On Plato’s “Symposium”

Originally published on the Florida Student Philosophy Blog

Apollodorus

How appropriate that Plato should frame this work as a tale told second hand.  From his pen, we are hearing the story as told by a disciple of Plato named Apollodorus who had heard the story from Aristodemus who was present at the symposium in question.  Apollodorus has verified the account with Plato, and so we may consider it fairly accurate. Still, we are reading about it approximately twenty-four hundred years later and are also twice removed from the actual event.

Apollodorus is particularly ready to tell us because he has already recounted the story to his friend Glaucon while on the road to Athens.  Glaucon had caught up with Apollodorus by formally hailing him as “The Gentleman from Phaleron.”  I read in the footnotes that the joke is that men like Apollodorus are not addressed in this manner except in formal situations, such as when they are assembled at court.  Of course, this is how members of Congress are addressed today and calls attention to how much the Greeks still influence us.

Apollodorus makes much of the idea that philosophy is the only worthwhile pursuit in life and that focusing on the mundane activities of life as Apollodorus once did and as his friend does now, dooms a person to a life of failure. Unimpressed with this sentiment, Apollodorus’ friend urges him to begin to recount the speeches given at the symposium.
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A Neo-Patriarchal Response to Communitarianism

Very occasionally, in the morning when the weather is not too hot, I step out onto my front porch and sit on a broad wooden bench, looking out into my front yard and that of my neighbor’s, enjoying the coolness of the air with nothing save birdsong to disturb the silence. I may bring a cup of tea with me, and perhaps one of my cats will come to sit near.

For the moment, I am at rest. I own the ground upon which I sit. I am fully provisioned and no enemies appear on my immediate horizon. I am well aware that this is an illusion, but choose to pretend in the moment, that all is well. Now in my fifties, my ambitions are modest. “A home, respect, freedom, and neighbors who want the same” (Lamar). I desire peace and quiet broken only by the occasional company of my extended family and close friends. I think that this is a desire commonly held by the overwhelming majority of mature adults existent across the face of the earth, irrespective of their culture, their history, or their present social and economic position within their particular communities. In the following pages it is my intention to describe the realization of this desire by a certain class of men among the petit-bourgeoisie whom I shall refer to as neo-patriarchs.
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Poem: Sara Beers’ Bread

bread

With fish and loaves Our Blessed Lord the starving masses fed.
Miraculously proving Him the Church’s Sovereign Head.
Alas! No crust remains whereon our butter we might spread.
The nearest we can come today is Sara Beers’ Bread.

At Hastings, William conquered while the vanquished Saxons bled.
The Tower of London he had built to be his new homestead.
Why had the Normans all agreed to join that great spearhead?
While in their sleep, they’d dreamt a dream of Sara Beers’ Bread.

Throughout his reign six ladies did the eighth King Henry wed.
Two women he divorced, and two, he put to death instead.
What proved them so unsuitable to share his royal bed?
They did not have the recipe for Sara Beers’ Bread.

At Waterloo, Lord Wellington his noble soldiers led,
to victory, while Bonaparte’s defeated army fled.
Why didn’t he remain in France and quit while still ahead?
Bored with baguettes, he yearned to feast on Sara Beers’ Bread

It’s Sara Beers’ Bread my boys, it’s Sara Beers’ Bread
That makes our lot a happy one, as on through life we tread
When all is said and done my boys, when all is done and said,
It’s Sara Beers’ Bread my boys, it’s Sara Beers’ Bread

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Poem: Straddling God’s Thigh

Straddling God’s Thigh

I can laugh today, straddling God’s thigh.
In spite of what my eye may see,
I’m safe there, perched upon His knee.
I lay back with a sigh.

I don’t understand, everything I’ve done.
The circumstances that I’m in.
The consequences of my sin.
The frenzied race I’ve run.

And if I should die, failing in my goal.
To realize the dream’s I’d had.
To separate the good from bad.
His love will make me whole.

I can laugh today, creation gone awry.
Safe with Him, straddling God’s thigh.

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Don’t Worry – Be Happy : The Epicurean View of Death

Originally published in the Florida Student Philosophy Blog

 [1]

Eccl 8:15 – Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun. (KJV)[2]

If we consider the Epicurean philosophy emphasizing its position on death, the existence of God, and the resulting conclusions that follow regarding an afterlife, it seems that a more attractive philosophy than Epicureanism would be difficult to devise, for it holds that a man should arrange his life so that it yields the greatest amount of pleasure with the least amount of pain[3] and worry.  This is accomplished by seeking to be satisfied with the simpler things that come to one in life.  Simple food, clothing, shelter, and the like are good things that are “easy to get.”[4]  Richer fare and fancy goods, while not to be eschewed should they come one’s way, result in exposure to too much stress and strife in their pursuit, and therefore such pursuits should be abandoned.  The gaining of power and high office should likewise be abandoned as being equally stressful. Instead the joys of personal friendship can be relied upon for one’s security.[5]  The writer has lived this kind of life I have lived the last thirty years, and recommends it highly.
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Song: A Song for Jamy

Jamy, when I first met you,
I knew that you were special.
The passions of the flesh will pass away,
But not my love for you, it’s here to stay.

jamy

Jamy, I can’t forget you,
You’ve got me in your power.
I’m waiting for the hour when you will say,
That you’re in love with me, is it today?

We’d known each other well for quite awhile,
without a hint of sweet romance.
One day I looked at you and saw you smile,
and I didn’t have a chance.

Jamy, I’d never let you,
Feel unappreciated.
Because you were created perfectly,
my deepest dearest love, Jamy, for me.

October 1994

Sheet Music for “A Song for Jamy”

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Understanding Being and Time

Originally published in the Florida Student Philosophy Blog

The newborn just entered into the world, may say to herself, “I am soiled; I am hungry, and decidedly uncomfortable.  Surely, my mother knows this. Why then does she not come to feed and change me?”  Although surrounded by others, we are profoundly isolated, able to communicate only a small portion of our thoughts, feelings, and observations and unable to fully apprehend what others are attempting to communicate to us.  I think that it is this striking isolation that causes us to first consider the nature of our being.  Long before I knew the word philosophy, I stared intently at my own hand, concluding that whatever this wonderfully constructed organism was, it was not “me”.  I was apart from it, enclosed by it, wearing it if you will, but not it.  This was my first impression of my own “being.” Martin Heidegger made the contemplation and explanation of “being” his life’s work.  
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On Rebellion

Originally published on the Florida Student Philosophy Blog

“I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”[1]

These are the words of Howard Beale in “Network”. The American movie classic is about an aging network broadcaster who rebels against the corporate oligarchy and subsequently is murdered at their hands.  Rebellion and the rebels that foment them are a recurrent theme in story and song.  Spartacus[2], Robin of Loxley, William Wallace, Zorro, Patrick Henry[3], John Brown, and Michael Collins are but a few characters, real and imagined, who considered their own liberty and that of their fellow compatriots more important than the authority of a tyrannical state.
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Can a constitution put limits on a government?

On the Mark

american-billofrights

John C. Calhoun, was one of North America’s first political theorists and he wrote about the inability of a constitution to limit government. He points out that no document, not even if written on a hallowed piece of parchment, has the inherent power to bind officials to read it correctly or follow its strictures. As time goes on it gets even weaker in this ability as language changes and governments build up their power.

