Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Obsolete Man

One of my all-time favorite Twilight Zone episodes, "The Obsolete Man," is the story of a future in which the state has become absolutely supreme and those who hold to ideas like belief in God are judged "obsolete" and subsequently executed. Burgess Meredith is wonderful in the role of a librarian who has been deemed obsolete but refuses to go quietly into the night. His showdown with the "man of the State" is classic. Even if you don't like sci-fi in general, you may find this 30 minute program exceptionally thought-provoking and relevant to our troubled time.

Click here to watch.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Enabling Tyranny: An Open Letter to Conservative Republicans

In the days leading up to Election 2008, the fear among conservative Republicans was palpable. It hung over conservative websites and mailing lists and talk radio, and particularly over fundamental and evangelical churches, like an amber haze on a muggy summer day; the kind of day when you feel as if you could take the air in your hands and wring it out like a wet rag. The anti-Obama emails flew fast and thick. Churches held prayer vigils the likes of which I can’t remember seeing before. Nor was this the usual type of partisanship and rancor we see every major election year; the fear was real and it ran deep. Obama was dangerous, and, to make things worse, he was also young, energetic, and fantastically popular (like Lincoln, FDR, JFK and Elvis, all rolled into one). By contrast, John McCain looked exactly like what he was: an angry old man, the aged standard-bearer for a besieged army that could already smell defeat. In a desperate move, the GOP threw Sarah Palin into the mix, apparently hoping that she might rally the base like a modern day Joan of Arc. But the GOP leadership isn’t exactly famous for its grasp of history. They didn’t realize that things went rather badly for poor Joan in the end. The media knew all about it though, and did its best to stage a re-enactment.

And now that the dust is settling, the general attitude among conservative Republicans – again, especially religious conservatives – reminds me of the behavior of a dog that expects to be kicked. The shadow of Obama looms large.

To those who feel this way, I sympathize with you. I truly do. Backed by a Democratic congress, Obama is set up to cause all kinds of harm to this country and the cause of freedom in general. There may be some hope for us, though. Judge Andrew Napolitano feels that Obama may be better on civil liberties than Bush ever was. Additionally, Obama strikes me as being wishy-washy, meaning that he may get so bogged down in trying to please all of his party’s various constituencies that he might not make much headway. Time alone will tell (or maybe Joe Biden will slip up again and be honest with us).

In the meantime, while the GOP is busily rubbing at that boot-print on its rear end and wondering what to do next, let me ask you conservative Republicans out there a question:

Do you realize that what scares you the most about Obama and his democratic allies is largely your own fault?

I’m not talking about a failure to get the vote out for McCain (God help us), or the general ins and outs of campaign strategy. Rather, I’m talking about the powers that you have allowed Washington DC to consolidate, particularly during the last seven-and-a-half years.

You couldn’t see the wolf in Republican clothing. You trusted George W. Bush and his congressional allies because they had that all-important R behind their names. So you looked the other way while they tore the Constitution to shreds and stomped on it. You excused the abuses of power, the torture, the signing statements, the “unitary executive” rhetoric, the wars waged against populations that had done us no harm, the raids against war protestors and other suspicious characters, the destruction of the dollar, the increased federal control in everything from education to healthcare; and just because the “good guys” were doing it, you thought everything would work out fine. You handed government a sword because you trusted the hand that would wield it, and because it had that good ‘ole “Made in the U.S.A.” label on it. And now that a new hand is reaching for it, you fear that you may soon find the edge of that sword pressed to your own throat.

Shame on you, conservative Republicans! You had a chance to roll back the big government agenda. You had a chance to oppose unnecessary warfare. You had a chance to rein-in a runaway presidency. You had a chance to hold your representatives accountable. You had a chance to demand respect for the laws that defend our most sacred liberties. And in the end, you even had a chance to redeem yourselves by choosing a presidential candidate who could have halted or even reversed much of the damage caused by Bush and company. You had a chance to weaken the federal establishment so that it could not become a threat to you, your children, or the world in general. You had a chance to restore the Republic. But, again, you chose to see nothing but that all-important party label. You enabled the tyranny you now dread. You created a monster because you thought that you could control it, and now that control of that monster will soon go over to the other side, you’re starting to see it for the evil thing that it is.

Well, you’ve made your bed of nails, and now we’ll all have to lie in it for at least awhile. How long that lasts depends on how many of you determine to go from “party first” to “freedom first.” To be fair, some of you did speak up against the outrages committed by George W. Bush and his congressional and judicial collaborators, but most of you did not. Most of you looked the other way. Many of you actually applauded. Be that as it may. You know who you are. The question of the hour is: what will you do now? Will you fight to take the sword out of Washington’s hands? Will you work to dismantle the monster you helped to build?

Or will you just bide your time until you think you’ve got a good chance to get control of them again? Is tyranny acceptable, as long as it’s a tyranny you approve of? And one under which you, theoretically, will not become “the enemy”?

Think about it over the next four years.

Robert Hawes is the author of One Nation, Indivisible? A Study of Secession and the Constitution. This article, along with his past writings, can be found on his blog. He lives in South Carolina with his family, and is working on a career as a freelance writer.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Naomi Wolf and the "End of America"

Those of you who are as concerned as I am about America's descent into police-state USA should appreciate Naomi Wolf's new film "The End of America." The film is based on her bestselling book of the same title, and illustrates the ten ways in which would-be dictators shut down free societies.

The examples provided in the film are as current as the GOP convention protest arrests. Having watched it this evening, I can also say that it is probably the best produced "freedom movement" film I've seen to date. It looks very professional, and conveys its message clearly: America, wake up or else.

You can watch the whole film here:

The official film site, where you can order copies, is here:

Naomi Wolf's website is here:

Finally, as a bonus (act now!), you can listen to a great interview Lew Rockwell recently conducted with Ms. Wolf, although she ends up interviewing him to some degree as well. It's a great listen, especially if you've ever had questions as to how practical libertarian ideals really are:

As the old campfire tune goes, pass it on. Ms. Wolf is one brave lady. I wish we had a million more like her.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Is Chuck Norris Joining the Revolution?

