me

Do you want to know more about the guy who's on the other side of your screen, saying all this stuff?

Then come right in...

ribbons

These are my
Mission Statements.

rant

This is where I put the stuff that doesn't fall into the other categories.

They got what they wanted

In the Star Trek (TOS) episode The Savage Curtain, Abraham Lincoln gave some advice to Captain Kirk: "Give your enemy what he wants. Just don't give it to him the way he wants it." I apply that advice to my opponents when I wargame.

The #fightfor15 crowd has won some significant victories to have government force the private sector to double the minimum wage. California and New York have made this state law. But like in all things Economic, the results of actions happen after a delay and can be somewhat unexpected. This one has been foretold since the discussion began. Now the buzzards have started coming home to roost: Thanks To 'Fight For $15' Minimum Wage, McDonald's Unveils Job-Replacing Self-Service Kiosks Nationwide.

The consequences of paying your employees more are either A) charge your customers more (higher prices) or B) have less employees. These changes and their consequences are clearly shown to those who look at the actual numbers and do the math. Frankly, either choice upsets the business-customer equilibrium. If prices go up, sales go down. This is a well-established economic fact, proved by hundreds of years of research on this subject. However, reduction of staff without a "force multiplier" (something that enhances the effectiveness of the employee) will also result in lost sales because the level of customer satisfaction will decrease.

The "force multiplier" discussed in this article are self-service kiosks. This means you will walk up to a kiosk, put in your order, swipe/touch your card and your food will be ready in a few minutes. This will cut the number of employees at an average McDonald's from 15 to about 8-10.

But wait! There's more! There are also machines in development (actually in testing) that will automate the entire store. One or two people will be required to put the materials (buns, meat, fries, condiments, etc.) in one end of the machine. The machine will then process the food order (via the kiosks) from the customer and proceed to cook the food, then assemble, package and deliver the order to the customer without any human assistance.

Congratulations! You now have four employees working full time at $15/hour, when you used to have 15 employees working various hours (30 hours/week average) at $7.50/hour. If you've done your math, you can see a 30% decrease in payroll ($7.25/hour x 30 hours/week x 15 employees= $3,375/week payroll vs. $15.00 x 40 x 4= $2,400). The bad news is that the $1,900/week "saved" has to go to pay off the cost of the machine as well as maintenance and repair costs.

So you have reduced employment opportunities for young people by over 60%. Because at least one or two of those four workers will have to have experience and knowledge in maintaining and repairing the new machine. If that machine stops working for whatever reason, the staff on hand won't have time to call the service technician and wait for him to drive across town to get their store working.

I promise you, the 16-year-old that used to get his first job at McDonald's will not have the knowledge or experience to run and maintain that equipment reliably. His opportunity to have that "first job" where he could learn all the necessary skills for his future jobs (arrive on time, dressed properly, do the job as you are told, etc.) just evaporated, and #fightfor15 killed it.

Any job has to add value to the product or service in order to justify the price the customer has to pay for that product or service. If a worker by using his skills does not add a value to the product greater than what they are being paid, the business cannot remain producing that product or service.

The #fightfor15 crowd has gotten exactly what they wanted, a $15 minimum wage. But by losing 60% of that job pool, they aren't getting it the way they wanted it.

Not as bad as you think

I am writing this from a point of personal experience. I would like to declare that a Trump presidency will not be as bad as you think.

There are actually several reasons, the first is the “alt-right” are not Nazis, nor are they going to turn into Nazis because this is not 1934 Germany. The National Socialist German Workers Party was the full name for the Nazis, who were Socialists. You might want to click on that word to see what Socialists really are.

If you look at the times and conditions on how Hitler rose to power, that kind of government and those economic conditions are not present in 2016 United States

Second, the German people were experiencing a systemic economic collapse because Germany was being forced to repay the Allies for war debts and damage incurred in The Great War. This collapse was manifesting itself with hyperinflation of the German Mark, where the inflation was so fast workers were paid twice a day so they could give the money to their wives to go out and buy food before the prices went up.

Third, the German government has very few similarities, if any at all, to the US government. Also, social makeup was built on obedience to power. Hitler’s title, “Führer” is the German word for Leader. As a German, you obeyed whomever was the leader. It didn’t help that after Hitler came to power, those who were critical of him disappeared.

In great contrast, the US as a country, a government and a society was built on maximum individual freedom. Even in the US military, while obedience to the orders from your superior officer is required, every action any service member does is subject their review and that member is obligated to disobey orders that run counter to what is right.

Fourth, which I can speak from personal experience, is that power constrains. As Worshipful Master of my Masonic lodge, I was basically President of the lodge. A lodge will take the direction the Master desires, within certain limitations.

