Politics

Gun Control, Public Safety, and Reality

The President says we cannot tolerate this kind of gun violence any more.

Has he been tolerating it?  I haven’t–THERE IS SIMPLY NOTHING I CAN DO ABOUT IT.

Wickedness, evil, murders and madness.  They have always been with us, and they will always be with us.  Even in Christ’s peaceful 1,000-year reign on earth, there will be criminals who are punished and executed.  So what makes us think we can stop them?

In reality, gun violence and mass murders have DECREASED over the last few decades (the peak was in the 1920’s).  Why do they seem so much worse today?  Wall-to-wall media coverage.

Why was so much false information broadcast on Friday?  Because the media were trying to fill hours of continuous broadcasts to keep viewers from changing the channel.  They reported everything that came their way–right, wrong, or ridiculous.

Gun control is NOT going to solve the problem.  Connecticut has one of the nation’s strictest gun laws; see what happened.  Countries like Ecuador where guns are completely banned have crime rates through the roof.  China has rigid gun restrictions; last week several school children were injured in a knife attack.  America’s worst school violence was not at Virginia Tech or Columbine–it was in 1927 when 3 bombs were used to attack a school.  Oklahoma city and the first World Trade Center attacks were carried out with bombs; 9-11 was perpetrated with box cutters and airplanes.

By the way:  how did the government respond to the dangers revealed by the 9-11 attacks?  By putting more armed security on duty at airports and even on the planes.

One reporter last night said that attempts at gun control would be “complicated” by the second amendment to the Constitution.  Here’s my opinion:  anytime the Constitution is complicating or preventing the action you want to carry out, YOU ARE PURSUING THE WRONG POLICIES.

Can schools be safer?  The schools with which I have been associated have all had similar safety plans to those in place in Connecticut.  That school did everything right, and 26 people died.  What more could they have done?  One historical episode gives me a clue.  Remember a few years back when a gunman tried to get into the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.?  The armed guard inside the door kept the madness from getting any farther than the foyer.

I am actually in favor of limited gun control, to the extent that I don’t see any reason that any citizen needs to have an assault rifle–even for protection.  Ban those like we ban hand grenades, bazookas, ground-to-air missiles, etc.  But beyond that, nothing else is reasonable, possible, or wise.  Are we really going to shut down all the gun shops and sporting goods stores?  Are we going to go door-to-door and confiscate every legal weapon?  (And gun registration is just the means to prepare for gun confiscation.)

The second amendment was written so that people could protect their homes and families–not only from predators, but from overreaching and tyrannical government.  We must not let the sensationalistic media (let’s call it what it is:  today’s yellow journalism) delude the ignorant masses into thinking that the government can solve their problems if we give Big Brother the right to abandon the Constitution. 

We all grieve for the families affected by the recent tragedies–but in reality, the only positive step that schools could take to make their institutions safer would be to put armed guards at the doors.  And by the way–don’t ask the federal government to help fund this one practical and effective measure; THE CURRENT ADMINISTRATION HAS QUIETLY ELIMINATED FUNDING FOR SCHOOL SAFETY INITIATIVES FROM THE FEDERAL BUDGET OVER THE PAST 4 YEARS.

I don’t like being a fatalist, but here’s my closing thought:  the most effective measures to decrease violent crimes in America are to enable an economy that creates real jobs, and to teach our children to love God, respect authority, and recognize their place in society.  But I don’t see either of those things happening any time soon.

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Double-Dip Ice Cream More a Threat Than Double-Dip Recession

Dr. Oz made the declaration; Michelle Obama confirmed it.  Obesity is “Absolutely!”a greater threat to US national security than the following: (and some of these they consider really, REALLY bad!)

  • Al-Qaeda
  • Muslim Brotherhood
  • Iranian Nuclear capability
  • Chinese economic superiority
  • Massive cuts to the US Military
  • George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
  • Additional trillions of dollars of debt
  • Impending failure of the Social Security Disability Insurance fund
  • White supremacists
  • Collapse of the Euro
  • Mexican drug cartels
  • North Korean missiles
  • Pro-lifers
  • $9/gallon gasoline
  • Numerous coordinated attacks on our embassies and consulates
  • Massive drought
  • Fox News
  • Global warming
  • 8% unemployment
  • Beverages purchased in secure airports
  • Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan/John Boehner and all Republicans combined
  • Wiki-leaks release of classified documents
  • Benjamin Netanyahu
  • The Taliban and Afghan rebels and traitors
  • Rush Limbaugh

Oops–sorry.  I guess they include Rush as part of the threat.  And don’t forget me–Dr. Oz and Michelle O agree:  I’m the greatest!

