The Mighty Viking

Conquering those things we must, one story at a time

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Something Revolutionary

The story is told of two signers of the Declaration of Independence – Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.  Both were Presidents of the United States, and while they differed politically through much of their lives, they reconciled in later years and became dear friends. They died on the exact same day July 4th, 1826, 5 hours apart. Adams last words were,” Thomas Jefferson still survives”.  He was mistaken- Jefferson had actually died 5 hours earlier.  Nonetheless, their deaths occurred on the 50th anniversary of the signing, which signaled the beginning of the nation.

Something happened on that day in 1776 – something Big. Something revolutionary.  

Something sacred was brought to the human experience.

The birth of this nation was ushered in by a few brave men with a vision of a government founded on freedom.  Their vision was not of a nation that could do great things with the communal efforts of its citizens.  It was of a nation great because of its space and construct – conducive to the greatness its citizens could generate in their own way, answering the need they saw around them.

The ink of the Declaration of Independence drew an inspired boundary around what is right and proper to the human experience.  It illuminated the parchment upon which a structure for human co-existence could thrive – if followed.

To this day, two forces assail those borders: Personal Greed, and “The Public Good”.  Each is a perversion of an ideal; self-sufficiency, and care of our fellow man.  Each is a lie disguised as the regalia of the Powerful, and  the Righteous.

Some say it is our sacred duty to ease the suffering of our fellow humans as we find it.  Others  say  it is our duty to take care of ourselves so that we stand ready when the opportunity to serve others presents itself.  These are right and proper in their proper setting perhaps, but when each is isolated from the other, our ability to choose our purpose is undermined as the balance of power falls under the sway of others.  The purpose of the Declaration of Independence was to claim for its future citizens freedom of the heart to choose what is right as we see it, not chains of control to force us to do what others think is right.

In the swirling, muddy sea of intrigue bestirred by Evil to hide from us this sacred place, our Declaration continues to shine – through both its success, and in the failures when it is bypassed, undermined, and subverted.

On this annual celebration we hold, it would do each of us good to reflect first on this remarkable scripture, and then rejoice, each in his own way, the implemented principles it brought about.  It is only by refreshing our understanding and commitment to Freedom that we can arise the next day with a clear mind for what it is we fight.

Rolling Thunder, 2019

I would have liked to have shared video of the Rolling Thunder ride from yesterday, but phone battery didn’t hold up for it.

But maybe that’s ok, because I now have to tell you what it was like through the filter of my perception, which I don’t have a lens for on my camera yet.

One thing stands out head and shoulders above the rest.  People – real people – are still very excited to be American.  In response to their excitement, I waved.  I high-fived.  I first-bumped.  I saluted.  I even photobombed a group of Asians trying to get a picture, one guy in front of them with taking a picture over his head with all of them facing so the riders would be behind them.  I snuck (I don’t believe I’ve ever snuck on a Harley before, especially with this one, but well… opportunity struck) up behind them and stopped just as he snapped the group photo.  We all laughed, there was hugging, handshaking – you’d have thought I was the returning prodigal son. it was a highlight of the 20-minute ride. 

There were People of all shapes, sizes, colors, and backgrounds.  It is peculiar to sit in a parking lot full of bikers, who largely fit a visual stereotype, and then ride through a crowd of people who normally treat that stereotype with a certain protective distance.  Those people and we become, for a few moments, One.

The way I interpret my chosen Canonical spiritual writings, that brings God into our midst.  Our language and cultural differences may use different names for God, but the God I believe in knows all our languages just fine.

The ride’s route takes us through the heart of the DC Monuments, a place from where many of the iconic images can be seen up close and personal.  Of particular interest to me always is the Lincoln and Washington memorials.  And there are large spaces where, in any other city, would be a solid mass of buildings with businesses.  But this space, in the nation’s Capitol, is reserved for The People.  People that are maybe not involved with Politics, but are certainly very, very involved with being American.

I say this because Americans do their political thing every four years.  By design, we decide on someone to represent us in that messy forum.  We do it because we have lives to live.  We have crops to plant, houses to build, children to raise, And once in a while, that living we do must involve standing for a moment, and drinking in the courage it has taken over the history of our country to win and defend the one thing we stand for – Freedom.

