All posts by mark johnson

About mark johnson

Mark Johnson is a freelance writer living in the high desert of Southern California. He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from California State University, Los Angeles.

Belief and Proof

Something to think about

Question: From what we are seeing of the current American Government, its politics and the “officials” who populate that Leviathan, how sure can we be that the ideas that drive us to our beliefs are true? Is it possible our world-view is built from lies? How can we know if our entire belief-system was just fed to us from birth?

These are the fundamental questions of self-determination and if they don’t worry us deeply, then we aren’t even trying.

I think we can all agree that Americans are sold and buy everything from toilet paper to Presidents because of what we hear about them. What we hear about them is always propaganda/advertising if that information comes from them and their friends.

Propaganda/advertising was invented in the early 1930’s by Edward Bernays, Woodrow Wilson, the American Manufacturing Association. It’s used to control basic instincts in people and construct their beliefs and direct their behavior by — blah blah blah.[GOOGLE is your friend]

Here’s the point: In a world where lies can be profitable, it’s more important to know how to prove something is true or false than it is to have a wealth of knowledge. Like the old saying, “ The educated person knows how to find information, not remember it.”

This all boils down to trust and proof. If you can’t prove it you must trust what you are told. What could possibly go wrong there?

Unfortunately for American citizens, teaching critical reasoning skills to the “Great Unwashed” is not the goal of the Government and its propaganda/advertising machine. So, State schools teach “facts” but not the skills to prove those “facts” true or false.

At this moment, America is showing the world, again, the power in controlling the hearts and minds of the citizens. In this instance of the old propaganda/advertising formula, it wasn’t even necessary to have a credible, cohesive message for the voters to become President of the United States of America. All it took was a common-folk warning about “The Others”, who can not and should not be Us and the absolution for fearing and hating “Them”.

In a world where lies can be profitable, belief is disaster.


The following posts are my ideas about My World, Politics, Education, and Religion. They aren’t meant to be scholarly articles. I can’t do that, and who reads that stuff? These are just one-sided conversations with non-experts and people who will give ideas some time.

I appreciate the time given to reading my ideas. Thank you. I can promise almost nothing in return, but an honest attempt at some truth.

This Blog is divided into 4 areas of my interest.

My World          Politics           Education           Religion

Each topic is familiar to all of us and these posts are my contributions to the dialogue.

MY WORLD is reached mostly through news services, Blogs, and Social Media. Any one alone is not trustworthy, so if I want to know about something, it will take a search for reliable information. I stay current with a balanced group of international news services, American news services, and Blogs offered by “experts” in their fields. I use an even number of information sources, conservative and liberal, for each American political philosophy – Independent, Democrat, and Republican.

I am an American. I am not a Republican or a Democrat. The difference is significant. When I hear someone is either a Republican or a Democrat, I wonder when and why they decided to stop being an American. The evidence for the clear distinction between Americans and Party Advocates will be a central theme in my POLITICS.

I will argue on these pages that EDUCATON is our best hope for America and so far, it is our greatest failure. I believe we can save ourselves by using the internet in the classrooms for more self-directed teaching, getting rid of tenure, and putting cameras in our classrooms.

My RELIGION is currently a disappointment. Too many people who claim to be closest to Jesus act like they never heard of the Guy as they beat people up with the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. I’m interested in how Jesus became the pendulum swinging between God and Politics.

An ongoing section of this Blog will be a search for information about a line of reasoning offered by Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman in the book, “Manufacturing Consent.”   The collection of articles will be titled

The Vile Maxim

the vile maxim

and it will contain the following 10 sections that work to explain the selling-off of America by a collection of Whores and Traitors:

1.  Reduce Democracy

2.  Shape Ideology

3.  Redesign the Economy

4.  Shift the Burden

5.  Attack Solidarity

6.  Regulate the Regulators

7.  Engineer Elections

8.  Control the People

9.  Manufacture Consent

10.  Marginalize the Population

The internet opens all doors to knowledge. What we can know is only limited by our skills at asking the right questions. This Blog will work to ask the right questions and I’ll give the evidence I find for my opinions.



Add One More to the List  

I’m a little surprised at just how ignorant Americans are of this world, and I am embarrassed by what I see on social media that pretends to be adult conversation about the serious world and national issues.  The world is watching us duck a problem we created by our arrogant and uninformed dealings with sovereign nations in the Middle East.  Against everyone’s advice who ever read a book, we destabilized the Middle East and what is happening now is what we were warned against.  America created most of this immigration problem.  And the coalition countries who followed us into disaster in each Gulf War are taking the brunt of what always comes from our foolishness.

Right this instant there are people, literally, dying to get into this country.  They are coming and we cannot and should not stop them.  What we should do is what we already do, separate the good people from the bad people.  That is just one of the many continual jobs of any country.  We get bad people from other countries and we grow bad people right here at home.  What has ever been new about that?

Is it likely that everyone running for their lives from war-torn and corrupt countries are just bad people?  Is that even reasonable to think about?  Maybe there are going to be just enough bad people coming along with the good people to tip the scale in favor of complete national collapse?  I say no.

There are plenty of good people looking out for bad people.  We catch them all the time.  Some we don’t catch and they will do their damage.  The probability that an immigrant will come here just to do damage to us is actually not as high as the probability that a child born here will do the exact same damage.

In our history, we have said much the same things about every group of people who came to our shores.  The Colonials restricted Catholics.  We tried and often succeeded in placing immigration restrictions on the Irish, the Jews, The Germans, the Italians, the Chinese and Japanese, and our recent history has its own additions to this list.  Now we add fleeing Middle Easterners.

Notice how Catholics, Irish, Germans, Jews, Italians, Chinese, Japanese and Mexicans have managed to settle in without destroying America?  Even though there has been, and will always be, criminals in every ethnic group, we found them out, separated them from the decent people and we moved on.

We should be adults about this Middle East exodus and take some responsibility for our actions.  Maybe we can gain back some of our national honor by doing the right thing.   There is always some bad that hangs around the good.  We will find it out and move on, maybe this time with some earned pride. –MJ


Am I Understanding This Correctly?

If I am understanding this correctly:  The Democrat Party rigged the primaries against a candidate who would have won the general Presidential election, if the primary election had not been rigged.   That doesn’t seem to bother the Democrats or the Justice Department.  In fact, the person who rigged the election process was given a position of importance in the campaign of the candidate that the rigging helped.

Even the stupid resent rigging elections, so who would vote for election-riggers?

It became obvious that one and maybe both candidates take money from sworn enemies of this country to give to other sworn enemies of this country to make wars so we can feed the Military Industrial Complex, which currently eats more than 50% of every dollar generated in America.

The shrinking middle class and working poor notice everything is against them, so they vote against everything.  They don’t understand that their jobs and lifestyles must die in this form of re-distributive economics, but they still want daddy to increase their allowances, just because they have been good sheep.   They never realize sheep are for shearing.




Due Diligence in the Information Age

What is due diligence in the information age?

I came across this meme:

Image result for i am the storm


I wanted to know who said, “Fate whispers to the warrior, you cannot withstand the storm.  The warrior whispers back, I am the storm.”   I wanted to read it in context.

This turned out to be a problem.

