Contributor Spotlight: A. J. Kirby

We have the pleasure of featuring “Multiple Choice” in our anthology, Forging Freedom. The story appears in the section, Imagining Freedom: Fictional Tales of Freedoms Lost, Sought, and Won.

Tell us about yourself.

Hi, my name’s Andrew Kirby, and I’m a storyteller. I write fiction under the name AJ Kirby, and have had numerous short stories published across the web, and in print, and I’m also the author of five novels, including the Amazon best-selling ‘Bully’, and the Guardian prize short-listed ‘Paint this town Red’. I also write a great deal of non-fiction, including political commentary, sports-writing, and book reviewing (I review for the New York Journal of Books and The Short Review). I’m in my thirties and I live in Leeds, which is in the north east of the UK, though I’m originally from the north west, and I was named one of the best 20 authors under 40 writing in Leeds this year.

Tell us about your story in Forging Freedom.

My story is ‘Multiple Choice’. It is a tale which explores how our freedoms are often curtailed and restricted by the choices we make, or are forced to make, or in many cases are made by others – or by our upbringing, our economic status, our families – when we are still very young. It is a story of how privilege is inherited and how expectations are lowered for those who aren’t privileged. The story takes place in a school, on exam day, and our two protagonists are faced with a multiple choice question which will define the rest of their lives, for good or ill.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Apart from a brief dalliance with music in my late teens – I wanted to be a rock n’ roll star then, however was too lazy to learn to play guitar so was instead lead singer of a band named ‘Magnetic Fishpond’ – I’ve always lived a life full of stories, and I think I’ve wanted to be a writer since as far back as I can remember. Even with that brief musical interlude, I was still keen on doing something creative. I wrote the lyrics to our tunes then.

I’ve always loved stories, and have a vivid imagination. I won a writing competition when I was ten years old and the prize was a years’ free pass to our local swimming pool – still probably the best prize I’ve ever won – and I think this gave me a real boost. It helped provide me with the conviction I could achieve things with my words.

Studying English Literature at university nearly knocked that desire out of me though. I’d always loved being creative, however that course taught me how to pull apart, how to deconstruct language and stories, and I kinda slipped away from writing for a few years after I graduated: I think I was scared of what others could do to my words, how they could topple the towers I’d so lovingly constructed. But then I decided to stop being so precious. Stephen King defines a writer as someone who writes, and someone who finishes what they write. That is all. So I decided to pick up my pen anew, because I felt I had stories to tell, and characters to give voice to. Without the creative outlet of writing, I’m not sure how happy I’d be, and I think creativity in general is not given the respect it deserves in society at large: that’s sort of what I’m aiming at in my story in the collection, ‘Multiple Choice’.

What’s the strangest place you’ve ever been?

I absolutely love travel and broadening my horizons, and I’ve visited many places which have pushed me completely out of my comfort zone, however if I had to pick one – just one – strange place, it would have to say Tunisia. We visited the desert where they filmed the Tatooine scenes in Star Wars, and I thought it was the most barren, most desolate, most otherworldly space I’d ever seen. People left their mark on the landscape in only very small ways, and when you trod on the sand, your footprint would soon disappear, blown away by the Sahel winds. Quite humbling really. It really felt as though you were on another planet, as though underneath all that sand, that grit, there might be a Statue of Liberty… if I’m not mixing my film metaphors too much…

Tell us about your writing routine or space.

My writing space is the attic bedroom in our house. Though this may change as I have a funny feeling my son – due soon – will want the room as his nursery. Once he arrives, I’ll probably snatch the time and space to write wherever I can find it, and I imagine my writing will change too. I’d like to tell new stories which he could enjoy… At the moment, I write quite cynical, dark stuff. You never know, his birth might inspire me to a new, wholly positive world view.

If you were to be stranded on a desert island, what non-survival item would you bring along that you couldn’t live without?

I’d like to have said a generic e-book reader. Devices such as that have probably allowed people like me a ‘cheat’ on questions such as this now… My Kindle has about 200 books on it and I’ve not read half of them yet… But when I think about it, what would power the damned thing? So no, that’s out. Instead I’d probably opt for some kind of writing implement in order that I could tell my own stories. At least I’d have no distractions, and I’d likely actually complete something I’m working on…

Are you working on any other projects at the moment?