In his latest article, "The Coming Revolution," Chuck Norris, a former Mike Huckabee supporter and occasional Fox News commentator, praises Ron Paul and calls for a voter revolution to remove most of Washington's little Caesars from their thrones:
Most Americans have grown cold over partisan politics. They cringe over the political power plays and pollution emitting from the Capitol. They expect that their representatives will stand for special interests or their own, rather than the people's. Americans are sick and tired of politics as usual. And the fact is: Only a voter revolution is strong enough to change the current tides of corruption.
Also, from what I hear, Norris quotes from Ron Paul's book, "The Revolution: A Manifesto," several times in his new book, "Black Belt Patriotism."

Welcome to the revolution, Chuck Norris!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Fred Reed on Guns for Self Defense

The following is an excellent article by Fred Reed on "Guns for Defense". In it, Fred responds to someone who wrote an article advising people that they shouldn't use guns for self-defense due, among other reasons, to the assumption that all most criminals want is your TV. Fred throws cold water on that idiotic notion, and reminds us of why the phrase "taking out the trash" is so fitting:


But what I dislike most about Smith’s advice is his advocacy of helpless passivity. It embodies a profound change in American attitudes, which once favored self-reliance. Now it’s reliance on the group. Don’t take primary responsibility for your defense. No, that would be violent, or scary, or macho, and all. No, let the criminals do whatever they want with you, rely on their merciful natures, and call 911 if you survive.

This is exactly what Smith advocates. If I were a criminal, I would love this guy.

Full column:

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The "Higher Powers": Martial Law vs. Christian Responsibility

It is one thing to know something intellectually, and quite another to see it suddenly happen before your eyes. I experienced such a moment in 2005, during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when I watched (via the Internet) as police officers went door-to-door in New Orleans neighborhoods, forced law-abiding citizens into the streets, cuffed them, and then searched their homes for firearms before leaving them bewildered and helpless. There were no warrants involved. No probable cause was mentioned. No charges of wrong-doing were filed. Intimidation and brute force were the order of the day. And as much as I wish I could believe otherwise, I’m afraid that what we saw in New Orleans is merely a preview of coming attractions.

Since September 11, 2001, the federal government has been busily advancing preparations for the day when it might impose martial law throughout the United States, thus presenting us with the specter of the sort of thugery we witnessed in New Orleans being carried out all across this “land of the free.” A quasi-legal apparatus has already been put into place for this, via such legislation as the PATRIOT Act, the John Warner Defense Authorization Act, the Military Commissions Act, and the National Security and Homeland Security Directive. But legislation, although important in creating the illusion of legitimacy, is only one of the two boots with which the authoritarian state tramples freedom; the other is propaganda, and it is even more essential than force because it allows the state to conquer by stealth, and thus with a minimum of effort.

The state that employs only force to achieve its aims will rule only as long as it can subdue the people; but if it can successfully use propaganda, it can rule indefinitely because the people will subdue themselves. Propaganda deludes the slave into seeing his servitude as sacrifice, even as an honor. It transforms political prisoners into the enemies of the people, turns massacres into purgings, makes partisanism look like saintly perseverance, sells torture as retribution, portrays dissent as sabotage, and masks aggression in the guise of crusading. As Adolf Hitler observed in Mein Kampf, “By an able and persistent use of propaganda heaven itself can be presented to the people as if it were hell and, vice versa, the most miserable kind of life can be presented as if it were paradise."

And of all the varied forms of propaganda, religious propaganda is by far the most effective; for, it provides fallible men with the sanction of heaven, which must not be resisted nor even questioned. Our government is well aware of this and, from all indications, is ready to use religious propaganda in order to help pacify the American population in the event that martial law is declared.

For years, rumors circulated to the effect that the U.S. government would use members of the clergy in efforts to pacify Americans should martial law ever be declared. Many scoffed at the idea, calling it so much conspiracy theory nonsense. Then, in 2007, KSLA Channel 12 in Shreveport, Louisiana, reported that, following Hurricane Katrina, “clergy response teams” were utilized to assist the government with public relations (click here to watch the video). According to the story, such teams will likely be used in future emergency situations, with an emphasis on their potential role in a martial law scenario. Here’s a quote from the story:

Such clergy response teams would walk a tight-rope during martial law between the demands of the government on the one side, versus the wishes of the public on the other. “In a lot of cases, these clergy would already be known in the neighborhoods in which they’re helping to diffuse that situation,” assured Sandy Davis. He serves as the director of the Caddo-Bossier Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

A member of one such clergy response team, Dr. Durell Tuberville, was interviewed by KSLA, and stated that Christians have a responsibility to obey the government, no matter what. “The government’s established by the Lord,” said Tuberville. “That’s what we believe in the Christian faith. That’s what’s stated in the scripture.

As a Christian myself, I understand where people like Dr. Tuberville are coming from. I remember my ninth grade Government teacher telling our class (Christian school, mind you) that Soviet citizens had no right to defy their government because, no matter how oppressive the Soviet State was, it was “ordained by God” (when asked about whether the American patriots were right to rebel against England, however, he equivocated). This reasoning is based on several passages of scripture, but particularly on the following remarks made by the Apostle Paul in Romans, chapter 13 (as the KSLA news story pointed out):

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.

With these things in mind, I’d like to take some time to examine the issue of how Christians should react to the prospect of martial law in America.

Government officials are not the highest “authorities” in America

The first thing I would like to point out to people like Dr. Tuberville, who think Christians should obey government officials no matter what because they are “the higher powers,” is that there is another, yet higher power to which even such officials are beholden: the Constitution of the United States.

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land. Article VI, Section 1.