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Somebody Owes Me Some Money–Part 2

One of my gentle readers responded to my last post and got me thinking.  Who do people sue when they are injured in an act of war?

Apparently, they don’t have to sue anyone.  The Federal government has chosen to pay outright.

After 9-11, Washington set up a Victim Compensation Fund which ultimately paid each individual or family an average of $1.85 million.  When it was pointed out by patriotic Americans that this was far more than our military heroes and their families qualify for or receive, the compensation for them was increased substantially.  (Still not as high as the 9-11 VCF, but at a more reasonable level).  And apparently insurance policies for both groups have paid out the specified benefits without much of a fight.

There have been some victims of the terrorist attacks who have sued because they think that the government payments have been too low; and there are some gay partners who were not considered family members who are currently suing to receive payment.

I do not begrudge these victims their payments.  While the Bible does not command the government to make payouts to its people, it does expect the rulers to be an encouragement and blessing to those who do right (Rom. 13:3), and innocent victims of terrorist attacks certainly deserve recognition for their sacrifice, willing or unwilling.

But it does raise a question of a historical nature:  when did the US government begin these compensation funds for civilian victims?  Were the 123 US citizens on the Lusitania compensated?  (There was a notice warning them not to board, so perhaps they did not qualify.)  Were the victims of the German sabotage of Black Tom Island in 1916 compensated?  (7 dead, hundreds injured)  Were civilian victims of the attacks on Pearl Harbor or Manila compensated?  Were the civilian/Aleut victims of the Japanese attacks on Alaska compensated?  Are civilian contractors working today to support US troops in countries like Afghanistan compensated, and to what degree?

I wish I were a better historian.  This topic deserves a much fuller treatment.  The question in my mind is this:  at what point did the American perception of death by act of war/terrorism change from “noble, tragic sacrifice” to “entitlement to government compensation”?  And what caused our society to change its view?  I have my guesses, but I would rather anchor them in fact before I begin ranting ignorantly.  I welcome any comments on the issue.

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Somebody Owes Me Some Money

We live in a “victim society” that believes that all harm can be atoned for by large infusions of cash.  A bull accidentally got away from its experienced handlers; now both the Fair and the owners are in danger of losing everything because the victims (who suffered minor injuries) “deserve compensation” in the form of bankruptcy-inducing lawsuits.  Is this the American way?

A story out of Colorado is more honest than most:  lawyers already have gathered a group of victims from the recent theater shooting, and are shopping around for someone to sue.  Now, I understand that these people suffered physical and emotional harm at the hands of a wicked, deranged murderer, and that’s a terrible thing.  They deserve our prayers; they deserve proper medical care; they deserve counseling to help deal with the grief and the nightmares.  The question is, who should pay?  The thug who committed the crime is an underfunded grad student whose remaining funds (if any) will be tied up in his own legal defense, supplemented by our tax dollars.  The victims cannot expect to get a dime from the one who caused their harm.  So they start looking for someone else to sue.

Perhaps the theater is really responsible for their pain, and needs to be taught a lesson.  Besides, it’s a large chain and has lots of money; a few million out of their corporate pockets wouldn’t hurt them a bit; after all corporations are not people, so no one is losing out when a corporation loses money, right?

Perhaps the counselors who noticed irregularities in the killer’s behavior should pony up the dough for damages.  After all, even though he had neither threatened nor committed any crime to their knowledge, they should have known what he would do and had him locked away as a precaution. 

And while we’re at it, why not sue his parents?  They produced his rotten genes.  What about his schoolteachers, who molded him into what he is?  And maybe they should go after the movies for teaching him about violence.  Or perhaps they should go against churches for not preventing the movies from teaching him about violence, or the Jews who financed Hollywood, or Edison for inventing the movie projector.

The greed that would demand payment from innocent parties sickens me almost as much as the wickedness that caused the suffering in the first place.

Old Testament law, upon determining the guilt of a murderer, would have executed him swiftly.  In the case of a criminal who caused injury but not death, he would have been forced to make restitution, even if it took years as a bond slave to effect it.  Unfortunately, neither of those options are available under our current legal system.  And there is one other major difference between the Old Testament law and today’s system:  back then, there were no lawyers promoting civil cases for profit.

Maybe all Americans should join a class action suit against the lawyers who have spawned and cultivated our ravenous litigious society.  But who would represent us?

