Wild Fires and School Shootings

Nearly six years ago, I read an article on Wired.com that dramatically changed the way I think. It was regarding wildfires and how we fight them, and this particular passage struck me:

“Then, when you look at the last century, you see the climate getting warmer and drier, but until the last couple decades the amount of fire was really low. We’ve pushed fire in the opposite direction you’d expect from climate,” [Yale University pyrogeographer Jennifer] Marlon said.

In other words, nature was already adapting to keep fires minimal, but then we in our all-knowing wisdom intervened, thinking we had to prevent fires to save ourselves.

Instead, through our very actions, we caused what we sought to eliminate.

Reading the beginning of the article, specifically about wildfires, allows an easy segue into where this article applies now:

THE VAST WILDFIRES of this summer and last represent a new normal for the western United States. They may signal a radical landscape transformation, one that will make the 21st century West an ecological frontier.

Unlike fires that have occurred regularly for thousands of years, these fires are so big and so intense as to create discontinuities in natural cycles. In the aftermath, existing forests may not return. New ecosystems will take their place.

“These transitions could be massive. They represent the convergence of several different forces,” said Donald Falk, a fire ecologist at the University of Arizona. “There is a tremendous amount of energy on the landscape that historically would not have been there. These are nuclear amounts of energy.”

We could reword this in the following manner, and it would be equally true:

THE LARGE AMOUNT OF GUN VIOLENCE IN THE US of the last 25 years represent a new normal for the United States. They may signal a radical landscape transformation, one that will make the 21st century a sociological frontier.

Unlike violence that has occurred regularly for thousands of years, this violence is so big and so intense as to create discontinuities in natural cycles. In the aftermath, existing institutions may not be able to cope. New cultures will take their place.

“These transitions could be massive. They represent the convergence of several different forces. There is a tremendous amount of energy on the landscape that historically would not have been there. These are nuclear amounts of energy.”

Just as Dr. Marlon said above in relation to wildfires in the west, 25 years ago in particular the US undertook a mission to make our society safer – but we have achieved exactly the opposite results of what we expected.

There are many people with many theories as to why this is, and there are certainly, as Dr. Falk says, “several different forces” at play. But I have arrived at one that I think lies at the root of it, and I think that be correcting our course on this one issue, we may be able to correct our course overall and arrive at our desired, safer, destination.

What is that one issue?

Zero tolerance policies in schools.

I remember as an elementary school kid in the late 80s and early 90s – just before Zero Tolerance kicked in during my 6th grade year – that getting in fights was settled with either the teacher or the Principal, and usually resulted in nothing more than a stern lecture and maybe after school detention. But it also, critically, allowed the small fire to flash over and dissipate.

With the advent of Zero Tolerance in particular, all of a sudden even looking at another person wrong could result in expulsion from school or at minimum a stay at in school suspension for a few days. Fighting became guaranteed expulsion and likely criminal charges, no matter how young the kids in question were and no matter who the actual aggressor was. Now, we have actively and aggressively suppressed the small fires.

But this allows the weeds and brushes of small angers and resentments to build. Angers and resentments that even a few years prior were allowed to flash over as a small fire all of a sudden became… Jonesboro. Paducah. Columbine. And more and more others. School shootings where kids were bringing guns to schools specifically to inflict as much damage as possible, in an attempt to handle their own anger and pain.

This has only continued to build over the last 25 years, as people who were in school then and since have continued to have these grievances actively, aggressively suppressed and are taught to hold them in no matter what. And now we are to the point where these shootings are barely even news unless more than a handful are killed. Where once any attack was national level news, even ones where hardly anyone was hurt – much less killed -, we now have attacks barely make waves in the local media when similar numbers are attacked.

At the time Zero Tolerance was implemented, the 24/7 news cycle was in its infancy. The Internet – the very platform you are reading this very article on – was just beginning to come online in a big way for the average consumer. We had no way of knowing what the 24/7 news cycle, political punditry, and in particular the rise of social media and other instant communications would allow. We had no idea that allowing those small fires to flash over quickly was about to become paramount, instead seeing them as something that needed to be suppressed at all costs.

Well, now we know more exactly what those costs are – and I for one do not believe them worth it. Return us to the era where fist fighting was not encouraged, but was understood. Return us to an era where the small fires were allowed to flash over in order to prevent the widespread devastation of the wildland fire.

Will repealing Zero Tolerance restore all that we have lost over the last 25 years? Not in the short term. But maybe, just maybe, 25 years from now we will see that it did indeed patch the dam long enough for our other institutions to repair themselves and solve that problem for good.

Jesus and the American Golden Calf

Many years ago, I heard the full story of exactly what was happening at a somewhat routine passage in John 7, and it blew my mind – and altered my life forever.

The passage in question is this:

37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:37-38, New King James Version

Like I said, a fairly routine passage in a chapter that is a bunch of “quick hit” scenes. Nothing at all remarkable about the text, on its face.

