Violence & Vitriol vs Peace & Joy

Think On: “May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings, slow to make enemies, and quick to make friends.  And may you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.” IRISH PROVERB

Tumbleweed continues to be horrified at the lack of civility that characterizes today’s leftist progressives.  The far-left progressive choir wallows unhinged in vitriol as they spew forth all manner of hatred for our President, his supporters, and many of the founding principles of our nation.  It’s too easy to write them off as a bunch of whining children throwing a massive temper tantrum.  However, it’s certainly not the first time.  The leftist hatred has been palpable for decades.

First, let’s get a bit of perspective.  That Irish proverb resonates with Tumbleweed.  Also, let’s keep in our consciousness the words from James 1:2-3, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”  Be assured, perseverance in the face of anger and vitriol is very much in play here.

Back in the 1920s, the liberal left was motivated by Communists lying about Marxism, as the left was easily duped by the Bolshevik propaganda machine.  They attacked Woodrow Wilson and his Attorney General Alex Palmer, painting them as stupid, bloodthirsty anti-Communist savages stirring up a “Red scare.”  The leftist rants didn’t lighten up in the 1930s and 1940s, as the Hollywood liberal elite, leftist academia, and news media (led by the New York Times), harangued Congress as behaving like Hitler’s Germany, supporting fascism, and setting up America as a concentration camp or an Auschwitz.  Famed entertainers of the era like Danny Kaye, Judy Garland, and Gene Kelly spewed the Communist party line.  Even Humphrey Bogart was duped for a while.  Moving into the 1950s, the leftists turned there hate on President Harry Truman, attacking him as the “butcher of Hiroshima” and an enemy of the Soviet state.  Truman was vilified in the media as a warmonger and another Hitler.

Of course, Tumbleweed is scratching the surface.  There’s a temptation to view the Vietnam era of the 1960s and 1970s as the pinnacle of left-wing anti-Americam anger and vitriol.  The USSR, which had a vested interest in the Communist Viet Cong, ramped up a huge propaganda machine enlisting American liberals into convincing U.S. citizens that the Vietnam War was a losing proposition.  Emboldened by their success in controlling public opinion and causing the pullout from Viet Nam, the left sought to build upon their success.  They had torn into one-time Democrat turned conservative Republican President Ronald Reagan, blasting his “Star Wars” missile defense system (actually, Strategic Defense Initiative or SDI) as a threat to cause a third world war.  A leader in undercutting Reagan was none other than liberal darling and hero of Chappaquiddick Senator Ted Kennedy who secretly proposed a deal with Soviet Supreme Leader Yuri Andropov to sabotage SDI in return for USSR support for his own presidential ambitions.  Blessedly, along came the tearing down of “The Wall” along with the socio-economic implosion of the USSR, momentarily taken the wind from the far-left sails.

The Communist threat seemed defused until a succession of progressive-leaning presidencies succumbed to the ascension of former KGB muscleman Vladimir Lenin.  Leveraging terrorism spawned from the Middle East and supported directly by Iran and North Korea, the Russian propaganda machine was rejuvenated and brought to bear to once again recruit liberal progressives in the United States.  Who emerges?  The likes of “Swiftboat” John Kerry, Maxine Waters, and Harry Reid expounded total hatred of President George W. Bush, calling him a liar and betrayer of the nation.  The vitriol quotient was rising exponentially.  Soon enough Barack Hussein Obama arrives on the scene spawning supporters like ACORN and the SEIU and inciting the Hollywood, journalistic, and academic elite to spew forth all manner of hate speech and violent protest.

So, here we are today.  It’s as though Lenin’s “useful idiots” have gone into overdrive.  Supposedly reasonably intelligent politicians, journalists, academicians, and entertainers are caught up in the extreme emotions of hate and exercise of violence.  The vitriol is off the charts, as foul language and unfounded accusations blast across television screen banners and spew forth from the mouths of liberal talking heads.  They seize upon the most insignificant action to go nuclear with their vitriol.  The President can do no right nor no wrong without negative over-reaction.  How sad, indeed.

