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.


Only a Trillion Dollars

Tumbleweed admits that this is an unusually long post.  Then again, a trillion dollars is a lot of money.  It takes a special perspective to come to grips with it.  The next time you hear a politician use the word “billion” in a casual manner, think about whether you really want that politician spending your tax money.  Then, think about “trillion,” which you hear increasingly from the hallowed halls of our government.  Let’s see, to truly grasp the number it’s got to be more than the fact that a trillion is a thousand billion.

A billion is a difficult number to fully comprehend.  By comparison, a trillion is absolutely mind-boggling.  So, let’s get some perspective:

  • A billion seconds ago, it was 1976 (a trillion seconds would put you at roughly 30,000 B.C.).
  • A billion minutes ago, Jesus was alive.
  • A billion hours ago, our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.
  • A billion days ago, no one walked on the earth on two feet.
  • A billion years ago, the earth was pretty much a molten mass…and a trillion years ago our solar system likely didn’t even exist.
  • A billion dollars ago was less than 2 hours ago at the rate our Federal government is spending it.

Now, let’s see.  The U.S. national debt as of November 2017 is $20,597,790,000,000.  Hmmmm!  The Gross Domestic Product is a mere $19,420,000,000,000.  So, the debt represents 105 percent of the U.S. GDP.  That is as bad as it seems.  Of course, politicians quickly point to Japan at 230 percent debt to GDP and Greece at 177 percent.  Of course, those two economies are in the proverbial toilet.

Actually, did you ever notice that the typical calculator won’t even permit you to enter a billion?  Hmmmmm.  So, what does one TRILLION dollars look like?

All this talk about “stimulus packages” and “bailouts” and “temporary spending bills”…  A billion dollars…  A hundred billion dollars… One TRILLION dollars…  What does that look like? I mean, these huge dollar numbers are tossed around like so many doggie treats, so I thought I’d try to get a sense of what exactly a trillion dollars looks like.

We’ll start with a $100-dollar bill. Currently, it’s the largest U.S. denomination in general circulation. Most everyone has seen them, slightly fewer have owned them. Guaranteed to make friends wherever they go.  A packet of one hundred $100 bills is less than 1/2″ thick and contains $10,000. Fits in your pocket easily and is more than enough for week or two of shamefully decadent fun.  The next little increment is $1 million dollars (100 packets of $10,000), and you could stuff that into a standard grocery bag.  While a measly $1 million might look a little unimpressive, $100 million is a bit more respectable. It fits neatly on a standard pallet about waist high.  However, with $1 BILLION dollars, we’re really getting somewhere.  It would fill eight of those waist-high pallets.  Getting scary isn’t it?

Next, we’ll look at ONE TRILLION dollars. This is that number we’ve been hearing so much about. What is a trillion dollars? Well, it’s a million million. It’s a thousand billion. It’s a one followed by 12 zeros.  You ready for this?  It’s pretty surprising.  A trillion dollars would require three football fields of those pallets stacked double high with $100 bills.  MIND BOGGLING!!!

So, the next time you hear some politician toss around the term “trillion dollars”… that’s what they’re talking about

The government will have taken in $3.21 trillion for fiscal year 2017 while spending was pegged at roughly $3.7 trillion, an “automatic” deficit of $490 billion.  The U.S. national debt is $20.6 trillion and interest is $2.4 trillion of which we will pay annual interest of more than $228 billion (there are those big numbers again).  We will have spent $1.3 trillion more on so-called “entitlements” (Social Security, Welfare, Unemployment, Housing, & Medicare) than we will have spent on defense of our nation ($1.9 trillion vs. $569 billion).  Besides borrowing, where does that money come from?  Bet you can’t read the following in a single breath:

