America’s Identity Crisis

(Opinion)

By Kimberly Hagen

The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts (Transcript of President George Washington’s Farewell Address, 1796)

Our democracy works when this nation has a fair balance of power and transparency, but from what we witnessed this election year was a travesty to modern American democracy. 

So as we stand here, looking down the barrel of what appears to be a very long legal battle, Americans are exhausted. Because this election year wasn’t just about the election nor who would be the “lesser of the two evils” and certainly not about America’s soul. You can sell yourself to the devil, you can only freely give yourself to God. 

It is about our identity.

The identity in our freedoms that have been bound so tightly by the blood of men and women who have died for it, that the devil himself would have to tear it apart.

I recently asked a friend of mine who served in the Marines what it meant to him to serve his country. 

America is the light in a world of darkness.  We all owe it to future generations to do something to make the country and in turn the world a better place. There are many ways to serve that are just as important and noble as the military. If we forget the sacrifices made by our forefathers we will no doubt have to relive them.

The United States of America is the longest standing representative republic in the world, and if your happiness is riding on if “your guy” wins the election, you will be nothing but constantly disappointed. Liberty does not come from man, it derives from the Creator. The maker of Heaven and Earth; the Alpha and the Omega; the First and the Last; the Beginning and the End. 

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.

For our friends who are on the other side of the nation’s identity crisis, I suggest you take a walk around a local military cemetery. If possible, may I suggest Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC. Atop a hill sits the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The white marble sarcophagus depicts three carved Greek figures representing Peace, Victory, and Valor. Inscribed on the back of the Tomb are the words:

Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God

The guards are changed every hour, on the hour, from October 1 to March 31. From April 1 through September 30 another change is added to the half hour. The tomb is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. During nighttime hours the measured and precise step of the on duty sentinel remains unchanged into the daylight. The guard takes 21 steps and then pauses for 21 seconds after his about face to begin his return walk. The significance of ’21’ reflects the twenty-one gun salute, the highest honor given to any military or foreign dignitary. 

This is my message to my countrymen:

It is time to rise up. Rise up and show this nation what our forefathers died to protect. We need to not only speak our truth but to live it out in our everyday lives. Show the world the goodness and love that we learn, not from man, but from the teacher Himself, Jesus Christ.  The promise that he made when he died on that cross; bound by nails, and blood ran red, so that we can have real freedom. It is time to drink from the streams of liberty my friends and rediscover that source has, and always will be, God. 

In closing I leave you with Isaiah 61:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
    that have been devastated for generations.
Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
    foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
And you will be called priests of the Lord,
    you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
    and in their riches you will boast.

 Instead of your shame
    you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
    you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
    and everlasting joy will be yours.

“For I, the Lord, love justice;
    I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people
    and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be known among the nations
    and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
    that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”

I delight greatly in the Lord;
    my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
    and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
    and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
    and praise spring up before all nations.

And The Election Goes To…

(Opinion)

Take a look at these maps from 270ToWin.com that I gathered:

Except in 1988 and in 2016 Pennsylvania goes blue. Ohio is a tight race at the moment between Biden and Trump. And Florida has been a hanging chad for some time.

As of October 31, 2020 (12:38pm Central Time) Total Early Votes: 90,055,033 • In-Person Votes: 32,698,826 • Mail Ballots Returned: 57,356,207 • Mail Ballots Outstanding: 33,674,445

It is Republicans to gain at this point. The Polls are showing Biden leading in WI, MI, and PA. Unless Michigan goes Red again, history tends to favor Biden in this election. Ohio is a strange state, but I believe it will fall in Trumps favor. This race will be determined by Pennsylvania. So without any more waiting here is my final unbiased guess on the matter (for what it is worth):

2020 Presidential Election Prediction(s)

Winner: Joe Biden.

OR

Winner: Tie (Goes to Supreme Court)

Update: I wanted to add that the Silent Majority is a real group and people feel threatened in casting their vote for Donald Trump. So this group stands as a real option for Trump to win the election in WI, MI, and PA. And I do think Nevada is in Trumps favor due to the fear of more lockdowns and impact on tourism for a state that lives off of it.