Hmmmm.  In the United States, we have this little matter of a Constitution that defines how we are governed.  Donald Trump was duly and properly elected by gaining far more Electoral College votes than his opponent.  In establishing the Electoral College, our founding fathers had in mind that representation of the less-populated states would not be diminished.  The idea was to not have the entire nation run by urban centers like New York City, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles while ignoring our vast and just as important heartland.  It’s a similar principle to why we have two Senators from each state versus our Representatives as proportioned by population.

Now, Tumbleweed was far from pleased with the election of Barack Hussein Obama as president.  But the voters – and Electoral College – had spoken, so we strove to accept the results.  Despite the perceived scandals, lies, and far-left progressive autocratic actions of President Obama over the next 8 years, we kept our powder dry until we could elect Donald Trump in November 2016.  There were no violent protests or unhinged vitriol from the conservative right during President Obama’s administration.  Admittedly, while there was peace, there was not much joy.

Tumbleweed reminds of that Irish proverb that concludes with, And may you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.”   Tumbleweed is especially taken with part of the refrain of the Switchfoot song “Rise Above it,” “It feels so typical, Guess I’m looking for a miracle; Rise above it rise above it; The curse is spoken, The system’s broken; Rise above it, Rise above it.”  The left really needs to rise above it.  Just sayin’.

School Shooting Facts or Fiction: It Depends

Think on: There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” MARK TWAIN

Tumbleweed must confess to having actually conducted market research projects.  Market research can be a fascinating area whereby response statistics are gathered, analyzed, and outcomes reported.  Notably, how you ask the question can dictate outcomes, even “engineering” desired outcomes.  Statistics can be shaped and recipients duped.  Think on Mark Twain’s caution.

A few days back, Tumbleweed saw a social media feed announcing that dozens of school shootings had occurred since the beginning of the year.  There had certainly been a couple of mass shootings of grave concern, but the number quoted – 44 – intuitively seemed misleading.  The source of the number was an organization called Everytown for Gun Safety.  Turns out it is a favored resource of the left-wing anti-gun movement.  Mind you, our hearts go out to those whose loved ones were killed or injured, but it seems hypocritical, even deceptive to leverage tragedy for political advantage.

According to its website, “Everytown is a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities. Gun violence touches every town in America. For too long, change has been thwarted by the Washington gun lobby and by leaders who refuse to take common-sense steps that will save lives.  But something is changing. More than 4 million mayors, moms, cops, teachers, survivors, gun owners, and everyday Americans have come together to make their own communities safer. Together, we are fighting for the changes that we know will save lives.”  Sounds worthy enough.  Then, Tumbleweed dug deeper.

Tumbleweed examined each of the 44 incidents in 2018 reported as school shootings through May 21.  We dare not diminish the three horrific mass school shootings at Santa Fe, Texas; Benton, Kentucky; and Parkland, Florida that account for the vast majority of deaths and woundings in the data.  But what of the other 42 incidents.  Thirteen were accidental firearm discharge and 19 of the 44 shootings resulted in no injuries.  Eleven incidents resulted in one or more deaths, including the three suicides.  Thirty-nine involved a handgun, while five used a rifle or shotgun (two AR-15s).  Overall, among 34 K-12 shootings and 10 college shootings, 39 lives were lost and 66 people were injured.  Eleven incidents involved non-students, and in two cases metal detectors were not in use or broken.  Any shooting is scary, deaths and injuries are terrible tragedies.

There are 98,000 K-12 facilities in the United States and 7,200 post-secondary institutions.  Cold, unemotional analysis would reveal that the percentage of incidents – despite tragic consequences – are statistically insignificant (0.0004 percent).  Statistically at least, our institutions are pretty safe.  Keep in mind, too, that many of the incidents reported in 2018 could have been readily avoided.

Everytown for Gun Safety statistics are startling, but hardly a rationale for taking away the right to bear arms.  Everytown is inexcusably deceptive, as it plays with truth.  There are preventive means that are far more complex and effective than stripping away our Second Amendment rights.  The over-reaction of the gun lobby certainly reflects shades of Mark Twain’s caution, as they repeatedly seize tragedies to leverage their anti-firearm message.  Analyzing statistics doesn’t bring back lives or heal wounds, but misusing statistics to gain political ends is a horrific tactic.  Tumbleweed suggest always looking at the political motivations underlying statistics.  Just sayin’.