But here’s where things get interesting: You see, that first verse (until it says 38 above) is actually FULL of details that have direct impact into at least one controversy swirling America as I write this. Because the “feast” in question was one of the holiest moments of the Jewish calendar of that era, the Feast of Tabernacles.

On the very holiest of days of one of the holiest religious observances of their year, Jesus protested. He claimed they were dead wrong, that their celebrations meant nothing. That he and he alone was what they were looking for. In Modern American Christian parlance, this would be similar to some travelling pastor walking into CNN on Christmas morning and proclaiming himself the Second Coming of Christ. It was *that* big.

And here’s the pivot to the American Golden Calf. You see, the Jews of Christ’s era were familiar with the story of the Golden Calf – as are many American Christians. Long story short (and it can be found in Exodus 32), Moses was up on the Mount of Sinai for a LONG time getting the 10 Commandments. While he’s gone, his brother commissions a golden calf to be made that the people of Israel begin worshipping – and then one of the 10 Commandments Moses comes down with turns out to be “thou shalt have no other gods before me”. Oops.

Now, what is the American Golden Calf? The United States Government. And specifically, its symbols – its flag and anthem. American Christians are no different than those Israelites of long ago, so tired of waiting and so bored and so sure of their own significance that they will worship almost literally anything that seems to give them an iota of purpose. In our case, they have eschewed “thou shalt have no other gods before me” for placing their entire faith in the American Flag. Sure, they’ll say they don’t. And they will and do make a big stink about how much they don’t. But their big stink shows just how much they do. Because in their every action, they continually reiterate their absolute devotion to that flag. They think that that flag and the cross Jesus died on are the very same thing, when in fact the two are polar opposites.

That flag in modern times does not in any way stand for freedom. The cross never has. That flag in modern times stands for tyranny, oppression, and force – in every detail of life, all over the globe. The cross stands for absolute supplication to the Living God – by each man’s choice. That flag in modern times demands “you will worship me or else”. The cross has always been about personal sacrifice to show the path to God. That flag in modern times says “If my agents are even the least bit intimidated by you, they can kill you any time they want”. The cross says “I would rather die to show you the path to God than let you die without knowing it.”. That flag in modern times says “I will judge you according to my arbitrary rules.” The cross says “I don’t judge you at all.”. That flag in modern times says “I have the right to kill you.” The cross says “If a man strikes me, I will turn the other cheek and allow him to strike it too.” That flag in modern times says “I will scream in your face about anything I want, and you have to stand there and take it because I’m the most powerful force on the planet.” The cross says “I serve a God who created literally everything, and I humbly present my case for his glory.”

When Colin Kaepernick or the literally hundreds of other sports players protest that flag at the height of the modern American religious festival that is the National Football League, they are doing exactly what Christ did all those years ago. They are being, by the very definition of the word, Christian.

When you rabidly adhere to the American flag, you are by the very definition of the term worshipping a falce idol.

Choose this day whom you will serve, Christian. Will it be the God that gave the Ten Commandments and later proclaimed himself to be the living water to the desert population? Or will it be the golden calf and the religious leaders who thought they had killed some madman claiming to be God?

Meet The Fashion Police

Earlier today, a Facebook/twitter friend of mine, Pete Eyre, was arrested in New Hampshire, the so called “Free State”, where the State Motto is “Live Free or Die”. Pete came to my attention through his work with the MotorHomeDiaries, and has continued that work with LibertyOnTour, among other projects.

His offense?

He wore a “Don’t Tread On Me” hat in the courtroom.

From what I have been told, this rule was posted NOWHERE, and in fact there is a photo from the same courtroom minutes after Pete had been arrested showing a cop wearing a hat in the exact same courtroom.

Here’s the video:

Please check out CopBlock.org/FreePete and FreePete.org, and spread the awareness of this illegal arrest. They have a Facebook/twitter avatar you can adopt (as I have) and ask that you use the twitter hashtag #FreePete to keep track of the discussion. IF you are so inclined, those two sites also have contact information for the local constabulary and judicial systems, and are asking that you express your polite displeasure at this injustice in the most persistent manner you can.

Let’s get Pete where he belongs – out promoting Liberty in everything he does. Not behind bars in a cage because he dared commit a fashion faux pas.

As an added bonus, check out this video a Republican Liberty Caucus friend sent me:

I Am The Only Person That Gets To See My Wife Nude

I don’t write about National issues that often, for a variety of reasons. Recently, however, one has come up that I decided I wanted to be very frank about.

That issue, if you couldn’t guess from the title, is the Transportation “Security” Administration’s recent decision to begin use of backscatter X-ray machines and enhanced pat down techniques. The first is basically government-sanctioned porn that allows a “security” agent to view beneath clothing to the skin of the person in the machine – and store the images. The second allows a “security” agent to rub a person’s genitals, rather than “lightly” touch them as under older regulations.

Since I first met my wife nearly four years ago, I’ve been trying to get her to fly. There are some places we’d like to go that quite frankly, a flight would be much simpler than driving. I will no longer persue this, and I ask every other man in America to join me with one simple premise:

I am the only person that gets to see my wife nude.

