On Freedom:

America was built on people building their own lives, on having creative control, dreaming big, and producing outrageous results. Liberty, Justice and Freedom are the bedrock of our nation. While this certainly leaves us free to be complete idiots and fail in spectacular ways, we much more often realize the best in ourselves, and have become a nation of generous, loving, helpful people, people committed to each other and to an ideal of freedom and respect.

On being asked what we got, Benjamin Franklin said

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One of my boys - Uri - has really taken to a show called American Guns. For the most part, I think this is great. The Wyatts and their crew are a great example of people living their passion. There are lessons about negotiation, fair play, employee management, good business, family relations, safety, history, and respect. The show really has a lot going for it. There is a particular respect for people who serve, which I really dig

One of the things the Wyatts do at their shop, Gunsmoke, is make guns. If you want it, and it shoots, they'll find a way to make it. If it's special to you, they'll make it more special. If it's fashion you want, you can have a gun to match your team colors or your purse.

So I found myself surprised that one item of beauty they made so disturbed me.

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The Humanitarian Crisis in the Middle East

The source of the “crisis” in Gaza is finally becoming clearer to the West. This source - the jihadi mission to establish a world caliphate - is currently on view in Hamas' struggle to exterminate the Jew, this on the way to subjugating the rest of the world in the name of Islam.

But this is only a symptom of a larger crisis. Put simply, this crisis is the Western abandonment (if it ever really possessed them) of humanitarian values in favor of empty forms and farcical bodies, bodies which assume the mantle of humanitarian concern only when it fits a particular agenda.

Just a few days ago, the United States Senate passed

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July 4, 2014

At this time of celebration of America's Independence, I am inspired again by the courage it took to declare certain “truths”:

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.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

To the crown, attendance of the Second Continental Congress was an act of “treason and rebellion.” We were at war when the Declaration was adopted and the Continental Congressmen put themselves at risk by signing. But I don't think they could help themselves, This was the expression of a vision within their grasp, but at the same time a bold act that would in time bring a new and vibrant model of republican government to this world.

As we look around the world, we should note how exceptional the realization of this vision was and remains. The notion that our fellow countrymen are born equal to us is quite remarkable in human history. Our country was born into a world of monarchies and empires. To this day, there are castes, and slavery, and attempts by religions to dominate the political sphere.

The notion of unalienable rights remain unrealized in most of the world. In 77 countries, homosexuality is a crime. Fewer than a third of the world's countries are considered to have a free press. There are still 30 million slaves in the world. “Three-quarters of the world's approximately 7 billion people live in countries with high government restrictions on religion or high social hostilities involving religion.” It seems our right to expression has not met the ideal our founders envisioned.

This week, the intolerance has been painfully real for me. It was witnessed in the finding of the bodies of three teenage students, two the age of my son, in Israel abducted and murdered simply because they were Jews. These people were deprived of their unalienable right to life simply because of who they are. Unfortunately the impetus to these killings remains as the widely held hatred of the other fostered by certain religions and peoples. America is still seen as the Great Satan. September 11 is still celebrated by Al-Qaida. ISIS, the “the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” have declared that they will liberate Spain. Riots break out in France when police carry out an identity check.

But the past few weeks have also brought us acts of bravery, of which I would like to highlight two in the hope that they will inspire us all to stand up for these “unalienable rights.” Two Israelis, who happen to be Arab, Yihye Zakaria Mahameed and Mohammad Zoabi stood up and denounced the kidnapping of the three students. They are now faced with threats of violence and death for celebrating life.

It appears to me that what we in the west hold as self-evident is not so evident to others; these are rights that we must be ever-vigilant to strengthen and maintain. And this is my blessing for the American people. We should stand proud, especially today, of the rights enjoyed by the people of our republic and of free nations the world over. We are where we are today because of our stand against tyranny and our willingness to put lives on the line for humanity's “inalienable rights.” May we be ever blessed by our Creator to be the light of freedom and act accordingly.

The LAX shooting

This is in response to the article, There is Nothing Random About the LAX Shooting, by Charles P. Pierce in Esquire

Here's the thing. We can admit that the ready availability of guns correlates with a greater amount of gun violence. However, we have a constitutional provision (the Second Amendment) that guarantees the right to bear arms, a provision written with our own revolution against tyranny in mind, one in which citizen soldiers took on a government to assert their inalienable rights. To register with the government every firearm gives it the ability to confiscate the ability to revolt against the next iteration of governmental tyranny. Perhaps this seems to many a distant eventuality that does not justify current access to arms; but it's there in the constitution and such change should be pursued at the constitutional level, where change is slow and deliberate, not the knee jerk reaction to current events.

Yes, guns make it easier to kill people, but there are many other factors we can address without changing the constitution, factors as simple as diet, the tacit acceptance of a certain social contract, access to mental health care, the effects of one size fits all (or I'd suggest doesn't fit anyone) schooling, the effects of poor parenting, ineffective policing, or the militarization of our police forces, basic training in self-defense, or crazy gunman preparedness.

For every person who picks up a gun and starts a shootin', I'd guess there are a thousand more who feel similarly broken or enraged, whom society has failed, but who simply don't express their anger or illness by shooting. The shooting is just a symptom of a larger social disease. Where is the desperate outcry to prevent the destruction of potential by the crack-pipe, alcohol, abuse, or even well-meaning government programs that strip people of their dignity?

There is really nothing random in our creation of dis-empowering dependencies either, and they do a lot more damage to the human spirit and our potential as a nation, and our willingness to take care of each other. We might actually have fewer shootings if we actually personally took on making a difference, instead of irrationally expecting another half-baked law to provide some remedy.