Resist? Nothing New, But…

Think On: “Did you ever suspect that there are thousands upon thousands of revolutionaries who are daily and nightly planning and plotting to set a torch to this country?  Spread enlightenment…[if] any of your workers have misconceptions concerning what Bolshevism really is, take time to explain matters.” B.C. FORBES, Forbes Magazine, March 22, 1919

Truth be told, Tumbleweed minored in history in college and has spent his lifetime reading and striving to especially experience and better understand U.S. history.  As taught today, history has mostly fallen victim to the PC police, revisionist historians with political agendas, and their minions in academia and media.

All that is past qualifies as history, and it is little wonder that there are many points of view on so vast and complex a subject.  From a historical view, today’s “resist” crowd is bush-league at best, a loud but ineffectual bunch of crybabies.   It’s not enough to simply be “anti” something.  They could take lessons from the resisters to Presidents like James Polk, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin Roosevelt to name a few.  Let’s take a high-level look at an ongoing resist movement that affects our lives us to this day: Anti-Communism.

By now, most of us are aware that Communism and communism (little “c”) have amounted to a total failure wherever and whenever put into practice, having consistently devolved into totalitarian regimes with the deaths by violence and starvation of tens of millions of people.  Few folks are aware of the huge campaigns by the Moscow Comintern to promote communism in the U.S. beginning with the 1917 establishment of the Bolshevik government in Russia and the efforts to fight back, to resist the Communist scourge.  The Communists were experts at duping unsuspecting folks into following their movement, even having visitors tour “Potymkin Villages” in Russia where their citizens were paid to appear successful and happy.  These became Vladimir Lenin ‘s “useful idiots/”

Anyone ever heard of A. Mitchell Palmer?  Likely not.  He was Attorney General under Woodrow Wilson back in 1920.  His “Palmer Raids” – a series of extrajudicial roundups of supposed anarchists and communists – resulted in arrests of thousands of people across the country.  This was serious resistance.  Palmer aspired to the presidency, but great communist-promoted PR frustrated his bid.

Some folks may have heard of Senator Joseph McCarthy who famously sought in the 1950s to identify and purge what he saw as numerous Soviet Communist spies and sympathizers in our nation’s government, universities, film industry, and elsewhere.  From him, we get the term “McCarthyism.”  Horrified by his techniques and fearful of any success he might have, progressive liberals – ironically inspired by communist sympathizers – attacked McCarthy unmercifully as a demagogue.  The Communists reconstituted as far left-wing secular progressives aiming to chip away freedoms and expand “big brother” government to gain control through infiltration and indoctrination.  But McCarthy was a big-time resister.

Anyone remember “My vas pokhoronim!”?  Those were the words in a 1956 speech by Soviet Chairman Nikita Kruschev.  Translated: “We will bury you.”  These words not only fed the aforementioned McCarthyism, but led to long-held paranoia within the U.S.  Seemingly well-intended movements described as social justice, human rights, or social democrats pepper the history of the past century.  Yet, few history books teach the high levels of subversive communication between the central Comintern in Moscow and the Communist Party USA over the past century aimed at in fact “burying” the United States.  Ironically, the most effective resisters to Communism were liberals who were first duped into supporting communism and later became aware of having been duped and fought back.

Where’s Tumbleweed going with this?  Look under the covers of the today’s so-called “Resist” movement, and you’ll find dozens of communistic and socialistic front organizations like Organizing for America, Black Lives Matter, and even the aforementioned CPUSA.  Sadly, much of our population has insufficient knowledge of history to avoid repeating past mistakes.  Thus, we are in danger of succumbing to an inexorable move toward a socialist state destined to fail for lack of scalability and then devolve into communism and then – when all freedoms are stolen – totalitarianism.  The grossly inadequate teaching of history in our education system coupled with widely-duped media and sycophantic politicians has left a huge segment of our population susceptible to being duped by movements like Resist.  Just sayin’.

 

Meaning of Life

Think On: “What oxygen is to the lungs, such is hope to the meaning of life.” EMIL BRUNNER, Swiss Theologian

It’s a given that most folks, including Tumbleweed, struggle to find meaning in their lives.  We hope for the best.  What if we lose hope?  What does life without hope mean?