In his A Disquisition on Government, Calhoun explains the problem:

A written constitution certainly has many and considerable advantages, but it is a great mistake to suppose that the mere insertion of provisions to restrict and limit the powers of the government, without investing those for whose protection they are inserted with the means of enforcing their observance, will be sufficient to prevent the major and dominant party from abusing its powers. Being the party…

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Comparisons and Contrasts of the Contemporary Marriage Relationship among American Orthodox Christians, Jews, and Muslims

Originally published on the Florida Student Philosophy Blog

Whosoever spends his days without a wife, has no joy nor blessing, or good in his life. Talmud – Yevamot 62B

The Orthodox Jewish view of Marriage

Any discussion of Orthodox Christians, Jews, and Muslims must logically begin with the House of Israel. According to the Jewish history, God created the world, and its first parents, Adam and Eve, five thousand, seven hundred, and sixty seven years ago.  Approximately two thousand years later, Abraham, Patriarch of the Jews was born and nearly five hundred years after that, his ancestor Moses led captive Israel out of Egypt. (Aklah)  After the exodus from Egypt, the Orthodox Jews tell us that Moses received on Mount Sinai, personally from the God of Universe, the Ten Commandments, and subsequently the rest of the laws written down in the first five books of Moses. This compilation of books called the Pentateuch and others written by the rest of the prophets that called the Torah. It is from the Torah, from the accompanying explanations and commentary about it called the Talmud, and also from the three thousand years of tradition that bring us to the present, that the understanding and customs of Jewish marriage are derived. A study in 1970 determined that there were approximately six hundred thousand orthodox Jews living in the United States. (Elazar)
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Gun Control & the Right to Bear Arms

“Among other evils which being unarmed brings you, it causes you to be despised.” – Niccolo Machiavelli

The question of whether citizens in a democracy should have ready access to firearms suggests a more basic question, which has often been asked within the memory of man, usually by elitists and autocrats. It is, “Just who the Hell do you think you are?” Here then, a brief answer. I am an adult male; a sovereign political entity; a creation of the living God. I believe that God has endowed me with rights. The Declaration of Independence agrees with this and that is why that I condescend to pledge allegiance to the United States of America. The Constitution or the government of the United States does not grant rights to me. The ninth amendment clearly recognizes this truth when it states, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” Indeed, I continue to maintain my rights if the Constitution or the United States ceases to exist. I am entitled to these rights even if I live under the subjugation of a cruel tyrant or a totalitarian government. It is up to the individual to defend their rights by exercising them, by seeing them codified into law, by petitioning, protesting, or performing acts of civil disobedience when government attempts to curtail them. In the extreme, these rights are to be protected by using any means necessary, up to and including the taking of life or the sacrificing of one’s own.
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On Simon Blackburn’s “Lust”

Originally published on the Florida Student Philosophy Blog

Perhaps those who love Shakespeare love him because of his ability to so skillfully portray the many facets of the human condition.  He does indeed most always “get it right.”  Certainly, his description of lust causes a person like myself, who has completely succumbed to its temptations and lived long enough to reap its harvest, to grimly nod my head in agreement. I do so with sadness recalling the results of acts I now regret, just as others may do so in desperation from the habitual prison that they have built for themselves and are unable to escape. For the purposes of this paper, I will use Blackburn’s definition of lust in the first chapter of his book, which is: “The enthusiastic desire, the desire that infuses the body, for sexual activity and its pleasures for their own sake.”
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Nietzsche’s Conclusion

Originally Published on the Florida Student Philosophy Blog

Zu bald alt, zu spät klug

I was a child in the sixties, aged six to sixteen, during a time when existentialism was highly celebrated as pop philosophy. Nothing could be more counter-cultural than the words, “God is dead,” or more likely to cause semi-comatose, bushy eye-browed conservatives to sit upright, bristling with indignation. Great fun, but easily diffused if we begin any consideration of Nietzsche’s work by posing the more palatable question, “Well, what if there were no God?” Nietzsche’s explanation of a “Godless” universe is both passionate and robust.
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The Elenchus and Socrates’ Idea of the Philosophical Life

Originally published on the Florida Student Philosophy Blog

Pa’ntes A’nthropoi Tou^ Eide’nai Ore’gontai Phy’sei.
All men by nature desire to know. —Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1:1

When one begins to take a closer look at Socrates of Athens, (469-399 B.C. ) it immediately becomes clear that he is a man in a unique and enviable position. A citizen of an established polis, he was neither obscure nor highly celebrated. His service to his country as a soldier was established, yet he did not distinguish himself to the extent that it required him to bear the burden of celebrity nor assume the mantle of hero (Vlastos, Pg. 50). He was born of a good family but not of a noble or patrician one. His father was an artist; a sculptor, he himself was an artisan; a stonemason. Apparently a man of limited independent means, he was far from what would be considered wealthy. This fortuitous combination of circumstances worked to place Socrates, not in the center of urban life and culture, but rather in the middle of it. He found himself in an ideal position to observe his fellow Athenians, and to interact and converse with them.
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Forty Days on the Master Cleanse

For the past forty days, I have rigorously followed the “Master Cleanse” regime, developed fifty years ago by Stanley Burroughs, an alternative health practitioner and natural remedy enthusiast. During his lifetime and even up until the present day, Mr. Burroughs has been greatly maligned in the press by nutritionists and medical authorities as being a misguided charlatan. Nevertheless his “lemonade diet” has remained a popular solution for those seeking to rid their bodies of “toxins” and, in some cases, for weight loss.
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I am Happy that George Zimmerman is Alive

 I am happy that George Zimmerman is alive, and I wish that Trayvon Martin was too.  Nevertheless, I must say that I am thoroughly disgusted with the American Media and the self serving, so called “leaders” of the racist “African American” community.  They should be ashamed for their lopsided coverage and comments of the Zimmerman trial designed to inflame the community, incite to riot, and frankly increase the risk that more people will be killed.   Trayvon Martin, a seventeen year old on the cusp of manhood is dead, because he chose to assault another man with the intention of severely beating him.  Unfortunately for Trayvon, and his family, that man happened to be armed, and rightfully so, as are so many law abiding adult Americans.
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The Rules

I must begin by telling you that I cannot take credit for “The Rules”. No, a wiser man than I wrote them down, or perhaps it was a group of men, each one wiser and older than the next, meeting in secret, late into the night. I came upon the rules quite accidentally. The Uxor Secundus and I were in a dingy restaurant supply store looking for dishware, cups, and the like. When we had made our selections, we approached the counter, really nothing more than a couple of sheets of plywood slapped together, and that had been done many many years ago.
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The Five Magic Phrases for a Happy Marriage

Hear me my fellow men, especially young men at the gate of marriage.  Over twenty years ago,  I met a tyler by the name of  Jack Glick during a tour of the oldest Masonic lodge in the state of California.  Jack was a tall thin man, grey haired with a big smile.  He was over seventy years of age, and proud of the fact that he still stood erect and that he maintained his physical agility which he demonstrated to me.   I was soon to be married and Jack became serious as he advised me that he intended at that moment to impart to me five magic phrases that would practically guarantee that I should have a long and happy marriage.  
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On Argument and Why Men Should Never Show Their Legs in Public

“He that complies against his will, is of his own opinion still”1

Argument is an intrinsic part of our interaction with other creatures. The first recorded argument is found in the book of Genesis, Chapter 3:

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.

Eve, convinced by Satan’s argument (even though it was fallacious) ate the apple, and then gave it to her husband who ate it without question, apparently having learned early in the marriage not to enter into arguments with his wife.
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Song: Holy Spirit, Pray for Me

Holy Spirit
Pray for me
Sing a song though I can neither hear nor see
Say the words that lift me to eternity
Holy Spirit
Pray for me

Holy Spirit
Lead the way
Show me everything God has for me today
Take me by the hand lest I should go astray
Holy Spirit
Lead the way

Holy Spirit
Shine the light
Wield the sword of truth, discerning wrong from right
Bring deliverance by the power of your might
Holy Spirit
Shine the light

I am a sinner. Though I have been delivered from much sin, yet I still sin much. By my sin, I have offended God, and many others. Thank God, that in these latter days, my sin is beginning to offend even me. LWR

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Is Television Good or Bad For American Society?

Gin thu neuere leuen alle monnis spechen, Ne alle the thinge that thu herest singen;
You must never believe all that men say, nor all the things you hear sung. (Alfred, 1907)

As individuals living in the twenty-first century, we are awash in a constant stream of alleged information and entertainment. Mail, newspapers, magazines, both physical and on the internet, videos, radio, movies, and, of course, our ubiquitous companion, the television, all vie for our attention. Is television good or bad for American society? To begin with, I must agree with former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher who said that “there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families” (Keay, 1987). Like any abundant resource, the question of whether television is a good thing or a bad thing depends on how we utilize it, which I think must depend upon what kind of individuals we have been reared to be. This, and the cumulative effect that our television watching is likely to have upon us, will answer the question.
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My Testimony

I would like to begin by quoting from the book of Romans , Chapter 7 and verse twenty one.