Accounts receivable tax, building permit tax, commercial driver license tax, cigarette tax, corporate income tax, dog license tax, individual federal income tax, state income tax, multiple healthcare taxes, capital gains tax, business taxes, federal unemployment tax, social security & other payroll taxes, excise tax, energy tax, healthcare tax, fishing license tax, food license tax, fuel permit tax, gasoline tax, hunting license tax, inheritance tax, customs duties, estate & gift taxes, inventory tax, IRS interest taxes (tax on top of tax), IRS penalties (another tax on top of tax), liquor tax, luxury tax, marriage license tax, Medicare tax, property tax, real estate tax, service charge taxes, road usage tax (truckers), sales tax, recreational vehicle tax, state income tax, state sales tax, state unemployment tax, telephone federal excise tax, telephone federal universal service fee tax, state local telephone surcharge tax, telephone recurring and nonrecurring charges tax, telephone usage charge tax, telephone state & local tax, utility tax, vehicle license fee, vehicle registration fee, watercraft registration tax, well permit tax, building permit fees, workers compensation tax…anyone laughing?  Oh, and now we’ll add 23 new taxes and a penalty connected with the “Affordable” healthcare law.

Now, I hope you’re seated.  NONE (zero, zilch, nada, nil), none of these taxes existed 100 years ago!  AND our nation was the most prosperous in the world.

Just 125 years ago, we had absolutely no national debt, we had the largest middle class in the world, we were mostly pretty self-sufficient, divorce was rare, television was nonexistent, Twitter was what you felt when you were in love, AND moms stayed home to raise and often home school the kids.  We didn’t need bailouts or stimulus packages, the Federal Reserve wasn’t, paper money was backed by gold and silver, and no nation messed with us.  In fact, the government didn’t mess with us very much.  We weren’t perfect, but… arguably we were in better shape than today.

If you’re ready to hyperventilate, go to www.usdebtclock.org.

Anyone check lately about whether “entitlements” are in the U.S. Constitution?  Uh-oh.  They aren’t, are they?  What happened?  Whose money is being spent?  Whoa, wait, that’s our money!

Can you spell g-r-e-e-d?  Can you spell l-i-e-s?  Can you spell p-o-l-i-t-i-c-i-a-n-s?  How about P-r-o-g-r-e-s-s-i-v-e-s?  E-n-t-i-t-l-e-m-e-n-t-s?

Billions…trillions…numbers that are so overwhelming that we’ve become numbed to them.  We hear them bandied about in the media, but since we can’t conceive of ever attaining those numbers for ourselves we tend to tune out the news.  Should we?

There are idiots out there that want to give even more free stuff from government coffers to citizens.  All we need to do is get rid of spending on defense and tax billionaires more heavily.  So, aside from our enemies coming in and walking all over us, let’s take away the sources of investment for the businesses that employ our workforce.  Putting aside that most billionaire wealth is tied up in investment (e.g., corporations, real estate, etc.) that’s not taxable as income, all the U.S. billionaires net worth combined could barely put a dent in the national debt.

Maybe what we actually need is p-o-l-i-t-i-c-i-a-n-s with f-i-s-c-a-l r-e-s-p-o-n-s-i-b-i-l-i-t-y.

Sexual Harassment – Defamation Tool

Think on: For wicked and deceitful mouths open against me; they speak against me with lying tongues.  They surround me with hateful words and attack me without cause.  PSALM 109:2-3

Like many folks, Tumbleweed has been noticing a veritable plethora of claims of sexual harassment and aggression exponentially dominating headlines.  From Congress’ Anthony Weiner to Hollywood’s Harvey Weinstein to Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott to Alabama’s Roy Moore, we are besieged with real and possibly fake accusations.  Sorting through them to determine veracity can be a challenge unto itself.  How many are true?  How many are trumped up fakeries to bring down a celebrated figure or organization?

Tumbleweed suggests that accusations drawn from the past are more often becoming a tool of political hacks to take advantage of opportunists with clouded memories dredging up alleged dark secrets.  Yep, Tumbleweed is talking about those “wicked and deceitful mouths” out there.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  When there’s legitimate sexual harassment, violators should be indicted, tried, convicted, and punished.  Hang’em high!  We cannot stand for attacks on women.