It is from the Constitution that our elected officials, both federal and state, derive their office and legitimate powers. Their powers are delegated, not inherent; concrete, not elastic, and, as clearly set forth by the 9th and 10th Amendments, they are limited to the specific areas of authority that the Constitution either grants to the Union or denies to the states. Further, our elected officials are “bound by oath or affirmation” to support the Constitution and its provisions, including the limitations placed upon their own powers:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution… (Article VI, Section 3).

Thus, in taking up the powers and responsibilities of political office, our elected officials are also agreeing to place themselves under the law. This is one of the foundational ideas of the American political system: the concept that everyone is under law and equal in its eyes. For this reason, if government officials violate the Constitution, their actions are illegal and void of authority, and they are no better than common criminals. It is absolutely critical that Christians understand this when they contemplate their relationship to the government. Our elected officials are not the source of their own power; rather, they are representatives who have been entrusted with the authority of the American people as defined in the United States Constitution. If they violate that trust, they are as much criminals as the guy who robs your local 7-11 store; they just dress better, make other people use the guns, and almost never go to jail.

Martial Law is Unconstitutional and, therefore, Illegal

The Constitution does not directly address martial law; however, it does contain a provision that clearly makes martial law impossible. Consider Article IV, Section IV:

The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.

Republican government is civil, representative government; martial law is military rule. Since the former is specifically guaranteed here, the latter is necessarily precluded. This provision, which our government officials are sworn to support as being part of the supreme law of the land, makes martial law unconstitutional and thus illegal. The moment that martial law is declared, the federal government will have stepped outside of its sphere of lawful powers. In fact, in a very real way it will have conducted a revolution, as it will have overthrown the legitimate government of the Constitution by force of arms.

The President is Commander in Chief, not Dictator in Chief

The “war powers” of the President are a woefully misunderstood aspect of constitutional law, thanks primarily to the success of Abraham Lincoln’s war and further developments under those who inherited his theory of government. Said theory boils down to the idea that, technically, anything the government does in order to “safe-guard” the country (really its own power) is constitutional.

The Constitution itself differs with that idea. It describes the “war powers” of the President in Article II, Section II, where we read:

The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States.

That’s it. That is the sum total of all the Constitution has to say about the war powers of the President. Everything else that has developed since the adoption of the Constitution where such powers are concerned, from ‘peace-keeping’ missions to covert operations, is extra-constitutional (and largely a perversion of the war powers the Constitution grants to Congress in Article I). Indeed, the military powers that presidents exercise today would have seemed kingly to our country’s founders. Under the American system, presidents were to be limited chief executives, not self-empowering monarchs who could overthrow the rights of the people or commit the country’s military to action for any reason whatsoever. The history of centuries of blood-letting under the crowned heads of Europe had taught Americans better than to trust such powers in the hands of one individual. They forgot that lesson rather quickly once they were free to determine their own affairs, but that initial understanding is enshrined in the Constitution’s language to this day, and the reasoning behind it is still just as sound.

The Commander in Chief clause, read as it is plainly written, gives the President authority to act as a sort of commanding general of all U.S. armed forces in their constitutional role of providing for the common defense. It makes him a unifying military leader, capable of coordinating the country’s defenses in order to repel an aggressor; it does not make him a dictator, nor does it authorize him to use the military offensively or for law enforcement purposes. Note that the authority granted in Article II, Section II is military, not civilian, and that it does not release the President from his sworn duty to uphold the Constitution, nor does it revoke the right of the states to a republican form of government.

In response, some will undoubtedly argue that we now face dangers that our country’s founders could not have envisioned, and, for that reason, certain things must change. But the founders provided us with a means of changing the Constitution in the face of new circumstances or new wishes on the part of the people. We call this provision the “Amendment Process” (see Article V). So why is it that our leaders are not using this legitimate, constitutional tool, if indeed they believe that they require additional powers in order to meet modern challenges, and if indeed their motives are pure? Defenders of the Bush administration and its congressional allies (particularly Christians seeking to invoke Romans 13) should give serious thought to this question.

Consider that nearly seven years have elapsed since the September 11, 2001 attacks, and yet, in all that time, in spite of all the powers that Bush and Congress have usurped, they have not once prepared or even suggested a constitutional amendment to legitimize any of it. And the reason for this? Quite simply, they don’t believe they need to legitimize their actions. They do not recognize any authority above themselves, neither the Constitution of the United States nor the people who elected them.

Beware Government Agents quoting Scripture

The common perception of propaganda is that it is the art of telling lies, but in fact lies are only part of the picture. No, the true master of propaganda is skilled not only in telling outright lies, but also in employing distortion and half-truth.

For an example of this, consider Romans 13 again. The standard snake oil sold by the Dr. Tuberville’s of the world (unwittingly or not), where this passage is concerned, is that government is the “higher power” and must be obeyed in all things. This is what you’re likely to hear when a clergy response team member shows up on your doorstep, flanked by national guardsmen and demanding that you hand over your firearms, supplies, and/or valuables, or that you accompany them to Hotel Halliburton. Yet, as we have already seen, the Constitution, not the government, is the highest “power” in the United States of America, and those who act outside of it are criminals.

Note also that the Apostle Paul was arguing that Christians should support the “higher powers” because government is ordained by God to be “an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.” “Rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior,” Paul tells us, “but for evil,” after which he admonishes us to be “in subjection not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.” So what then of a government which, instead of punishing evil, actually practices evil itself? Can Paul have been suggesting that Christians should view the evil actions of a lawless power as somehow bearing the approval of God? Can a Christian either condone or submit to evil doings “for conscience’ sake”? Is it possible to do good by sanctioning, submitting to, or participating in evil? As Paul himself was fond of saying, “God forbid!”

When in Rome?

At this point, some might argue that the Roman Empire was evil in many ways, and that if Paul informed Christians that they needed to be in subjection to such a regime, surely today’s Christians have no excuse for resisting the will of the U.S. government, constitutional questions aside. And while I would agree that Rome was certainly a ruthless and brutal government, there are three important things that should be kept in view here:

1) Rome did not rule under a supreme Constitution such as we have.

