Discrimination

Discrimination means to differentiate, which could have bad connotations, such as to treat individuals differently in a bad way based on race or sex or nationality or creed or religion or just about anything that comes to mind.  For example, blacks have been discriminated against in employment, voting rights, freedom, and many other rights simply based on their color.

However, discrimination has a good side to the coin if it is discerning differences to determine the best of a group of individuals.  For example, we discriminate when we compare Albert Einstein to other scientists because Einstein was different and thus we differentiate his abilities from others in a good form of being prejudiced.  Einstein should be separated from his contemporaries as being the best.

It is interesting to note that most people who claim that they never discriminate against Native Americans, Japanese, blacks, Jewish, Irish, or whatever group is in the “hot box,” are really discriminating because they have made race an issue.  Somebody who truly doesn’t discriminate doesn’t even notice the difference.  A man who says that he likes the black race just showed his true allegiance to his race because he didn’t say that he liked all races no matter what.  The soldier who goes to war with his brothers in arms from all different races and religions and sees no distinction is the true professional who does not discriminate.

So, is there a problem with the “Black Lives Matter” group?  They didn’t say, “All Lives Matter.”  Of course, black lives matter, but so do the lives of red, yellow, tan, brown, and white people.  Some say that blacks have been mistreated for so many generations that they should have the right to discriminate against others.  Well, let’s let the Native Americans have that right first.  And how about allowing the Jews to discriminate against Arabs?  Where does it stop?  We have to say that all lives matter to avoid any continuation of discrimination through “getting even” or revenge motivation.

The discrimination against blacks in the south roots itself deeply in the soil of slavery.  I watched many of these whites spew out their hatred, which was very similar to the hatred of the Jewish people by the Germans.  If you are down and out, you will look for somebody to make yourself feel or look better.  The poor whites in the south didn’t have much in their pockets, but they could always pick on a poor black person to make themselves better than somebody else.

In order to get past the terrible history of murdering blacks and Jews, we need to study our past to make certain that it does not reappear.  Rather than tearing down Civil War statues, it would be much more intelligent to examine the history of that war to prevent it from happening again.  It would be more important to learn that General Robert E. Lee was not in favor of slavery, but, rather instead, joined the Confederacy because he sided with his state, Virginia, over the union.  And when you study the history of General Stonewall Jackson, you learn that he opposed slavery and, in fact, taught blacks in his Sunday School classes.  Jackson was another Confederate leader who fought with Virginia rather than against her.  For you see, history is extremely important to ensure that we do not make the same mistakes.  The mistake made during the Civil War was in not declaring the war was to free slaves and nothing else.  State’s rights should never have been an issue.  In fact, if slavery had been the only issue for the war, Generals Lee and Jackson would have joined the Union side, and the war would have lasted for less than a year.  They were that good!

But emotions pour out when we discuss these issues and mad idiots like Hitler can take over crowds who feed on this adrenaline rush.  Tearing down statues usually is only a start.  Burning the history books and then other books is an intermediary step.  Then it is time to start rounding up the “bad guys and gals,” whoever that might be.  Hitler chose the Jews, but the next totalitarian leader may choose to imprison all the middle and upper class.  It would be like trying to predict the weather on a date next year.  Who knows who will be discriminated against by the totalitarian regime?

And I guess that is my point.  Extremists can discriminate against a selected group.  And then that group can get back at the world and discriminate against another selected group.  It is much like the father who abuses the son, and then the son abuses the grandson.  The discrimination perpetuates itself unless we stop and examine the history behind these extreme movements and learn from them so they don’t happen again.

God Is Not Gray

Most religions have something in common:  they teach moderation.  It is very unusual for a religion or philosophy that has survived the ages to advocate extreme positions.  Moral codes typically have been structured to prevent excessive behaviors of members of society.  Criminal and civil laws have used balancing scales to measure right or wrong actions, and there generally can be mitigating circumstances or gray areas. 

For example, negligence might be defined as the doing or failing to do that which a reasonably prudent person would do under the same or similar circumstances.  But there might be situations where even if a person were negligent, the next person who had the “last clear chance” to prevent the accident might be considered primarily at fault.  And the negligence must be the “proximate cause” of the accident.  Different circumstances can create different judgments.  The laws and rules of societies are not always black and white.   