Yes. I am always working on new projects. Probably too many. I have a pile of books on my bedside table waiting for review (though I am not accepting any more review submissions – my partner and I have our first child on the way – a massive project in itself! – and I want to devote as much time as possible to him). I have about four novels I’m a chapter or two into and need to decide which to press on with. And I’m also plugging away at some new short fiction. Finally, I’m reaching the conclusion of my second full-length sports book. This has been commissioned by a publisher and I’m working to a deadline, so it takes priority. I hope to have it published by Christmas this year.

Finally, where can we find you? (blogs, website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

Here are my salient links:

Author website – www.andykirbythewriter.20m.com
Goodreads Author Page – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3029490.A_J_Kirby
Author WordPress Blog – http://paintthistownred.wordpress.com
Amazon Author Page – http://www.amazon.co.uk/A.-J.-Kirby/e/B0046CG746/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
New York Journal of Books Reviewer Page – http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/reviewer/j-kirby

Forging Freedom was published September 17 on Constitution Day. The book features fiction and non-fiction stories from authors around the world.

Written by veterans, entrepreneurs, citizens, and writers from all walks of life, the book contains fictional tales of freedoms lost and won, essays on the current state of freedom throughout the world, and stories of freedoms imagined in a distant future or whimsical world. 

“The contributors of Forging Freedom come from all walks of life, but are bound by their burning passion for liberty,” Michelle Malkin, author, blogger, and small business owner, “Read this book. Share these stories with your children. Keep the flame burning!”

Reason Magazine’s Katherine Mangu-Ward called the anthology, “A fun, fast, and fascinating read for anyone who loves liberty.”

Forging Freedom is available on Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle), BarnesandNoble.com, and from the Freedom Forge Press publisher direct store.

Contributor Spotlight: John T. Hill

We have the pleasure of featuring “A Problem We Can Fix” in our anthology, Forging Freedom. The story appears in the section, Ancestors & Inspirations: Essays, Accounts, and Creative Nonfiction.

Tell us about yourself.

I’m a college student and political activist at George Mason University.  I’ve been active and interested in politics since 7th grade when I had fun debates with my liberal history teacher.

I currently host a political talk show, “Take it to the Hill”, on WGMU. I hope to transform the GMU student body into a more politically active and aware group of people, while also spreading the ideas of individual rights, freedom, and liberty to my fellow students.

Tell us about your story in Forging Freedom.

My story in Forging Freedom has a really simple, but extremely important message.  I wrote about how I organized a food drive at a local grocery store and with just a little preparation, we had great success.  I didn’t write the story for accolades or a pat on the back, I wanted to inspire others to do the same.  We don’t have to wait for the government to help members of our community in need, we can do it on our own!  The first step in eliminating our wasteful welfare system needs to be helping each other, whether it be finding a job or finding food, neighbors helping neighbors is the solution that produces results.  Of course there are already charities out there that do great work in helping others, but I hope to inspire others to get involved in their community on a deeper level.  WE the people are the answer, not a government-run welfare system.  Helping each other through community is an important step in preserving liberty.

What’s the strangest place you’ve ever been?

A college campus! There are so many different people from so many different backgrounds, it’s really quite remarkable. The culture is really unusual, it’s hard to explain.  Most days I love it here, but some days I wonder what I’m even doing here.  I just put my trust in God and do my best to follow his path for my life. I really believe he has a purpose for me being on campus here at George Mason University.

If you were to be stranded on a desert island, what non-survival item would you bring along that you couldn’t live without?

I love this kind of question! I’m going to exclude the Bible from my answer, because I count that as a survival item!  Probably a laptop with some sort of capability to connect to the internet! I’ve got to read the news, check Twitter, write blog posts, etc!  I’d certainly get great stats if people knew I was blogging from a desert island that I found myself stranded on, haha!

What book or author has been most inspirational for you, and why?

The Bible. It’s basically a playbook for life. It gives me the motivation, inspiration, and direct I need for every day of my life.

Are you working on any other projects at the moment?