The Master puts forth ideas on what the lodge can do for the lodge or the community. If it’s a good idea, he will have no shortage of brothers willing to help and participate. An example of this would be a quarterly breakfast for first responders in their community. If it’s a dumb idea or counter to the principles of Masonry, a Past Master will probably privately advise the Master of the “inadvisability” of such an idea. If the Master presses forward anyway, he will likely find himself alone at the event.

The US federal government is the same way. The President can try to take a controversial action. His cabinet could be in total agreement and the bureaucratic heads of the appropriate departments can be just as enthusiastic to carry out the orders. However, if anybody anywhere in the entire chain from Cabinet members to the people tasked with carrying the orders out, decides that it’s stupid and detrimental to the country, it won’t get done. This is not to say the consequences of disobedience won’t be severe to them, however it can be done and all the President can do in the end is scream at the top of his lungs from the White House.

Trump could jump up and down on his desk in the Oval Office and scream, “Kill all the Muslims! Deport all the Mexicans!” all day long. He could sign Executive Orders until they fly out his ass and tell his Cabinet to carry out his orders. If those orders managed to make it down to the agents who would carry them out, I wouldn’t be surprised that most of the agents would suddenly be unable to find anybody in those targeted groups.

How will Trumps time in office unfold? I have no idea. I do know it won’t be as bad as many fear.

I demand a game 8!

I heard Limbaugh came up with this from a Renegade Republican podcast.

With all of the butthurt Liberals whining about Trump winning the Electoral vote while losing the popular vote, I thought I would present the issue and purpose of the Electoral College with an analogy.

Baseball. Specifically the World Series.

Because the WS is like the Electoral College. You have a series of up to seven games, which are played until one team wins four games. The score in each game determines the winner for that game only. The runs acquired in one game cannot be "transferred" to a subsequent or prior game to change the result of the other game. Nor can the total of runs in all the games can be totaled (the "popular vote") and that process used to determine the winner.

Because if we use the total runs method, we need to have an 8th game since both teams scored 37 runs across the seven games.

Be thankful for things like the EC. They protect you when you don't realize it.

Change your thoughts, change your world

I have been listening to a lot of podcasts that talk about changing what goes on inside of you to change what goes on outside of you. As a consequence of this, I am changing my "stock answers" To reflect a more positive life view.

The first one was when someone asked, "How are you doing?" I used to respond, "Still above ground, despite my own best efforts." This was to reflect my personal history of struggling with my suicide attempts.

I now respond to that question with, "I'm blessed." This simple phrase allows me to celebrate that I am a survivor. I am thankful for my life, my family, my friends and all of the good things in my life.

When a salesperson asks me, "Can I help you," I used to respond with, "No thanks, I'm beyond help." The fast-on-their-feet sales staff would then ask, "What are you looking for?" To which I would respond with my hands shoulder length apart and say, "I'm looking for a bag of $20 this big."

Now I thank them and tell them I will find them if I need help.

I still have to fight to say "I'm blessed." But a calm, warmth and a subtle happiness comes over me when I say that.

try it. It might change your life.

To all my friends

This is an open letter to all of my friends, because I do not classify my friends by their skin color, their sex, their sexual preferences, their political views or any other method Liberals use to divide us. If we enjoy each others' company and respect our similarities and differences, that's good enough for me.

In the past eight years while Obama has been in the White House, I have been critical of him whenever warranted, as well as supportive of him when he does the right thing. I did the same with Bush 43 and I will do the same with Trump.

I promise this to all of my friends who are scared about the impending Trump Presidency and how it may negatively affect your lives. I will be there and not abandon you. I will be just as publicly critical of Trump when he infringes on the rights of any Citizen of this country. My political ideology is not tied to a political party, it's tied to what's right.

This is one of my personal mission statements. I believe in the maximum freedom of the individual citizen. I believe in the fact we are all human beings. Our differences should be celebrated and used to strengthen the whole, not divide us. Laws should provide justice when someone is wronged, not used as weapons to bludgeon Citizens and advance a political agenda.

I watch both major parties equally.

The veracity of my vocabulary

I have said for years, I can insult you and several of your preceding generations using words perfectly acceptable at a ladies' tea cotillion. A Liberal made me prove it tonight.

