Tag: America

America is My Favorite

5bad11d0-2199-11e5-8352-a54ee272a10cThe other day my niece asked me ‘what is your favorite country?’ Without missing a beat I said “America is my favorite”.  She seemed surprised as if most people said Japan, England or some other country.  To me the answer was obvious.  Other countries are great and have wonderful aspects to them but America will always be my favorite.

There are a lot of reasons I love my country but most importantly is it is a country of dreamers, doers and individual rights.

We are guaranteed rights to speak our minds, worship freely, protect ourselves, and gather together for whatever purpose we see fit.  We cannot be searched unlawfully or treated without due process.  We are not subject to kings, rulers or one groups whims or philosophies.   I understand reality can be less than perfect in enforcing these rights but most countries, even highly developed nations, don’t even have the rights spelled out to begin with.

The fact is in America if you have a desire to achieve something you can go out and do it.  Will you be successful?  Maybe or maybe not but as long as it is a lawful enterprise you are free to give it a go. In a communist nation you may not have such an opportunity to pursue your dream. Many other countries try to shelter people from failure and therefore limit their eventual success (we are becoming more that way every day which worries me).

We also have a system where we attempt to educate every single person free of charge (aside from taxes). We fall way short on giving an adequate education but at least we try.  Still many students from around the world come to America to get their education.  It is unparalleled in its colleges and universities which by law no matter race, background or sexual orientation anyone that qualifies academically can enter.

America has a system of checks and balances that help to keep despots and tyrants at bay.  We have federalism that gives local and central voices power.  We can each vote for all our leaders and for the most part we can all run for office without any prerequisites of education or profession.  All of these things are not available in every nation.

Plus, America stretches across an entire continent something only China, Russia, Canada, and Australia can claim.  We have everything from the Rocky Mountains to the beaches of Hawaii.  We are the head of computer based innovation, have a legacy in manufacturing that needs to be reborn and we lead the way in movie-making, art, music and other creative expressions.

I’ve lived on the East, West coasts and in Midwest and traveled throughout America.  Wherever I go I have been blown away by the good people we have all around our country.  Sure we have problems but there still is much to be positive and optimistic about. Whenever I travel I can’t wait to get back home, get back to America!

At the very least we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the brave men and women who have fought and sometimes paid the ultimate price so we could have all of these freedoms.  America should be our favorite for that sacrifice alone IMO.

Happy 4th of July friends!  God bless America!

To read my talk on patriotism I gave years ago check out this post

Ron Paul, Tom Clancy, terrorists, militias and FREEDOM!

OK.  I promise this will be my last political post for a while. So just skip it if you don’t like those posts.

Today I heard about a report made by the Missouri Information Analysis Center. In this report they study the dangers of the “Modern Militia Movement“.  Now this is not just an analysis of radical groups such as those that follow the Turner diaries.  This is a study of anyone who forms a group to protest the government.  The study even includes those who read Tom Clancy novels and watch the movie Rambo. The report says such things have “glorified white males and portrayed them as morally upright heroes who were mentally and physically tough”.  Given this definition I suppose Jack Bauer would be a terrorist and the 12.92 million viewers as suspects! For goodness sakes Tom Clancy has sold 55 million books.   That’s a lot of people to be tracking, a lot of potential terrorists.

Now there are certainly groups in the United States that are worthy of observance; however, this report focuses its attention on “right wing extremest and militia leaders”.  I contend that left wing extremists such as the wack jobs at PETA could be equally dangerous.  With all the surveillance the study could only find 6 examples since September 11th of potential threats caused by right wing militia groups.  Most, if not all, were instigated by individual members- not the group itself. Fortunately such attempts were thwarted and no damage or deaths occurred.

The report goes on to point its finger at Libertarians and “third party groups”  such as the “Constitutional Party, Campaign for Liberty or Libertarian Party.  These members are usually supporters of former Presidential Candidate:  Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin and Bob Barr.”  The report actually names these three candidates as being the source of “anti-government propaganda”.  Since when was having an opinion considered propaganda?  Plus, isn’t the whole point of free speech the right to speak out against your government? I believe it is- and that is true for both sides the right and the left. As long as we are obeying the law and are not conspiring to do harm to others we have the right to assemble and believe whatever we want to believe.

