves were treated.

          • louis_wheeler

            So, you are channeling Hitler now? I resist assigning good values to his intentions, considering how many people he had killed. Nor will I make excuses for his actions.

            He was anti- freedom. He believed in controlling others. National greatness was just an excuse. He lied and manipulated to get power. Where were the adults in German society to prevent that?

          • james warren

            I have to tell you a joke definition: A Libertarian is a conservative who wants to smoke pot and get laid.

            But you have to admit it is easy for Libertarian elitists or college kids reading Ayn Rand to talk about how there should be no government except police, the army and the courts. These people have plenty of resources and don’t need to deal with the forces of raw nature. If one is hungry there is the “force” of biology. If you are homeless, you confront the force of wind, storms, ice and snow. If you are sick, you confront the ravages of illness and disease.

            I am just betting that when billionaires bankroll libertarian causes and think tanks they will say that the coming crash was “caused” by “big government.”

          • louis_wheeler

            I would be satisfied with merely moving toward individual freedom instead of tyranny.

            I am a Min-archest. That is, I want the smallest government which can protect our liberties. I want ordinary people to help each other through charity. The Welfare System is horribly broken.

            The coming crash will be caused by fractional reserve banking. The problem is that corrupt bankers have money to suborn politicians. The politicians can promote expansive programs which buy votes. That is the path to tyranny through big government. America cannot afford the programs it has and the Politicians want to add more.

            This Progressive policy has been going on for over a hundred years. We are close to the moment it collapses. Some economist say it all falls apart in this year or the next.

          • james warren

            Whenever something like that collapses, it contains the seeds of renewal. Everything eventually resolves to its opposite. And then it starts over again and spirals back to higher level of order. It is an ecology of mind.

          • louis_wheeler

            Not necessarily. That program might have never been necessary. It could have been a usurpation of our autonomy. It might have been a useless construction of the power hungry and the greedy.

            Government is not a higher order; personal self control is. The people are not the government’s property. WE ARE NOT HELPLESS.

          • james warren

            I read the Koch brothers come really close to first place when it comes to surveys by Forbes. Now I can admit there might be some lefties who do the actual survey research but I would be very, very surprised if those few people could infiltrate the data-mining. If I thought everything bad or wrong was caused solely by the GOP I would be living in the Wyoming wilderness.

          • louis_wheeler

            Are you saying that the Koch brother don’t have a right to fund activism? There are plenty of corporations and groups who fund the left. So what?

            Why do you assume that Forbes is necessarily being honest? Yes, they are a business but there are plenty of crony businesses which fund the left.

          • james warren

            Your quick jump to framing my opinion as a fascist ideology belies my idea that you often feel beset or surrounded by enemies. I said NOTHING about anyone being prevented from funding whatever they want. They can fund the Tea Party. Or anything else. There are many good programs on PBS American elites fund.

            There is a business and then there are “plenty” of “crony” businesses. But to believe that one side or the other is missing in virtue is a basic human formulation that will backfire both one-to-one understanding and communication and groups other than those we feel we “belong to.”

            All I can tell you is that when I learned both aikido (dealing with an opponent without harming them) and nonviolent communication I have been able to join with others to solve problems collaboratively. And I raised a remarkable daughter who is open-hearted and intelligent.

            All I can do is go by what I know, what it took me to unlearn my communication errors of my past.

          • louis_wheeler

            I am used to responding to Leftist attacks, of which there are many, so I hit back as hard as I am being hit. If that is inappropriate, I am sorry. It’s nothing personal.

            Plenty of Leftists want to prevent the funding of their opponents. It’s built in to how their arguments are crafted. A good offense is a preventative to that.

            I asked some questions. If they didn’t apply to you, why get offended?

            Good is a value judgement, I have seen very few Good Leftist programs; usually they have internal flaws. I am not opposed to voluntary programs, but usually the programs of the Left tend to become state funded. And then, very corrupt.

          • james warren

            Getting back to “Born of a WHAT,” I am a Christian who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Hitting back with anyone–physically or verbally–is the usual childish response. We nurture those old revenge fantasies and live in a culture of redemptive violence. Luckily there are a thousand points of light in the world of people and groups who are doing things differently. The bitter irony as I see it is that most of this activity and breakthroughs are made by atheists and agnostics and humanists. Jesus has been hijacked. Even the church’s creeds say NOTHING about picking up one’s cross to follow the Savior. The faith I love has become a matter of being able to give assent to a list of first-century dogma that is becoming less compelling and persuasive by the year. I am afraid the church is going to have to get back to taking the Galilean seriously or it will go into history’s dustbin. I am serious about this.

          • louis_wheeler

            What is effective? A true Progressive won’t respond to being hit back verbally, he will walk off. All they care about is winning.

            Most people on the Left are not really Progressives, they are merely parroting their talking points. Sometimes, If I come back with a point or an accusation that they have never heard before, I can get them into a conversation. Throwing talking points at me is not a conversation, because they aren’t listening.

            A verbal retort is not violence. I also notice that you never answered my questions. Taking offense at a question is a debate technique. It allows a person to sidestep answering the question. Isn’t that childish?

            Christianity is under attack by the left, it has been for 180 years. The Left have been able to suborn Christion ideas and to craft positions intended to say that Christians should become Leftists. Most Christian’s are not very good at replying to the Left’s accusations.

            The Left seems desperate now. They don’t have that feeling of inevitability they had in the 60s. Having power under Obama will disillusion many Americans. Jimmy Carter’s administration made “Liberal” a curse word for twenty years. I expect that Obama will do the same for “Progressive.”

            The real growth in Christianity is in South America, Africa and Asia, not here. We are likely to see a revitalization from there.

          • james warren

            ALL they care about “is winning.” Every conservative or liberal?

            Well, as far as underlying goals, everyone wants to feel a winner. It is my experience that people who feel they have lost feel disrespected, hopeless or despairing about reaching an understanding with others.
            We all have different ideas of what winning and losing mean. When I was a mediator my work was involved with getting both disputants to realize both wanted to win and to help them get an agreement that they could accept.

            I remember one time a man was being sort of stubborn (for good reasons, surely) and we were trying to help each other deal with the fact that the three teenage boys sitting across from him needed to talk with him about his contention that they stole something from a garden shed. Did they? What really went on?

            We never found out. He actually had a heart attack right there and later died. We were using a conference room at a bank in the evening and the ambulance did not show up for about 40 minutes. If any of us had been trained in CPR he might have lived. I later learned it at a job but we were all in panic mode (and so was he!).

            I want to say that there are many, many things that are effective to solve problems without being passive or violent with others. But people have to feel confident of coming up with their own workable ideas and communicating them to others.
            If we have never learned how or if we are temporarily “stuck” we need to admit that and find out how or ask for help.

            I think more and more of us are doing that because we are all basically hanging out in the same small room together. We either do it, commit suicide, help ourselves and others or die standing around. I think as animals we are smart and want to preserve ourselves. And most of us do not want to kill others to do so. We feel we have no alternative.

            I too feel I have no alternative but to misunderstand why someone would walk away from me, simply because I have done the same with others when I couldn’t see a way out. But I have found there is always a way out. It might not always work right away, but more often than not it does.

            I was surprised to learn that every time nonviolent action was tried in World War II against the Nazis, it worked because the people who acted that way were organized and brave. But things happen and it doesn’t always work. We live in the real world after all. But even good things can triumph in a real world. Over 60% of the human population has been affected by nonviolent action in the 20th century.

          • louis_wheeler

            Left and Right Progressives are different from Liberals and Conservatives. The Progressive see themselves as a ruling class – an elite, but they have divided themselves into groups to confuse the liberals and conservatives. They care about power. This means they must win arguments. If you are too good at responding to their blather, they walk away.

            America is culturally and politically divided. There are some zip codes where a person can go their whole lives without ever meeting a Conservative or listening to conservative ideas. A Conservative has no such option because we are inundated with Liberal ideas from the Press, Hollywood and the Educational establishment.

          • james warren

            Unfortunately, you are right I believe. When I was younger I used to travel. There are some in this town who never even want to go to the bigger counties or towns around. They could care less.

          • louis_wheeler

            Despite this, we know more about each other than distant peasants did a few hundred years ago.

          • james warren

            This is exactly why I have unreasonable hope today. Things are getting smaller, the people are getting smarter and some are getting more and more uncomfortable. Add a rapid media presence and an online world and 11 year olds making online movies and folks like us understanding the other. Why we will have world peace in a week! :) Kidding, guy.

          • louis_wheeler

            People are getting smarter by 1 to 2 points per decade. The scientists believe it is the effect of iodized salt. Iodine deficiency retards brain development. Thus people far from the sea are perceived as stupid.

            People are getting taller, too. The average shoe size in the civil war was a size 6; their average height was five foot six. People are getting better nutrition and this means larger, healthier babies, who grow to be taller than their parents

            But our social institutions are getting more stupid, less free.

          • james warren

            I never heard the sea salt theory before. I also used to think that because a seacoast area has more contact with foreign influences it makes for a more aware population.

          • louis_wheeler

            Iodized salt, not sea salt, was first sold in Michigan in 1924 to correct the effects of goiter.

            “There was a gradual increase in average intelligence of 1 standard deviation, 15 points, in iodine-deficient areas, 3.5 points nationally, but also an increase in deaths of older people in iodine-deficient areas due to hyperthyroidism.”

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iodised_salt

            Fish and Kelp are also good sources of iodine.

            Overseas commerce includes a number of effects, good and bad. These areas have less inbreeding so the inhabitants are hardier, but they also experience increased foreign diseases. The very attractive native Hawaiians you see on the posters are really a Hawaiian/ Chinese mix which is healthier, stronger and better looking.

          • james warren

            I want to butt in with this:

            http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-decline-of-violence

            Maybe my hope isn’t as irrational as I often think it is….

          • louis_wheeler

            The reasons for less crime are complex.

            The richer a society is the more people have to lose. 18 to 25 yearl old tend to commit most of the crimes and that are temporarily fewer in society now due to birth control and abortions.

            I noticed that what wasn’t mentioned in the article is that about a millions each year is prevented because a peaceful person had a gun.

          • james warren

            Unless the liberal media is deliberately squelching such stories, I tend to think a peaceful person with a gun doesn’t often use it on others.

            I have heard that the demographic of the young is increasing, but what you say has resonated with me. Especially with the back alley abortions that are obviously being done these days. No one wants to own up to them, which is a good sign when you think about it.

          • louis_wheeler

            The Liberal media squelches stories which don’t fit their narrative. So, let’s say, a story appears in the local papers about a person who was running around a school with a pistol shooting people. The assistant principle goes out to his car and takes a long rifle out of his trunk. The shooter is cornered and out-matched in weapons, so he is subdued. By the time the story gets to the state or national stage, the long rifle is cut from the story.

            There is no need to bring up Back Alley Abortions, when they can be had at your local Planned Parenthood, tax paid. A disproportionate number of Leftists choose to prevent or abort children. This has caused a decrease in potential Leftist voters of some 15 to 20 million since 1978.

            The Big Blue Cities of America are experiencing a birth dearth comparable to the lowest in the EU: Italy at 1.2 children per woman. The birth rates of Reform Jews in New York City are so low that the Orthodox Jews, with a birth rate of 3.5, are taking over.

          • james warren

            How come I am basically “a conservative,” and I can easily see how some manifestations of collectivism or socialism are abject failures?

            And why is it that I can readily acknowledge the “log in my own eye” as distinct from the “speck of sawdust” in my neighbor’s eye without feeling I am compromising or judging others?

            I am just as humble and holy feeling as the next person and I try to be aware of that as a default position. I am fully human and I am glad to regard everyone I meet as human as well.

            I have become good friends and acquaintances with people of all stripes and ages. Because my attitude has finally matured to the point where I am not afraid to be wrong-headed or mistaken about certain things in the world, I can now “trust in God” enough to have a happy and fulfilling life.

          • louis_wheeler

            Calling out the “speck in another person’s eye” is about judging them morally. It is thinking yourself morally superior to them; that you are without sin. It is judging them to be bad people.

            Most people are not bad, just confused. We have all been weak, obstinate and self destructive, at times. We tend not to listen to good advice. So, we get what we deserve.

            Actions have consequences, which lead to certain results, good or bad. Am I being judgmental if I say to a person that he is driving toward a cliff? Or that alcohol is poisoning their relations?

            I take no joy in saying that; I have the kindest reasons.

          • james warren

            Unless our underlying good intentions and kind reasons are communicated to others as kindness, then we have failed to communicate. If a parent intends to show their child love, but the child does not interpret their actions as love, they fail to love.

            We all have a judgmental, evaluating mind, We often focus on our good intentions and are blind to the real world effects of those intentions. It’s good to be humble.

            Every human behavior has good intentions underlying it. It’s just we are impoverished in making the choices that will carry across those good intentions.
            People who do not know how to deal with their own suffering often lash back in violence toward others.

            I am not aware that Jesus’ pop psychology about logs and sawdust was meant for moral judgements only. It is hard to think like the ancients did. We moderns tend to cast Jesus’ words and deeds as if they were part of the modern world.