But God’s judgment may not be gray, at all.  Both the Old and New Testaments take some very extreme positions, indicating that God’s final judgment is black and white with no gray areas.  In the Old Testament, God was quick to mete out judgments against those who did not follow His law.  There are many examples, best known being the Passover, the closing of the Red Sea, Sodom & Gomorrah, and the Great Flood.  In the New Testament, Jesus, although virtuous beyond compare, stated clearly, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.”  Luke 11:23.  There is no gray area here.  You either are with Jesus or you are not.  There is no neutral zone.

Jesus also told us to “fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell.”  Luke 12:5.  The Greek word for hell was gehenna, which was the final destination for those who did not pass the final judgment at the end of days.  Hades, the underground abode of the dead in Greek mythology, has been associated with the location where believers and nonbelievers are separated under the earth after they die.  This may have been the area where Jesus descended for three days after His death before being resurrected.

Jesus described Hades as a place in our earthly world where all people go, which is separated by a great chasm with the righteous dead on one side and the wicked dead on the other.  Luke 16:26.  Those on the unrighteous side complained that they were in agony in the fire, while the righteous were comforted.  Luke 16:24-25.

Then Jesus stated, “Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”  In other words, God is aware of and does not forget even the smallest details of our lives.  It would be interesting if God forced us to watch a video of our lives, humbling us as we watched in great detail all the bad things we had done, but had forgotten.  It reminds me of a scene in the movie “A Clockwork Orange,” when the British gang member was forced to watch a movie, including evil events throughout history, hoping to make him a better person.  

One of the more striking statements by Jesus is found in Luke 12:51: “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth?  No, I tell you, but division.”  What does this mean?  Well, Jesus continues on to describe the end of times as being similar to the American Civil War.  It will divide brother against brother and father against son.  There will be two clear sides:  the believers and the nonbelievers.

There are several judgments, but the most important are (1) the judgment made at death and (2) the judgment made at the second coming of Jesus (end-of-times judgment).  It is interesting to note that the bases for these judgments appear to be similar, but the judgments levied appear to be distinguished by the severity of their judging.  By this I mean that the tests for both judgments may be based on your faith in God/Jesus and your acts of faith thereafter.  However, the judgment at death seems to be described as merely a separation between believers and nonbelievers, while the final judgment or end-of-times judgment appears to be a much more difficult test that only a few pass. 

There are many provisions in the Bible referencing this final judgment, but Jesus emphasized it in Luke 13:24, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.”  Jesus told about the man who in preparing for a great banquet had invited many people.  Many accepted the invitation, but on the day of the event, they made excuses for not attending.  Luke 14:16-20.  Jesus concluded that the master exclaimed, “I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.  Luke 14:24.  My interpretation of this passage is that although many will enter Hades, accepting God’s invitation on the side of the righteous, not many of these will taste God’s kingdom in the final judgment.      

I am not a prophet, but I was lucky to receive a message from Jesus one time.  The message was provided in my mind, not a voice from above.  But I am quite certain that it wasn’t me providing the answer to my own question, because it was not an answer I would have given.  My wife and I had been studying the Bible, and we were both struck with how strong the verses proclaimed that “works” were extremely important in God’s judgment.  We knew that many Christians believed that if you confessed your sins and accepted Jesus as your savior, then you were immediately saved and you would enter heaven.  I asked Jesus to explain “works” to me as I prayed one night.  He said, “It’s in the Bible.” 

Like I said, I was surprised at the answer.  After giving it some thought, I came to believe that He had a dual meaning: (1) works are clearly required in the Bible and (2) I was not entitled to a definition, but had to work for it.  Many Christians believe that they are entitled to heaven once they claim belief.  I am not so sure.  Works may be required to prove that you truly believe in Jesus and God.  It really does not matter how works are weighed in God’s judgment, the point is that they are extremely important if you want to enter God’s kingdom.  Faith, by itself, is not enough.  Works are also required.

Now, I understand the reasoning why preachers do not want to address this issue.  They might lose many from their congregation if they explained the complexity of Judgment Day.  Especially, in today’s world when everybody is looking for simplicity, a “free lunch,” and entitlements.  Another reason might be that religious teachers do not want their followers to think too much or to be too anxious at the point of death.  In other words, your thoughts upon death should not be cluttered with regret for your sins or concern whether your works had met God’s “pass-fail” grade.  You should be relaxed in order for Jesus to lead you to heaven without any worry about consequences from your past activities.