It is no perfect Freedom we enjoy.  At every turn there is someone trying to bend us to their will and benefit.  Businesses do it.  Ideological groups do it.  Neighbors do it.  Foreign enemies do it.  From every angle, one man seeks to subjugate others.  

Freedom does not rest in some sacred temple, impervious to the elements in its vault.  It is a small thin egg, filled from within with life, and protected from the outside by the fragile shell of our written Constitution, incubated by nurturers and defended fiercely by the blood, sweat, and tears of its parents.

And who are it’s parents?

It is us.  We have not inherited a relic.  Each generation must give birth to its own  Freedom, must nurture, defend, and teach the next how to live.  Or it dies.

Idols are quickly forgotten as a people assume the idols can take care of themselves.  We pray in vain for idols to protect us, believing them to possess supernatural powers.

Freedom is not – cannot be – an idol.  It is a living, perpetually reborn infant.  And it must be treated that way.

Today we’ll celebrate one of the greatest sacrifices made since the Revolution.  But we don’t do it to worship them.  We call it Memorial Day because remembering is critical to our future.  We will have to defend it again, and that defense is not some fantasy of future glory.  It is today.  Freedom cannot protect itself.  It cannot raise itself.  

And if we cannot love it enough to get excited about it, we do not deserve to be its parents.  So today, in remembrance of those who sacrificed their life for freedom, we celebrate this infant’s life in somber wonderment.  We boggle at the dedication of the men and women who are gone from us, and honor the scarred and broken survivors of that debacle.  And we do it in the one way we can that brings us together.  Those who know and cherish freedom come to be filled with a song. And they take that song home in their hearts, filling this country with the overpowering sound of Rolling Thunder.  

This is who Sean is:

And I’d like you to know
Sean Roesener

Tonight’s Viking Sacrifice: The Kingdom

It’s a fine thing, to dream of being the king. To be able to bring together a powerful house, to command great deeds be done, noble works built at your behest. Naturally, your motives are so pure that people OUGHT to be compelled to your will. Your ideals are so illuminating that only those with Evil in their heart would even question them. Right?

But yet..are YOU ready? Is this all it takes to be a king?

The Ballad of the Kingdom has been sung to exhaustion through history:

The Dawn bursts upon the land brilliant, it’s warming light bestirs life, and pathways emerge from the night’s shadow.

The noonday fire burns hot, as it acquires a taste for its power, and even after the earth is fully warmed, after the crops have received their water, after the forests and meadows have feasted, it continues to gain strength, wilting and burning that which can’t be protected by shade and water. It’s nature is to burn, it can do nothing else. The farmer must tend to his land’s needs, water must be provided, earth plowed and prepared in its season. Without this skill, the kingdom bursts into flames and is consumed.

The evening shadows are fickle, tricking the eye and fostering imagined monsters, and seeing paths that are not there. Evening is a time for gathering, and preparing for the night. If not attended to, the kingdom stumbles into the night without a lamp, and with no memory of the daytime paths that lead past the rocks, and the holes, and the cliffs. It is overtaken by the vandals who seek opportunity in the kingdom’s sloth and ignorance. The evening is a warning of the harsh and dangerous night.

The kingdom built on the backs of its slaves will find itself helpless in the dark against those who were forced to prepare, when they realize they don’t need you.

The kingdom that draws over-much from its stores in revelry meets the darkness drunk and helpless against those who’s senses are sharpened by evil and wicked opportunity.

The kingdom that denies the oncoming darkness will be overtaken and snuffed out before dawn, and its strength will return to the land, awaiting another day, and another husband.

We view our kingdoms – from the tiniest family to the most extravagant empire, as a source into which we dip for our needs, and our wants. But the bucket doesn’t work until the well is dug. So we Sacrifice the kingdom- that is our revelry and leisure at its expense – until we have dug our wells, and sowed good crops, and irrigated and weeded and defended against marauders. Then, and only then we may sip from its well, and gather the strength required to walk boldly in the night, to sleep with confidence, and rise tomorrow ready for the dawn.

If you want a kingdom, then truly be a king. First, you must lead, but how can you lead if you don’t understand following? You must learn to follow. You must learn to BE what you would lead. Follow until you understand “the first shall be last and the last shall be first”.