            “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

          • louis_wheeler

            Communication must go both ways. It has to be a meeting of the minds. If we disagree, then let us do so honestly.

            One problem of the Left is that they believe, if you understand their positions, you must also agree with them. They get very angry at me when I don’t. Usually, the reason we disagree is that we start at different premises. And I throw the Left’s failures in their faces.

            They may think they have good intentions, but, soon, they say that I must obey them or a government. I don’t do a good job of that. Part of why I don’t obey is that they don’t seem smarter or more knowledgeable than I am, the way God is. Since I’ve figured out their hidden motives, I can usually flummox them.

            I’m an original thinker. I listen to other people but my opinions are often different from theirs. If I make a case, I expect someone to knock it down, if they can. I want them to knock it down, if it is weak. I don’t take offense.

            All of us can can have different opinions about what Jesus’ goal’s were. I don’t believe that there was just a single goal, atonement.

            Jesus confronted the Jewish hierarchy; he had different ways of being faithful to God. He said that individual beliefs and actions made you righteous, not your obeying the Jewish laws and the priestly authorities.

            He was the opposite of being ritualistic. Nor did Jesus want secular power. He said, “Get thee behind me devil,” just after he was offered control over all the powers of the earth. Interesting thoughts.

            But, much of what Jesus said was in witty retort to the traps of the Pharisees.

            His statement of “Render unto Caesar, that which is Caesar’s, and to God, that which is God’s,” confounded his enemies, but it led to a useful legal structure 500 years later. It tended to keep the secular authorities separate from the religious. This tended to moderate the behavior of both Princes and Prelates.

          • james warren

            I agree generally. I also try to separate the evangelists’ spin doctoring from the facts. I am pretty confident that Jesus preached the coming/emerging Kingdom (Rule) of God by telling his listeners parables. He did not speak in propositional theology or “Christian” dogma. I see a unique voiceprint of dislocating parables and short, arresting sayings. Everything else is spin doctoring by the early church movement. The anti-Semitic sayings in John were reflecting the church’s inner group conflicts between the Jesus followers and those who eventually rejected him as Messiah.

            But since you don’t accept my thoughts and studies as far as American politics are concerned, you probably won’t agree with me.

            Like I said (and I was being sarcastic) it looks like you may just have to shoot me.

          • louis_wheeler

            After the Christians were thrown out of the Jewish Temples, there was a lot of bickering going on between the groups. There was, also, divergent development, much like how the Jewish kingdoms, Judah and Israel, diverged during their separation.

            The Christians accepted some of the pagan ideas of their gentile members to fit into Roman society or to compete with the pagans. Fairly soon, the Jews were marginalized because of the great revolt and the diaspora.

            John, written about a hundred years AD, would have been heretical to the Jews. But, the Jews were constructing the Torah at the time which contained many Christian ideas. The excesses of the Pharisees, and their militancy, were being resolved.

            So, we don’t really disagree.

            Nor do I wish to shoot you. But, we can quibble about details and their implications.

          • louis_wheeler

            Jesus was dealing with the Pharisees who were judgmental, But, the lesson applies to us all.

          • james warren

            I agree. I’m just glad I myself do not judge, and neither do my friends.
            Of course, you have just read a sentence written by a judgmental idiot!

          • louis_wheeler

            LOL

          • james warren

            Calling out the speck in someone’s eye is some vivid “pop psychology” from a Master. We need to be accountable and responsible for our own shortcomings. I would try taking another look at the saying. He seems to be saying to be aware of the log in your own eye FIRST. I

          • louis_wheeler

            The verse says, “Don’t be a hypocrite. Don’t judge other people morally when we are all sinners. “

          • james warren

            He said a lot about hypocrisy. And a lot against scholars. I sometimes feel we have to beware of finding a Jesus that is congenial to us. He ripped apart the default conventional wisdom of his day and he does it to our day too, I think.

          • louis_wheeler

            All we can do, as people have always done, is do the best we can. Was St. Paul’s message identical to Jesus’? Not quite.

            Also, God is still working in people’s lives. He is proclaiming the message, even when people merely apply the teachings to themselves.

            What was Jesus’ message? I believed it added to the Decalogue: the two greatest commandments. “Love God with all your heart, soul and might. And love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus added, “Love your enemy, bless those who persecute you.”

            What did that have to do with fighting Rome?

            Do you how hard that message was to get across to the Pharisees?

            You needn’t rush through these posts. I’m not going anywhere. I was wondering if you wanted to take this off line. I have noticed that we are bogging down the thread from its length. I haven’t wanted to because other people may be reading this.

            Of course, we are horribly off topic. But, I enjoy it.

          • james warren

            I, too, think that verse is crucial. But I don’t think I can go with the idea that there is a person-like being who is intimately familiar with 7 billion different agendas on the planet. To me God is within and without me and is a mystery I will never realize completely. I see traces on the wall like Plato’s cave metaphor but I can’t say for sure what it all means. Like Jesus admonished, I try to have faith–trust–and do the best I can. I think I move and act within the power of God, too, as does everyone else. I just have my own unique cultural filters to help base my interpretation of Him. I don’t believe in “power of prayer” if you are talking about wanting something like money or winning a football game after the coach’s halftime speech or even improving myself. I speak and cry out to God, but it is into the void of mystery that my words tumble into. I have gotten into some trouble with my family and relatives when I say that I don’t think prayer is much beyond self-help and appealing to some force we have no idea about. Jesus had to describe the Kingdom in parables and short sayings that turned reality on its head.

          • louis_wheeler

            What I meant was that when God wills he can give us clues. But, we need to be humble about the meanings. I don’t want to put myself into the position of saying what God will do or won’t. It may be enough that God listens.

            Perhaps, God acts in ways we would never expect. His reply to our prayers may look like accidents, coincidence or happenstance. We may have done the first part and God does the second. Or what we are asking for might not be good for us.

            What I am presenting to you are arguments. I am not declaring that they are the TRUTH, just the best explanation that I know. I invite you to debate them with me. I won’t be offended if you persuade me that I am wrong.

          • james warren

            I just don’t think there is much I can say about God these days. Too big to know or talk about. And anyway, here the work of God has to be ours only.

          • louis_wheeler

            I’ll leave up to God what he believes is his work. We may to too miniscule for him to give us much attention.

          • james warren

            I agree, even though I don’t believe “attention” is the word I am trying to use. I certainly seem to WANT his attention, but I don’t believe he works that way. In other words, something runs the show but I can only wonder and believe what he is really like. I have to trust in God, though. But I may be trying to trust a profound equation or something.

          • louis_wheeler

            I think life is complex, even for God. Some things God sets into motion and has to wait for the results. We really can’t know what good will come from all this travail. It might be a millennia before God gets the results he wants.

            I’ve read articles from religious scientists who say how improbable the universe is. If some of the physical parameters were off by 20 percent, the stars wouldn’t form and life would be impossible.

            God may be all seeing, all knowing and all powerful from our perspective, but not his. He may be stuck. In the middle of an experiment, you don’t tinker with the equipment much.

          • james warren

            Just want to add. I have a “relationship with Jesus and with the Christ of the Church,” however you would like to characterize that. I have found that Jesus in the New Testament made savage attacks on the family values of his day and he did so very, very often. So I am not always one of those who is willing to give today’s family dynamic a pass. Like in Jesus’ day, we are mired in accepting authoritative statements and actions from those we seem to have no choice in swallowing. The patriarchal, Father Knows Best family is just as evident and just as tragic as the families in the first century. We are still affected by the tribalism and corporal punishments of Jesus’ time. So we can certainly define families as “socialist” or even “Marxist.” My point is that those formulations might have been more useful for me in the past but they are no longer a part of my own “lens” through which I apprehend the world. And in today’s world, I sense a growing helplessness whenever we see things in terms of black/white, either/or, conservative/liberal. The secular globalism is way too nuanced and complex for us to rely on past formulations of political, social or religious ideas. I see us being forced into collaborative problem-solving and simply being able to take up space in the global sandbox and play well with others. And at the same time I am willing to acknowledge we have already ruined our chance at recess and are indeed collapsing in slow motion. We see things at 24 frames a second so we are not always aware of what is going on. I look to the prophets like Ross Perot, Ralph Nader and even Jeremiah Wright. They, like the the ancient figures in the Hebrew Bible, are basically telling us if we keep on doing what we are doing, we’re going to wind up where we’re headed.

          • louis_wheeler

            We apparently have different ideas about what Jesus was trying to do. The Jewish Temple had become a protection racket. Every infraction, no matter how minor, meant that you had to pay a fine to the priests. This corrupt system caused Jesus to overturn the money changer’s tables.

            Jesus had to break the 613 Hebrew laws. He said that obeying the laws did not necessarily get you into God’s favor. Illness or poverty did not mean that God did not love you. That salvation is individual matter, based on faith, not your Social position. Good works buy you nothing. A person, faithful to God, would do good as a byproduct of faith. But that meant that faith without works is death – evidence of a fraud.

            There is no Socialism or Marxism without violence. The reason that the Plymouth colony gave up the Common Storehouse was that William Bradford was presented with a choice: either give up the storehouse or force people to work — turn them into slaves. That is, become a tyranny because people were not allowed to profit from their own labors. Thus, they lacked the incentive to work harder, because the excess would be taken from them.

            We have many disincentives to work hard today. Obamacare is forcing people int working fewer hours. It’s called “Going Galt.” A financial debacle is coming from the money creation by the FED. Then, the Dollar will lose its status as the world’s reserve currency.

            All these will bring us down. The only question is if we get back up again. Will the government allow is to get up?

          • james warren

            I have some major differences of opinion with you.

            First off, the vision of God of Jesus was a “Father who makes his sun to shine on both the evil AND the good and sendeth rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” Next in that passage is his statement that humankind is to be “the sons and the daughters of God.” Since the arrival of the sacred spokesmen of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc. God has basically been driven off his heavenly throne. Both the Doctrine of the Trinity and the Incarnation mean that it is now humanity’s job to be an enfleshment of the divine. That’s why I have no fear anymore of secularization. It is the normal consequence of Christianity. The irony is that most of the people and groups who are fundamentally “leavening” world culture are the self-identified atheists and humanists. Christianity is having to play catch-up. The labeling as the new pope as a Marxist or an anti-capitalist bears this out. Jesus was never a completely congenial figure for our default reality.

            I see socialism that has nothing to do with violence. Our socialist-modelled armed forces, police and fire departments, utilities and library system show me no sign of violence, as do the self-described “democratic socialist” countries and movements. Now violence DOES and HAS erupted from time to time as the various governments interact with their citizens, but the violence is not “over there” or “in Marxism.” It is in the human heart.

            Your political grounding seems to be to tack on “he’s destroying our freedoms” to everything Obama does. I see this as a simplistic dodge to prevent the often unwelcome cognitive dissonance that comes on the heels of figuring out things for ourselves. I see your method of formulating U.S. politics as pretty useless if we really want to find common ground and connect ourselves to some shared national values.

            But maybe we are still fighting the Civil War. A friend recently sent me an email attachment that showed two maps of the United States. The bitter irony was that it was a map of the conservative states and that it was practically identical to a map of the slave states of the 1860s.

            To me this war actually comes about because of the dichotomy of the evil city slicker meets up with the rural country bumpkin. That myth from our national origins is still a pretty powerful one. I have noticed that when I share biblical scholarship–which is quite diverse, BTW–the believers I talk with get unreasonably defensive and put themselves into a “victim position.” The lefties do the same thing at times. Their sanctimonious and reflexive self image prevents them from seeing the facts, evidence and data in new information.
            And even some of them are cultivating an impasse when it comes to science and academia.

          • louis_wheeler

            There are consequences of what Obama does. He is acting ever more like a despot. He pushed his health care law through congress by main force. No one knew what disasters were in it. Now, he acts as though he can delay implementation without congressional approval.

            Very little he does is through constitutional means. He ignores Congress and has his Cabinet agencies change the rules. This quite dangerous. Even if Obama does not intend to declare martial law and become a dictator, other people will use his tactics after he leaves office. Julius Caesar pretended that the Roman Senate had power, but his successor, Augustus, did not. The Senate became a rubber stamp; the Roman Republic was dead.

            “The bitter irony was that it was a map of the conservative states and
            that it was practically identical to a map of the slave states of the
            1860s.

            You exaggerate. The Midwest were not slave states and the Sun Belt was not yet part of the Union. Besides, all the secessionists were Democrats.

            We conservatives don’t play the victim; we leave that to the left. America has a problem though; a lack of diversity. The electorate is evenly divided although each census moves America toward the Right.

            The Blue States are geographically confined. Most of the control of those states are in a few counties of the Big Cities. This means that people in those Blue counties can go through their existence without ever knowing a Conservative who has come out of the closet. Since leftists are often petty and vindictive, it is dangerous for conservatives in those Blue areas to reveal themselves.

            I suspect the Red States will do just fine in the coming crisis. They will likely to nullify any unconstitutional actions of the administration. Still, it will be a dangerous time.