The only problem with this approach is that it ignores “works.”  Jesus talks about “works,” using parables.  One is the parable of the fig tree.  A man had a fig tree planted in his backyard that had not produced fruit for three years.  He decided to see if it would bear fruit on the fourth year and if it did not, he would cut it down.  Luke 13:6-9.  My interpretation of this provision is that God and Jesus expect to see fruit from the fig tree after it is planted.  Once you believe in Jesus as your savior, you need to produce fruit or do good works.  There are many versus in the Bible, referencing “works” that are required to enter God’s kingdom.  The Book of James may be the best source if you want to read more about it.

So, the final judgment day will employ a difficult test as both your faith and works are combined and examined.  Again, God is not gray.  He and Jesus both are black and white in their judgment.  You can pretend that you have a “Get out of Jail Free” card based on when you accepted Jesus as your savior twenty years ago, but God knows each and every sin that you have committed over that time.  Perhaps, a certain amount of sins could be forgiven because we are “miserable wretches,” but at some point, God knows that you were not a true believer.  You may be tossed into hell as a miserable wretch who lied to himself when he professed to be a believer.

The parable of the shrewd manager carries the same message.  In this story, a manager was fired for mismanaging his master’s assets.  The manager called all his master’s debtors in and gave them all discounts on what they owed so that they would owe him a favor after he left this job.  His master commended him for acting shrewdly since he looked up to people who thought like him and used worldly wealth to gain friends.  Luke 16:1-9.  Some people interpret the action of the manager as a good thing because he was forgiving payments since his master had overcharged the debtors.  However, I link it to Jesus’ final comment, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts.”  Luke 16:15.  In other words, even if the manager did the right thing for the debtors, he did it primarily for his benefit to obligate the debtors to him for future services.  God knows your heart.

God is not Gray.  His kingdom also is not gray.  This is one reason why so few enter His kingdom.  In Luke 17:21, Jesus said, “…the kingdom of God is within you.”  This is one of His most important statements.  My interpretation is that the kingdom is spiritual and internal.  In the external universe, it is very gray.  For every rule, there are many exceptions to the rule.  The external world has opposite poles or extremes that balance each other. 

This external universe is full of impurities, lacking perfection except in sanitized laboratories.  This world is very gray.  In Luke 14:34-35, Jesus was describing the cost of being a disciple, ending with an interesting comment:  “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.”  My explanation of this is that Jesus was saying that salt, which came primarily from the nearby salty seas, was impure and it lost whatever saltiness it had as the impurities increased.  Weathering could have diluted the salt content.  If it could not be made salty again, it needed to be thrown out as no good.  This is analogous to the judgment at heaven’s gate. 

But the internal universe of God is black and white.  Your mind which has impure thoughts should be cleansed so that you can enter God’s kingdom.  You seek His kingdom with only your thoughts, so if they are not pure, then you will not find the kingdom.  If you seek the spiritual benefits of His kingdom, then the worldly things will be given to you as you need them.  Luke 12:31.  There is no room for gray or impurities in God’s kingdom.     

     

Union Cannon Positions at Manassas

The picture shows representations of where Union cannon were positioned at the top of Henry Hill, facing Gen. Stonewall Jackson’s cannon line on the other side of the hill,  where most of the First Battle of Manassas occurred and where Gen. Jackson received his nickname for standing like a Stone Wall resisting the Union attack.  In the background is a replica of the Hill House that was destroyed during the battle.  Lt. Col. Joe Hinds wrote about this battle in his books, “Col. John Boyd – A Warrior for All Times” and “First Battle of Manassas – Like a Stone Wall.”

America’s Two-Party System

The Founding Fathers had two opposite magnetic poles that attracted American citizens.  One was a group led by Alexander Hamilton, George Washington’s secretary of the treasury, who believed that the common man should not control the government.  Hamilton argued that a president for life would be the best course of action, similar to the crown in England.  He thought that mob rule would take over if left to the common man.  The followers of Hamilton were called Federalists (federal rights).

Thomas Jefferson, George Washington’s secretary of state, led the other side, which believed that the people could rule themselves and that the Federalists would promote a dictatorship by taking away powers from the people and the states, giving them to the federal government.  Jefferson wanted a nation of farmers who needed few laws governing them.  The followers of Jefferson were called Republicans (citizens’ and states’ rights).

But these two parties agreed on two important items:  (1) they wanted to do the right thing and (2) they wanted to serve the public.  They just disagreed on how best to do that.  Interestingly, the presidents during this “Founding Fathers” period of time were very independent, and did not follow their party line in all cases.  They did what they believed was best for their country even if they didn’t get reelected.