As far as Ron Paul goes- I want to stick up for him a little.  I was impressed with what he said during the election and out of the candidates I actually agreed with him the most.  I am proud to have voted for him in the Primary election.  I certainly agreed more with him on the economy and on the war in Iraq than I did with either President Obama or John McCain.  Here are Mr. Paul’s main positions and you see if it sounds like a terrorist or just someone who cares about our country?:

Ron Paul talking points (as taken from his website)

On the economy he supports an ending to the congressional pay raise through 2010.

He does not support deficit spending and entitlement programs.

He believes “economic freedom is based on a simple rule: everyone has the right to his or her life and property”

He thinks the bailout are unwise, unfair and will eventually make the economy more sluggish.

On foreign policy he believes:

We need to stop policing the world. He hates preemptive war and interventionist war

We need to bring the troops home from the 700 bases in 100 countries.

We need to protect our borders

On civil liberties he believes:

Economic freedom means economic activity should be free and voluntary and “that government shoudl stay out of personal affairs…and out of our wallets”

Government should protect our right to privacy and to bear arms.

Family should be the instructor of moral character not the government.

Those are just a few of his positions.  Now really does this seem like a domestic terrorist to you? Do these positions really seem so out-of-wack?  I actually agree with most of his positions and there is nothing but full patriotic blood running within me.  I love my country more than almost anything else.  Like Mr. Paul, I feel we are going down the wrong track  and it scares me.  It scares me enough to speak out in anyway I can, but I don’t want to be grouped as some potential terrorist.  It’s just nuts!

Whether you agree with his ideas or not, I hope you can see that violating his right to say such things hurts everyone.  Policing and analyzing such behavior, looking for unpatriotic holes, only ostracizes the legitimate followers of Mr.  Paul and makes the radical nuts more radical. Part of being a democracy is the right to speak our minds- even if it is crazy! The government certainly has the right to monitor such individuals.  However,  let’s hope in the future they spend their money on the people that could be truly dangerous- not on those they may disagree with or find annoying.

Some may argue that such policing is the result of the Patriot Act, and there may be some truth to that claim.  This is the danger in such acts.  My main argument here is not on the legitimacy of such surveillance but its intended targets.  The government has the right to watch Ron Paul and his fans but is it necessary or pertinent?

Certainly if Ron Paul  is the standard of suspect than Bill Maher, Rush Limbagh, Sean Hannity, Al Franken, Oprah Winfrey, Bill O’Reilley, Reverend Wright, and others must also  be under constant surveillance for statements they have made.  Who knows I could be under surveillance for the posts I did on this blog, which I feel are consistently well thought-out and patriotic.  The fact is that me and all of these people have a right to say what they wish, and that’s what makes America great.  In China people are limited to what feelings they can express against the government partly because they are monitored on a daily basis.  America is better than that- it should be better than that!

Let’s also remember that most of the great movements of change in this country were started by charismatic individuals who fought the status quo.  The Women’s movement, the civil rights movement, and even the beginnings of this democracy were all started by radicals who pushed for change.  I wouldn’t even put Mr. Paul in such a revolutionary category but this report treats him as a near-fascist instigator.

So to Ron Paul, Tom Clancy, and yes even Sylvester Stallone keep doing what you do.  To the government- stop wasting our time and money and get things done!

Here’s an interview with Mr.  Paul that I wished we had listened to last year.  It makes a lot of sense to me.

I also thought this interview with Penn Gillette was good.  By the way, he is no conservative that’s for sure. Glenn Beck also explains in this clip the Missouri Report.

Patriotism and honor

The enemy is anybody who’s going to get you killed, no matter which side he’s on.

Joseph Heller- Catch 22

Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives.

John Adams

I concluded an interesting experience this evening.  It is always intriguing when I am presented with two contrasting views and then forced to reconcile my own feelings.  This has happened to me regarding the subjects of patriotism, honor and courage.  To begin with, I just finished reading the “classic” novel Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.  At the same time I have been watching the new miniseries on John Adams based on the popular biography by  David McCullough.