            The Scientific and Academic Establishment have been captured by the Left. They no longer serve intellectual inquiry. They pretend that the Earth is not getting colder even when they personally are freezing their behinds off.

          • james warren

            I am getting frustrated because I can’t seem to shake you from your Obama-is-bad paradigm. Again, it is hard for me to summon up any empathy, let alone sympathy, for your expressions of your ideology.

            And I SO get the same thing from liberals today as well, but especially during Bush’s presidency.

            You seem to have all of the unthinking come-backs in your arsenal. My choice of metaphor here is a sad acknowledgement that you are actually “gunning” for your opponents.

            Of course I exaggerate. I happen to be a member of the famous Human Being Organization. And I need other people such as yourself to call me on my exaggerations–otherwise I don’t learn and change and grow.

            I was referencing an objective standard I have seen online (and checked out for myself) that the slave states and today’s conservative states are eerily similar. We need to preference objective, legitimate standards that are based in real evidence, facts, research and data. If a liberal academic “made it up” then we need to know that. And we also need to know (I just looked at a couple of those data maps again because of your quick retort) that the label “Democrat” means something entirely different back then than it does today. Lincoln was a Republican. That’s the truth and if we are going to judge him by today’s political standards that fact needs to be recognized and accepted. But, as in the modern world, it is still a label and a generalization.

            If I could meet you some late afternoon over an ice cold beer or two I am sure I could bond with you with no trouble at all. Less than 5% of human communication is found in words. That’s why online dialogue is so fraught with misunderstanding, misinterpretations and strong emotions that have nowhere to go but to the other person.

            This sort of thing does nothing to recognize and acknowledge the common ground we and the liberal ideologues always have–ready to bring up in every moment.

            We have a lot of problems to deal with and we need to get serious, in my view. And that means to find new ways to talk and listen to our opponents. That’s part of our Christian heritage, too, if today’s believers are going to bypass the church’s theology and head straight for the teachings of the “real” Jesus.

            We are being forced by events into collaboration and cooperation. In fact, we would have never made it this far without those values.

          • louis_wheeler

            What good has Obama done? I can’t consider Obamacare “good” by any measure. Socialized medicine has never fulfilled its promoter’s claims.

            We had problems with medical care in the US before Obama, because in World War II businesses had tied medical insurance to employment benefits. They did this, because the government capped wages, but not benefits. Wage and price controls are counter productive, as is rationing.

            We need tort reform, not socialized medicine. We need to end allowing the AMA to be a cartel. We need more freedom, not less.

            Neither Obama’s, nor Bush’s, stimulus packages did any good; they just paid off different cronies. He has increased business uncertainty. I don’t like him increasing taxes in a recession. I don’t like him cramming 2500 page bills down America’s throat, unread. I don’t like him illegally bypassing Congress. I don’t like his use of executive orders and the bureaucracy to unconstitutionally change our laws. I don’t like him appointing communists to high positions of power. Other than that, I don’t mind him, at all.

            Sure, our political definitions have changed. The Democrats were the slave party before the civil war. They were the freedom party between the Civil war and 1906, because the Republicans had been captured by the Progressives. After 1906, the Democrats became the big spending, special interests serving, Progressives while the Republicans became the Drag-your-feet Progressives. The only party favoring small government and individual freedom is the Libertarian Party and it stands no chance. Vast segments of the electorate are not being served by either the Democrats or Republicans.

            The difference between Conservatives and Liberals concerns power. The Liberals think that power trumps everything. That there are no consequences for bad public policy. Hence, the government can do no wrong.

            As Adam Smith said, “There’s a lot of ruin in a country.” That is, a country can suffer through wasteful, ineffective, corrupt, vote buying regimes and still recover. But, no country can be ruined forever without lasting effects.

            What changes has Obama caused? Great economic uncertainty. Only a fool would invest in America now; high future taxes and more regulations are a given. Obama’s administration is acting quite arbitrary; no one knows what is legal anymore, But that practice has been going on for decades. He just ramped it up. There an interesting book out, “Three felonies a day,” The author says that this is what the common person innocently commits every day.

            Obamacare is pushing everyone into part time jobs. His administration really believes that America’s success comes from its government. I don’t believe that. The federal government is no longer a symbiont, doing useful tasks, and has become parasitical. Am I wrong to say that this leads to bad results?

            There are consequences of what Obama intends; the world has gone through this political process before. I suggest that you look at how England moved from being mostly free in the 1880s and how it gradually became a socialist regime after WWII. In the process, it became the “Sick man of Europe.” High taxes, no jobs, no freedom to do anything without regime approval. Anyone with skills and ability left the country — the brain drain. This is where Obama is taking us, with the best of intentions.

            The Liberal’s policies want to take us down a path which has historically led to slavery, privation and death. Should we Conservatives collaborate and cooperate with our ruin and the ruin of America?

          • james warren

            Health Care costs have gone down. People are getting insurance plans for the first time. The consumer protections we have now have resulted in American Express refunding thousands and thousands of dollars to clients they overcharged. We at least have some people now looking out for the American consumer.

            And that was the underlying intention of the Dodd-Frank bill, which was decimated by Democrats to change it so big businesses would be in on the big robbery.

            We are out of Iraq. At least Kerry says we will support the government, but not with blood and treasure. It is a revolution and Al Qaida is not going to win. World citizens are wiser than they used to be. Our global news media is the new nervous system and social media is fundamentally changing the dynamics in the Middle East.

            I have been hopeful. It seems like drones are the terrorism of the elites and terrorism is the “drone” of the poor. These people have been tooled to sacrifice themselves for political aims. Their young people have a dead end and little else. But they will get smarter as the rest of the world closes in. And more democratic.

          • louis_wheeler

            Medical care had problems in the US, but Obamacare did nothing to address problems with torts or the medical cartel- the AMA. Obamacare will more expensive than the previous system. Hopefully, it will collapse from its internal contradictions; even the Democrats are retreating from it.

            Obama wants to retreat from the US being the world’s policeman. Perhaps, we should have never taken on this task, but giving up it abruptly will cause world chaos. This may be a blessing in disguise. The US is becoming so weak, that a
            huge increase in wars around the world might shelter us from attack. We will have enough internal strife: riots are coming in the big blue cities.

            The world is up for grabs; expect hundreds of millions of deaths. The world is unlikely to become more democratic. It won’t be safer.

          • james warren

            The laws are rarely read because the activity of every legislator is to get on the phones 24/7 and get money. If the lawmakers themselves were serious about what they are supposed to do they would read those bills instead of adding amendments and pork.

            Maybe they just “don’t have the time” to study their work or have their staffs look at it. But they sure make it a point not to work too many days a month, either.

            Is that fascism? Well, if you are going to label it such, then there’s really no point to learn or dig down deeper, is there? It’s bureaucracy and inefficiency. That’s a given with large behemoths like governments which are not run by shareholders and executives. That’s why I voted for Ross Perot. He was the first politician I have ever heard that made any sense. And Ralph Nader has been up against the elite power brokers all his career. He hit the money on the head when he focused on the corporations as barriers to democracy.

          • louis_wheeler

            Yes, it is Fascism. I suggest that you read Jonah Goldberg’s book, “Liberal Fascism.” Fascism is the belief that there should be no limits on state power. Special interest groups vie to determine what the government will do based on the Majority Rule.

            Since different groups will prevail inside a country, the character of a Fascist state varies. Italian Fascism is different from a NAZI regime which is different from a Peronist or an American one.

            Ralph Nader may be against corporations, but he was not in favor of free markets, either. He was also wrong about the effects of population growth or how technology would prevent mass starvation. His attacks were indiscriminately on all corporations, not just the cronies. His attack on the Chevy Corvair was dishonest and absurd, since it was no more dangerous than other small cars, such as the Volkswagen.

            Don’t get me started on how corrupt and stupid congress is. Neither of us has enough time to cover the topic.

          • james warren

            You are using unfair communication techniques here. When you say “…how corrupt and stupid congress is” I have a difference of opinion with you. You are not being honest or realistic. There is independent evidence that there are some real standouts this year and they are doing their level best to represent their constituents. It is unfair to tar groups with a broad brush, I have found. I don’t like it when others do it and I try not to do it myself. Just my opinion, guy. But words and communication DOES matter. Like I said, try to pay attention to the EFFECTS of our communication on others. When I talk about the saying of Jesus I sometimes ask in mounting frustration to “please tell me all about the LOGS in your own eye.” I am not perfect (talk to my wife on that!) but I try to be accountable for my own hypocrisy, racism, childish emotional responses, etc.
            I think we start out at a pretty much perfect place when we get a bit of humility and start understanding other people have different “truths” than we do. If we can find a person’s truth and then use our God-given imagination to explore some possibilities of what their truth could be true of, we are well on our way to having a better life talking, listening and working things out so both sides will get a good agreement.

          • louis_wheeler

            I said not to get me started on that topic. I could clearly define what I meant by these terms and give you copious examples, but let’s not. There is very little either of us can do about current politics. Major changes would be necessary to change Congress’s behavior. I think that is coming, but I don’t know when.

            You are right that there are good people in Washington, and I appreciate what they do. But, we might disagree on who they are. Remember, that I value small government and there are very few people in Washington working toward this cause in either party.

          • james warren

            You are right, Louis, There are good people. Most of us “are,” I think.
            If there were no good people in Washington, we would probably be sending liberals to the ovens and making sure we were doing everything our overloads want us to do.

            We still have to deal with this potential, but I just refuse to see it as black and white as you do… It’s too hopeless and disempowering. I would have to retreat into the Wyoming wilderness and buy canned goods.

          • louis_wheeler

            Can we agree that the political classes have frozen America into an unproductive condition? That each party is fighting for its prerogatives and nothing is being done to fix our real problems? Hence, both parties may have the best intentions, but their actions are counter productive.

            Neither side is listening to the American people. And a propaganda war is ongoing so it is hard for ordinary people to understand who is correct. The two sides are in stalemate and only an outside force can correct things.

            I really suggest that you watch the Margaret Thatcher documentary I recommended. There are lessons to be learned.

            The Tory and Labor parties had bollixed England’s political system. There was apparantly no alternative until Margaret came along. Labor had nationalized industries and Britain’s economy was in terrible shape. The Tories were aristocrats (toffs) intent on preserving their social order. No third way was allowed for ambitious working class people. Both parties were hidebound and grasping. Neither party valued freedom or listened to the people.

            The Right and Left Progressives have accomplished the same situation in America. The Obama administration wants to create a Social Democracy here. The Right Progressives want to maintain their social class distinctions. Where do the Americans, who want neither case, have a say?

          • james warren

            Jesus had a unique voiceprint as well as a vision of what he called the Kingdom of God. Or RULE of God as many researchers translate the term. What would the world be like if God sat on the throne instead of Caesar?

            He spoke of the existence and in-breaking of the Kingdom in parables and short, arresting sayings. He did not offer propositional theology. His stories and actions challenged the default world of first century politics, religion and culture. Picking up his cross in response to his life, death and resurrection is not for the faint of heart.

            It has become fairly easy for me to find the real differences between the Jesus who walked his talk on the dusty roads in Palestine from the larger than life legend that the early church settled on and preached. Being born of a virgin, being elevated to terms like Messiah, Son of God, dying for the sins of mankind were the same things that the Roman Emperors did. The coins showed Caesar coming from the heavens as well.

            This character Jesus was a healer and an earthly presence that shows the value and necessity of referring to him after his death in elevated, worshipful terms. Unfortunately, he has been reduced to being an icon. He was an iconoclast though.

            No manifestation of democracy and the voting that ensures having good leaders has never resulted in a system where one part of society makes sure the large part of society sits around and does not work. Most people want to do work and want to do meaningful work. Even the elites find something to keep them busy and contributing to themselves and the nation. People need to feel responsible. Because they struggle to gain a foothold that will leave them with dignity does not mean they are lazy and wanting to be taken care of. I have met many who at one time in their lives relied on food stamps and food banks. Did they enjoy it? Of course they didn’t. But that safety net ensures opportunity for everyone who needs help. I think it is my fear of “the other” which makes it easy to de-humanize and dismiss the poor and the hungry.

            They need to be healed. They deserve the healing they took birth for. I have been blessed by this healing. It took religion, 12 step work and counseling. And it was not easy. But worth it. Nothing can stop me now. Jesus was a socially promiscuous healer who actually ate with and consorted with the human trash of his day. When our dinner guests don’t show up, we can take a lesson from his parable about taking to the streets and inviting whoever is out there inside.

          • louis_wheeler

            “What would the world be like if God sat on the throne instead of Caesar?”

            I don’t like either on the throne. I don’t like the idea of a vengeful God or one controlling the police. God seems to have his own plans which we are not wise enough to perceive. The universe may be more strange and wonderful than we can understand yet.

            I disapprove of democracy; it always devolves into tyranny when the population learns it can vote itself benefits. The Founders set up a constitutionally limited republic, but that only lasted a hundred years.