I GOOGLE, “ “Fate whispers to the warrior,  you cannot withstand the storm.  The warrior whispers back, I am the storm.”  I got Pinterest as the #1 hit:

There was a variation of the quote that gave the first line as, “the Devil whispers, you cannot withstand the storm.”

Then GOOGLE gave a list of bloggers using the phrase and a list of Fasebookers using the phrase.  No help.

I typed, “fate whispers to the warrior: author” and got this:

“[–]PixelatedBaloney 6 points 5 months ago*

Top of Form

A Twitter/Instagram account named 556_Productions is claiming credit for a variation of this quote: Fate whispers to the warrior “you cannot withstand this storm” and the warrior whispers back “I am the storm”: Herehere, and here. The original post must be buried pretty far down, or I missed it while scrolling through, but they claim credit for it anywhere it’s posted without credit to them.

Then I found this:

Bottom of Form

[–]556_productions 1 point 3 months ago

Top of Form

We penned it for the first time in June of 2015, it’s not from Dune or any other book/movie”

I went to 556 productions and found this:

At the 556 productions site I typed “Fate whispers to the warrior, “you cannot withstand the storm”. The warrior whispers back, I am the storm.”  into their search box.  I got nothing.

Do 556 productions own that quote?  Other search results give the author as, “unknown”.  Can I use this quote in a published article?

This is a problem for authors.  If we write for money and some great idea of ours ends up on a Wheaties box because it was found floating around on a meme, we might not have recourse.  How can we prevent a meme from taking our ideas and letting someone on Pinterest make money on our work?









Information For Political Theory

I watched a young Japanese woman explain why she was studying martial arts in Japan. She explained that the knowledge and skills she gained from her studies of ancient self-defense gave her power and confidence and it made her unafraid. She said that kind of power and self-assurance made it very easy to be kind. Knowledge is power, the old saying goes. And the power that knowledge brings can make it easy to be kind. To that belief, I offer the following information:

The following sources come from Department of Politics Princeton University Reading List for the General Examination in Political Theory (revised October 2010, to take effect with general exams of October 2011.  MarksNotes found the literature.  Enjoy.

Ancient and medieval political theory

Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War


Plato, Apology


Plato, Crito

Plato, Republic

Plato, Statesman

Plato, Laws

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics;

— use translate button

Aristotle, Politics

Cicero, On the Commonwealth [De Republica] ,

Cicero, Dream of Scipio

Cicero, On the Laws [De Legibus],

Cicero, On Duties [De Officiis]

Augustine, The City of God,

Aquinas, Summa contra Gentiles,

Aquinas, De Regimine Principum

Aquinas, Summa Theologiae

Modern political theory

*Machiavelli, The Prince;

Machiavelli, The Discourses

Hobbes, Leviathan

Locke, First Treatise of Civil Government, Second Treatise of Civil Government;

Locke, A Letter Concerning Toleration

Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws,

Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature,

Rousseau, Discourse on the Sciences and Arts;–%20First%20Discourse.pdf

Discourse on the Origin of Inequality;

Rousseau, On The Social Contract

Bentham, Introduction to Principles of Morals and Legislation,

Bentham, Nonsense Upon Stilts (in Bentham, Rights, Representation, and Reform, pp. 319-401)

Smith, The Wealth of Nations,

Jay, Madison, and Hamilton, The Federalist Papers,

Burke, Pre-Revolutionary Writings,

Kant, Idea, for a Universal History

Kant, What is Enlightenment?;

Kant, Conjectures on the Beginning of ‘Human History;

Kant, On the Common Saying: “That May Be Correct in Theory, but It Is Of No Use in Practice,


Kant, Toward Perpetual Peace:

Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals

Kant, The Metaphysics of Morals:

Hegel, The Phenomenology of Spirit

Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Marx, On the Jewish Question

Marx, Contribution to the Critique of Hegel ‘s Philosophy of Right: Introduction;

Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844

Marx, The German Ideology, Part I

Marx, Manifesto of the Communist Party;

Marx, Capital

Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme

Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte,

Marx, The Civil War in France

1.S. Mill, Utilitarianism

Mill, On Liberty

Mill, Considerations on Representative Government

Mill, The Subjection of Women

Mill, Principles of Political Economy,%20Principles%20of%20Political%20Economy.pdf

Nietzsche, On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life

Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals

Weber, The Profession and Vocation of Politics

Weber, Suffrage and Democracy in Germany

Weber, Parliament and Government in Germany under a New Political Order

Weber: Political Writings


These are some additional references:


The Federalist Papers: No. 10

The complete list:

Department of Politics Princeton University

Reading List for the General Examination in Political Theory (revised October 2010, to take effect with general exams of October 2011)

The examination will consist of three parts:  (I) Ancient and medieval, (II) Modern, and (III) Norms and concepts. Students will be asked to write on one question in each part chosen from two or more that will be offered trying to avoid excessive overlap of themes or theorists. Each essay will have equal weight in determining the exam grade.

This reading list is a guide to preparation for the exam. It is not a required syllabus: students are not expected to have read all of the works listed. Works by members of the Princeton faculty in political theory are omitted.

The reading list is divided into three sections corresponding to the three parts of the exam, plus an appendix on methodology in the study of political thought. But this division is only a convenience. Political theory is a single subject. Responses to questions in the historical parts of the exam will almost certainly benefit from a grasp of pertinent normative and analytical materials and essays on normative themes are likely to be strengthened by a critical understanding of canonical texts.

Parts I and II. The readings listed in the historical sections combine essential texts by canonical writers and secondary readings pertinent to each writer’s work. The list of canonical works reflects the faculty’s judgment of the works a student should command by the time of the general examination; it does not aspire to be comprehensive. The secondary readings aim to illustrate an array of perspectives in the recent scholarly literature. While no particular secondary readings are specifically required, it will be difficult to demonstrate knowledge of the primary thinkers listed without some appreciation of the major controversies about their works.

Ten thinkers in parts I and II are marked with an asterisk (*).  At least one (but perhaps only one) question in each of Parts I and II of the exam will be answerable with reference to one or more of the starred thinkers.  The other questions in those Parts may require answers referring either wholly or in part to some one or more of the unstarred thinkers.  Normally all of the questions in these parts can be answered with reference to writers on the full list, although from time to time a question may refer to other theorists or works studied in graduate seminars offered in the two years preceding the exam.

Those who would benefit from further study of the major texts are urged to take or audit the Politics 301/303 sequence, and (if taking them for credit) to take the corresponding graduate reading courses (Politics 701/703). Reading courses should be arranged with the instructor before the semester begins.

Part III. The readings listed are intended to represent a range of views and approaches to several basic concepts and normative doctrines found in contemporary political theory. Again, the list does not aim to be comprehensive. Although students are not expected to be conversant with all of the works listed, they should be familiar with the leading ideas and concerns in the contemporary literature under most of the subheadings.

Appendix.  In addition to studying the thinkers and concepts listed in the three main portions of the reading list students may find it helpful to do some reading about general issues of methodology in the study of political thought. The works listed in the Appendix represent several perspectives.

