Our Flag and Anthem Are Bigger than Just Our Military

I love and respect our Flag, Anthem, and nation because of American values embodied in the Declaration, Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Our founding principles gave liberty and freedom an opportunity by flipping the relationship between ruler and citizen upside down. In America, citizens rule, and the government has to ask for permission when it wants to interfere in our life.

Our Founders knew our desire to give up our power and wrote down the values that would keep the spirit of Americanism alive.

The very first thing written? The freedom to speak and petition (protest) your government when citizens feel an injustice is taking place. Never again would a citizen be punished for doing their civic duty: speaking up when the government forgets its place. Nothing is more American than an American peacefully protesting injustices within the government. In my mind, there was no greater patriot in the 20th century than Martin Luther King Jr. Without firing a shot, he changed the hearts and minds of the American people, and they, in turn, changed our government.

Most of the Founders didn’t want a standing Army. They felt the homeland could be best protected by armed citizens who could protect their families, communities, and states. They didn’t dream Americans would have military bases in 170 countries while operating 7 fronts as we do today. I think many of the Founders would be absolutely puzzled that we are arguing over the common sense principle of self-protection coming under attack this week.

I think they’d be equally as shocked that half of our country have narrowed Americanism and the flag down to honoring a standing military and military intervention. Our Flag and Anthem mean so much more than the war powers of our current government.

I do believe our Flag and Anthem represent the fallen and our veterans, but not our policies. In my mind, Americanism is directly opposed to much of what this current government does. It stands for free markets, freedom of association, the right to peacefully live our lives without government agencies harassing us or killing us. Yes, it means honoring the memories of every person that gave their life for this unique experiment, both in and out of uniform. Many thousands of Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep this a shining beacon of hope. That includes those fighting in foreign wars as well as Americans like Emmitt Till.

I’m surrounded by political and religious refugees from Burma. They are wonderful neighbors, and they are adding a lot to our community. Storefronts that sat vacant for years are now thriving, for instance. America represents hope to them. They will lay down tonight in their secure and clean home without the fear of Burmese government agents killing or stealing from them. They will send their children to good schools tomorrow while they make more money than they’ve ever had in their life.

When I stand for the Anthem, my eyes water because of the hardship my great-great-great grandparents endured in leaving their German hometown and moving to a strange land so that one day their ancestors could be prosperous, healthy, clean, and endowed with all the rights given by our Creator. It’s for my Grandfather that nearly died in Okinawa fighting an Imperial menace that threatened the lives of millions of Americans. It’s tears of thanksgiving to God that I live in a country where I can start a media outlet that openly criticizes the ruling class without any fear of retribution.

So yes… the Flag and the Anthem ARE about soldiers that fought and died for this country. It’s about so much more. If Mike Pence and Donald Trump and any person reading this want to reduce it to only that, then they’re being decidedly unpatriotic. They’re being a propagandist, and that is UnAmerican.

Conspiracy Theories Abound in An Absence of Motive

Many conspiracy theories are circulating the internet over the Las Vegas shooting. This is one.

As you read it, your brain will say “Huh. I can buy that.” Then you’ll hear little pieces of evidence that seem to fit that theory. Then you believe it as you see others around you talking about it. Our fellow animals confirm things in our pack. We are also pattern creatures. Our brains love patterns because it saves calories which equals survival.

Conspiracies pop up because the killer fits no pattern. He isn’t in some box where we can classify him and ignore him. Religion, politics, revenge, money or clear mental insanity don’t seem to be his motive. He brought 23 guns into one of the safest areas of the world with the most surveillance. The security at the venue, the police, and government agencies all acted exemplary.

There is nothing to criticize or blame. There’s no motive. There’s nothing that could stop it. There’s nothing that can fix it.

That’s when the existential dread sets in. What if I turn into the monster? What if that old man in the Chili’s on Saturday’s is the next killer? We begin searching for predictability.

Americans take for granted the relative safety that blankets us. In both history and the rest of the world, we’ve never been more likely to return home at the end of the day. We are still humans with danger detectors in our brains, and they are going off.

I am reminded of a friend involved in a domestic violence situation. She was struggling to understand how her ex-husband could turn into a hunter. Her counselor said, “You are a rational being. Our minds are incapable of making sense of the irrational thought. There is no answer, and that is uncomfortable for us.”

Announcing Our New Subscription Service!