YES! I’m actively working on “Take it to the Hill”, my talk show on WGMU. It’s really fun being able to debate politics with one of my best friends on the radio! Our goal is to reach all of the GMU campus and then keep expanding from there! It’ll hopefully be a never ending project! Please check out our page on Facebook: Facebook.com/TakeItToTheHill .  I’m also working on a book….the same book I’ve been working on since last year, so don’t expect that to come out anytime soon!

What question do you wish we had asked? 

I wish you would have asked me what my dream job is!  I have two answers: 1. If working FOR someone, I’d love to be a talk show host and writer for TheBlaze!  They have a fantastic organization down there in Texas and I’d love to be a part of that awesome media movement. 2. If working for myself/running my own organization, I’d love to still host my talk show for fun, but at the same time run a charity organization that focuses on getting homeless people jobs and homes. I’d love to have a group that teaches folks skills and then helps them find a job, but also takes care of them during that process.  We’d get them out of the welfare system and into the American job market!

Finally, where can we find you? (blogs, website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Blog: www.JTHmishmash.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/JTHmishmash
Twitter: @JTHmishmash
Email: JTHmishmash@gmail.com

Forging Freedom was published September 17 on Constitution Day. The book features fiction and non-fiction stories from authors around the world.

Written by veterans, entrepreneurs, citizens, and writers from all walks of life, the book contains fictional tales of freedoms lost and won, essays on the current state of freedom throughout the world, and stories of freedoms imagined in a distant future or whimsical world. 

“The contributors of Forging Freedom come from all walks of life, but are bound by their burning passion for liberty,” Michelle Malkin, author, blogger, and small business owner, “Read this book. Share these stories with your children. Keep the flame burning!”

Reason Magazine’s Katherine Mangu-Ward called the anthology, “A fun, fast, and fascinating read for anyone who loves liberty.”

Forging Freedom is available on Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle), BarnesandNoble.com, and from the Freedom Forge Press publisher direct store.

“That Government of the People, by the People, for the People, Shall Not Perish from the Earth”

Seven and a half score (150) years ago, Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address, commemorating the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War.

He closed his speech by saying:

“It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Fast forward from 1863 to 2013 and consider a Fox News Poll released yesterday 10/3. The last question of the poll is disheartening: “In the United States, the people are supposed to be in charge of the government. What do you think is happening today?”  Eighty-eight percent of those polled said “the government is in charge of the people.” Eight percent said the people are in charge of the government.

Set aside any passions you may have for the new healthcare law or the government shutdown for a moment and consider where “We the People” currently stand in our relationship with our federal government:

-It openly admits, in glaring contrast to the guarantees of the Fourth Amendment of Constitution, to a domestic spying program, with surveillance of American citizens’ web-browsing, email, and telephone calls.

-It has mortgaged the future of young Americans, amassing $17 TRILLION in debt and another $126 TRILLION in promises made to current tax payers with no realistic ability to pay them.

-It has hoarded an arsenal of billions of rounds of ammunition–more than would be needed for 24 Iraq Wars, and refuses to provide a justification for the purpose for such purchases. (With one purchasing official advocating a race war and still on paid leave…)

-It has, via the Internal Revenue Service, engaged in active harassment, tax audits, and discrimination against persons and organizations who do not agree with the current administration’s political views and policies.

-It has engaged in armed raids on private property, using heavily armed tactical agents at civilian agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency.

-it has enacted a complex, confiscatory, and redistributive scheme of federal taxation, spanning nearly 74,000 pages, ensuring that even honest, law-abiding citizens are guilty of some unintended offense.

-It has denied farmers operating on federally managed lands their proper allocation of water because of rabid adherence to an arbitrary environmental policy.

-It has engaged in surveillance of journalists, with a keen interest in those who do not support the current administration’s politics.

The list could go on and on and on. And as the details of the anti-constitutional Affordable Care Act become known, the government is going to assert more control than ever before over the supply and demand of medical services. To make matters worse, enforcement of the ACA will be overseen by the same agency that has a documented history of bias against the current administration’s political opponents.