I. Ancient and medieval political theory
Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, I; II; 1-50, 70-86; V, 84-1 15; VI [entire; not 1-32 only]; VII, 60-87 W. Robert Connor, Thucydides Steven Forde, The Ambition to Rude Raymond Geuss, Outside Ethics, ch.13 Gerald M. Mara, The Civic Conversations of Thucydides and Plato:  classical political philosophy and the limits of democracy S. Sara Monoson, Plato’s Democratic Entanglements, ch.3  Josiah Ober, Political Dissent in Democratic Athens, ch. 2

*Plato, Apology; Crito; Republic; Statesman; Laws, Stephanus sections 624-632, 641-650, 659-664, 690-695, 699-702, 704-705, 709-747, 752-780, 853-858, 861-864, 875, 961-969 Julia Annas, Introduction to Plato’s Republic Danielle Allen, Why Plato Wrote Allan Bloom, ‘Interpretive Essay’ in The Republic of Plato, ed. Bloom Christopher Bobonich, Plato’s Utopia Recast, ch. 5 J. Peter Euben, The Tragedy of Political Theory, chs 7, 8                                                  Terence Irwin, Plato’s Ethics, chs 1, 11-18, 20 Josiah Ober, Political Dissent in Democratic Athens, chs 1, 4 C.D.C. Reeve, Philosopher-Kings Malcolm Schofield, Plato, Political Philosophy Gregory Vlastos, Socrates: Ironist and Moral Philosopher, and Platonic Studies, nos 5 and 6

*Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics; Politics John Cooper, Reason and Human Good in Aristotle Jill Frank, A Democracy of Distinction Richard Kraut, Aristotle: Political Philosophy Jonathan Lear, Aristotle: The Desire to Understand Stephen Salkever, Finding the Mean Arlene Saxonhouse, Fear of Diversity, Part III (chs 8, 9) Aristide Tessitore, Reading Aristotle’s Ethics Bernard Yack, The Problems of a Political Animal

Cicero, On the Commonwealth [De Republica], Bks I, entire; III, entire; VI, Dream of Scipio only; On the Laws [De Legibus], Bks I and II, entire; On Duties [De Officiis], entire Anthony Everitt, Cicero Bryan Garsten, Saving Persuasion, ch. 5 A.A. Long, ‘Cicero’s politics in De officiis [On Duties],’ in A. Laks and M. Schofield (eds), Justice and Generosity Malcolm Schofield, Saving the City, ch. 10 E. W. Steel, Cicero, Rhetoric, and Empire Neal Wood. Cicero‘s Social and Political Thought

Augustine, The City of God, Books II-V; VII, 1-11; XIV, 28; XV, 1-5; XIX, 4-22, 25-28; XX, 1-2; XXII, 1-8, 30 Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo Henry Chadwick, Augustine Herbert A. Deane, The Political and Social Ideas of St. Augustine Peter Garnsey, Ideas of Slavery from Aristotle to Augustine, ch. 13 R.A. Markus, Saeculum: history and society in the theology of St. Augustine R. Martin, ‘The two cities in Augustine’s political philosophy,’ Journal of History of Ideas 33 (1972), 195-216 Reinhold Niebuhr, ‘Augustine’s Political Realism,’ in Christian Realism and Political Problems J. Rist, Augustine
Aquinas, Summa contra Gentiles, I:3, 4, 7, 8; II: 68; III: 2,3,25, 27, 32, 37, 48, 51, 53. 63, 64, 81; IV: 54, 76; De Regimine Principum 1-6, 12, 14, 15; Summa Theologiae I, qq. 2, 12, 20, 75, 79, 85, 92. 96, 98; I-II, qq. 3,5,21, 62, 81, 90-97 [Treatise on Law], 100, 105, 109; II-II, qq. 10. 11, 12, 40, 42, 57, 60, 64, 66, 69, 77, 78, 194, 110, 150, 152, 154; III, qu. 8; Supplement, qu. 52 (these selections can be found in St. Thomas Aquinas on Politics and Ethics [Norton Critical Editions], ed. P. Sigmund).

J.H. Burns, ed., Cambridge History of Medieval Political Thought J.P. Canning, A History of Medieval Political Thought 300-1450 (1996), ch. 3 A.P. d’Entreves, Natural Law John Finnis, Aquinas: Moral, Political, and Legal Theory Norman Kretzmann and Eleonore Stump, eds. Cambridge Companion to Aquinas: esp. ch. by Sigmund     N. Kretzmann, A. Kenny, J. Pinborg, E. Stumb, eds, The Cambridge History of Later Medieval Philosophy: esp. chapters by Barnes, Dunbabin, Luscombe (both) and McGrade

II. Modern political theory
*Machiavelli, The Prince; The Discourses F. Gilbert, Machiavelli and Guicciardini: Politics and History in Sixteenth-Century Italy (1984 edn) Mark Hulliung, Citizen Machiavelli      Harvey Mansfield, Machiavelli ‘s Virtue Hannah Pitkin, Fortune is a Woman J.G.A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment Quentin Skinner, Machiavelli * Hobbes, Leviathan Jean Hampton, Hobbes and the Social Contract Tradition Noel Malcolm, Aspects of Hobbes Michael Oakeshott, ‘Introduction to Leviathan’ in Rationalism in Politics Quentin Skinner, Reason and Rhetoric, ch. 8; Visions of Politics, vol. 3; Hobbes and Republican Liberty  Leo Strauss, The Political Philosophy of Hobbes Richard Tuck, Hobbes and Philosophy and Government, 1572-1651

* Locke, First Treatise of Civil Government, §§1, 3, 23, 33, 40-48, 56, 58, 66, 86-87, 89-94; Second Treatise of Civil Government; A Letter Concerning Toleration Richard Ashcraft, Revolutionary Politics and Locke ‘s Two Treatises of Government John Dunn, The Political Thought of John Locke     Ruth Grant, John Locke ‘s Liberalism Peter Laslett, ‘Introduction’ to CUP edition of Two Treatises of Government A. John Simmons, The Lockean Theory of Rights; On the Edge of Anarchy; Moral Principles and Political Obligations, ch. on tacit consent James Tully, An Approach to Political Philosophy: Locke in Contexts       Jeremy Waldron, God, Locke, and Equality  —–,  The Right to Private Property, ch. 6 J. Horton and S. Mendus (eds) John Locke: A letter concerning toleration in focus Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws, Bks 1-6; Bk 7 chs 1, 9. 15-17; Bk 8; Bk 9 chs 1-5; Bk 10 chs 1 – 11; Bk 11 chs 1-6; Bk 12, chs 1-4; Bk 14 chs 1-6, 9-10, 15; Bk 15; Bk 16, chs 1-4, 9-10; Bk 17; Bk 18 chs 1-17; Bk 19 chs 1-16, 27; Bk 20 chs 1-14, 23; Bk 21 chs 1-5, 20-23; Bk 23, chs 28-29; Bk 24, chs 1-8, 19-20; Bk 25 chs 1-2, 9-15; Bk 26, chs 1-3, 20-23; Bk 29, chs 1, 16, 19