So, there is certainly sexual harassment out there, and it’s shameful.  But we must stand awestruck at the profusion of accusations that continue to flood the media, as accusers get their 15 seconds of fame to bring down an alleged predator.  Tumbleweed thinks back on Bill Clinton’s “alleged” peccadillos and how his victims were sanctimoniously poo-pooed by the liberal elite.  Even his wife viciously discounted Bill’s victims.

What are the solutions toward stopping sexual harassment?  Education?  Probably.  Mutual respect between the sexes?  Good idea.  Christian love and compassion?  Certainly.  Avoid situations that encourage sexual contact?  Duh.  Just sayin’.

Social Media – Friend or Foe

Think on: “All the lonely people, where do they all belong?” PAUL MCCARTNEY Eleanor Rigby, 1966

Tumbleweed recently reengaged with social media and tested the Facebook waters.  I was quickly reminded of its addictive allure.  It can be enslaving.  I was reminded why it’s both friend and foe, as I viewed posts from family and friends.  In some instances, posts were downright startling in their lack of social engagement.  Liberals especially see things as black or white and often express views in rather sanctimonious fashion.  One of the scariest aspects is how people hide behind the masks of Facebook, Twitter, and their ilk.

Social media has become like a second skin to many, especially to what they call the Millennial Generation.  Whether in life or in the business world, it is an environment that must be faced.  It is defined as online digital communications between individuals and communities.  Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, and the like represent an all-to-real contrivance of communities.

This 21st century phenomenon has a global reach; is mostly blind to race, gender, nationality, or intellect; enables far-reaching densely networked communities; fosters narcissism, loneliness, and isolation; and enables cultural tribalization.  “Whoa!” you might say, “How do communities foster loneliness and isolation?”  Well, we’ll talk about that.

First off, why is it importance to balance social media in life and business?  Anytime you have an imbalance, the implication is that something is out of whack.  Anytime that you obsessively or compulsively – or addictively – use anything to excess, other aspects of life and business necessarily suffers.  So, as with any excess, it is vitally important to achieve balance.  For example, drinking alcohol isn’t bad, but drinking to a drunken stupor is; having plenty of money isn’t bad, but worshiping the hoarding of money is; material things aren’t bad, but accumulating far more than you can reasonably use is; and so on.  Similarly, we cannot function in society, in God’s world, if we overly isolate ourselves from it.  You get the picture.

Tumbleweed suggests that there are three principle components to this isolation condition.  There is solitude defined as a physical condition of separation; there is independence which is a conscious choice; and there is loneliness which is psychological.  Social media by its very nature interferes with “real friends,” creates artificial distance (invisible protective barriers), fosters loneliness, and passively consumes yet broadcasts disconnection.  The social media disciple fails to recognize that it is the quality of social interaction, not the quantity, which predicts the degree of loneliness.  In other words, quantity creates a place in which you can become effectively anonymous.  The social media addict physically meets fewer people and by gathering less creates fewer bonds.  It also shields them from the realities of society.

Amazingly, most people fail to comprehend how social media has, as a consequence of its isolating nature, had a cocoon-like effect on our society as people struggle with interpersonal relationships.  It separates.  It divides communities.  Sitting in front of a computer or tablet has also led to more physical and mental ailments, as less exercise breeds obesity coupled with susceptibility to illness and mental health has deteriorated.  Little wonder that the behavioral health industry is flourishing.  You may wonder what this has to do with you and your life.  I would hope that answer is obvious, but you really must ask yourself, “What would Jesus have done?”