If you want the kingdom you’ve built to be honored, then BE honorable. A lasting kingdom is not something separate from yourself. You must be a part of it, until it is a part of you.

If you want your kingdom to be able to give you something, then give. It will give back of the fruit it is fed. If you give your kingdom deceit, it will deceive. If you give it anger, and reasonless fear, it will hate. If you give your kingdom violence, it will destroy.

And if you give your kingdom joy, it will sing. If you give your kingdom protection, it will nurture peace.

And if you give your kingdom love, it will multiply, and will find a way to sustain you through the darkest winter nights, while other kingdoms fall, or become monsters.

So tonight, we Sacrifice the kingdom we want, and pray for the kingdom we need.

What did I come here for?

It took 700 miles, and more mountain passes than I could keep track of, but finally, the Wall came down.

I stood, in the middle of an inland sea so old it had run dry, cradled between two vast mountains. And there was not one other person besides myself.

A thin strip of tarmac strung like telegraph wire from one side of this valley to the other. Above, storm clouds played with the mountain peaks, cubs toying with the adults. Their rain squalls fell into the stoic peaks and ridges, and moved on when they could not disturb the stillness.

And so I stood, in the midst of this imperturbable stillness. The petty worries and thoughts of my own invention swirled into its silence, there was no struggle, they were simply absorbed into irrelevance. I watched them go, wondering if my soul would be next, if I would be swallowed into irrelevance too.

With a sudden stirring inside, I hoped I would be.

I wished to be caught up in this Larger Thing, to embrace my own insignificance, to be nothing. And for a moment, staring up at these impossibly enormous peaks, standing in an impossibly enormous valley, I could feel it. I let go of myself.

And then, I wept.

It was an overwhelming relief that came over me. Being swallowed whole into this Stillness And even when once again my head was filled with the rush of wind, and the rumble of machine pushing me along, that Stillness stayed with me.

No, wait. Not a part of me, but rather I a part of it, unable and unwilling to let go. I stayed with the Stillness

This was what I had come for.

to Recieve Your Gift, Choose It


Fathers Day. Day of Choices.

In this western society of ours, it is a strange and perverted phenomenon that seems to give Fatherhood the element of Choice. Many times the exercise of choice to the shame of a man. Dude chooses to head out the back. Dude chooses to treat his children in ways unsuitable for pets. Dude chooses to hide himself in anything and everything he can find besides engaging with his offspring. Dude never understands the shame he’s brought on himself until it’s too late.

My own experience is nothing like any of those. When I found myself as an infant alone at my maternal grandparents’ house, it was my dad who chose to fly at a moments notice, in uniform, across several states to come pick me up, fly me home, dry clean the uniform whose primary battle that day was my penchant for motion sickness – and to establish by whatever means he could a home for me.

As I’m spending this Fathers day with my son in the hospital again, I was speaking with my dad about his condition, which at one point the other day was very grave. Dad wanted to encourage me by pointing out how over the years we have fought for Our son.

My blind response, “What else would we do?”

It took a moment, as it sometimes does when wisdom speaks through me instead of from me, to take in the significance of the mental process that had just transpired. I have done what I’ve done because that is what I’ve known.

And so, by extension, I hope to pass this experience on to others. Does it sound self-congratulatory to speak about my choices this way? I feel differently. Someone has given me a cup of nectar, and not only do I pass it on after I’ve taken my share, but I tell the next person how good it is in hopes they too will taste, and be nourished, and pass it on to the next.

Mothers Day is all about loving what you’ve been given, a God-given instinct that can’t be refused easily.

On the other hand, Fathers Day is a Day of Choosing. It is a day of choosing to love that which you could walk away from, hiding from your gift in the folds of society’s hedonism. Mothers Day is a celebration of our humanity. Fathers Day is observance of “that of God” in us.