“So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom 7:21-25)

When I turned fourteen, there arose in my heart a longing for power. Power to to control others, and to fulfill my every desire. My quest for power led me into a study of the occult. I delved deeply into magick, making charms, conjuring demons, casting spells, taking drugs, exploring every facet of my personality and experiencing every type of physical stimuli.
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The Bill of Rights at Home and Abroad

In our post-republic era, much is made of the U.S. Constitution and its accompanying Bill of Rights, even though it is clear that the government and the courts rely less and less upon their unconditional application, and more upon political intrigue and the winds of public opinion to determine if and how these basic laws will be applied to public policy. The Bill of Rights, or rather the first ten amendments to the Constitution were ratified by the states approximately fifteen years after the Constitution came into effect. They are designed to guarantee to the citizens of the several states basic natural law rights and this is noted in their preamble. Again, while they are a legal document and part of the constitution, they also represent a partial explication of the natural law that applies to all men and women, in all parts of the earth, for all time.
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Doing Drugs in High School

hslou
Greetings fellow students! Louis Rose here, Class of ’71. Sorry I’m forty years late. Maybe they’ll write me a pass. I want to tell you about the drugs I used at Sleepy Hollow. I never planned to use drugs, it just happened. I started smoking hashish in 1969, my junior year, up on the aqueduct behind the band room, and didn’t stop using drugs until 1981. Twelve years is a long time to be high, don’t you think? When I first got high, the feeling was better than anything I had ever experienced. People who don’t do drugs often won’t consider the fact that the driving force behind drug use is that it feels great! Some people in high school hardly ever feel great. So why shouldn’t they use drugs? After forty years I have a few reasons I’d like to share.
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Do Social Media Networking Sites Compromise Personal and Professional Security?

“You’re nobody, till somebody loves you. You’re nobody, till somebody cares” (Cavanaugh, 1944).

The first email was sent in 1971 (Tiedje, C., 2011). Next, along came the bulletin board systems complete with the familiar screeching sound of the modem, which the technically proficient among us learned how to turn off. After this, web browsers, search engines, and then in 1985, America on Line is born. A little over fifteen years later, MySpace and Facebook dominate the world of social media (Curtis, 2013). Now, ten years further into the twenty-first century, concerns continue to be raised as to whether social media networking sites compromise personal and professional security. But, how can individuals say that their privacy is being invaded if they are the ones who are posting their personal information online? (Holliday, 2012). It seems to me that a deep seated desire for acceptance, to be a part of the group, is driving this phenomenon.
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Sonnet: It Must Have Been a Dream I Thought I Had

It must have been a dream I thought I had,
My eyes awakened filled with tears of joy.
Still breathing fast my troubled soul made glad,
Anticipating scenes I might enjoy.

The universe was like a shiny toy,
That I, in festive garments, gaily clad
Would play with, being such a happy boy
With nothing left desired for me to add.

Yet day by day a realization sad,
My castles in the sky would all destroy.
It seem that I was not the lucky lad,
Despite delusions senses might employ.

If such a dearth of details is my ploy,
I trust the lack thereof shall not annoy.

 

My first poem of 2013, a sonnet, has been described by one of my friends as “sad and beautiful.” If it betrays a temporary desperation on my part, it also reveals my resolve to hurl my despair into the teeth of the mistakes and circumstances that have brought me to this point, and to strive to obtain what victories may yet remain for me to celebrate.

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Parliamentary Procedure the Cornerstone of Liberty

Originally Published in the St Augustine Town Crier

The word comes from the Old French, eleventh century “parlement” translated as “talking” and the suffix “ary”, again from the French “of or belonging to.” The word parliamentary means a way of talking. Even so, we rarely consider the question, “as opposed to what?” Well, the answer is, “fighting” of course. We will talk or we will fight.
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A Response to UNF President John Delaney’s Endorsement of the Jacksonville City Council Bill 2012-296

Originally Published in the Jacksonville Times Union

A Response to UNF President John Delaney’s Endorsement of the Jacksonville City Council Bill 2012-296 banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Invocation

Did they have an invocation at the Sodom City Council?
Did they all elect to bow their heads and pray?
When the boys all finished voting and each one put down his pencil,
Did they wish the vote had gone the other way?

When the meeting was adjourned, and they left to have their last meal,
Do you think they took the time to offer thanks?
Very smart, sophisticated, drinking wine; each one a big wheel,
They were healthy and had money in their banks.

When the horror came upon them, you can bet it made their heads reel,
Yeah, they really meant it that time when they prayed.
But their hope was all in vain, they could not before the Lord kneel,
For too late their sins were on the altar laid.

Now I don’t expect the Council will repeal the First Amendment.
Or that morals will usurp their civic zeal.
But for those whose hope in heaven is upon the Lord dependent,
Put Him first and your determination steel.

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Poem: Invocation

Regarding Jacksonville Ordinance Amendment 2012-296*.

Did they have an invocation at the Sodom City Council?
Did they all elect to bow their heads and pray?
When the boys all finished voting and each one put down his pencil,
Did they wish the vote had gone the other way?

When the meeting was adjourned, and they left to have their last meal,
Do you think they took the time to offer thanks?
Very smart, sophisticated, drinking wine; each one a big wheel,
They were healthy and had money in their banks.

When the horror came upon them, you can bet it made their heads reel,
Yeah, they really meant it that time when they prayed.
But their hope was all in vain, they could not before the Lord kneel,
For too late their sins were on the altar laid.

Now I don’t expect the Council will repeal the First Amendment.
Or that morals will usurp their civic zeal.
But for those whose hope in heaven is upon the Lord dependent,
Put Him first and your determination steel.

Louis William Rose
June 2012

* an ordinance adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” to the antidiscrimination provisions of the Jacksonville Ordinance Code, labeling as “discrimination” decisions based on “sexual orientation” or “gender identity or expression.”

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Poem: Python Meat

You can eat (You can eat!)
Python meat (Python meat!)
It’s a treat (What a treat!)
Can’t be beat (Can’t be beat!)
Make a roast (A juicy roast!)
That you can slice on…

You just have to go down south
And catch a python!

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Racism, Politics, and Ax Handle Saturday

I am not exactly sure why we should be celebrating a day when a bunch of black folk got beat up by a bunch of white folk with ax handles. I think it is unlikely to happen again given Republican efforts made to repeal Jim Crow gun laws preventing African Americans from arming themselves. Any such attempt made now by racists to assault their fellow citizens would be surely be met by a hail of gunfire, and that’s the way it should be.
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Poem: The Lion & The Buck

What really matters is the same for you
as that which matters to the lion and the buck,
the lioness and the doe.
They lift their heads to God the same as you, you know.
They hear his call, they have their flesh.
It calls to them the way yours calls to you.

Of course, I would agree that it was true
If you should tell me that the lion is not the buck,
the lioness not the doe.
Alike unlike, and not at all like you, I know.
They do not speak, they do not share
a common tongue; and do not dream like you.

Yet dream they do and wake to hope anew
to fuel their passions fresh, the lion and the buck,
the lioness and the doe.
In search of liberty and happiness they go. We know
they do not doubt, are not afraid,
but venture forth in faith as so should you.

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Sonnet: To Carmen on Her Birthday

I pass by every day and realize
the flash of recognition in your eyes
springs from a place where smoldering longing lies
deeper than other’s watching might surmise.

The time we spend together fairly flies
each day begun and done to our surprise
without the chance to foster closer ties.
Something I know you’d say is probably wise

Yet casting off my staid and proper guise
a different policy I might advise,
where proper smiles give way to sweetened sighs
each look and act designed to tantalize.

It’s rare that dreams like these materialize.
The one that does burns bright and quickly dies.

Written for Carmen Emory, my good friend and former co-worker.

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The Present Education Controversy

Originally published in the Jacksonville Observer

Education is not the business of government. This is why we have a school board separate from the county government. It is the duty of the school board to decide how the school system shall operate and what the curriculum will be. They are supposed to make the decisions, not the state, and not the federal government. They are to be influenced solely by the voters in their county who elect them.

Consequently, the school board has no business taking money of any kind from the state or from the federal government because these funds come with stipulations, and curriculum demands that take virtually all of the power to make decisions away from the school board. All funds for a school system should rightly come from local taxpayers. All you have to leave to your children are your views about life. What you believe about how life should be lived, about how government should conduct itself, and about our relationship to God. Don’t let the state steal your legacy and your children by indoctrinating them with a philosophy you do not subscribe to. We need less government assistance and interference in our school system, not more.
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Ramp Up the Rhetoric!

Originally published in the Jacksonville Observer

Patriots protest! Silence is shameful. Citizens! The country is in crisis and the Congress is culpable. Ramp up the Rhetoric!

The recent shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the killing of District Court Judge John Roll in Arizona likely had nothing to do with political rhetoric. It was, as is so often is the case, the culmination of the long downward descent of a disturbed young man. Why then are so many politicians saying that we need to be careful of what we say?

The reason is because what we are saying is true.
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Refusing to Fly

Originally published in the Jacksonville Observer

Fly? I have decided that unless I commandeer an aircraft, I shall never fly anywhere again. I cannot imagine flying anywhere for any purpose, for any amount of money that justifies the indignities that one must presently endure.
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Politics and Party Loyalty

Originally published in the Jacksonville Observer

There are some folks who think you can say you are a member of a political party and attack your own party’s candidates during an election. I disagree.