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Voter IQ Test

This morning I want to go on record as supporting a national Voter IQ Law.  This is different from a Voter ID Law (which I also support) in that it is free, easily enforceable, and would address a documented national tragedy.

Don’t misunderstand:  I don’t mean that the voters have to have a high IQ, or even an average one.  I mean that voters should not be allowed to vote for candidates whose IQ’s are low enough to pose a threat to our nation.  Candidates have to report their finances; why not their intelligence?  Put it on the ballot right next to their party affiliation!  Election boards should refuse to certify any candidate whose IQ is as low as, say, this Congresswoman’s:

Brooklyn Rep. Yvette Clarke was the laughingstock of Brooklyn — and the nation — Wednesday after offering a preposterous explanation of New York history on “The Colbert Report.”

The pol told Stephen Colbert, in a spot that aired Tuesday night, that slavery persisted in Brooklyn until as late as 1898. In reality, slavery was legally abolished in New York in 1827.

“Some have called Brooklyn’s decision to become part of New York City ‘The Great Mistake of 1898,’ ” Colbert said. “If you could get in a time machine and go back to 1898, what would you say to those Brooklynites?”

“I would say to them, ‘Set me free,’ ” Clarke responded.

Pressed by Colbert to say what she would have been freed from, the African-American Democrat responded, “Slavery.”

“Slavery. Really? I didn’t realize there was slavery in Brooklyn in 1898,” Colbert followed.

“I’m pretty sure there was,” Clarke continued.

“Who would be enslaving you in 1898 in New York?” the quick-witted comic questioned, never one to let slip a priceless live TV moment.

Clarke responded: “The Dutch.”

We all know that the Dutch left power in NY in the 17th Century and slavery was banned in NY well before the Civil War.  (Read the rest of the article for the full story.)

By the way:  for those who think she was just joking, that’s just another sign we need my law.  Politicians running for office do not usually make jokes about their ignorance regarding their own districts. That’s just dumb.

If you want to really depress me, you can send me your examples of politicians’ shortcomings in the brain department by posting them here or sending them to my Facebook account at Robert D. Bowker.  Two requests, though:  please don’t send me anything about those who voted for Obamacare, or Joe Biden.  Those cases are already too well documented.

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Close Your Eyes, Full Speed Ahead

I get so sick of political correctness.  The Bible teaches us to be kind, and to treat others as they would like to be treated; but when people demand to be treated in an unreasonable way, that’s a problem.  When so-called authorities who aren’t even in the game demand that we treat others in an unreasonable way, that’s idiocy.

My daughter sent me this link to an article involving the US State Department, and its latest directive from its “Chief Diversity Officer”.  He claims that phrases like “hold down the fort,” “rule of thumb,” “handicap,” and “going Dutch” are offensive racial or ethnic slurs that must be avoided.  He identifies their victims as Native Americans, abused women, people with abilities impaired, and people from Holland.  There are two problems here:  since when did the State Department become the language police?; and where on earth did this guy get his information?

As an English teacher, I have a library of books on the origins of words, phrases, and expressions.  There is no doubt in any of my sources that the term “going Dutch” was a British insult based upon the stereotypical reputation of the stinginess of the Dutch people.  It hasn’t meant that in America for decades, but okay–I can avoid that expression on principle.  But there is also unanimous agreement that “holding the fort” [its original form] dates to 1864, when Gen. Sherman commanded his troops to watch out for the Confederate army.  It has nothing at all to do with frontiersmen or Native Americans.

(On a related note:  if Native Americans were to attack a fort in a savage attempt to slaughter its inhabitants, would it be ethnically insensitive to consider them bad guys, and to make up and repeat a historically accurate expression reflecting their evil intent?  The Creek Indians were known for their attacks on settlers; must we whitewash or ignore history and eliminate from our language the expression, “I’ll be there, Good Lord willing, and the Creek don’t rise”?  For that saying has nothing to do with a babbling brook and everything to do with murderous tribesmen.  Do we have to apologize to the Creeks every time we refer to their bloody past?  If so, then I guess I deserve an apology every time anyone refers to my ancestors as “William the Bastard” or “wicked King John”.  I won’t even mention King Louis the Fat.)

“Rule of thumb” has nothing to do with some obscure antique law from some unnamed land (that apparently spoke some form of English), and instead dates back 8 centuries to when builders would use the distance between the knuckle and the end of the thumb as a rough approximation of an inch–using the thumb as a ruler.  “Handicap” has nothing to do with crippled people begging; it refers to a gambling game that lent its name to gambling on horses and the practice of weighing down or impeding a fast horse in order to make a race fair.