If you have a father who has chosen to offer it, take that cup of nectar, drink of it deeply, and with personal humility share it with those who need it most – your children. It will sometimes confuse them. It will baffle them sometimes. If the child you have chosen was not born to you, it may raise in them suspicion sometimes, of ulterior motives, of somehow trying to take from them, instead of giving. It is hard to speak well of something you’re doing without sounding conceited – make sure you remember that the gift you give doesn’t come FROM you, only THROUGH you from another, greater source. Do your best to ensure that from this day of choosing forward, your child only knows this. Smother them in your choice so that when the day their child throws up, or disappears, or tantrums, or falls desperately ill, they don’t have to even think about the choice. Give them cause to boggle, “but what else would we do?”

The thing in fatherhood worth taking from it is, oddly enough, only possible by giving. There is nothing else. There is nothing your child has that you can have by taking. This requires faith. The blessing only exists by giving.

Fatherhood is among the greatest of gifts a man can receive.

Choose it.

Give the gift.

Then, and only then, receive it.


The Irish Whisky Song

I first saw Carl curled up with a guitar on his perch, a duct-taped metal bar stool in the shade of a cafe’s outdoor tables. I was turning in to the only place to stop for a hundred miles, nothing more than a village of stubborn desert-dwellers, and rolled the bike around to a stop just in front of him. he was momentarily perturbed at the acoustic intrusion. But I shut the motor off and the sound of his voice quickly reclaimed its territory.

I couldn’t tell you the name of the song he sang, nor could I have said what it was about. The words were mostly unintelligible. The guitar was wretchedly out of tune, and sounded like a apple crate strung with baling wire. Which is to say it matched perfectly the feeling of the song. The only thing in tune was Carl’s voice. Had he been singing anything else it would have likely invoked images of competing Tomcats with their tails tied together.

But in this place with an afternoon breeze blowing dust and tumble weeds along on their daily migration, with that guitar and this particular mumbly folksong, his voice was the most perfect choice. It was grudgingly beautiful.

He broke stride with his words to bid me a good afternoon, cramming an extra measure into the song with the guitar to catch himself up again. I nodded a hot, dusty, thirsty “afternoon” back. Carl seemed to have the thirst problem under control, with a small flock of empty Budweiser bottles on the table behind him, and one half full one in a place of honor beside his picking hand’s elbow. My response stopped the music, and he reached back to take a draw of the open bottle.

“This here’s a song about whisky”, he began, “it’s an Irish song”, and he set the bottle back down, string-hand already fingering chords, anxious to get on with things. The song he played was indeed about whisky. Or, at least, that’s what I had to surmise as every third or fourth word was, in fact, “whisky”. No idea what else he sang, but I presumed by the litter behind him that asking about the words was a fruitless exercise.

After placing my order inside, I returned with a glass of water to sit at an adjacent table. Inside places don’t agree with me well. Carl looked askance at my water glass, as one eyes a strange dog at the side of its master. Quelling the urge to brandish it at him just to get a rise, instead I asked him to sing the whisky song again. For a brief moment you could’ve knocked Carl over with a feather. I don’t think he was accustomed to having people request that he sing.

He recovered quickly though, and dove into it with performance-grade fervor. When he was finished, however, the Rant began.

I’ve been known to dabble in political ranting myself on occasion, but Carl threw his whole being into what can only be gently characterized as lunacy. he went on for way longer than it should have taken for my burger’s arrival to interrupt him. When finally it came, my head was buzzing and my gratitude to the waitress was effusive. I engaged her in banter for a moment to let the fever of his tirade fade.

As she departed, though, he turned back toward me, and I readied for another assault.

But his tone had changed. He’d noticed my jacket’s Navy patches, and was now keen on discussing our experiences. We fell to telling sea stories. His experience was during Vietnam, but he had some deep sea experiences to tell also. One eye narrowed in a glint that can only be taken seriously from a man who’s been drinking, and he asked me, suddenly serious, “you ever been topside in a storm at sea?”

As he recounted his tale, his eyes changed. A look I have seen before came over him, part-crazed, part-wild, and part baptized by the singular purity of truth known only to those who have been exposed directly to their own imminent mortality. There is no other look like it. It can’t be pretended. Those that understand it look at those who desire it’s knowledge as fools.

