We continue a great tradition of voices speaking out

Independence?

 

Chicago Bears Organized Team Activity Practice

In a comment today, someone claimed that “The natural right of freedom necessitates that one take responsibility for his or her individual life and decisions. Our present societal mindset is one in which we frequently allow, or even request, that our federal government eliminate freedoms we once cherished”. I argue that nothing in what our government does precludes that right to this day. 

“Our present societal mindset” has been formed by the ever encroaching freedom someone has expressed that ended in the oppression or some problem for someone else; ergo a law is written for all because of the abuse of some. That is what societies of people do. It is what societies of people have always done. True freedom is closer to anarchy than any of those bemoaning the loss of “freedoms we once cherished” want to admit. 

Nothing that the federal government “dictates” is without an impetus from citizens. Either a direct petition from the people or through their representative elected to do so. This pretense that things have been “taken” from anyone just to empower government is ridiculous. The quickest way to lose a right is to abuse it.

Why would the government care how you use your own property? Well if it is for a dump, for an animal sanctuary, a farm in the City, a hostel, a motel, a brothel, a business, band practice… 

Our economic system has always left us with the indigent who could not earn enough to support themselves and save for their retirement so again, the need was met with a program citizens supported. The federal government did not just decide to usurp. You are still free to save what you can for yourself. Why do you deny help to those who need it? Why do you pretend low wage jobs that need doing, can support workers existence and retirement? They cannot.

We have looked to the federal government to provide for the common good for a very long time for a very good reason. Society needs that equilibrium, whether you like it or not.

Modern Americans speak of wanting “to be free” but few mean it and fewer could afford it. Sure a “freedom-loving person dutifully accepts responsibility for his or her own life and the lives of their family” but that does not preclude a poor, disabled, orphaned, widowed, or low wage worker from also having a life and a family or desiring that freedom. 

In truth, we are all “afraid of real freedom” because of the multitude of laws we ask for. This notion you are free without having to abide by laws or pay taxes to help this nation be strong in all places (not just the well off) is just not honest or realistic. 

I see it as “tragic and disturbing that we live in a time when so many Americans view” helping the less able and fortunate as a “means of extracting assets from achievers with singular purpose of giving them to non-achievers” because that is virtually untrue. The real “two Americas” are the one where people think only their own hard work got them where they are and that they should not have to contribute and the one where those who are unable to achieve that level of success are still allowed a living and even a vote. America has always been a nation of producers and a nation of takers. Some just describe each through a different prism, Jesus, for example.

Our government gets as much “correct” as private business and industry does and for less than it would cost us otherwise, without the discrimination of judging. Government is a necessity to any society and so is charity and forbearance. We need reform in many programs, we certainly need better leaders and to get the influence of money and power out of our Republic, but the notion of less government is a fantasy 300 million people cannot indulge in.

Battle Flags are Drawn!

 

 W&L flags

Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia has finally decided to remove the Confederate Battle Flags placed in Lee Chapel long after Robert E. Lee was not able to stop them and to the great chorus of offended Southern pride that counts on those battle flags to speak for them. I applaud the decision. A good article on the subject is here http://www.roanoke.com/news/virginia/w-l-will-remove-confederate-battle-flags-from-lee-chapel/article_a13cae23-4367-56c5-9861-8ffd90e673e1.html

As a very proud Southerner, I understand much of the sentiments but clearly not all.  Some really are just bigots and racists letting the battle flag speak to their current anti-government, anti-gay, flagger, secesh mentality.  But not all of them are and therein lies the rub for me.

When a Southerner is not trying to defend the indefensible (slavery, secession and anti-government sentiments), it is still hard sometimes to describe the deep abiding love of place that many Southerners share. It also does not suppose that Northerners, Mid-Westerners, and Coastal regions do not also have that feeling about their own region and roots.

We honor our deep roots. We study and preserve them. From the heritage we keep alive, like gardening then preserving, hunting then preserving, vast swaths of public lands for preserving, to our recipes and food “events” we call meals, our work ethic, our faith, manners and value of things preserved by passing them down and keeping them with us, we do consider our past to be honorable, just as the United States does, in spite of wrongs, mistakes and lapses. In the South, you can go home again, and if you look hard, you will find yourself there.

