Friday, May 28, 2010

The Roman Lawyers Against the Washington Politicians


The Roman Lawyers Against the Washington Politicians

I've mentioned the concept of natural law many times previously; most notably: natural law as the basis of the civil rights movement led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Rand Paul's apparent ignorance of natural law; and Joe Biden's contempt for natural law regarding the threat it poses to Roe v. Wade.

America has gotten away from its natural law foundations, which had been the foundation of western civilization and jurisprudence for well over 2,000 years.

America's natural law foundations are most evident in its Declaration of Independence:

"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."

Legal theorists in America today reject natural law, as do the Washington politicians; preferring to assert the authority of positive law alone. But positive law, which is simply the legal decisions of a legislature or court, must, according to natural law theory, live up to natural law. Positive law cannot function properly in isolation from the context of natural law.

As Dr. King pointed out, many years ago, quoting St. Augustine: "an unjust law is no law at all." In short, a positive law that violates the natural law and the moral laws of the universe is a "law" that is null and void. Positive law—the laws passed by legislatures and decided by court decisions—must uphold natural law in order to be valid.

America, especially Washington D. C., intentionally resembles—politically, governmentally, judicially, and even architecturally—the ancient Roman Empire, because Roman political theory, which was based upon natural law, was deemed the best political model upon which to base the young nation of the New World.

"[N]one of the [Roman] lawyers doubted that there is a higher law than the enactments of any particular state. Like Cicero, they conceived of the law as ultimately rational, universal, unchangeable, and divine, at least in respect to the main principles of right and justice. The Roman Law, like the English common law, was only in small part a product of legislation. Hence the presumption was never made that law expresses nothing but the will of a competent legislative body, which is an idea of quite recent origin. It was assumed that 'nature' sets certain norms which the positive law must live up to as best it can and that, as Cicero had believed, an 'unlawful' statute simply is not law. Throughout the whole of the Middle Ages and well down into modern times the existence and the validity of such a higher law were taken for granted." (George H. Sabine: A History of Political Theory, pp. 169-170)

Law is not—or should not be--simply the bare expression of the will of any legislative or judicial body.

There are two—and only two—legal and philosophical theories available today: the will to power (positive law alone) and the universally accepted moral law (positive law that does its best to live up to the natural law).

As Dr. King said, "A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law."

The Roman conception of natural law paralleled the rise of Christianity but it was not dependent upon it. And the American conception of natural law entails neither the acceptance nor the endorsement of Christianity.

"It should be noted that these [natural law-based] reforms in the Roman Law, though they were completed after the beginning of the Christian era, were not due to Christianity." (ibid, p. 171)

In these postmodern times it might seem unfathomable, intellectually, to argue for America's return to its natural law foundations. But the only alternative we have to natural law is, as I said above: the will to power. The will to power is America's current legal and philosophical foundation, which is why America's legal and political system is currently broken.

There's an old and true saying: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Likewise, it stands to reason that "If it is broke, then fix it."

America is broken because it has abandoned its natural law foundation.

Dr. King's civil rights movement would be rejected today on the grounds that he had no right to assert his personal belief in natural law as an eternal, inviolable, and transcendent standard to which all positive legislation must do its best to live up to and to which all Americans must be held. Dr. King would be accused of asserting his personal will and interpretations over against the wills and interpretation of other Americans who disagreed with him.

His movement, today, would degenerate into a battle of wills and a battle of powers.

But the will to power is a dead end street.

Although it's often said that "we can't turn back the clock" we can, if we're trying to get somewhere—like toward a more just society—get America back on the right track if we've gotten ourselves on a wrong track.

The will to power is a wrong track for America to be on. And this concept, of the will to power, is nothing new either. It's not some new, postmodern philosophical development; it's simply the same old personal Sophistic interpretation of justice that Socrates—and the Roman lawyers—rejected centuries ago.

Although the will to power might be a valid, even if wrong, philosophical position to take, it
simply does not work in the day to day dealings of peoples who are living in a society that seeks to promote the common good of all. The will to power is, in fact, contrary to social harmony.

Is it any wonder then that America is adrift today? By casting off the legal anchor of natural law America has crashed upon the shoals of the will to power; and American is nigh unto being totally destroyed if we fail to return our great nation to the natural law foundation upon which it was built.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

How the Feds Plan to Stop Homegrown Terrorism


How the Feds Plan to Stop Homegrown Terrorism

The Obama administration is planning to crack down on homegrown terrorism. As I've recently pointed out, terrorism is a tactic not an entity; therefore the only way to "stop" homegrown terrorism is to implement total police state tactics. If the Feds are concerned about car bombs (Times Square) and shooters (Fort Hood), then the only way to end these sorts of threats is to suspect (and search) everyone who might drive a car or have a gun.