And in looking at those eyes, I was transported into a raging sea of foam, snow, swells and waves, standing on what looked like an insignificant speck of submarine. I was reaching for a falling mate who had been picked up by a swell that swept him into the water, and then we were both falling over the suddenly-exposed side of the boat as it heaved upward. I looked above me to see my lanyard being held by another mate, and down at the harness I gripped two-handed with all my strength to hang on to the man below me. Had it not been for the man still in deck, keeping my line as slack as he could to prevent it being snapped, neither of us would have ever been found in this storm.

The boat was thrown upward, and its sides of steel rose up beside me like a monster of The Deep. The waters sucked at us like a banshee stealing souls, and pulled back to form a chasm where the hull met the water. For a brief moment the swirling black maelstrom beneath us dwarfed everything else in my mind. We were dangling over the mouth of death, it seemed. The next wave smashed us both against the hull. But it also pushed us both back on top of the boat, and while we wanted to lay clinging to the life the boat gave us, we all realized we had only a few seconds before it began again, and we raced for the hatch.

Something similar was the tale Carl told, but my own look caught his eye. For a brief moment, our eye contact spoke what no words can pass. For that brief moment, Carl was sane – and sober. For a moment someone understood his pain. For that brief moment I could see the man behind the singing bum.

The locals clearly thought of Carl as a nuisance on a good day. And perhaps he is that. But there is more to be known about Carl than they can seem to fathom. There is a part of Carl that has spent more courage than any of them. There is a moment, now and again, when Carl can no longer forget, even if he wants to.

And in that moment, Carl is as much a man as ever walked this earth. He paid a heavy price. More, really, than he could afford.

I still don’t know the words to the Irish Whisky song he sang. But I know exactly what he was singing about.

Maybe we could all request a song about whisky from someone who knows it, now and again.

Leaving an audience dangling

So there I was at the gas station fueling up the Excursion while pulling a trailer down to the brother-in-law’s. I come out and the gas attendant informs me I’ve got a tail light falling out of the trailer.

We walk back together, adopting the folded arms stance of two men talking mechanicals, and sure enough…there it hung.

So I turn to him, and tell him the following tale:  

“When I was a wee lad of 17, I worked for a summer as a courier in a hospital. My job was to take stuff that was here but needed to be there. Usually it was supplies, or paperwork, or sample, etc but once in a while they needed a person pushed. I was the pusher.

So one fine morning they call me to the ER to push a bed with a patient in it. As it turns out, he was a motorcycle rider who had crashed into a brick wall. My job was to push while the emergency trauma team fixed and held him together on the way to the operating room.

So I started pushing. There was bustling, and beeping, and the strained chatter of professional tested to the limits of their skills working together. I sensed the import of the moment, hunkered down in determined silence and did my part. I pushed that bed.

When we got to the relative lull of the elevator, I took a moment to take in the moment before me. Slowly, as impossible scenes do, I realized that the patient’s eyeball was lying on the pillow beside him, dangling by what I could only assume was the optic nerve.

“Much as this tail light was hanging out now.”

I told the gas station attendant all this, and said “you don’t forget something like that easily”.

I had been looking dolefully at the dangling light during all this, but at this moment I looked back at him. His face was pale, his mouth agape. He stood transfixed, aghast with the horror he had not seen coming.

My work here was finished, it was time to travel on.


Wild-life in Tennessee

So there I was, looking for a quiet place to pitch my bedroll. It was in May of the year, I had just ridden the Tail of the Dragon westbound, and it was getting on into the evening as I rode westward. I saw, for the first time since childhood in Indiana, fireflies along the darkening roadside. It was a fine evening of reminiscing.

Couple hours later I decided I wanted to find a campground for the night, so I looked on my map and saw Frozen Head State Park. Twenty easy miles off the interstate in Tennessee on a warm summer’s eve.  I headed out away from the known road, in search of the Perfect Spot.

That’s when things started to get sideways.

Got myself lost, went past 3 penitentiaries (I think, or went past one three times, hard to say) but finally found the place after a couple hours of backtracking in the dark. The gate was closed, and as it was about 1am by now, I parked in front of the gate to have a look around. I was hoping to find an empty park but NoOOooo, there was a whole bunch of tents – looked like a kids’ campout. So I eased the bike over the the side of the road alongside the wide area the entrance of the park created(see below) and pitched my bedroll on the starboard side away from the asphalt.

