Archive for January, 2013

A year after surreal experience of surgery, I’m still happy to be alive

by David McElroy

Surgery checklistIt was a year ago this morning that I had surgery to remove a cancerous lump in my left breast. In a way, it seems as though it was just a few weeks ago. In another way, though, it seems as though it was in another lifetime.

When the hospital gave me the paperwork outlining everything I needed to know about the surgery and how to be prepared for it, the pages were filled with pictures of smiling patients. When I arrived at the waiting area before surgery at 6 a.m. on Jan. 30, 2012, I didn’t see any smiling faces. I saw the faces of people who were just as scared as I was.

It’s a surreal experience to be going through the motions of preparing for something such as surgery. In a way, it was very normal, because I had a checklist of tasks to accomplish before I got there. Mostly, though, it felt as though I was stepping into a world that I’d been able to avoid for all the years of my life until then. If it’s not overly dramatic to say so, it felt like preparing for death.

There was no reason for me to think that morning that I was about to die, but the experience was so foreign — as well as cold and antiseptic — that it was oddly reminiscent of what it must feel like to prepare to die. I can’t even explain that. It’s more something I feel. It was very cold and impersonal. More than anything, I felt very alone.

An old friend brought me to the hospital and waited for me. When the nurses were ready for me to come to the pre-op area to get ready, I left her behind with other people’s families and friends and entered a world that felt like death’s waiting room. I had to take off all of my clothes and put them into a bag. I dressed in a gown with hospital socks and a net over my head. One of the anesthesiologists connected a plastic tube to my arm.

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If principles of First Amendment still apply, principles of Second do, too

by David McElroy

TV news control room

The Second Amendment wasn’t written to protect hunters. It also wasn’t written just to protect the rights of people to defend their own property from thieves. It was written to make it clear that individuals had the right to own weapons to defend themselves against tyrannical governments.

For too many years, supporters of gun rights allowed the lobbyists of the National Rifle Association to define the arguments of the pro-gun side. As a result, many people are fixated on the historically inaccurate view that the Second Amendment is all about hunters and individual protection. Instead, that amendment is far more radical than the NRA was willing to state.

The Second Amendment was written by people who were very serious about the notion that “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of [individual liberty], it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it….” The Second Amendment was written by people who had just finished fighting a revolution. It was intended as a guarantee that future Americans would have the ability to fight against a future government that had grown too powerful.

People on the Progressive left tell us that the Second Amendment wasn’t written for today. They say the amendment was written for a day in which weapons were far less powerful. For instance, CNN’s Piers Morgan recently tweeted, “The 2nd amendment was devised with muskets in mind, not high-powered handguns & assault rifles. Fact.” Let’s look briefly at his claim and its implications.

At the time the Second Amendment was written, muskets were the weapons used by individuals and by the government. There wasn’t any difference in the weapons the two could deploy. There wasn’t some high-powered musket technology that the government retained for its exclusive use. The people were on equal footing if it came time to revolt.

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Governments can recognize rights, but no government creates rights

by David McElroy

Right to keep and bear arms

Where does your right to free speech come from? Most people would say it comes from the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Where does the your right to own weapons come from? Most people would say that right is created by the Second Amendment. If you’re among those who would answer that way, you’re mistaken. Let’s talk about why.

A right is something you’re born with simply because you’re a human being. Those who recognize natural rights — including me — assert that the same rights apply to every single person, wherever he lives and whether he’s allowed to exercise his rights or not. We assert that every human being has the natural right to his own life and to the property which he morally acquires or creates.

Because of that, the right to free speech has existed forever, whether any government recognizes it or not. In the same way, you have the natural right to be completely free, as long as you’re not infringing on the rights of others to live their own lives and control their own property. No government document creates that right. A government document can only recognize what already exists. (And the fraud known as the Social Contract is just a lie.)

Read the text of the Declaration of Independence. The men who laid the foundation for independence from Great Britain were very explicit about rights being natural and pre-existing: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The statement further asserts that the purpose of government is to “secure these rights.” So the purpose of government is to protect the natural and unalienable rights that every person is born with. Remember that this was written before anybody ever conceived of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

Over the last hundred years or so, a peculiar idea sprang up from the Progressive movement. These people somehow came up with the odd notion that rights exist only if a government creates them and gives them to you. Barack Obama is among the people holding this peculiar view. You can see it in much of what he does or says, but here’s a quote that makes it very clear that he believes government creates rights and that he believes government can take away rights.

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Angels can show up to do the right thing when we need them most

by David McElroy

Man needing helpI never talked to Johnny, but I watched him cry. I also know more of his story than he might have ever expected a stranger to know. I also watched his tears turn from pain to joy when an angel showed up to rescue him.