          • james warren

            Jesus’ vision of God was like a loving father. He alone used the term “Abba,” which was a term of endearment to the father in the family. He apparently knew a God who did not play favorites, was non-violent, and demonstrated his kingdom in the everyday ways of life–baking bread, attending a celebrator meal, sowing seeds in a field, etc.

            And democracy has nothing to do with collective ownership. No rational American person or collection of persons is suggesting no private property rights, unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.

            No one complains about our socialist police force or our socialist military.

            Democracy is a system in which We the People is not only heard in government, it IS the government. The means of production and distribution of services and goods needs to continue to be privately owned. But just as certainly, We the People must take back our government. This will remove us from Mussolini’s corporate state and adequately protect us from the possibility of socialism and fascism. It will leave us in the “radical middle” place of a constitutionally limited democratic republic: a modern democracy.

          • louis_wheeler

            Ah, I like the illustration of God as a loving father, but do you understand how different that made Jesus from the Pharisees? They wanted a vengeful God smiting their foes.

            Again, United States was never a democracy, it was a constitutionally limited republic. It is not even that now. There is only a pretense of the rule of law.

            “No rational American person or collection of persons is suggesting no private property rights, unequal distribution of goods and pay according
            to work done.”

            Not yet, but that is where the Obama administration would take us: a tyranny. It is Spreading the wealth around, then it is enslaving the capable.

            “No one complains about our socialist police force or our socialist military.”

            I’ve heard it often on the right about singular abuses of federal authority. The examples are too numerous to mention now. The Police State is being slowly erected.

            “Democracy is a system in which We the People is not only heard in government, it IS the government.”

            The Founders feared a democracy, because it soon turns into a tyranny. What you speak of sound like a NAZI regime, where the titles of ownership remains nominally in a person’s hands, but all rights to control your person, property or business is in the hands of the state. No thanks.

            People need to own and control themselves and their property, or you merely create a new tyranny.

          • james warren

            Barry Hussein is no socialist. As with any complex political idea, socialism means different things to different people. But there are core concepts in socialist politics that are easy to identify, including (1) worker control over the nature and conditions of their work; (2) collective ownership of the major capital assets of the society, the means of production; and (3) an egalitarian distribution of the wealth of a society.

            Obama has never argued for such principles, and in fact consistently argues against them, as do virtually all politicians who are visible in mainstream U.S. politics.

            This is hardly surprising, given the degree to which our society is dominated by corporations, the primary institution through which capitalism operates.

            Obama is not only not a socialist, he’s not even a particularly progressive capitalist. He is part of the neo-liberal camp that has undermined the limited social-democratic character of the New Deal consensus, which dominated in the United States up until the so-called “Reagan revolution.” While Obama’s stimulus plan was Keynesian in nature, there is nothing in administration policy to suggest he is planning to move to the left in any significant way. The crisis in the financial system provided such an opportunity, but Obama didn’t take it and instead continued the transfer of wealth to banks and other financial institutions begun by Bush. Looking at his economic advisers, this is hardly surprising. Naming neo-liberal Wall Street boys such as Timothy Geithner as secretary of the treasury and Lawrence Summers as director of the National Economic Council was a clear signal to corporate America that the Democrats would support the existing distribution of power and wealth. And that’s where his loyalty has remained.

          • louis_wheeler

            I agree. Obama is not a Socialist. Technically, he is a Fascist, but most people on the left do not know, or pretend not to know, how to define what that means.

            He is a Leftist Progressive, which is an American form of Fascism. What is confusing is that there are Right Progressives, as well. Both groups push big government, but they have different special interest groups and goals. The Right Progressives, in the Republican Party leadership, hate the TEA Party and any group which favors smaller government. Boehner and Graham are Right Progressives.

            In a similar way, there are market entrepreneurs and a political entrepreneurs. The latter are crony capitalists who seek government favors. They are the big corporations you speak out against. But, not all corporations do evil actions; they try to deliver good products at reasonable prices; they try to compete against the cronies. It’s hard to know who to oppose without a scorecard.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8k2PcA0e7Ek

            Naturally, the Right Progressives do not wish you to see them as they are, so they wrap themselves in the flag and any popular conservative memes. You can only tell them by what they do.

          • james warren

            People who are afraid of navigating the rapids of change the world is experiencing have changed the definitions. Mussolini was the head of a fascist regime and it was always defined as a merger of big business and government.
            Using this standard, our government today is rife with corporate influence and Dark Money behind the scenes.

            The word “homosexual” (having nothing to do with the first-century definition–it has to do with male on male aggression or sexual rites in pagan temples–but the word was stuck into the King James Bible in the 30s or 40s. And King James was apparently a homosexual himself!

            The idea that the Founders created America to protect the wealth of rich white men is another lie. The signers of our founding documents made great personal sacrifices. They literally lost their lives, their fortunes and their honor during the war. They didn’t send other people’s children to fight in it. Many of the conservative Tory families still have considerable wealth and power (in Canada and England) not a single Founder’s family persists today as a wealthy or dominant political force.

          • louis_wheeler

            I am a classical liberal – a freedom seeker. I am not a fascist. I would much prefer a Jefferson small government, a free market with little governmental interference in my life.

            I have no problem with homosexuals, so long as they keep their business private. What I dislike is when the homosexual activists imply that this lifestyle is normal. It is not. Only about 1 to 2 percent of American have this exclusive sexual practice. Should they set the standard for everyone else? No.

            Homosexuals are not victims; nor do they deserve special privileges. Everyone of us have our special sins which tempts us. Usually, it is a sin will shorten our lives or alienate us from other people. Before AIDS, homosexuals had a life expectancy of 52 when a normal male lived twenty years more.

          • james warren

            There are homosexuals everywhere. All through history. And all through nature, as we have recently found out. It is normal. It occurs within the spectrum of human behavior. Some become gay, some are born gay. That’s simply the facts and nothing will change that until we find “a gay gene.”

            If we do not treat them as less than human, as sinners, as dirty people doing dirty things, there would be no reason for them to ever feel victimized.

          • louis_wheeler

            We must disagree on this. There is no Gay Gene; it is a developmental error.

            A small percentage of mammals in experiments, sheep in this case, show homosexual behavior in rut. Scientists have been able to eliminate this behavior through hormone therapy during gestation.

            Male and female brains develop differently. When hormones are lacking for a male fetus, the brain of a potential homosexual winds up somewhere in between a man and a woman’s. Not everyone with this deficiency becomes homosexual though, experience and culture do matter. If a person believe that homosexual acts are a sin, they never have their first experience.

            Naturally, the homosexual community resists this information. They don’t like the idea that expectant mothers would insist on a $25 hormone lozenge to placed under their skin. They don’t want to become obsolete.

          • james warren

            I resist information as well–as we all do when it seems misguided or makes no sense to us. If anything is seen as a “deficiency” it tends to become labeling.

            Sheep are only one species.

            http://www.amazon.com/Biological-Exuberance-Homosexuality-Diversity-Stonewall/dp/031225377X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389150564&sr=8-1&keywords=homosexuality+in+nature

            Note the “Stonewall” word. This is the name of a gay bar or something. So this could conceivably be all lies.

            http://www.amazon.com/Same-Sex-Unions-Premodern-Europe-Boswell/dp/0679751645/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389150651&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=same+sex+uniions

            It’s always a good idea to read the readers’ comments. It helps balance out any ideology sneaking in.

          • louis_wheeler

            What this info does is provide an alternative explanation to the Gay Gene, which makes no scientific sense. Homosexuality would become a birth defect such as a cleft lip or a height deficiency. It may be a personal affliction, but it is not a social issue.

            I would prefer to live in a society that is polite enough that people do not harass those afflicted.

            Of course, we have no conclusive proof of this contention; there are no human studies. The Hormone lozenge is so cheap, that many mothers would choose to have it inserted, just in case. It is unlikely do them or their child harm; the body only takes what is needed. But, the Left, on the homosexual’s behalf, do not publicize this information. It will get out. It will just take longer.

            As I said, I have no problem with homosexuals, just their public relations campaign. If someone doesn’t force me to know that they are a homosexual, it’s no skin of my nose.

            From a Christian perspective, homosexual acts are a sin. I see no reason for that to change, because sex outside a marriage, blessed by god, is a sin. There are reasons for that which have to do the moral degradation which our culture is experiencing. I’m not a Catholic, but an unmarried clergy seems prone to corruption. Why place temptation in people’s path?

          • james warren

            Since the left progressives are fascist, then they don’t deserve to be heard or even to vote, do they?

            Like I said, once we demonize a person or an entire group they become less than normal, less than human. And we can easily call them names or rise up physically against them. Why bother with them? They are human trash.

            Then we can easily put them on railroad cars and get them away from our sight.

          • louis_wheeler

            Of course, left progressives can vote, but they shouldn’t lie about what they want. They should not dishonestly attack their opponent’s motives.

            I am not demonizing them. I am telling you in clear language what they want — power. They want to use the government to control everyone else. Shouldn’t someone object to that?

            The American tradition was to leave people alone. We would have charities and public service societies to help our neighbors. But, we wouldn’t stick our noses in other people’s faces.

            The Fascists want the government to make everything compulsory which isn’t forbidden. That is tyranny. I don’t want to live like that.

            I am a classical liberal — an individualist. I’d never put people in box car or kill them.

          • james warren

            Got it. Liberals lie about what they want (Because they use political speech to translate their human wants and needs–just like conservatives?) and they “dishonestly attack” their opponents?

            Welcome to history and human nature.

            I wish there was more charity. I get tired of trying to make the decision to give a little money or food to a homeless person get put in a position of helping myself or helping others.

            I guess I stick my nose into other people. I stop and talk and listen with the homeless if I can quiet my mind enough to make the effort. I find out how they are and where they sleep. How they are surviving. And a few times I have invited them to join me getting some fast food. The ones who are alcoholic don’t ever take me up on that one. But I see alcoholism as separate from moral character. I know lots of people don’t.

            I was just saying once we judge others as “less than” we can treat them pretty much how WE want, how WE decide is the “fair” way what WE decide is “good for them.” Just to be aware of the power imbalance and how it can be exploited….

            I suppose this makes me Marxist. That’s another thing. There are still some of us fighting the Cold War and trying to resurrect the bogey man that was such a part of our consciousness back then. Getting to stand up against any sort of thing that can be tied to the communists or the Nazis seems to be a goal for too many these days. We have our OWN enemies to fight and I see them as WITHIN, not outside our borders.

          • louis_wheeler

            Politicians and activists lie; It’s part of the job description.

            I’m not talking about the ordinary democrat; they are mostly confused. They hear all these accusations about the Conservatives. The way that the Right act is that the Leftists are wrong, the Left says that we are evil.

            America is the most generous country in the world and we have the expense of the Welfare System on top of that.

            The problem I see is a lack of freedom. One side or the other is trying to push people into molds, boxes. They aren’t allowing people to receive the fruits of their labors or make up their own minds.

            Marxism leads to death and privation where ever it is tried. It causes you to place you life, your health, your means of supporting yourself and all your property into the hands of the state. Then, you must trust that you won’t become a state outlaw like the Kulaks. Marxism does not have a good track record.

            No, I’d rather take care of me, than rely on someone else. When I can be sure I will survive, I will support a family. When I grow rich enough, I can take care of those people around me who are in need. I can get involved in community projects and afford to pay for police and military to protect us.

            A person is needed to create wealth; the state can only distribute it. Marxism destroys the capability to create wealth and eliminates the reason he should work hard to do so.

          • james warren

            I am confused as well. Some I will gladly be responsible for but some of it I attribute to my finite mind trying to learn and digest the infinite flood of information and misinformation around me.

            I agree about Marxism. It is a failure because the world has long moved on from the small, utopian experiments and the authoritarian revolutions in the 19th and 20th century. These days, because of the instantaneous feedback loops the world is experiencing (and our own human behavior produces feedback, too) Marxism and communism cannot stand up in a global public very long.

            It and fascism are inventibly headed for the dustbin of history.

          • louis_wheeler

            I hope this horror of Socialism and Fascism is ending.

            But, we still have another problem. Progressivism was developed as a third way between the civil society (a free market) and communism. It is not yet defeated. It assumes that people cannot control, and thus moderate, their own behavior. Therefore, someone must use force to make them change their ways.

            Progressivism is a form a paternalism. It replaces the position of a father with the government. So, no one will get an education unless the government makes it so. No one will have harmonious relations on a job, unless the government regulates it. No deals will be made unless the government controls it. No one will control their pleasures unless the government steps in. No one will live in nice housing unless the state makes it so. Damages to environment will be avoided only if the state intervenes. Social problems can never be cured by the participants. so the state must decide.

            No, the history is that when the state intervenes, costs are higher, the solution is poorer and the people involved are more unhappy. Given a condition of a free or a partly free society, people will move to the former. They vote with their feet.

            This is happening now in America. Chicago lost 600 thousand people to the suburbs or to another state which has fewer taxes and less regulation. This is why 7 to 9 members of the House of Representatives moves to the Red States every census.

          • james warren

            I agree, but I know without further discussion that you have a fear of “paternalism” that has been the obvious scourge of ideological angst and suspicion deliberately spread to the public by powerful activist groups.