Winner: Donald Trump

The Presidential Retrobate… err Debate of 2020 (Round 1)

(Quick Thoughts)

Sad, horrific, terrible, a mess these are the words that come to my mind when reviewing the first presidential debate between President Trump and Joe Biden. Nothing good came out of this debate. Trump lost it and Biden provided little. Biden comes out the winner tonight because he was less aggressive than Trump but not because he is “the better candidate.” Clearly the issues have a great effect on the American voter. Biden stands for Abortion, Trump does not; Biden supports BLM, Trump does not; Biden advocates stricter gun laws and you get the drift. And judging by character Trump failed in helping his case.

I wanted to highlight a few things that caught my attention.

Both Trump and Biden made outrageous claims concerning their times in office. President Trump claiming he, “Brought back the Big Ten football” is laughable and Biden’s claiming he was the guy who “brought back the car industry” is equally bizarre considering the economic and political complications while he was Vice-President. Let us hope no political figure has such immense power as to control the opening or shutting down of a company or institution nor the ability to even control an economy (which no President can).

As for the voter fraud debate while it exists there is little evidence supporting there are mass levels of it occurring. Trump has a point concerning ballot harvesting i.e. when a third party collects and delivers a ballot. Even Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard has concerns with ballot harvesting. There is real value in having people vote in person but a mail in a ballot must be sent through a protected source aside from a third party.

Biden gaffed concerning his beliefs about the Green New Deal, as reported from his own campaign website:

Biden cannot deny his support for the Green New Deal (which he did) while believing it is crucial. Whatever the Biden Plan is (you can read it from his website) it is the GND under a new name and likely a few changes.

Both men inappropriately blamed the deaths of thousands on each other as Biden pinned the entire Cvd-19 crisis on President Trump, ignoring completely the actions of States and Governors and Mayors on top the mixed reactions by the populace, and Trump remarked that Biden killed Veterans for his lack of providing better healthcare and services, a statement that lacks truthfulness and context.

The only promising facts for Trump was his support for Amy Coney Barrett whom Biden was completely wrong in arguing that the people have a voice in the selection of Barrett and that the present election is preventing that right. Nope. Trump is well within his right to select a Supreme Court Justice as I have covered pointing out this has always been a political issue, hardly “the people’s” decision. Also Trump was right to stand against the racist “anti-racism” and “White Privilege” training taking place in the federal government. Another subject that I have started to address on numerous occasions.

Honestly, the fact checking required by tonight’s debate is appalling. I took notes and marked each statement that required a fact check only to surmise that these two grown adults acted shamefully. Normally a debate can set a tone and possibly provide some real insight about each candidate and their beliefs, but the only insight tonight was that the two men running for the Office of the Presidency are worrisome.

Those are my thoughts.

PAYWALL’Ed: Academic Research & Open Knowledge

(Opinion)

As I was preparing Part 2 of Mob Rule, Mob Rules I was reminded of the enormous amount of paywalls preventing an average citizen from conducting research without having to pay either per article ($30-$170) or for the journal ($100 to ?).

Paywall’s are nothing new and have been an issue that public and private researchers have been trying to address over the years. But it had me wondering, who controls the flow of information? And why? How can a free and open society continue to thrive if information is guarded by higher education, companies, and governments from the public? Of course, while I understand the desire to make money, it is also rare for the actual researchers involved to directly to pocket money from their publications.

In a discussion with a professor of mine years ago we discussed the history of Universities, especially top-tier Universities, having long been gate keepers of information and they continue to seek relevancy while competing with private companies and non-profits over research and development. Today it is cyber security along with the fields of mathematics, quantum computing, and evolutionary studies across multiple fields that are the profit-makers, the mainstream courses and, sought after research by institutions of higher education.

There is a great deal of information on this topic. From The Atlantic, Why Isn’t Academic Research Free to Everyone?, a short interview with Martin Paul Eve, a lecturer at the University of Lincoln’s School of English & Journalism and author of Open Access and the Humanities: Contexts, Controversies And The Future (2014) is a simple place to start. Another small article from Scientific America, Scientific Research Shouldn’t Sit behind a Paywall. And if you are looking for an intelligent, history lesson on the subject of Journals and Paywalls I recommend reading Priceonomics article, Why is Science Behind a Paywall?. Finally, WIRED released, The Quest to Topple Science-Stymying Academic Paywalls.

Reported in 2019 and again in 2020, the Trump Administration has even considered opening up research for general access without cost.