On first glance the two may seem completely different and to a certain extent they are ( Catch 22 being a dark comedy and John Adams a dramatic real life biography).  Still, I could not ignore the contrast in philosophies the two stories bring up.  In Catch 22 the main character Yossarian’s objective in life is to not fly missions, to not serve.  His rational for this decision makes sense- the less he goes into battle, the greater his chances for survival.  The now famous “catch 22” by which the title gets its name (and the phrase was invented) refers to the idea that if a man wanted to fly more missions he’d be crazy; however, if he didn’t than he was sane and would have to fly the missions.  It’s a circular argument that is interesting and certainly one I hope to never face.

Here is my problem with Heller’s book and the argument- how come honor, patriotism, the good of mankind, never even comes into play?  There is not a single character in the novel with honor or courage.  They are all simply trying to live.  Surely in a battalion of men there would be a few soldiers who believed in the nobility of their task, who believed that freedom is worth paying the ultimate sacrifice for if needs be? In addition, what about those people that are not required to literally die but are asked to sacrifice their life in the form of their time, talents, energies and passions? What if all of these people took a Yossarian philosophy and did only the bare minimum- just enough to get by but not enough to make a real difference? Would this not have a terrible effect on our country?

In contrast I looked at the amazing life of John and Abigail Adams (as well as so many others featured in the film). They spent their entire life serving their fellow citizens.  These missions put them in great physical harm and required personal hardships including separation from their children for years.  Adams, Jefferson, Washington all were reluctant servants and yet they did it because they knew it was right.  As much as I admire many politicians (and anyone who has talked to me knows I love politics!) I don’t think I know of one that could be called a reluctant servant.

Maybe I am too idealistic in my views but I feel this country was founded on the idea that individual citizens, individual voters would not only make wise decisions but would hold democracy and freedom above all else. I hope we are not as the characters in Catch 22- merely watching our own backs, making sure we come out ahead of everyone else.  Look at the legacy of the early heroes, look what principles they taught generations through their sacrifice.  It is difficult to deny that their courageous choices were nothing but of the highest importance.  For example, if Washington had been selfish he could have become a King and been called “Your Highness” (Adams even put such a measure before congress).  He refused, and we are all the better for it.

I am sure that if I was ever called into battle such choices would not be made lightly (as they are in Catch-22) but I hope I would have the courage needed to protect liberty.  The only thing in my life that has been even a tiny bit similar  to battle was my mission where everyday we were required to sacrifice time, family and home for a higher principle- for something I believe in strongly.  During my mission I received great inspiration from the stories of the Mormon pioneers who sacrificed everything for religious freedom.  I have always wondered if I could do what they did.  I sincerely hope so.  Just as I have a religious passion I also have a deep patriotic vein within me, and I hope like the many soldiers who have died to protect my country and freedoms I would be brave and do all that is required of me.  Either way, I would like to think that the honorable route would be the most common- not the exception to the rule as in Catch 22.

I highly recommend watching the miniseries John Adams.  It is remarkable on every level.  The acting is superb- even in the small parts.  The make up and costumes is some of the best I have ever seen.  Before seeing the film I knew a bit about Washington, Hamilton, and particularly Jefferson; however, not much about Adams.  I found it moving, personable, and non-vitriolic.  In fact, all of the founding fathers except maybe Hamilton and Franklin, are portrayed in the film as simple men who served their country as best they could.  This is what I expect out of myself and those around me each day.  It is my greatest goal in life to live in a way that matters- that makes a difference for good. I am not perfect, and I certainly lead a small life; however, on occasion I have moments of decision,  of integrity and faith.  It is at these moments I pray that I think of future generations, of my loved ones, and of my country and hope I make the correct, if difficult choice.

One slight caution on the film- there is some adult content and I would recommend adults see it before children.  I would actually feel comfortable showing most of it to older children and teenagers but it depends on the child.  A few of the scenes including a surgery in the last film are tough to watch.