H.E. Ellis, ‘Montesquieu’s Modern Politics: The Spirit of the Laws and the problem of modern monarchy in Old Regime France,’ History of Political Thought, 10 (1989), 665-700 Nannerl Keohane, Philosophy and the State in France: The Renaissance to the Enlightenment  Thomas Pangle, Montesquieu’s Philosophy of Liberalism Melvin Richter, ‘Comparative Political Analysis in Montesquieu and Tocqueville,’ Comparative Politics 1 (1969), 129-160 Judith Shklar, Montesquieu R. Shackelton, ed.. Essays on Montesquieu and the Enlightenment D. Carrithers, M. Mosher, and P. Rahe (eds), Montesquieu’s Science of Politics

Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, Book III. Parts I and II; ‘Of the Original Contract’ in Essays    Stephen Buckle, Natural Law and the Theory of Property: Grotius to Hume, ch.5 Duncan Forbes, Hume’s Philosophical Politics Knud Haakonssen, The Science of a Legislator: the Natural Jurisprudence of David Hume and Adam Smith David Miller, Philosophy and Ideology in Hume’s Political Thought Frederick Whelan, Order and Artifice in Hume’s Political Philosophy Alexander Broadie, ed., Cambridge Companion to the Scottish Enlightenment          R.H.Campell and A.S. Skinner (eds), The Origins and Nature of the Scottish Enlightenment

*Rousseau, Discourse on the Sciences and Arts; Discourse on the Origin of Inequality; On The Social Contract (recommended: Emile and The Government of Poland) Joshua Cohen, A Free Community of Equals N.J.H. Dent, Rousseau: An Introduction to his Psychological, Social, and Political Theory Arthur Melzer, The Natural Goodness of Man: On the System of Rousseau’s Thought Frederick Neuhouser, ‘Freedom, Dependence, and the General Will,’ Philosophical Review, 102 (1993), 363-395 and Rousseau’s Theodicy of Self-Love:  Evil, Rationality, and the Drive for Recognition Susan Okin, Women in Western Political Thought, pt. III Judith Shklar, Men and Citizens Jean Starobinski, Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Transparency and Obstruction  Patrick Riley, ed., Cambridge Companion to Rousseau

Bentham, Introduction to Principles of Morals and Legislation, chs. 1-5, 10. 12-14, 17; Nonsense Upon Stilts (in Bentham, Rights, Representation, and Reform, pp. 319-401) Lea Campos Boralevi, Bentham and the Oppressed H.L.A. Hart, Essays on Bentham  Douglas G. Long, Bentham on Liberty Mary P. Mack, Jeremy Bentham Frederick Rosen. Jeremy Bentham and Representative Democracy  Nancy Rosenblum, Bentham ‘s Theory of the State Philip Schofield, Utility and Democracy: The Political Thought of Jeremy Bentham

Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Bk I chs. 1-3; Bk III chs. 1,4; Bk IV, chs.1-3, 5 (including the “Digression”), 7 (Part 3); Bk V chs. 1, 2 (Part I); The Theory of Moral Sentiments Samuel Fleischacker. On Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations: A Philosophical Companion  Charles Griswold, Adam Smith and the Virtues of Enlightenment Knud Haakonssen, The Science of a Legislator: the Natural Jurisprudence of David Hume and Adam Smith Albert Hirschman. The Passions and the Interests Istvan Hont and Michael Ignatieff, eds., Wealth and Virtue Istvan Hont, Jealousy of Trade (Cambridge, Mass., 2005), ‘Introduction’ and chs 5-6 Andrew Skinner and Thomas Wilson (eds) Essays on Adam Smith

Jay, Madison, and Hamilton, The Federalist Papers, nos 1, 10, 14-18, 37, 47-49, 51-57, 62-63, 70-71, 78, 84; The Anti-Federalist, ed. H. Storing, abridged M. Dry; Essays of ‘Brutus,’ nos 1-4 David Epstein, The Political Theory of the Federalist   Henry May, The Enlightenment in America Thomas Pangle, The Spirit of Modern Republicanism J. G. A. Pocock, ‘1776: The Revolution against Parliament,’ in Pocock (ed.), Three British Revolutions: 1641, 1688 and 1776, pp. 265-88 P. Rahe, Republics, Ancient and Modern, vol.3: Inventions of Prudence: Constituting the American Regime Rogers Smith, Civic Ideals H. J. Storing, What the Anti-Federalists were For  Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic, chs 2, 12, 13, 15  Michael Zuckert, The Natural Rights Republic

Burke, Pre-Revolutionary Writings, ed. I. Harris; Reflections on the Revolution in France; Speech on Fox’s East India Bill; Speech in Opening the Impeachment of Warren Hastings (for Fox and Hastings speeches, see D. Bromwich, ed., On Empire, Liberty, and Reform; or J. Welsh and D. Fidler, eds, Empire and Community) David Bromwich, ‘Introduction’ to Burke, On Empire, Liberty, and Reform       James Conniff, The Useful Cobbler: Edmund Burke and the Politics of Progress   Conor Cruise O’Brien, The Great Melody J.G.A.Pocock, Politics, Language, and Time, ch. 6; Virtue, Commerce and History, ch. 10 Frederick Whelan, Edmund Burke and India Stephen K. White, Edmund Burke: Modernity, Politics, and Aesthetics *Kant, Idea, for a Universal History; What is Enlightenment?; Conjectures on the Beginning of ‘Human History; ‘On the Common Saying: “That May Be Correct in Theory, but It Is Of No Use in Practice,” part II; Toward Perpetual Peace: Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals; The Metaphysics of Morals: Preface, Introduction, ‘Doctrine of Right’: Introduction through §27, §§41-42, 43-62; ‘Doctrine of Virtue’: Preface, Introduction, §§4, 11, 12, 16-18, 19-22, 29-31, 34-35, 37-38, 47-48  Katrin Flikschuh, Kant and Modern Political Thought Leslie Mullholland, Kant’s System of Rights Sankar Muthu, Enlightenment against Empire  Onora O’Neill, Constructions of Reason, chs 1, 2 Allen D. Rosen, Kant’s Theory of Justice Arthur Ripstein, Force and Freedom Allen Wood, Kant’s Ethical Thought Mark Timmons, ed., Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals: Interpretive Essays Howard S. Williams, Kant’s Political Philosophy

*Hegel, The Phenomenology of Spirit: Preface; Introduction; Lordship and Bondage; Absolute Freedom and Terror; The Philosophy of Right Shlomo Avineri, Hegel’s Theory of the Modern State Frederick Neuhouser, Foundations of Hegel ‘s Social Theory    Z.A. Pelczynski, ed., The State and Civil Society Robert Pippin, Idealism as Modernism: Hegelian Variations, chs 1, 4, 5  Charles Taylor, Hegel Allen Wood, Hegel ‘s Ethical Thought

Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Intro.; Vol. 1: Part I, chs 3-5; Part II, chs 1-4, 6-10; Vol. II: Part I, chs 1-4, 8, 10, 13, 17, 20; Part II, chs 1-8, 11-15, 18, 20; Part III, chs 8, 9, 1 1. -13, 17, 19, 21, 22; Part IV, chs 1-8
George Armstrong Kelly, The Humane Comedy: Constant, Tocqueville, and French Liberalism       Jack Lively, Social and Political Thought of Alexis de Tocqueville Pierre Manent. Tocqueville and the Nature of Democracy L. Siedentop, Tocqueville, and ‘Two Liberal Traditions’ in A. Ryan, ed., The Idea of Freedom      Cheryl Welch, De Tocqueville Sheldon Wolin, Tocqueville Between Two Worlds