We do not honor the Confederacy for the defense of the despicable practice of slavery or wanting to continue it, or the bigotry and Jim Crow that grew from it, but for the ancestors who believed it was their duty to rise to the defense of their state. Fighting for a lost cause or even a wrong does not make your service itself dishonorable. If it did, what does that say of those who fought in Vietnam? Iraq? What does it say of those who decided to drop bombs on civilians in Japan? I am as liberal as a person can get and I am proud to be from the South. A racist flagger is not honoring the South, they are hiding behind it.

In the South we are indomitable! We fall on our face, get back up, collect ourselves and walk gracefully from the room with regal bearing. That is the South in a nutshell. Laugh if you like, but that backbone has sustained us for many generations and will continue to do so.

FirstAmendmentGranted, we most often argue over the Second Amendment, but in my opinion, one of the most misunderstood of our civil rights is the First Amendment. The First Amendment combines several civil rights. The entire text of the First Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Most, though certainly not all people, see the “no law respecting an establishment of religion” as what we know as “the separation of church and state” and take that to mean that the government cannot favor one religion or one religious belief over others. It is essentially a hands-off our religious beliefs policy. In the England American settlers left, The Church of England was the religion of the land. The King and the Church were very powerful in the governing of the people. We have freedom of religion of our choice or no religion at all as well as freedom from religion being forced onto us. In my opinion, there is no freedom of religion unless there is freedom from religion.

Next is the short but monumentally important protection against the government “abridging the freedom of speech”. Here we are guaranteed that our government cannot ban speech it does not agree with, or speech critical of the government. James Madison considered free speech “a vital aspect of a healthy republic” and while tested to some ugly extremes it has stood the test of time. Until a 1925 Supreme Court case applied it to state governments as well through the 14th Amendment which basically applied “full and equal benefit of all laws”, it was considered only to apply to the federal government. We have been arguing over what it all means and how it all applies ever since.

One thing that I think many, many people, from the famous, to the pundits to local Facebook friends get wrong is that free speech means people have to agree with you or not challenge what you say. That was patently untrue in 1789 and it is patently untrue today. From Voltaire to Patrick Henry, it has been said in one form or another, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” There is no right to have what you say accepted, applauded or agreed to. There just isn’t. Far too many people on the right see any argument to their comments as an infringement on their right to free speech and that is so specious yet so deeply ingrained is has become an urban legend or adage that will not die the death it deserves.

Just as you have the right to boycott and publicly lash out at Bill Maher, Ed Schultz, or MSNBC, we have the same right to boycott and publicly lash out at Phil Robertson, Sarah Palin or FOX. That is simply and irrevocably the truth.

Free speech is abused to the point of mockery on a daily basis:
Using historical American Revolution quotes to bash Obama.
Using biblical quotes out of context to bash homosexuals.
Using statistics out of context to affix blame.
Using a false impression of America in 1789 to bash America in 2014.

On and on it goes, but that is and will remain your right. Just stop pretending that right does or should shield you from the mockery, criticism, call-out or argumentation it deserves, because THAT is what makes free speech “a vital aspect of a healthy republic”.

“If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union, or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it.” –Thomas Jefferson

Reason does combat every day.

Originally posted on YouViewed/Editorial:

 ForAmerica

 

     That is a staggering number and it amounts to a rate of nearly a half a billion dollars per hour which we thought might be excessive even for our wastrel State but Wiki. Answers was kind enough to do the math :  How much money does the federal government spend every hour

View original

The UMC broke my heart

UMC LogoI have attended a small United Methodist Church for years and I love that little church and everyone in it!

Sunday School has always been a favorite though I am admittedly much more liberal than most of my fellow “Followers of Christ” classmates. I have learned a lot about the Bible, the life and meaning of Jesus Christ and the life a Christian should live.

Never have I been shunned for my liberal politics and never have I felt anything less than love and acceptance from the warm, wonderful members of this church. Even my letters-to-the editor which were always very liberal were noticed in my church and some of the sweet little old ladies would compliment me on them!

Years ago I explained that I could not become a member of the church because I did not support the church’s position against equal rights for homosexuals. I made a hypocritical choice and continued to attend the church hoping that the church would be swayed by the overwhelming evidence that homosexuality is not a choice and that marriage is a civil right that they should not be deprived of.

When the church chose to defrock Reverend Frank Schaefer, it was time for me to take off my hypocrisy and stand up to this wrong. I will not enter a UMC church until the church quits discrimination that I find offensive. Even if you choose to believe it is a sin, to single out this one “sin” as more offensive or more worthy of judgment or exclusion literally makes no sense. Why are adulterers, drunkards, divorcees and other “sinners” forgiven and not denied civil rights?

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/12/19/255521499/methodist-minister-defrocked-for-officiating-at-gay-wedding

I will look for a new church home, maybe the Unitarian Universalist Church or some more liberal and non-discriminating religious entity. BUT, I will miss my little church and the warm wonderful people I love whose attendance means a tacit approval of what the church does. I hope they are right when they told me that change will come from within, but I do not hold out much hope. My heart is broken, but it is also somehow lighter for finally taking a stand that agrees with my beliefs.

The Real Gunfight

mancardThis was my response to a local blog post. The √ are the points I am responding to.

As pointed out many times, gun advocate’s self-serving ideas for reducing the incidence of drunk driving are fairly strawman:

√ Don’t criminalize driving or drivers or the cars;
It is not doing either to require licenses, registration, inspections and insurance.

√ Criminalize drunk driving;

We have and will continue to do so, but that is always after the carnage or incident has happened.

√ Attempt to cure alcoholism;

R-i-g-h-t, that is really working well for us.

√ Focus on societal changes in the acceptability of drinking to
drunkenness;

Again, that is really working well for us. Facebook is full of those who think drunken pranks, jokes and parties are required. The recent inhumane treatment of the drunk teen comes to mind too. Society evolves slow.

√ Focus on business changes stressing the utility of declining to serve clearly affected drinkers.

That is also being done.

I disagree with comparing the damage from intoxication or addiction with the wanton and abusive gun culture in this nation.

√ Don’t criminalize owners, carriers or mere possession or lawful use of such products;

It is not “criminalizing” nor “penalizing” to require licenses, registration, inspections and insurance. It is smart and effective at finding the bad guys an disarming them quicker.

√ Criminalize callous recklessness with such products when misuse of them harms others;

We have, it seems to have had little effect.

√ Criminalize failure to safely store products when not in active use, if access to them harms others;

Oh yeah, the support for requiring trigger locks, gun lockers or just a locked cabinet is really overwhelming from gun advocacy groups.

√ Heavily prosecute criminals who deliberately engage in the harm of others, up to and including the death penalty or permanent erasure from society for murder and other heinous violent crimes;

Has no effect on the mass shooter or killer planning on suicide after their “mission”.

√ Focus on heavily supporting competent training for users of such products;

Yes another area where the gun advocacy groups are helping by making concealed carry permits easy and meaningless, training never mandatory and actual removal of guns after revocation is a letter saying so.

√ Focus on gun-proofing citizens in the same manner as gun-proofing young children helps ensure they grow to be safe and competent around firearms;

It ensures no such thing, in fact that is just asking for false security and incompetence to be masked.

√ Focus on societal changes in the acceptability of using weapons to harm others;

Yes, we need to let people know it is wrong. Anything but remove the gun from anyone’s reach.

√ Cease all unconstitutional attempts to undermine and circumvent the Second Amendment’s guaranteed right of citizens to both own and carry arms, as this has nothing to do with criminal misuse or negligent and reckless misuse.

BULL! That is such a self serving and non-helpful activity that it is laughable! The problems we have now stem from the 2nd Amendment being so unassailable (and perceived to be “under attack” at the same time) and guns being so easy to get, hard to trace and hard to track and prosecute straw buyers and traffickers. Not to mention the emotional, angry, unstable people who have so many unchecked avenues to gain any gun they want thanks to the efforts of the gun advocacy groups to spurn gun control as evil. Hell, the laws to criminalize will never matter when so many mass shooters and domestic murderers were “law abiding citizens” up until the moment they were not.

Until this nation realizes that the only effective gun control will be over the NRA’s dead body, we will not make the progress needed to either assure the Second Amendment rights or the safety and security of the people of this nation.

The NRA is the gun manufacturer’s lobbyist and the proof is in the stupid meme that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun”. What stops the bad guy, is not more armed citizens in every place on earth. Indeed the ONLY thing that will stop bad guys who seek that metal courage from a lethal partner, is the inability to gain the gun easily, cheaply or without rigorous proof of worthiness. NONE of which will take away the right to own guns from law abiding, upright citizens.

Good Friday Thoughts

dogwood-flowers-13On this Good Friday, I am as usual, fighting with a heavy heart.

Daily, I fight the meme that is not at all true but so often repeated that ‘everyone knows “the left”, for the most part, rejects the idea that we have a God’. I know from my own experience and research that many liberals are not only religious but live in service to God. We live by the teachings of Christ and are well aware that we will be called to account for our lives.

The only thing we can truthfully be accused of “rejecting” is the premise that we all are to be captive to religious practice and imagery as we go to school (or send our children there), as we conduct government business or attend government functions. There, we are “guilty as charged”. I just do not know when it became a factor of faith not to believe in separation of church and state and to be comfortable with excluding or deliberately giving offense to the sacred beliefs, or choice not to believe, that others have made.

It is not embracing Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism or Atheism, to respect the choice of others to believe in that faith path. It is also not rejecting Christianity to respect the faith path of others. The God I study and worship is everywhere and man cannot move or remove God. Not for thousands and thousands of years has anyone been able to claim success at any such effort.

Moral character is all that separates us from criminals and savages in many aspects of our behavior; some get that from religious belief or teachings and some from their own reasoning. Moral character is good for society, however one acquires it.

I do not think Christians have all the answers or ever will. They would not call it “faith” if we were all worshiping due to provable facts. I know I do not possess enough knowledge to decry the faith of others or denigrate them in relation to my own beliefs. “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone,” Colossians 4:5-6 and “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15

I have never met anyone who did not feel abortions are “bad”. But since Christ teaches me not to throw stones and to “Go and sin no more”, I do not have the grounds to condemn women who make that desperate choice. I fight for a world where women want to choose life and know they will be supported in that undertaking.

We have to face the cruel truth that some of those who proclaim Christ the loudest, also behave abominably in their life, business and even worship. Sadly many Christians gladly make money “polluting minds and destroying the glue of our culture”. That is a big part of the confusion of many who refuse to claim Christianity. When the Christians, who claim God, and the Gospel of love, bear false witness, discriminate, exclude and decry anyone not just like them, it is offensive to many looking for a place to stand. That “conflict” is the fault of the Christians clinging to the letter of the Mosaic Law and ignoring the point of Jesus’ teachings.

In truth, the “traditional values” of Jesus are not the ones touted as being “held by some for generations”. They really never did “fit” the model Jesus gave us. Many finally have the courage to call that hypocrisy out.

We have not redrawn the lines of worship, we have realized that there is nothing righteous, or good and holy about discrimination, exclusion and condemnation of people in our communities who live or love differently than we do. When adultery, divorce (even repeatedly), graft, greed, avarice, drinking, and criminals, are accepted and ignored, yet committed homosexuality seeking the bonds of marriage or a woman desperately choosing abortion is condemned, people start to question the legitimacy of our “love”.

Naturally then society becomes more secular. No doctrine is preferable to false or impious doctrine for honest, intelligent people. People have become a lot more honest and dogma still treats us as ignorant and unassuming.

I am really sorry some want to blame this very understandable questioning of religion as the cause of “crime and hate” but I think it is deeply and completely wrong to cast that blame. It is precisely because so many people now have a real guiding spiritual light that the hypocrisy of Christianity and other religions has been exposed and we need to understand that and answer it.

It is the greed, lust, and selfish individuality that leads some to abuse rights and freedom that causes crime, immorality and hate, not questioning religious dogma.

As I think of Jesus on the Cross with a heart full of love and forgiveness, I hear the words “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” Luke 23:34

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