I guess it’s wishful thinking to expect our State Department to focus on things like Iraq, Syria, and Israel instead of fabricated word origins.  But as long as I’m on a rant, let me share three examples of my own “political correctness” that I think everyone needs to rally around:

  • The genius of our Founders in the writing of the US Constitution.  Every American ought to be insulted and say so when some politician, academic, or reporter denigrates the wisdom of their original intent;
  • The status of the Jews as God’s chosen people.  For centuries, society and history have criticized the Jews (primarily because of their successes and blessings); and today’s one-world emphasis considers them an impediment to justice for Arab Palestinians.  Remember:  it was God Himself Who said of the Jews, “I will bless him that blesses them, and curse him that curses them…”;
  • The name of God Himself.  We should not be shy about reminding people that the King of all Kings and Lord of all Lords deserves to be addressed with respect, reverence, and obedience.

And my sources are unimpeachable.  I guess I’ll never be qualified to work for the State Department. 

 

 

 

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Unemployment–Protecting Our Tax Dollars

The Lord must figure I need more practice in dealing with frustration; He’s put me head-to-head with the world of unemployment.

When the company and I couldn’t arrange a less stressful position (necessary for my recovering mental health,) we “separated amicably” and I was thrown on the mercy of the job market and the Department of Labor.  The first is a behemoth that chews you up and spits you out; the second provides the condiments.  For the 1 or 2 of you who have not encountered these things first-hand, let me share a few of my experiences and roadblocks, in no particular order.

  • I applied for Unemployment Insurance.  There is no place on the application for “separated amicably”–the closest are “laid off due to lack of work” or “quit.”  They didn’t lay me off; so I opted for “quit” with an explanation.  Result:  my benefits are being withheld pending investigation.
  • According to legal definition on the application itself, any effort that produces or could potentially produce income is considered work.  Therefore, my self-employed side jobs (preaching, public speaking, consulting, and writing) are considered a business.  Result:  my benefits are being withheld pending investigation.  Investigation involves a 5-page questionnaire regarding officers of the corporation and who is writing the checks since I am unemployed, etc., and three years of tax returns.  If I write even 1 sentence that is designed for future publication for money, that counts as a day of work and reduces my weekly benefits by 25%.  (I could do it and not tell them, and several government employees have suggested I do just that, but I suffer from a virtue called integrity.)
  • The Department of Labor offers workshops to assist in the job search,  but requires you to sign up for them.  The web site offers no information on how to sign up for them.  When I call the local unemployment office–sorry, they want to be called Workforce these days–I am told that I have to come into their office to reserve a spot.
  • When I arrive at the office and request a spot in a workshop, I am told that they cannot help me until I am “registered” with them; when I try to register, they tell me they can’t help me until I have filed for unemployment.  Since I have already jumped through that hoop, they give me the registration form and tell me to have a seat;  the form is 8 or 10 pages long and takes 20 minutes to fill out.  It requires me to enter my NYS identification number, which I will not receive until after I have registered.
  • After I have registered and waited a little longer, I have to meet with a representative who must enter my information into their computer system before I am officially registered and issued my number and a card.  The representative is a two-fingered typist; if that weren’t bad enough, she was interrupted by 2 phone calls, a visit from another client needing help, and a former client who wanted to show her a new baby.  My time with her was over an hour.  After all that was finished, she was able to get me an appointment the next day with a career counselor–her fifth choice.  ( “He’s pretty good, too.”)
  • Visit 2 to the Workforce office gives me a very helpful 1-hour consultation with a knowledgeable and helpful counselor named John.  In addition to answering specific questions and offering good advice, he informs me that the services of the office are free on demand to anyone at any time during regular business hours.  It is NOT necessary to be jobless, to apply for or receive unemployment, or even be registered in order to get help.  (He does say that registration is helpful for their records, but not required.)
  • After meeting with him, I still want to sign up for a workshop.  I am directed to the resource room, where I sign in, show my registration card, and am told to sit and wait.  After 10 minutes, a representative calls me into a cubicle to ask me what I want.  I provide the name, date, and time of the workshop I want (all information I got from the web site); he has to check the calendar on the wall to see if it is really being offered, and then looks up the date on the computer to confirm that it is really being offered, and that there is room for me.  Finally, he signs me up for the workshop, held a week later.
  • Visit 3 takes me to a workshop that starts 30 minutes late due to a staffing issue and gets out more than an hour early due to lack of material to cover.  I discover that the purpose of the workshop is to teach me how to navigate the Department of Labor web site and use its links to career exploration.  I had already discovered that; it had recommended the workshop.  (The site directs you to the workshop; the workshop directs you to the site; and the wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round….”) 
  • Along the way, I have discovered that the county will generously provide an escort for me if I need to leave the room to use the lavatory.  Thankfully, I don’t have to register or sign up in advance for that service.