No sooner did I have my boots off but a set of headlights came up and parked over by the gate. I figured it was a park ranger. I waited. After 5 minutes of nothing but headlights and car running, I decided the ranger had probably called the Sheriff (or the boys at the penitentiary) and was waiting for backup. So I slung my boots on and emerged onto the road, crossed in front of the headlights with my hands clearly visible. Turned out it wasn’t a ranger, it was a mom whose daughter didn’t want to stay for the rest of the night. Mother was waiting for her husband to come since the gate was closed. As I crossed, she rolled her window down and in an obviously worried voice was profusely and fearfully apologizing to the big burly dude who had just emerged from the bushes – me. I eased her mind by offering to open the gate, and then did.

I went back over to the bike, and put my hand out on the bike to steady myself before laying down again. I saw a green dot on the back of my hand.

Now mind you, by this time it’s 2am and I’m a little groggy – my first thought was they had a danged laser security system. But I realized after a moment of trying to track my hand backwards up the beam path that there was no laser – that whatever it was, it was on my finger. I looked closer, and realized it was lightning bug guts. I happened to look in the mirror, and it somehow was smeared all over my face! Somehow I had smashed a bug while it was lit, I guess, and I had lightning bug warpaint on.

I Briefly thought about rolling through the kids camp to give them a Legend to tell for Generations of Tennesseean campfire stories, but hey, this is Tennessee, with three penitentiaries. These kids could be packing.

So I eased my way back into my bedroll. And dreamt of Indians and Frontiersmen.

This photo shows the bike the next morning.IMG_0049

TMV Card Back wBleedA few have asked me about my 2016 Presidential platform Thus far, I have this to say about that:

1. What is your stance on abortion?

I can’t for the life of me understand why this is such a popular
question to ask of a presidential candidate, given that the President has virtually no control over the issue.  But hey, since you’re asking, and this is my moment in the sun:  The issue is fraught with moral division, to the point where as a government of free people, we should not be legislating until we can argue more clearly the secular moral implications.  Meanwhile, the government should not be funding abortions either.  If groups want to raise money to support abortion clinics, more power to them.  If they want to use the platform of their personal religious beliefs to speak out against it, they should absolutely do that.

2. Do you support the legalization of same sex marriage?

Personally, No.  But as the President of these United States, my personal preference doesn’t serve the people of the country in this regard.  I would like to see the country come to view “Marriage”  in less of a theological cast, in regards to others.  If a person wishes to view Marriage as “God-ordained”, I think that is right and proper.  But to attempt to force others in a non-theocratic society to absorb their theocratic designs is wrong.  Proselytize if you wish, but force is out of line with the foundations of this country’s intent.

3.Should the government increase environmental regulations to prevent global warming?
It is possible to trace a path that shows the development of the “Global Warming” theory as a tool for other environmental concerns that could not hope to compete with Natural Resource Industry’s ambitions.  I believe that mankind has shown repeatedly not only the capacity but the ability to destroy local ecologies in the pursuit of profit.  I believe that one industry dominating public land  use and resource harvest through favorable laws written to subvert self-sustaining conservation and give that industry unfettered access to public resources is wrong.  I also believe that agonizing over individual toads, sparrows, lizards, owls, small rodents and non-adaptable flora is the mark of an obsessive movement built around an intentional over-reaction to these ecological abuses, in an attempt to  attain collateral conservation goals.  I believe, spiritually, in the “dominion over the earth” concept presented biblically, and through aboriginal traditions as well.  As humans, with the gifts of intellect that we possess, I think we have the opportunity and spiritual responsibility to find a way to combine sensible natural resource harvest with the responsibility to learn and apply techniques to help, rather than hinder nature.  To that end, the debate over the validity of  the “global warming” phenomenon is indeed one of power-mongering, with both sides vying for an unfair share of control over the disposition of earth’s resources.  I think there are studies being fronted who’s results were predetermined by the funding agencies’ subtle selection of institution.  In the end, a better rationale for self-control of Natural Resource Industry must be rooted in honesty, flexibility of sensible application, and the limiting of size and scope of harvest/recovery, which will be addressed in future questions regarding anti-trust and monopoly law.