Tumbleweed led a men’s book study a few years back based on psychologist and Christian apologist Dr Larry Crabb’s “Inside Out.”  It’s a great book, but not for the faint of heart who might be put off by its introspection.  God isn’t always gentle.  Anyway, Crabb suggests that we humans have certain longings: casual, critical, and crucial.  Casual longings might be preferring a red colored car or desiring tickets to a baseball game.  They’re not really vitally important to our lives.  Critical longings begin to position us toward being concerned with life’s meaning.  They are comprised of life basics like food and shelter. They are akin to the lower elements of Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” (physiological, safety, love/belonging, and esteem).  When critical longings are being satisfied and we have time to dabble in casual longings, we might start to wonder at the meaning of life.  Why indeed are we here on this planet?  We might consider Maslow’s pinnacle of needs: self-actualization.  Ah, dear reader, we open the door to what Crabb calls crucial longings.  Guess what? You are unlikely to achieve them in this life.

Tumbleweed recently read clinical psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson’s “Maps of Meaning,” a book in which the author articulates his journey of finding meaning in life.  Spoiler alert!  He finds it in the New Testament.  Peterson sees life as a struggle to put order into chaos and has discovered that the solution is found in Christ’s teachings.  Going back to Crabb’s postulation of struggling to satisfy our crucial longings and having linked those longings with the meaning of life, we might be easily frustrated.

Some few of you may have heard of the Stockdale Paradox.  Admiral Stockdale was the highest-ranking U.S. officer held as a POW in Viet Nam.  Despite being kept in solitary confinement for 4 years, in leg irons for 2 years, physically tortured more than 15 times, denied medical care, and malnourished, Stockdale organized a system of communication and developed a cohesive set of rules governing prisoner behavior.  He put order into chaos.  Codified in the acronym BACK U.S. (Unity over Self), these rules gave prisoners a sense of hope and empowerment.  Many of the prisoners credited these rules as giving them the strength to endure their lengthy ordeal. Drawing largely from principles of stoic philosophy, notably Epictetus’ “The Enchiridion,” Stockdale’s courage and decisive leadership was an inspiration to POWs.  Stockdale was able to give the POWs meaning, and with that, hope.  Perhaps, we live our own Stockdale Paradox.

Tumbleweed contends that meaning in life requires hope.  We hold out hope at achieving our crucial longings, at self-actualizing, at attaining a life of significance.  All the riches in the world cannot hope to compare with the satisfaction of these sorts of non-financial achievements.  Just sayin’.

Ideologies & The Red Pill

Think On: “Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.  It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.” WILLIAM PITT, Speech in House of Commons, 1783

Tumbleweed has written before about ideology versus principles.  Some folks took issue with my comparison of ideology resting on a foundation of emotional sand versus principles resting on the bedrock of moral rules.  Folks are entitled to their opinions, but let Tumbleweed suggest that ideologies, as described so very effectively by clinical behavioral psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson, are “simple ideas, disguised as science or philosophy, that purport to explain the complexity of the world and offer remedies that will perfect it.”

Tumbleweed suggests that ideologies are mere substitutes for true knowledge and invariably dangerous, as a simple-minded, know-it-all approach – such as utopianism – cannot be a match for the complexity of our real-world existence.   The very word “ideology” has an 18th century French origin attributed to A.L.C. Destutt de Tracy and was to be used to designate the science of ideas.  While it was originally a serious philosophical term, Napoleon Bonaparte borrowed it, used it derisively, and relegated it to the trash heap of now being defined as a systematic body of concepts especially as ascribed to particular groups or political parties.  Tumbleweed has suggested that ideology not grounded in solid moral principles is downright dangerous.  In today’s morally relativistic world, the underlying morality of an ideology is critically important.