The Feds will begin implementing more stringent police state tactics to combat this threat, but there are, of course, more traditional ways of dealing with homegrown terror threats. As they've done for many years, the FBI will infiltrate terrorist groups and will even encourage and assist radicalized individuals to engage in acts of terrorism.

Consider the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. The FBI had an informant on the inside of the terrorist cell that was subsequently found responsible for the bombing. But what many people fail to realize is that, while the informant had been led to believe that the FBI would provide inert material for the bomb as a substitute for live material, as part of a supposed sting operation, the FBI itself provided the live bomb material and allowed the bombing to go forward rather than "stinging" the terrorists as the informant had been led to believe.

Likewise, the Feds were also well aware of (and likely assisted in) the homegrown terrorist bombing of the Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. In that case, the ATF had its paid informant, Carol Howe, who kept them apprised of the bombers plans.

One of the more bizarre plot twists in the run up to the terror attacks of 9/11 is that two of the alleged hijackers were actually living with a paid FBI informant in San Diego, California; a fact alluded, but not admitted to (in a footnote), within the official government report of the 9/11 commission.

What many people fail to realize is that the Fed's plan to foil homegrown terrorism is simply a plan to control (from the inside) homegrown terrorism.

The Feds do this by infiltrating terrorist groups as well as by encouraging and assisting individuals to engage in acts of terrorism as part of a sting operation. Once the plot goes forward, these individuals—and not the FBI agents—are arrested and the FBI is credited with having foiled a terrorist plot. The FBI was involved in this type of agent provocateur activity recently in both Springfield, Illinois and Dallas, Texas.

The notion that government agents will provoke civilians to commit acts of terrorism is nothing new and should not surprise us. Anyone familiar with Joseph Conrad's novel The Secret Agent or the Wackowski brother's film V for Vendetta, with its mention of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Treason and Plot, will be familiar with how governments use agent provocateurs to set-up civilians to take the fall for terrorist attacks, which the governments themselves have instigated, designed to grant more police, military, and propaganda powers to the governments, which use alleged threats of dangerous terrorists living among us, in order to instill a culture of fear within the (trusting and unsuspecting) civilian population.

As I've said, the government's use of agent provocateurs should come as no surprise to us. Anyone who has ever seen the television show Cops will certainly be familiar with how local governments, via the local police, will use agent provocateurs to set-up civilians to engage in criminal activity so that they might arrest these citizens for engaging in criminal activity, which the police agent provocateurs have, themselves, instigated.

For example, local police, in order to crack down on prostitution, will have a female police officer act as a prostitute by convincing unsuspecting men, via solicitation, that they are providing sex for money. When these unsuspecting men hand over the money they are then arrested by waiting, watching, police officers. Likewise, local police officers will act as drug dealers by exchanging drugs for money with unsuspecting citizens. When the unsuspecting citizens hand over the money they are then arrested by waiting, watching, police officers.

One of the problems with a government's use of agent provocateurs is that the government's own agents must engage in illegal activities in order to secure an arrest. Not only is it illegal to pay a woman for sex; it's also illegal to sell sex for money, which is exactly what the government's agent does. Not only is it illegal to buy drugs; it's also illegal to sell drugs, which is exactly what the government's agent does. Not only is it illegal to blow up a building; it's also illegal to encourage, and conspire with, others to do so, which is exactly what the government's agent does.

As far as the terrorist threat from al Qaeda goes, five-time Emmy Award winning investigative journalist Peter Lance has uncovered evidence that the FBI has been aware of—and even assisted in—every terrorist plot that al Qaeda has ever pulled off; including, especially, 9/11.

The Obama administration, in order to combat the threat of homegrown terrorism will, as I've said, continue to use police state tactics to avert the supposed terrorist "threat". But the administration will also continue its time honored—yet quite dishonorable—tradition of using agent provocateurs in order to set-up civilians as participants in government sponsored terror attacks, as it's done (repeatedly) in the past and as it's (most likely and most recently) done with the so-called Times Square bomber.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rand Paul's Ignorance of Natural Law


Rand Paul’s Ignorance of Natural Law

Rand Paul is in trouble, politically, because his libertarian political philosophy is divorced from natural law.

Paul has said, on national television, he supports the rights of business owners over business customers regarding the issue of racial segregation. Paul’s libertarianism has led him to say that, while on the one hand he would have supported Dr. King’s civil rights movement, on the other hand he would not have supported the provision within the 1964 Civil Rights Act which required business owners to desegregate their businesses.

Paul’s libertarianism places private property rights over the People’s rights—equal treatment under the law—while the Declaration of Independence supports both.

Paul’s ignorance of the Declaration’s natural law basis is appalling, as is his ignorance of the natural law basis of Dr. King’s civil rights movement.

The Declaration of Independence says:

“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.”

This reveals the natural law basis of the Declaration.

Dr. King said:

“A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal .law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distort the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority.”