*Marx, ‘On the Jewish Question,’ Contribution to the Critique of Hegel ‘s Philosophy of Right: Introduction; Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844; The German Ideology, Part I; Manifesto of the Communist Party; Capital, selections from vols I and III; Critique of the Gotha Programme, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, The Civil War in France (excerpts in The Marx-Engels Reader, 2nd edition, ed. Tucker) Shlomo Avineri, The Social and Political Thought of Karl Marx    Isaiah Berlin, ‘Historical Materialism,’ in Four Essays on Liberty    G.A. Cohen, Karl Marx’s Theory of History Jon Elster, Making Sense of Marx Leszek Kolakowski, Main Currents of Marxism David Leopold, The Young Karl Marx  Steven Lukes, Marxism and Morality G. Stedman Jones, ‘Introduction’ to The Communist Manifesto, ed. G. Stedman Jones  Jonathan Wolff, Why Read Marx Today?   Allen W. Wood, Karl Marx

*J. S. Mill, Utilitarianism; On Liberty; Considerations on Representative Government; The Subjection of Women; Principles of Political Economy, 7th edition, Book IV, chs 6-7, Book V, chs 1, 11 F. R. Berger, Happiness, Justice and Freedom: The Moral and Political Philosophy of J.S. Mill         S. Collini, D. Winch, and J. Burrow, That Noble Science of Politics Susan Okin, Women in Western Political Thought, ch. 9 Andrew Pyle. ed., Liberty: Contemporary Responses to John Stuart Mill Alan Ryan, J.S. Mill John Skorupski, John Stuart Mill John Skorupski, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Mill C.L. Ten, Mill on Liberty, esp. ch. 2  Nadia Urbinati, Mill on Democracy   Dennis Thompson, John Stuart Mill and Representative Government Nietzsche, On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life; Beyond Good and Evil; Genealogy of Morals Steven Aschheim, The Nietzsche Legacy in Germany Peter Bergmann, Nietzsche: The Last Antipolitical German Alexander Nehamas, Nietzsche: Life as Literature Richard Schacht, ed., Nietzsche, Genealogy Morality; and Nietzsche’s Postmoralism    Tracy Strong, Friedrich Nietzsche and the Politics of Transfiguration Michael Tanner, Nietzsche Raymond Geuss, ‘Nietzsche and genealogy’; ‘Kultur, Bildung, Geist’; and ‘Nietzsche and morality,’ all repr. in Geuss, Morality, Culture, and History  Brian Leiter, Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Nietzsche on Morality
Weber, ‘The Profession and Vocation of Politics,’ ‘Suffrage and Democracy in Germany,’ and ‘Parliament and Government in Germany under a New Political Order,’ all in Weber: Political Writings, ed. P. Lassman and R. Speirs; ‘The Types of Legitimate Domination,’ in Max Weber: Economy and Society, ed. G. Roth and C. Wittich, vol. 1; ‘Economy and Law,’ in ibid., vol. 2 Peter Breiner, Max Weber and Democratic Politics
Wolfgang Mommsen, Max Weber and German Politics, 1890-1920 Chris Thornhill, ‘Max Weber’, in: Political Theory in Modern Germany Richard Bellamy, ‘Liberalism Disenchanted’, in: Liberalism and Modern Society Wilhelm Hennis, Max Weber: Essays in Reconstruction Lawrence Scaff, Fleeing the Iron Cage

III. Norms and concepts
1. Authority and political obligation Hannah Arendt, ‘What is Authority?,’ in Arendt, Between Past and Future Hugo Bedau, ed. Civil Disobedience in Focus (essays by Thoreau, King, Haksar, Raz, Greenawalt)   Ronald Dworkin, Law’s Empire, ch 6 John Rawls, A Theory of Justice  Joseph Raz, The Morality of Freedom J. Raz, ‘Introduction’ to Raz (ed.) Authority A. John Simmons, Moral Principles and Political Obligations; Justification and Legitimacy  Michael Walzer, Obligations    Max Weber, ‘Politics as a Vocation’, ‘Bureaucracy,’ ‘The Sociology of Charismatic Authority,’ in H. H. Gerth and C. W. Mills (eds) From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, chs 4, 8-9 Robert Paul Wolff, In Defense of Anarchy

2. Constitutionalism and the rule of law   Ronald Dworkin, Law’s Empire; Freedom ‘s Law Jon Elster, ed., Democracy and Constitutionalism John Hart Ely, Democracy and Distrust: A Theory of Judicial Review F.A. Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty John Rawls, A Theory of Justice and Political Liberalism Joseph Raz, The Authority of Law and Ethics and the Public Domain. ch. 17 Jeremy Waldron. Liberal Rights Jeremy Waldron, Law and Disagreement

3. Democracy

Joshua Cohen, Philosophy, Politics, and Democracy Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition Monica Brito Vieira and David Runciman, Representation  Robert Dahl, Democracy and its Critics Anthony Downs, An Economic Theory of Democracy David Estlund, ed.. Democracy (papers by Christiano, Waldron. Cohen, Habermas. Miller)  David Estlund, Democratic Authority   Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson, Democracy and Disagreement Jurgen Habermas, Between Facts and Norms Bernard Manin, The Principles of Representative Government Hannah Pitkin. The Concept of Representation  Adam Przeworksi, ‘A Minimalist Conception of Democracy: A Defense,’ in I. Shapiro and C.   Hacker -Cordon (eds) Democracy’s Value John Rawls, A Theory of Justice John Rawls, Political Liberalism Carl Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy J.A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, Part IV Iris M. Young, Democracy and Inclusion

4.  Freedom
Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition Isaiah Berlin, Four Essays on Liberty  Patrick Devlin, The Enforcement of Morals  Ronald Dworkin, Taking Rights Seriously Joel Feinberg, Rights, Justice and the Bounds of Liberty H.L.A. Hart, Law, Liberty, and Morality     G. C. MacCallum, ‘Negative and Positive Freedom,’ Phil. Rev. 76 (1967), 312-34, repr. in P. Laslett and    others, eds., Philosophy, Politics and Society, 4th series David Miller, ed., Liberty (esp. articles by Hayek, Arendt, MacCallum, Cohen, Taylor, Skinner)          Robert Nozick, Anarchy State and Utopia John Rawls, A Theory of Justice John Rawls, Political Liberalism Joseph Raz, The Morality of Freedom T. M. Scanlon, ‘A Theory of Freedom of Expression,’ Philosophy & Public Affairs 1 (1971)       Quentin Skinner, Liberty Before Liberalism Jeremy Waldron, Liberal Rights
5. Global justice David Miller, On Nationality David Miller, National Responsibility and Global Justice Joshua Cohen, ‘Minimalism about Human Rights: the best we can hope for?’ Journal of Political Philosophy 12 (2004) 190-213 Thomas Nagel, ‘The Problem of Global Justice,’ Philosophy & Public Affairs 33 (2005) 113-47  Thomas Pogge, World Poverty and Human Rights John Rawls, The Law of Peoples Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political Henry Shue, Basic Rights Yael Tamir. Liberal Nationalism       Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars

6. Identity, difference and pluralism Benedict Anderson. Imagined Communities Anthony Appiah and Amy Gutmann, Color Conscious Brian Barry, Culture and Equality Seyla Benhabib, et al., Feminist Contentions: A Philosophical Exchange Seyla Benhabib, ed., Democracy and Difference Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism Will Kymlicka, Multicultural Citizenship David Miller, On Nationality Susan Okin, Justice, Gender and the Family Carole Pateman, The Sexual Contract Yael Tamir. Liberal Nationalism     Charles Taylor, ‘The Politics of Recognition,’ in A. Gutmann, ed., Multiculturalism and the Politics of Recognition Iris Marion Young, Justice and the Politics of Difference

7. Justice and equality Elizabeth Anderson, ‘What is the point of equality?,’ Ethics 109 (1999)  M. Clayton and A. Williams (eds) The Ideal of Equality (papers by: Nagel, Scanlon, Parfit) G.A.Cohen, ‘On the Currency of Egalitarian Justice,’ Ethics 99 (1989)              G.A. Cohen, Self-:Ownership, Freedom and Equality G.A. Cohen, Rescuing Justice and Equality
Ronald Dworkin, Sovereign Virtue Harry Frankfurt, ‘Equality as a Moral Ideal,’ Ethics, 1987 (or as repr. in his The Importance of What We Care About) Thomas Nagel, Equality and Partiality Robert Nozick, Anarchy State and Utopia Susan Okin. Justice, Gender and the Family John Rawls, A Theory of Justice John Rawls, Political Liberalism Michael Sandel, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice     T. M. Scanlon, ‘Contractualism and Utilitarianism,’ in A. Sen and B. William, eds., Utilitarianism and    Beyond, or in Scanlon, The Difficulty of Toleration Amartya Sen, ‘Equality of What?’ in Sen, Choice, Welfare, and Measurement  Michael Walzer, Spheres of Justice Bernard Williams, ‘The Idea of Equality,’ repr. in Williams, Problems of the Self  Iris Marion Young, Justice and the Politics of Difference

8. Power Brian Barry, Democracy, Power and Justice (essays on power) Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish    Michel Foucault, ‘Power, Right, Truth,’ in P. Pettit and R. Goodin (eds) A Companion to Political    Philosophy Albert Hirschmann, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty Steven Lukes, Power: a radical view Steven Lukes, ed., Power Robert Nozick, ‘Coercion,’ in S. Morgenbesser and M. White (eds) Philosophy, Science and Method: Essays in Honor of Ernest Nagel     Max Weber, ‘Politics as a Vocation’ and ‘Bureaucracy,’ in H.H. Gerth and C.W. Mills (eds) From Max Weber, chs 4, 8

9.  Public reason Seyla Benhabib, Situating the Self: Gender, Community, and Postmodernism in Contemporary Ethics  Joshua Cohen, ‘Truth and Public Reason,’ Philosophy and Public Affairs 37 (2009) 2-42 Raymond Geuss, The Idea of a Critical Theory Jürgen Habermas, ‘Discourse Ethics: Notes on a Program of Philosophical Justification,’ in Habermas, Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action Alasdair Maclntyre, After Virtue Michael Oakeshott, Rationalism in Politics John Rawls, Political Liberalism John Rawls, ‘The Idea of Public Reason Revisited,’ in The Law of Peoples Michael Walzer, The Company of Critics Bernard Williams, Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy Bernard Williams, In the Beginning Was the Deed

10. Rights Joel Feinberg, ‘The Nature and Value of Rights,’ repr. in Rights, Justice and the Bounds of Liberty      John Finnis, Natural Law and Natural Rights W. N. Hohfeld, Fundamental Legal Conceptions Robert Nozick, Anarchy State and Utopia Henry Shue, Basic Rights Charles Taylor, ‘Atomism,’ in Taylor, Philosophical Papers, vol. 2 Jeremy Waldron, ed.. Rights, esp. Introduction, articles by Hart and MacDonald Jeremy Waldron, The Right to Private Property
(On rights, also consider works by Dworkin, Nozick, Rawls, Raz and Waldron under Freedom above.)
Appendix: Approaches to the study of political thought
Isaiah Berlin, ’Does Political Theory Still Exist?,’ Philosophy, Politics and Society, ed. P. Laslett and W.G.   Runciman, second series, repr. in Berlin, The Proper Study of Mankind William Connolly, ‘Essentially Contested Concepts in Politics,’ in The Terms of. Political Discourse  Michael Freeden, Ideologies and Political Theory John Rawls, Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy     Quentin Skinner, ‘Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas,’ History and Theory 8 (1969), 3-53, repr. in J. Tully, ed., Meaning and context: Quentin Skinner and his critics; revised version in Skinner, Visions of Politics, vol.1, with other relevant essays on method     Leo Strauss, ‘What is Political Philosophy?,’ ‘Persecution and the Art of Writing,’ repr. in What is Political Philosophy? James Tully, ed., Meaning and Context    Sheldon Wolin , ‘Political Theory as a Vocation,’ APSR 63 (1969) 1062-82, repr. in M. Fleisher, ed.,              Machiavelli and the Nature of Political Thought






Fact or fiction? Your call.

“There can be no liberty for a community which lacks the means by which to detect lies” –Walter Lippmann

This is a public service announcement from



The Center for the Study of Applied Equivocation

In the continuing effort to bring readers the tools

that will free us from the tyranny of

cunning arguments and lying liars.

OK, that is all ridiculous of course, but anything I say, if it is well constructed, could be true or false and how would the reader know the difference? We are navigating through some deceptive times and the deceivers know there are skills that can be learned to persuade others that purposefully work around the truth, not for the truth.

The ability to form persuasive arguments that are not truthful is an ancient art currently being used by people who want your vote and your money.

“The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor; it is the one thing that cannot be learnt from others; and it is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an intuitive perception of the similarity in the dissimilar.” —Aristotle, De Poetica

The purpose of this article is to begin building the foundation of knowledge sources that can be used to help the readers make informed decisions about American politics. The goal of this writing is to make the readers self-sufficient truth-gatherers.

The problem:

When constructed metaphors become the only message, the message becomes the truth, then all we are is passive followers — debt-slaves — without representation.

I just assume, for purposes of citizenship and respect for America, that we are being lied to by people who want our money and our votes. Whether or not my assumption is a clear understanding of this country, prudence dictates that we should be able to make our own, informed decisions – just in case.

The only alternatives to finding the truth for ourselves is either believing in nothing – certainly nothing for sure, or believing what other people tell us is true. Both are recipes for personal and national disaster.

Most of what we come into contact with is designed to influence us. What other reason can there be for the effort it takes to make information and pass it along? We are not doing poetry here or escape literature. We are working to pull some meaning from the chaos. We need to participate in our own futures. That is going to take some knowledge.

Consider how we get our information:

Six companies decide what consumers/citizens hear, read, see, know. At the same time, public schools are designed to feed the economy. Very few American schools have critical reasoning curricula:

but the majority of State schools have standardized tests.

Not exactly the foundation for informed consent.