A friend made a post concerning the basics of health care. I commended him on a thoughtful, well-written post. I had to disagree on him concerning the concept of "forcing" those who decline/can't afford to have health care to pay the tax. This one Liberal and I then proceeded to banter back and forth like a tennis match. I tried to stick to the issues. This ...person... repeatedly attacked me personally. When I had enough, I gave this liberal a mild tongue-lashing, about a 3 on my insult scale. R. Lee Ermey is an 8 on that scale. Here's what I wrote:

[Liberal], I have been polite with you. I have spoken about the issue with you politely. I have been respectful to you as a person. Yet you have repeatedly insulted me personally without cause. Since it seems that your whole repertoire consists of insults rather than coherently expressed thoughts back by appropriately verifiable facts, if you want to be insulting, I can certainly stoop to the level above you.

You are a pusillanimous, insignificant and self-important blowhard. You are so narrow minded you can look through a peephole with both eyes simultaneously. You are a vacuous, mealy-mouthed cross-dresser who thinks they know more than they actually do. The lint in my pants pocket is worth more than your opinion or you personally. You are such a closed-minded low-grade moron, each of your friends and family have probably lost at least 15 IQ points because they have been forced to endure multiple sessions of your immense ignorance. Everyone who has personal contact with you agrees with you simply because it gets you away from them quicker than voicing a differing opinion. I personally would rather give myself a root canal with a power drill and a 2" paddle bit in a 7-Eleven restroom than interact with you personally.

I didn't use any curse words above simply because you're not worth it.

I worked for UnitedHealthcare for years. I know the ins and outs of medical insurance. I know about diplomacy and international affairs because I've been a part of it. I've done things in my life you wish you had the courage to put on your bucket list. What most people term as "due diligence" is my initial research.

If you shut up and listen to what people with a different opinion or viewpoint than yours say to you with an open heart and mind, with the intent to understand rather than the intent to reply, you might actually learn something, instead of letting that echo chamber between your ears do all the talking for you.

Like I said, this was a 3. Don't make me go to eleven.

Oh, the irony

For all of my Liberal readers who want to suddenly rebel against a Trump administration, when Obama has spent the past eight years weaponizing the government (because the EPA needs SWAT teams), when they suddenly realize that the government has lots of guns, and they don't have any.

So, if you're Liberal and have suddenly come to appreciate the wonderful advantages of the Second Amendment and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, this article is for you: A Handy Guide For Liberals Who Are Suddenly Interested In Gun Ownership.

I will say that all of the information and suggestions contained in the article are good and true. How the author delivers the information in a wonderfully biting and ironic commentary is well past epic. Here is an example:

Now it gets really complicated. And that’s entirely your fault. See, traditionally Democrats don’t like the 2nd Amendment and historically have done everything in their power to screw with it. Your gun laws are going to vary dramatically based upon where you live. It might be really difficult and expensive for you to exercise your 2nd Amendment rights, or it might be relatively easy.

     

But you’re scared right now! Well, that’s too bad. Because for the most part Democrats have tried to make it so that citizens have to abdicate their responsibilities and instead entrust that only state can defend everyone… That doesn’t seem like such a bright idea now that you don’t trust who is running the state, huh?

If you think you need to be armed, either against Trump's government or the local gangbangers, I actively encourage you to learn all you can, purchase what you believe is necessary to protect yourself and your family and use said weapons in a responsible and judicious manner.

This is what you get...

I have been wondering what to say about Tuesday's election since Wednesday morning. Here on Saturday, I sat down to write this and it hit me.

Shame on you. ALL OF YOU. Both sides of the aisle you.

Because this is what you get when very few people read the Constitution, the very framework of our government. This is what happens when you don't know what it means, or why it was written the way it was, and more importantly the intent and purpose of the men who wrote it.

Democrats are bitching and moaning about "Hillary won the popular vote, SHE should be President!" I hate to break the bad news to you, but the United States is not one country. It is fifty individual countries bound together in common cause. Fifty different experiments in freedom. The States are not provincial territories, subservient to Washington, D.C. They are individual entities who each have their own way of doing things. The way they do things in California will probably not work in Iowa, and vice versa.

We are The United States of America. This country is the United States, which is on the American Continent. To call ourselves "Americans" is a misnomer, because Canadians, Mexicans, Guatemalans, Brazilians and all the others can lay claim to the term "American" as well. America (North, Central and South) reaches from the Arctic Circle all the way down to the Straits of Magellan. This is why I 99% of the time refer to this country as the United States, not America.

The Founding Fathers designed this country to have long periods of political discussion, culminating in an election. At that point, our Constitutional Representative Republic (we are not a democracy) would move forward on one course, until the political discussion started up again and another course change after the next election. The Legislative and Executive Branches are staggered in their terms to insure that it is impossible for there to be a radical change in leadership in one election. The President is elected every four years, the entire House is up every two years and Senators are elected for six year terms, which are staggered so only one-third of the Senators are up for election every two years.

So, shame on you Democrats, because with your riots you clearly demonstrate that you are basically little, petulant children. These riots are nothing more than a collective temper tantrum because you didn't get your way. You are directly responsible for Trumps election for the sole reason of your name calling of everyone who disagreed with you. Democrats have for decades collectively called anyone who disagrees with them misogynists, homophobes, sexists, racists and more. The people who have received these denigrating labels for years without justification for the sole intent to shame them into the Democrat camp finally had enough. So, they elected the person who is (to the Democrats) the penultimate misogynist, racist, sexist homophobe.

You think I'm alone in this view? Here you go. This is a six-minute profanity-laden tirade from Jonathan Pie who explains clearly what I just said. If you don't believe me, maybe he can get this point through to you.

Don't be snickering over there Republicans, because you're next.

You Republicans are acting so smug. You just elected "an outsider" who is going to "change everything." Let me pop that bubble right now. He won't radically change things because he can't. You sons-of-bitches need to read the Constitution as well. The "most powerful man in the world" has a whole lot less power than you think, and if you knew his duties under the Constitution, you would know that. The president's main duty is carrying out the laws of the country. Laws passed by Congress. Unlike President Obama who has done his best to enact his own agenda. "I have a phone and a pen" and all that.

But here you are, parading around that Trump won. You are no different than the Black lady who was put on TV Election Night in 2008. She was yelling, "AW, LAWDY, OBABA WON! WE GOTS US A BLACK MAN IN THE WHITE HOUSE! HE GONNA GIVE ME A FREE PHONE AND A CAR AND BETTER HOUSING!" Shut up and work with those who disagree with you, if they are willing to respectfully work with you.

And a last note, to all y'all (which is a proper plural noun in the South). The president does not control the price of gas, or how much you're paid in your job, or where you live or any of a hundred other things that are credited to (or blamed on) him. He can influence the conditions under which things might move a certain way, but his influence is one of many conditions which all contribute to the final result.

Please realize the actions of the President of the United States has very little to do with your day-to-day lives. When it comes to solving your problems and making your life better, look away from Washington and to yourself, your family and your friends. It is the choices you make that determines the overall course of your life. Not Obama, not Clinton, not Bush, not Trump.

Many of us have forgotten this and we all need to remind each other to meet everyone we encounter in our lives where and how they are, not where, who and how we want them to be.

As Bill and Ted said, "Be Excellent to each other!"

Ex Post Facto

The Supreme Court recently released a decision that I agree with, yet vehemently oppose the basis of. Here it is, Voisine, et.al. v. United States.

This ruling basically upheld the Constitutionality of the 1996 Lautenberg Amendment to the Gun Control Act of 1968. These two men, Voisine and Armstrong, pled guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence charges and were caught possessing firearms some time later.

I actually support the court in their decision to uphold the law as it stands. The petitioners cries of “it wasn’t on purpose that I hit my partner” rings hollow because these men pled guilty to the original charges. If they wanted to bring up their lack of mens rea (the guilty mind, e.g. intent), the time and place for that was before the guilty plea.

However, the law which formed the basis upon which everything else is built is corrupted because it is a bad law.

A bit of history: In 1968, Congress passed the Gun Control Act of 1968. The initial idea for this was in response to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It never went anywhere until the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. This law created the Federal Firearms License, the banning of firearms sales through the mail and many other aspects of the reality for gun owners today. One of the major parts of this law was the permanent “chilling” of a citizens RKBA (Right to Keep and Bear Arms) under the Second Amendment if they are convicted of a felony. I have spoken on the subject of chilling rights before.

There are two basic kinds of crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. What separates these two is the level of punishment. A misdemeanor is punishable by confinement of no more than 11 months and 29 days (less than a year). A felony is punishable by confinement over a year. From 1968 until 1996, you lost your RKBA (Right to Keep and Bear Arms) under the Second Amendment only upon your conviction of a felony.

In 1996, The Lautenburg Amendment amended 18 U.S.C. 922 (that part of the United States Code that came from the GCA of 1968) to specifically include misdemeanor Domestic Violence convictions in the list of things that chill your RKBA. This amendment specifically added 18 U.S.C 922(g)(9). Out of the tens of thousands of misdemeanor offenses that you can be punished for, this one alone will cause you to lose your RKBA.

Simple assault is basically an unwelcome contact with another person. It can range from one person touching another person on the arm when they have told the first person not to touch them, all the way up to a semi-serious beating (no weapons used, no broken bones or other serious injuries). Simple assault becomes Domestic Violence when it is done against a family member or the family member of someone the assaulter is in a relationship with.

Example: Everyone meet Ray (Hi Ray!). Ray and his wife Becky have been in a feud with their neighbor Jill. One day, it all comes to a head and Ray went and beat the crap out of Jill. Becky, who saw the assault, started to freak out over the violence. Ray tries to hug her to calm her down and Becky said, “Get away from me!” Ray grabs her anyway and holds her until she calms down. By this time the police get there and Ray is arrested and charged with assault against Jill and domestic violence against Becky. Ray gets 6 months in the County jail for each conviction, however because one of the convictions was domestic violence was against Becky, he can no longer own or possess firearms, even though he beat Jill and didn’t hurt Becky. An extreme example? Kind of, but relevant and realistic nonetheless.

Just so you can be aware, here is the entire list of actions that will get your RKBA revoked, with the Lautenburg Amendment bolded:

18 U.S.C 922 (g) It shall be unlawful for any person—

(1) who has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
(2) who is a fugitive from justice;
(3) who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802));
(4) who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution;
(5) who, being an alien—
    (A) is illegally or unlawfully in the United States; or
    (B) except as provided in subsection (y)(2), has been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa (as that term is defined in section 101(a)(26) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(26)));
(6) who has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;
(7) who, having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced his citizenship;
(8) who is subject to a court order that—
    (A) was issued after a hearing of which such person received actual notice, and at which such person had an opportunity to participate;
    (B) restrains such person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner of such person or child of such intimate partner or person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child; and
    (C)(i) includes a finding that such person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of such intimate partner or child; or (ii) by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against such intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury; or
(9) who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence,

to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce. 

Another thing that this amendment did was to violate the Constitution, specifically Article 1, Section 9, Article 3, “No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed.” The term “ex post facto” is Latin for “after the fact,” where a law is passed today that criminalizes an action committed before the law became effective and people are subsequently punished under that law.

As an example, say last year you chopped down your neighbors’ tree because it irritated you immensely (its leaves landed on your property, it blocked the afternoon sun on your porch, the neighbor refused to trim the tree, pick one or more). For some reason, at the time it was not against the law for you to do so (it was partially on your property, whatever). Your enraged neighbor then starts petitioning the government and gets a law passed last week criminalizing what you did. Today the County Sherriff knocks on your door and arrests you for violating that tree-chopping law. That is an example of ex post facto.

The document about the Lautenberg Amendment above says this about this “not violating the ex post facto law.”

[T]he court [Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit] explained that the Lautenberg Amendment, by prohibiting post-enactment possession, did not criminalize conduct that occurred prior to its effective date. As such, the court held that the Amendment was not retrospective and, therefore, not violative of the Ex Post Facto Clause. This explanation referred to Hiley v. Barrett.

This “reasoning” is utter bullshit for this simple reason: If someone committed a crime in 1976 (20 years before the law became effective) and completely paid their debt to society in 1977, yet when this law became effective in 1996 they lost their RKBA rights. Their reasoning this isn’t ex post facto? The Lautenberg Amendment does not punish you for your firearm possession between 1978 and 1995, only your possession after 1996. The loss of rights for a person today, for having committing an act before this law was passed, who paid the debt assigned upon conviction at that time is the very definition of ex post facto. “I did something bad years ago and I was punished for it. Today, I am penalized more for something where I have already paid my time.”

These two reasons are why 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(9) is a very bad law. This section needs to be abolished, or domestic violence needs to be elevated to a felony status. The ex post facto part of it needs to be revoked as well.

Why there is an RKBA

If you have been paying attention to the events going down in the Dakotas, this is the primary reason why the Second Amendment exists. This is why the RKBA (Right to Keep and Bear Arms) is an integral part of the American world view, our culture and our fundamental Rights bestowed upon us by our Creator. It is why the unarmed man is a Subject (as in Subject to the Crown) and the armed man is a Citizen. 

Recently, Citizens have had three major clashes with the government. The first two protests, the Bundy Standoff in Nevada and the Oregon Standoff, where a government building was captured, were performed by well-armed Citizens who protested unwarranted government excesses. These armed Citizens stood up to the government. As a result of their being armed, they were treated with respect by government agents, no one was hurt and the government ultimately backed down. The Citizens involved in the Oregon event were arrested, charged, tried and acquitted of all charges brought against them by the government.

Currently, we have peaceful, unarmed protesters in the Dakotas trying to prevent an unwanted pipeline from passing through their lands and over sacred burial grounds. These unarmed citizens are being tear-gassed, shot at and the riot police push them around like children. There are reports of snipers picking off protesters and animals, with agent provocateurs trying to provide the reason for the government to move in on the protesters. 

This is an unattributed quote, possibly from George Washington. However variants of this has shown up throughout history:

Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force! Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.

A fire properly contained in the fireplace provides light, heat and the ability to cook. When a candle is lit from that fire, if not properly attended it can set the entire house on fire.

When the government is moral and has a conscience, peaceful protest can work. I have no problem with peaceful protests. This is why Gandhi was able to win Indian Independence from the British. If Gandhi had tried that against the Nazis when they occupied India, they would have simply shot him and any supporters in the head and that would have been the end of it.

The last eight years has shown a great increase in the excesses of governmental power. Agencies make up regulations with the force of law, which relentlessly encroach on freedoms. The speed and scale of encroachments with continue to accelerate when not opposed by armed Citizens.

Stand up. Arm yourselves. Be a Citizen, not a Subject.

Why I stood to be Expelled

I have been wanting to write this for a while, but the full scope has not become clear until now. I am still reeling from my “Masonic Death” (i.e. Expulsion) and thusly still sorting my way through it.

I also will say up front that my thoughts and opinions which follow applies only to Masonry in Tennessee. Most other Grand Lodges do not have such things that they persecute their members for.

To give you some plain-speaking context, let me explain how I feel about Masonry this way. I love this country and the ideals she stands for, namely freedom and self-determination. For thirteen years, the United States government held a check written by me, payable to “Freedom” and the price being “any price, up to and including my life.” That’s a hefty price, no matter how you look at it. I would not trade my knowledge, experiences or friends from that part of my life for anything in the world.

My love for this country is but a pale shadow compared against my love for the ideals and brotherhood of the Masonic Fraternity. The ideals of Masonry extend from this world into the next. While my brothers and sisters-in-arms would protect my corporeal being, my Masonic brothers protected my integrity and my soul.

So when I saw brothers persecuted and in distress, subsequently suspended and recently expelled solely on the basis of publicly expressing their love for each other, I could not stand by silently. Their “crime” consisted of publicly expressing their union with each other when it became legal according to the law of the land.

I do not believe that rules, laws or regulations made by man should be obeyed just because they are duly constituted by established procedures. Any law, codified or societal, needs to be made based on the premise that the individual’s freedom not be subsumed to the demands of the society unless the individual is actively harming the society that they are members of.

For example, the concept of chattel slavery, a permanent elimination of an individual’s freedom of self-determination was once codified law in the United States. The “national discussion” on this subject culminated in a Civil War, where over 650,000 people died horrible deaths because the citizens of this country had a disagreement over whether this concept was acceptable or not.

In the 1980’s the Masonic Grand Lodge of Tennessee decided to codify in their bylaws that any Mason in Tennessee who physically loves another man, or is supportive of that concept is to be expelled, does not make rules like that right or good. The Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry, codified in the 19th Century, is the foundation upon which the Fraternity is built. One of those Landmarks states that the only physical requirements for him to join the Fraternity is that he is male, uncrippled and is of legal age. There was not any inquiry of their sexual preferences nor methods, because the “private” parts of a person’s life are not subject to the purview of any clubs or societies they might join.

The two brothers who were expelled were openly a couple when they petitioned the Lodge they joined. The brothers of this lodge did not have a problem with these men and their sexual preferences. One of them advanced through the officer stations, becoming Master of the Lodge. These two expelled Masons spent hundreds of hours of their time fixing and restoring the lodge building which had fallen into disrepair. When severe storms ripped part of the roof off the Lodge, these two spent thousands of dollars of their own money on building materials and hours of their time to repair that building. One of the appendant bodies of Masonry (other organizations that require their members be Master Masons before they can join) in Memphis had a non-functioning pipe organ. Again, these two men spent hours and hours repairing and tuning that organ until it worked, then one of them played the organ at the meetings. And someone is trying to tell me these men do not belong? I beg to differ.

A brother going through the degrees is not permitted to see the Masonic Code before they swear an oath to obey it. I admit, I never looked at the Masonic Code of Tennessee in its entirety after I became a Master Mason, even after I became Master of my Lodge. If I had known that this was part of the code, I probably would have not assumed the Oath of a Master Mason.

When this issue first came to my attention, I was Master of my Lodge and I initially paid it little mind. Once I heard that they had been suspended, my interest grew. Upon finding out the Past Master had submitted a change to the Masonic Code to eliminate that part of the code, I decided I had to speak up.

The applicable part of the Tennessee Masonic Code reads as follows:

Section 6.207,

(27) To engage in lewd conduct. To promote or engage in homosexual activity. To cohabit immorally in a situation without the benefit of marriage.

The proposed code change I spoke in favor of would have reduced this to “To engage in lewd conduct.” That part of the Masonic Code had been used rarely if at all in 30 years since it was passed, either for the homosexual part or the “cohabitating without the benefit of marriage.”

The 2015 Grand Master of Tennessee, Dwight Hastings made it clear through his deputies that any comments about Grand Lodge business in public or on social media would result in the offender being expelled. Because I wanted to speak on this at the Grand Lodge, I remained silent against my will. At the 2016 Grand Lodge Meeting (called the Annual Communication), I stood and spoke in favor of eliminating this part of the code. I was shouted down by many of my "enlightened" brothers. I felt disheartened at that moment, not because my “brothers” not wanting to hear what I had to say, but that the Grand Master made zero effort to curtail this immature behavior by exerting any kind of control over the situation, which is his purpose and obligation as Grand Master.

The Grand Lodge of Tennessee was made aware of the sexual orientation of these men in 2007, after they announced on Facebook that they had flown to Scotland and obtained a “civil license.” The fact that the Grand Lodge waited eight years before bringing them up on charges points straight at what kind of men Hastings and Cutlip are.

While I do not know them personally, I will assume that in most parts of their personal and business lives, they are upstanding men. Both of these men are to the best of my knowledge very passionate about their Christian faith. From my impression of them capriciously discharging the duties of Grand Master for the Masons of Tennessee, they are closed-minded, thin-skinned, hyper-religious, childish, insecure, tinpot tyrants who cannot stand the thought of someone publicly disagreeing with them. My impression of them is that they feel driven to “protect their legacy” by driving out or expelling anyone who dares challenge their authority.

Leaders will recognize that not everyone in the organization will agree with them 100% on every subject. Leaders also understand that they need to see what the organization wants and needs, tempering that with where the organization needs to be. Hastings and Cutlip have both clearly demonstrated that their personal morality trumps the views and the will of the brothers.

I had a private meeting with Grand Master Cutlip and several of his Grand Officers when he visited Memphis a couple of weeks after I stood up in Grand Lodge. During that meeting I presented the case that he is on the wrong side of this issue. I told him that several of my friends and acquaintances were considering asking me how to become a Mason (that’s how you start the process. You have to ask a Mason, “How do I become a Mason?”). Because of this controversy, each of them told me they had decided to not ask.

The response from Grand Master Cutlip was approximately [NOT A DIRECT QUOTE], “I would rather have 1,000 Masons who share my beliefs than 10,000 who believe like you do.” Grand Master Cutlip then gave me three choices: 1) Shut my piehole and remain a Mason, 2) Demit (voluntarily quit the Masons) or 3) Be expelled.

The problem about this issue is that Masonry is meant to be non-sectarian. The Fraternity only requires that you profess a belief in and an accountability to a Supreme Being. Who that Supreme Being is, the Fraternity doesn’t (or isn’t supposed to) inquire about. There are religions on this planet that do not believe homosexuality to be an offense to their God. The majority of Masons respect the beliefs of others. When the Masonic leadership usurps this ideal, replacing inclusiveness with exclusiveness of all but their religion, that path will end up destroying or rendering the fraternity irrelevant.

Masonry is meant to unite men of all faiths by their love and obedience to each man’s Supreme Being. It is a long standing policy that Masons do not discuss politics or religion in or near the lodge because they are considered divisive issues in a Fraternity meant to unite men. This policy from Hastings and Cutlip has forced these issues into the Lodge, because this is the only place where it can be discussed now.

This is why I stood in favor of deleting that part of the Masonic Code. This is why I stood and opposed the Grand Lodge and forced them to expel me. On the day that I stand before my Creator and He judges me on my life and actions, I believe being expelled from the Tennessee Masons to be a far preferable thing to remaining silent and quietly condoning the persecution of brothers based solely on the basis of whom they love by continuing my membership in that organization.

More Sea Stories

Well, considering they are a collection of my experiences while "sentenced" to Guam, they aren't "Sea Stories" per se. If you have heard one or two of them, they are now all together in one place for your enjoyable consumption, here.

Epiphanial thunderbolt

I was hit with an epiphanial thunderbolt the other day. A phrase that literally shook me to the core of my very being.

First, a new link: Monday Morning Memo. Go read and sign up now. I command it. You will not regret it.

The other day I was listening to The Ziglar Show #426, which was about this issue of the Monday Morning Memo titled The Talented-Person Blind Spot. It talked about two conditions called the Impostor Syndrome and the Dunning-Kruger Effect. But that’s not what I wanted to talk about.

About the 36:00 mark of the Ziglar podcast, the host starting talking about how inadequate he felt leading personal development classes on subjects that he felt he need a lot more work on before he felt comfortable teaching others about. This transitioned into talking about hypocrisy, which is defined today as a person declaring a personal standard (usually moral) and then failing to meet it.

This “hypocrisy” is used by Liberals all the time against those they oppose. If someone Liberals don’t like (usually Conservatives) declare a standard, then when someone of that disliked group does not meet that standard, Liberals use that to try and declare that standard invalid. An example that comes to mind is when Republicans speak against debauchery and degradation of women. So when a couple Republican lawmakers are found enjoying themselves in a strip club, Liberals start screaming, "SEE, THEY DON’T LIVE UP TO THEIR OWN STANDARDS!!!"

To continue with the podcast, the guest brought up Thomas Jefferson. The man who wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”, yet he owned slaves. Which, using the current definition of hypocrisy, Thomas Jefferson certainly was a hypocrite. Declaring that all men are equal, while at the same time owning human beings.

Here’s what the guest quoted Thomas Jefferson saying about this:

"This thing I believe, do I water it down to the level that I can live up to, or do I say the truth, even though I am falling horribly short of it myself?"

This is that epiphanial thunderbolt I spoke of earlier. Do I set my standards to where I can reach them, or do I set them high enough that my maximum effort may or may not attain that standard? A deep quandary indeed to all those of deep thought want desire to improve themselves.

I have certain beliefs as standards that I hold myself to, even though I fall horribly short of them on a consistent basis. Every day I fall short in my obligations to my family, friends and all those whom I interact with. However, because I will fail does not mean I should never try. With that being said, I work every day to try and attain those unreachable goals, even knowing I may never reach them.

I have multiple other ways of saying this, such as, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough,” “One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for one can just barely achieve through one's greatest efforts” and many others. I heard in another podcast this intent (since I don’t remember it exactly enough to quote it):

Never fear failure. If you fail, this means you picked a target outside of your comfort zone and your abilities. If you tried your best and failed, be proud of yourself because you got out on a limb and tried, which puts you way ahead of those who never try.

This is the message I want to leave you with. Strive for what is out of your reach. You just might get it.

I got your back

I am being deliberately vague here to protect who everyone is while keeping them straight and paraphrasing what was said...

The story below highlights how I treat and speak of others when they are not with me. This is how I act about all of my friends and acquaintances.

I was visiting a friend (Friend) during my lunch break yesterday, and while we were standing near my work truck (I was preparing some parts to be shipped back) a neighbor and acquaintance of Friend (Neighbor) came over to us and said to me, "I know you from somewhere." As we talked, we discovered that Neighbor had been in a class I had taught some years ago while I was a Mental Health Counselor.

Neighbor and I continued to talk, and the conversation turned to people we mutually knew, two in particular (Mutual A and Mutual B). Neighbor called Mutual A an "asshole" and Mutual B an "idiot." I replied, stating "Mutual A is strong-willed and is set in his ways about doing things. Mutual B has knowledge, however they lack the understanding to apply it properly." I did provide an example of Mutual B's "expertise." Neighbor pressed me, trying to get me to call Mutual A and B the same names he used.

It was at this point that Friend said, "Give it up Neighbor, he doesn't say things like that about anybody."

I am not providing details as to why so don't ask. I respect Mutual A and Mutual B, make no mistake about that. I continue to be friendly with them to this day, when our paths cross. To say that I like them, not so much. I have had occasional less-than-satisfying encounters with both. I can suspect, but I will never fully know their motivations and reasoning about why they treated me as they did.

I cannot change them, nor can I change their perception of me. All I can do is to try and be the best person I can be. How that appears to others and how it influences their opinion of me I cannot affect, nor will I lose sleep over it. That is their burden, not mine.

I defend everybody I know when I hear their character maligned. On Facebook, I have defended both Trump and Hillary when I see memes or whatever that state things I know are not true about them. If I have two friends/acquaintances who were in a relationship and broke up, I don't take sides with one over the other, and I ask one not to malign the other with me.

I have your back.

From the hip

Over the years I have developed a practice of not commenting immediately on things, but this is blowing up FB.

I don't watch TV, so I have only heard to references that Trump during the debate last night that he (if President) would order his Attorney General to investigate Hillary.

My question is, why is ordering the AG to fully investigate a person and to bring charges and prosecute when evidence of violations of the law are discovered bad, versus ordering the AG to not bring charges when clear evidence exists is acceptable?

The law that Hillary falls under concerning storing classified emails on an unsecured email server does not require intent. If you do it without knowing that the information is classified, guess what? You're still guilty because laws like this does not require mens rea (the evil mind, legalese for intent). There have been multiple instances of military members convicted and serving prison time for inadvertently releasing even small amounts of low-level classified information.

I guess the rules are different when you're running to run things.

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Wisdoms To Live By

You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him. - James Miles