This reveals the natural law basis of Dr. King’s civil rights movement.

In fact, Dr. King was holding America’s feet to the fires of its natural law basis, found in the Declaration, when he said:

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

What Rand Paul fails to realize is that America is founded upon natural law and natural law acknowledges the equality and dignity inherent in all peoples.

When certain states allowed the oppression of certain citizens because of their race, the federal government was right to demand that these states uphold the natural law-based equality that is found in the Declaration of Independence.

Paul’s libertarianism, divorced as it is from natural law, allows business owners to oppress people, legally. This is similar to the philosophy of Ayn Rand (another “Rand”) whose capitalist libertarian philosophy, Objectivism, is best described, in her own words, as “the virtue of selfishness”.

The virtue of selfishness?

This is an oxymoronic statement; a contradiction in terms.

The opposite of selfishness is compassion. Compassion is a virtue, a virtue that Christ lived-out and a virtue that Christ called his followers to live-out as well.

Selfishness, especially corporate greed, is hardly a virtue—it is, rather, a vice.

Rand Paul’s libertarianism, shorn of natural law, is the problem; not the solution. We have quite enough corporate greed in America these days Dr. Paul, we really don’t need you making matters worse than they already are.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Security and Terrorism: Reductio ad Absurdum


Security and Terrorism: Reductio ad Absurdum

Ever since 9/11, the US federal government has been working overtime trying to keep Americans afraid of terrorists, namely al Qaeda (who are said to be responsible for the attacks of that day). Since that time Americans have been subjected to a draconian infringement of their rights as citizens, namely through the infamous USA PATRIOT ACT, so that Americans, we are told, might be safe and secure.

This government terror/fear mongering now extends itself at the slightest provocation. Incidents such as the underwear bomber and the Times Square fizzle bomber come to mind here. Other incidents, such as the Fort Hood shooter, have been declared both the act of a lone deranged gunman and the terrorist actions of a man who had been in contact, via email, with an al Qaeda cleric (who happens to be a US citizen and is now on President Obama's US citizen hit list).

The ancient philosopher Socrates used a line of questioning, the so-called Socratic method, in order to get-at the truth of a matter by taking the premise of a person's argument to its logical conclusion; thereby showing the (eventual) absurdity of the person's premise. This type of argument, called reduction ad absurdum, can be helpful in critiquing the US government's arguments concerning terrorism and homeland security.

Terrorism is a tactic, it's not an entity. If terrorism is a real threat to Americans, then nothing short of a total police state can possibly be a solution.

And this is exactly where America is now headed.

Consider this: a terrorist can be a lone gunman, the driver of a car, or someone with a backpack. How—short of policing everyone, everywhere, all of the time—does anyone suppose that the US government can keep Americans safe from the threat of terrorism?

This is the whole point of terrorism: it can't be stopped by police tactics. Terrorism will only end when oppressive governments, who are the targets of the attacks, decide to address the political grievances of the terrorists.

If we want to keep the American homeland safe from terrorist threats, then the US government needs to address the political grievances the terrorists have against it. For example, al Qaeda never struck first at America; al Qaeda reacted to the US government's decision to attack Iraq (killing thousands of innocent civilians) and to put US troops in Saudi Arabia in 1991 (which blasphemed the two holiest sites of Islam).

If government fear/terror mongering continues, then the US will, inevitably, become a total police state.

Just as with DUI checkpoints, in which everyone who is driving a car is suspected to be drunk, anyone who drives a car can now be considered a terror suspect; as is anyone who is carrying a backpack; or anyone who carries their lunch to work.

If you don't believe me, then just think about it. If the Times Square fizzle bomb was a real threat, then how could it have been stopped? By searching every car that goes through a checkpoint before it can get to Times Square; right? Just like airport and sporting event screenings, access to all areas will, eventually, require screening.

So don't be surprised if, when you're driving somewhere, you're stopped at a checkpoint by the police, who look like soldiers, and asked to prove that you don't have a bomb in your car. And don't be surprised if, when you're walking to class one day, you're stopped by the police, who look like soldiers, and asked to prove that you're not carrying a bomb in your backpack.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mexico's Cult(ure) of Death


Mexico’s Cult(ure) of Death
Mexico has a long and bloody history, as well as a murderous and very bloody present.

The ancient Aztecs once offered bloody human sacrifices to the war god Huitzilopochtli; the Spanish conquistadors once slaughtered thousands of Aztecs; Mexicans once fought a bloody war to gain independence from Spain; Mexicans once fought a bloody revolution to gain a constitutional republic; and the Mexican drug cartels are now wreaking bloody havoc upon the Mexican people and authorities, plunging some cities into a murderous anarchy, thanks to the (failed) “War on Drugs”.

It’s no wonder that many Mexican people have now developed a devotion to the new (and unofficial) patron saint of the murderous narco-traffickers: Santa Muerte (Saint Death).