All this begs the original question from the poll: Should the government be in charge of its citizens, or should the citizens be in charge of the government? Are Americans citizens, or are they subjects ruled by their betters from a dysfunctional and corrupt capital?

Reading the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, we know that the United States federal government was established for one purpose:

(Declaration of Independence): 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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

(US Constitution): We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

It is time to remind government of their purpose. By calling, tweeting, “Facebooking”, and writing to your elected officials at all levels, by holding them accountable with your votes, and by speaking out against government injustice, we the people must retake our birthright of freedom and ensure that it is the government who works for us, and not we who work for them.

John Quincy Adams once remarked, “Posterity: you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.” And so we must. We must make good use of our freedom. We must do our part now to ensure “that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

Giving Some Love Back to Our Audience

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contributor Spotlight: Svetlana Kortchik

We have the pleasure of featuring “Sixteen Days Ago” in our anthology, Forging Freedom. The story appears in the section, Imagining Freedom: Fictional Tales of Freedoms Lost, Sought, and Won.

Tell us about yourself.

I was born in Russia in a small Siberian town called Tomsk. When I was growing up, we moved around a lot and I spent a lot of time in Kazakhstan and Ukraine. I moved to Australia with my mum when I was 16 and have lived in Sydney ever since. I have degrees in computer science and history, and have worked as a computer programmer for many years. At the moment I am taking a year off work and concentrating on traveling and writing.

Tell us about your story in Forging Freedom.

My story is about breaking free from the ties that bind us to our lives and pursuing a future far from the familiarity of home. It’s about making difficult choices and living with the consequences. I was inspired to write this story after watching a documentary about Ellis Island in its heyday and the destinies of thousands of migrants who walked through its gates in search of a better life.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

As a child I was fascinated with books and read non-stop. I drove my parents crazy reading at meal times and in the middle of the night. I’ve even been known to skip school so I could finish a particularly interesting book. I first started writing at university. It was mostly poetry and an occasional short story in Russian. I had a long break from writing after graduating but took it up again when I went back to university to do my history degree. I am glad that I did because writing is one of the things that make me happy.

What’s the strangest place you’ve ever been?

Australia is definitely the most unusual but also the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited. It was definitely love at first sight when I moved there as a teenager. I love the climate, the ocean, the people, the lifestyle. I feel very lucky to call Australia my home. Out of all the places I’ve been to in Australia, Fraser Island is probably the most interesting. It is the largest sand island in the world and with its sand dunes, rainforests and freshwater lakes, it is absolutely amazing. It is the only place in the Eastern Australia where you can still see purebred dingoes in the wild.

What’s your favorite scene or location in the work you’re currently promoting, and why? 

The novel I am currently working on is based in Kiev, where I spent a few years as a child. Writing about the places I love so much has been incredible. Khreshchatyk, in particular, holds a lot of childhood memories. It is the most famous street in Ukraine and until a few years ago it was cobbled all the way through. It’s one of the symbols of Kiev with its tall buildings, upmarket cafes and beautiful chestnut trees. Whenever I’m in Kiev, it is usually one of the first places I visit.

What book or author has been most inspirational for you, and why?

I have always loved Alexandre Dumas and his perceptive, thought-provoking novels. His books transport us into the times long past and let us experience customs that are very different from our own. His world is full of adventures, heroic escapades and intrigues, as well as acute insights into life and relationships. My favourite novel is the Count of Monte-Cristo. It portrays human spirit at its strongest, capable of withstanding great hardships only to come back more triumphant than ever. The contemporary author that I admire the most is Paullina Simons. I love her novel, The Bronze Horseman. It’s a tale of war and survival that shows that true love does conquer all.

If you were to be stranded on a desert island, what non-survival item would you bring along that you couldn’t live without?

My laptop. It would allow me to write and read all my favourite books. And if by some miracle the desert island happened to have broadband, I would be able to check my Facebook, Skype my family and friends and possibly get rescued, too.

Are you working on any other projects at the moment?

I am currently working on my first novel, which is based in German-occupied Ukraine. Having lived in Kiev for three years, this story is very close to my heart. Writing and researching it has been a remarkable and at times overwhelming experience.