We have a multiparty system in this country. Not a two-party system as some would say, for anyone can form a party. If you don’t like the one you are in, you can find another.

The preferred method of gaining political power is to organize the voters and deliver them to the polls on Election Day. You do this by first committing to organize your neighbors and your friends. This means you talk to each one and find out who agrees with you politically, and work on convincing those who don’t. You ask them if they will vote with you when it is time to vote.

The next step is to organize your block, and get someone to agree to be a block captain who will find those who agree with you politically, and work on convincing those who don’t. Then you organize the next block, and so forth. After that you organize a phone chain or email list or text message blast, or twitter group of the voters who agree with you politically. None of this requires that you belong to a political party.

If you are a true believer and totally committed, eventually you will have organized so many blocks and friends and email addresses that you will be able to marshal all the voters in a precinct or maybe in several precincts to go and vote with you. At some point somebody decides to hold a meeting. When you get up to the size where you become a viable recognized party the objective is simple: Elect your people at every level to every office so that your program will be implemented, and your members will be hired for all non-elected positions so your program will be supported.

What is required now is for you to maintain party discipline. How is this done? You have to control who the candidate is. It is essential that the candidate is someone who agrees with your members politically, because if they don’t it is nearly impossible to get everyone in the group to support and vote for the candidate. This is where in my opinion the major parties have fallen down on the job.

Candidates should be vetted and approved by the local precincts in the executive committees before they even dare run in a primary. They should be known quantities, not only by the rich and powerful, but by the rank and file. It is the rank and file through their representatives at the Executive committee who should choose the candidate, because they are the ones who will make phone calls, give money, walk precincts, and vote for the candidate. The primary should be a contest between two well-vetted candidates.

Nevertheless even if the party has fallen down on its responsibilities to keep ideology pure, maintain consensus, and properly vet candidates it is the responsibility of the member to work within the party to set it right, and to work to elect party candidates. If you cannot do that the only honorable thing to do is to resign and go somewhere else. You cannot claim to be for the party, and then work against it.

No one is more critical of the process and candidates than I, and as all know I am merciless with elected officials of our party. During the primary season I go about as a raging bear. But, after the primary process is over, I know that our candidate is the best candidate that the Republican Party has been able to produce. The alternative, usually a Socialist Democrat is absolutely unacceptable.

Election time is a time for unity. I will wait to criticize Republicans after they are elected and in a position to do something about it, and they will hear me because I have done whatever I can to support them with my time, my money and my vote. If I absolutely abhor a candidate, I will shut my mouth because voting for him is still better than voting for a Democrat. I will go and work for another Republican candidate I do like. When Republicans win, the Party wins and we move closer to our goal of establishing republican philosophy and practice in government here and in Washington.

All men are imperfect. But as Ben Franklin said “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” The people on the other side are presently seeking our fortunes, but it seems to me that if they become firmly entrenched, they will soon be seeking our lives. All that is left to us is our honor, and this must be expressed either as party loyalty or our resignation from it. I am a Republican, I know what it means to be a Republican, and if my party occasionally forgets, I will remind them, and be happy to do it while working to elect Republicans, and only Republicans, to political office.

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Church Politics

Originally published in the Jacksonville Observer

I don’t believe that there is a separation of church and state. If you are a member of church and you vote, you know what I mean.

I have been visiting various churches for several weeks with a candidate who I am hoping will be elected to office in a few days. There is nothing is wrong with this as far as I can tell. We are both Christians, we come for church school and stay for the service. We worship and we don’t talk about politics. We are introduced as any new visitor might be and mention is made that the candidate is offering himself for public service. Other than that we a just like any other visitors. We have attended a diverse variety of churches, diverse both culturally and theologically. Everywhere we went we were welcomed, had a good time at the Bible study and the service which focused almost exclusively on spiritual matters. But last Sunday we attended the Bethel Institutional Baptist Church under the preaching of Bishop Rudy W. McKissick, Junior and, of all people, the Reverend Al Sharpton.

Things I heard there were startling.

In Bethel, I heard McKissick say a few times that I was in a “Black” church. He said that everyone had to vote because “otherwise ‘they’ were going to shut it down.” I heard Sharpton say that Obama shouldn’t be blamed and that “Obama didn’t say ‘yes I can’ but ‘yes we can.’” When I heard these things I felt that I and “my kind” were not welcome.

So no one will be mistaken, I want to say that the Bethel Institutional Baptist Church is a fine Baptist church full of wonderful Christian people. The Gospel of Jesus the Christ was solidly preached both by Bishop McKissick, Jr., and delightfully by the Reverend Al Sharpton. It was wonderful to find out that even if we disagree most strenuously on political issues yet he is my brother in Christ. As an eclectic lover of music, I found the song service exhilarating and the choir inspirational. In the Bible study I found a bunch of old men just like me who love the Lord and the Word of God. Everyone was gracious and loving and friendly.

There is an old joke about the priest, who during the homily exhorts the congregation to “not to forget to vote on re-election day.” Well fine. If a pastor wants to express his own political viewpoint around election time he should be able to, but he might consider doing it gently so as not to offend those of a differing opinion. A pastor should preach the Gospel fearlessly not caring if he offends anyone. However, when it comes to politics he would do well to remember that “there is none righteous, no not one.” James Madison writes in Federalist 51: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” So in church at least I think it is a good idea to remember that neither side has all the answers.

When Bishop McKissick, Jr. says “they are going to shut it down” he cannot be talking about anybody but the Republicans unless, of course, he is only talking about the patriots. For it is becoming obvious that one way or another we are going to shut it down, before we are robbed of all our money by a government that has been out of control for decades. Now surely there had to be a few Republicans in that crowd, I think perhaps more than a few. But it is impolite to interrupt a preacher you see, when just anybody can throw a tomato at a politician.

It is offensive for an anointed believer in Jesus Christ, to be referred to as “they.” I have as much right to be in that church whether I am a Democrat or a Republican, and I am just as much a part of the priesthood of believers as McKissick or Sharpton. He knew I was there, he could have just as well said I was going to shut it down, because I am. But then of course he would have had to give me an opportunity to tell the congregation what “it” was.

Calling Bethel a “Black” church is outrageous. Should other churches start referring to themselves as “White” churches? Are we going to segregate the Fount of Living Water as we once segregated regular water fountains?

The good bishop should take note that there is no room in the Kingdom of God for black churches; any more than there is room in the Kingdom for white churches. There is only room for God’s church where all men of all colors are brothers and where each thinks the other more worthy than himself.

Ya’ll go vote now.

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Council Members only Pretend to be Republican

Originally published in the Jacksonville Observer

I am tired of men like Dick Brown, Mike Corrigan, Ronnie Fussell, Kevin Hyde, Stephen Joost, Art Shad and especially the President of the City Council, Jack Webb pretending that they are Republicans and voting like Nancy Pelosi.

Let me say this publicly so no one will be surprised when I repeat it at the Republican Executive Committee or at any other Republican meeting I attend. All of those boys who voted for the tax increase need to get out of Republican politics. If you are a fellow Republican, you should be saying it too, everywhere you go. They have either been paid off by big money contributors, or think that they are able to buy votes by giving other people your money. Maybe it is just that they have become closet Socialists, or simply don’t give a darn about the people whom they represent and what they want. Maybe they are just too dim-witted to understand their duty.

Dick Brown, Mike Corrigan, Ronnie Fussell, Kevin Hyde, Stephen Joost, Art Shad, and Jack Webb are an embarrassment to every decent Republican who believes in smaller government and lower taxes. Just listen to them talk now! Listen to them blow smoke, and I don’t mean smoke rings in the air. They drone on about the process, how difficult and complicated it is, and how vast and diverse a constituency they have. Normally we are resigned to have to listen to this political double-speak and move on. But we simply cannot afford it any longer. These men are lying, plain and simple and they can no longer be allowed to speak in such a manner.

They are the ones who voted for the budget and they could have voted against it. Clay Yarborough voted against it, because as usual he was too honest to do anything else. Glorious Johnson, who doesn’t have enough sense to register as a Republican, still had enough sense to vote against it, because all the padding and patronage in it goes against her basic sense of patriotism. The Republican rock of the City Council, Don Redman voted against it. Republicans Bill Bishop, Richard Clark, and even Ray Holt voted against it. What is wrong with the other Republican men who voted for this onerous tax increase?