4. Should national parks be preserved and protected by the federal government?


5. Should producers be required to label genetically engineered foods (GMOs)?

On its surface, the underlying principles behind this question sound similar to the abortion question. The key difference here is that the People’s choice is dependent on accurate information.  The problem so far has been that by adopting a labeling standard, that standard becomes a target for corruption, where the intent of the law is fairly easily subverted with intentional loopholes lobbied for by unscrupulous businessmen.  If we tell people to trust the standard, and then the standard is perverted by lobbyists writing laws for lazy, unscrupulous lawmakers, it seems to me we’ve opened ourselves to liability.  So we either have to take the issue another step and require producers to provide more source information from which consumers can draw their own conclusions, or let people develop alternate sources of food from producers willing to provide this data at a economic premium.  If we certify something using government agency, then that should come with strict standards that the producer  and consumer pays a premium to receive documentation for.

6.  Should employers be required to pay men and women the same salary for the same job?

Yes.  The caveat being that there should be exemptions for jobs for which there is clear gender performance differences.  If, for example a physically demanding job can be done by a woman, but not at the same rate of production level as a man, a difference should be allowed to remain. The problem is this invites a rats-nest of never-ending quibbling over performance demands and levels.  Because of this, despite the obvious unfairness, government should not be making blanket, unilateral anti-discrimination except to address the most egregious discrimination.  Let the market reward equality.  Sub-note:  I do NOT think women should be sent to physical combat units.  Warfare is no place for social engineering experiments.

7. Should physically and mentally capable adults on welfare be required to work?

I think some sort of service should be engaged and offered to this group.  Presently, and for generations now, policy has encouraged a culture of deception and socially destructive tactics from people who see welfare as a “free ticket”.  Broadening the question, I believe that government support should not reward single mothers and larger families over two-parent families of modest size.  This of course is just as difficult to monitor and enforce as the current policies, and people seem to get some funny ideas – legends about how the system works emerge from these subcultures that drives a systemic misbehaviour from the population in general.  I would like to develop a civilian alternative to the National Guard, and develop policies that encourage pride in that force, but limitations to its financial reward to discourage dependence on it.  The National Guard weekend a month and two weeks per year paid service paradigm on a volunteer basis allows those with the drive to succeed to use the tool available to further their well-being, a rigorous screening process for true disability to steer those with diminished capacity into channels where they can make the most of what they have, while leaving those with chronic disregard for productive life free to choose poverty and hardship.

8. Should all welfare recipients be tested for drugs?

Let the states decide, based on the efficacy of testing using scientific data.  The best information I’ve personally seen to date does not support its efficacy, but if actual science says different, then it should be an option.  Again, this is a State issue.

9.  Should there be more restrictions on the current process of purchasing a gun?

No, not in general.  Proper writing and interpretation of current laws will be more effective. These laws should be local, not national.  I realize this creates problems for large urban areas where their local laws can be subverted with a little travel and subterfuge on the part of the purchasers.  I think the solution to the problems caused by gun violence are better addressed through social policy than direct firearm legislation.

10.  Should people on the “no-fly list” be banned from purchasing guns and ammunition?

Not without caveat.  The government does not have an especially good system for inclusion on this list.  These limitations subject otherwise good citizens who’ve been falsely targeted to unwarranted loss of rights.  The principle of “innocent until proven guilty” must prevail.

11. Do you support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)?

No.  Requiring purchase of insurance on a national level is wrong.  I think the initiatives by some states have provided a good opportunity to understand the issues without what I believe to be an unconstitutional requirement to purchase a product managed by the government.  The effects on both the competitive market and the ability of individual citizens to conduct their business is damaging.

I do, however, believe that a state-level program that no one is forced to sign up for creates an opportunity to resolve some of the problems.

12. Should the federal government require children to be vaccinated for preventable diseases?

As long as public school attendance is required, vaccination should be required.  Private schools (I’m thinking of some religious movements here) should have the flexibility to refuse vaccination,

13. Do you support the legalization of Marijuana?

Yes. It should have similar controls to alcohol. 