The evolution of the two-party system has swapped names around so that it is a bit confusing.  The Hamilton Federalists later became Republicans, and the Jefferson Republicans later became Democrats.  However, today the old Republicans are the new Democrats, and the old Democrats are now new Republicans.  It will make it easier if I differentiate the parties with a reference to their ideology at that particular time.  For example, the Hamilton Federalists would be designated by (federal rights) while the Jefferson Republicans would be categorized as (citizens’ and states’ rights).

But because of the maverick spirit of the early presidents, it was never crystal clear about party alignments.  George Washington, the first president, was a very successful independent president by setting a middle course for our young country and never affiliating with any party.  John Adams, the second president of the United States was a Federalist (federal rights), but he lost favor with that party when he went with his conscience and not the edicts of the party.  He was successful though because he avoided a war with France that could have destroyed our young, fragile nation.  Even though Thomas Jefferson, the third president, represented the Republicans, he still followed his conscience.  He was also successful by purchasing the Louisiana Territory.  James Madison, the fourth president, also a Republican, did what he thought was right during his two terms, but he got wrapped up in the War of 1812, which drove the federal debt up for the first time since the Revolutionary War.  He still was a success by winning the war.  James Monroe, the fifth president, also a Republican, created the “Era of Good Feeling” with his expansion of territory and decrease in spending.  Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe all only ran for two terms, believing that it was improper in our democracy for them to stay any longer.  The first five presidents were both independent and successful.

John Quincy Adams, the sixth president, was independent like his father.  Even though he was elected also as a Federalist (federal rights), he voted for what he believed to be right and not what the party wanted.  This guaranteed one term for both men.  But John Quincy Adams was not as successful as his father.  He was a cold and distant person and had no abilities to compromise.

Andrew Jackson, the seventh president, was elected as a Democratic Republican (citizens’ and states’ rights) over the new National Republican party (federal rights).  Jackson’s party eventually became just the Democratic party, while the Republican party became the Whig party.  Even though Jackson believed in states’ rights, he drew the line with South Carolina declaring that it would not comply with a federal tariff.  Jackson was ready to send in federal troops to enforce the federal law.  It was interesting that many of the early presidents were independent enough to ignore the ideologies of their party lines and stand up for what they thought was right.  Jackson certainly fit this mold.  He vetoed more bills from Congress than any president up to his time, but Jackson was very successful.  The federal debt “flat lined” through Jackson’s administration and over the next thirty years.  It wasn’t until 1860 that the federal debt started climbing, building up to the Civil War.

Martin Van Buren, the eighth president, a Democrat, tried to do the right thing, but he was blindsided by a deep depression caused by land speculation and liberal borrowing of money.  Van Buren was unsuccessful as a president, but it wasn’t really his fault.  American citizens couldn’t blame themselves, so they blamed Van Buren.  William Henry Harrison, the ninth president, was elected as a Whig (federal rights), but he lived only for a few months and obtained no success during that short period.  His vice-president, John Tyler, also a Whig, assumed the presidency.  Tyler stood his ground and supported states’ rights even though his party did not.  Tyler also was a single term president because of his independent positions, but he was unsuccessful because both parties hated him.

James Polk was elected the eleventh president as a Democrat (citizens’ and states’ rights).  Even though he was involved in a war with Mexico, it was one of the few wars that did not dramatically increase the federal debt.  In the peace treaty, America obtained California, Nevada, and part of Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico.  Polk was a very successful president.

Millard Fillmore, the thirteen president, assumed this office as a Whig (federal rights) after his predecessor, Zachary Taylor, died suddenly after contracting an illness on July 4th, a year after he was elected on the Whig ticket.  Taylor wasn’t president long enough to be successful, but Fillmore was a success.  Even though Fillmore was from a party that supported a strong federal government and that was against slavery, he was independent and followed what he believed.  He was a big influence on the Compromise of 1850, which made California a free state and enacted the Fugitive Slave Act allowing slave owners to recapture slaves who escaped to free states.  Fillmore was the last Whig president as that party disintegrated after the compromise.  Fillmore also was the last successful independent president until Abraham Lincoln.

Franklin Pierce, a northerner, was elected as the fourteenth president, as a Democrat (citizens’ and states’ rights).  Pierce was one of the first presidents who followed his party line and not his conscience.  He started a string of presidents who followed a strict party policy.  Pierce followed his party and promoted the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which allowed the citizens in those territories to decide whether it wanted slavery or not.  This was the tinder box that set a fire that led to the Civil War because it allowed extremists to operate and take over in those territories.

