Hey! Randy

Archive for March, 2008

I Was Surveilled, But I Feel Better

Posted by heyrandy on March 29, 2008

I committed a crime.  Or so I feel.  I have been suffering through a head cold, and today I went out to Wal-Mart to buy some genuine, store brand pseuophedrine.  This is the stuff that seems to work best when I need to dry up my sinuses.  I have tried to make do with the new, non-criminal versions, but they are not quite as effective.

So, I went to the store and got some drugs.  It is not as easy as it used to be.  Before, you just went to the shelf and got a package and then paid for it.  Now, in our more secure world, I had to ask for it.  It is kept in the area in which the prescription drugs are shelved.  I had to show my driver’s license (i.e., my universal identity papers).  The clerk then entered the license number into the computer.  I had to mark “agree” and sign on the electronic screen that displayed some verbiage.

I am not sure what is the point of all this.  The stuff is not illegal, yet.  I am an adult, graying hair and all.  So what is the matter?  Why the big procedure to buy 48 nose pills?

It is true that some enterprising individuals are using the active ingredient to make an illegal pleasure drug.  Okay, but why does that affect the rest of us?  Are the cops now going to raid my house to see if I am taking my medication as intended?  If I am not, do I have to give back the pills?

Is all this restriction and recording really effective?  Do the dope manufactures now have to find illegal sources for their base ingredient?   Are clandestine dope makers feeling the pinch?  Or is this more Big Brother is watching, waiting for someone to mark “disagree”?

Get used to this kind of non-sense.  Not only are we subjected to inconvenience and expense of the farce that passes as airport security, it seems that the jobs for the boys initiative is spreading to all areas, even head colds.  Now I don’t feel so good.

Posted in government bureaucracy, health care, security | Leave a Comment »

Review of The Discovery of Freedom Man’s Struggle Against Authority

Posted by heyrandy on March 26, 2008

The Discovery of Freedom Man’s Struggle Against Authority by Rose Wilder Lane, John Day Company, New York, 1943. 262 pages, no index

In this book Lane, daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder of Little House on the Prairie fame, writes of man’s age long struggle to do as he will. What gets in the way, Mrs. Lane says, is Authority. It doesn’t matter whether the authority is the State, the Church, or one’s customs and beliefs. One of these is just as inhibiting to freedom as the other.

From this one can deduce that Mrs. Lane is an anarchist, although she never says so. She is advocating an anarchist agenda, based upon her reading of history. She claims that when ever men have been able to remove the restrictions placed upon them by Authority, humans have advanced in knowledge and prosperity.

To support this thesis she divides history into three periods in which men were free: Abraham through the nation of ancient Israel, the Islamic golden age, and the American era. She divides the world into two part: the Old World and the Revolution. It has been the characteristic of the Old World to resist the freedom of man. The Old World is Authority, a pagan belief that all men cannot be free, only the rulers.

The Revolution, however, is the struggle, sometimes armed, of free men against the Old World Authority. The struggle is one of religion–one’s beliefs are what is driving some to seek freedom and others to seek Authority.

This conflict is what the author thinks is behind the centuries long persecution of Jews. It was the Jews that first said that men are free. This brought them into conflict with Authority and eventually lead to the destruction of the Jewish nation of Israel and the pogroms of more modern times.

Lane next looks at the Golden Age of Islam. Here we see, she says, what happens when men are left to themselves: advance learning, prosperity, discovery and preservation of knowledge, and a culture that attracts people from everywhere. This age ended when the Ottomans gained Authority over much of the Islamic world. But it was not just the Ottomans that threatened the freedom of the Muslims. The Crusades are to be viewed, in part, as a reaction of European Authority (what are the Popes if not an Authority?) to the Freedom across the Mediterranean.

The last division is the American Era. Here Authority is defeated by armed force. Here freedom is still in place (not so much as when she wrote), but the threats to it are real and omnipresent. These threat are even inherent within the republic. The tyranny of the majority is one; the tyranny of the well connected minority is another. The American experiment is not yet finished, so the analysis is yet to be performed.

Lane’s casting the struggle as one of a religious nature is the strength of her book. In this secular age we tend to forget that deeply held beliefs are a driving force of human action–we are not all just beer and sports– there are people who are dedicated to Freedom and there are perhaps even more who are dedicated to Authority. She is right to indicate that this is a long term struggle that shows no sigh of ending. It cannot end. People want to have both at the same time, an impossibility!

I think she paints a little too rosy a picture of the Muslim world. Yes, it was an advanced culture, but so was China’s, and it was never free. The political machination of the Popes and European kings did lead to the Crusades. The Pope’s granting of immediate entrance into Heaven for any Christian who died in the struggle for Palestine was a motivation. It would have been better if the Pope, claiming to have this power, granted it to everyone everywhere, but that would have undermined his Authority. I hope he granted it to himself!

It is in the American Era that Lane demonstrates her thesis with the most vigor. One has only to see the rapid progress that this country has made in the 50 years before she wrote, and the 50 years after, to realize what free men can do. The technology is impressive. This is, she points out, all because of the idea that men are naturally free. This freedom is not the gift of the government, as it is in much of Europe. No, this freedom is what man is meant to be, what man was created as.

The author does not explain why some want Authority and assail Freedom. There is no reference to the real source of human struggle: the sin of Adam. Lane got it right to call the struggle between Authority and Freedom, but she missed it when she did not tell us of their true genesis.

She does not deal with the issue of slavery, even though slavery has been an ancient practice. This is a major omission in a book surveying the struggle for freedom.