At this point, I have invested more that six hours and 60 miles of driving and have not received a check, and have no idea when or if I will get one.  On the bright side, the Resource Room representatives tell me that once my unemployment has been approved, the Department of Labor will send me a registration form and an appointment for a required Orientation meeting so that I can learn what the local Workforce office has to offer and how to begin to use their resources. 

This is just my opinion based upon my limited experience with the whole system, but it seems to me that the Department of Labor is doing a great job of saving taxpayers’ money by making it difficult for those in need to access their benefits and services.  Just imagine how much more they could save if they had more staffing and procedural requirements!  The liberals and progressives are right:  apparently, the key to saving our economy and reducing the deficit is creating a bigger bureaucracy and providing more government jobs.

As the philosopher Vizzini said, “INCONCEIVABLE!”

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Extremists–A Political Opinion

In a classic case of  “the pot calling the kettle black”, President Obama this weekend accused GOP candidate Romney of holding extremist views which he will certainly implement if he is elected to our nation’s highest office.  He’s hypocritically right on one count, and, I hope, wrong on the other.

Extremism is a measurement of how far someone’s beliefs vary from some fixed point.  In most cases, that fixed point is called “the mainstream”–whatever that is.  How does one define mainstream?  Is it determined by use of public opinion polls, comparative voting records, historical analysis, or some other measurement?  Let me illustrate this point:  if I accept (as I do) the teachings of the Bible as clearly taught by a comprehensive, literal understanding of the Book, then from the standpoint of the Scriptures, I am not an extremist (for want of a better term, I guess I would be normal).  However, if the fixed point of reference is the religious beliefs of the average American today, I would be so far out of the ordinary that I would be called an extremist.

So is candidate Romney a political extremist?  When compared to President Obama, he certainly is.  When compared to the opinions of democrats who consider themselves progressives, liberals, or moderates, he certainly is.  When he is compared to the general population as portrayed in public opinion polls, he is somewhat extreme.

But if the same measure is used of President Obama, the same thing can be said of him.  He endorses and voted to maintain all forms of abortion, including the late-late-late term “partial birth abortion,” which opinion polls consistently oppose.  His voting records in the state legislature and in the Senate were so far out of the mainstream that his voting record was measured as the “most liberal” of all lawmakers during his terms.  His most recent budget proposal was so extreme that it did not receive a single vote in either house of Congress.  And I’m not even going to talk about what the average American would think about the President if they truly understood his agenda with regard to foreign policy, immigration, and welfare.

But Candidate Romney wants to see dramatic changes to Medicare–a stand not supported by the average citizen.  The scope of his proposed budgetary cuts scares a lot of Americans.  His economic proposals regarding the demonized large financial institutions would be opposed by a majority in a popular vote.  And since public opinion polls for the past two years have shown more support than opposition for gay marriages, I guess his position on the traditional family would be called extremist, too.

So let’s concede that Gov. Romney is at least as much an extremist as President Obama;  will he implement those beliefs in the form of policy changes?  The president is limited by the US Constitution as to what he can do.  Any policy change that affects a current law must be passed by both houses of Congress.  Any constitutional change must be approved by Congress and the state legislatures.  The powers of the President to implement a new agenda are limited by both the Congress and the US Supreme Court; and any candidate who promises to make sweeping changes upon election is blowing the smoke of wishful thinking into our faces.  (For example:  does Gov. Romney really believe that he has the power to repeal the Affordable Health Care law?  Congress might have something to say about that.)

Unless, of course, a president chose to ignore the Constitution and the laws; unless he ordered his executive departments NOT to enforce existing legislation; unless he were willing to assign the privileges of citizens to illegal immigrants; unless he were willing to ignore the 9th and 10th amendments; and the like.  It is hypothetically possible that a president could implement policies in such ways–but that would be beyond extremist; that would be radical.