These men knew what needed to be cut and it wasn’t police or fire or any of the other utilities. In fact they were given a list of sixty-seven million dollars of possible budget cuts from the attorneys and accountants of Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County, a group whose sole motivation is to prevent government from stealing our money.

When city officials take our money by taxing us and spending it on special interest projects or to redistribute income they are committing the crime of robbery. Taxation without representation is robbery and the men who do it are criminals, highwaymen pretending to be Republicans. Besides the CTDC, citizens and other organizations showed up in droves to the hearing to tell the council not to vote for taxes and to tell them specifically what they should cut. Dick Brown, Mike Corrigan, Ronnie Fussell, Kevin Hyde, Stephen Joost, Art Shad, and Jack Webb had a clear choice and plenty of options and the one they chose was to screw the citizens, again. They screwed their fellow citizens and their fellow Republicans who voted them into office. They make Republicans look bad and now the time has come to vote them out.

It is just beyond the pale to think that they will be allowed to come into the Executive Committee or Republican club meetings to be honored and recognized and politely applauded for. No, instead they need to be cat called, booed and shown the door so that in the future no Republican candidate in his right mind would ever consider taking the actions that these men have taken while in office. My fellow Republicans should not shirk from making their displeasure known, nor should they be afraid of offending the party “elite.” I mean what’s the worst thing that can happen; you won’t be invited to the next fund raiser?

Dick Brown, Mike Corrigan, Ronnie Fussell, Kevin Hyde, Stephen Joost, Art Shad, and Jack Webb must understand they will not be elected to office again unless and until they have proven by their actions, not just by their speech, that they have got their minds right. Next time I see them in person, you can be sure I will tell them how I really feel. I hope you do too. In the meantime I urge them to stop pretending to be Republicans and to go and register as Democrats, so that they can strut and preen upon the stage hugging Barney Frank and kissing Hilary Clinton while they assure everyone they are willing to take your money to provide for the needs of everyone and anyone who will vote for them.

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Liberty & Taxes

Transcript of the the remarks* given to the Jacksonville City Council on Tuesday, September 28, 2010, by Louis William Rose regarding the proposal to increase taxes.

Thank you Mr. President and members of the council. My name is Louis William Rose and I stand for Liberty and the Republican Liberty Caucus.

Today I’d like to talk to you briefly on the idea of liberty and taxes. Continue reading

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The Milk Party is Milking It

Originally published in the Jacksonville Observer

The Milk Party (aka The Children’s Movement of Florida) says that “the well-being and education of our children in Florida must be the highest priority of government, business, non-profit institutions and families.” The Milk Party says that “Our Children Deserve Better” and I agree with them. Who wouldn’t agree with them?
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Poem: A Toast to the Constitution

A simple document in seven parts
An easy read, including the amendments
Compelling words that stir up young men’s hearts
To sacrifice their lives for independence

And sacrifice they did, that holy number
Was yearly multiplied in foreign fields
In hopes the world would learn and long remember
What freedom meant and what its harvest yields

Tell me, what kind of harvest has she gleaned?
Her clauses made to be of no effect
Her ten enumerated rights demeaned
Her great republic weakened by neglect

Cry out across our country’s length and breadth
The Constitution! Liberty or death!

Not long after the battle of Yorktown, in 1781, the revolutionary war hero Marquis de Lafayette wrote home to France. ‘Here,” he said, “humanity has won its battle, liberty now has a country.” Shall we not be willing to fight that battle once again?

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Make No Mistake, It’s Still Liberty or Death!

Originally published in the Jacksonville Observer

I know that I am the odd man out when I say I could care less about the Jaguars. But given that, you must admit that professional football is a fantasy world where the players (Boselli and a few others noted exceptions) don’t care anything about the town where their team happens to be located. The Jaguars will play here, they will play in Detroit , they will play in Beijing if the money is right. And pro-football aficionados get all excited about it, like they were a college team from their Alma Mammy. This is also the problem with the Republican Party. Put on the uniform and we will cheer for you no matter who you are.
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Property Rights and Environmental Public Policy

Originally posted on the Florida Student Philosophy Blog

Indeed, the principal reason why, in the first place, states and cities were ever organized at all was to defend private property. – Cicero 1

In 1772, shortly before the beginning of the Revolutionary War, Samuel Adams, who was a member of the Committee of Correspondence to the Boston Town Meeting, wrote the following:

Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: first, the right to life; secondly, to liberty; thirdly, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. Those are evident branches of, rather than deductions from, the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature.2

Adams and the other founders of our constitutional republic felt strongly that the right to property is a fundamental part of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nevertheless, it seems reasonable that even those who go as far as to deny the validity of eminent domain must acknowledge that to the extent the individual use of property affects other members of the community, both immediately and in the future, the community develops a legitimate interest in that use. Environmental public policy attempts to manage that interest, but is often a blunt and ineffective instrument due to a lack of scientific understanding about the long-term effects of such policies, and because of the political and financial self-interests that often drive them. This essay addresses the political and moral implications associated with the restriction of personal liberty and property rights by government that may be deemed necessary in the name of environmental protection.

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Toward a Clearer Understanding of Universal Human Rights

Originally posted on the Florida Student Philosophy Blog

It was never the people who complained of the universality of human rights,
nor did the people consider human rights as a Western or Northern imposition. It was often their leaders who did so.
-Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General

When considering the subject of human rights it seems to me most likely that an individual would begin by considering how she would like to be treated by others. After all it is in herself, excepting perhaps her children, in which she has the greatest interest, has made the greatest investment, and is the greatest stakeholder. This question is of primary concern to the individual almost from the moment of birth. Only after a careful consideration of self-interest would the question of how others should then be treated reasonably arise.

It is because humans have been created with an overarching sense of self interest that God links the standard for our behavior in all aspects of life to it.

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for these sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matt 7:12, NIV) 1

The “others” referred to being the individuals within her immediate sphere. Given an increase in intellect and maturity, that number may progressively expand until she should arrive at the question, “How then should all the people of the world rightly be treated?” 2 The influence of family and cultural traditions may have a profound impact upon such reasoning depending upon the individual’s strength of intellect and character. The normative claims that we make regarding what comprises right and just conduct of humans toward each other subsequently gives rise to all the specific definitions of human rights and responsibilities.

Even as we sing “It’s a Small World After All” 3 we realize that because of the vast cultural and political diversity among earth’s peoples “it’s not one world.” 4 Nevertheless men and women of good will strive toward the goal that all humans would be able to enjoy the rights to which they are entitled and the peace and happiness that those rights might engender. Jay Drydyk, author of Globalization and Human Rights agrees, believing that there is a possibility of integrating “the values emerging from the human rights and other social movements that are developing worldwide.” Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain, one of the drafters of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights felt that there were concepts of basic human rights that most everyone could agree upon without having to agree upon the underlying reasoning for them. But it should also be noted that there were no actual signatories to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was instead ratified by a unanimous non-binding proclamation.

There are those who have doubts that the nations of the world can ever agree on what the canon of human rights should comprise, let alone work to universally guarantee them. In their essay Human Rights; A Western Construct With Limited Applicability, left-wing political theorists, Adamantia Pollis and Peter Schwab, argue that the debate has been dominated by Western conceptions of human rights that do not translate over to other cultures where, they maintain, economic rights are more important than political rights, and collectivism rather than individualism is the cultural mode. The authors make the claim that the UN Declaration is “predicated on the assumption that Western values are paramount and ought to be extended to the-non-Western world.” I must take issue with the authors’ assumptive language that these values should be classified as “Western.” Throughout this essay, I shall argue that the Law of Nature and of Nature’s God5 are the wellspring of human rights and responsibilities and as such are universally, easily, and equally applicable to all and that because of this evidence of them may be found in all cultures. 6

The fact is that the conditions of abject poverty and oppression that exist in parts of the world today mirror almost identically conditions in the ancient histories of western cultures and it reasonable to assume that over time those cultures will go though similar processes of economic and political maturity. 7 I do not see the logic in Pollis’ and Schwab’s suggestion that those who argue that “human rights as a Western concept based on natural right should become the [universal] standard for all nations should acknowledge that this is only one particular value system.” The authority of rights distilled from the Law of Nature is rooted in the claim that this law is both universal and metaphysical, and its defenders therefore should never acknowledge it to be just one theory among many.