Another phenomenon of Mexican narco-culture has been the rise of a new music genre: narcocoorridos, or drug ballads. Mexico’s narco-culture of murder and violence has also given birth to a new genre of film: narco cinema.

In short, the murderous Mexican drug cartels have virtually taken over Mexico; even to the point of influencing the Mexican culture’s religion, music, and film.

Cuidad Juarez, especially, has become a murderous free-for-all.

A large Mexican city, which borders the US, Juarez is just across the Rio Grande from its sister city: El Paso, Texas. From the air, the two cities are indistinguishable and appear to be one, large city (with a combined population of 2.4 million people).

I realize that, to most people, Juarez, Mexico is a very far-off place; but it’s really not—it’s right on the US – Mexico border.

Being a border city, Juarez has always been a violent place because of all the thugs who tend to congregate in border cities. But recently, due to the narco-traffickers, the violence has gotten out of control.

I used to live in El Paso, and I’ve been to Juarez; most recently back in 2002. Even then, Juarez was known as the city of disappearing women, so it probably wasn’t the best idea for me and my girlfriend (at the time) to visit Juarez, but we did . . . and we also had a wonderful time there. With her long blond hair, she stood out like a sore thumb. Thankfully no one snatched her off the street—pushing her into a car, never to be seen or heard from again—as so often happens to many of the women (and men) who live in Juarez. Today Juarez is so violent and out of control that the people who live there are living in a constant state of fear.

Human life is very cheap in Mexico these days, thanks to the narco-traffickers.

I believe human life is precious, and it breaks my heart to know that the people of Mexico are suffering under the murderous oppression of the violent drug cartels. I think we need to help the Mexican people take control of their country in order to gain their own safety and security. There’s no excuse for us allowing what continues to go on there, and things are only getting worse.

Let’s help the Mexican people build the culture of life they deserve.

The drug-related violence in Mexico is directly related to the US market demand for illegal drugs, and the best—and only—way to end the murderous violence in Mexico is for the US to decriminalize these drugs. One drug in particular, marijuana, which is simply a plant, should be completely legalized. Because the Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs) use the money they make smuggling marijuana into the US to fund their narcotics trafficking, weapons purchases, and bribery money, the elimination of the venture capital cash flow from their marijuana sales would effectively put them out of business. Cut-off the DTO’s venture capital by legalizing marijuana and these violent businesses will fold up.

According to FBI testimony before the US Congress, May 5, 2010:

“Mexico is the number one foreign supplier of marijuana abused in the United States. In fact, according to a 2008 inter-agency report, marijuana is the top revenue generator for Mexican DTOs—a cash crop that finances corruption and the carnage of violence year after year. The profits derived from marijuana trafficking—an industry with minimal overhead costs, controlled entirely by the traffickers—are used not only to finance other drug enterprises by Mexico’s poly-drug cartels, but also to pay recurring “business” expenses, purchase weapons, and bribe corrupt officials.”

The US needs to co-opt this cash crop. Take this money out of the hands of the Mexican DTOs and put it into the hands of the American tax-payers. The US economy could really use that money right now and the Mexican people could really benefit from the defunding of the murderous Mexican drug cartels, which have made their lives a living hell.

If you disagree with me, if you don’t believe that marijuana should be legalized, then I’m sorry, but you’re not thinking about this issue you’re just reacting to it. Marijuana use is nowhere near as bad for people, health-wise, as is the use of alcohol. Yet alcohol is legal. Nor does marijuana use impair people to the extent that alcohol use does. Yet alcohol is legal. But alcohol used to be illegal in the US, during prohibition.

Despite its prohibition, alcohol continued to manufactured and delivered by organized crime syndicates and it continued to be consumed by the American people. The organized crime syndicates that manufactured and distributed alcohol made huge profits from their illegal trade, controlled their trade through violence and murder, and used their profits to fund other illegal ventures and to corrupt police and elected officials. In short, the same thing is happening with marijuana prohibition today that once happened with alcohol prohibition. So it doesn’t take an Einstein to figure this one out: legalize marijuana.

The good people of Juarez, who are suffering, are begging us to.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Public Safety Exception

The Public Safety Exception

We’re hearing a lot of talk lately about the so-called public safety exception. And it should come as no surprise to us that, once again, the federal government wants to interpret (i.e., distort the meaning of) the law in its favor.

In the name of the (unending) Global War on Terror, of course.

It seems that the Obama administration now wants to be able to arrest and detain U. S. citizens suspected in acts of terrorism without first reading them their Miranda rights and without producing them in court, promptly, for arraignment.

Once again, our rights are disappearing. But I suppose that most Americans look at it this way: “Hey, if you’re not doing anything wrong, then you don’t have anything to worry about do you? . . . Can you please stop bothering me? I’m trying to watch the game . . .”