2) While Paul instructed Christians to recognize Roman rule, he never once suggested that they should sanction or participate in Roman brutality. Indeed, the Bible contains a number of passages that instruct us to aid the oppressed (not to aid in their oppression):

Proverbs 24:10-12: “If you are slack [weak, feeble] in the day of distress, your strength is limited. Deliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold {them} back. If you say, "See, we did not know this," Does He not consider {it} who weighs the hearts? And does He not know {it} who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?”

Isaiah 1:16-17: “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.”

Jeremiah 21:12: “O house of David, thus says the LORD: ‘Administer justice every morning; And deliver the {person} who has been robbed from the power of {his} oppressor, that My wrath may not go forth like fire and burn with none to extinguish {it,} because of the evil of their deeds.’”

Jeremiah 22:2-3: “Thus says the LORD, ‘Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of {his} oppressor. Also do not mistreat {or} do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place.’”

The above passages make it clear that no one who claims to fear God should have anything to do with oppressing the innocent; but, rather, they should actively “reprove” those who do such things and “deliver” those who are being victimized. Genesis 14 tells the story of how Abraham attacked and overcame a group of kings who had taken his nephew, Lot, captive; and, in Job 29, we’re told that, among the good deeds Job was known for, he “delivered the poor who cried for help, and the orphan who had no helper,” and “broke the jaws of the wicked and snatched the prey from his teeth.” The Bible refers to both Abraham and Job as “righteous” and “upright.” Further, in I Timothy 5:8, the Apostle Paul, who wrote Romans 13, remarks: “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Surely “providing” for one’s own involves protecting them from those who would do them harm.

3) Two recorded instances from the Apostle Paul’s own life demonstrate that a Christian need not submit to injustice simply because it is perpetrated by agents of the state. Both examples come to us from the book of Acts.

The first is recorded in Acts 22, where Roman authorities questioned Paul in relation to his part in a riot that had just taken place in Jerusalem. Not satisfied with his answers, the Roman “chief captain” ordered that Paul be subjected to a bit of enhanced interrogation, 1st Century style (they were going to scourge him while questioning him further). Now, Paul was a Roman citizen, and under Roman law it was illegal to scourge a citizen. Paul pointed this out to his captors in Acts 22:23, and was spared the torture in favor of a trial.

The second example comes from Acts 25. Paul, who was then on trial before Porcius Festus, the Roman governor of Judea, saw that the governor was probably not going to give him a fair trial, and so he invoked the supreme right of a Roman citizen: he appealed to Caesar himself in hope of justice. He did this respectfully, but resolutely.

Clearly, the Apostle Paul had no problem with questioning authorities or appealing to the law in his defense, and I see no biblical reason why modern Christians are under obligation to act any differently. The Constitution is our supreme law, our supreme authority; we have every right to appeal to its provisions and to demand that those provisions be respected and not overthrown.


In summary, be aware of the fact that our government has already begun using religious propaganda to get its way, and that it fully intends to do so again. Beware those who would preach to you concerning how you should obey them as authorities over you, if they refuse to obey the authority over them. Beware those who talk about the law if they themselves are law-breakers. Beware those who would speak to you of “duty,” if they themselves have broken their oaths and violated the trusts of their offices. Contrary to the propaganda you’re likely to hear in the event of a martial law situation, neither Romans 13, nor any other passage of scripture, can be twisted to the effect of forcing Christians to buckle under to, participate in, or otherwise sanction, illegal actions or outright atrocities committed by the state.

You who are members of the clergy: could you go door-to-door telling people that God wants them to turn in their guns (or fuel, or food, or gold) and to leave themselves bereft and helpless because the state says so? You who are members of the military or law enforcement agencies: could you force yourselves on, or actually fire on, otherwise law-abiding American citizens who might only be trying to defend themselves, their property and their families against those who have decided to toss the law out like yesterday’s garbage? Could you justly take part in unjust actions? How many of history’s wars and other atrocities could have taken place had those ordered to carry them out simply said “No.”? Could Rome have enslaved and tortured millions of people without the consent of its soldiers? Could any of the tyrants of the past have plundered their citizens had they been forced to wield the sword by themselves? Could a single Southern farm have been burned had Northerners not consented to Lincoln’s rampage? Could Stalin or Mao have murdered tens of millions of their own countrymen without the assistance of their “Peoples’” armies? Make no mistake, if the United States government ever decides to oppress its own people, for whatever reason, it will not be the President or members of Congress, or the Joint Chiefs who go around intimidating people, kicking in doors, muzzling protest, dividing families, jailing and/or torturing dissenters or carrying off property. It will be you. They will expect you to do these things for them. The question is: can you live with it? And even more importantly: can you answer to God for it?

II Corinthians 5:10 – “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (Note – I see no exceptions granted here for those “acting under orders”).

Finally, don’t wait for the crisis to come before you act. The day martial law is declared is not the time to begin doing something about it. That time is now, today, before it happens. Start by familiarizing yourself with passages of scripture such as those I’ve listed above; and always consider what the Bible says for itself, not how others would interpret it to their own advantage. Familiarize yourself with the Constitution, with relevant legislation and presidential executive orders, and with the history of martial law situations and military occupations both here in the U.S. and in other countries. Share what you learn with your friends and family. Consider joining up with groups like Ron Paul’s new Campaign for Liberty, where you can work for change alongside other concerned Americans. Never forget that an intimate knowledge of truth is the best defense against the lies, distortions and half-truths of the propagandists.

Robert Hawes is the author of One Nation, Indivisible? A Study of Secession and the Constitution. This article, along with his past writings, can be found on his blog. He lives in South Carolina with his family, and is available for hire as a freelance writer. All scripture references used in this article are from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Christianity and War

The following is an excellent article by Laurence M. Vance entitled "Christianity and War." It offers a scathing, and I believe much needed, critique of Christian views concerning the state and warfare. Highly recommended!