Johnny is the bald man in the blue coat at the right. He came in and sat down while I was sitting in a fast food joint Tuesday afternoon. I’d been there in my corner booth for awhile, because it’s a good place to write. I didn’t pay much attention to him at first. I just noticed someone who seemed weak and tired. He walked with the help of a cane.

He didn’t order anything, but he sat in a booth right next to mine. He tried making several phone calls, but just kept leaving messages for people, telling them that he had an emergency. When someone finally called him back, I got the first pieces of information about him. Here’s what I eventually pieced together.

Johnny was salesman, but I’m not sure what he sold. He lives in Tallahassee, Fla., and he was here in Birmingham on a sales trip when he had a medical problem that required him to go to a hospital. I’m not clear exactly what sent him to the hospital to start with, but his real problems started after he learned what was really going on.

“I just got out of the hospital,” I heard him tell someone on the phone. “They found a tumor the size of a golf ball in my colon, and it burst and spread to my liver. It’s Stage 3 colon cancer.”

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At what point does a president become a dictator to be impeached?

by David McElroy

Obama-angry

In 1933, the National Socialist Party had gained enough votes in the German parliament that Adolph Hitler won the post of chancellor. Because Germany didn’t have a winner-take-all system for a leader as we do, it wasn’t that sort of election. But Hitler gained power legitimately through the electoral system.

In the coming months, Hitler used every excuse he could to bully the Reichstag into passing laws giving him absolute power. In other words, Hitler used the legal political system to gain power. His goons certainly did work behind the scenes that was illegal, in order to scare Germans into believing they needed him, but the correct legal authorities gave him power.

At what point did Hitler go from being a popular and democratically elected politician to being a dictator? Is there really a difference?

From the early days of the country, U.S. presidents have used so-called “executive orders” to do things which Congress hadn’t specifically authorized. Some of those things were benign and followed directly with the intent of Congress. In other cases, presidents seized powers that they absolutely didn’t have. For instance, Franklin Roosevelt issues an executive order giving power to the military to round up Americans whose ancestry was Japanese. There was no legal authority for this. He simply did it. And nobody stopped him.

Was he a dictator? In what ways do the unilateral actions of a U.S. president differ from the unilateral, dictatorial actions of Hitler?

On Wednesday, we expect to see Barack Obama issue executive orders which are aimed at preventing you and me from owning weapons which he doesn’t approve of. He plans to surround himself with children from across the country; in a disgusting display of dishonesty and cynicism, he’s going to pretend that he’s taking these actions because these children have asked him to make them safe. (As far as I know, he has no plans to ban the automobiles and bathtubs which are far more of a danger to them statistically, but that’s another matter.)

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Had enough yet? Ready to quit pretending politics changes things?

by David McElroy

Tea Party protest-stop spending

Democrats and Republicans manufactured an end-of-the-year crisis that they declared must be solved or disaster was imminent. Without a budget deal to stop automatic spending cuts, the entire country would go over a cliff, they claimed, presumably destroying us all. Their last-second solution was to pass huge tax increases and cut almost nothing from the budget. Is anyone naive enough to be surprised?

I’m not going to dissect the deal. Frankly, I don’t care enough to. If you just want to be outraged over the tax increases and the groups getting favors, there are plenty of places that’ll oblige you. I’d like to ask a much bigger and more fundamental question.

Are you ready to give up on politics? Are you ready to quit pretending that it makes a difference who you vote for or whose election you work for? Are you ready to quit wasting your time, money and effort on a losing effort?

I know plenty of good people who believed that if they worked for Republican candidates who promised to oppose taxes and promised to trim the size of government, things would change. There were a lot of people who had faith in the Tea Party movement to change things, even though the actual philosophy behind the Tea Party types became more and more muddled over time. If you’re among those people, do you see now that your time and work and money was wasted?

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Start over here

When this site launched in 2011, it was intended as a way to find others who were sick of partisan politics and wanted to connect with like-minded people who were ready to go beyond politics and find ways of escaping. It has shifted focus in ways that reflect my own shifting thinking. I’m less interested in politics and more interested in looking at the things that make life worth living, such as love, creation, self-understanding and connecting with others. Every article I have posted since 2011 is still in my archives, but everything I write is a reflection of my current thinking. Sometimes I’m wrong — and that’s fine with me — and I don’t always end up agreeing with what I wrote five years ago. For now, you can still read what I wrote about the site’s purpose in 2011, but I should rewrite this. Read more.

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David likes email, but can’t reply to every message. I get a surprisingly large number of requests for relationship advice — seriously — but I rarely have the time to respond. (Sorry.) Besides, with my own romantic track record, maybe my advice isn’t worth taking. I’d like to find a wife one of these days, so maybe I should add an “application.”

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