It is never a question of whether or not we will have Authority; it is a question of what Authority. Someone has to settle disputes. There has to be a basis for Law. These issues are left unanswered.

Posted in Book reviews, freedom | 1 Comment »

Forced into Glory Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream

Posted by heyrandy on March 10, 2008

Forced into Glory Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream by Lerone Bennett Jr. Johnson Publishing: Chicago, 2000. 652 pages, index, bibliography.

The story of Abraham Lincoln is a familiar one. It is taught in our schools, memorialized on the Mall in Washington, D.C., and counted out with every penny. You know the story: Honest Abe freed the slaves with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and delivered the Gettysburg address extolling government of, by, and for the people.

The only problem Bennett can find with the story is that it is all false, a myth carefully crafted by the court historians to perpetuate the myth of the greatness of Lincoln. Bennett exposes the lies about Lincoln by quoting the words of the man himself. The collected works of Lincoln form the basis of Bennett’s case against both Lincoln himself and the professional historians who have not dared to write against the America’s great president.

Bennett has an advantage over the professional (read tenured university professor) historians in that he is not a historian by profession but a journalist. He is an editor of Ebony magazine. This book grew out of a 1968 article he wrote for Ebony. The article caused a real controversy. The book, however, is being largely ignored. This is the standard tactic the history establishment uses to silence anything that threatens their near monopoly hold on history teaching.

This book should not be ignored. It should be read in every civil war history class. The book not only demolishes the myth surrounding Lincoln, it also exposed the clique of historians that should know, do know, but won’t tell the truth about Lincoln and his policies. Too many careers at stake? You don’t get the promotion, tenure, research grants, etc. if you go against the received truth.

Lincoln deserves to be exposed as the bigot and racist he was. Lincoln never had any intention of freeing the slaves. He only did what he did as a cynical political ploys to relieve the pressure he was feeling from the abolitionists. Bennett points out that during his tenure as a Illinois state legislator, Lincoln did nothing about the state’s “Black Code”, some of the most repressive such laws in the country. Lincoln constantly expressed his view that blacks were inferior to whites and were only good for menial tasks. When forced to consider emancipation, Lincoln worried about the effect upon the owners when deprived of their servants. Lincoln’s repeatedly proposed a gradual emancipation, one that would take 20 to 50 years! This was not a man that could be rightly called the friend of the slave.

Bennett’s analysis of the two major documents of the Lincoln administration, the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address, shows that they are really empty shells. The former did not free any slaves, and the latter did not apply to non-white people. The Myth continues.

But Lincoln was more than just empty talk. He was also empty action. When one of his generals issued an order to not return runaway slaves to their masters., Lincoln countermanded it. Lincoln refused to use freed slaves as soldiers in the Union Army. In the Union controlled city of New Orleans, the Army used freed slaves as forced labor. When blacks were finally organized into Union regiments, they were paid less than their white counter parts. The commander-in-chief did noting to rectify these injustices.

Lincoln was not without compassion. He actually proposed that the slaves be deported to an Asian or South American country, with suitable climate, that would take them. Lincoln had his State Department ask countries to take them, but there were no takers to be found. Lincoln was finally dissuaded when he was told that even using the entire U.S. Navy and all merchant ships, the freed slaves could not be deported faster than those slaves remaining in the U.S. would give birth to new people to deport.

Forced into Glory is not without its flaws. Bennett’s tone is sometimes angry, sometimes caustic. He uses the phrase “lily-White” so often that it becomes trite as well as being racist. He tends to be repetitive in some areas.

Bennett also does not deal with any of the legal issues regarding Lincoln’s handling of slavery. There is no discussion about the legal legitimacy of the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln, Bennett says, regarded the edict as a temporary measure that would become void once the war was settled. Nor is there any discussion about the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act. It sound great to oppose slavery, but the President is bound to uphold the law, whether or not he likes it. If he can’t do this he, should not be President. If he doesn’t do this, he is subject to impeachment and removal from office. It is, of course, not Bennett’s purpose to raise these issues, but they are factors in the larger discussion, and the omission of a discussion of how Lincoln could have worked within the Constitution to further the cause of abolition is a weakness of the book.

Bennett does, however, note that there were a lot of thing Lincoln could have tried to do to change the existing laws but made no attempt to do them. Bennett totally rejects the excuse proffered by Lincoln apologists that Lincoln had to consider the possibility of session by the four border states slave states, Missouri, Delaware, Maryland, and Kentucky. Bennett is right. What help the border states might to give to the Confederacy was already being given. There was not much to lose. Here Lincoln failed.

The constitutionality of session is not raised by Bennett. Bennett fails to realize that slavery, as vile and evil as it was, was a constitutionally protected right. Yes, the Constitution was a “White man’s” document, but it is the only basis upon which to act. Remembering this makes Lincoln’s idea of buying the slaves a much better proposal, unworkable unless the slave owner agreed to sell, than Bennett thinks.

But the book is worth the efforts of the author and will reward the reader with new understanding of Lincoln’s history and the historians who write Lincoln apologetics disguised as history.

Posted in Book reviews, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Some Things That Are True

Posted by heyrandy on March 6, 2008

These are some sayings that I use at work to try to get across the point.  Even with this wit it is still a struggle.

1. Never confuse the word “should”with the word “do”.

2. It is not here until it is my dirty, calloused hands.

3. Think, plan, do is the only correct order.

4. It is cheap until you run out.

5. By the time you know you need it, it is already too late.

6. Never confuse methods, results, and excuses.

7. You can’t win unless you play good defense, but you can still lose if you do.

8.  No one complains if it doesn’t break.

9. Ignorance is fixable.

10. Learn from others: teach yourself.

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