Here's an excerpt:
We hear more from the pulpit today justifying military intervention in the Middle East than we do about the need for missionaries to go there. It is appalling that instead of the next military adventure of the U.S. government being denounced from every pulpit in the land, it will be preachers who can be counted on to defend it – and more so if it is another Republican war. To compound all of this, many of the church and denominational leaders who don’t follow the Republican Party line and don’t support the war in Iraq are strangely silent. Not a word about the immorality of the Iraq War. Not a word about U.S. imperialism. Not a word about the lies of the U.S. government. Not a word about the pseudo-Christianity of the president. Not a word about Christians na├»vely supporting the latest U.S. government pronouncement. Not a word about the CIA and the military being no place for a Christian young person. Not even a mild word of warning about the evils of the U.S. government. I don’t buy the excuse that these leaders are merely preaching and teaching the Bible and choosing not to dabble in politics. They are not silent about the evils of rock music, trashy daytime television, abortion, and pornography, even though the Scripture doesn’t mention these things, yet they are silent about the evils of war. Perhaps their churches contain too many current and former members of the military and they don’t want to rock the boat. Perhaps they are veterans themselves and feel embarrassed to now criticize their former employer.

If there is any group within Christianity that should be the most consistent, the most vocal, the most persistent, and the most scriptural in its opposition to war and the warfare state, it is conservative Christians who look to the Bible as their sole authority. Yet, never at any time in history have so many of these Christians held such unholy opinions. The adoration they have toward President Bush is unholy. The association they have with the Republican Party is unholy. The admiration they have for the military is unholy. The thirst they have for war is unholy. The callous attitude they have toward killing foreigners is unholy. The idolatry they manifest toward the state is unholy.

For the full article, go here, and thanks to Laurence Vance for writing such a great piece.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Are you a "terror" suspect?

Are you a potential "terror" suspect?

You might be surprised. According to the information contained in a Texas law enforcement pamphlet, just about anyone (literally) would qualify as a suspect. This has to be seen to be believed:

For more paranoia, consult these pamphlets issued by the Commonwealth of Virginia and the FBI:

Included in those to watch for are (the Texas pamphlet list is much more extensive):
  • "Anti-government" types (no definition provided, are limited government advocates also "anti-government"?)
  • "Property rights activists" (opposition to eminent domain, perhaps?)
  • "Religious extremists" (who constitutes an extremist? what beliefs are 'extreme'?)
  • "'Defenders' of the US Constitution against federal government and UN (Super Patriots)"
  • Those who "make numerous references to US Constitution" and/or "attempt to 'police the police'"
According to the above documents, potential terrorist paraphernalia could include such common items as:
  • sketch pads or notebooks
  • maps or charts
  • still or video camera
  • hand held tape recorder
  • binoculars
Ever carry around a notebook? How about maps or cameras? Ever use binoculars for bird-watching or star-gazing? Ever carry a tape-recorder in preparation for a meeting, or to make a list for later reference? You may want to think twice about doing these things in public places from now on lest you be taken in for some "enhanced interrogation".

So watch those references to the Constitution (no one seems to know how many is too many), be careful of the company you keep (stay away from women and children in Texas), be sure you're not carrying around any "terrorist tools," (no more taking pictures of the Capitol building for Grandma and Grandpa) and, should you find yourself under suspicion, you can take comfort in the fact that, as an American citizen, you are essentially entitled to nothing.

Monday, March 31, 2008

There Stands Schweitzer Like a Stone Wall

The pernicious and blatantly unconstitutional REAL ID Act has met with strenuous objections from many state officials, and, to their credit, some states have actually taken legislative action to forestall the program’s implementation. Even so, as the Associated Press reported on March 21, 2008, only Maine, Montana and South Carolina have not “sought extensions to comply, or already started toward compliance with Real ID.” New Hampshire has asked to be exempted, but the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has deemed that request “not legally acceptable.” So thus far, out of fifty states, only four have had the courage to tell the federales to go jump in a lake.

Now, I understand that, by filing requests for extensions, other states may be trying to drag the issue out until after the general election. Some state lawmakers don’t want to comply, but they’re afraid they’ll be accused of being “soft on terrorism” (or, even worse, breaking party ranks – horrors!) if they oppose it outright, so they’d rather stall in the hope that a new Congress and a new administration might repeal REAL ID and thereby solve the problem for them. But this solution, while pragmatic from a certain political point-of-view, is exacerbating the overall problem of federal usurpation. By filing for a compliance extension, states are playing by the federal government’s rules, and in doing so they are tacitly acknowledging the legitimacy of those rules (and the supremacy of those making them). On the other hand, the non-complying states are sending an entirely different message to Washington. They are denying that the federal government has any rightful authority to impose this program at all. In the process, they are also tacitly arguing that states have a right to interpret the Constitution for themselves, and to decide when the federal government has overstepped its bounds.

Enter Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer.

Schweitzer is not your typical Democrat. Indeed, he has been called the “antithesis of the Democrat stereotype.” In a 2006 article in the New York Times, it was said that Schweitzer has “seized the heartland imagery generally monopolized by Republicans,” and represents a new “Democratic brand of libertarian-tinged prairie populism” that may threaten the GOP’s traditional hold on the western states. I can’t support Schweitzer on every issue but I’ll take his brand of Democrat over Hillary or Obama anytime. For instance, on the topic of guns, Schweitzer has remarked that he owns “more than I need but less than I want,” and says, “In Montana we think gun control is hittin’ what you’re shootin’ at.”

It’s hard not to like a man who thinks that way.

Schweitzer is also a leading opponent of REAL ID, which he has called “another harebrained scheme, an unfunded mandate to tell us that our life is going to be better if we’ll just buckle under on some other kind of rule or regulation.” Among America’s governors, he is easily the most outspoken on the issue, and has promised that Montana will not yield. Regarding the powers-that-think-they-be in Washington, Schweitzer recently told NPR, “We usually just play along for a while, we ignore them for as long as we can, and we try not to bring it to a head. But if it comes to a head, we found that it’s best to just tell them to go to hell and run the state the way you want to run your state.” After hearing Schweitzer on NPR, Matthew Dunlap, Secretary of State for Maine, commented: “We were pretty impressed. We hadn’t heard rhetoric like that in many a year.”