14. Should a photo ID be required to vote?

Yes.  But two caveats:  first, the requirement must be created at the beginning of an election cycle to give people time in places where it isn’t a general requirement already, and second, assistance should be provided to create the documentation for people who do not have it.  There should be included in this system a review process that can grant ID with a hearing of evidence including anecdotal, and a judge to resolve the issue when simple documentation can’t be had.
15. Should the U.S. accept refugees from Syria?

Not en masse, no.  I’m not opposed to a stringent vetting system for limited numbers, but it is a problem for other parts of the world to resolve, not the US.  We have humanitarian projects of our own in our end of the world to attend to.

16. Should foreign terrorism suspects be given constitutional rights?

No.  They should be treated as enemy combatants, until in the process they can be proven otherwise.

17.  Should the government decrease military spending?

Formulating this into a blanket question/answer is an intentional trap based on a disingenuous premise.  Military spending seems, on its surface, to be a bloated self-sustained ecosystem that has become almost socialist in nature.  Standing armies were anathema to the Founding Fathers’ grand design.  It is impossible, however, in Modern Warfare to simply call Jim-Bob off the tractor to the call of a bugle and expect to defend the country effectively.  The military complex is top-heavy, as that is where the power to self-perpetuate resides, and it must be trimmed.  The military advancement system has become analogous to academia in its formulized system of performance evaluation, gratuitous expectation of retention, and the unethical interaction between military leadership and civilian contractor.

18.  Do you support increasing taxes for the rich in order to reduce interest rates for student loans?

No.  While I see taxation as a valid method of social engineering, it’s application must be with the lightest of hands.  There are already too many college graduates for a workplace that needs other skills that college isn’t designed to provide.  The most common problem for trade schools of any value is that business is loathe to train people because inevitably after the investment in professional development another company comes along and hires away the investment.  It could be argued that a tax for creating trade schools funded by that industry might be in order, but this should remain a State issue in order to take advantage of the State’s ability to attune itself to local issues more readily than the federal government. I do, however, support simplification of the tax code and fewer personal deductions available only to the wealthy.

19. Do you support Common Core national standards?

Not unless someone can explain to me in plain language why we’re using it and what good it does.  There is much made of the apparent idiocy of Common Core, but that isn’t my primary concern.  At issue is the federal government’s meddling in what should be a state and/or local issue.  My vision for the Department of Education is to function as a central advisory and resource coordinator to serve states, but to have no power to require states to do anything.  States are perfectly capable of being responsible governing bodies of their citizenry, as guided by good judgment and local conditions and traditions dictate.

20. Should illegal immigrants have access to government-subsidized healthcare?

No.  Illegal immigrants (as opposed to legal ones) have no rights beyond the basic human rights to be afforded them as they are escorted back to their countries of origin, or to incarceration as applicable laws dictate.

21. Should Muslim immigrants be banned from entering the country until the government improves its ability to screen out potential terrorists?

I think all immigrants should be prevented from entry until some sort of threat assessment can be conducted.  I don’t  if this is practical though.

22.  Should the government fund space travel?

Yes, as well as other scientific exploration.  I also believe in government-supported art, though I believe it should be in the form of supporting historic cultural art belonging to America, and the fostering of art community that in turn can choose for itself what actual art to support.

23. Should the government tax the wealthy at a higher rate?

I believe that a modest tiered system is valid to allow those working at the lower levels the ability to attain a healthy standard of living, but disagree with a dramatic percentage increase at the higher levels.

24. Should the government close loopholes and tax corporations at a higher rate?

This is, unfortunately, one of the classic misdirection questions that so often lead to political opportunism at the expense of actually addressing one of the most pressing issues in American Economics.  The real issue of unfair competition practices cannot be resolved with complex taxation schemes.  In fact, I believe that corporate taxation should be simplified and reduced – it is not the job of government to play economic engineer.  The singular role of government in business is to ensure that anyone who comes to the market with an idea can do so without harassment, or any one of the myriad anti-competition practices engaged in by the biggest competitors.  To that end, an examination of anti-trust, monopoly, and competition law needs to be made.  Small Business will always be at the core of a healthy, vibrant economy. To the extent that an economy suffers, it can often be shown that one player has gained dominance over others and has begun to operate aloof of the principles of free market.  Taxation schemes cannot fix this.