Forging Freedom was published September 17 on Constitution Day. The book features fiction and non-fiction stories from authors around the world.

Written by veterans, entrepreneurs, citizens, and writers from all walks of life, the book contains fictional tales of freedoms lost and won, essays on the current state of freedom throughout the world, and stories of freedoms imagined in a distant future or whimsical world. 

“The contributors of Forging Freedom come from all walks of life, but are bound by their burning passion for liberty,” Michelle Malkin, author, blogger, and small business owner, “Read this book. Share these stories with your children. Keep the flame burning!”

Reason Magazine’s Katherine Mangu-Ward called the anthology, “A fun, fast, and fascinating read for anyone who loves liberty.”

Forging Freedom is available on Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle), BarnesandNoble.com, and from the Freedom Forge Press publisher direct store.

 

Harry Reid Says Tea Partiers Are “Anarchists” and “Fanatics”

Today the US Senate began debating the House-passed bill that would fund government operations through December 15 in a “continuing resolution” budget process and also defund the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The Politico reports Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, referred to Tea Party advocates and conservatives as “fanatics” and as “anarchists.”

Point of order, Mr. Reid. An anarchist believes that there should be no government. But the chart below captures government spending on a per capita basis since nigh unto the beginning of the Republic. (Yes, the chart is adjusted for inflation.) Clearly there is no lack of government presence in our everyday lives. The 20th Century, with the rise of the liberal progressive movement, saw an explosion of federal spending and a far expanded role for Uncle Sam. Even to the point where the FY 2013 US Government budget is nearly twice the level of spending that was incurred to finance World War II.

So to refer to people who believe in budget reductions and a more modest role for the federal government as “anarchists” clearly fails to establish any logical nexus with reality. Ah, but this is politics and budget making in Washington DC! What hath logic and reality to do with budgets?!

But as you see the line of spending per person marching ever upward, the numbers don’t tell the complete story. What is the government doing with all this money? As progressive statists like to ask, “if it weren’t for the federal government, who would build roads?!” But the federal government doesn’t spend any considerable portion of its budget on road-building.

Nearly 65 percent of the federal budget goes to transfer payments–a literal taking of money from some and distribution to others. These are the big item programs that many are familiar with: Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and paying interest on the existing national debt. These programs require no annual appropriation from the Congress, no debate on program effectiveness, no debate on financial sustainability, and no debate on appropriate spending levels. The annual budget growth for these programs is as close to being “on auto pilot” as one can get.

To the 65 percent of the budget above, another 25 percent pays for defense expenses. A large military presence with over 900 installations and more troops deployed outside of the US in non-combat operations than in combat roles is a debate for another day. (E.g., for an unknown reason, the US maintains approximately 9,000 troops in the UK–perhaps to colonize our former mother country?)

If you’ve done the math, then you know that there’s only about 10 percent of the overall federal budget pie left. That’s 1 dollar for every 10 collected for federal support of education, federal law enforcement, even to build all the roads that the progressives insist we must pay higher taxes for. This is the portion of the budget Congress actually debates on an annual basis with any real impact to spending.

This is the small part of the budget that funds the IRS to produce Star Trek parody videos and harass the Tea Party that Harry Reid loves so much. This is where the Department of Homeland Security finds billions of dollars to stockpile more ammunition per person than the US Army. This is where the Environmental Protection Agency finds money to harass farmers. This is where NASA is funded not to conduct manned space missions but to engage in Muslim outreach, to make them feel better about their historical contributions to science. This is where the NSA finds funding to violate the Bill of Rights’s Fourth Amendment guarantees against government spying on its own law-abiding citizens. And on, and on, and on.

All of these things are examples of government encroachment on our freedom to conduct our everyday lives without government interference. We believe one of the things that has made America great is the power of the individual to strive to make the world better–using his or her individual freedom and a free marketplace. So we hope that Mr. Reid can forgive us if we have a very difficult time believing that he has any credibility whatsoever when he starts a food fight at the lunch table and calls anyone a “fanatic” or an “anarchist” who simply wants to curb the federal government’s ever-increasing lust for more money and more power at the expense of individual freedom and liberty.