The so-called public exception clause to Miranda v. Arizona, the case which gave us the protection of being informed of our rights upon our being arrested, comes from the U. S. Supreme Court case of New York v. Quarles, in which the court stated that, in certain circumstances, in which public safety is a concern, evidence that is obtained by police officers before the suspect is read his Miranda rights can be allowed as evidence at the suspect’s trial. In particular, the evidence that was obtained, in this case, was a gun; a suspect with an empty shoulder holster having been asked by police “Where is the gun?” This is somewhat reasonable, because the police officer was concerned with his own safety at that moment. Once the suspect told police where the gun was, he was arrested and read his Miranda rights. The gun was allowed as evidence in court.

Perhaps, technically, the gun should not have been allowed as evidence. But then people who commit crimes should know not to tell the police anything, especially the location of the evidence of their crimes.

This public safety exception to Miranda allows only for a very small window of time before the suspect is read his rights, and not the indefinite window of time the Obama administration is now seeking.

Once again, the federal government is seeking new ways to rid us of our rights. No doubt the public exception will now be expanded, in the name of the (unending) Global War on Terror, to include an indefinite amount of time between the time of a suspect’s arrest and their arraignment before a judge in order to allow sufficient time for interrogation and interrogation methods.

But this was precisely what Miranda v. Arizona is supposed to prevent: a suspect being interrogated without being told first that they have the right to remain silent, that anything they say can and will be used against them in court, that they have the right to an attorney to be present before questioning, and that if they cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for them.

In short, the federal government now wants to get rid of these rights.

But hey, the Obama administration has already decided that it can assassinate U. S. citizens anyway. So who cares, right?

“Please be quiet . . . I’m trying to watch the game . . .”

Perhaps you don’t fear being arrested, or what may happen to you if you are. But you should.

It’s not always “the bad guys” who get arrested you know. Sometimes innocent people get arrested too.

These days, the bad guys are being defined rather nebulously as “terror suspects”. But what do those words mean anyway? Terror? Suspects?

In America, suspects have rights. And terror can, eventually, be defined-down to fit practically anyone (e.g., political activists, dissidents, agitators, reporters, journalists, sympathizers, printers, bloggers).

Perhaps even a fourteen year old autistic kid who draws a picture of a gun.

Governments always begin by first removing these rights from those of whom we might not approve (Jews, communists, criminals, terrorists), but we will, eventually, find that everyone has lost their rights. Which is why we should be concerned about terror suspects losing theirs. If they do, then we’ve really lost ours.

My recent letter to Mensa, regarding an issue I had with their test

My recent letter to Mensa, regarding an issue I had with their test.

Greetings,

I took the Mensa test a couple of years ago. Apparently I didn't pass the test, but I've never received the results of it.

I do, however, have an important point to make regarding the test. I knew right from the beginning of the test that I was in trouble, because the very first "practice" question on the test was wrong, as was the supposedly correct answer.

This is a problem on the part of whoever wrote the test and not with my intelligence (or the lack thereof).

The Mensa representative who was leading the test walked us through this practice question, so that we would understand the test, but, as I said, the question itself--as well as the (supposedly correct) answer--was wrong.

As I recall, the practice question consisted of four drawings, which represented four different kinds of hats: a cowboy hat, a top hat, a derby hat, and a paper hat (as best I can recall). The question was: "which hat is not the real hat"

As I said, I knew--immediately--that I was in trouble, because, although the answer was obviously the paper hat, all four hats are real hats. The test makers, by using the term "real", are invoking concepts of metaphysics and ontology. The reality of the hats consists in their being hats, that’s why we (and the test makers) call them: "hats". It doesn't matter what material the hats are made of, what matters is that we wear them on our heads as hats. And, in that sense, regarding this practice question, all four hats were--in reality--real hats.

I may not have been smart enough to pass your test, but I'm apparently smarter than whoever wrote that practice question.

Regards,

Alexander J. MacDonald, Jr.

http://ajmacdonaldjr.wordpress.com

Friday, May 14, 2010

Is it okay to be gay?

Is it okay to be gay?

If, when posing the question “is it okay to be gay?”, we mean “are gays, lesbians, and bisexuals second-class citizens?”, then the answer to the question “is it okay to be gay” (in America) is clearly: “yes, being gay is okay—being gay does not make anyone a second-class citizen.” But if when posing the question “is it okay to be gay?” we mean “is being gay the same as, equal to, or just-as-good-as being straight?”, then I think the answer to the question “is it okay to be gay?” is clearly “no, being gay is not okay—being gay is not the same as or just-as-good-as being straight.”

This is a subject to which I have devoted much thought, both because it is a hot-button issue these days and because I have had—and I do have—many friends who were—and who are—gay, lesbian, and bisexual.