For example, there is a growing demographic in U.S. culture that has adopted socialism as its ideological mantra.  These folks are generally labelled as far left progressives, most often of the “new” Democratic Party persuasion.  Most have learned their socialism from media, academics, and political zealots as opposed to any intellectual debate in the crucible of ideas and experience.  No where in history has socialism succeeded as a form of government.  Certainly not Sweden for those not paying attention to that nation’s gross failures.  Socialism either regresses to a dependent culture with widespread socio-economic repression in which capitalistic elements are cherry-picked by the ruling class of utopians in a desperate effort to try to salvage the society or they take the next step to totalitarianism, as in Fascism, Communism, or Nazism.  Of course, the Communists have found the most expeditious way to control their utopian experiment is simply to kill dissenters…like more than 110 million in the past century alone.  Thank you, Karl Marx.  Oh, and the Communists are very much alive and well in the United States…some disguised as socialists.  Indeed, an ideology can be a dangerous, especially when grounded in faulty moral principles.  Tumbleweed argues that socialism seriously threatens our republic.  The sound moral principles embedded in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States are vastly superior to any socialistic ideology, yet they are being challenged by mostly what Vladimir Lenin called useful idiots.

Tumbleweed believes it’s important to fight against evil.  Evil is an aggressive, pervasive, often subtle artifice that must be fought and defeated.   The alternative is to live in mediocrity or worse.  It boils down to a natural human tendency to treasure liberty, the opportunity to carve out our own opportunities unencumbered by some ponderous metastasizing supposedly-utopian government’s idea of how we should live every facet of our lives.  So, Tumbleweed has chosen the “red pill” (recall The Matrix) and is fighting  the evils of relativism, nihilism, and utopianism.  Just sayin’.

Scandal

Think On: “The greatest enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived, and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive, and realistic.” JOHN F. KENNEDY, U.S. PRESIDENT

Scandal is defined as an action or event regarded as morally or legally wrong and causing general public outrage.  You’d hardly have guessed from the way scandals bounce around these days.

In today’s toxic environment, the term scandal is tossed around so readily as to have become meaningless.  After all, there are rarely any consequences in the political arena.

See whether you can say the following in a single breath: IRS Scandal, AG Contempt, Benghazi, General Motors Bailout, Obamacare, NSA Spying, DOJ Spying on Journalists, National Intelligence Leaks, Fast & Furious, Clinton Email Server, Veterans Affairs Scandal, Iran Deal, Bergstrom Deal, Chelsea Manning Commutation, Solyndra, Investigation of James Rosen, Illegal Executive Appointments, Iran Cash, Food Stamp Mania, Student Loans, Record Executive Orders, FISA Warrants…huff an’ puff.  That barely scratches the surface of “scandals” in the Obama White House.  Of course, some aren’t considered scandals if you’re of the Progressive liberal political persuasion.  The political liberals have their own set of Trump White House “scandals.”

The common thread among these scandals is not so simple.  They are certainly morally and legally wrong and have caused outrage by some segment of the public.  Tumbleweed hopes readers catch the drift.  Your morality or my morality; your legality or my legality?  Arghhh.

In Tumbleweed’s humble opinion, much scandal is a product of the failure of our cultural infrastructure from suppression of free thinking in our education system to the conscious devaluation of faith and family to the erosion of the nation’s founding principles.  In defense, people have learned to look out for themselves, as they seek pleasure in their hedonistic-driven culture and lash out at annoyances (i.e., scandals) that threaten that pleasure seeking.  Tumbleweed suggests that is a quite arrogant worldview given that most of the 108 billion humans that have populated the earth have already come and gone.  An infinitesimal fraction has the gall to complain!

Solutions?  For a start, we might reinsert our nation’s founding principles into the culture.  We might build/encourage families as basic unit of society.  We could stop government from stealing our liberties.  We might avoid addiction or enslavement to any ideology.  WE might strive to avoid taking advantage of others for selfish purposes.  We might try doing all things to the glory of God.  Yep.  There are some solutions.  These but scratch the surface.  Just sayin’.

Political Compromise – A Paradox

Think On: “The greatest enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived, and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive, and realistic.” JOHN F. KENNEDY, U.S. PRESIDENT

Like so many folks concerned about the ever-metastasizing Federal government “swamp,” Tumbleweed has observed that the often-manufactured divisiveness of politics layered atop the bloated bureaucracy defies credulity.  As JFK noted, myths abound.  If the myth suits your beliefs du jour, you fly to it like a moth to a lightbulb.  Our President refers to these politically-oriented myths as “fake news.”  But tumbleweed contends that its not really about politics and the accompanying myths, lies, exaggerations, half-truths, and sleight-of-hand, but an underlying paradox.  There is a major philosophical contradiction at work in our nation.