Obviously, this doesn’t apply for doctors or other emergency personnel with a valid reason, or any persons we may choose to allow into our bedroom. (Up front here, that second one isn’t going to happen with us, but I mention it to allow for other couples who may feel differently there.)

I consider it my number one duty as a husband to ensure my wife’s physical safety. Everything else pales in comparison to that one duty. I will NOT allow some stranger who happens to have the sanction of the government I live under to molest her for ANY reason – and I will oppose them using any force necessary. I am not a violent man, and I prefer the path of peace when it is an option. But if violence is necessary to protect my wife, I will be the coldest, most ruthless son of a bitch you have ever seen, if that is what it takes.

It is not the government’s job to ensure my wife’s safety – it is mine. It is the government’s job to prosecute criminals after the crime has been committed – including the crime of sexual assault (and, in the case of minors, child pornography/child molestation/sexual exploitation of a child) that the TSA now allows.

I encourage those who fly to file improper arrest charges, as well as those above, on any TSA agent who uses these techniques and any of their superiors who allow them to. After all, proper law enforcement officers – from your local PD all the way to the Federal Bureau of Investigation – have to have a proper warrant showing probable cause that a crime has been committed signed by a sitting judge in order to do similar invasive searches.

As it currently stands, I can protect my wife from these government-sanctioned molesters and perverts by simply refusing to fly – and so I shall.

One Man’s Take on Oil Spill

I normally think of celebrities talking about current issues as I would anyone else – they’re just normal people like you and me expressing an opinion. May or may not be correct, may or may not be actually based on facts, etc etc etc.

That said, when I know a person has a background in a particular field – regardless of whether they are a celebrity or not – I give their opinion a bit more weight than I do some random guy off the street. For example, when a guy tells me he served in the General Assembly for a decade and proceeds to tell me something about the inner workings of the Assembly, I give him a bit more credibility than someone who may or may not know that the General Assembly is the State of Ga’s Legislative branch of government.

Trace Adkins is a country music singer whose music I have been a fan of for quite a while. His biggest “crossover” hit has been “Honkytonkbadonkadonk” – a song you may have been as likely to hear in a dance club in Buckhead as on B100 in Albany. He also worked as a crewdog in the oil industry for a decade before becoming a famous country singer, and 6 of those years he spent working a rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper recently had him on his show, and this is what he had to say:
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Liberty In the Eyes of the Beholder?

A few incidents have come up in the past few days that I wanted to briefly comment on – ironically enough, 2 of the 3 involve high schools.

The most well known is the Elena Kagan nomination for Supreme Court. Apparently some “conservatives” are upset that she may or may not be a lesbian. When it comes to the Supreme Court, I am worried about one thing and one thing only: what are their views on the Constitution? I really don’t care what they do in their private lives, and by and large the same goes for ANY public official. But hey, maybe I’m just more enlightened there than most. For some solid thoughts on Kagan and the issues that SHOULD be raised around her nomination, I highly recommend the Cato Institute. Here’s a brief selection from them: Kagan Nomination Launches Constitutional Debate, Does Elena Kagan Support Limited Government?, Kagan: Revenge of the Grinds, Kagan on Military Recruitment, Kagan Nomination: Around the Web, and Kagan Bad, But Not Worst

The other two issues I wanted to discuss both involve high schools and the First Amendment.
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The Sexton Doctrine

The “Sexton Doctrine” is how I look at every single conflict, from personal all the way through international. Briefly stated, it is:

Absorb the first strike, and make DANG SURE you deliver the LAST strike

It is a philosophy of both strong defense AND overwhelming offensive capabilities that are held in check by an overriding desire for peace.

It is under this philosophy that I can be BOTH an ardent non-interventionist AND a proponent of military research and development (ie spending).
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We’re Not The Bad Guys

Yesterday news came out that President Obama has decided to try the men accused of planning the September 11th attacks in the US Federal Court in lower Manhattan, blocks away from the former site of the World Trade Centers. The Editorial Board of the Albany Herald has a very good piece on that this morning, and here are my thoughts:

My feeds on both Facebook and Twitter lit up with righteous indignation from conservative – and even some libertarian – activists screaming bloody murder. They throw away the presumption of innocence that is the foundation of our American court system, calling these men “enemy combatants” and demanding that they be given a military trial and summarily executed.

But let’s look at that a bit, shall we?
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Should Churches Pay Taxes?

Doug Rea, the pastor at Connections Albany, is one of the most genuine men I’ve ever met, in any walk of life – much less as a Christian and pastor. Considering the company I’ve kept over the years, that is truly one of the highest compliments I can give a person, and I mean every word of it.

Much like other pastors I’ve looked up to – such as Jeff Hill at Calvary Baptist in Ball Ground, Chris Altman and John Sullivan somewhere in northwest Georgia, and even Albany’s Tony Haefs of Gillionville Baptist – Doug has made me think about things in a way I really never had before, and I will be forever grateful for that.
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