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Theological Politics

A letter to the editor in our local newspaper today excoriates a political candidate for misrepresenting Catholicism–for promoting policies that are not loving and sharing enough.  It seems odd to read this concerned Roman Catholic writer condemn the politician for religious hypocrisy, while he himself promotes a candidate who supports abortion rights (which are a clear violation of Vatican doctrine and policies).

Well, I’m not Catholic, but I can tell you what kind of political positions the Bible promotes:

  • Moral laws and just (and swift) punishments;
  • A flat income tax;
  • Distrust of powerful government;
  • Parental control over education;
  • Utilizing our natural resources, but doing it wisely;
  • Work as the normal means of income/support;
  • Family responsibility for its own elderly and poor;
  • Sanctity of human life and marriage between a man and a woman;
  • National exceptionalism, and intolerance toward enemies of the state;
  • Equal opportunity for every individual to grow from the condition into which they were born;
  • Protection of private property;
  • Wisdom and benefits in seeking profit;
  • Individual concern and care for the indigent–especially widows and orphans.

I could go on, and I could give you Scripture references for every one of these points.  And come to think of it, I could give Constitutional references for most (if not all) of them as well.  And I do not believe that we can expect God to bless out land if we knowingly violate His principles as we understand them from His Word.

Socialist, Progressive, Liberal, Moderate, Conservative, Libertarian, Anarchist–all of these are titles defining a political viewpoint.  Let me add the most important one of all:  Bible believer.

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VP Ryan?

Months ago I predicted that President Obama would win reelection this fall.  (OK, I also predicted a third-party challenger, but let’s not bring that up.)  What is my take today, now that the major players are apparently all in place?

No change.  Paul Ryan will make a difference, but I don’t believe it will be enough.

Paul Ryan will appeal to the conservatives who were ambivalent about Mitt Romney, and will be anathema to liberal-minded Democrats and independents.  His budget will be a lightning rod, attracting strikes from those who believe that the GOP wants to eliminate Medicare, Social Security, school lunches, contraceptives, and chewing gum.  (I made that last one up, but you get the point.)  He will be the “attack dog” for the Romney campaign, which has been in desperate need of moving away from its defensive pose.

Unfortunately, a Republican “attack dog” is almost certain to bring the nasty tone of the campaign even lower; and we all know what President Obama has done to dogs in the past.

The choice of Paul Ryan will solidify conservative support, but will contribute to the alienation of seniors, women, minorities, and independents.

It’s too bad that the most qualified candidates are too smart to run. 

Pray; give; campaign for your candidate; be wise as serpents and harmless as doves; and may God show mercy on us and our land.

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Classrooms and Cash

One of the most tragic books ever written is The Thread That Runs So True by Jesse Stuart.  A fictionalized autobiography, the book traces Stuart’s real-life progress from teaching in a one-room schoolhouse to being superintendent of a large school district, with an ongoing theme:  how closely education is tied to finances and politics.  It ends when Stuart has to leave education and become a sheep farmer in order to afford to get married.

In this age of high-powered teacher unions, many forget the image of the underpaid teacher.  (HINT:  look at private schools and see 30-year veterans making less than $20,000/year.)  But the link between education and finances is still very real.  We see it every day in the calls for more cash for classrooms–more state lotteries to benefit schools, more government programs, the need for more technology and improved facilities, increasing property taxes even in the face of declining property values–and the list goes on and on.

But one of the least-understood aspects of the educational/financial relationship involves student loans.  While other debts can be forgiven in bankruptcy, student loans cannot; and when those loans are federally-guaranteed, the consequences of nonpayment can be dramatic–including the reduction of Social Security retirement benefits.  (See the article here for details.)

Once upon a time, a student could work his way through school; not any more.  Not long ago, families understood that while college was a good thing, it was not necessarily an affordable option, so the young people entered the work force instead of racking up thousands in debt.  Before school loans were guaranteed, banks had the choice of denying payouts to those with little likelihood to repay.  The time was when a student graduated in four years and could pay off any school loans in roughly the same amount of time; neither of those timetables are the norm any more.

And, not so long ago in a land not so far away, parents and grandparents who cosigned loans for their loved ones saw to it that the loans got paid.  Apparently, when the going got tough, a lot of people mortgaged their Social Security–and now the tax man has arrived to take possession. 

Don’t feel sorry for the colleges, though.  They got their money.  On time.  Every time.  And still they raise tuition at a rate more than double the rate of inflation.  Go figure.

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R.I.P. Religious Freedom–August 1, 2012?