Contributor Spotlight: Kevin G. Summers

We have the pleasure of featuring “American Excalibur” in our anthology, Forging Freedom. The story appears in Ancestors & Inspirations: Essays, Accounts, and Creative Nonfiction.

Tell us about yourself.

I live on a farm in Rappahannock County, Virginia where I’m teaching my kids (and myself) to live off the fat of the land as much as possible.  We work hard, but it’s a good life.  When I’m not farming, I’m either writing or teaching writing.  I’m proud to say that two of my students have stories in this anthology.

Tell us about your story in Forging Freedom.

My essay is about John Brown, the first white man to take up arms in an attempt to end human slavery.  It is a little-known fact that during the Harpers Ferry Raid, John Brown was wearing a sword once owned by George Washington.  My essay chronicles my personal quest to locate the sword, as well as some thoughts on the symbolism of both the sword and Brown’s sacrifice.  Most history teachers just say that Brown was crazy, but I don’t think that’s true.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Ever since I was a small child.  My mother was taking master’s classes at George Mason University, and half the time she drug me along to class.  I was sitting in the back while she was being lectured by John Irving and John Gardner and James Dickey, and then we would go out to this pizza joint afterwards and talk about writing.  I was drinking Coke while everyone else was drinking beer, and I thought that these were the coolest people in the world.  I wanted to be just like them.

Who is your favorite character in your book, and why?

John Brown.  Why?  Because he wasn’t afraid to do what he thought was right, what he believed God wanted him to do, even though everyone else in the country thought he was wrong.  He was willing to sacrifice everything in order to make other men free.  That, friends, is what America is supposed to be all about.

What’s your favorite scene or location in the work you’re currently promoting, and why?

The climax of my story, The Bell Curse, takes place at the Shore-Leave science fiction convention.  This is a real convention outside of Maryland where I’ve been an author guest several times.  It amazingly author-friendly, and it was fun to set a scene amongst Trekkies and Trekkers and the like.

What book or author has been most inspirational for you, and why?

Stephen King’s On Writing.  I’d imagine that quite a few authors would list that book.  For me, this is the book that I go back to whenever I’m feeling discouraged about my work.  He’s the best selling author in the world, but he remembers when he was living in a trailer and wondering how he was going to pay his medical bills.  He remembers what it’s like to be a struggling author and his words are honest and inspiring.  I would also list Drawing Out The Dragons by James A. Owen.  It’s a book about Owen’s struggles to overcome any creative setback due primarily to his outlook on life.  James Owen is a superhero, and his book is worth checking out for any creative person.

If you were to be stranded on a desert island, what non-survival item would you bring along that you couldn’t live without?

My wife and kids.  There’s no need to rescue us, we would be just fine.

Take any two of your favorite stories, what interesting mashups could you see (hero/villain hero/hero cooperation villain/villain domination)?

Moby Dickhead by Herman Vonnegut.  The tale of Kilgore Trout, an embedded reporter on the whaler Pequod.

Where can readers find you? (blogs, website, facebook, twitter, etc.)?

www.kevingsummers.com, www.facebook.com/KevinGSummersauthor, www.twitter.com/KevinGSummers

 

 

 

 

 

Forging Freedom was published September 17 on Constitution Day. The book features fiction and non-fiction stories from authors around the world.

Written by veterans, entrepreneurs, citizens, and writers from all walks of life, the book contains fictional tales of freedoms lost and won, essays on the current state of freedom throughout the world, and stories of freedoms imagined in a distant future or whimsical world. 

“The contributors of Forging Freedom come from all walks of life, but are bound by their burning passion for liberty,” Michelle Malkin, author, blogger, and small business owner, “Read this book. Share these stories with your children. Keep the flame burning!”

Reason Magazine’s Katherine Mangu-Wardcalled the anthology, “A fun, fast, and fascinating read for anyone who loves liberty.”

Forging Freedom is available on Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle), BarnesandNoble.com, and from the Freedom Forge Press publisher direct store.