As an American and as a libertarian, I don’t care who is having sex with whom, as long as it’s consensual sex and as long as no one is being harmed or abused against their will. It’s none of my business. I think gays, lesbians, and bisexuals should be allowed equal protection under the law. They should be allowed to work any job for which they are qualified, be allowed to serve in the military, be allowed to join in civil unions (the marriage issue is, I think, a religious matter; which is up to one’s church), and they should be allowed to parent children.

As a Christian, I believe homosexuality is a sin. And I also believe that heterosexual adultery and promiscuity is a sin. I’m of the opinion that God, in his mercy, warns us against giving-in to our sinful desires because he knows what’s best for us. He knows that engaging in homosexual sex, heterosexual adultery, and promiscuity is not what’s best for us. In fact, engaging in sinful behavior can make us quite miserable.

Sinful desires are quite natural for us to have, as is our desire to give-in to them, which is why our Creator warns us not to give-in to them. But I don’t see our Creator as a stern judge, chomping at the bit to throw sinners into hell. I believe our Creator loves us, wants what’s best for us, and wants us to be happy. Our Creator knows that when we give-in to our sinful desires, we won’t be as happy; not as happy as we could be. In fact, we’re often miserable because of such giving-in.

My belief is that promiscuous and adulterous heterosexuals, as well as homosexuals and bisexuals (even if they’re not being promiscuous and unfaithful) are simply not as happy as they could be; and not as happy as they should be (i.e., not as happy as our Creator desires for them to be).

In short, these sexual lifestyles are not ideal, or what’s best, for us.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Failed war on drugs fuels immigration problems


Failed war on drugs fuels immigration problems

Some of the criticism I've heard concerning Arizona's new law confronting the state's illegal immigration crisis doesn't carry much weight with me.

For instance, it's said that being compelled to show papers to prove legal residency will make Hispanic life in Arizona something akin to life in a police state. But the truth is that Hispanics living in the southwestern United States have always been compelled to show their papers in order to prove that they are living in this country legally.

From my observations of the border region, from the mid 1980s until today, the U.S. Border Patrol has greatly improved its protection of the border. But considering the task they are faced with -- the border region being a vast, empty desert that is 1,700 miles long -- they still have a long way to go. That Arizona wants to ensure its citizens' safety in addition to protection provided by the overworked U. S. Border Patrol is, I think, quite reasonable.

The idea that racial profiling will now begin due to the new Arizona law is ridiculous.

The U. S. Border Patrol has, for many years now, been engaging in the commonsense practice of racial profiling in order to identify illegal aliens. For example, I realize that most Americans have not traveled through south Texas on a Greyhound bus, as I have. But I can assure you that the U.S. Border Patrol routinely stops such vehicles and asks Hispanic passengers for their papers, and that I, being white, have never been asked to show mine.

Likewise, whenever I've traveled on Interstate 10 through Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, I, like everyone else, have had to stop at checkpoints where the U.S. Border Patrol asks Hispanics to show their papers. Again, I have never been asked to show mine.

The new Arizona law simply allows ordinary police officers in Arizona, and not just U. S. Border Patrol officers, to ask Hispanic people for their papers. Legal aliens have long had to carry these papers with them and the U.S. Border Patrol has long been asking to see them.

There are two, commonsense solutions to this border problem, but I doubt Washington would ever permit them to be implemented.

-- Grant refugee status to all illegal aliens from Mexico, due to the ongoing drug war that is occurring there.

-- Or, legalize marijuana, because cash flow from marijuana sales is what Mexican drug cartels use as venture capital to support much more risky, profitable, and dangerous narcotics trafficking.

The second option is the better of the two. Legalizing marijuana would devastate the cartels financially, effectively putting them out of business. The money they make from marijuana sales is what they use to fund their sales of narcotics. If a cartel loses a shipment of heroin -- which isn't hard to do, because the shipments are relatively small and very valuable, about a pick-up truck load -- that loss is then made up with the cash flow provided by marijuana sales.

Marijuana is not as easy to smuggle as heroin. On the level of cartel financing, it requires a large scale operation. Therefore the cartels require vast, regular, illegal inroads into the U. S. in order to keep this money flowing. Legalization of marijuana would shut down the cartel's illegal inroads, defund their narcotic trafficking, and put loads of tax money into U.S. coffers (about $70 billion a year.) That makes a lot of sense to me, and it would also bring an end of the Mexican government's war with the cartels.

According to Charles Bowden, in his excellent book "Down By The River," as things stand today both U. S. and Mexican authorities have been -- and will continue to be -- corrupted by the massive amounts of money that flow their way via the illegal drug trade.

That is the real problem, on both sides of the border. And until it is dealt with -- through the legalization of marijuana -- I don't see how any of these problems, including immigration, can ever be solved.

America's "War on Drugs" policy is a proven failure that has only led to corruption, violence, murder, and more people than ever fleeing Mexico for their lives. This horrible situation will continue until the real problems are addressed and I can assure you that the real problem is not Arizona's new law regarding illegal immigration; it's America's failed drug policy.