Schweitzer’s impressive rhetoric stems from the fact that he possesses qualities that have become increasingly rare in American politics: namely, principles and guts. He has the courage of his convictions, and, God bless him, he’s doing what he can to inspire others to cultivate brains and backbones of their own.

On January 18, 2008, Schweitzer sent a letter to the governors of seventeen states, appealing for their help in stopping REAL ID. The following are some excerpts from the letter:

Last year, the Montana Legislature unanimously passed, and I signed, a bill to prevent our state from participating in Real ID…We recognized that Real ID was a major threat to the privacy, constitutional rights, and pocketbooks of ordinary Montanans...

Today, I am asking you to join with me in resisting the DHS coercion to comply with provisions of Real ID…I would like us to speak with one, unified voice and demand that Congress step in and fix this mess…

[DHS] Secretary Chertoff’s remarks yesterday, albeit about WHTI, not Real ID, reflect DHS continued disrespect for the serious and legitimate concerns of our citizens. I take great offense at this notion we should all simply “grow up.” Please do not accept the Faustian bargain of applying for the DHS extension. If we stand together, either DHS will blink or Congress will have to act to avoid havoc at our nation’s airports and federal courthouses.

According to the Associated Press, as of March 14, Schweitzer’s office had been flooded with a grand total of two replies, “both simply acknowledging receipt of the letter.” Tragically, this fact upholds my long-standing suspicion that, among America’s elected officials, the women aren’t the only ones wearing panties.

For his part, however, Schweitzer continues to soldier on.

On March 21, Montana’s Attorney General, Mike McGrath, sent a letter to DHS Secretary Chertoff, informing him that Montana’s licensing requirements are already “one of the most secure in the nation,” and that he cannot authorize implementation of REAL ID because the Montana legislature has forbidden it. McGrath also asked that DHS not take any steps that would “penalize Montanans’ ability to use their valid Montana drivers licenses for federal identification purposes and commercial air travel.” DHS replied that it would have to treat McGrath’s letter as “a request for an extension,” to which Governor Schweitzer responded, “I sent them a horse and if they want to call it a zebra, that’s up to them. They can call it whatever they want, and it wasn’t a love letter.”

Principles and guts, ladies and gentlemen. Principles and guts.

The battle over REAL ID is one that we cannot afford to lose. Its implementation would mark the beginning of a new era in America’s decline, and not just because it would limit the average American’s ability to board an airplane or enter a federal building. REAL ID will do far more than that. If successful, it will very quickly become the standard for identification purposes in every area of life and business where the federal government is involved, and there are precious few areas where it is not involved these days, thanks mainly to the war on drugs and the People’s glorious income tax system. You may be required to produce a REAL ID if you start a new job; open a bank account; buy a gun (and most likely ammunition, too); or even to purchase certain over-the-counter medicines, as DHS Assistant Secretary for Policy Stewart Baker recently told the Heritage Foundation. I can even foresee a time when you may not be permitted to vote without the Mark of the Bush on your person.

REAL ID will also become a patriotic shibboleth test and a law enforcement red flag. The Department of Homeland Security, working closely with law enforcement officials in collaborating – er, cooperating – states, will instruct officers to be on the look-out for vehicles with tags from non-complying states. Drivers of such vehicles will be pulled over more often, searched more often, and generally harassed and subjected to thuggery more often. Count on it. DHS and state officials may deny it – or not, in this age of brazen police-state tactics and intimidation – but, either way, it will happen. These people are on a witch hunt, and anyone who dares to challenge their methods is automatically under suspicion of having a broom and a pointy hat hidden away in his or her closet.

In a nutshell, REAL ID will, for the first time, give the federal government real power to destroy the lives of political dissenters; not by direct means, as this would assuredly spark a rebellion, but by indirect means. By simply denying an individual the ability to live a normal life. By blocking them in at every turn. By treating them like outcasts, if not virtual traitors. If you doubt that such things could ever happen here in America, I would encourage you to research civil liberties under Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt, and particularly under Abraham Lincoln. There was a time in this country when it was considered the height of patriotism to harass and imprison those who criticized the government, to burn the towns and fields of dissenters, and to steal food from the mouths of women and children in the name of the flag. Our leaders are openly following in the ideological footsteps of the tyrants of the past, and, sadly, some in the highest courts in the land are prepared to excuse their abuses.

Not only can it happen here, it already has happened here. And it can and will happen again unless those in positions of responsibility, like Governor Brian Schweitzer, stand up to tyranny, look it in the eye, and call it what it is, even when it comes wrapped in red-white-and-blue packaging. Furthermore, such brave men and women will need the support – the very loud and public support – of every single American who cares enough about freedom to do something more than complain about its decline. The Washington establishment must know that people like Schweitzer have our active support, and that we will do everything in our power to oppose the overthrow of this republic. Write and call your elected officials. Let them know that REAL ID is an affront to the principles of American liberty and that it must be repealed. Give them the example of Schweitzer. Ask that they not let him be the lone voice for sanity and freedom among America’s governors where REAL ID is concerned. Encourage them to stand with him. Point out that REAL ID was never even debated by Congress, but was attached as a rider to an “emergency” war funding bill! Remind them that states do have the right to oppose unconstitutional federal edicts. In fact, I would go further than that – remind them that they are sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and thus that they are obligated to oppose its violation. And above all, let them know that, if they will stand for you, you will stand with them.

There stands Schweitzer like a stone wall. Rally behind the Montanans!