In his essay, Conditions of an Unforced Consensus on Human Rights, Charles Taylor refers to the idea “that human society stands under a Law of Nature, who origin is the Creator” as an “older notion”. It is important to note that the idea of the Law of Nature or a reasonable facsimile thereof remains the prevailing opinion among people of faith, who it should also be noted still make up the overwhelming majority of humanity. Whether reformed Christian, Roman or Orthodox Catholic, Conservative or Orthodox Jew, all assent to both a written and natural law authored by the one true God,. The Hindus gives recognition of Dharma (The Right Way). Sun Tsu instructs the Chinese saying, “If conduct is not in accord with ‘The Right Way’ and action not in accord with righteousness, then albeit one’s position is important and honorable, misfortune will overtake him.”8 For the Buddhists it is “Tao” (The Way), and for Japanese practitioners of Zen it is referred as “Do.” Rather than an older notion, the recognition of natural law and metaphysics still remains the primary mode of thought, with existentialism and secular ethical theory relegated to the enclave of a relatively tiny group of intellectuals.

Nevertheless, the manner in which the Law of Nature is applied in different cultures is broadly diverse. Pollis and Schwab claim that “[t]raditional cultures did not view the individual as autonomous and possessed of rights above and prior to society” and that “the individual was conceived of as an integral part of a greater whole, of a “group”. In answer I would say that descriptive terms such as “clans”, “tribes”, “states”, and “nations” are intellectual constructs based upon the naturally occurring nuclear and extended family along with its near universal manifestation of patriarchal rule most notably in the absence of more sophisticated forms of government in primitive cultures. While children and adults of weak character may voluntarily submit to the status quo and independent free thinkers may be compelled to do so by force, the existence of any political or cultural standard depends at every moment upon the tacit agreement and cooperation of the individuals who are a part of it. These structures continue to exist among those nations that have made much of personal sovereignty and individual rights and still exercise tremendous influence in defining role and status, the difference being that in these enlightened cultures the right of the individual to work to change their own status, should they desire to do so, is clearly recognized. There is always group membership in any culture, it being the very nature of human existence, and commonly described as the right of freedom of association. Yet, the standard of good and evil that all groups are judged by, whether monarchies or democracies, capitalist or communist, is the status and worth of the individual to and within that group. To deal with the claim that traditional cultures did not view the individual as autonomous and possessed of rights above and prior to society, I will offer the following several examples.

It seems clear to me that by observing any newborn child one can see and hear how loudly it complains when it concludes that it is being deprived of its basic right to life in the form of the care and succor of its mother. Mothers accordingly are loathe to part with their newborn because they instinctively recognize their right of ownership of that child and its right of association with its family. Toddlers demonstrate their understanding of their right to property by a natural resistance to share their toys. Men strive with each other, sometimes to the death, in the pursuit of happiness that has presented itself in the form of a woman. Faced with the prospect of impending death by combat, individuals become acutely aware of a “right” to life. These situations are universal among humans irrespective of their culture as are the feelings which they elicit, gut reactions to the Law of Nature written in men’s hearts. 9 All human rights are therefore recognized and exercised by individuals in response to their own normative judgments about what is right. Jay Drydyk touches upon this in the footnote to his comment about the remarkable concurrence of opinions regarding “knowledge of care, neglect, and abuse.” In footnote seventeen, he remarks that this “knowledge of how people are to be cared for and supported” that we all seem to have in common is “a cultural reservoir of knowledge based on current and received experience.” He says that we all recognize good care, i.e. the practical application of human rights, and therefore can recognize abuse, which amounts to the abuse of those rights. But Drydyk fails to explain how, given the wide diversity of cultures, we should all come to the same conclusions on these crucial issues. I would suggest it is because we receive our instruction by our common observance of the Law of Nature.

Drydyk describes five varying views regarding the Eurocentricity of human rights. He speaks of triumphalists who hold that only Western cultures can support advanced concepts of human rights, and rejectionists who reject entirely the validity of Western thought on human rights. Next, he speaks of assimilationists who desire to promulgate western human rights concepts across all cultures, and revisionists who maintain that all cultures who have their own systems of human rights. Finally there are transformationalists who view cultures as having imperfect views on human rights that are either defective in that they are not universally inclusive of other cultures, or incomplete in that they do not acknowledge the complete range of human rights, or both. Defending the transformationalist view, he frames the idea of human rights as an appeal for “social protection from against standard threats” that humans encounter. I find this problematic in that it seems to me that the most often result of such appeals in real life is the increase of the threat itself, or the abrogation of other freedoms in the guise of assistance. Instead, I would offer a contrasting view of human rights as that state of dignity afforded individuals of noble character for which they are willing to sacrifice their lives rather than relinquish. Such individuals have made a commitment not to allow their rights to be trodden upon, their proper speech to be silenced, their right to worship God as they see fit abrogated, their children to be taken, their property to be stolen, or to in any way allow themselves to be defrauded of a host of other rights and privileges, without returning blow for blow, steel for steel, bullet for bullet, and life for life. Feminists like Charlotte Bunch say that the rights of women need to be recognized as a special class. But I say let a woman exercise her natural right of self-defense; keeping a dagger in her bodice and plunging it into the heart of the man who would rape or beat her, and if she is too weak, to entreat her sisters come and do it for her. Once it becomes clear that women are willing to do this, society will move quickly to ensure that such situations become a rarity. If a woman finds that she is paid less than a man, let her exercise her natural right of freedom of association and form a union to demand fair wages, or bring an end to the business of the owner that refuses to pay it by refusing to work and by exhorting others to refuse to submit to unfair labor conditions. 10 There need be no special categories of rights for specific groups, but rather specific groups should be encouraged and organized to forcefully exercise their natural rights.

I maintain that it is the individual who is ultimately responsible for upholding the Law of Nature and not the state. Was the hero of Tian’anmen Square merely a dupe for the advancement of Western values? What of the people of Taiwan, or the capitalist enclave that is Hong Kong? Have they all been assimilated? Rather, I think that they have come to the independently reasoned conclusion that the Law of Nature is superior to the law of Mao and must be upheld at any cost. Charles Taylor takes issue with this view saying that the idea that “individuals are the possessors of rights … encourages people to be self-regarding and leads to an atrophied sense of self belonging.” To this I would reply that a mature understanding of the Law of Nature, including its illumination in the Ten Commandments of the Living God, delineates a complete system of not only personal rights but of responsibilities to God and to our fellow human beings.

Pollis and Schwab note that “The Universal Declaration maintains in Article 17 that “everyone has the right to own property yet in many cultures, among them the Gojami-Amhara of Ethiopia, land is owned communally and there is no ‘right’ to individual ownership of holdings” What they fail to mention is that the Amhara still remain a very primitive culture representing little more than an sangunial extension of the nuclear family (clans) that would be expected to hold all things in common. 11 Division of property is patrilineal (those pesky patriarchs again) and rules for the division of property due to divorce clearly defined. 12 Violent conflict over property rights are prevalent among the Amhara suggesting that they have a clear understanding of the Law of Nature as it relates to the right of property. 13 Pollis and Schawab seem to favor communal ownership of property and mention China where again extended sanguinal extended family groups also referred to as ‘clans’ seem to be the rule. Again, such clans still operate under patriarchal rule, with strong matriarchal control of the home and family life, reminiscent I think of present conditions in the state of Virginia. Nevertheless as late as March 2007, one nuclear family in China was waging their own property rights battle against the government by “refusing to move out of their two-story home…the only building left standing atop a mound in a 10-meter-deep construction pit.” 14 The couple makes much of the reference to property rights in Article 13 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, even though to my mind it clearly affords a right of eminent domain to the government. Nevertheless, it seems a stretch to conclude that they have risked so much on a willing acceptance of Western rights. I think it much more logical to conclude that their courage is bolstered by the realization that their own nation’s constitution is firmly in alignment with the Law of Nature, that is to say, the ‘right way’, even if the day to day operation of their government is not.

The transformationalists miss the point, I think, in their appraisal that groups who limit the protection of human rights to their own members are defective. It requires a massive exercise of will to secure rights for oneself and for the group. Ultimately you have to be willing to die freely and to kill happily in their defense. Accordingly, the farther you expand the numbers of those individuals whose rights you are willing to personally ensure, the more difficult the task becomes. It is enough that we make the decision to secure our own rights within our own borders and encourage others to secure theirs. 15 Those individuals disenfranchised within their own borders must rise up and demand their own rights as Spartacus’ men demanded theirs, no matter what the cost. Those who perceive gross injustice in their midst must speak and act against it, as John Brown did no matter what the cost. This philosophy is not, as Charles Taylor would maintain, in opposition to the Buddhist demands of nonviolence. Buddha himself was a member of the warrior caste and Buddhist doctrine over the past several years has been used to justify going to war in Sri Lanka, Tibet and Japan. 16 The warriors of Japan were practitioners of Zen who, like my fellow Presbyterians, were taught to live lives of simplified beauty, avoiding violence and striving to live at peace with all men as far as was possible, right up to moment when it became necessary to cut their enemies heads off.