One hesitation that I have concerning Open Source and Open Access is the mirage of “free services” that come with it. Yes, these are publicly funded research paper, but not all research is publicly funded. Even if publicly funded, not all research should be conducted under tax payer dollars; I imagine there is wasteful research though likely subjective from a scientific vs a political view. Also there is the question of who owns the research and do they have a right to decide its use?

As the material world becomes more present and away from enteral things, a spirit of socialism blows in the wind. Demands for free access flow out from the idea that we all can have free education, free information, free healthcare, etc. Well, no, either the taxpayers pay for it or a large sum is payed by corporations through their own means and provisions to their employees. As of now, taxpayers are footed the bill regardless.

Please do not misunderstand I do not object to open access. It is good. But I am weary of a society that demands for more without asking what is required of them.

Perhaps I am missing the point? Leave your comments below.

Get Woke or Get Broke: When Reason Fails to Stand

(Opinion)

(Note to my readers: Originally I intended this piece to be of the category, Special Report, meaning a stricter standard in how information is analyzed and cited. Essentially that standard requires greater in-depth study. While I personally believe what I wrote here today to be true and factual, it did not meet my standard of a Special Report. Therefore, I qualify this as an opinion piece.)

Classical Liberalism On Edge

Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought. A theory however elegant and economical must be rejected or revised if it is untrue; likewise laws and institutions no matter how efficient and well-arranged must be reformed or abolished if they are unjust.

— John Rawls, A Theory of Justice, p. 3

Individuals have rights, and there are things no person or group may do to them (without violating their rights). So strong and far-reaching are these rights that they raise the question of what, if anything, the state and its officials may do.

— Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia, p. xix 

In the course of human history there have been principles worth abiding by when considering a deep, problematic societal concern that has and can continue to have great ramifications if it either remains unresolved or attempted to mitigate. Oftentimes issues of such magnitude fall within realms that provoke or placate the values and emotions of a populace. Justice, an essential value concerning human nature, is one of those realms. To better grasp such a realm, an acquisition of human institutions are required; those social institutions specifically include Faith, Tradition, Reason, and Imagination all of which can help an individual and society uncover values above and beyond themselves. Yet, what arises when these institutions dissolve, for whatever reason that may be, is a culture that moves away from interaction towards disengagement and then usurpation. Of all the institutions, reason is the most fragile and in a liberal democratic society, the failure to reason is the sign of a metaphysical collapse.

Classical liberal theory is a term to describe the belief in the rights of the individual, the freedom of markets, and private property. Within the context of the United States, the U.S. Constitution is a document representative of classical liberal thought though not entirely. Presently in the United States of America a climax has occurred on several ideological fronts. One such shift is the rise of woke culture from the far-left through its permeation into governments, corporations, universities, and other private-public institutions. No western post-industrial society is free from its wake.  

Wokeness Monster

Extensive analysis fills the web concerning critical theory, postmodernism, and cultural marxism. While additional analysis is necessary that is not the focus of this article. Therefore, a simple explanation will suffice concerning the meaning of Woke, Wokeness, or Woke Culture.

To be woke means a form of “awakening” to injustice particularly linked to racial injustices yet intersectional toward other oppressed minority/identity based groups e.g. trans/cisgender. Woke cultural markings have evolved into a dangerous ideology of critical, liberation, and social justice movements that developed ties to Marxism, Postmodernism, and other leftist identity based theories and organizations who oppose so-called Eurocentric or Westernized systems (e.g. Capitalism, Free Speech, Merit Base, Scientific Method, etc). To be presently woke means joining a collective that is centered on destroying entire westernized structures, not reforming them. And therein lies the problem.    

End of Discussion

Oversimplifying for the sake of a greater argument, it can be said that Christians and Conservatives, though fundamentally different, share a unique appreciation and understanding of the needs for the layout of faith, tradition, reason, and imagination. One based entirely on the faith in Jesus Christ and the other a philosophical movement in response to the French Revolution both seeking to challenge the hearts and minds of men in a sacred responsibility. Christians nor Conservatives are strangers to cultural critique including of liberal society (e.g. Capitalism or Free Speech) and upholding standards beyond the relative values of the day. As the conservative thinker Russell Kirk explained, “The pure democrat is the practical atheist; ignoring the divine nature of law and the divine establishment of spiritual hierarchy” (The Conservative Mind, p. 137). A synergy exists between the two over their respect for God and a moral law. However, neither fail to recognize liberalism’s overarching value to the world through their shared principles concerning human liberty, freedom, and rights. Both critique liberalism but never demanding the obliteration of classical liberal thought. In no fashion is that an attempt to whitewash history. Every side has its rabble that claim to uphold righteous values only to commit atrocities, however, as long as homo sapiens exist so shall their brutal behaviors. Historically Christianity, Liberalism, and Conservatism have peacefully coexisted despite their differences. 

