Have a blessed Memorial Day 2016


Memorial Day 2016
Pray for those who gave their lives that we may be free, and for the future of our country.  Appreciate every bit of that freedom and guard it jealously.

Many have made the ultimate sacrifice for us to live in freedom.  Do not squander it.  Do not sell it cheaply. Let us strive to be worthy of their sacrifice.   This is what we owe them, that and our eternal gratitude.


Election strategy revisited.

Election Flag sm_edited-1Going back over my old posts, I found this one:  Quick thoughts on 2016 election strategy. Now that we have a presumptive nominee, it’s worth going back for a second look.  Here’s a couple of key passages from it:

President Reagan’s famous question to the American voter was:  “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”

freedom qstn

Along those same lines, for this next election I suggest this question:  “Are you freer that you were eight years ago?”

As for the security plank in the platform; let it stand, but not alone.  It must stand along one for libertarian agenda.  Our security will come through our strength and our willingness to support our allies in the war on terror.  It will come when energy can no longer be used as a weapon against us, the Ukrainians, or any of our friends in Europe.  As Rick Perry recently put it:  “If energy is to be used as a weapon, America is going to have the largest arsenal.” Security is necessary, even critical, but only as a means to an end, that end being greater liberty for all Americans.

Everyone assumes that the campaign will go very negative, very quickly.  Really, it’s a forgone conclusion. Hopefully the Republican campaign machine will at least occasionally come up for air and relay a positive message, or at least a less-negative one.  Hillary’s myriad faults are well-known, and will be even more so during the course of the campaign.  We have to present a positive alternative. What if the public knew as well as Hillary’s faults, conservative virtues?

  • A smaller regulatory state will mean greater economic freedom and more jobs.
  • An end to “crony capitalism” will mean that businesses must be fiscally fit.  Those with poor ideas and bad products will not survive.  Those with good ideas and products that the public wants will thrive.
  • Those on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder won’t have to worry about companies hiring  illegal aliens and dragging down wages.
  • Our military hardware will no longer be in a state of disrepair.  This will serve as a force multiplier and make us stronger.
  • Healthcare will work for the consumer, and the consumer will decide what coverage they will pay for.  The healthy young will be able to save for their future healthcare needs.
  • The politics of division will come to an end.  Americans will no longer be pitted against each other along social, racial, and other lines for the sake of gaining votes.
  • The nomination of conservative Supreme Court justices will ensure that our rights as Americans will be upheld for one more generation, and won’t be subject to the whims of politicians.

There will be no shortage negative of ads and personal attacks in the coming months. Conservatism has so much more to offer America than that.  Americans were meant to be free, not subject to the short-term needs of the powerful few, and not be made to trade liberty for an illusion of security. The statism, the control over our lives that the Democrats offer can and must be countered by the freedom that comes by returning to the principles that founded this country.  The party that stands for these things needs to spend some time and effort letting the rest of the country know.

Not just another conservative tagline.

LR Banner Backgrnd WP newIt’s our beloved tagline:  “Not just another conservative blog…”  But why?

A little over a year ago, Liberty Relearned was born bearing the tagline:  “Not not just another conservative blog.”   The idea of the blog then and now, was to teach about conservatism, not through regurgitating the same pabulum you’ve heard over and over again, but by going deep into its central concepts. Lots of people call themselves conservative, they listen to conservative radio hosts, read books by conservative authors, maybe even belong to conservative organizations such as the Tea Party.  Everybody who reads this blog comes with their own concept of what conservatism is.  For some, conservatism means following social norms based upon religious or traditional values.  For others, it means following common-sense fiscal principles.  Still others refer to the Constitution and the values of the founding fathers.  Is there then a common thread or commonality of thought among these types of conservatives?  What does it mean to be a conservative?  These are the questions that post by post, over time this blog seeks to answer.