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A. J. MacDonald, Jr. writes from Fayetteville

© 2010 A. J. MacDonald, Jr. - Edited and published by the Public Opinion Newspaper (MediaNews-Gannett) Chambersburg, Pennsylvania 5/4/2010

Semiotics and Representation in Oscar Wilde's: The Picture of Dorian Grey


Semiotics and Representation in Oscar Wilde's: The Picture of Dorian Grey

Thesis statement: Using the theories of semiotics and representation, I will demonstrate Oscar Wilde’s use of signs and representations (in his novel The Picture of Dorian Grey) to create and give meaning to certain fictional objects and characters; especially the portrait of Dorian Grey and the actress Sibyl Vane. Beneath the surface level of the story, these objects and characters act as powerful signs and representations through which Wilde intendeds to communicate much deeper meaning than might at first appear. By interpreting these signs and representations through the theoretical lens of semiotics and representation we will be able to understand some of these deeper meanings.

By using the theories of semiotics and representation we will be able to delve into the realms of signs and representations that are found within this novel by asking questions of the text such as “What are some of the signs and sign makers that appear in the novel?” “What do these signs represent?” “What purposes do these signs and representations have?” “What were the sign maker’s intentions?” The theories of semiotics and representation, which are theories of signs wherein one thing (the sign) stands for (represents) something else (the signified), are useful tools of analysis for the literary critic because literature is created with language and language itself is a system of signs. As philosopher “Claude Levy-Strauss noted . . . ‘language is the semiotic system par excellence; it cannot but signify, and exists through signification’” (Chandler, p. 9). Authors create signs and representations by using language. For example, an author will create fictional objects and characters that signify, on the surface, the fictional objects and characters themselves but the author can also use these same fictional objects and characters to represent something more. Although a lesser author will use signs simply to create fictional objects and characters, a good author makes use of signs, such as fictional characters and objects, in order to communicate complex deeper meanings by creating signs that signify far more than the fictional characters and objects themselves.

As a theory, “semiotics is concerned with everything that can be taken as a sign” and “involves the study . . . of anything which stands for something else” (Eco) and a “crucial consideration that enters into any analysis of representation is the relationship between the representational material and that which it represents” (Mitchell, p. 14). Oscar Wilde's novel, The Picture of Dorian Grey, is the story of a complex sign—a picture (or portrait) of Dorian Grey—that is embedded within a complex system of signs (i.e., language) which is the text of the novel itself. The novel’s characters and objects, such as Sibyl Vane and the portrait of Dorian Grey, signify and represent to us far more than what might at first appear to the casual, uncritical reader. One question for the critical reader being: “What more do these fictional characters and objects signify and represent than what they at first appear to signify and represent?” In The Picture of Dorian Grey, the portrait of Dorian is not simply a portrait, nor is Sibyl Vane simply a woman Dorian falls in love with. Oscar Wilde is using these signs and representations to signify much more than this. “One crucial consideration that enters into any analysis of representation is the relationship between the representational material and that which it represents” (Mitchell, 14). The portrait of Dorian can be understood as the representational material that represents Dorian. The portrait of Dorian is an iconic image, a sign that resembles Dorian and points to Dorian who, although absent, might, through his image, be made present to all who see his image in the portrait. The painted representational image of Dorian in the portrait stands for and represents Dorian to others via his likeness; the actual image of Dorian having been reimaged on its canvass.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Postmodern Economics

Postmodern Economics

As a libertarian, I realize that money, in order to have any real value, needs to have intrinsic worth—like gold or silver. As a medium of exchange (i.e., money), gold and silver have intrinsic worth, because we can use it for purposes other than as a medium of exchange. For example, we can make jewelry out of it, which adds artistic value to the intrinsic value of the metal itself. Sound money provides a sound basis for an economy. But the US economy is not sound, because it's been off the gold standard for many years. The question we need to ask is: "Why has the US economy gone off the gold standard?" Other important questions we need to answer are: "Was it reasonable for the US to go off the gold standard?" "Is it reasonable for the US to return to the gold standard?" and if it's not reasonable, "What, then, are we to do?"

During the Civil War, the federal government issued $450 million dollars worth of paper money that was not backed by (i.e., redeemable for) gold. Economically speaking, this was a very unsound policy, because paper money lacks the intrinsic worth of gold, but the federal government needed a way to finance its (Union) army without exhausting its gold reserves.

The 1890's saw the rise of the Populist movement, consisting mostly of farmers and others who were in debt, mostly of the working class. The movement sought a way to free themselves from their economic servitude to the wealthy class, those who had lent them money: the big Wall Street bankers. The Populist wanted cheap (non gold-backed) money—paper (greenbacks) and free (or much cheaper than gold) silver—in order for them to be able to pay back their debts more easily.