James Buchanan, the fifteenth president, was also a Democrat (citizens’ and states’ rights).  He did not take a strong stand on much anything.  With two weak presidents in a row, the extremists within America took over and ran us headlong into war.  Buchanan did not want to make anybody angry, especially his party, so he avoided confrontation.  But the country needed a strong, independent leader to avoid the Civil War.

Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president, was elected as a Republican (federal rights and anti-slavery).  Lincoln was a much more capable president than Pierce and Buchanan, but he did not have much experience, so he was polarized by his party into denouncing both states’ rights and slavery.  If he had been more experienced and followed his own beliefs, he would have selected only one issue – slavery.  Slavery was on its way out anyway and clearly was against America’s principle of a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.  If Lincoln had ignored the states’ rights issue, he, at a minimum, would have shortened the Civil War and may have avoided it altogether.  Lincoln also gave in to his party when they proposed military leaders like Erwin McDowell, who was a political staff officer who should never have led the Union soldiers in the First Battle of Manassas.  Other political appointments of officers led to the early years of losses to the Confederates on the battlefield.  After General Ulysses Grant, who was not political, was given command of the Union army, things turned around.  As Lincoln gained experience, he exercised his executive power more than other presidents had done in the past.  He finally recognized the legitimate reason for the Civil War and delivered the Emancipation Proclamation speech after the Battle of Gettysburg on September 22, 1862.  Lincoln had many good qualities that helped him get through a very difficult period for our country, but his inexperience hurt him in his early years of his presidency.  He became a successful independent president after September 22, 1862.  There was a hiatus in independent successful presidents until Theodore Roosevelt in 1901.

Of the first sixteen presidents, nine were successful independent presidents:  Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, Monroe, Madison, Jackson, Polk, Fillmore, and Lincoln.

The Reconstruction period paraded a series of Republican (federal rights and big business) presidents who were controlled by Congress.  Andrew Johnson and Rutherford Hays should be given credit during this period for attempting to do what they thought was right, but Congress and big business were just too powerful, and these presidents were not successful in their efforts.  Johnson, the seventeenth president, was impeached by Congress when he attempted to do what he thought was right.  Hayes, the nineteenth president, tried to clean up politics, but Congress and big businesses had too much power as America rolled into becoming an industrialized nation.  Ulysses Grant (eighteenth president), James Garfield (twentieth president), and Chester Arthur (the twenty-first president) were all weak presidents who conceded to their parties and Congress, leading to widespread corruption within the government.  The Republicans became more of a party supporting big business and drifted away from promoting federal rights.

Grover Cleveland, the twenty-second and twenty-fourth president, was elected as a Democrat (citizens’ and states’ rights), who was going to bring a change along with an honest government.  He also brought a change to the Democratic party, which became less focused on states’ rights and more centered on laborers and small businessmen.  Cleveland made his decisions based on what he thought was right and not what his party dictated or what was popular.  However, he wasn’t successful.  That’s why he lost to Benjamin Harrison, the twenty-third president, on the Republican (big business) ticket.  But Harrison, who supported high tariffs and big business, lost the following election to Cleveland as farmers, labor, and small businessmen voted for the Democrat (small business).  The pendulum continued to swing back and forth between the two parties as William McKinley, a Republican, was elected after Cleveland’s second term.  All these presidents, as a general rule, followed their party line.

It wasn’t until the colorful twenty-sixth president, Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican (big business), was vaulted into the presidency after McKinley was shot and killed, that successful independence returned to the presidency.  Roosevelt recognized a new division within America, not between federal and states’ rights, but between the rich and the poor.  Even though he was a Republican, he set out on his own to protect the small businesses and workers.  Roosevelt was the first president to successfully follow his own set of values since Millard Fillmore, about a 50-year hiatus.  Roosevelt busted up many of the big business trusts.  He also saved the natural resources in America by establishing national parks and forests.  This highly popular president easily won a second term.

William Taft, the twenty-seventh president, also a Republican, attempted to follow-up on many of Roosevelt’s programs, but he was not as aggressive as his predecessor.  Although competent, Roosevelt was a tough act to follow, and Taft looked weak by comparison.  He was a party man, too complacent to be labeled as an independent.