Solitude should be an overtly planned act, not one dictated by a smart phone.  We need solitude to recharge our physical batteries.  What do you do during this solitude?  You apply introspection, especially accompanied with prayer, to talk to yourself.  One of the best ways to do that is to talk to another person, one you can trust, to whom you can unfold your soul.  Oh, that other person is God.  Try it.  Trust me, it’s far better than the distraction of 846 supposed “friends” on Facebook, and the feedback is far more trustworthy.

If you’re feeling especially frisky have some friends over, check smart phones at the door, and actually talk.  Is social media your friend?  Social media can be friend or foe; but you make that determination.  Just sayin’.

Tyranny of the Left

Think on: “When one gives up Christian belief, one thereby deprives oneself of the right to Christian morality.  FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE

Tumbleweed doesn’t believe Nietzsche for a nanosecond, as old Friedrich never truly understood the fundamental Christian tenets of faith, salvation, and forgiveness that transcend evil.  That would require humility, and Friedrich was anything but humble.  Recall that Friedrich famously said that God was dead.  (Maybe the first five letters of his name describe his brain.)

Having had my fun with Nietzsche, let’s briefly examine how the excising of faith contributes to the title of this post.  The tyranny Tumbleweed refers to here is that of public opinion as driven by morality.  Imagine if the United States were to be ruled by the public opinion of the moment.  It might resemble the great coliseum in Rome where the fate of gladiators rested on the whim of the crowd’s thumbs up or down.  Thankfully, we’ve got a democratic republic and the Electoral College to prevent such tyranny of the masses.

Tumbleweed contends that there is a direct correlation between the continuous removal of religion from the public square and the steadily declining morality in our nation.  Recall “separation of church and state?”  It was defined in a 1947 landmark decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in Everson v. Board of Education which incorporated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment as binding upon the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The decision in Everson marked a turning point in the interpretation and application of religious disestablishment law in the modern era.   Then on June 17, 1963 the Supreme Court in Abington Township School District v. Schempp made its famous “school prayer” decision.  This prohibited school officials from organizing or leading prayers and devotional Bible reading in public schools.  Few of us have actually read the decision, which means that we’ve been susceptible to successive opportunistic religious and political leaders – like a bunch of Nietzsche Chicken Littles blabbering about “kicking God out of the schools.”  It turns out that the Supreme Court ruling never banned prayer or the Bible from public schools. Students do have a First Amendment right to pray alone or in groups, bring their scriptures to school, share their beliefs with classmates, form religious clubs in secondary schools, and in other ways express their faith during the school day as long as they don’t disrupt the school or interfere with the others’ rights.

Tumbleweed contends that especially since the Schempp decision, our nation has devolved into near moral bankruptcy as Christian morality has been systematically excised from the public arena.  Ironic how a mere 60-second daily devotional exercise – feared by left-wing atheistic zealots – is viewed as threatening the outcome of a social-justice-based curriculum indoctrinating children every day for 12 years.

The bottom line is God-centered versus man-centered worldviews.  It’s whose you are versus who you are.  For those never exposed to or accepting of Christian values, it can be a slippery slope to cultural decay.  And even for those who claim to be Christians, too often human pursuits ease out Godly pursuits.  We dare not forget Romans 13:8-10, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

Love your neighbor.  That can be a bit of a challenge in today’s social media driven society.  Love is mentioned as many as 538 times in the Bible, depending on the translation.  Tumbleweed has observed a not-so-subtle cultural engineering prevalent in social media, as the persons who control the menu control the choices people make.  This self-centered view fostered by social media has bred an intolerance that tears away at freedoms in schools, courts, and communities.  It’s a logical leap that the more social media with its aversion to Christian morality picks informational winners and losers, the less freedom Christians and others will enjoy.  It isolates us and presents easy socio-political targets for our enemies.  Indeed, we wind up with a mechanism that enables left-wing progressives and their socialist ilk to deliver on their tyrannical social, economic, and political views.  They wield the establishment clause as a hammer to remove every last vestige of religion from the public square.  With it go our freedoms.