Every month, I set a goal for a new way to improve We Are Libertarians. This month, it is redoing our Patreon and donation system. Our main product is, and always will be, the Thursday night podcast. We now average 7,500 downloads with a peak episode of 12,000. (I have heard Tom Woods is at 20,000.) We are adding 1,000 new listeners a month. It still isn’t good enough for me. I want to be at the top of iTunes. I need your help to do it.

The only way I am able to improve this new media empire is through the cash our listeners donate each month. It’s become an entity that requires $100s a month to operate. This doesn’t include compensation 10 to 20 hours a week Greg and I spend on prepping, building, editing, and podcasting the content you’ve come to love. It’s our love too.

In 2016, I just simply said that I couldn’t cover the cost anymore, and started taking donations by telling the truth: “If you’d miss us if we disappeared, then we need you to pitch in or else we will have to.” 

Over 100 of you have. We now have 46 people that donate once a month. After concluding the building of our video program, a subscription service to properly thank them was my next project.

I’ve tested, demo’ed and researched software, and Patreon just kept coming back as the best choice for us.

As of today, we are offering Patreon rewards for monthly subscribers. You can see them here.

If you are a PayPal subscriber, you will have to cancel your current recurring payment and switch to Patreon to get the rewards. If you don’t do this, your card will still run, but without the goodies.

If you are a Patreon subscriber, you must amend your pledge to the new monthly pledge. We are switching from a per-episode plan to keep confusing down for those unfamiliar with Patreon.
If you are NOT a subscriber, then what are you waiting for? For many new libertarians, We Are Libertarians is the first podcast they hear. We are on the front lines of spreading the libertarian message and finding a sense of belonging for the politically homeless. Be a part of that change.

Television News Isn’t Journalism

TV News isn’t journalism, so we need to stop pretending it is. At best, it is entertainment, and at worst it is propaganda. Either way, there is nothing wrong with questioning everything you see or read or hear. People that earn paychecks from news organizations sanctimoniously preach about journalists that died “in the line of duty” and public trust and expect that places them above criticism.

In 2007, Indianapolis had a mayoral race where the Democrat was the likely winner with millions in the bank. The Republican was an unknown with less than $100,000 in the bank the August before the election. The Mayor was going for a third term and was the favorite. He gave a controversial budget address, and his challenger offered a rebuttal in the public section.

That night, I was chatting up a cute reporter (no doubt hired for her journalistic skills) from the local Fox tv affiliate on the way out of the address. I asked if they’d use the challenger’s address. She then uttered a phrase that dropped the scales from my eyes when it came to American television news.

“Nothing. My editors said that since he isn’t buying ad time, we don’t want to give him free advertising.”

Will Russia Gift Edward Snowden to Donald Trump?

In a continuation of the ongoing war between President Trump and the US intelligence community, NBC News is reporting:

That’s according to a senior U.S. official who has analyzed a series of highly sensitive intelligence reports detailing Russian deliberations and who says a Snowden handover is one of various ploys to “curry favor” with Trump. A second source in the intelligence community confirms the intelligence about the Russian conversations and notes it has been gathered since the inauguration.

Read the entire article here.

The US intelligence community is so concerned with the Trump administration’s ties to Russia, especially National Security Council chief Michael Flynn, that they are reportedly withholding security briefings from Trump to keep them out of Russia’s hands. Interestingly, this information comes from the Observer, a publication owned by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Snowden reacted with joy that he’d been vindicated.

Why would Russia consider this a gift? Trump expressed the following opinion of Snowden before the election:

More to follow…

What do you tell your kids? Teach them American values

These are American values. All candidates exhibit the best and worst of all of us, so teach them the good stuff. Modeling anxiety and fear doesn’t help them or you.

  • Tell them that America used to be a mean place that didn’t think everyone have the same abilities and chances that others had. But America became a better place. People in the past didn’t think that women or people with different skin colors could vote. Now, we have a black President. A woman nearly won.
  • Every person in our country can be successful if they work hard. Sometimes you may lose, but you get back up and try again. You may lose again, but along the way you’ll make a difference. Effort is never wasted.
  • Not everyone will treat you fairly. It doesn’t matter what others think of you as long as you love yourself and have people around you that love and support you.
  • People will disagree with you. Debating ideas are a good thing. If someone disagrees, you don’t have to feel emotional about it. People can be wrong while still being good.
  • The President says some things that aren’t nice, and you shouldn’t be like that. There will always be people around you that do or say things that aren’t good, but you don’t have to do what they do. Be your own person.
  • Teach them that character isn’t tested when you’re doing well. It’s when things are hard that defines whether you’re a good person or a bad person.
  • Teach them the government is irrelevant and that taxation is theft. We don’t need it if we just live by the Golden Rule. (Ok, as a libertarian, I am hoping you’ll teach them this.)