Our responsibility to right wrongs outside our borders is limited, by our economic resources and by our limitations as humans to understand the cultural and political situation on the ground. Tip O’Neil remarked that all politics is local, and we must take this admonition to heart. Charles Taylor allows that all cultures condemn “genocide, murder, torture, and slavery.” I would suggest that these feelings of condemnation are strongest when injustices are perpetrated against their own countrymen. Where it has become obvious that another government is defrauding its citizens of their civil rights, I would argue for the classical liberal non-interventionist policy of promoting peace and commerce between nations, and avoiding political and military alliances as the best method to ensure that the greatest number shall regain those rights. 17 Leading by example, making friendships through trade, and exerting influence by quiet informal conversation with others, especially those just entering public life is the best policy. The alternative is to maintain that we have a moral responsibility to liberate all oppressed people all over the world. By this logic, to tarry while others are sorely oppressed makes us out to be heartless cowards or worse, to be complicit in their enslavement. On the other hand, to interfere in these situations leaves us open to charges of being imperialistic invaders. Even if we should be aligned with the whole world against a rogue nation, there will be good and honest citizens within that nation who will justified in mounting a vigorous insurgency, preferring even an unjust local sovereign, to that of a foreign occupation.

Continuing to comment on Drydyk’s lionization of the transformationists, the idea that “the lists of human rights that can be generated from received cultural norms are generally incomplete” seems to me an exceptionally valid point. Consider the Ninth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States which states “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” The inference here is that human rights are so numerous that they are impossible to be completely codified. In my essay, On Parliamentary Procedure, 18 I give a definition of liberty as being is “the ability to do what I want, when I want, without interference, in order that some good may be accomplished.” I have a human right to do that which is right, and the possibilities are endless ranging from the right to arm myself in order ensure my personal safety, to the right to put too much mustard and salt on my steak. While these rights are limitless in number, they are however limited in scope. I have a right to life, but not an eternal right at least not in this earthly sphere. I have a right to work in the field in order to sustain my life, but I have not the right to work in your field if you object. You have the right to assemble, but not to assemble a gang of thieves to prey on me and mine. In these cases it may be beneficial for a government of my peers to which I have directly or tacitly ceded authority to use its power to intervene acting as an impartial mediator to resolve such questions lest war between the parties ensue. However, as I have heard W.G. Pitts19 say, government may only do what is lawful for its citizens to do individually. The idea that:

Democratic government is perceived as an institutional framework through which the goals of the state are to be achieved, and if it fails or becomes an impediment it can be dispensed with impunity. Individual political rights, so revered in the West, at most take second place to the necessity of establishing the legitimacy of the new group — the state — and to the priority of economic rights that necessitate economic modernization. (Pollis and Schwab)

is the very definition of totalitarian oppression, and that Pollis and Schwab, allegedly born and educated in our fair republic, should lend credence to this concept is appalling.

Any one has a right to obtain food and clothing and shelter, but they may not violate the rights of another by taking that which has provided by another’s labor for themselves without the other’s express consent. For otherwise they are guilty of theft, and an individual may rightly exercise their right of defense against it, irrespective of whether the perpetrator is climbing in their bedroom window, or getting the government to steal it for them. The case might be made that within the within the confines of the family everyone has the right to a fair and equal standard of living, but it can never be agreed as Article 25 of the Universal Declaration states that:

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

This statement is impossible on its face in that no one is willing or able to foot the bill for it. Everyone has the right to access opportunities to provide such things for themselves but such things cannot be guaranteed, because it is the nature of people not to work for things that are guaranteed to them. Experiments of this type were settled as early as the Jamestown Settlement in the 1600’s. Those who do not work shall not eat. 20 Government has no money of its own, whether local or global. In order to provide such extensive guarantees a government would have to tax its productive citizens onerously, not to mention what indentures they might demand of those to those whom they make such provision. Productive citizens would then be hampered from providing these essentials for themselves and their families and would respond as they have always responded, by curtailing their production to the bare minimum, hiding their income to avoid paying unjust taxes, and eventually by making war upon the government that seeks to rob them. Charity is a virtue it is true. To share the fruits of one’s labor with the unfortunate should be encouraged, but to compel it is to commit robbery and to court violence.

In many cases even if we should decide that what another person does is not within their rights, we are not properly credentialed to make or execute such judgments. If a woman, with cavalier disregard for the beauty and sanctity of life destroys the fruit of her womb, it seems to me that she has the right to do so. It is the defense of her body, her property, and her privacy which is paramount and while she may not escape eternal judgment, it is not our right to stop her. If two men desire to enter into a tri-partite marriage with a polo pony and find a third person outrageous enough to perform the ceremony, it seems to me that they have the right to do so. They have a right of free speech, religion, association and privacy (which hopefully they will vigorously exercise) and while we may scorn them, shun them, ignore them, or ridicule them, we cannot by right prevent them. So government is not properly in the business of enumerating rights and implementing programs to enhance them for it is an impossible and unending task. The Law of Nature has not been established to be enforced by men or for men to use to judge each other. Surely God will do that in His time. 21 Rather it should inform and guide us in our dealings and treatment of our fellows. It is enough that government should be compelled to observe the basic civil and political rights of its citizens found within the Law of Nature and be careful by its own actions not to infringe upon them.


Drydek, Jay. “Globalization and Human Rights,” In Moral Issues in Global Perspective, Volume 1: Moral and Political Theory, ed. Christine Koggel. Broadview Press, 2006.

Pollis, Adamantia, and Peter Schwab. “Human Rights: A Western Construct with Limited Applicability”. s.l: s.n, 1978.

Taylor, Charles, “Conditions of an unforced consensus on human rights”, monograph, Department of Philosophy, McGill University

1. For an in-depth analysis see my essay, “Dr. Gert and the Golden Rule”. http://www.louisrose.com/goldenrule.htm
2. See Luke 10:25-37 for the definitive answer.
3. It’s a Small World After All. Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. Wonderland Music Co., Inc. 1963
4. Paul Harvey Aurandt (September 4, 1918 – February 28, 2009) Radio commentator. One of the last regular features on his nationally syndicated program was, It’s Not One World in which he recounted extreme examples of the wide diversity of human behavior and the depths of depravity to which it may sink.
5. Note: Archimedes is credited with saying, “Give me a place to stand and I will move the earth.” Consequently I think it is an aid to the reader to know the basic stand taken by the philosophic writer. I adhere to the presumptive claims that: Man is a dichotomy of body and soul; that there is a metaphysical world beyond the natural: that God is and has revealed himself to us by general revelation through our world and by specific revelation through His Word and His only son Jesus the Christ; that there are absolutes of right and wrong, good and evil, beauty and ugliness, and these and all ethical standards can be properly discerned only by reference to the Law of Nature and the commandments of nature’s living God.
6. Sounds like a thesis statement to me!
7. Assuming of course that all cultures are not equally valid, that some are superior to others, and that all (especially the present state of North American culture) would benefit from a process of continuing improvement.
8. Sun Tzu. The Art of War. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1963. 197 p.Translated and with an introduction by Samuel B. Griffith.
9. Summa Theologica of St Thomas Aquinas, Article 6: Whether the Law of Nature can be abolished from the heart of man? Also Jeremiah 31:33, Romans 2:15,
10. It is important to remember here that nothing prevents an employee from becoming an employer, at least in this fair land, and that the decision to work for someone else brings with it the duty to be reasonably subordinate to that employer.
11. Hundie, Bekel. Property Rights among Afar Pastoralists of Northeastern Ethiopia: Forms, Changes and Conflicts. Humboldt University of Berlin. http://www.ilri.org/Link/Publications/Publications/Theme%201/Pastoral%20conference/Papers/Hundie%20property%20rights_ILRI%20conference.pdf
12. http://www.everyculture.com/Africa-Middle-East/Amhara-Marriage-and-Family.html
13. Hundie
14. Xin Dingding. Defiant couple stave off wrecking ball. China Daily. March 24. 2007 http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2007-03/24/content_835539.htm
15. That is to say within the boundaries of the county and the state. Surely by this time, with the passing of the Patriot Act, it has become clear that the federal government disenfranchises and enslaves far more than it protects.
16. Faure, Bernard. Unmasking Buddhism. Chichester, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. P. 130
17. Paul, Ron. A Foreign Policy of Freedom: “Peace, Commerce, and Honest Friendship”. Lake Jackson, TX: Foundation for Rational Economics and Education, 2007.
18. http://unfspb.wordpress.com/2008/06/30/on-parliamentary-procedure/
19. Chairman, Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida 2009
20. 2 Thessalonians 3:10
21. Hebrews 9:27-28 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.