Dare we be surprised that Biblically-based morality is fast-disappearing from our nation?  Dare we fight back against the tyranny of the left?  Why not?  Just sayin’.

Gold Gets Bad Wrap

Think on: “Non teneas aurum totum quod splendet ut aurum.  ALAIN DE LILLE, Parabolae

Tumbleweed’s having a bit of fun with y’all here.  In plain English, “All that glitters is not gold.”

So, my family tells me that writing a post about the “gold standard” is simply too heavy for most folks to absorb.  Well, that may be because most people don’t know what it is, and when they do hear about it, it’s usually being treated with derision as something archaic.  Interesting.  Once again, our education system has let us down by giving in to the progressive lefties in our mix.  Heaven forbid that our founding fathers and capitalism should make sense.   By definition a gold standard is a monetary system in which the standard economic unit of account is based on a fixed quantity of gold.

Currency manipulators chalk up a win!  Actually, the United States was technically on the gold standard until President “Tricky Dick” Nixon signed its death warrant on August 15, 1971.  That’s not really that long ago.  The question is why was it dumped?  If you follow to economists like Friedrich von Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Henry Hazlitt, or Nathan Lewis, you’d understand that the key to great economic booms is stable currency.  Oh, and you may have heard of a fellow named Adam Smith who framed capitalism in his Wealth of Nations treatise.  Effectively, hardly anything in an economy is created without combining goods, services, labor, and capital networked through use of money and shared via prices, interest rates, profits, and losses.  Whew!  That’s a mouthful and likely pretty dry stuff for many people.  Bottom line, a stable currency is critically important.  An unstable currency in an economy is like a computer virus, corrupting “bits” of the economic program to create destructive bubbles not unlike 2007.  For example, in 2001, our beloved Federal Reserve deliberately weakened the dollar, and that drove oil from $20 a barrel to more than $100 a barrel.

Gold lost its luster.  Gold affords a fixed weight and measure to the value of products and services.  (For those concerned with today’s fluctuating price of gold, it’s simply a reflection of wildly fluctuating world economies based upon U.S. paper – not gold.)  The gold standard’s demise pretty much began in the 1890s with Democrat William Jennings Bryan’s pro-inflation, anti-gold presidential run.  The Great Depression – of which the gold standard was a victim not a cause – gave the left-wingers the ammo to further sow the seeds for playing vague paper-money games via central bank theory, aka, the Federal Reserve.  They embraced John Maynard Keynes (Heard of Keynesian economics? Try socialism or social capitalism.), and stable monetary value went down the toilet from there.  Throw politicians into the socio-economic mix, and we’ve got a volatile concoction that has throttled the U.S. economy ever since.  People don’t understand the complexity, and this translates into fear that politicians prey upon.  While capitalism may seem complex, the seeming simplicity of socialism becomes attractive until you learn its fatal flaw as articulated by George Orwell in Wigan Pier.  That is, socialists actually don’t like the poor; they merely hate the wealthy.  Unstable currency enables the socialist mantra of power in the hands of a few and keeps the road to serfdom wide open.

President Ronald Reagan tried and failed to restore the gold standard in the 1980s, as he was blocked by Keynesian progressives sowing fears that social justice causes would be destroyed through economic stagnation, rampant inflation, and political upheaval.  Hmmm.  It seems that’s exactly what the Keynesian central bank acolytes have wrought for us today.

So, my family is probably right.  The gold standard and its critical importance might be too much for most folks to grasp.  For my part, I wish more citizens would get a hot branding iron in their pants toward returning to the gold standard.  Just sayin’.


Think on: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.  GEORGE SANTAYANA

In mentioning in passing the other day to an acquaintance that history afforded insight into our future, Tumbleweed was reminded how our education system and even many parents have failed to instill interest in our past.  Indeed, the past is but prologue, and to ignore it is – as some say – to relive both the good and bad of it.  Heaven forbid that we should relive some of history’s darker moments.