Far from the spectrum of coexistence, woke ideals hold a Socialist-Marxist predisposition in uprooting systems by devaluing people who oppose them and belittling constructive debate that could possibly cultivate ideas across ideological lines. Almost a hundred years ago (98 to be exact) the economist and social theorist Ludwig von Mises published, Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis (1922), warning against socialism: 

According to the Marxist conception, one’s social condition determines one’s way of thought. His membership of a social class decides what views a writer will express. He is not able to grow out of his class or to free his thoughts from the prescriptions of his class interests. Thus the possibility of a general science which is valid for all men, whatever their class, is contested… Thus Marxism protects itself against all unwelcome criticism… Marx and Engels never tried to refute their opponents with argument. They insulted, ridiculed, derided, slandered, and traduced them, and in the use of these methods their followers are not less expert. Their polemic is directed never against the argument of the opponent, but always against his person. Few have been able to withstand such tactics (pp. 18-19).

Those words ring equally true today. As I mentioned in Part 1 of my series Mob Rule, Mob Rules: 

Mob rule means a collective identity group must win. Mob rules serve the interests of that collective. Liberty and her institutions are being tested by this eruptive behavior, serving as a reminder that when pure rage is the predicate for judgement, tyranny is never far behind. What comes next will be decided by the public will for civility or lack thereof. Humanity itself may not only end up alone but alone with no way out. 

Without question the radical left are not alone in their threat against a liberal order but they are defining the times as R.R. Reno wrote in his book, Return of the Strong Gods (2019):

Today’s technocratic ethos defines political legitimacy in terms of the weak gods of policy expertise, therapeutic delicacy when speaking of sensitive topics, and the rhetoric of diversity and other motifs of inclusion (p. 141). 

Catholics like Reno represent a necessary deflection against the left vs right attitudes of our time. Believers in the good, the beautiful, and the true recognize that there can be shared critiques without shared beliefs in radical, revolutionary uprisings found within Communism or Fascism. Catholicism has long promotedsocial justice” issues including its claim that the idea itself comes from the book of Matt: 25:31-46. That claim, true or untrue, points to a long line of thinkers from the Apostle Matthew to Thomas Aquinas and onward, a line of pre-modern thinkers rather than modern thinkers like Karl Marx whom heretical christian groups have adopted; a movement rooted in gnosticism rather than Christian teaching. 

If those on the fringe would only listen and grasp that there are means to redemption, a shared bond in both the craving for justice and the rights of the individual—the Rawls-Nozick dichotomy—can be reached without destroying the very foundations that granted them their rights and privileges in the first place. Unfortunately, extremists have broken through in a trojan horse disguised as inclusiveness, diversity, equity, and universals (e.g. healthcare, housing, etc) on the back of a neoliberal order that momentarily makes even Socialism look promising by the untrained eye. They are not interested in listening, they are here to destroy.

Dr. James Lindsay, a physicist and mathematician from New Discourses, is one of the leading thinkers on critical theories and social justice practices including on why woke culture is anti-debate wrote:

The deeper, more significant aspect of this problem is that by participating in something like conversation or debate about scholarly, ethical, or other disagreements, not only do the radical Critical Social Justice scholars have to tacitly endorse the existing system, they also have to be willing to agree to participate in a system in which they truly believe they cannot win. This isn’t the same as saying they know they’d lose the debate because they know their methods are weak. It’s saying that they believe their tools are extremely good but not welcome in the currently dominant system, which is a different belief based on different assumptions. Again, their game is not our game, and they don’t want to play our game at all; they want to disrupt and dismantle it.

Fundamentally the critical ideological framework cannot coexist with our present rights, freedoms, and liberties; our culture is an anthemia to their ideals.  

What Happens Now?