Robert Hawes is the author of One Nation, Indivisible? A Study of Secession and the Constitution. This article, along with his past writings, can be found on his blog. He lives in South Carolina with his family, and is working on a career as a freelance writer.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

We're doing nothing about what ails us

The Jeffersonian should be returning with a new original article soon (sigh...I've been busy); however, in the meantime, I thought you might enjoy this little bit of righteous indignation from a Montana resident:

Letter to the Editor of the Billings Gazette:


What a strange lot we Americans are. For instance:

There is a war going on which about 70 percent of us oppose and want our troops brought home. So what do we do? Sit on our butts and do nothing.

We have a Congress which points fingers at those on the other side of the aisle, calls one another names, investigates baseball players of all things, and does nothing. So what do we do? Sit on our butts and do nothing.

We have the worst slate of presidential candidates imaginable. So what do we do? Sit on our butts and do nothing.

Our government is going to take $300, $600, $1,200 or whatever out of one of our pockets and put it in the other, The cost of administering this farce will be staggering no doubt. So what do we do? Sit on our butts and do nothing.

The food industry is gouging us at the grocery store and the oil industry is more than gouging us at the gas pump. So what do we do? Sit on our butts and do nothing.

What can we do? There are millions and millions of us. We can do anything to which we are willing to put our hands and our minds.

Al Bishop


Amen, Al. Well said.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Time to Go: the Case for a New Third Party

“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” – Amos 3:3

With Super Tuesday behind us, and John McCain’s straight-razor express belching smoke with a new vigor, I think it’s time that we conservatives and libertarians were honest with ourselves: the Republican Party can no longer even nominally call itself the home of limited government ideals.

It’s dead, Jim. Stick a tag on its toe and wheel it down to the morgue. And given the way it treated Ron Paul, his ideals and his supporters, I say “Good riddance!”

For awhile, many of us thought that it might be revived. There was hopeful talk among conservatives and libertarians to the effect that, “The spirit of liberty isn’t totally gone yet in the GOP – we can still bring it back.” The patient was in critical condition but seemed to have a faint heartbeat (brain activity is another matter).

Well, I’m now convinced that the heartbeat we were listening to during all of that time was our own. It’s a situation akin to a doctor hovering over a deceased patient, but with the stethoscope pressed to his own chest, all the while muttering, “He’s still in there. I can save him!” We conservatives and libertarians were the heartbeat of liberty in the GOP all along, and it’s time that we realize this and leave the corpse to rot in peace.

But what options do we have if we leave?

Among existing third parties, the Libertarian and Constitution Parties seem the most congenial for homeless conservatives and libertarians of the Ron Paul persuasion; at least ideologically speaking. In reality, however, the Libertarian Party is sagging under the weight of negative perception baggage, and it never has seemed serious about winning elections; whereas the Constitution Party, for all of its commendable points, will probably never have broad enough appeal to be successful, due to the religious language in its platform (and I say that as a Christian).

Consequently, I think the best path forward for homeless Ron Paul revolutionaries is to form a new third party. Now I’m aware that this is not going to be a welcome idea in many quarters, due to the fact that third parties have become virtually synonymous with political futility and kookery. But Americans are unquestionably looking for alternatives, and I can’t help but wonder if perhaps all of those failed, previous efforts might not teach us something about how to do it right.

Here’s what I have in mind:

Key Points:

1. Message

Past third party efforts have suffered from two primary ailments in this area: they have either limited their appeal by adhering to a narrow focus (a single issue or a small slate of issues), or they have simply offered the public a new form of statism, for which the Democrats and Republicans already serve in stellar capacity.

What is needed is a message that is different enough to set us apart from the major parties, and broad enough to draw support from virtually every political corner. For this, I suggest a two-sided approach to policy: federalism at home, and non-interventionism abroad.


My greatest disappointment with the Ron Paul campaign is that it has practically ignored the issue of federalism, which I think is critical, and which could have generated as much support for Dr. Paul as the war issue, if not more. In interview after interview and debate after debate, Dr. Paul consistently stated that he was in favor of “following the Constitution,” and that he wanted to roll the federal government back to its rightful place, but he never really explained what those things mean in a way that would resonate with average Americans. On most occasions, he simply didn’t have enough time, but I do think the issue could have been hit much harder than it was.

What I had hoped to hear during one of the debates was something like this:

“Americans are clearly not of one mind on every issue, so why should we have to live under the same laws? Imagine an America where California and Virginia could agree to disagree on the issue of abortion. Imagine if Massachusetts and South Carolina could agree to disagree on the issue of gay marriage. Imagine being able to go to the polls and cast a vote on such important issues without having to worrying about being overruled by a federal judge!

“Our founding fathers understood that not everyone wanted to live under the same laws. That’s why they crafted our Constitution so that the federal government had only certain, specific powers, and everything else was left up to the states, to be decided as their people saw fit. Today, though, politicians in Washington use our tax dollars to try and force us all to live by their edicts, by what they and their special interest friends want for us, instead of how we ourselves would choose to live. They want power. They want control. But they can only have these things if we let them. We can take the reins of our lives back again, if we will. By disempowering Washington we empower ourselves. Your choice is clear tonight (points to the other candidates): you can choose his plan for your life, or his plan for your life, or his plan for your life, or my plan to give you back your life.”

There is real dynamite in the message of federalism. It’s a simple, appealing idea. Show the blue staters how they can protect themselves against the red staters, and vice versa, and I think the argument will almost sell itself.


We all know that Americans are sick of the Iraq war, and have no interest in repeating the mistake elsewhere, so the message of non-interventionism has a lot going for it. Ron Paul has been preaching this sermon consistently, and it was the issue that really catapulted his campaign into the national spotlight. Given that none of the establishment candidates are going to do anything substantive to change our failed foreign policy, I expect public disenchantment to continue to grow in this area, especially among the young (they don’t like being sent off to die for other peoples’ legacies – who knew?).

To see more on how these principles could translate into a party platform, see the American Freedom Party.

2. Grassroots level outreach and growth

Third parties typically squander their meager resources on promoting long-shot presidential candidates, when they should be working to spread their message among average Americans instead. Think about it for a moment: when was the last time you saw a newspaper ad for the Libertarian Party, or heard a radio spot for the Constitution Party? When was the last time either of them canvassed your neighborhood and left material on your doorstep? Or set up a billboard in town? Or sponsored a rally?