Forging Freedom Released on Constitution Day

Today the United States celebrates the 226th anniversary of its Constitution, the world’s shortest and oldest national governing document. After its experience with colonial rule and a failed loose confederation of states shortly following the American Revolution, representatives from the states gathered to define the operating principles and lay the foundation for a pragmatic government that could still effectively manage national affairs but not become so large as to usurp the powers of the states or threaten the rights of citizens. (Celebrate Constitution Day by checking out some US Constitution fun facts).
The President has been recorded as referring to the Constitution as a “charter of negative liberties.” He only has it half right, which makes him fully wrong. Yes, the Constitution may be thought of as a “negative charter” because it limits the powers of the national government. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights even use the words “no” and “shall not” a total of 59 times in the space of only 5,000 words. But where the president is wrong is his assumption that limiting government somehow translates to negative liberties. Quite the opposite: citizens are free and liberties are maximized when the government’s powers are limited.

Nearly 21 months ago, we began work on a project to give people from all walks of life an opportunity to tell their stories on what freedom means to them. Some did so by telling stories from their family history, some shared from their talents with prose and story plots, and some shared their experiences while advocating for the idea that a limited government increases prospects of freedom for all.

The resulting project is our inaugural book, Forging Freedom, which we dedicated “To those who deny themselves power so that others may be free.” We are proud of our authors, and we are proud to be releasing the book on a date marked by a day long ago when men of power representing the lands and states they loved dearly joined together to create an operating document for our federal government. Their efforts were aimed at ensuring that government’s power remained limited so people could remain free.

You can find Forging Freedom in paperback and for Kindle readers on Amazon.com or at our publisher’s store tab at the top of the page.

 

 

Obama’s Syria Address Another Example of Misunderstanding America’s Founding Values

President Obama discussed American exceptionalism during his Syria speech. But he knows nothing of America’s true exceptionalism and its role in preserving freedom.

In the closing lines of his address to the nation attempting to justify the use of military strikes against Syria, President Obama showed yet again how little he understands (or values) America’s founding principles, which are essential to freedom.

The president said this:

America is not the world’s policeman.  Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong.  But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act.  That’s what makes America different.  That’s what makes us exceptional.  With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth.

Here we pause for just a moment to remind you–and the president, of his earlier remarks regarding “American exceptionalism.”

“I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I expect the Brits believe in British exceptionalism; just as the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” Which at its core meaning is to say, he does NOT believe in exceptionalism at all. If everyone is exceptional, then no one is. As the word suggests, “exceptional” refers to something being unusual or an “exception” to the rule.

Does the president truly believes in American exceptionalism? Or was he merely using it as the tagline for a 15-minute commercial attempting to swing wildly unpopular opinion for his desire to start another military conflict in the Middle East?

American exceptionalism is not to say that the US is the world’s policeman or is unusual because it has economic or military strength. It does not mean that Americans are “better” than Obama’s Brits or Greeks–or anyone else for that matter. It doesn’t mean America deserves a larger seat at the world’s table of decision makers because we think we are special.

The true meaning of American exceptionalism can be traced back to the founding of the country and the values and principles that were infused into the Constitution as written in 1787.  America was exceptional or an exception to the rule at that time because in an age of kings and queens and despotic rulers, a country was founded where rule would be by the consent of the governed not by a “divine right of kings” or a “mandate from heaven” claimed by despots.

At a time in the world’s history of serfs and subjects, existing by the grace and mercy of a liege lord or a sovereign, the American Declaration of Independence boldy declared that “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.” Put another way, rights were recognized as existing in nature, as blessings from a Creator, not as privileges that are granted by a government. In America the government’s purpose is to secure these rights, not to grant them in exchange for political favors.

The US Constitution limits government’s power–establishing the principle of governing by consent of the people or the idea that Americans are citizens, not subjects. But this principle is lost on one such as Barack Obama. He views the US Constitution not as promoting freedom and individual liberty. No, to him, the Constitution is like “a charter of negative liberties” because it only states what the government cannot do to its citizens; it does not charge the government to take actions (such as redistributing wealth) on  behalf of citizens.

Imagine the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights that you hold dear, whatever they may be (or all of them). Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to keep and bear arms in one’s own defense, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, right to a jury trial, freedom from testifying against yourself, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment (partial list). To Barack Obama these things are “negative liberties.” They do not grant the government the power to do what it wants, these rights only provide people guarantees of freedom from government action.