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Dr. Dale Jamieson on ‘The Moral and Political Challenges of Climate Change’

Originally posted on the Florida Student Philosophy Blog

On Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010 I attended a lecture by Dr. Dale Jamieson, director of environmental studies at New York University, on “The Moral and Political Challenges of Climate Change” at the University of North Florida.

Dr. Jamieson noted at both the beginning and end of his lecture that the nature of global climate change presents an almost insoluble problem. He gave a brief overview of the scientific findings over the past century including the work of Drs. Arrhenius (i.) and Plass.(ii.) He went on to quote oceanographer Roger Revelle and geophysicist Hans Suess stating that by releasing the large quantities of carbon previously stored in fossil fuels into the atmosphere, humans are conducting a giant geophysical experiment without considering the results.(iii.) There is much evidence to suggest that climate change is caused by man, and groups such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have concluded that this is the case.(iv.) Nevertheless, Dr. Jamieson would not acknowledge that there are literally hundreds of other reputable climatologists from respected universities who discount the theory that human beings are making a significant impact upon the earth’s climate. (V.) He did note that the progression of climate change would not be affected for over a thousand years even if action to reverse the process were to begin to be taken today.

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Mixing Religion with Politics

Originally published in the Jacksonville Observer

It is impossible to keep religion out of politics. Why, you ask? Because a few folks involved in politics actually know God, and others have strong religious beliefs that supersede and drive their political agenda.

Our religious beliefs may have everlasting significance. In comparison, the history of the United States spans less than three-hundred years. Our First Amendment right of religious liberty ensures that each man and woman has the right to seek the truth about the existence of God without interference from the government. Our First Amendment right of freedom of association recognizes that we join with like-minded individuals in order to ensure that our political, social, religious, and philosophical beliefs will prevail. This is the essence of politics.

My personal testimony is that God continues to interact with mankind. Surely, the living God can make Himself known to anyone He chooses. Therefore, it follows that an individual should not accept blindly the claims that others make about the nature of God, including the claims that I make here. In the political arena I rely on the idea of natural law, believing that God is the author of it. God’s law is not capricious but rather is it supremely practical and logical. Therefore, when we make political arguments in support of a particular policy, we must make rational arguments based on natural law that may reasonably be accepted by adherents of all faiths and by the atheist as well. This is our responsibility as members of a civil republic where freedom of thought and religion is acknowledged, and the rights of all are protected.

Those who know the Lord God and are known by Him, have an obligation to seek, and obey His will. We are also called to cooperate with each other. We should have pity on, rather than condemn those who have not met Him and befriend, be of service to, and pray for them. After all, aside from being the recipients of God’s grace and Christ’s mercy we are of no better character than our fellow citizens, and are frequently much worse.

Both atheists and believers can be liberal or conservative. An atheist or a believer in God may be honest and upright or a low-down skunk, as is clearly evident in both the Republican and Democratic parties. What then are citizens to do in order to ensure that their opinions and beliefs are adequately represented? They have no choice but to make it their business to know both their neighbors’ character and beliefs. To be represented they must find, associate, and cooperate with those who have similar views and work to select and elect candidates who actually represent them. They must also punish severely those candidates who do not effectively represent them when Election Day rolls around. It is not enough to merely vote, or occasionally show up at a rally. We must act now to secure our families, our neighborhoods, and county precincts, if we are to once again secure our state and the nation. In this Advent season, those who lift up the name of Christ may take up their political duties confident that God’s Kingdom will, at the last, come.

(Louis William Rose is a political philosopher and the parliamentarian of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Northeast Florida. You can contact him at http://www.louisrose.com)

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How to Overthrow the Government

Originally published in the Jacksonville Observer

I think that it is way past time that we overthrew the government that is currently in power, and put in some decent, honest folks that know what’s important and what’s not. While it is not the easiest thing in the world to overthrow the government, it is possible, and best of all there is a system already in place to help us do it. Here in Florida it is called the “precinct system.”
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I Want to Live in a City…

Originally published in the Jacksonville Observer

Mayor John Peyton has been fighting a battle with the people of Jacksonville over his irrational desire to raise taxes during a recession. The overwhelming majority of taxpayers don’t want a tax increase and he knows it, and doesn’t care. He has inundated the City with statistics and graphs that are half-truths, easily discernible by a close look at the four-hundred page city budget. Nevertheless the mayor is counting on the fact that most people don’t have the time to read it. He is counting on the fact that most people don’t have the time to come out to meetings and protest because they are too busy working, but that those who depend on the city coffers for their meat and bread have more than enough time to do so.
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What is Wrong

Originally published in the Jacksonville Observer

It seems to me that things are terribly wrong and that my fellow citizens are slipping back into the abyss of subjection and slavery. This is a non-partisan observation. I am not laying the blame at the door of any party, but rather I make the claim that all are culpable, and negligent in their duty.

Many others have recognized our seeming inability to affect the type of change that will stop the political and economic juggernaut that is going to destroy us all. “Change” has been the clarion call of late. “A return to the government of the founders” the cry of others. But I say to you that the single mechanism for individuals to make real change happen has all but been abandoned. It is simply the deliberative meeting where people speak, debate, vote and commit to actually do something. Congress pretends to do this, but it is for the most part just a show. It was to overcome the scourge of tyranny that the founders of this country developed a government based on the common sense rules for conducting a meeting that have their beginnings in ancient Greece and in the tribal councils of the fifth century Anglo-Saxons. Courtesy and justice for all is the goal. Let me describe how it works.

You come to a meeting dedicated to some important subject, for example a meeting about whether to support or oppose an increase in taxes. The person, who has called the meeting, may have a strong opinion about what needs to be done, but if her solution is to be introduced, it will be by someone else; perhaps a friend. Because the meeting is so important, she has volunteered to remain impartial, to ensure that every other voice is heard. This is the first rule.

People do not just talk about their feelings at this meeting. Neither is it devoted to giving out information. The first rule of this meeting is that only action will be discussed, and only one action at a time, so as not to become confusing. There are no enlightened leaders, no big shots, and no party bosses. Everyone is a leader, from poorest to the richest, from the dullest to the brightest, and the person who gets to speak first is the person who stands first and calls out, “Madame Chairman!” Every one is equal, and that is the second rule.

So it happens that the poorest and dullest fellow in the group stands first and addresses the lady who has agreed to be the chairman. “Madame Chairman!” he says, “My name is Louis Rose and I move that we should do this”, and tells her in a few words what he thinks should be done. Someone seconds the motion proving that at least one other person thinks his idea is worth talking about. Then everyone who wishes may speak for a brief time as to whether they think the proposed action is a good idea. They may support or oppose, they may suggest changes. They may speak passionately but they must always speak politely. This is the third rule.

After all those who wish have spoken, the chair calls for a vote. Now everyone understands what everyone else thinks, and they know for a fact precisely on which points they are unified and on what they must continue to learn about so that they may be unified. They vote. This is the exciting part, for here in these small assemblies money means nothing, power means nothing, lying and backstabbing have been swept away in the bright light of reason and debate and they vote! Now they are unified and energized and best of all now they know what they must do, and have committed to do it. This and only this process can bring change for the good. Meetings that do not follow this process are not worth attending. Groups that do not follow this process are at best nothing more than a social club or at worse a bunch of pawns manipulated to believe that those above them really care what they think.

There are no really smart men. Obama, Bush, Clinton, Reagan, Truman, Lincoln, and the drunkard in the gutter have much more in common than that which sets them apart. Aesop tells us that “the tyrant will always find a pretext for his tyranny” if only for the fact that it is easier, and safer for the tyrant to do it that way. The inspired leader has the courage to let the will of the people prevail and more than that, to equip, and encourage even the weakest member to rise up and take the lead. No one is smarter than you and a group of your friends and neighbors and no one more able to effect change, if you will only follow a few simple rules. Some time ago a group of men met to decide what to do about another man who was taxing them unfairly. When they finally decided what to do they mutually pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. I am unconcerned which party you are a member of. I am confident that as a group of citizens you are as good and as competent as those men were. Join together and make decisions to act effectively, and fairly. Act. Together we can fix what is wrong.

This article also appeared in the Jacksonville Observer on July 11, 2009
(Louis William Rose is a political philosopher and the parliamentarian of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Northeast Florida.)

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