First, let’s consider compromise.  Compromise is the finding of some middle ground that two politically disparate parties can support.  Recall a definition of diplomacy as “the knack of letting the other person have your way.”  Think about if you accept a compromise on an issue that in some part contradicts your core beliefs, you thus have become party to something that thereby compromises your own morals.

Politicians are used to compromise, as they quickly learn to check the latest opinion polling (or convenient nearby lobbyist) and test the political winds of the day rather than reach into their own set of core beliefs.  “There are liars and there are politicians, but I repeat myself.”  So, goes the quote often attributed to Mark Twain.  Don’t we find it refreshing if not surprising, when a politician actually comes close to keeping campaign promises?

Tumbleweed contends that the United States has become a fertile breeding ground for lies and deceit, often cloaked as “news” but actually promoting seditious agendas that would totally undermine the founding principles of our nation.  We dare not lose sight of Adolph Hitler’s “social justice” reforms, Josef Stalin’s ethnic cleansings, or Pol Pot’s genocidal madness, as we listen to wet-behind-the-ears students, elitist academics, and leftist progressive politicians espouse their own agendas of reform that would rip our founding principles asunder in the name of some bumper sticker worthy issue.

Today’s real-world outcomes of progressive socialism-oriented entitlement culture that eschews compromise of their radical agenda, such as found in California, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Rhode Island, and more, find themselves in horrific social and financial trouble.  A socio-economic divide of their own making!  Big government entitlements require ever-higher taxes to maintain that safety net that fast becomes a spider web that then envelopes its victims.  Myths of global warming (no such thing as “settled science”), one-size-fits-all education (like failing “Common Core”) rooted in an archaic Prussian model, racism that simply no longer exists, urban “plantations” that enslave the poor of all races, “social justice,” and the plight of women purportedly downtrodden by a male-oriented culture are all fodder for the radical agenda.  Compromise isn’t in the radical lexicon, as it defeats their divisive purposes.

The amoral “anti-establishment” radicals of the 1960s and 1970s sowed the seeds for today’s morality-compromised generation of progressive professors, politicians, lawyers, and cultural absolutists.  Often as followers of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals playbook for the left, these demagogues live by those persistent, persuasive, and realistic myths of which JFK spoke.  They have spurned absolutes of right and wrong.  Little wonder that it seems as though America has lost its way.  As Christian apologist and author Ravi Zacharias notes, “the power to harness rebellion through media and technology is much easier.  One statement in one minute can reach one million now.  And evil people will harness that.”

Those who ascribe to the U.S. Constitution as the guiding principles for our nation have compromised for so long that they’ve nearly given away our freedoms.  It’s high time that freedom-loving citizens got some backbone.  Compromise is indeed paradoxical; call it absurd, abhorrent, enigmatic, or whatever label we choose to more accurately define it.  The paradox is that in ascribing to compromise, we give away some pieces of our principles.  Do it enough, and we soon discover that our principles – the ones that protect our freedoms – are gone.

Tumbleweed believes that political compromise is a game in which there are no winners but certainly losers.  It boils down to ideology versus core philosophical principles.  Ideology refers to a set of beliefs or doctrines that back a certain social mindset.  Philosophic principles refer to looking at life in a pragmatic manner and attempting to understand why life is as it is what principles govern it.  Leftist progressives see principles as a metaphoric straightjacket rather than as standards for protecting freedoms.  When you compromise your principles, you have lost.

Recent politics have offered a serious lesson in backlash.  Pushed to the brink by years of political compromise and its impact on our daily lives (e.g., sprawling invasive government, loss of freedoms, etc.), frustrated angry Americans elected a non-politician president.  We might take issue with his colorful Bronx style, but love the way it offends the condescending elitist leftwingers.  They call it “Trump derangement syndrome, or TDS.  Draining the swamp, deregulating business, freeing energy resources, cutting taxes, appointing an apolitical judiciary, and hardline foreign policy have answered the prayers of the political right while throwing the political left into pangs of apoplexy.  The president has given hope that the nation might yet be saved from the brink of failure-prone European-style socialism.

