Saturday, October 6, 2012

Read A Good Book Lately? I Have!

If you have read one of my blogs before, you realize that I am profoundly conservative, both socially and politically.  I do not think that I was necessarily born that way.  I am a product, to a great degree, of my upbringing and my early school education. I liked to read a lot growing up and, like a good part of my generation, I watched a lot of television. I tended to gravitate towards historical programs, if they were available.  My parents were socially conservative and generally politically conservative, in theory, though my father was a registered Democrat. However, I am relatively sure that he would be apposed to what the Democrat Party embraces, if he were alive today. The point is that I had pretty good conservative roots.  As I grew older and began to think for myself, I struggled with the fact that the things I was being told by society and popular media were distasteful to me. Part of this is because I am a religious man and much of what society is pushing these days is 180 degrees out of my comfort level. By 1980, I became a dyed-in the-wool Conservative. My political thought had become firmly entrenched in conservatism. I knew what I felt, but like most people I wanted to reinforce my "feelings" with logical thought. I have spent significant time and effort the last few years trying to educate myself, or reeducate myself in some cases, to better understand our history. It is extremely valuable to know where we came from philosophically and how this nation and culture evolved.  So I have read and, in some cases, reread documents and books to reaffirm the things I understand and believe. If you want to know how I arrived at my current state of belief, I would suggest the following books and documents which I have read and studied:

The Declaration of Independence; it needs to be read every 4th of July to remind the thoughtful patriot of why our forefathers thought this government was necessary.

The Constitution of The United States; especially the first ten amendments known as our Bill of Rights; The Bill of Rights made the rest of the document relevant. It should be read every year as well.

The Federalist Papers; these are the arguments put forth by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, to interpret the Constitution and belay the American people’s fear of a more powerful central government and to show that its powers would be limited and would not trample on personal liberties. The Anti-federalist Papers argued the opposite, but I admit that I have read those more sparingly. After all, their arguments did not prevail and the Articles of Confederation, which the anti-federalists were not anxious to abandon, were a total failure and were leading the fledging United States to an early grave.

The Bible, The Book of Mormon and The Koran; though other religious texts can be read and studied as well, these books are invaluable, if read with the intent of understanding what makes their adherents tick.  The Bible and Book of Mormon are, in a nut shell, about people who are admonished by God to be faithful to Him and to love their fellow man, and how, if they become prideful and ignore God’s power in their lives, they will, of their own doing, become ripe for destruction.  The Bible was the root of the Judeo-Christian culture that drove the founders and eventually inspired them to create a republic like ours. The founders, such as Samuel Adams, were steeped in the study of The Bible and saw their state as similar to the children of Israel. The Bible showed that people needed to trust in God and not the arm of the flesh. Against God’s will, the people of Israel rejected the rules of judges and asked for a king. They suffered almost continually thereafter because of their choice. The Book of Mormon also endorses the rejection of kings because a people can’t always count on having a good one. The Book of Mormon is especially relevant to America in what Mormons perceive as the Latter Days. The story line in The Book of Mormon parallels our current time, if you believe that Christ is returning soon and that wickedness sows the seeds of destruction. It also specifies America as a land of promise, which will be blessed as long as its inhabitants are righteous and worthy.  I’ll probably get my head cut of for saying this (hopefully, only figuratively), but The Koran seems to me to be very disjointed, erratic in its doctrines and extremely uninspiring. It seems to be mostly about Mohamed’s revelations to rewrite events in prior scripture and to teach followers to bring others into subjection. It is easy to see how extremist Muslims can interpret their scripture to kill and terrorize non-Muslims. The Allah of The Koran is much scarier than Jehovah of the Old Testament. The Koran is a must read to get a more accurate picture of the religious fanatics who want to carry its teachings to the destruction or subjugation of all non-Muslims. I have read several books on Mohamed and Islam but, though some of the books were sympathetic, my discomfort with jihadist mentality was not eased.  The point is that one cannot judge a book by its cover. If the book is revered as God’s word, it warrants actual reading before discarding.

Plato’s The Republic, Machiavelli’s The Prince, Thomas More’s Utopia, Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan, Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto, and John Locke’s and Montesquieu’s Treatise on Government ; More, originated the term ‘utopia’, but all of these books or documents describe what the authors believe to be the utopian or most ideal political system. Machiavelli describes how to create power and rule by force. The Machiavellian approach to gaining power can be recognized in many of the rulers on the Left. Plato actually describes several options, but none are an actual democratic republican form as we have. All of the systems envisioned by these men, with perhaps the exception of Machiavelli, were socialistic in nature and depended on an enlightened ruler or ruling class to keep order. However, there is not much in their theories to explain how to keep the ruling class in order. Locke and Mantesquieu are the odd men out here, though. Locke’s notions of natural law, moral duty and limited government along with Montesquieu’s ideas about divided powers in government, namely executive, legislative and judicial, were the fountains of thought that the founders turned to when issuing the Declaration of Independence and constructing The Constitution of the United States. If you don’t want to take the time to read all of these works, but want to get a good understanding of their basic messages and how they have historically impacted world politics in general, threaten our system or endorse our form of government, you can read Mark Lavin’s Ameritopia. As is his wont, he has thoroughly studied the subject and puts these works in true context.

I have also read numerous biographies of our founding fathers. If you want the best understanding of the lives of the founding fathers and what they wanted to create, I would suggest that you read about the lives of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin and read as much of their own words as possible. I have read several biographies on George Washington, including: George Washington: A life by Ron Chenow; His Excelleny: George Washington by Joseph Ellis, and Being George Washington by Glenn Beck.   Washington was the most impressive man of character of his time. he was trulu indespensible in the formation of our nation. He set a very high standard as our first president, under our existing constitution. Very few presidents have even come close to him since.  