While many aspects of the Affordable Health Care Act do not take full effect until 2014 or later, one feature kicks in next Wednesday:  the requirement that employer-provided insurance coverage include abortions and other procedures and products considered sinful by many religious Americans.

Most people know that churches themselves and their subsidiary ministries are exempt; but secular businesses (and non-profit organizations) whose owners or directors are morally and spiritually opposed to providing contraceptives or abortions to their employees will have to choose between obeying their religious convictions and facing government penalties, or obeying the law and facing the displeasure of God.

Thomas Jefferson wrote, “No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.”

This issue was not addressed by the US Supreme Court in their recent ruling, and is certain to be the subject of lawsuits for years to come.  So what can we do in the meantime?

  • Pray that people of religious conviction will be true to their conscience, regardless of the consequence;
  • Pray that judges will issue the appropriate restraining orders to stop implementation of the law or assessing of penalties;
  • Pray, campaign, and vote intelligently for Congressmen and Senators who will dismantle this attack on people of faith.

Unfortunately, it won’t do any good to contact your current legislators at this time.  They will not take any action until after the election, and the deadlock between the houses virtually guarantees no favorable action in lame-duck session.  After the first of the year, it will all depend on how America votes in November.  Pray for wisdom and righteousness to prevail.

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Another Marginally Threatening UN Treaty

There has been quite a kerfuffle in the past few day in the Home School/Parents’ Rights communities over the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee has scheduled a committee vote for this Thursday, and is hoping for a vote of the full Senate by July 26.  The treaty would seek to apply many of the provisions of the US Americans with Disabilities Act, already in force here at home, to disabled Americans traveling abroad.  A big selling point is that it would be a benefit to disabled veterans if they visited or were assigned to other countries.

The arguments against the treaty are three-fold:

  1. That the benefits to Americans abroad have been exaggerated and impossible to enforce;
  2. That the treaty would eliminate US sovereignty and put our family courts under UN bureaucrats–which the government denies;
  3. That this UN Convention is being rushed through the Senate, without giving adequate time for review and informed advice and consent.

First of all, any treaty we sign becomes part of the supreme law of the land, according to the US Constitution, and is a surrender of a bit of our sovereignty.  However, our legal system does not, in reality, work that way.  Most judges do not base their opinions on a literal reading of the Constitution, and most will not bother to read, let alone be guided by, this treaty.  And let’s not forget:  the treaty is modeled after the ADA, which is already in full practice throughout the US.  While ANY United Nations treaty is a surrender of US rights to a foreign body and as such is despicable to Constitutionalists like me, it will have no impact on parents’ rights or home schooling here in the states.

Secondly, the benefits to disabled Americans abroad HAVE been exaggerated, exactly to the same extent that the danger to parents here at home has been exaggerated.  The UN has no enforcing power to make any nation do anything, short of sending in troops (if they can get volunteers).  The usual penalties are monetary fines on nations in violation–fines which many nations cannot pay, and which, historically at least, the US has refused to pay.

The weakest argument–the one that will make its detractors look the most foolish–is the idea that this treaty is being pushed through so fast that the senators don’t have time to read or consider it.  In reality, the treaty was negotiated in 2006; was signed by President Obama in 2009; and was introduced to the Senate in May of 2012.  Anybody who wanted to think about the issue has had plenty of time.

I, too, am opposed to this treaty because of its surrender of US sovereignty; but I am realistic (cynical?) enough to believe that in the long run it will be ignored like the 9th and 10th Amendments.  Does that mean we should sit back at let it happen?  No.  What should we do?

Nothing can happen with this bill until it clears committee, and we in NY have no senators on the committee–we have no one representing us there, that we could lobby.  However, we need to watch the news and see whether it passes in committee, and then contact our senators to express our opposition to the bill.  Our senators are very liberal and tend to be internationalists, so our letters will not change their minds; but large numbers of contacts from opponents of the treaty will be reported to them so they know we are out there.  In reality, no senator wants to go on record as opposing help to disabled children or wounded veterans, so it will pass the full Senate easily.

Does that sound defeatist and fatalistic?  Yes.  The only remedy for this bill, if it is God’s will to intervene, is PRAYER.

So I will pray, and I will contact my senators about the surrender of US sovereignty–the other arguments I will leave alone.  I will also contact my senatorial candidate, who may choose to use this as a campaign issue.  But other than praying, I’m not going to bring out the big guns for this fight.  There are larger and more significant battles coming up.