Okay, Tumbleweed admits to have minored in history in college.  It’s a fascinating subject, and I thoroughly enjoy engaging in discussions about history.  Lately, I’ve found myself caught up in Irish history and the history of the U.S. west in the 18th and 19th centuries.  The link between the west and Ireland comes from my ancestors who immigrated from County Kildare to Texas in the mid-1800s.  Looking back at Irish history, I’m taken with how it forms a sort of microcosm of the sorts of social, economic, religious, and political upheavals that have marked history throughout the ages.

Okay, ancestry.  Tumbleweed is getting there.  Have you ever dug out your family tree; not simply who is related to whom but how they lived and what they accomplished?  Truth be told, I was blessed by several family members actually writing about their experiences.  It’s led me to expand upon their stories by writing a couple of historical fiction novels and even used as a basis for straight fiction not to mention poetry.  So, my cousin John Hilliard Dunn’s writings about five Irish brothers leaving Ireland and settling in south Texas to build ranches, farms, smithy and grocery shops, railroads, museums, and churches fully enthralls me.  Couple that with John “Red John” Dunn’s book about his experience as a Texas Ranger, vigilante, and more.  Then, there’s my cousin Mary Maud Dunn Wright (a.k.a. Lilith Lorraine) of sci-fi and poetry fame.    Learning about family in the context of dealing with Comanche, Apache, Mexican bandits, outlaws like John Wesley Hardin, yellow fever, War Between the States, and more has been an exhilarating experience.

So, I’m blessed with a Texas family tree of more than 2,200 folks descended from Lawrence “Long Larry” Dunn in County Kildare, Ireland.  And so many have great stories, from my great great grandfather Nick Dunn’s ranching to cousin Red John’s exploits eliminating bad guys to John H’s experiences with railroads and helping build the Panama Canal.  All the stories aside, finding old photos has been an amazing part of the experience, as you see family facial resemblances over the years.  To see that my great grandfather Frank Evans resembles my brother Glen or I resemble my great great grandfather Nick Dunn (except he had red hair).  To see a photo of my cousin Red John as the prototypical Texan from cowboy hat to boots to red handlebar mustache, conjures up realistic images of the west of 150 years ago.

Ancestry?  It’s part of our personal history.  If you haven’t, I encourage you to start digging.  Just sayin’.


Think on: “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” Declaration of Independence 

Leave it to Tumbleweed to tackle what many regard as politically incorrect issues.  How about secession?

There exists a core of folks who ardently support “dissolving political bands.”  Anyone tuned to a broad range of today’s media, hear rumors of secession from Texas and California and even states like Maryland calling for splitting off its westernmost more politically conservative counties.  Recall that West Virginia was separated from Virginia in 1861 and accepted into the Union in 1863.  In any case, a recent Zogby Strategies poll found that fully 39 percent of U.S. citizens believe that each state has the ultimate say over its destiny, and 68 percent of voters are open to the idea of secession.  Tumbleweed feels that’s a rather startling revelation and a sad commentary on citizens’ views as to the state of our nation.

There are, of course, historical considerations as to the constitutionality of secession.  For one thing, would the Supreme Court of the United States have jurisdiction over a now separate nation?  The question was never really fully litigated, despite the Civil War and follow-on reconstructionist actions.  The Texas v. White (74 U.S. 700, 703 [1868]) decision of 1869 held that individual states could not unilaterally secede from the Union and that acts of the insurgent Texas legislature in 1861 were “absolutely null.”  That recognition having been the case; it is seen as ironic that President Ulysses S. Grant signed legislation readmitting Texas to the Union in 1870.  If they never left, how could they be readmitted.  Actually, it was to put a new Texas Constitution in place.  And notably, the U.S. Supreme Court led by Lincoln former cabinet member Salmon Chase was at a loss to reference any text from the U.S. Constitution in the Texas v. White decision, because the Constitution is fully silent on whether states can withdraw from the Union.   A 2006 opinion letter from Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia stated, “The answer is clear.  If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede.”  With due respect to Justice Scalia, did the Civil War actually resolve any Constitutional issue?  The Texas Constitution contains no provision for seceding from the Union, yet it’s not implicitly or explicitly disallowed either.  One thing is for certain, the U.S. executive branch by virtue of Lincoln’s actions already has a history of violent suppression of secession.

But does the Constitution govern in this case.  Does permission actually emanate from the Declaration of Independence?  The founding document of the United States – just as the founding document for the Republic of Texas – is the Declaration of Independence.  In continuing from the “Think On” quote above from the Declaration’s preamble, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” Thus, the right for a state to secede from the Union is found in the Declaration, not the Constitution.  The latter sets the form of government and basis for the law, but it is the Declaration of Independence that sets the legitimate rationale for states to secede.

Folks will argue the points of secession legality pro and con; each side firm in its resolve as to what is right and proper by law.  But it seems that there is ever-greater critical mass forming in certain states that gravitates toward secession as a viable solution to escape the tyranny of the ever-more-intolerant progressive liberal bureaucracy and their “moderate” Republican enablers.  Psalm 2:1 asks, “Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing?”  So, the progressives set themselves up to wallow in their own vanity toward possible destruction of the Union.  Just sayin’.

Words Matter in Art & Life

You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Most folks know by now that I’ve become increasingly immersed in my writing craft, creating poetry and fiction books.  I’m a member of the Poetry Society of Texas, the Pennsylvania Poetry Society, and Catoctin Voices, a local poetry group for which I have twice served as featured poet.  As Tumbleweed, I do manage to tumble around to various literary events.  Recently, I was confronted with a shocking reality.  I attended poetry readings at a Gettysburg-based poetry group.  These events generally consist of an hour of “open mic” whereby local poets may read their creations, and this is followed by a featured guest poet.  The featured poet is usually a published poet, is often a college professor, and likely has received awards for their poetry.  (My cousin Mary Maud Dunn Wright [pseud. Lilith Lorraine] was a much-awarded poet and novelist.)

Back to the event.  There were about 20 open mic participants, many of them local college students.  There was some really good word art delivered, and there was some arguably very bad material.  In my experience, what is good to one person may not be so good to another and that’s to be expected.  My concern, however, is with the trend toward ever more frequent use of truly vile language.   The student poetry in particular was liberally laced with expletives.  I was shocked.

My English teachers taught me that folks tended to resort to vile language, when they lacked language skills.  As an English major back at University of Maryland, I recall two semesters of Shakespeare as taught by a professor whose doctoral thesis was on the Bard’s use of sexual imagery.  They were fascinating courses, and I expect that in Shakespeare’s time the material was considered quite racy.  However, the audiences had a pretty good idea of what to expect.  There were no surprises.

I did leave the poetry event early, because I simply couldn’t tolerate the language used by the featured English professor poet and her student acolytes.  Pity, as there were some worthy poetic subjects shattered on the rocks of ill-chosen verbiage.

I don’t consider myself a prude, but I wouldn’t dream of inserting expletives in my own poetry.  In Proverbs 16:23, we are advised “The hearts of wise people guide their mouths.  Their words make people want to learn more.”  Surely, our poetry should reflect that advice.

I don’t believe in censorship on the one hand, but I believe the choice of receiving offensive material should rest with the receivers.  There were certainly guests in the room that Friday evening who were shocked by the language (their discomfort was obvious).  In fact, shock was likely the poet’s goal.  But few in our culture today are likely to take such abominable purveyors of poetic license to task.  It’s a sad commentary indeed that the morality of our culture should be so low.  After all, Ephesians 3:7 tells us that there’s a time to keep silent and a time to speak.  I suggest it’s time to speak against the corruption of our morals and of our language.