Why Trump Won

In 2010 I sat in Peru, Indiana’s Harvey Hinklemeyer restaurant with a group of Libertarians. One older guy there had been an auto worker. His job-making dashboards or seatbelts or something had been sent overseas. He blamed Bill Clinton. He had been unemployed for several years and worked odd jobs. He said most of his coworkers had moved out of state to find work. The community had radically changed in the 1990s and the 2000s. Friends had moved away. Schools had closed. Favorite restaurants closed down. Entertainment venues closed. Tax revenue shrunk so basic services were threatened. In the north, it’s lost industry. In the south, it’s selling family farms while working in coal plants.

I heard this same story in every county of this state from 2008 to 2012. I’ve talked to dozens of people that tell me about the good old days of their community. It’s when they loved their town and took pride in it. What moved in? Drugs mostly along with some low paying warehouse jobs.

They rightly know government costs them what they loved. So they’ve asked government for a solution. Instead of solutions, they’ve gotten Todd Youngs. Some little nerd that says the right things but really just wants to be a part of the Washington elite. People like Evan Bayh and Dick Lugar didn’t give a sh$& about them. They are tired of being lied to and being unrepresented.

I grew up in an upwardly mobile town in the suburbs. I’ve never seen my community die off. Most of rural America has. I grew up in a family with two well-employed parents and I’ve never been underemployed. Most of rural America has. Most of America feels like their economic situation sucks while doing the jobs of three people if they do have a job.

Along comes Trump. He finally says to the Washington elite what they want to say and he doesn’t apologize for telling them to “fu$& off.” He feels cathartic. He doesn’t play their shallow games. He doesn’t want to be liked by the people that have made the lives of these voters miserable. He could care less about the Sunday Shows. The people on your tv tonight are playing a game resembling the old courts of Europe. He makes them feel irrelevant (because they are), and they are lashing out of insecurity. No one exemplifies this system more than Clinton.

These are the people that stole their community, their economic security, their friends, their schools, and their future.

It isn’t about racism. Yeah, there is bigotry amongst this group. These are decent people that want to be proud of their lives and where they live. It isn’t about keeping anyone down. It’s about regaining what they lost. It’s about getting their kids fed, clothed, sent to good schools, pay a mortgage, buy a car, and every other pocketbook concern we all face. Make America Great Again isn’t about returning to the civil rights era. It isn’t about being the “superior race.” It has everything to do with money.
We do a disservice by mocking and making a caricature of the Trump voters instead of actually trying to understand them. In doing it, we’re buying into the propaganda that was built to win Democrats an election. By writing off the Trump voter as a racist makes you as bigoted as they are. That’s why they react to “white privilege” and being called racist so sharply. It’s just ignorant.

Trump is a cretin and morally reprehensible. These people agree. They just think he will give them back the things they’ve lost. Pocketbook issues will always win in the end.

If you want to know more about this world, this is a great book by my favorite author. www.amazon.com/dp/0817356835/ This too. www.amazon.com/dp/0307275507

I voted for Johnson. I’ve been pretty clear on how much I hate Trump. But having experience with people that had their everything stolen from them, I understand it. If we are going to heal as a nation, we do too. We have to stop being condescending, dramatic, holier-than-thou, and mocking if we want to actually build a better America together.

Spangle: Donald Trump Is Wrong About Rigged Elections

Tonight, I felt panic and fear about our country’s future around Donald Trump’s comments on the “rigged election results.” I’ve not felt them since 9-11. His lie of a rigged election undermines the foundations of our Republic in an effort to win an election and to avoid self-criticism. To spare his own ego, he is unleashing an idea as destructive to our nation as the ideologies that sent planes into the Twin Towers.

Over 14 years, I’ve worked for parties, candidates, and the media professionally. Saying that I am jaded and cynical is an understatement. I thought no bit of political rhetoric could shock and outrage me. Donald Trump did it. It happened in the third and final debate for the 2016 Presidential election.

Moderator Chris Wallace asked, “Will you accept the results of the election?”

The nominee of the Republican Party for President replied, “I will look at it at the time. I will keep you in suspense.”

My heart sank and a chill ran up my spine. Hillary Clinton captured my emotions perfectly in one of her few genuine moments: “That’s horrifying.” Later, “He’s talking down our democracy, and I, for one, am appalled.”