Whatever the long-term results of the Ron Paul Revolution might prove to be, I think the most significant to date is that is has put tens of thousands of like-minded individuals in contact with one another, in meet-up groups and chat rooms from coast-to-coast. If a new party came together, these groups could quickly become its affiliates. They would be a tremendous basis upon which to continue to spread the message of peace and freedom, far more so than anything available to any existing third party…and they’re already present in every state.

Consider what such groups have already accomplished to date. Reflect on the millions of dollars this grassroots revolution has raised. Consider the effectiveness of our writing and telephone campaigns, of how we have repeatedly made the establishment squirm over the last few months. Rudy Giuliani couldn’t go anywhere without Ron Paul supporters heckling him; and Fox News will surely never regain the credibility (or the audience) it once had.

All of this with so little formal organization! To call it inspiring would be an understatement. Given the powerful forces arrayed against us, the progress we’ve made is nothing short of incredible; and we must not let that momentum slip away. By all indications, we have difficult times ahead of us. We’re going to need one another’s support if we’re to defend what is left of our freedom, and we’re going to need to be ready with answers on those occasions when the establishment falls on its face.


What about ballot access issues and getting into the debates?

Again, the meet-up groups scattered across the country are potential state affiliate parties, and I think they could organize and get enough signatures to obtain ballot access before the mid-term elections. They’ve already demonstrated that they can canvass effectively, so I don’t think that’s an unrealistic expectation at all.

Once ballot access is achieved, the key to maintaining it with the least amount of effort and expense will be to target the right elections, particularly those where a major party candidate is running unopposed. Third party candidates can pick up a lot of protest votes in such races. For instance, the Wyoming Libertarian Party was able to gain major party status a few years ago, due to just such a scenario.

We should also make it a goal to highlight the unfairness of current ballot access laws, and to press for change. A little pressure can go a long way, and, if anything, this movement has demonstrated that it can apply pressure and get results.

Where the presidential debates are concerned, the requirement is that a candidate be polling at 15% in order to be invited; and, truth be told, if we aren’t polling near that level, we probably shouldn’t be running anyone for president. The key there is to do our job at the grassroots level, working to spread the word and build the party to the point where we’ll have the numbers we need. Ross Perot was able to do this as recently as 1992. During the general election he received more votes than George Bush in Maine, and more than Bill Clinton in Utah, and might have done even better had he not dropped out of the race for a time (and if he had had a better Vice Presidential running mate).

What about the perception that third parties can’t win?

No mistake about it, this will be a public relations battle, and what needs to be emphasized is that anyone who wants change must be willing to work for it, and to take a chance on it: “We will never have change if we keep electing the same old people who will continue to do things the same old way,” etc. It should also be emphasized that this perception serves the interests of the major parties, both of which would like us to think that we can’t do without them. This point should be incorporated into the overall call for freedom from Washington. The more we equate the major parties with Washington and its corruption, the more people will be willing to send their votes elsewhere; and the more noise we make, the more influential, and thus viable, we will appear to voters.

What about how long it will take to build influence?

If we concentrate on getting the word out to the extent that we should, I think we’ll be surprised by how quickly we’ll grow. There are significant numbers of Americans that either do not vote or else have fallen out of the system; the Ron Paul campaign has demonstrated that these people are reachable and winnable. It has also demonstrated that America’s young people are very much open to the message of peace and freedom, and that they are politically homeless and frustrated.

Finally, bear in mind that it will not be necessary for us to capture the White House or majorities in Congress in order to have influence. The more the merrier, of course, but votes in Congress are sometimes close enough that even a couple of congressmen or a single senator can wield considerable power. The same holds true with state legislatures.

What about the fact that so many Americans like statism just fine?

Unfortunately, many Americans do like statism, but the good news is that statists are divided into camps, and they don’t get along. Liberals tend to want to control our wallets, while conservatives would usually prefer to invade our bedrooms (when foreign countries aren’t available, anyway). These are generalizations, of course, but they’re reasonably accurate; and I believe that such differences present us with the very real potential of breaking up the cartel in Washington D.C. Again, it’s a matter of showing the blue staters how they can protect themselves against the red staters, and vice versa.

Under a return to federalism, states could make their own policies concerning issues like abortion, gay marriage, medical marijuana, etc., and the potential for this kind of freedom will appeal to both sides of the aisle. Some will use it to commit outrages against liberty, while others will use it to protect liberty. If, on the other hand, the federal government retains its current powers (and expands on them), the likelihood is that all we’re going to see is a continuous stream of outrages, and there will be no escaping them. For instance, under federalism, if New York ever decided to outlaw home schooling, home school families could flee elsewhere. If, on the other hand, the federal government ever started to regulate it, they would be trapped no matter where they were within the United States.

Thus the potential of what I’m suggesting here is the ability to better preserve our liberties by forcing statists to fight us for control of fifty state governments, rather than one national government. Additionally, as I pointed out under the “influence” question, we don’t necessarily need majorities to have an impact on the system. Every single person we send to an elected office has potential to obstruct the decay of our freedoms.


I started this article with a quote from the Old Testament book of Amos – “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” It is evident that the friends of freedom can no longer pretend to walk in agreement with the GOP establishment. The party has set itself intractably against the Jeffersonian principles of non-interventionism, limited government, and individual liberty, and it has done everything in its power to silence contrary voices.

How much longer will we continue to allow the GOP elite to stymie us? In many ways, Ron Paul style conservatives and libertarians are already operating like a third party within the GOP. I’m suggesting that we just go ahead and make it official. We have the right message at the right time in history. The question is: do we have the vision and the will?

Even more fundamentally, given the enormity of what is at stake, do we have a choice?

"An army of principles will penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot...neither the Rhine, the Channel nor the ocean can avert its progress. It will march on the horizon of the world, and it will conquer." – Thomas Paine

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