We continued the swing back and forth between parties as Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat (citizens’ and states’ rights), was elected as the twenty-eighth president.  Wilson championed the rights of the people, following the party position.  Wilson was in power during WWI when the federal debt escalated to about what it was during the Civil War.  After Wilson, Warren Harding, a Republican (big business), became the twenty-ninth president.  He was a loyal Republican who voted the party line.  He died in office and Calvin Coolidge, another Republican (big business), kept things going for big business.  Coolidge said, “And the business of government was to keep out of business.”  Herbert Hoover, a Republican (big business), was the thirty-first president.  Hoover inherited the Great Depression, but he still did not want to interfere with businesses through government regulation.

Franklin Roosevelt, the thirty-second president, a distant cousin to Teddy Roosevelt, was a Democrat (citizens’ and states’ rights).  Roosevelt really was an independent and kept to himself for the most part.  He was the architect for an expansive and expensive federal government.  The Democrat party suddenly looked a lot like the old Federalist, Whig, and Republican parties that championed federal rights.  He became the leader of a Democratic party that now represented the people through the federal government (big government).  He created new federal departments and spent money at a rate never seen before in our country.  He modified his party’s platform to use the full power of the federal government to champion the rights of Americans and small businesses.  He created a larger federal government to get America back on its feet.  The change was perhaps one of emphasis.  The emphasis was on a larger government.  He was elected for a fourth term, more terms than any other president, as a Democrat (big government) but he died in office.

Harry Truman, also a Democrat (big government), became the thirty-third president with the shadow of Franklin Roosevelt over him.  Truman, like both Roosevelt’s, was his own man.  Even though Truman had some shady political ties in Missouri, he stepped up and made the tough decisions, such as dropping the first atomic bomb.  There was no passing the buck with Truman because as he said, “The buck stops here.”  He was from Independence, Missouri, and he was truly independent.  During the Korean War, he took on a very popular General McArthur, but Truman did not back away from making the difficult decisions, and he was generally right.  Even though Truman was able to decrease the rate of federal spending, he still incurred heavy expenses in WWII and the Korean War and our government continued to grow.

Dwight Eisenhower was elected the thirty-fourth president because he was a likeable war hero.  His slogan was, “I like Ike.”  He was a Republican, but his party’s philosophy didn’t look that much different from the Democrat (big government) beliefs.  He pretty much followed the party line and was not considered to be a strong president.  However, he was able to continue a decrease in federal spending even with continued growth in the government building interstate roads and other projects.

John Kennedy was the next independent president after Truman.  He also was a Democrat (big government) elected as the thirty-fifth president based on his personal charm and wealth.  He attracted smart independent advisors, and he was willing to go against the military, corporate, and political powers.  The Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis were both headaches for his administration.  Kennedy was assassinated, but we still do not know why.

Lyndon Johnson, the thirty-sixth president, returned to the Democratic party (big government) mantra.  Johnson started a group of presidents, whether Democrat or Republican, who followed their party line of increasing the size of the federal government, carrying right up to the present.  The Democrats might argue for increased taxes, and the Republicans might decrease taxes, but otherwise the two parties contributed to a higher federal deficit.  Johnson, unlike Kennedy, embraced big government, big business, and big military.  Richard Nixon, the thirty-seventh president, was a Republican, but it was difficult distinguishing him from Johnson except that Nixon got caught.  After his resignation, a very honest president, Gerald Ford, took his place, but Ford ran into an inflationary recession and didn’t have time to make his mark on the presidency.  Jimmy Carter, the thirty-ninth president, was an inexperienced Democrat who struggled to find his identity and the Democrat party fared no better.  Nixon, Ford, and Carter were able to maintain a reasonable federal budget, but the next president, Ronald Reagan, started the elevator rising to the giant federal debt that we have today.  He didn’t initiate this with the growth of federal government as much as he did with tax decreases.  The reduced taxes increased the debt.

Ronald Reagan, the fortieth president, finally defined and designed the new Republican party.  Reagan was the pioneer leader of this Republican party (business/small government), modifying its big business role to embrace less federal government.  The Republicans became a party that wanted to make the government smaller, making businesses less regulated and less taxed.  Now, the lines were clearly drawn between Republicans (business/small government/less taxes) and Democrats (unions/large government/more taxes).  Since Reagan actually formulated the new Republican party, he did not deviate from what the party line.  He was independent in that he created what he believed in.  And because of his firm ideological beliefs, he was able to dismantle the Soviet Union.  However, the costs for the federal government were increasing under both parties now.