Thus, to Obama, and those that think the way he does, the Constitution is not a great document. It is not great because it tells the government it cannot infringe on people’s rights. The Constitution is flawed because it does not empower the government to act on the behalf of some, at the expense of others. Examples of what progressive statists have in mind of what the government should be empowered to do are similar to the “rights” that the Soviet constitution offered its subjects–or the rights that FDR attempted to propose in a “Second Bill of Rights” in the 1940s, such as a right to employment, a right to a living wage, healthcare, housing, education and social security–even food, clothing, and recreation.

But Liberty is:  the quality or state of being free (thank you Merriam-Webster):

a :  the power to do as one pleases
b :  freedom from physical restraint
c :  freedom from arbitrary or despotic control
d :  the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges
e :  the power of choice

Because to give the kinds of things to people that progressive statists want, the government needs more power, not less. They need the power to tell you what to eat; what to put in your car–if you even get to have one; power to decide if you will receive medical treatment, or the power to kill you if it deems you are too expensive and too useless to keep around. They need power to tell you where you can live, how big of a house is too much, when you’ve made too much money, how much electricity you will be allowed to consume, and so on.

But these are not liberties according to the common sense definition above. Freedom and liberty exist when people are not told what to do–this is the exact opposite. To Barack Obama, the obvious definition of freedom and liberty doesn’t come about by limiting the government’s power over its people. To him those are “negative liberties” (even though they apply only to the government). To Barack Obama, liberty only exists when the government has the power to grant its citizens the material things that will seem to bring them happiness. And while some may claim this fits into definition “d” above, that is not true. The things that the government grants must be produced by or paid for by someone. The arbitrary seizure of property in order to redistribute it to someone else fits clearly into a definition of “arbitrary or despotic control.”

The meaning of actual freedom–that is the real world definition and not that of a learned constitutional scholar–matches the idea present at America’s birth: that freedom exists in nature and it is government’s job to secure it for their people. Barack Obama’s interpretation is more in line with the vision that governments must take more power in order to grant rights to their people. But this idea, despite being forwarded by self-proclaimed “progressives” as they like to call themselves, is quite regressive. It diverts us back to the world from which America emerged as an exceptional nation–a world where citizens are subjects rather than the masters of their own destiny that they can be in a free society.

Barack Obama does not identify with the values that were forged into the American constitution. These are the ideas that allowed individual freedom to take hold and propel the country to its present stature. These ideas and values are foreign to him. Leaving us to ask, if Barack Obama knows nothing of the true exceptionalism from whence America came, how can he claim the moral authority to lead its government?

Honoring one of Freedom’s Warriors

Fifty years ago today, Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his monumental “I Have a Dream” speech, calling on America to renew its promise of freedom for all its citizens. Freedom and liberty were recurring themes as King recalled instances of police brutality, imprisonment, denial of voting rights, segregation, and denial of services at hotels and restaurants to Black Americans. Time has proven the value of King’s ideas to be monumentally important events in the 20th Century.

We were saddened to see the memory of an unapologetic, legendary warrior for freedom, one whose life was taken less than 5 years after giving his most memorable speech, cheapened by modern statist progressives and their never-ending quest for power. Speakers at the commemoration events gave voice to a number of progressive political agenda items. Repealing stand your ground laws, gun control, the Trayvon Martin case, amnesty, DC Statehood, voter ID laws, and promoting economic equality (not equality of freedom) all found champions at various points in the speaker lists. Freedom did not seem to be such a highly prized goal worthy of striving toward.

Instead of reliving today’s soundbytes or slogging through political pundits’ opinions, we suggest taking a few moments to listen to the ideas and the words of King’s original speech.  The power of his words and ideas are strong enough to speak for themselves, even today.  Though copyrighted some time after his death by representatives of his estate, you can find a copy at the US National Archives.  An audio copy (for the moment) lives on YouTube.

We echo the words spoken by Dr. King 50 years ago today, hoping that people will “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” and “Let Freedom Ring!”

Photo Credit: Dick DeMarsico, World Telegram staff photographer via Library of Congress. New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection