Archive for 2008

Sand and stone – NEW YEAR’S

There is a story about two merchants in ancient Persia, Mussah and Nagib.  They were traveling together in a caravan and one evening set up camp near a river’s edge.  Nagib accidentally fell into the river and Mussah, without hesitation, jumped in and saved his friend.  Nagib immediately had his servant carve on the face of a nearby stone, “Traveler, in this place did Mussah heroically save the life of his friend Nagib.” 

Finding your way home – CHRISTMAS

Several years ago, I wanted to find more trails for mountain biking near our cabin because they are scarce in Targhee National Forest.  I remembered seeing game trails while riding the few available trails and decided to ride game trails and also cross-country to connect trails, creating longer bike trails.  But doing this would require something I had not done before, riding cross-country from one trail to another. 

With my normal optimism and my ability to severely underestimate what I was about to undertake, I decided to do it.  I didn’t worry about getting lost because I had a good sense of direction and a newly purchased GPS mounted on my bike. 

Is FDR’s New Deal the answer?

Did President Franklin Roosevelt and his “New Deal” shorten the recovery from the Great Depression?  Was government intervention in the economy helpful or hurtful or both?  Some economists suggest the government manipulated market forces too much and actually prolonged the recovery. 

President Roosevelt put into effect his recovery plan immediately after his inauguration in 1933, calling Congress into a special 100-day session with a whirlwind of new programs.  He believed the recovery required what he called “government partnerships” with the private sector.  But, in his zeal to speed the recovery, some economists suggest he was wrong believing that competition inappropriately drove prices and wages down and that the government had to manipulate the economy to artificially force prices and wages up. 

What are blue laws?

The Founding Fathers built our nation with a religious foundation.  I believe they wanted religion in government; but did they want government in religion?   

Let us look at the ‘blue’ laws, created by well-meaning people to enforce moral standards, including keeping Sunday as a day of worship and rest.  Most blue laws were passed before the Revolutionary War, before our Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.  The term ‘blue’ probably originated sometime later, in the 1700s, when people living rigid moral codes were called blue. 

God bless America

Is the day coming when we must say “In nothing we trust,” or “So help me nothing,” or “Nothing bless America?”  Educators in Woodbury, Vermont cowered to such demands and make students who want to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to do so away from the classroom, so no one can hear the word God.  In 2002, the ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declared the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional under the First Amendment, because it mentions God.  This was followed by a 2004 Supreme Court decision reversing the ninth Circuit Court, affirming that “teacher-led Pledge of Allegiance recitals in public schools are constitutional.” 

Should gay marriage be legal?

On November 4th three more states passed constitutional amendments refusing to legalize gay marriage, raising the total to thirty states with similar amendments.  Gays were outraged at the outcome and at those who did not support legalizing gay marriage.

Gay rights activists are attacking the Mormon Church because it backed the initiative against gay marriage.  Gays told the church they “will pay a price.”  Gay rights activist John Aravosis said, “Utah is a hate state … and Mormons are persecutors.”  He promises that they will “destroy the Utah brand.”  Someone even terrorized Mormon temples in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City by sending letters containing a white powder.  And, Scott Eckern, artistic director of the California Musical Theater in Sacramento, was forced to resign by gay activists because he donated money to the campaign to not legalize gay marriage. 

What really happened November 4th?

What really happened on November 4th?  Whom did we elect as President?  Did we elect a liberal, leftist, socialist President; a gun control President or a welfare President? 

Maybe we elected an African-American President, a hyphenated President that Theodore Roosevelt expressed displeasure with in a speech in 1915 saying, “There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism … This is just as true of the man who puts ‘native’ before the hyphen as of the man who puts German or Irish or English or French before the hyphen.  Americanism is a matter of the spirit and of the soul.  Our allegiance must be purely to the United States.” 

We ask them to kill – VETERAN’S DAY

We ask our military to do the unspeakable, the unthinkable.  We ask them to kill fellow human beings.  We ask of them what we are unable to ask of ourselves. Moreover, we do not want to see or know what they do.  We are appalled when we see a television image of a marine killing an Iraqi who is “faking dead.”  We condemn that marine.  We must or else we feel we are condoning it.  It doesn’t matter that he did nothing wrong.  We saw it.  We saw him kill that man.  We are not supposed to see that happen.  How dare he make it real. 

The fraud of socialism

Leicester University in England recently ranked Denmark as the happiest country.  What is their secret?  By their own admission they are a socialist, welfare state providing everything for everyone from birth to death.  And they freely, almost proudly admit they pay for it with the highest income taxes in the world. 

Were we wrong to fight the Revolutionary War with the British Empire to free us from the bonds of a government that decided what was best for us?  Were we wrong to die for freedom and opportunity, rejecting government servitude?  Were we wrong to want the freedom and risk of independence rather than the safety and security of a paternal government?

Socialism or democracy – we choose

Who should pay taxes and how much of their income should they pay in taxes?  What is fair?  Should everyone pay the same percentage of their income in taxes, or should the percentage increase as their income increases?  If everyone paid the same percentage of their income in taxes, the more you earned the more taxes you would pay.  That seems more than fair.  Our government thinks not.  Our government believes those who earn more should pay not only more in total taxes but also pay a higher percentage of their income as well. 

Who should pay to rebuild following natural disasters?

Did our Founding Fathers intend for the government to take care of us when a disaster strikes?  Is the federal government the correct resource for disasters?  Is managing the aftermath of disasters a Constitutional responsibility of the federal government?  Do individuals or local communities have any responsibility?  Is the government the most efficient and cost effective entity to offer aid to communities and help them rebuild?

Neonaticide

Neonaticide is murdering your baby within 24 hours of birth.  Can you imagine anything more horrible?  How could a mother simply murder her child, sometimes throwing “it” in a dumpster?  Why do these mothers not avail themselves of the safe and legal option of leaving the baby at a safe haven location?  All 50 states now have safe haven laws allowing an individual to leave a newborn at designated locations, usually without any legal consequences. 

Concealed carry permits – right or privilege?

This summer the Supreme Court issued its ruling on the meaning of the Second Amendment.  I believe they correctly understood the Founding Fathers intentions; affirming that the “right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”  But, they did not settle all issues surrounding gun ownership; including if the government can require more than just a background check to get a concealed carry permit.  Pistols and revolvers are common firearms.  Therefore, the right to own them is resolved.  But, is a concealed carry permit a right protected by the Second Amendment, is it a privilege, or is it both?

Capital punishment – reprehensible or responsible?

Society continues debating the morality and sensibility of capital punishment, both sides of the issue persuasively arguing their position.  What is the goal of capital punishment; punishment, deterrence, or both?  Are there crimes that deserve the death penalty?  Is life in prison without parole a reasonable alternative?  What do we owe the victims and their families?  What do we owe society to protect them from the release of these criminals back into society?

Edward Bushell and the power of juries

Can a citizen exert power over the government?  Can a citizen be protected from government enacting bad law?  Can a citizen do anything about bad law?  Does the jury represent the citizen, the government, the court, or do they represent the Constitution of the United States of America?  Does the jury answer to the court or do they answer to their judgment and conscience?  Can a jury rule on law, or must they only rule as the court directs?  How do juries relate to the branches of government that have the power to enact and interpret the law?   

Sarah Palin and the feminist movement?

The feminist movement must be rejoicing.  After four decades of advocating equality for women, we are witnessing the real possibility of a female Vice-President of the United States.  The National Organization for Women (NOW) should be congratulated for the doors they opened for women, the doors opened to equality.  Their advocacy for women’s rights started in 1966 with a statement of purpose to “take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society, exercising all the privileges and responsibilities thereof, in truly equal partnership with men.”  Wasn’t that a reasonable expectation?  Women had been too often second-class citizens in far too many ways.  NOW continued to admire the stay-at-home moms; they just wanted it to be by choice rather than by expectation and convention.  They simply wanted women to have equal opportunities and treatment.  If women chose to work, they asked they be treated equally.  They wanted simple civil rights and simple fairness.

Has marriage outlived its usefulness?

A few weeks ago, I discussed cohabitation and the problems associated with it.  Is marriage necessarily better?  What if the problems associated with marriages are as bad as, or worse than, the problems associated with cohabitation?  Maybe cohabitation is the lesser of two evils.

Is marriage just an archaic carryover from a time gone by, its tenants and vows outdated in our modern, enlightened, progressive world?  Cohabitating is no longer discussed in whispers, apparently no longer shameful.  So why marry? 

When is abortion not murder?

The last time I wrote on abortion I learned a great deal about myself; individuals graciously reminding me of flaws in my character, lapses in my education, and deficiencies in my intellect.  Acknowledging my incompetence; let us again talk about abortion.

Is military desertion courageous?

Jeremy Hinzman is the most recent military deserter losing his legal battle to stay in Canada.  I read his story while visiting our son and daughter-in-law at Ft. Bragg in Fayetteville, NC; home of the Army Special Forces, the Green Beret.  There I met men and women who have clarity of thought, a code of honor, and a love of country; values so clear I immensely admire and genuinely envy them.  If you want to meet a real hero, just visit a military base.  Their moral fiber is unwavering, giving me little tolerance for those who abandon their oath.  With this admitted bias, I would like to discuss those who desert our country. 

The United States – the world’s provider and protector

We consider ourselves a giving, caring country.  But how do we compare to other “rich” nations in our willingness to provide foreign aid?  The Paris-based Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is a thirty-nation organization that works with countries to develop “open market economies, democratic pluralism, and respect for human rights.”  In 2003, OECD reported how much their member countries gave in foreign aid.  The United States was responsible for 35 percent of the total contributions of the thirty nations and gave more than twice that of the next biggest giver, Japan.  But, when the same foreign aid data was presented as a percentage of the country’s gross national income; the United States did not fare as well, ranking in the lower third of the world’s richest countries, giving only 0.15 percent of our gross national income compared to the most generous country, Norway, that gave 0.92 percent, followed by Denmark that gave 0.84 percent. 

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