George H.W. Bush, the forty-first president, continued following the Republican ideological philosophy.  Bush was one of our best war presidents.  During the First Gulf War, he formed a coalition of nations to remove Hussein from Kuwait.  Bush announced the objective and turned over the strategy and tactics of war to the military and let them do their job.  It is a lost art called “delegation” that few presidents ever learned.  William Clinton became the forty-second president as a Democrat, still pursuing what was best for a larger government.  Clinton was lucky to see a decrease in the federal budget because of the boost in the economy, giving the government more tax revenue and better profits on its investments. George W. Bush was the forty-third president, following the Republican movement to minimize government and reduce regulations on businesses.  The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan sent our federal debt spiraling up into the stratosphere.  Bush understood neither the power of coalitions nor international law like his father did, so America lost some of its moral luster.

Barrack Obama, the forty-fourth president, was perhaps the biggest Democratic champion for a larger government.  We have seen our federal debt go over $16 trillion and watch as Standard & Poor’s downgraded our country’s credit rating from AAA to AA+.  With our debt increasing over $1 trillion each year, we are reaching a fiscal tipping point.

In summary, the first five presidents from George Washington to James Madison carried an aura of successful independence about them that may have carried over from being the “Founding Fathers.”  Jackson, Polk, Fillmore, and Lincoln were the next four successful independent presidents, but this combination wasn’t seen again until Teddy Roosevelt came crashing onto the scene.  Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, and Reagan were the last presidents who exercised successful independent spirits.  I believe that Lincoln fit in the category of independent successful presidents after September 22, 1862, when he issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Also in my opinion, Reagan did what he thought was right as another successful independent, which matched the new party line that he had created.

In effect, I argue that there were only 14 out of 44 presidents who were successful at doing the right thing for their country even at the risk of not getting reelected.  The most successful presidents were independent, but still knew how to build coalitions.  The least successful presidents were those who just simply followed the party line or who refused to compromise or work with anybody.  I think we could use another independent president, but if we have already reached the tipping point, I don’t know if they could be successful.

Confederate Cannon Line at Manassas

The picture below shows cannons lined at the top of Henry Hill at Manassas National Battlefield Park, representing where Gen. Stonewall Jackson made his famous stand holding off the attacking Union soldiers during the First Battle of Manassas. Notice the treeline behind the cannon, where Jackson had his troops waiting for the Union attack.  Lt. Col. Joe Hinds tells this story about Jackson in two of his books:  “Col. John Boyd – A Warrior for All Times” and “The First Battle of Manassas – Like a Stone Wall.”

Gen. Stonewall Jackson

This statue of Gen. Stonewall Jackson is located on Henry Hill at the Manassas National Battlefield Park near Manassas, Virginia.  Gen. Jackson is the hero in Lt. Col. Joe Hinds second book, “First Battle of Manassas – Like a Stone Wall.”  The strategies of Gen. Jackson are also studied in his first book, “Col. John Boyd – A Warrior for All Times.”

Stone Bridge at Manassas National Battlefield Park

This is a picture my wife, Deanna Hinds, took of the Stone Bridge at Manassas National Battlefield Park near Manassas, Virginia.  This bridge on the Warrenton Turnpike was the primary crossing of Bull Run, but the Union soldiers avoided it because they thought it was rigged to blow up.  They, rather instead, took a long detour following a “cow path” through the woods that delayed their attack on the Confederate troops.  This proves that a little “intel” goes a long way.  This first battle of the Civil War was the subject of both books by Lt. Col. Hinds:  “Col. John Boyd – A Warrior for All Times” and “The First Battle of Manassas – Like a Stone Wall.”

Stone House at Manassas National Battlefield Park

This is a picture my wife, Deanna Hinds, took of the Stone House at Manassas National Battlefield Park near Manassas, Virginia.  This house sits in the valley between two hills:  Matthew Hill and Henry Hill where most of the fighting occurred during the First Battle of Manassas.  This first battle of the Civil War was the subject of both books by Lt. Col. Hinds:  “Col. John Boyd – A Warrior for All Times” and “The First Battle of Manassas – Like a Stone Wall.”  The building faces the Warrenton Turnpike.

Round Up the Posse to Fight Terrorism

Most Americans believe that the military is required to fight terrorism, but the military is trained and designed to fight armies representing foreign governments.  The terrorists are civilians who typically have no alignment with a government.

We have learned some hard lessons in Iraq and Afghanistan.  America has drained its resources and has lost many good soldiers in these two countries with little to show for it.