Tumbleweed has shared an unusually long post wrapped around a complex subject.  BUT, our nation was founded on important bedrock principles.  Any further compromise will most certainly destroy the freedoms those principles protect.  Just sayin’.

Dreams…Vision…Passion

Think on: “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, then to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows no victory nor defeat.” T.R. Roosevelt

Tumbleweed spent 8 years in a part-time gig as an adjunct professor of business at a local college, teaching management, finance, marketing, and the like.  It was a joy to share and impart knowledge.  Students would often ask about their careers.  The Tumbleweed answer was simple yet profound; as I’d draw three intersecting circles…a Venn diagram.  In the first circle, the student would put what they were great at; in the second what they were fully passionate about; and the third whether it could earn them a living.  The nexus was what author/researcher Jim Collins in Good to Great called the BHAG, or Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

That’s a long way to getting around to sharing Tumbleweed’s BHAG.  Perhaps, my experience will help you find yours.  As a freshman in high school, my English teacher had us memorize lines from Shakespeare.  I chose Marc Anthony’s soliloquy over the body of the murdered Caesar, “Oh pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth that I am meek and gentle with these beggars…”  I was hooked.  I wrote my first poetry.  Powerful.  Cathartic.  But life went on.  Tumbleweed sort-of-grudgingly majored in English with a history minor in college, partied heartily, then left the creative to get a job writing technical manuals for military systems.  That was a far cry from creative writing.  But the trail led Tumbleweed to other communication forms, like advertising copy, brochures, press releases, scripts, and websites.  In the background, poetry, the music of the soul, kept my creative juices alive.  Business pursuits kept the lights on, but…

At some level, Tumbleweed was fairly good at writing – and even passionate about it – yet couldn’t lift the craft to the ultimate, fully-dedicated heights of passion, as my creative writings weren’t earning income.  A couple of early novels danced from fingertips to computer keyboard.  Tumbleweed self-published a Christian men’s self-help book, Building Godly Manly Men.  (Generally speaking, men’s self-help books don’t sell…no exception here.)

So, have you read Thomas Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities?  I not only read it but attended a talk by the author at a hotel in downtown Washington, DC.  Wolfe was resplendent in white linen suit, expounding artfully on his craft.  Tumbleweed so wanted to be at that lectern, talking about his own books.  The fire had been lit.  I wrote another book, and then another.  The drafts sit gathering dust.  I published a novel for teen boys, Jackson’s Journey. It got good reviews on Amazon, and a few copies were sold.  Nice, but not a way to earn a living.  Had to keep the day job.

Then, Tumbleweed’s writing passion was truly rekindled.  I picked up a dog-eared, coffee-stained copy of part of my Texas ancestral history along with a hand-scribbled family tree.  From that emerged an historical novel, biographical in nature, about Tumbleweed’s great great grandfather Nicholas Dunn titled Long Larry Dunn: A Texas Family Destiny.  (Long Larry was Nicholas’ own grandfather.)  The Texas tale inspired more poetry and led to self-publishing Life Unfettered, a collection of dozens of Tumbleweed’s poems.  I joined the Poetry Society of Texas, the Pennsylvania Poetry Society, and Catoctin Voices, a local poetry group.  Another Texas novel surged from my dreams and passions.  Cowboy Nation: A New Republic is a fictional account of a Texas successfully gaining independence from the United States.  Tumbleweed joined the Texas Nationalist Movement as part of the research for the book.  A third Texas historical novel, Recollections, about a cousin who was a railroad entrepreneur and helped build the Panama Canal is in the works today.

The dream, the vision, the passion lurks within.  Tumbleweed envisions sharing Texas with large audiences of western story aficionados.  And, I hope to vividly capture and share the stories of my own ancestors that immigrated from Ireland to settle the Texas frontier.  They were men and women of faith, hard-working, and able to endure life and find joy on the Texas frontier.  After all, everything is bigger and better in Texas.  No blarney.

So, what’s your dream?  Vision? Passion?  Just sayin’.

Utopia or America?

Think on: “The theory of Communism may be summed up in a single sentence: Abolition of private property.”  Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto, 1848

Tumbleweed has observed that there are actually citizens who think America should be a socialist utopia, a faux-paradise of equality.  It harkens me back to a few years ago when my then 13-year-old son upon being asked if it would be great to live in a utopian society responded, “Yours or mine?”  Profound!  And equality?  It’s about equality of opportunity, not sameness.