Pessimism can easily set in when surveying the political landscape. There are no guarantees of success if that success means a complete and total reversal. Instead the pressures of life require those who oppose all forms of radicalization to be truthful and loving at a moment when anger and rage can easily persevere but only at great unnecessary costs. Reason will not work. Only the actions of a people who can rely on truth beyond reason, a movement beyond mere modern beliefs, and uphold eternal principles regardless of threat can withstand the revolutionary spirit filling the air. “Be still, and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10, ESV), that is the required spirit. Believers (and unbelievers) in God must testify truth and goodness through the acknowledgement of present hurts which no doubt exist within the black community and the latin community and the LGBTQ community. Again, there is a shared bond, a means to redemption beyond the ruin of an already broken world. Demands for justice need to be heard but never at the abandonment of truth, reality, and morality or it only becomes another form of injustice. 

Christians can lead in this through their understanding that while they may be alone, they are never truly alone and our calling is above ourselves. Conservatives can resonate in that understanding. And those beholden too Liberalism, especially classical liberal thinking, know what it means to sacrifice and stand against tyranny when it rises; prize an ideal beyond their present estate. All three prize liberty though in different forms but rooted in the greatest of ideals: Human Freedom. 

We must not become radicalized in response. Let their injustice show by speaking up for justice and speaking out against injustice; truth over untruth; reality above irreality; goodness over hate. Death by virtue versus radicalized ideals that seek to breakdown and destroy. Fight but with real love, not the fake dignity espoused by those who insult, deride, and traduce people no matter their origin. 

Unsettling Statistics: Children & Consent

(Opinion)

Adulthood has been a topic of interest since 2018 during my master’s program where I was asked, along with other fellows, to write on a topic revolving around higher education and law for the blog HigherEducationLaw.org. My topic was titled, The Apparatus of Responsibility: Post-In Loco Parentis American University World, concerning the loss of In Loco Parentis in relation to the new laws institutions of higher education gained overtime particularly FERPA and HIPPA:

In loco parentis, a common law doctrine whose origins can be a bit murky, is generally attributed to the English judge Sir William Blackstone who in 1769 wrote, in what is known as Blackstone’s commentaries, “[The father] may also delegate part of his parental authority, during his life, to the tutor or schoolmaster of his child; who is then in loco parentis, and has such a portion of the power of the parent committed to his charge…” In loco parentis would be adapted to the then more autonomous, early American universities as the new nation adopted its English Common Law principles along with its new found liberties via rebellion against the British Empire and the creation of the nation’s newly formulated constitution. It was clearly understood by the courts that colleges by right had the authority to discipline, tutor, and dictate the lives of their students pre-1960. Several cases illuminate the views of the nation’s courts concerning students and their respective colleges.

After the 1960’s the ability of colleges and universities to act as parents ended to the detriment of students and the concerned parents who could no longer rely on the help of these institutions for information including student drug and alcohol abuse.

This topic forced me to reconsider what it even means to be an adult and the role of responsibility that come with such a title. Granted these are mostly students between the ages of 18-24, yet has science not shown us that the development of the brain continues for females to 21 and males 25 years of age respectfully? Let alone the fact that with maturity comes wisdom (we hope). Time tells much about a person because it allows them to develop including learning from their mistakes. And having the support of family and friends to bolster better decision-making can greatly boost odds. Yes people are accountable for their actions, but preventing the ability of family to help left me with a bitter taste in my mouth.

However, these are not the disturbing statistics that have recently caught my eye.

Just Children

An article from 2018 came to my attention last week, France to set legal age of sexual consent at 15. Looking into this issue further I was sadden and frighten to find that the Age of Consent (i.e. the age by which an individual is consider, by the law, to be old enough to say yes or no to sex) are rather low. Of interest was Europe, as quoted from the website AgeofConsent.net:

The lowest age of consent in Europe is 14, and the highest age of consent in Europe is 18.

During the age of Epstein’s global sex trade and the #MeTooMovement how can any society stand by and allow the molestation of children? No one in their right mind ought to accept such injustice. As Christ told the saints:

[B]ut whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Matt: 18:6, ESV

That verse is not a provocation to do harm against those who afflict harm over children; Christ denies the rule, “an eye for an eye” (Matt: 5:38-48), but rather Jesus states a clear rule in terms of the depth of consequence: Harm X, Result Y. Do this action and you might as well go do this… that is the meaning of the verse for Christians. I share that because even non-Christians concur that harms committed against the innocent are wrong.

Taking advantage of a child by the meager and bogus measure of consent is morally in-apprehensible and that is something we should all agree on.