Natural Governments and Unnatural Liberty

Revolutionary governments often keep the rhetoric, but most quickly drop the revolution.

Consider North Korea, which was created as a communist country dedicated to eradicating class differences. They have kept the ideological language of communism, but quickly morphed into a society defined by a rigid class structure with a ruling family that claims power with a logic more akin to the divine right of kings than as the vanguard of the proletariat. Instead of advancing towards a communist utopia they regressed to a government recognizable to feudal Europe.

Similarly, the Soviet Union preached a world wide class struggle and the destruction of nation states. But when threatened by Hitler, Stalin quickly set that aside and urged his people to fight for Mother Russia in the Great Patriotic War.

That’s understandable, because communism is built on lies and failed economics. But it’s not just communist governments that abandon their ideals to maintain power. At the turn of the Eighteenth Century, Haiti was embroiled in the first successful slave revolt in the modern world. The liberated slaves outlawed slavery and massacred their former masters. Then the leaders of the revolt, former slaves themselves, quickly reintroduced slavery under a different name.

The French Revolution’s ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity turned into the Great Terror and dictatorship in just a few years.

Time after time, revolutionary zeal was set aside in the name of preserving power. I don’t know about North Korea’s Kims, but I have no doubt the leaders of the Soviet, Haitian, and French revolutions truly believed in the ideals they fought for. Some were evil (communism) and some were noble (anti-slavery, liberty), but when push came to shove, power trumped them all.

So what does this say about our American Revolution?

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The Me First Presidency

If you spent any time in conservative circles the last decade you likely heard the complaint that President Obama was too egotistical. Personally, I think the fact he wrote two autobiographies before he was even elected to the Senate should be proof enough for anyone. But he also demonstrated his self-centeredness on a regular basis. After a significant speech, you could count on finding articles and discussions on Twitter and conservative websites about the number of times Obama used the words “I” or “me” in a speech supposedly about someone or something else.

A speech about the economy became a speech about him. When delivering the news that Seal Team Six had killed Osama bin Laden, he referenced himself more than the Seals and intelligence agents who made the raid possible.

And yet, in the race to be the most egotistical, self-centered president in American history, Trump just left Obama in the dust.

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Honor the Fallen – 2018

Today is Memorial Day in the United States. The holiday grew out of a Civil War veterans organization’s commitment to honor their fallen comrades. Initially called “Decoration Day,” Union veterans picked May 30 to place flowers on the graves of soldiers in a somber ceremony. This continued for over a century until Congress declared Memorial Day an official holiday to take place on the last Monday of May.

Like many holidays, Memorial Day has lost some of its meaning to the general public. It is widely regarded as the unofficial start to summer, with greetings such as “happy Memorial Day” that are a bit incongruous with the solemnity of the occasion. This, in turn, has led to some dedicated people (often veterans) who scold those who forget the seriousness of the day.

I propose a middle ground. Enjoy your day off. Have friends over for a BBQ. Spend some time outside in the nice weather and look forward to the summer. But at some point during your long weekend, take a moment to remember the 33 Americans who, since the last Memorial Day, have sacrificed their lives for our way of life.

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Israel’s Enemies are America’s Enemies

Pop quiz: what terrorist organization pioneered the modern use of suicide bombing, and what was their first target?

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Confessions of a Neocon

Neoconservatism was the talk of the town in the early 2000’s as it became associated with President George W. Bush’s strategy in the War on Terror. But just as quickly as it burst onto the scene, neoconservatism fell out of favor in the mid 2000’s as the war in Afghanistan dragged on and the war in Iraq exploded. Today, neocon is largely used as an insult by people who oppose the Iraq war, even if they started out as fervent supporters.

But the neoconservative foreign policy is not defined by the Iraq war. Neoconservatism is a worldview and a mission, not a strategy. If a particular strategy fails, that does not necessitate abandoning the mission.

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Death Panels Are Real. Just ask the Parents of Alfie Evans.

When America debated Obamacare in 2009, Republicans raised the specter of what Sarah Palin called “death panels.” This was not a fantasy or an exaggeration designed to take normal policy and make Democrats look bad. It was in the bill.

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Why You are better off than the Richest Man in Human History

According to Business Insider, the richest man of all time was John D. Rockefeller. Adjusted for inflation, he had a net-worth of over $300 billion. If he traveled to some lifeless rock in the Pacific Ocean and declared sovereignty today, he would replace oil rich Venezuela as the 37th richest country in the world, with even some European countries and Middle Eastern oil emirates falling behind this one man. He grew his wealth by buying oil companies left and right until he eventually owned 90% of all the oil in America.

And yet the richest man in the history of the world could not buy a microwave oven. For $60 I can go on my Amazon app and have a microwave delivered to my door, something Rockefeller could not do with his $300 billion.

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