If any of the so-called intellectual elite out there have bothered to truly absorb Thomas More’s Utopia or Plato’s Republic or Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan or Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto, they should be quickly dissuaded of the practical viability of utopianism as an undergirding form of governing people (aka, socialism).  Our founding fathers surely recognized this as evidenced by our Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States.  To the purpose of creating a free society of individuals that controlled their government rather than vice versa, they followed the philosophical teachings of John Locke in Two Treatises of Government and the writings of Charles Montesquieu.

As described by economist/historian Friedrich Hayek in The Road to Serfdom, governments based in utopian principles such as communism, Nazism, and socialism depend upon and eventually gravitate to tyrannical leadership if they don’t first fall socially and economically by their own weight.  George Orwell’s 1984 is arguably a variant on this process, keeping in mind that he was an avowed socialist.  Of course, some of those “intellectual elitists” point to a nation such as Sweden as a socialist success story; ignoring the fact that they’ve had to adopt capitalist techniques to prop up their economies and continue to suffer from failing infrastructure.

High school history books – or whatever they’re calling them these days – pay scarce if any attention to Woodrow Wilson’s espoused commitment to Hobbesian utopian philosophy featuring big government determining life as it should be lived.  Also ignored is the fact that Franklin Roosevelt’s key advisors studied Communism for years under Trotsky and Lenin.  Little wonder that FDR sought to apply Communist principles as the underpinnings of his New Deal.  Those programs were failing miserably, saved only by the political-economic aberration called World War II with its accompanying vast military buildup.

Tumbleweed could go on at far greater length as to the failures of utopianism, but suffice to say it’s quite scary when citizens – especially younger demographics in our nation – embrace socialist utopian thinking.  Keep in mind that these utopian states are godless societies.  Rights in such societies are issued by government, not by God.  Morality – or virtue, if you will – becomes a frightening variable, built on the sand of man’s musings of the moment rather than on the rock of biblical teaching.  The utopians evolve their morality from laws aimed at controlling the population.  Utopia is about crowd control, not individualism.  In a utopia, your individual creativity and motivation are unwelcome, as you must succumb to the central control…the government…the masters.  In the utopian-driven socialistic model, the welfare safety net turns out to be a spider web where the government spiders devour the hopes and dreams of its the individual victims.

So, Tumbleweed will go out on a limb here.  In a government as we have in the United States today wherein politicians and bureaucrats will go to great lengths to preserve and even increase their power, how can we the people regain the control that our founding fathers intended?  Draining the proverbial government swamp only scratches the surface, as entire industries are wrapped around the perpetuation of Leviathan, from healthcare to energy to education and so on. It’s like a metastasizing cancer on our nation.  Would that folks read the Constitution and restore us to its basic governance principles?  Just sayin’.

Christmas Joy

THINK ON: Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David.  This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.” LUKE 2:9-12

Tumbleweed figures it’s appropriate to end the year on a lighter note, at least as opposed to dealing with all the problems in the world.  Christmas is a time of joy; a time of celebrating the birth of our Savior.

Joy?  It’s certainly tempting to take “joyful” back-handed swipes at the myriad political kerfuffles we witnessed this past year.  I expect we’ll have more of that sort of joy to look forward to next year.

“News of great joy” holds such promise.  Actually, joy for Tumbleweed is family and friends.  My blessings of joy seem numbered as the stars in the night sky.  My wife and our two sons top my joys at Christmas.  Then there’s my dear family spread across the country; though especially in Texas.  Friends, good close friends are few in number but bountiful in my heart.  Indeed, great joy fills Tumbleweed’s heart.

Joy is so important, as it has the capacity to compensate for the not-so-joyful happenings that find their way into our lives.  Think on Mary and Joseph who faced family ostracism over her pregnancy, and then entered crowded Bethlehem and had to endure bedding down in a stable.  Seems their situation was turned to joy with the birth of Jesus and knowledge of what He was to become.  And now we celebrate their joy with a holiday we call Christmas.  We celebrate His life, death, and resurrection; but at this Christmas moment, we celebrate the joy of His birth.

Tumbleweed wishes everyone a joyful Christmas.