            Based on my own experience with my own daughter and childhood development research I have found that Father Knows Best, authoritarian, patriarchal family dynamics are defective. They are what is left of decaying divine right of kings. These are the family values that Jesus made such savage attacks on in the gospel, and he did it very, very often.

            We produce destructive people by the way we are treating them in childhood.
            It has always been interesting to me to realize the reason parents mistreat their children has little to do with temperament than the fact that they were mistreated as children and unwittingly passed it down to their own children.
            It is still hard for people to see that every persecutor was once a victim, yet it has become obvious to me and billions of others that someone who was allowed to be free and strong in childhood does not have the need to smack or humiliate another person. Or treat them as “less than.”

            Sadism is not an infectious disease that happens before birth or all of a sudden. It always results from the desperate fantasies of children who searchers for a way out of a sometimes desperate situation. I cannot tell you the times I have heard an adult say about being hit as a child: “I deserved it” or “I had it coming to me.” This is the normal pattern. As we get older and have tried to consciously forget how blindsided and revengeful and angry when disrespected by the adults in our life who were supposed to protect us and nurture us, we “forgive” our parents so that we ourselves won’t have to dig around in the past too deeply.

            When we can teach our children the names of the emotions that rise up inside them and help them learn to express them in respectful more adult ways they will live happier and more functional lives. I see this over and over again.

            Paternalism and laziness are part of growing up in a culture that puts emphasis on selfishness. The good intention behind selfishness is to take hold of a good life that is slipping away. It comes from the panic of being thrown into metaphysical panic as children.

            We treat others the way we ourselves have been treated. It is no accident that Hitler and Musollini were raised up the old fashioned way. Saddam Hussein murdered his teacher in high school. We all have the scars of mistreatment and neglect and have to make our own peace with them.
            Unfortunately, others in our lives get the brunt of such inhumanity.

            So the large scale inhumanity will always have an effect on the next generation. Luckily schools are beginning to teach negotiation and mediation and collaborative problem-solving. That takes learning better ways to communicate our feelings to ourselves and others. Maybe it will do some lasting good after awhile.

          • louis_wheeler

            It depends on what you want to achieve. If you want to create a dependency in your child, so they are forever under your thumb, then paternalism is appropriate. If you want them to grow up and become independent to make appropriate decisions on their own, it is not.

            Discipline is not necessarily harmful to a child, so long as they know that you love them. They must know that any discipline you give is milder than the punishment which they will receive from the world. Ultimately, you want them to discipline themselves.

            But, I was speaking about Progressivism, where there is no love. Furthermore, it is antithetical to citizen sovereignty. The United States Republic was founded on the idea that the source of authority over America was in the common citizen. The more that the Progressives infantilize us, by not allowing us to receive the fruits of our labor, the more tyranny is produced.

            The goal of Progressivism is, in Alexis De Tocqueville terms, “Soft Despotism.” Harder authoritarian and communist attacks had failed in America, even among the working classes, so a softer attack, based on lies and political patronage, was needed. De Tocqueville prophesied that this was how the US would be destroyed, corrupted from within.

            The Authoritarian and Communist regimes of Europe were not the fault of poor parenting. It was an Aristocratic backlash against the Liberal Society and Representative government. It is no accident that the creator of the Welfare State was Otto von Bismarck, a German Junker, a Prussian aristocrat. He was frightened by Communism, so he created a social system with neither freedom nor security, merely the pretense of both.

            A tiny percentage of any population are evil. What matters is the social framework they must work within. Before the enlightenment, aristocrats, prone to evil, were restrained by the church and tradition. As the church’s influence waned, so did its moral strictures.

            Rousseau’s presumption was that men were naturally good in the state of nature. This rejection of original sin released the beast in men. The French Revolution was persuaded by Rousseau to end the limitations on the state by tradition and the church. This unleashed the Reign of Terror. Leftist theorists never learned the lesson that you can only tell how civilized a man is by what he won’t permit himself to do.

            Continental Europe did not have the English tradition of representative government, except for tiny Holland. Authoritarians were slowly persuaded to end the limits on power. The result was the NAZI and the Soviet regime’s.

            Powerful people in Europe were offended by America’s citizen sovereignty, and continually attempted to destroy it. Direct attempts failed, as did subversion. By the 1860s, a crony capitalist class had developed. The Europeans used them to change America toward a welfare state and they succeeded.

            The welfare state is collapsing in Europe and America. Europe is likely to get another Napoleon, Hitler or Stalin. The Obama administration will attempt to do the same here, but it is unclear what the results will be. Americans are not as naturally slavish as the Europeans.

          • james warren

            My experience tells me that Father Knows Best dynamics are harmful. All kids learn is to locate authority outside themselves. They get hoodwinked by liberal teachers and get led astray by their drug-smoking peers. I have found that treating my daughter with fairness and respect did wonders. Instead of saying “What a pig! Can’t you ever pick up your clothes in your pigstye” I would say (and get down on her eye-level: “I am really frustrated that you leave your socks on the floor of your room. Can we figure out a way to solve the problem for both of us?” In the first instance, my daughter thinks “Dad says I am a pig.” In the second instance, she thinks “Dad is frustrated.” Those parents who treat their children as human equals will have grown kids who respect their fellow humans. I think kids should be home-schooled and pulled out of junior high and peer behavior. That’s the time my former wife and I made sure our daughter was around adults and could learn to talk and listen to mature ideas and subjects.

            I see a lot of damaged children around. Unfortunately they are still referred to as “adults.” They don’t think rationally, cannot problem-solve or negotiate and they cannot control their childhood emotions. They were never taught or never modeled functional adult behavior.

          • louis_wheeler

            Yes, people need respect, love and standards. The standards are often what is missing now in this hang loose, “if it feels go, do it” culture. People need to know that they can be better than they are. They can be civilized, that is, control their passions. That doing so allows them to build for the future.

          • james warren

            Oh, I agree. I just see it in a different sense. Self-control is essential and luckily more children than not are taught that. Unfortunately, too many parents teach their kids to control themselves by actually controlling them.

            Suddenly blindsiding anyone with a smack violently destroys their sense of freedom and innocence and openness at the time. I remember how I felt when I was abused or disciplined and I made darn sure I did not do the same to my daughter. And I remember being hit by other kids and seen other adults hit each other.I taught her to pay attention to her own good sense and values and not to follow anyone else’s just because they were “in authority”–either other adults or their peer group.

            Discipline should always be self discipline. We shouldn’t have to mentally abuse ourselves to help us preserve small town values. We should be encouraged and guided to follow the example of a loving, patient parent. Just like a baby duck will follow the first thing it recognizes–even humans–human children have to see the first thing they recognize as respectful and loving.

            Kids can pick up angry feelings, whether they are expressed in the open or stuffed inside wanting to get out.

          • louis_wheeler

            It’s not the violence we experience as children, but what lesson we
            learned from it. If we learned that we were unloved, then any blow was
            magnified.

            We all get tested by God and life. Sometimes, we fail, but that’s okay, if learn the lesson. We must forgive other people if we intend to be around them. We must forgive ourselves in order to live with ourselves.

            Human Beings are imperfect creatures and that is good. Because this allows us to change and grow. We can learn to hold ourselves to a higher standard. We can say, “I had to go though that travail, because I refused to learn any other way.”

          • james warren

            I agree totally. You might be glad to realize you can explain yourself and another person can feel like s/he has understood you and can empathize, as well as generally agree with you.

            I don’t feel very confident in being able to come across to you the way I would like. That’s why I suggested a beer! A good friend can make me an alcoholic.
            Or could a few decades ago! :)

          • james warren

            I wish you knew some of the folks I am glad to call my friends. They are honest, hard-working and loyal. They are doing the best they can with the information and beliefs they have. If they need help from the government, they take advantage of the taxes and effort they have put into things. I had to spend away my 401K (which did great under that nasty communist no-good!) on my stepdaughter’s mental illness and drug addictive recovery and then spend $40,000 every month for two months on end stage kidney disease treatment.
            I now have some help from that dreaded “safety net” and I am damned proud and damned lucky to get it. I know some people who are really suffering now through no “fault” of their own, as far as I can see it.

          • louis_wheeler

            We need helping agencies. But using the government is not the best way to do it.

            It would be helpful if we had a robust economy creating wealth, but the more the government interferes, the less wealth creation there is. We are becoming rather poor and this limits our options. It means that people, in the next decade, will be pushed to the edge and over.

            I’m of an age where I can be philosophical about my chances. But, me staying alive means I get a chance to help others.

          • james warren

            My hope, too, is that people’s imagination will open to a diversity of solutions. I think too many of us can’t see beyond government. I have seen partnerships between national solutions and local solutions that come together for solutions that seem to actually work–in some situations, of course.

            Reality is complex and one solution does not always work in all areas or in all cases. MLK and others said the old War on Poverty never really got the funding it was started with because the VietNam war needed the money. I was told that poverty went down when the programs were first started. But like you probably think, who really knows why that happened?

            I think and believe now that A plus B leads to C logic does not reflect reality anymore like it may have in the 1900s and in the 2000s. Things have gotten more complex and so have we.

            I thought the other day that since violence is being reduced all over the world, the information that most serial killers kill animals when they are young is one more fact that we are slowly learning to do some early intervention with these people who have no capacity to imagine or practice empathy. That’s a good sign, I think.

            But Louis, what else do you expect from a conservative like me who is a real Pollyanna these days? :)

          • louis_wheeler

            Unfortunately, neither you nor I can determine events. So long as the destructive trends are in play, people have no incentive wake up. If you reward people for self destructive acts, then you get more of them. Using violent means, such as the government, does not seem to work.

            I must rely on the idea that God has a plan. That this can no longer continue. It’s hard, but necessary, to learn the error of our ways. Some people, who are closer to God and not as tempted by Mammon, will have an easier path through the coming ordeals. But, no one will escape unscathed.

            You think like a therapist. I do not. I am willing to let people be free, so long as they do not hurt other. They can be who they are and receive the fruits of their labors. The major influence in their lives is themselves. They can do great things if they stop being self destructive. But, no one can force improvement on them.

            I’m not judging them; I have my own sins I struggle with.

          • james warren

            Darn! I wish you hadn’t mentioned that I cannot determine events. I hate to be humbled like that, guy! (just a joke I hope you noticed). I too rely on my faith. The translation for that word in Jesus’ day, I have read, was the word “trust.”
            It had nothing to do with belief because Jesus and most Jews did not “believe” in God. They didn’t have to! But they lived in a culture that lived to KNOW God from their birth.

            I am still curious about how you conclude that I “think” like a therapist. It has always been an interesting thing that we often guess at other’s motives or think we can read their minds and are–at least I am–almost always wrong. I guess I am just surprised at hearing that from you.

            Please do not make a snap judgement that anyone who thinks like a therapist is not principled. All sorts of people are principled and some are not. It shouldn’t have anything to do with what their job is, should it really?

            BTW, here’s something a little strange. If you separate the word “therapist” it becomes “the rapist.” That actually happens more time than not, although to me it is the mindset that takes advantage of people in weakness. Politicians do the same thing with the public. They watch the public pulse and can tell just when to say the right word the right way and bamboozle us again.

          • louis_wheeler

            I have been slow to change my opinion about you being a therapist. So, let me explain what I meant.

            I want to give people the benefit of the doubt. I don’t want to judge them, but I can judge how they act. I can point out the effects of their beliefs. Sorry, if that sounds harsh.

            Does a person seem to excuse harmful acts? Their’s or others? Not good, in my book.

            A therapist must not be judgmental with their patients, because the patient will be turned off. Nor can they imply that the patient’s belief is appropriate. They can’t be direct. They have to walk around the corner, verbally, to try to get the patient to see the results of their actions. They must ask innocent sounding questions to get at the patient’s erroneous concepts.

            You seem to do the same thing.

            I am blunt, but that comes from treating you like an adult. You ought to able to defend what you believe. If you can’t, then look for a better defense. If no defense works, then think about giving up that belief. That is being intellectually honest. Put it all on the line.

          • james warren

            I am putting myself on the line every day. It is the only way I have found to live with any integrity. I cannot pretend to be someone I am not and if you judge me a therapist, then I obviously am to you. But I am not to my wife or my friends, as far as I know. I recently checked in with my wife to have back at me on that and she doesn’t pick it up. Maybe that’s because I am not perfect. Marriage has made me humble, I guess, and when I am online I get to thinking I know everything and know exactly what people need and what they don’t.

            One time awhile I ago I was remembering something I wrote to you and I was in bed at the time and felt such shame I put the covers over my head for a few seconds. I don’t remember what it was now. I am just glad I have second thoughts once in awhile, even if my pride prevents me from always admitting it.

          • louis_wheeler

            I said that this was how I interpreted your debate technique. I now understand that I was in error.

          • james warren

            Or I could very easily be unconscious of my technique and you could be right.

          • louis_wheeler

            It’s how we learn to communicate with each other. We rub off each other rough spots.

          • james warren

            Hmmmm…. Thought I didn’t have any rough spots. If you won’t talk to my wife about it, you will see I am absolutely right.

          • james warren

            I have really had problems with ideological talking points made by people who cannot even PRETEND that they are giving conservatives a fair hearing and some understanding of where common ground is and where negotiation and good communication begin. Please don’t take away my hope for a better America. All I can say is my personal experience is that EVERYONE has damned good reasons why they do what they do and why they think and believe the way they do. We’re going to have to give others a break once in awhile. I expect it’s partly because we seldom give ourselves a break. We parrot the same tired disrespect and unfair dialogue to ourselves that we picked up in the past. I have worked as a volunteer mediator for three years and saw many breakthroughs–even to tears–of grown men and women who suddenly realized they were treating their disputants with the same unfairness and childish revenge fantasies they used as overwhelmed kids. And I don’t even GO for “psychotherapeutic techniques” for helping people learn how to talk to each other with fairness and respect.

            I have found that “either/or” or “black/white” generalizations are rarely useful for solving our common problems these days. They are absolutely toxic for this country today.

          • louis_wheeler

            I see little chance for a meeting of minds between the Left and conservatives, although notable Socialists and even Trotsky’s followers became conservatives. FA Hayek is a good example. A few on the right go the other way, but most Leftists become one in college since the Humanities were captured by left in the 1960s. Those converts to Conservatism had a fatal flaw: a belief in objective truth, that it was outside of themselves. They ran into theory which they could not reconcile with the evidence. Real is real, sometimes deadly so.

            Leftists and Conservatives have very different world views and different assessments of human nature. I see Leftists as being over socialized, indoctrinated and educated beyond their intelligence. Hence, their beliefs look like a false religion. Leftists are not the sort of person to test themselves, or honestly test out their opponents ideas. They don’t tend to place themselves out in raw nature where they could face a life or death situation.

            The situation in the humanities is that people don’t change even when there is conclusive proof. The Horrors of the 20th Century get their alibis. Beliefs are slow to change, in a profession advances in knowledge come when enough old fogies die off. Look at Plate Tectonics, there was ample proof in the 1950s, but it took 40 years for the hidebound to die off or retire.

            The old saw is true, “You can’t reason a person out of an opinion that they didn’t reason themselves into. Many people have little introspection. They often don’t know why they do what they do. They don’t ask themselves why they treat other people as they do. Sad.

            The next decade will be very hard. Many shibboleths and icons will be broken. But, the true believes will reject what is staring them in the face.

          • james warren

            I understand your cynicism. I often feel the same way. It’s no fun to feel hopeless and it affects my mood and actions in subtle ways. Maybe I am just more in touch with my own faults and human errors and so I can understand why others feel the ways THEY do. It is my experience (after a lot of hard work, paying attention to my life and practicing better ways to relate to others) that I see things differently than you and others do.

            I am not trying to blame you or put you or anyone else down. I am just trying to pass on some information and based on that, you should make your own best choice. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

            I know all too well of the times when I was absolutely sure that I knew what was going on, what someone else’s real intentions were, what was really going on and whether or not something was factually correct, deliberately or mistakingly wrong or just something I myself missed.

            This has kept me not only humble in what I try to do as a Christian, but keeps me alert and honest and responsible for my own faults and erroneous actions. I think everyone does things because what they are doing makes good sense to them at the time, and that if i consider the situation a little more, I can remember things I did (and do) that made sense to ME at the time–but weren’t.

            I saw on the news Governor Christie is being blamed by the left as being a thug and a dishonest partisan (they are careful to not come out and say that directly, but they certainly indicate that in every sentence by their voice tone and eye movements (check out Frank Lutz’s book on neurolinguistic programming–all about the clues picked up by watching a person’s eye movements!) and body language.

            But my point is, WHAT is the underlying good intention behind the governor’s actions? If it was political, then he was trying to advance his agenda in the best way he knows how. ALL politicians do this in one way or another. What is the intention behind the way he is doing that? Well, to me it is not an evil or bad intention, because I am willing to give everyone the same break (unless I am angry or feeling hopeless about things). Governor Christie’s office made some traffic study that tied up cars in a rival mayor’s city. But maybe his intention was to do a traffic study and it got out of hand (I don’t know, I would have to talk to him and his staff and make up my own mind). Or maybe it was simply to be safe and popular within his own party or within his own need to be a successful leader.

            Is that evil or bad? Of course not. What was evidently bad here was he used less-than-perfect ways to carry out his underlying goals. I would never call him a “Nazi” because it superficially might look like something Hitler would have done. He is a human being just like the liberals who are against him now. He–like them–has good reasons for doing what he did (if he did do something bad or had bad aims).

            When we are bullied at home we tend to bully others when we get older.
            We were using that childish behavior to protect ourselves as children. We are all born into families that require us to cope in them as best we can. And if we feel revenge and anger, some kid’s behavior will be bullying. But they acting out and expressing a lot of strong emotions they have never been taught how to recognize and learn to handle. Maybe Christie IS “a bully.” But that should not matter. What should matter is the result of that bullying and if he can be made to realize he is just hurting others out of revenge he will maybe understand what he is in fact really doing.

            Like I said, this is ME. I am not blaming anyone and I would not presume to tell anyone how to live their life, what to think, what to do (THAT, to me, is fascism or communism). All I can do is live my life and understand that the other 7 billion I share DNA with have their own framework and structure to see reality–just as I do. My life has been unbelievably good and solid since I have been able to recognize this.

            I would have never raised a remarkable daughter, I would have never been able to work around misshapen and suffering cancer patients and their families, I would have never become a mediator, I would have never even considered studying to be a drug/alcohol counselor (until I left school before I finished…. I was working in an adolescent treatment center and found I could not work with teenagers so before my life became easier for me I gave up too soon.

            Was that a dysfunctional thing to do? Quite while I was ahead? Well, it was the way I used to live my life then. My intention was to protect myself and I had no way then of talking to my supervisor and getting help or finding another job. I gave up because I thought I was no good instead of finding out what my problem was and dealing with that.

            I am just glad I am different now and I just wish I had learned how to live like this 50 years ago! I had a lot of bad luck that I was unable to deal with like a functional adult.

          • louis_wheeler

            It’s not cynicism; it’s realism. Some people don’t learn from the experiences of others. They need a whack upside the head, and God, or life, will provide it.

            The one thing that the Left tries to do is to prevent “the chickens from coming home to roost.” That is, allowing people to learn the errors of their ways. They do this, mostly, to keep themselves from earning the fruits of their labors, good or bad. They use the government to rob Peter to pay Paul, to keep Paul from waking up. They crowd into the “Entitlement agencies” and pay themselves rather well.

            I always found Cris Christie amusing. He was blunt where other politicians were weaselly. In a corrupt and trade unionized state like New Jersey, he seemed to be doing some good. He was attacking politically entrenched classes, such as the Teachers associations, the cops and municipal workers. But what else could he do? New Jersey was bankrupt.

            I can’t say I’ve liked his actions since Tropical Storm Sandy. but, I don’t like most politicians, anyway.

            We are not judged in life by our intentions, but by our actions and their consequences. If we are accomplishing nothing, then it usually means that we are using poor tactics. And we must learn new ways. Sometimes, we must look at someone who is successful and find out what they are doing and emulate it, if their tactics are moral.

          • james warren

            Louis! A “whack upside the head?” What violent metaphors we use! I am no different than other people in this culture of redemptive violence. I have read and studied that we talk about arguments this way because we conceive of them that way. And we all act according to the way we conceive things.

            I look for new metaphors, but it ain’t easy.

            I sure enjoy chatting back and forth with you. It would be neat to meet face to face the many online souls I run into on the Internet. I absolutely love getting together with a friend over a cold, cold beer in the early afternoon. And maybe a burger or two. I am getting lots of spam that is not going to my folder these days. I think it is because I ordered some books on Amazon and they sold my email. Maybe I can get around to Geek Squad at Best Buy and get them to help me out here.

            I like your ideas because they help sharpen mine and start looking at my ideas and feelings a bit more critically. I always tell my wife that if it weren’t for other people–especially those who challenge my beliefs–I would not learn anything new. I just don’t have the time to read your posts with the attention and lack of prejudice they demand, though. I am going through a bit of medical stuff and my wife isn’t here to help out.

            I did call her (she’s out of town) and asked her if she ever picked up the fact that I talk like a therapist or am trying to help everyone by diagnosing them or something. Finally she said not really, although she said she would give me one thing–I am sometimes (sometimes? how dare she!) a pretty good listener. Actually, I think, I am basically in it for myself, trying to help myself to better understand others. But I know you feel differently. If you catch me saying anything that leads you to conclude I am walking around like an intern looking for sore throats, it would help me if you could quote exactly what words I used or phrases I put down that point to that.

            Like I said, I can’t learn squat without other people–especially intelligent people–unless I can get constructive criticism. The less vague you can be about my argumentative shortcomings, the better. It sounds like I need to look to maybe changing a bit to improve myself.

            Sorry I might not always make the time to consider your every post. You are a prolific thinker and writer. My situation these days sort of stops me from spending awhile online because there is so much going on. We had an awful rainstorm and a big branch fell off one of our tall fir trees and almost hit our garden shed. I am at the age where I think twice about getting out in the rain to saw up the thing and get some help to cart it away.

            I feel like I get out to recess and there’s a whole new bunch on the playground. And they’re all too young! I guess I don’t trust many over 30 these days!

            I like your word “blunt” to describe Christie. I saw him immediately as a bully because we had two or three when I was in junior high years ago. But that doesn’t make him necessarily bad or evil. I agree that some of his behavior is not really good but most bullies are that way because they have a limited number of behaviors that have worked for them. He might have had a father who was a bully and grew up learning the language.

            Anyway, I turned to NBC to find out how the liberals are covering the story and they are having a group pirana fest. It makes me so frustrated. This is how most politicians act, dummies! Statesmen and politicians are different, but one can age into the other given time.

            Please keep in touch and I will try to catch up!

          • louis_wheeler

            You are being over sensitive. Vivid words have impact; they break though to hard heads. They shatter our preconceptions. They make people think. Unfortunately, those terms lose their impact by misuse. The left intentionally corrupts words to prevent an honest discussion. No better example is the word “Liberal” which meant freedom seeker, not statist.

            What I meant was that some people will continue to lie to themselves until they are placed in dire circumstances. Our enemies embrace violence, although they use a velvet glove over their iron fist. They lie until you are trapped.

            The enemy is also out of touch with reality, so that reality will strike back at them where they least expect it. These are not competent people, otherwise they wouldn’t love political methods. They hire leftist cronies and then wonder why they can’t get a webpage to work.

            In their defense, the Obama administration never expected that 30 states would refuse to build state insurance exchanges. If only a few states were incompetent, that could be excused. The failure of the federal exchange come back to haunt them.

          • james warren

            Words are in the Bible, too. If I am sensitive in an overly big way I don’t see it except for understanding other’s feelings. Of course when I studied neurolinguistic programming’s eye movement technology I was able to see some political lies come from a person’s face unbidden. There is a story of some aphasic patients who were laughing at either Reagan or Carter on television and the famous neurologist Oliver Sacks saw and heard them. They can see people’s facial expressions more than they can understand hearing the word’s meanings. It was an interesting episode.

            Anyway, I am not sensitive in the sense that I am deeply affected by others in a way that is crippling to me. It happens every day and I am just quick to admit it when I do so others will understand me. I guess I am sensitive to others who are in pain a lot. But as for being hurt, no, that is a danger some people fall into. It’s called something that starts with a “C” or “K” and has to do with focusing on others to an extent that it becomes unhealthy. I have learned that paying attention to myself is always best, even though the normal thing is to think it is selfish. But I have to be clear as to how I am feeling so I don’t throw it back on others.

          • louis_wheeler

            If we wish to be effective we must break through jargon. The Left are masters of propaganda.

            As I have said, I do not think that persuasion is possible in most cases. Minds are closed.

            What needs to happen is that conditions change. If we have a currency collapse, then the government will only have the money it can get through taxes. This is only a portion of what it is spending on programs now. This means that the officials must choose what is important. If they are like the Argentine government, they will act to protect themselves and lie, lie, lie.

          • james warren

            If you are afraid of the rabble, you can certainly see Nazis. When you realize that all human behavior has underlying good intentions (keep pellin’ ‘em back) then you can connect with others, form agreements and focus power together.
            Jefferson was a liberal, I expect, so you cannot take him seriously. He believed in the essential wisdom of democracy. In fact, democracy is a part of the natural world as well. Jefferson believed that a small collection of democracies could form a lasting republic. He and Franklin picked up a lot of their clues in the very effective Iroquois Confederacy.

            “The article nearest my heart” is how governments should be organized. “…the division of counties into wards. These will be pure and elementary republics, the sum of all which, taken together, composes the State, and will make of the whole a true democracy as to the business of the wards, which is that of nearest and daily concern.”

            He was also an early biblical blue-collar scholar:

            “…the church’s meddlings have caused good men to reject the whole in disgust.”

            Jefferson has lots of letters to friends where he was able to unburdened himself and not get bogged down in the political ideology of the day. He was savaged in the press when he ran for president. His ideas were so far beyond the normal outlook of the feudal horizons of his countrymen that he was actually a radical–meaning “root” of the new emerging nation.

          • louis_wheeler

            I am not afraid of the rabble, since I am one. My father was a welder and I was an engineer. Both Fascists and Communists tend to come from the upper middle classes, not working classes.

            Not everyone has good intentions; about 1% are sociopaths and psychopaths. Most people are good, but they often hold irrational beliefs. Sometimes, they are paid by a corrupt entity and it’s hard to bite the hand that feeds us.

            Jefferson was not a Liberal, in the modern sense, since they didn’t
            exist yet. He was an Agrarian; he represented the farmer class. He
            favored small, representative government with little federal power, which no modern day
            liberal does.

            In the Founder’s day, Liberal meant
            “freedom seeker.” But what happened was that politics had converted that word to mean “statist” by 1906.
            The Left Progressives took over the Democrat Party by
            that date.

            If you like Jefferson, then we have much in common. But, you are
            using the wrong words to describe him, though. I like his “ward” system, too. What it would do is limit the power of factions; the power would remain with the people in the small wards, who could refuse to support in taxes any expansive programs. But, he called it a TRUE democracy, because he knew that every other democracy soon became a tyranny.

            The two competing political groups in Jefferson’s age were the Agrarians and the Commercial classes. The Commercial classes wanted an expansive federal government, public improvements and a central bank which gave them easy loans. Jefferson did not.

          • james warren

            Damn. You keep making it hard to maintain an adversarial relationship with you.
            Don’t you understand? Everything I think and say is right and everything you think and say is wrong!

            Life’s easier that way.

            And you could shoot me, but you’d have to kill me first. :)

          • james warren

            Sometimes I don’t either but the human drama requires leaders now, and unless everyone becomes a fundamentalist libertarian, we will hopefully always have a democratic process to influence our destiny. I know libertarians want an unfettered power center but the people of the world are rising up in the Middle East and in the Tea Party to demand some dignity and respect from their leaders.
            Democracy is the way to go. But of course some might condemn me as a liberal on this but whatever others judge and label me is none of my business.

          • louis_wheeler

            You know that I, and the founders, saw democracy as a precursor to tyranny. We have enough tyranny now in America. We don’t want more.

            “I know libertarians want an unfettered power center but the people of
            the world are rising up in the Middle East and in the Tea Party to
            demand some dignity and respect from their leaders.”

            Please explain because no Libertarian I’ve met would make that statement.

            Yes, we need leaders, but what do we want them to do?

            I just finished watching “MARGARET THATCHER – Death of a Revolutionary”
            on YouTube. There are many parallels between England in the late 70s and America today.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VlcjyNwA10

            The Left and Right Progressives have sewn up the US politically much like the “Wet” Tories and the Labor party did in England. Both were satisfied with a very socialist country. Ambitious working class people had no political voice until Margaret gave them one.

          • james warren

            Sorry for the misunderstanding. You have judged me too hastily, I think. I had hoped to be precise and careful because I wrote “I know libertarians want…”
            First off, that is wrong. I should have said I “think” libertarians want. I don’t know what anyone really wants if I am honest about it. Second, I referred to libertarians in the third person because I don’t call myself a libertarian–even though I have and resonate with some of their ideas (as I understand them).

            I thought “Atlas Shrugged” was a hard book to read, save for the few sentences that could be used in an Ayn Rand quote book. I was really flabbergasted at Ryan’s apparent ignorance that she was a militant anti-Christian thinker. I think I read he had given everyone on his staff a copy of it. When he was confronted with the facts, he backed off a bit but since she was one of his mentors I was surprised he didn’t know that about her.

            She drives a hard bargain but she makes some great points. But the theology of objectivism says that government should only be concerned with protecting us with force. I see that as too one-dimensional, but then again all “isms” are but approximations and shorthand for complicated dynamics and unintended consequences of minute details and forces. Again, I don’t see any use anymore in using most labels–or at least taking them seriously.
            Nineteenth century thinking, I believe.

          • louis_wheeler

            The best way to think of Ayn Rand is as an anti-communist. She was 16 years old during the Russian Revolution. This meant that she internalized communism. She believed in it for a while until the horror of its actions hit home, and then, she developed a theory which was its opposite. The opposite of a falsehood is not necessarily the truth. Libertarians, thus, have many problems with Ayn and her philosophy.

            Libertarianism did not originate from Ayn Rand’s works, but from another source. After the second world war, it looked as though the Progressives had won. Books by Rose Wilder Lane and Isabel Paterson were instrumental in promoting a return to liberty. Few Libertarians would disagree with them, now.

            The best way to think of Libertarians is that they espouse non intervention, no involvement in other nations, the toleration of peaceful activities and freedom.

            Libertarians are unlikely to agree that because Western civilization is founded on Christian beliefs and practices, that they must embrace them.

            They are likely to agree with St Paul in Romans. But, they would reject many of the Catholic Church’s practices when it gained state power, centuries later.

            Catholic doctrine forbade infanticide, and by implication, abortion. While a Libertarian would forbid the former he would not, necessarily, the latter. As long as the fetus would die without the mother, and no one else could adopt it, the mother’s self ownership could deny a right of a fetus to inhabit her, against her will.

            A Libertarian would oppose late term abortions where a child could survive without the mother. Denying that child food and water is infanticide and should be punished as such.

          • james warren

            We have to deny food and water to others because the supply is truly limited. There is only so much we can do and we tend to armor up when our heartfelt feelings make us too open and vulnerable.

            Atomic physicist Niels Bohr said the opposite of a truth is merely a triviality, but the opposite of a profound truth is sometimes another profound truth.

            I have read and am friends with Libertarians, at least that’s what they think of themselves. But to me they seem alike in only broad ways. When they get together they argue like crows. Not always but when pinned down they really do.

            Hayek has a lot of good to say and he was a Randian, wasn’t he? Maybe I am mistaken but after he worked for FDR he discovered objectivism I thought.

          • louis_wheeler

            Denying food and water to an infant is child endangerment, if not murder. We can expect adults to find ways to feed and water themselves.

            But, many totalitarian regimes use food and water as a tactic of war. The Soviets killed 20 million Kulaks through starvation.

            I don’t believe Hayek was a Randian. The following article points out the differences which seem considerable.
            http://vimeo.com/65055978

            Libertarians are intellectuals; they love to argue minor points. There are a number of variants? Anarcho-capitalists, min-archists, small government advocates and progressives toward the minimal state. We don’t have many modern examples of how each would work in practice, so we must theorize.

          • james warren

            Pretty complex essay actually. I wonder if it is ignorance or shorthand that makes so many link the two.

          • louis_wheeler

            It seems clear that a Randian doesn’t think Hayek is a Randian.

          • james warren

            Got it. What about Randy thinking Heckuva is a Randolph?

          • james warren

            Besides the ebbing away of world violence and slaughter words such as “conservative,” “Libertarian” or “lefty” are being shown up for the dismal and shabby descriptions they really are. Rationalism, logic, either/or formulations do not work on our common problems any longer. The Western world is changing into a more spiritual existence that is decidedly more holistic and intuitive. It’s like the original pure hippie culture of the 60s and 70s. Or like LBJ’s “War on Poverty.” Those broad cultural changes never reached their tipping points because there was such a fearful backlash. I used to look at kids’ long hair with pure hatred. I was flummoxed by feminism, drug use acceptance and all the rest of the winds of change that buffeted us all. But I DID like the Beatles, even though I remember music reviews in Time that said “…slamming out a merciless beat, punctuated by nutty shouts of ‘yeah, yeah, yeah.’ ” That’s pretty much a memorized quote, but it opened my eyes to learn that most adults cannot open their eyes because we are on the way out and our kids don’t behave like we want them to. We are headed for that Big Blue Door and have to gather up all the clues we receive that point to our extinction. But I found that if I can meet new situations or different ideas with a sense of curiosity and openness, I don’t get nearly as defensive. And I get a lot of empathy and understanding towards others that I would be normally hating for being self-sanctimonius liberals or ideological right wingers. I understand them, often better than I am given credit for. But I am a constant reader and love to be around different people. The other day one of the clinicians at a dialysis center that a real life gang member was coming in to get treatment. She confessed that she was very, very afraid of him. I asked her if she had ever tried to talk to him and she basically said “No Way!” Me? I couldn’t believe it. What a great chance to try and connect with someone like that on a human level. It would be a fulfilling challenge for me, I am sure. I have already discovered I can negotiate with a gang of drunken bikers who had decided to use our neighborhood for a raucous and disruptive 4th of July celebration. I met them in my bathrobe and they quieted down 10 minutes later so our dogs could relax and my wife and I could get some sleep. I have learned so much from experience that when I can connect with others with what is alive in them, I can resolve conflicts and disputes easily. I am a fan of nonviolent communication and a student of the hidden history of nonviolent activism. Every time a concerted effort using nonviolence was tried in World War II against the Nazis it was successful! Thousands of Jews were saved from the camps because of the humanitarian actions of Jews and Gentiles and even a few “good” Nazis!

          • louis_wheeler

            I can’t agree. An automatic response to non violence seems unwise. We must choose what works. Non violence makes you look like a wimp.

            I’m a peaceable man; even as a teenager I never got into fights. I’m too much of an intellectual. I don’t look for trouble, but I won’t necessarily back away from it, either. It depends on what is at risk and who gets harmed. A little embarrassment to me, no problem. Harm to innocent people is where i draw the line.

            We are in a very disruptive social period. It looks as though our culture is falling apart, but it is not. A number of trends are reaching their logical ends. The era of big government is dying, but is not over. We have massive economic, social and political stresses. Americans are more divided, now, than they have been since the 1930s.

            I’d suggest reading Strauss and Howe’s book, “The Fourth Turning.” It’s not deterministic to say that each generation is slightly different from those proceeding or later. Or that our societal and political mistakes finally catch up with us.

            I like freedom, but liberty must come with self imposed responsibility to avoid hurting others. Treating people with respect often gets positive responses. But, sometimes it’s like playing with Bears. You never know when they will turn on you. It’s worth making the effort with people. But, you can’t always expect good results.

          • james warren

            Just a note here…. Nonviolent activism is not for sissies. It is serious business. And it IS effective. The recent actions of the calm secretary in the school recently who was able to talk with the armed gunman using her common sense and humanity is just one recent example. Of course, after the man put down his rifle the NRA was quick to put that woman in her place and call her empty-headed. But she used nonviolence very effectively and stopped the killing.

            The hidden history of active nonviolence shows that every time it was tried in World War II, it worked. Thousands of Jews were saved from the camps. Adolf Eichmann admitted that his program of “cleansing” was a total failure in the Netherlands.

          • louis_wheeler

            You get me wrong. I’m not opposed to nonviolent activism. I just want what works.

            I just don’t see nonviolent activism working against Genghis Khan. Or for the Israelis when their Muslim enemies want to push them into the sea.

            As Plato said, a small portion of humanity are human Wolves. We call them Sociopaths and Psychopaths today. They are not emotionally disturbed as in your illustration above. They either have no human feelings or they want revenge.

            With them, it is best not to be disarmed. “If you want peace, prepare for war” deters aggression. Gun Free Zones are an attractive nuisance; they encourage murders by Psychopaths. Gun Control does not lower homicides, it increases them.

          • james warren

            We live within the myth of redemptive violence (violence saves) and the way we raise up our children is often cruel and dysfunctional. We rarely treat kids with fairness, respect and caring. We are programmed to automatically smack them when we as adults blindly pass on what was done to us in the name of “love.”
            It is so sad to me when people say things like “My parents spanked me and I deserved it” or “I had it comin’.” A lot of these Middle Eastern families and American evangelicals have a Father Knows Best dynamic, the roost is ruled by the eldest patriarch and what he says goes. In my experience, when people are unable to deal with and process their own suffering, fantasies of violent revenge take hold. This is the “circle the wagons” aspect of fundamentalism today. War itself has become the terrorism of the rich elites and terrorism has become the war of the poor and marginalized. I probably have a more merciful approach to the sinner or those we have let become psychopathic. Kids are treated so much like trash and grow up without empathy or have no idea what to name their strong emotions or how to process them like an adult, we have kids who kill their relatives or kill strangers just to get 50 dollars or something. Then get everyone to carry a gun and you have a culture we have today. It’s scary.

          • louis_wheeler

            You seem to think that people born as “blank slates.” That is, they have no temperament or personality built in at birth, so they can be molded, by society, into any kind of person needed. This is not true.

            Studies of identical twins, separated at birth, show how ineffective acculturation is. When those twins get together again as adults, they find how similar their lives are. 40 percent of our behavior comes from our genes and 20 percent from our upbringing and 20 percent is from social situations or peer pressure, for good or ill, we are in. A lot of good people come from bad upbringing and bad people can come for privileged families. Chi Guevara, a Marxist revolutionary mass murderer, was reared as a rich Argentine aristocrat.

            Peer pressure can produce great harm. When Blacks are taught they are victims and that society (or white people) owe them, then they are less likely to correct their self destructive beliefs and actions. Black Society punishes kids for acting white, by getting good grades, speaking proper English, being respectful to their elders or refraining from immoral actions. These young blacks are being programmed to become failures, but still, good, decent people can come out of that environment.

            The problem is not with guns. Guns in the hands of peaceful Americans prevent over a million crimes a year. Taking guns out of the hands of peaceful people merely means that they cannot protect themselves when necessary. An armed society is a polite society. It is the lack of guns is an attractive nuisance which prevents criminals from moderating their crimes.

            Just look at the “knock out game” practiced by Black youths where they attack what seems to be helpless or old people. Those young blacks are increasingly surprised when their victim beats them to smithereens or pulls out a small pistol. I predict that this practice will get very ugly, before the young blacks knock it off. It does not help that the Press and the Police ignore or dismiss these obvious hate crimes.

          • james warren

            I totally understand the diversity in human behavior patterns. The most predictable thing you can say is that it is often unpredictable. But in my experience, my hypocrisy, racism or innate cruelty and childish emotions can be minimized. This has helped me to help myself and others. I know much more about collaborative problem-solving, mediation, negotiation and nonviolent communication. I just know in my life it works over and over again. On July 4th I was able to confront and communicate with a bunch of drunken bikers who had commandeered our cul-de-sac and were setting off fireworks Afghanistan style. I went out in my bathrobe, found the Alpha Male spokesman and told him my wife and I and our dogs needed to go to bed (it was around 10). After about 15 minutes after I went back home they stopped. Based on my previous negotiations with others over some kind of conflict, I attributed their silence because of our conversation together. Whenever I can connect with what is really alive in me and the other disputant, we can usually work out an agreement that is satisfying for both of us. I may have mentioned this instance before. It is a good example, I think, of how nonviolence can and does work so I use it a lot when preaching the effectiveness of neither giving in or fighting back.

          • louis_wheeler

            If people are unpredictable, their actions get different results. Some actions increase wealth, while others destroy it. Some acts increase freedom, others end it.

            In a state of privation, people become tribal to fight for the last scrap of food or resources.

            The question is what increases prosperity, because, in abundance, hypocrisy, racism, innate cruelty and childish emotions are minimized. The markets do not reward hateful behavior. So, Southern Bigots, thought they hated the blacks, would still sell goods to them and hire them if they made a profit. It was the bureaucrats, who gained no profit, which did the blacks the most harm.

            The greatest increase of wealth in the world was when America had the greatest freedom. A mostly free market, low barriers of entry, few government regulations, a limited constitutional Republic and the rule of law propelled a third world country like the US to world prominence, Dismantling those precepts is reducing us to penury. Would you say, “Move along, Nothing is to be learned here?”

          • james warren

            If unregulated free markets worked, I would probably recognize their pragmatic effects on world economic systems to increase everyone’s weath.

            History and current events tell me that the real problem today is the gross inequities in the size and power of different entities within a culture. And this is true whether the giant party is a government, a powerful corporation or a vastly powerful person. Then people like me are in real trouble. There’s not much we can do about unfairness and injustice. And the outcry across the world of struggling families and others who demand their governments treat them with dignity and respect shows me the universalism of the problem. These forces have made possible the people in the Tea Party and those of the Occupy Wall Street movements.

            A free market was tried during the time of the robber barons and under Reagan, Bush, Clinton-Gore and Bush-Cheney and now Obama. They have all helped to bring about a plutocracy and a “new feudalism.” Rule by the rich and powerful who can easily marshall the money and influence to keep us all in the dark as to what is really happening to us.

            Louis, these are important points when looking at the arguments of ideologues who claim to represent our Founders. The men of our past explicitly rejected a government dominated by corporations when they started the Revolutionary War. They threw the East India Company’s tea into Boston Harbor.

            At least the government is still answerable to We the People. Corporations are not in any democratic way.

          • louis_wheeler

            Tell where in the world we have unregulated free market, now? But, we did have one in America for much of the 19th century. Was it perfect? No. It was better than the crony markets we have today. The National Recovery Act under FDR intentionally forced businesses into cartels and combines. Did this lead to a recovery? No.

            Size does not necessarily mean efficiency at pleasing customers. Size helps companies in dealing with the government. A small company can usually beat the pants off a giant. Big companies are often hidebound and stupid. Steve Jobs and Wozniak offered Hewlett Packard the Apple I design and were turned down. The IBM PC was a direct knockoff of the Apple I with a BIOS and a cheaper less powerful processor chip. When the BIOS chip was reverse engineered, anyone could out compete IBM. Anywhere there is competition, small is a benefit.

            There were no robber barons in America, except for Union Pacific and the Credit Moblier. You have been listening to too much socialist propaganda. The crony capitalist under those presidents you named were part of the Progressives.

            I think you only have part of the cause of the Revolutionary War. George III clearly intended to outlaw representative government. He intended to turn America into a cash cow, rather than being neglected.

            Companies are answerable to their customers. Corporations soon combine with the government to bilk the public. A corporation is a state entity designed to escape responsibility for mis/ malfeasance. I am not in favor of corporations.

          • james warren

            First it’s those we deem less than human. Then comes calling them names like “Wolves” (or in the case of the Nazis, “vermin”), then next comes violent action against them (why not? They aren’t like us are they?) and then–as history has shown over and over and over–the camps and the ovens. People tend to treat others the way we ourselves have been treated. The human child demands respect and nurturing. I am hopeful in the fact that there are finally parenting classes available to young parents. If I hadn’t learned to deal with my own family issues first, my daughter would not have turned out as remarkable as she has.
            I always tell people if they want to see how good my parenting skills were, just sit down and talk to my daughter. And then I am careful to add “If you want to know my dysfunctions, my issues and my moral shortcomings, just sit down and talk to my daughter about it! I have learned to be accountable and responsible for MY hypocrisy, MY racism and MY sins and faults. That behavior has helped me immensely in trying to become an adult.

          • louis_wheeler

            Apparently, you’ve never read Plato, so you don’t know what he meant. He said that people define themselves by their actions. So, the term “Wolf” is not an insult.

            If a person is harmful, manipulative and coercive, by their nature, then they are Human Wolves. This group is quite small. They are even smaller among the population, when they are captured and incarcerated for their crimes.

            Most people are Human Sheep: they run away from danger. This is a good thing when rapists, murderers and thieves abound. Someone should pick up the kids and run for the hills for a while.

            But, Sheep can be seduced into harmful actions. They follow a herd instinct – peer pressure. This, in turn, leads to the problem of attractive nuisances and harmful beliefs. Sheep can be lead into error; especially when following a charismatic leader. When no price is paid for harmful actions, then harm increases.

            A civil society is mostly self regulated. In times of crisis or opportunity, Sheep can be lead into acting like Wolves for a while. Most of the NAZI soldiers, in the early years, who were ordered to exterminate the Jews in Germany were Sheep. “They were just following orders,” they said.

            Some people are Human Sheepdogs: they protect the Sheep from the Wolves. They are the peacekeepers. They understand how fragile civilization is. The lesson of “Turn the other cheek” is aimed at them. Wolves will never obey; it is not in their nature. Sheep don’t need to be told to stay cowed in the face of force. Only a sheepdog must determine if returning violence will be effective. Sometimes it is, other times it is not.

            History turns on tiny things. Sometimes, violence is necessary to prevent greater violence. Hitler could have not built a war machine without the coal, iron and factories of the Rhine-lands. When The German army invaded in 1936, they were told to retreat at any sign of any resistance. If the French army had had more gumption, there might not have been a second World War. 50 million people, mostly civilians, might not have died.

          • james warren

            I now believe labels such as conservative, Libertarian, etc. And systems like Marxism, socialism, capitalism are no longer useful today. They are bankrupt relics of the 19th century. The Grand Narratives of history have already served their usefulness. So are formulations such as “either/or” And the rational and logical ways of solving our common problems do not solve much in the world today. We are probably passing into an era of imagination and intuition. Since we are all now living with everyone else in the same metaphoric room, our instantaneous feedback loops from our behavior is giving us a crash course in playing nice with others in the sandbox. It is like Spaceship Earth, but nobody’s passenger anymore. Everybody’s crew.

          • louis_wheeler

            Labels are useful, but only if we must understand what they mean and what their real world consequences are. Solutions are possible only when they accord with reality. What works? What leads us to harmonious social arrangements? What produces wealth and distributes it in an equitable manner? You can understand these questions, only if you know what those labels mean.

            The problem is that people lie. They seek power over other people which allows them to extort wealth. The power seekers are trying to snuff out the last vestiges of the enlightenment. Western Civilization, for all its flaws, was a brief burst of light in an otherwise bleak human history.

            The power seekers will lie, distort and spin to confuse us. They
            will invent lies such as Resource Depletion, Global Warming or Peak Oil
            to intimidate us. These lies allows them to assume total control of us through governments. God would set us free of that.

            Totalitarianism goes back 5 thousand years to Elam and the Inca’s of
            Peru. Mankind has only had brief moments of religious, economic and
            social freedom. Is our civilization approaching its end? God would not have it so.

            It is not possible to play nice with people who want to kill us and wipe out everything we value. Anyone who would place our minds in chains is not our friend.

          • james warren

            It’s going to get harder to dissemble when humankind is living in the same metaphoric room. And for the first time in its long history.

            Our new nervous system is the media and investigative journalists. We are becoming like a beehive where any disturbance on the periphery is felt almost instantaneously by the entire colony. We are like an interconnected swarm of insect crawling across the Mona Lisa. We sense a succession of colors and textures but it is the poet, the mystic and the prophet who can articulate the whole picture through their art and pronouncements.

            I see us moving toward a lyrical view of existence and that might just trump the tragic view we have today. But I also see a slow-motion destruction of our way of life, but since we can only experience it slowly we are prevented from noticing it in real time. Things seem basically all right so far, but who knows? If God knows, he isn’t saying. I can only trust the mystery, myself. And try to be accountable for my own hypocrisy, racism, and other shortcomings.

          • louis_wheeler

            Sorry, I cannot agree with your imagery.

            I believe in the Constrained Vision of Humanity – the tragic view of life. This leads to humility. It limits us to the possible.

            We are not gods in the making; we are merely people who are flawed in our being. It’s overcoming our flaws which allow us to progress.

            We may gain more knowledge, but that could lead us toward ever fancier heresies. God may have other plans. We have no idea of what he wants. Perhaps, the earth is not about us, but our souls.

            Are you projecting a Singularity where mankind moves to a higher plane? Where human nature changes? I’ve never seen this happen. The poorest people in the West are richer than kings of a thousand years ago. This wealth did not change their character. They took their wealth for granted. They became ungrateful.

            I project hard times ahead, but I do not know if how serious they will be. There are technologies in process which could trump the wealth destruction and chaos caused by the power seekers.

          • james warren

            The fact that God is infinite and our brains are finite automatically leads to humility. For the first time in its long history, humankind is going to have to learn that a sense of humility and gratefulness is necessary and crucial if we are to all occupy the same metaphoric room we find our collective selves in. Human history, I have found, usually steps up to the plate when there is a fundamental shift. This new era is even more shattering than was the climb down out of the trees to walk upright on the African savanna. This does not guarantee success. We seem to be living in a time of slow-motion collapse and chaos and we may very well whimper our way into total extinction. Even though we seem to ultimately stake our hold in cooperation rather than competition (otherwise we would have never made it this far) it does not look good. The sacred always degenerates into the secular. In ancient Sumer, the pattern was “the gods rule,” then “the gods rule through me” and finally “I rule!” Then comes the Great Forgetting and it begins again. We may indeed be coping with the tragic view, but the seeds have already been sown for a lyrical view. But whether we get there all of us at once like the molecular structures that go through a specific lattice and manage to involve every single atom is an open question.

          • louis_wheeler

            The words we use don’t seem to have the same meanings.

            I’m not a collectivist. I believe that that the bad times we are undergoing are the result of distorting reality. Reality bites back. Hangovers feel bad because our bodies are eliminating poisons. The cure is not to poison ourselves in the first place, if only we were wise enough.

            Our immediate problems are financial and political. Our central banks have created huge amounts of currency, all over the world, which must be washed out of the economy. Our governments have overextended themselves. They have made impossible promises, which must fail.

            Both competition and cooperation are good things in the proper setting. Too much of either leads to pain. Without competition, we get sloth and counter productive behavior. Cartels always produce poor goods and services at high prices. Markets are masters at creating cooperation inside of competition.

            I cannot believe in Human History, in the Hegelian sense. There are no vast immutable forces of history. What would set those forces into motion? We are not evolving out of our need for God. Nor, are we becoming a mass collective. All that nonsense was tried and failed millennia ago.

            A true reading of history sees how often accident and error have prevailed. “For want of a nail” as the saying goes.

            An increase in knowledge does not indicate that we will use that power wisely. Our hubris could cause us to fall farther and faster than ever before with more wreckage. But still, I believe that people will rebuild anew.