By frivolously claiming that our ballot boxes aren’t secure, he is further disengaging citizens from participating in the voting process. We need Americans to take politics seriously now more than ever. Donald Trump’s lie that ballots cast might not end up as valid is damn near criminal. If the Electoral System were a person, they’d sue him for slander.

First, let’s tackle the biased media. He’s right. The media are against him. The political establishment is against him. He doesn’t get a fair shot. But that is because he’s a tremendous asshole.

Trump assumes that the slate was supposed to be cleared on Labor Day. The decades of lewd comments and bad business practices weren’t to be mentioned. When they were mentioned, he fought back to appear tough.

He is petty. So is the press. Journalists may want to appear sober-minded and fair, but they are as vain and narcissistic as any other group of media figures. Calling them liars as a campaign tent pole and assuming there would be no consequence for that is not only naïve but juvenile. The press loves a sex scandal. If you don’t want to be involved in a sex scandal, don’t harass women! He is completely unable to accept that there are consequences for his actions. Negative social cues must mean a conspiracy is afoot to tear him down. This paranoia and lack of self-awareness are a sign of narcissistic behavior.

The more sinister charge is that vote totals will be changed to choose Clinton. Does voter fraud take place? Absolutely. It is the exception and not the rule. It is in small amounts, and it is absurd to imply that there could be enough fraud to sway a Presidential election. Reader, if you believe this to be the case, you’re wrong. You’re a conspiracy theorist.

How do I know? In 2003, I spent days watching the recount process as Scott Keller won a city council seat in Indianapolis by 3 votes. The next year I saw Jon Elrod go through the same process and won a recount by 14 votes. I spent Election Night 2008 at the convention center watching a few hundred citizens count ballots. In every election from 2008 to 2012, I spent every Election Day in polling places investigating concerns risen by local libertarian volunteers and nonpartisan watchers. I never saw anything beyond confusion over election law by volunteers. When confusion arises, clerks and state election officials are quick to make sure the laws are properly followed. I worked with dozens of Republican and Democrat county clerks, Election Division officials and Secretaries of State. I was appointed to the state HAVA (Help America Vote Act) Commission in 2010 and helped shape how votes are cast in Indiana.

On Election Day, thousands of Hoosiers (and Americans) will volunteer to serve as watchers, judges, and poll workers. Most take a vacation day to spend twelve very long, very boring hours to help a person sign their name and fill out a ballot. They do it because they love the American process of democracy.

When Donald Trump and the rest of his cartel of conspirators push the idea that elections are rigged, he really means that little old woman that smiles as she hands you the ballot is the one screwing you, reader. Does that make any sense? Does it jive with your voting experience?

If you are one of the people that believe elections are rigged, county clerks are always starved for volunteers to work the polls on election day. Each polling place needs proportional numbers of Rs and Ds and Ls (if we can convince them) to serve in several capacities. Each political party, at least in Indiana, can get watcher cards from the county clerk. Partisan citizens, preferably lawyers, can go in and help a voter if there is an issue or look for fraud. It is part of the checks and balances of the American system.

I ask that you share this article. It is important that Americans understand that the vote they cast will be counted. Votes that are fraudulently cast are usually sorted out. Our friends and neighbors need to understand that there are checks and balances in the system by competent elected officials that treat voting with the seriousness we expect of them. Most of all, we need to balance conspiracy theories with the truth.

The truth is that your vote counts and saying otherwise is a terrorist act against the underpinnings of the Republic.

Debate Prep Takes Years

The debate season is crucial for all candidates. It is the greatest test of a candidate’s discipline and preparation. It is hard to explain the pressure a person undergoes as they walk on a debate stage. It does not matter if it is under the lights of a network for a POTUS debate or a local forum for state senate. The nerves any human being undergoes is extraordinary. Imagine the taking a pass/fail test where the slightest mistake can cause all the hard work of any career can end in a flash.

We read about candidates undergoing debate prep. That is important, but its effect is only to bring to the surface the information ingested over the many years leading up to a run. A serious candidate for any office should have spent hundreds or thousands of hours studying policy before the decision is made to run. A lack of depth is made obvious in debate season.

This is where Hillary has the advantage in tonight’s debate. She can stop the tide of slipping numbers by showing that she is the experienced choice while Trump lacks depth. Trump can counter it by surprising the public with policy. Hillary’s campaign is largely built around a Never Trump message. He’s a racist, misogynist, liar, etc…, and she is the steady, experienced hand. Trump can smash her campaign to pieces by jumping over the low bar the American public has set for him in terms of policy knowledge and temperament.