So, what is the best way to fight terrorism?  Perhaps, it is as simple as letting our cells fight the terrorist cells.  There currently is a strong movement toward a world economy, so it makes sense to form international counter-terrorism cells to fight the terrorist cells.  It will be a more economical and practical approach to solving this problem.  Other countries, who realize that terrorism is detrimental to the world economy, will be more receptive to this smaller-scale approach than to providing military forces to fight another country’s armies.

So, let’s round up the Posse to fight terrorism.  The Posse that I am talking about gathering together and forming up is the Posse Comitatus Act, which was passed as a response to the federal military occupation of the former Confederate states during the ten years of Reconstruction after the Civil War.  The southern states bartered for this law in the Election of 1876.  The Democrats consented to Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio, a Republican, winning the disputed election in return for passage of this law.

The Posse Comitatus Act originally prohibited any president or Congress from directing, by military order or federal legislation, the imposition of federal troops in any state.  But an exception was made to the act in 1958, permitting President Dwight Eisenhower to send federal troops into Little Rock, Arkansas, during the school desegregation crisis.   This exception allows the president to call up military forces when state authorities are either unable or unwilling to suppress violence that is in opposition to the constitutional rights of the people.

The original Posse Comitatus Act also referred essentially to the Army, but the Air Force was added in 1956.  The Navy and Marine Corps have been included by Department of Defense regulations.  This law today is often relied upon to prevent the military services from interfering in domestic law enforcement.  The Coast Guard is not subject to this law.

Terrorists, whether foreign or domestic, are individuals who violate criminal laws and are subject to punishment under our criminal laws.  If the Posse Comitatus Act has any strength, it must be to prevent military from interfering with domestic law enforcement.  The CIA and president are perfectly capable of working with foreign governments to fight terrorism outside our country.  And the FBI and Homeland Security teaming with criminal experts can fight terrorism inside America.

The Posse exception, allowing the president to declare that states are unable or unwilling to suppress terrorism, should not be utilized except in emergencies.  This exception also should not be utilized when the federal civil agencies like the CIA, FBI and Homeland Security are capable of taking action against the terrorists.

Even if the civilian counter-terrorist cells  are only half the size of a similar military force, we need to round up this Posse to the next highest number and treat it as being equal to the military in size.  Sometimes bigger is not better.  Small teams with flexibility might actually have a better chance against the terrorists.  The president should not go around the Posse Act just because the military has more manpower than our civilian criminal forces.  Rounding up the Posse also gives us the most bang for our buck.

As military units return from Iraq, they may start training for domestic operations.  The Army service component of Northern Command is training some of its units to serve in large-scale emergencies and disasters.  It is being called the Consequence Management Response Force, and also appears to be training to deal with domestic unrest and crowd control.  That sounds like it could be a violation of Posse Comitatus.

I served in all four military services over four decades and support the military in everything that they do that is military.  But the military should not be involved in civilian matters any more than civilians should involve themselves with military matters.

In effect, we should be able to round up and use the Posse when we need it to fight terrorism in the United States.  And with our federal and state criminal machinery in place, we should not need military involvement.

Does History Repeat Itself?

Please examine the picture in the banner for this blog site above.  You see a Civil War battle with smoke surrounding the soldiers that blends into the next picture of the Twin Towers burning after the terrorist attack on 9/11.

Think about this for a second.  What is the significance of this to you?   Does history repeat itself?  Could there be another civil war, but this time a worldwide confrontation with terrorists, armed by Iran, N. Korea, and Russia with weapons of mass destruction?  Or could there be another civil war within America?  Libya, Syria, and Egypt are examples of what can happen when the government loses touch with its citizens.  If America’s federal government and its politicians do not make major changes and our economy tears apart at the seams, then an internal civil war is very likely.

This blog site is designed to make you think, but my primary goal is to make you think differently.  America needs innovative thinkers.  Our country and the world are reaching a tipping point.  We can either turn things around for the better or we will be unwilling participants caught in a whirlpool of chaos drawing us down into the bowels of man’s worst nightmare.

We can learn from our past to make a better present, leading to a brighter future for ourselves and our descendants.  The lesson from our past is fairly simple:  if we serve only ourselves, then there will be no government or society or law that will make our lives better.  Selfish individuals support selfish governments.  However, if we harness our independent, individual liberties to serve society, then government and society and law will follow that same path.

Read the posted articles.  I hope you don’t agree with all of my comments, because you should have your own thoughts.  But my hope is that you will at least think about them and join me in the fight for freedom of thought.