I might be stepping into Conspiracy Theory Land, but I think those 6 corporations might talk to each other and they might talk to any number of the whores and traitors who currently darken America’s Congress. Add to the frenzy the Supreme Court decision that has recently made it possible for those 6 corporations and the whores and traitors to talk endlessly and exchange gifts without limits. There is some evidence that leads me to believe whores and traitors, and their business overlords will say anything to get what they want, and what they want most often, has very little to do with what citizens in America need. That’s just my guess.

Much of the information we struggle with during elections come to us through what is loosely defined as journalism. Part of the attachments to this article is the Handbook all “journalists” should be using when they investigate a story. Now it is the reader’s handbook. It can be useful to learn what is critically missing in a story before foolishness is taken as truth.

Much of the information we receive comes from social media – the Wild, Wild West in all its lawless and graceless wonder. There, things like hyper-epistemology and hypo-epistemology and implied consensus and constructed equivocation, rule; nothing can be taken for truth. The wilderness still and again.

In the real wilderness, when we were hunting and gathering to live, knowing when to duck was usually good enough. One mistake in the ducking department and it was all over. In our world, a similar mistake, either from our lack of understanding or our failure to check for truth, may not get us dead, but ignorance can ruin lives for decades, without the merciful finality of instant death. We just limp through life, alive – kind of – but not in charge of our lives.

To get an idea of the disconnect between the truth and what we are fed, consider the two following pieces of information:

First is an abstract from recent research that found the things we are being sold for facts have not been verified:

To check or not to check: An exploratory study on source checking by Dutch journalists


“Verifying information is one of the core activities of journalism, however recent research shows many stories derive from unchecked information from news agencies and PR material. That being said, reporters who do not use this pre-packaged material, but who instead produce original stories based on independent research, might be journalists who stay devoted to the verification of information. Therefore, this study focuses on in-depth stories that originated inside the newsroom. We expected that these kinds of stories would be checked and double-checked, because time constraints are less important and these stories are characteristic of independent, quality journalism. Contrary to this expectation, the results show that even these kinds of stories are not always vetted. The lack of time was seldom mentioned as an excuse. Our research points to avoidance mechanisms which inhibit journalists from verifying their information.”

Next, look at how information can be manufactured:

The following websites create article titles that research proves will sell. Once again, they create article titles that will sell.

GOOGLE: Headline generators: About 462,000 results (0.33 seconds)

I plugged in the information about

The Center for the Study of Applied Equivocation – a non-existent thing, and got the following usable, useful, article titles:

Results from Free Headline Generator: for

The Center for the Study of Applied Equivocation

A fictitious entity


How to uncover equivocation in political discussions so readers can find the truth for themselves

They Laughed When I Said I’d uncover equivocation in political discussions– But When I independently verified of the truth, They Begged Me for My Secret!

7 Secrets to How to uncover equivocation in political discussions so readers can find the truth for themselves

Want to help readers find the truth for themselves? Here’s How to uncover equivocation in political discussions Now!

FREE Report Reveals 5 Secrets to uncover equivocation in political discussions

New Discovery Reveals How to uncover equivocation in political discussions!

Who Else Wants to uncover equivocation in political discussions and help readers find the truth for themselves?!

It’s True: You Really Can uncover equivocation in political discussions and Here’s How…

New information resources Helps Your readers find the truth for themselves… Guaranteed!

Tests Now Show Our information resources Can Help You readers can find the truth for themselves

These are only ten of the hundreds of titles generated to write articles about NO THING.

We don’t even have to come up with our own titles, what we write about can be given to us by some formula that creates a snappy title that we can just fill in.

The created metaphor can create and drive the discussion. Give that a second to build some import or give that the time it deserves and watch this:

There’s more: receives “comments” every week from people who create blog content in the same way blog titles are created. For a few pieces of silver, I don’t even need to have an original idea or any presentation skills whatever, to be a successful blogger in America.

For now, this article will focus on the ways we can protect ourselves from constructed, but believable lies.

Here are some tools for self-defense.

By far, the most important resource to protect ourselves from cunning arguments and lying liars:

100+ Self-Education Resources for Lifelong Learners


Verification handbook for investigative reporters

Good reporting has a method. When that tried and true method is altered or important steps in the process are just left out, the truth of the article can be questioned. The truth of an issue can’t be effectively questioned by people who don’t know what it takes to get to the truth. If the reader is interested in that level of self-sufficiency, try these sites:

Good luck

Story-based inquiry: A manual for investigative journalists


Ten Steps to Investigative Reporting


Resources to help us learn the facts to make up our own minds

Get Your Facts Right – 6 Fact Checking Websites That Help You Know the Truth

A list of fact-checking websites

How to Fact Check

Political Fact-Checking Under Fire

A guide for journalists on how to access government information

To Catch a Liar, Ask the Right Question


How to choose your news – Damon Brown

Skills and Strategies | Fake News vs. Real News: Determining the Reliability of Sources

Critical realism on the limits to critical social science

Critical Realism and Recent Developments in Social Theory

Top 15 most popular websites:

Additional resources


World Health Organization

United Nations

U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization

International Atomic Energy Agency

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

U.S. State Department

U.S. Defense Department

U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. Senate


U.S. Government Accountability Office

CIA World Factbook







Will the Real Christians Please Stand Up?

I think I remember when America was a Christian thinking nation. I remember a poem we memorized as children:

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Those were the days when being an American meant acting on what we believed in. These are different times.

Most of us have seen the gruesome pictures of Syrians literally dying to escape their country. These people are leaving because they have been trapped in their bombed-out homes, afraid to move, for so long they are starving to death. Their only hope to live is to put themselves and their families in, quite possibly, lethal circumstances to escape.

Approximately 6 percent of Syria’s population, 1.5 million people, are Christians. We don’t know who is who over there, but my guess is that the people who like ISIS will stay and the Christians should get out as soon as possible. Those Christians we see dying are having that very thought.

Immigration is the new bad word in America. It is a useful term, but it’s shameful how it is used in polite conversation. It means moving oneself from one place to another. It implies one has a choice. “Stay where we are or go see the greener grass.” If you wish to stroll to America, do the paperwork, pay the fees, get a job and enjoy. If you don’t have the money or the time to do the paperwork, like if you are running for your life, you are an ILLEGAL immigrant and that means very bad things to “real Americans”. Those people may think they are escaping to the Promised Land, but when they get here, they are ILLEGALS.

There are times when words are not political vehicles and they just describe things like they were created to do. Sometimes people are not immigrating, they are escaping. They are running from persecution and certain death. To know that, we would have to ask a question or two. We would have to care about people other than ourselves. We might have to do Christian things.

One Christian thing we might be able to do is screen the people coming to our country and separate the decent people from the criminals, according to our laws. That would be a Christian thing to do, but it would take some work to create a visible application of Christian behavior. That is much harder to do than it is to talk about the problem. Doing nothing to help your brothers and sisters in your faith, is easy.

Back when we had a national method for receiving immigrants, we successfully registered tens of millions of people from all over the world into our country. Today, police forces are militarized and politicians make their audiences with the fear that can be created by unknown, but assumed violent, strangers. Even Christians are afraid to allow other Christians into our country and that hypocrisy is justified with false Nationalism and Bible quotes — rarely conversations about how to change laws to help people, only how to stop people from getting what we have.

It must be tough being a political Christian — having to decide who the important people are. All that pressure involved in correcting the teachings of Jesus to make them fit into those political parties’ platforms. All the pesky contradictions. Old Testament thumpers who just hate the new wave thumpers – it must be complicated.

We know American Christians can’t abide Mexican Christians who are looking for a safe harbor from drug warlords and corrupt governments, so it must be OK that those Syrian Christians die at sea while they pray to find a Christian place to live. Those refugees must not be the right Christians or the American Christians would petition their government to help people live in a Christian nation. Maybe we could document the people we see walking over our boarders to keep them and the rest of us safe. Maybe we can come to realize there must be a reason why this has not yet been done. Tough decisions.

Of course, the comfort of promised forgiveness, from anything, must make these life and death decisions easier.


It’s hard to be a Christian and an American- or a good one, anyway. The entire deck seems to be stacked against the faithful. Central tenets of Christianity build the foundation of this country and, out of respect, our Founding Fathers made sure Christians would remain free to worship as they wished. Almost everyone is Christian, but the government refuses to budge on the freedom for all religions idea. Government does some very UN-Christian things that Christians would not allow to be done in a Christian nation. But, America is not a Christian nation. It is an every-religion nation.

America, and all nations, would probably be better if they were Christian nations, but, alas, there is money attached to power and many would roll the dice on the afterlife for a good payday today. Real Christians, being Christians, can’t put up much of a fight, for the fear of acting UN-Christian. Their Christian brothers and sisters don’t seem to be worried about acting like Christians as long as they are sure of forgiveness for what every they do. It’s a dilemma.

Some Christians rationalize the inequity of the UN-Christian America by misreading 1 Peter 2:18-19. The passage tells, “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.” Perhaps the most ignored passage ever written.

Peter wrote that passage somewhere around 65 AD. At that time in the Roman Empire, slaves were a class in Roman society. They were primarily captives of war, but the competent slaves worked in commerce and government. Go to 1 Peter 2:13 to see Peter’s meaning. He tells one group of people to “…act as free men” [1 Peter 2:16.] Then he addresses the next group, slaves.

In this instance, Peter was addressing Jews who were refusing to obey unbelieving masters. “Slaves” had a necessary place in Roman government. Peter was speaking to a group of people in his society. He was not talking about the relationship America has with her citizens. Neither was he talking about the institution of slavery. Slavery was a given.

It is good to bear up against injustice. It is good to be conscious of God. Just not because God is comfortable with you being a slave or a slave owner. Those are man-made evils.

This is a much easier conversation in America than it would be in most places in the world. I have plenty of time, and GOOGLE, to contemplate this issue. I am not dodging bullets or wondering why the government is starving my children. If I lived in, well, almost anywhere else, I would think Peter was working for the government.

There is another reason why 1 Peter 2:18-19 cannot apply to America’s relationship to her citizens, it is UN-Christian to support a government who is brutalizing its people. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Isaiah 49:25: God’s promise to Zion:

“For thus says the Lord: “Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken, and the prey of the tyrant be rescued, for I will contend with those who contend with you, and I will save your children.”

Can good Christians do any less? Do Christians use 1 Peter 2:18-19 to ignore willful government abuses of the innocent?   Should good Christians ignore Peter and act against unjust governments?

The uncomfortable “What Would Jesus Do?” dilemma.

For the Party?

When I hear someone proudly reveal they are a Democrat, a Republican, a Tea Party-er, a Green, a New Wave Neo-Capitalist Social Reform Party person, or whatever, I sometimes hear the distant “Wha-Wha” of a muted trumpet and my mind gives me just a moment where my old friend Charlie Brown and I are back in school. There, we are so nurtured by youth our minds cannot care. There, ideas of nations and political parties are supplanted with notions of fun and warmth. There, we are sure about God and Country.  Then the moment is gone and I’m back in the middle of an American paradox being shared by varying degrees of zealots with no hint of the contradictions in their political positions. As the decibels rise, I wonder when and why they decided to stop being Americans.

I wonder if they are at least “Democrats for America”, “Republicans for America”, or “New Neo-Caps for America”? Are they at least hyphenated Americans? We can live with that. We are that. Or, are they only Republicans, Democrats, Independents — everything of James Madison’s nightmares — a building tyrannical majority? Is it even possible today, to be a Republican or a Democrat and still be a good old fashioned American?

I listen and wonder if “Party-Americans” realize that the very nature of their political affiliation is to work to marginalize and exclude other Americans’ ideas about how we can be a better country.

Political affiliations are exclusionary by nature. They are the source of political conflict. America is not at war with America. Political parties war with each other for the right by conquest to make America in their image for as long as they can convince the electorate that they are the correct Americans.

America, on the other hand, is an inclusive idea. We have built a once and often great nation from the scraps discarded by other older nations. We are the wretched refuse that finds our shores. And when we land, our assumed inclusion makes us great.

This manufactured political tension between and within political parties and the tension those politics bring to our nation, is our call to work. America’s greatness comes, in part, from the fact that we relish and never tire of the work needed to attune those opposite tensions of political affiliation and the inclusive American philosophy.

The current installment of American politics needs much work. It is a lot like the offense actually trying to hurt the defense. When the offense successfully undermines their willing allies and the team loses, should the offense celebrate? Not if they are an actual team with a common goal.

In America, the winning saboteurs throw black-tie affairs and invite no other Americans to the ball. At the end of the night they toast the America where anything is possible for the right people.

The quote below is 123 years old. In the last 123 years America added Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska, and Hawaii to our already vast nation. All the problems that come with that much land and that many diverse people, was added as well. We cured, or at least dramatically slowed, invasive H Flu, chicken pox, malaria, measles, polio, small pox, and a long list more.   We have been in and out of wars and created some of the best music and art the world has ever enjoyed.   American advances in science truly rivals the intellectual wonders of the ancient Greek cosmologists. We have put our countrymen on the face of the moon and brought them home, and some of us simply live in space for long periods. How can it be possible that the same impediments to our country’s clearly expressed purpose exist today as they did 123 years ago?

From the Populist Party platform, issued at its convention in Omaha in 1892, which read in part:

“The conditions which surround us best justify our cooperation: we meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political, and material ruin. Corruption dominates the ballot-box, the legislatures, the Congress, and touches even the ermine of the bench. The people are demoralized; most of the States have been compelled to isolate the voters at the polling-places to prevent universal intimidation or bribery. The newspapers are largely subsidized or muzzled; public opinion silenced; business prostrated; our homes covered with mortgages; labor impoverished; and the land concentrating in the hands of the capitalists. The urban workmen are denied the right of organization for self-protection; imported pauperized labor beats down their wages; a hireling standing army, unrecognized by our laws, is established to shoot them down, and they are rapidly degenerating into European conditions. The fruits of the toil of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few, unprecedented in the history of mankind; and the possessors of these, in turn, despise the republic and endanger liberty. From the same prolific womb of governmental injustice, we breed the two great classes—tramps and millionaires.”

There is a difference, in my opinion, between real Americans and party-Americans.

We can see the influence of Republicans and Democrats in the progress we have made on the issues described in 1892.

Have they really helped this country?