Franklin’s autobiography is a good start in studying him, and then you should go on to read Walter Issacson’s Benjamin Franklin: An America Life.  Benjamin Franklin was a remarkable intellect among the intellectual giants of his time and he was considered by his contemporaries as the first great American.

I also recommend biographies of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. The ones I have read are: David McCullough’s, John Adams, Joseph J. Ellis' Founding Brothers and and Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton. These books show very different personalities united in purpose to form a unique nation.  Of course, their differing world views also caused them to go against George wahington's warnings given in his farewell address from the presidency and inadvertantly created a party system which still divides us today.

Other important historical figures of whom I have read biographies and auto biographies include: Daniel Boone, Andrew Jackson, Davy Crocket, Abraham Lincon, Frederick Douglas, george Washington Carver, W. E. B. Dubois, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, both George Bushes , and Bill Clinton.  Each of these historical figures made lasting impressions on their contemporaries and represented a particular world view. The political figures, in particular, changed the direction of politics and philosphical direction of the nation for important lengths of time; some for good and some for bad, in my opinion. I particularly enjoyed Ronald Reagan's diaries while president. It was. I think, a window into the man and his true character that even an autobigraphy could not sufficiently provide. Autobiographies are good origial sources, but they can be no more than an attempt at rewriting history or create or recreate an image. One must be suspicious and read between the lines at times.

  I recently read Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father and encourage others to give it a read.  Again, you cannot theoretically discard a book without actually reading it first and sustain complete intellectual honesty.  If after reading it, there is any doubt in your mind about his screwed up view of the world, I would ask you to read Dinesh D’Souza’s The Roots of Obama’s Rage.  There can be no doubt as to what Obama is doing to the country, as his “useful idiots” enthusiastically follow along.  They should read both too.

Since I am conservative in my politics and world view, I try to read all of the conservative books I can fit in. I have read the historically utopian viewpoints that Liberals keep trying to resurrect from the bone yard of political thought and I easily reject them out of hand. The arguments against such silliness are legion. Books of a conservative viewpoint which I have read in the past few years that strengthen my position include: Thomas Sowell’s  Basic Economics and Black Rednecks and White Liberals; Ann Coulter’s Guilty: Liberal “Victims” and Their Assault on AmericaHow to Talk to a Liberal, If You Must, Slander: Liberal Lies about the American Right, Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism, and Godless: The Church of Liberalism:  Amity Shlaes’ The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression;  Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning;  Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged; and David Horowitz’s autobiography, Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey.

 Sowell’s books explain how the real economic world works and how we have misconstrued the origins of “black” culture and unveils liberal fallacies.  He is meticulous in his research and might be the most intelligent and practical man, who happens to be a black man, in the country.  Ayn Rand was pretty morally messed up when it comes to life style, but she was right -on about the destructive effects of socialism, and how it destroys the spirit of innovation and work ethic.  Atlas Shrugged is a rather laborious read when the characters drone on for pages making a simple point so, after a page of a character’s argument, you can skip a few pages to the next event and you will not miss anything. Nevertheless, you should read it once.  I found David Horowitz’s book about 15 or more years ago and found it fascinating. He tells of his parents being communists and how it was the plan for the Communist Party in America to join infiltrate the Democrat Party and take it over, moving it towards the radical Left. He tells how, as a radical Marxist, he worked with the Black Panthers and Weathermen organizations, but that he eventually became disillusioned with their politics and violent intents and of his conversion to conservatism.  The rest of these books are highly researched and historically accurate exposes of forgotten history. The Left, since the days of Woodrow Wilson, has been controlling the history that our children and young people study from grammar school through college, shaping their views and attitudes. These books mentioned above put history straight and have helped me understand that my innate world view is correct.    

The study of history and philosophy must be a part of our education, if we are going to have a chance of making informed decisions, come election time. With our vote, informed or not, we are nudging our nation in one direction or the other. My study of history shows that we have been, with a few exceptions, steadily moving away from the founders’ model. If you think moving further left is good, you should do so fully informed. However, you will not be informed by today’s mainstream media. Their agenda is clear to anyone paying attention.  They have bought into the old Utopian idea that socialism is a perfect solution to the world’s ills.  The problem is that socialism has lowered the creativity and production of the people subjected to it in every place in the world it has been tried. My study has shown me that individual liberty and the pursuit of individual happiness should be every person’s goal.  Artificially making the playing field level for everyone limits the gifted and encourages the less gifted not to try.

Granted, most of my reading leans toward current conservative thought, but I have invested a lot of time studying the classics and I recognize that all current liberal thought is generated by the same Utopian sources mentioned above. I read Obama's book and concluded that it was self promotional tripe. Researchers have since discovered that much of it was made up of whole cloth. He deliberately "combined" some of the characters and fabricated certain events to better lay out his narrative. He intentionally hid the identity of some of the characters in his autobiographies, like his old mentor, "Frank", who was in truth the "poet", Frank Marshall Davis, a dissident member of the Communist Party and a part-time pornographer.  It would not do for him to divulge too much about his past associates and their philosophies.  Incidentally, Obama's audio version does not even mention Frank. When the occasional light has been shown on his past connections and affiliations, news organs like The New York Times and NBC totally ignore it. I have found that I can get more information about the Left's true agendas from writers and news outlets on the right.

Most Americans think they have no choice or they do not care.  They will, in time, realize that they have foolishly given up another piece of their freedom to be a little more comfortable in their lives, but only when it is too late   My challenge to anyone reading this blog is to get yourself a clue. Don’t vote until you know something and form a truly informed opinion.  Read a good book!

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