Wall Street balked at this because, being in the money business, the bankers knew that the issuance of such cheap money would allow their debtors to pay back their loans with money that was worth much less than the money they had been lent by the banks.

The same situation is occurring today. The Federal Reserve treats paper money (fiat currency) as if it were backed by gold, even though it's not, meaning that the Fed keeps a tight rein on the money supply in order to benefit Wall Street bankers and investors. If a movement similar to the Populist's rose up today—debtors seeking an easier way to repay their creditors with money that was worth less than the money they had borrowed—we would see this movement clamoring for the Fed to monetize the debt (i.e., create money) and print more paper money. This would infuriate Wall Street, just as the Populist's demand for greenbacks and free silver did, because the Wall Street bankers and investor would lose money while their debtors gained it.

In my opinion, one important reason for the Populist clamor for greenbacks and free silver was the increase in US population and the westward expansion thereof. In short, the gold standard economy only works well when a nation has: 1) a large reserve of gold, and 2) a low-to-moderate sized population. Gold is valuable because it is scarce, and the Federal Reserve, acting as though paper money were gold, attempts to keep paper money scarce in order to maintain its value as a medium of exchange. Monetizing the debt and printing more money leads to inflation, which is a lowering of the money's value, and the Fed and its Wall Street partners try to avoid this situation at all costs. Doing so would deprive Wall Street and its investors of the value of the money it has lent, but it would allow those who find themselves in debt to repay their debts more easily by repaying those debts with inflated currency, meaning the money they repay their loans with is worth much less that than the money which they had actually borrowed.

Wall Street would hate this, but the people who are in debt would love it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Enemy of Freedom

The Enemy of Freedom

With all of the hoopla surrounding Arizona's new anti-immigration law one would think that the American people would have already realized that their constitutional rights, found especially in the Bill of Rights, had been eviscerated long ago.

Because of Arizona's new law, many people are now concerned that their Fourth Amendment right "to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures" is now—suddenly—being put in jeopardy. But under the USA PATRIOT ACT, anyone suspected of terrorism can have their homes invaded, listening devises placed within their homes, their phones tapped, and their papers seized (or copied).

But the American people are okay with this, because the Feds only do this to suspected terrorists. But the truth is that the USA PATRIOT ACT simply allowed the Feds to expand their already unconstitutional intelligence gathering methods, which they had been using against suspected criminals (i.e., suspected organized crime figures) who, for many years now, have also had their homes invaded, listening devises placed within their homes, their phones tapped, and their papers seized (or copied).

And the American people were okay with this as well. Why? Because organized crime figures are criminals. The constitutional issue, however, is the oft neglected fact that these suspected criminals happen to be U. S. citizens who are thereby (supposedly) entitled to the protections that are (supposedly) provided for all citizens by the U. S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights.

But when it comes to the Feds taking away our constitutional rights, the American people have a very bad habit of saying something like: "Well, if you're not doing anything wrong, then you don't have anything to worry about."

But that's not really the point, is it?

The point of having constitutional rights is this: it is that when you are suspected of wrongdoing you have protection from the government, which is trying to find evidence against you in order to prosecute and convict you of that suspected wrongdoing.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Irony and Immorality of the Left’s Anti-Arizona Position


The Irony and Immorality of the Left's Anti-Arizona Position

The Left's uproar over Arizona's new anti-immigration law reveals just how wrong-headed the Left can be regarding some issues.

Borders exist for a reason.

For example, just as a woman has a right to her private space not to be invaded by a man; and just as an American citizen (supposedly) has the right not to be asked for their identity papers, a nation or a state has the right to ensure the security of its national or state space by enforcing the security of its borders.

The irony of the Left's anti-Arizona position is that the basis of their argument is to say that the private space of individual Hispanics is now at risk of being violated by Arizona police officers, while the exact same argument can be used to justify the new Arizona law: Arizona has the right to protect its private space from being violated.

The U. S. Border Patrol routinely profiles Hispanics in the U. S./Mexico border region now, and has done so for years. This is how they do their job.

What does the Left want the U. S. Border Patrol to do in order to secure the U. S. border? Only arrest those people that are caught in the act of crossing the border illegally? To not question people found near the border, in the middle of the desert, whom they suspect (for good reason) of being in the country illegally?

I suspect that the Left wants illegal immigration to be decriminalized. In other words: for the U. S. to have an open border with Mexico.

The immorality of this position should be evident. The United States, just like a woman, has the right to protect its space from unwanted and illegal invasion.

Seriously folks . . . the Left needs to think about this and not just react to it without thinking, because they're just making themselves look ignorant.

A nation that cannot secure its borders is not a nation.

Shame on the Left, for its ironic and immoral position (and immoral behavior) regarding this important issue.

See my previous post for the only, two, commonsense solutions to the illegal alien-U. S./Mexico border problem.

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