[Some may complain that I didn’t provide links or phone numbers (or even names) for our senators or senatorial candidate.  If you do not know who they are and cannot figure out how to contact them, you probably are not informed enough to contact them and address the issue in an appropriate manner.  Do your homework!  Nobody ever said that being a patriot would be easy.]

Update:  the Senate committee today (7/19) postponed any action on the treaty indefinitely.

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Am I a Terrorist?

Over the past two days, I have been sending my essay “Rockets’ Red Glare” to everyone I can think of, encouraging patriots to stand up and speak up to protect our nation from the freedom-robbing cancer attacking our country’s vitals.  I have sent it to various politicians as well as private individuals, because I want them to know that I for one will campaign and vote FOR freedom and responsibility, and AGAINST overreaching governmental programs and the economic slavery that comes with them.

Now, today, I find that, according to a study funded by the Department of Homeland Security, I may be suspected as a terrorist.  The remarks in bracket are mine, just in case there was any question.

The report takes its definitions from a 2011 study entitled Profiles of Perpetrators of Terrorism, produced by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, in which the following characteristics are used to identify terrorists.

- Americans who believe their “way of life” is under attack;  [That’s me!]

- Americans who are “fiercely nationalistic (as opposed to universal and international in orientation)”;  [Me, too!]

- People who consider themselves “anti-global” (presumably those who are wary of the loss of American sovereignty);  [Yup!]

- Americans who are “suspicious of centralized federal authority”;  [You bet!]

- Americans who are “reverent of individual liberty”;  [Amen, and Amen!]

- People who “believe in conspiracy theories that involve grave threat to national sovereignty and/or personal liberty.”  [Not so much.]

The report also lists people opposed to abortion and “groups that seek to smite the purported enemies of God and other evildoers” as terrorists.  [They got me there, too.]

If that’s what they think a terrorist is, then I (and a whole bunch of my friends) just got labeled.  Check out the article and let it motivate you to “fight the good fight” for liberty. 

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never stop me from standing up for the right.”

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The Rockets’ Red Glare

Once upon a time, our ancestors paid dearly for munitions to throw at the enemy, just for the right to survive.

Today, we throw our munitions into the sky so that we can watch and listen and admire their artistry.  The sound of artillery punctuates our music, and our firearms are props carried in a parade.

Our Independence Day celebrations bear out the truth of John Adams’s famous line:

I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.

But what’s the next step?  We have been the grandchildren, blessed to live in a world of culture and education–but what will be left for our children?  I fear that the beautiful blessings our generation has enjoyed are becoming too expensive and impractical for us to pass on to the next  generation–which, I fear, is potentially unprepared to earn its own.  To whom then will they turn?  The ancient philosophers suggest that the natural progression is either anarchy or tyranny.

How can we prevent that disaster?  We must bring Adams’s quote full circle, and we must study politics (and hopefully NOT war) in order once again to establish a nation of peace that cultivates science and architecture and commerce and industry; and we must raise a generation willing and able do dedicate themselves to the labor of building their communities, without the temper tantrums or appeals to Washington for bread and circuses.

It will not be easy.  Public opinion polls show that most Americans are tired of politics and have stopped paying attention–the perfect recipe for cold left-overs.  Case in point:  where is the Tea Party?  From what I can tell, they have dried up and are merely stains in the bottom of the cup.  Fellow patriots, step up!  Educate yourself on the issues and the candidates!  Speak up!  Don’t be afraid to offend your liberal neighbor–our children’s future is at stake!  Pony up!  Stake your “…lives, your Fortunes, and your sacred Honor…” for the cause!  Encourage one another as the early patriots did–around the dining room table, in church, and even in the local “public house.”  This is not about Romney or Obama any more than the War for Independence was about Washington or George III–it’s about liberty, and justice, and the rule of law, and opportunities for our children and grandchildren to accomplish something and become something greater than we are.

Need a conversation starter?  I heard last night that the Fourth of July fireworks show in the nation’s capital this year will be the biggest display in the country.  It’s just one more thing that Washington, D.C. has taken over from our neighborhoods and our communities.  “We can do it bigger and better than you can do it yourselves…”–that’s the consistent, continuous message that our young people and children are hearing.  Is that what you believe?  Is that what our forefathers fought and died for? 

Don’t let this Independence Day be a sham.  Join a modern-day “Committee of Correspondence” and use your Facebook, your Twitter, your e-mail address book, and every contact you have, to get the message out:  we want America back, and we will play politics to get it. 

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