If you’re on social media (and who isn’t), you’re constantly exposed to ‘meme warfare’, those snappy snippets of wisdom.  You might like them, and think they’re clever, and indeed many of them are, but while memes may serve to reinforce a position, they are not very effective at teaching them.  They are mainly concerned with personality, and tend to emphasize the negative– how bad Obama, Bernie, Hillary, etc. are.  The question is:  To the extent these things might be true, why?  Why is the conservative approach better?  Meme warfare, while fun, and entertaining, is like the junk food of conservatism.

Books can be great for learning about conservatism, but all books were not created equal.  Some books, and some authors specialize in a very narrow facet of conservatism.   If you have only five books on conservatism in your library, and one isn’t by William F. Buckley Jr., you need to plan a trip to the bookstore, or to Amazon.  At least one of the others ought to be about, if not by, one of America’s founding fathers.

Conservative talk radio can also be an excellent source of information.  Like books, though, not all programs were created equal.  As some books fall under the heading ‘pulp fiction’, some programs could fall under the heading: ‘pulp conservatism’, merely recitations of conservative or Republican talking points.  Some are quite educational, if you find a host that not just entertains, but enlightens you, tune in as often as possible and read their books. Many shows though only focus on current events.  That’s great, but it’s assumed the listener already has a base of conservative knowledge.  In any event, they are probably the means by which most people are introduced to conservative thought.

Of course if you’re reading this, you’ve chosen the web as at least one source of conservative information.  Needless to say, there is a wide range, both in subject matter and quality, of blogs.  On one end, you have the academic sites. These over the course of time can be the equivalent of a college level course on politics.  On the other end are those that focus on meme warfare and political satire.  Both have value, both are great in getting the conservative message across in their own ways. Somewhere in the middle, perhaps more toward the academic end, is LibertyRelearned.com.

The distinction that hopefully will come through if one follows this blog over time is that there is, as the name suggests, sort of a dual purpose for its existence.  There is the slant towards libertarianism and against such oppressive schools of thought such as authoritarianism, statism, and socialism.  There is also the educational component– the component meant to answer fundamental questions like:  What are the central themes of conservatism, socialism, capitalism, and such?  What is so great about our system that we fought to preserve it for over sixty years against the U.S.S.R. during the Cold War?  Just what is so great about free-market capitalism?  These are the questions that this blog seeks to answer, or better yet, provide some information to help the reader find their own answers.

Liberty Relearned, Year One


LR turns 1
April 6th, 2016 is the first anniversary of Liberty Relearned!

The Liberty Relearned Mission Statement:

To engage in civil, enlightened debate on what political direction is best for the United States, promote a better understanding of conservative/libertarian principals and effectively express them to others in a thoughtful and insightful way.  Liberty Relearned’s goal is to help bring back liberty as the chief American value and to counter the misleading and destructive rhetoric of the liberal statist crowd in America.

A year ago, after a long time watching America drift ever further from her roots of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness I saw some very troubling things happening to my country and society.  The Supreme Court had ruled that it was indeed lawful for a government to mandate its citizens engage in commerce through the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. The IRS had been used as a weapon against the Tea Party and other similar organizations.  In Washington, D.C., the President closed off and denied access to the WWII Memorial to the very veterans it honored just to turn the public sentiment against his opponents in Congress who were attempting to restore fiscal sanity to government.   I had wondered if the ideas of liberty and personal freedom hadn’t become passé, a quaint notion from a now bygone era.

Even more alarming was seeing the younger generation of Americans gravitate towards destructive ideas such as Socialism and Authoritarianism.  This generation, never having known such things as Cold War, the Reagan Revolution, being even farther removed from such things as the ‘space race’, WWII and the Marshal plan than my generation, seemed to be unaware of the things that made and continued to make America great.  Having never personally experienced any existential threat to its loss, many of them seemed to take things like freedom and liberty for granted.  Having never seen some of our greatest moments, they forgot or never even learned about something called American Exceptionalism.

What then, could a single person of modest means do to help turn the tide away from collectivism, progressivism, and just plan ignorance?  What could I do to help bring back the values that our Founding Fathers believed to be so important that they laid their lives and their fortunes on the line for?  Some people are blessed with skills of oratory, some are natural leaders, and some others have charisma.  I was blessed with a certain skill in writing and design.  There was really one avenue that I felt offered me my best chance to communicate my love of things like capitalism, Americanism, and personal freedom—a year ago this week I started this blog.

It’s now 52 weeks and many posts later, and I’m still working, still believing, still teaching, still learning.   A special thanks goes to you, the reader for joining me in this endeavor.  Here then is to another 365 days of us, in our own ways and voices, pursuing a common goal of helping to bring back liberty as a primary American value.

-JP Mac


The Week in Conservatism

The South Carolina Primary

South Carolina is now in the record books.  Trump is once again the winner, despite dredging up Code Pink’s talking points against George W. Bush, and despite a dust-up with the Pope.  Cruz has fallen to third and Rubio is back on track after the New Hampshire debacle.  Jeb is out of the race.  Believe it or not, that is how the process is supposed to work.

The Loss of Justice Scalia

When Justice Antonin Scalia died, the balance of the Supreme Court came into question.   President Obama sorely wants to appoint a liberal justice to replace Scalia, an arch Constitutionalist. He will accuse the Republicans in the Senate of obstructionism.  Never mind that he practiced obstructionism himself as a member of the Senate. Hard-line conservatives don’t even want to hold hearings for an Obama nominee.  Does this bespeak a certain lack of trust of the leadership in the rank-and file?  Might some Republicans waiver and actually vote for an Obama nominee?  One hopes that for once they will emulate their Democrat colleagues and vote in lock step with their leadership.

Apple vs. the FBI

The Department of Justice has insisted that Apple crack the code that keeps the iPhone owned by one of the San Bernardino shooters secure.  The FBI wants to see who else the terrorists might have been communicating with in case there are more plots in the works.  Apple has refused, as they fear that any program to hack the phone in question can be used to hack into any iPhone, and maybe by others outside of Washington.  The FBI counters that the warrant is for the one phone in question, and they don’t even want the decryption program, just the unlocked phone. There is just one problem, the decryption program does not exist, and forcing someone to do the work entailed in creating one would constitute well, slavery. Maybe if the FBI offered to pay for the efforts if the Apple programmers and go to every length to keep the programming secure, even from themselves, everyone can benefit.

The Argument for a Conservative Direction

What is Am Cnsrvtsm a IconAmerica was founded as a constitutional republic, with the core values of personal liberty, limited government, and citizen rule.  The social-political movement concerned with maintaining those principals is Conservatism. We find ourselves at a time where it seems we are moving away from those principles.  Soon, if we do not reverse our course, we will have moved so far from those values America will no longer be the same country.  Racking up tremendous debt in the name of an ever-expanding entitlement state will eventually lead to economic ruin, as it has in parts of Europe.  Our military has been systematically weakened to pay for those programs.  Conservatism then, requires a strong national defense, lest we find ourselves at the mercy of forces alien to our shores.  Our culture, what we consider “American” is one of the freest, most naturally generous, and tolerant in all the world.  Preserving it then, is well worth the effort and sacrifice.

The whole idea of America is to be free of an overbearing, ever-present government.  To be sure, some government is necessary, it needs to keep us safe, maintain law and order, allow for commerce, and insure the individual rights of its citizens.  We have chosen to create a safety net for those who have contributed to our society, and those who cannot fend for themselves.  The tendency now has to expand and offer subsides to those who are members of special interest groups at the expense of the more productive for control over those who accept it.  Freedom though has a price, and any trade for it is not easily reversed.  Conservatives see that eventually the bill comes due, as is has in parts of Europe. Allowing citizens who work the hardest, have the best ideas, and doggedly pursue their dreams to keep as much of the fruits of their labors as is possible creates opportunity to do more.

The freedom to choose one’s own path free from outside forces is not just an American virtue at the individual level, it is also a virtue in a free nation.  If exposed to a threat from outside or from within, a country wishing to remain free most sometimes fight for that freedom.  It is a matter of history that weakness is provocative.  Russia and China, among others, actively seek out ways to take advantage of the militarily or economically weak.  Opportunism is also the way for non-nation actors and is expressed as terrorism.  Conservatism insists upon a level of military might that allows us not just to defend ourselves, but contributes the mutual support of us and our allies.

America is a country of immigrants.  The promise of greater freedom and liberty has always served as a beacon to people abroad. Persons with the fortitude and courage enough to leave their native lands for  the chance to make a better life and who choose to adopt our culture in exchange, usually make America the better for it.  If they come but choose not to make that social compact, they create a divide between themselves and other Americans that ultimately serves neither side.  The strength of any nation comes from unity of values and purpose among its citizens. American citizenship should not be offered cheaply, it should coveted enough that those seeking it are willing to earn it.

Our country is unique in the history of the world for its founding.  It was created in the name of freedom and liberty.  Those things were hard one, and bestowed upon most of us by those who gave their blood and treasure to have and keep it.  The value of liberty and the pursuit of it by successive generations has made us strong.  It is the equality of opportunity, not the equality of outcome that makes us great as a nation. Our strength and willingness to use it has served us well when used judiciously.  When used carelessly, or not at all, we have suffered.  When we are secure within our borders, and our trading partners can feel secure in theirs, prosperity is allowed to grow.  Some are of the mistaken belief that prosperity causes freedom, but conservatives know true freedom and prosperity are dependent upon each other. Our founding fathers knew this, but when we lose sight of this truth and deviate from this delicate formula, America and the rest of the world suffers.  Conservatism is the belief that our founding principles when held and applied, keep America strong and her people free.

2015 in Review: My favorite essay.


LR 2015 Backgrnd IconWay back in April, I wrote a two-part essay asking the question:  Is America really free?  I believe these two posts define one of the central themes of this blog.  Unfortunately, Liberty Relearned was but a fledgling wog of a blog, without many followers to read them at the time.  I really think they’re worth re-posting as sort of a “best of” look back at 2015.  Here are key excerpts from both.  Hope you enjoy!

Is America Free

From: “Is America Really a Free Country?”

“It’s a free country,” as the saying goes. We as Americans have been brought up to believe this. Our Founding Fathers even put it in writing. We say it without giving it much thought. It’s cliché. If we were forced to answer this question honestly, could we really answer in the affirmative? Even if we allow for some moral restrictions on our actions, can we with intellectual honesty say that America in the 21st century is a truly a free country?

In 2010, a law was passed requiring Americans to engage in commerce– whether they wanted to or not, whether they needed it or not. On top of that they product was product was made more expensive by requiring services that the buyers in some cases could not possibly use. The law of course is the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Worse than such a law even being passed is that the Supreme Court of the United States actually upheld it, or at least a key provision of the law known as the individual mandate. Their decision, apparently arrived through a lot of legal gymnastics, was that the individual mandate penalty is a tax and as such could be broadly regulated. At that point any pretense that America was a free country went up in smoke.

From: Is America Really a Free Country? Pt. 2: Phone and Pen vs. Pen and Parchment

Convinced that the phone and pen could defeat pen and parchment, President Obama continued his government by decree campaign in 2014.  Frustrated by Congress’ failure to pass immigration reform to his liking, he reverted to type and issued an Executive Order that he hopes will put some five million illegal immigrants on the path to citizenship.  This despite the fact that he himself previously claimed he had no such authority.  He was right:  Article I, section 8 of the Constitution gives the power and responsibility to “establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization” to Congress, not the President.

We Americans have been on a steady decent away from being the rulers of this country to being the ruled.  It has gotten to the point that I no longer use the expression, “it’s a free country,” anymore– it just rings hollow.   I pray one day, that “We the People” will be able to proudly proclaim our freedom again, but that day will not come until we decide no longer to barter our freedom for security or comfort.