Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Signers of the Declaration of Independence

I didn't write this. It came to me in an email from my mom, and I found it so relevant that I absolutely had to share it with you all. I have not had the time yet to verify all the statements listed below, so if you find discrepancies, I apologize. However, if you can appreciate the words in this message, feel free to copy and paste it into an email of your own to send out to everyone you know. In days such as these, it never hurts to recall our beginnings...

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the
Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured.

Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships during the
Revolutionary War. When signing the Declaration, they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated, but they signed the Declaration of
Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

Carter
Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas
McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of
Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his
headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished.

So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4
th of July holiday and silently thank these patriots.

It's not much to ask for the price they paid.

Remember: freedom is never free!

It's time we get the word out that patriotism is NOT a sin, and the Fourth of July has more to it than beer, picnics, and baseball games.


I don’t know who put this together, but I will follow their example and remember the many sacrifices made for us by our founding fathers.

A Day of Remembrance

As many of you are well aware, this weekend marks the 233 anniversary of the day the United States of America declared her independence from the tyrannical rule and oppression of King George III and Great Britain. For some, this day will mean little more than outdoor barbecues, hot dogs, and beer, all of which are typically followed by impressive and inspiring fireworks displays. But for others, true American Patriots who still believe in what our Founding Fathers accomplished on that date so very long ago, it will mean so much more.

The passage of time tends to dilute and sterilize even the greatest events of the past, often to the point that we forget the magnitude of moments so monumental as to grace the pages of our history texts. The occasion we celebrate this weekend is far more than a tick mark on a timeline. We would be remiss in forgetting that these events happened to real men made of flesh and blood--real people who endured seemingly insuperable struggles to secure the freedoms that each of us enjoys today.

I figured that this would be a good time to briefly remind everyone just what all transpired over two centuries ago. As you read these events, try to imagine yourself sitting among the delegates of the Continental Congress. Try to relate to the sentiments of men who were about to wager their political careers, their fortunes, and even their lives on a decision that would become the most significant in US history.

On July 1st of 1776, Richard Henry Lee’s resolution that the American colonies declare their independence from Great Britain was again brought to the floor of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia for further deliberation. In attendance was Samuel Adams, who hoped that the vote would bring his more than two decades long struggle for liberty to fruition—nearly two and a half years after American Patriots boarded ships in Boston Harbor to let the king of Great Britain know how they felt about his unjust taxes.

Only nine of the thirteen colonies favored Lee’s resolution, and therefore the long-running debate continued. Among dissenters were the Representatives from South Carolina, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New York. John Dickinson of Pennsylvania argued that independence should be contingent on three things: the formation of a formal “confederation” of the states, defined continental boundaries, and a confirmed agreement by France to support the Americans against King George III. He, and several of the delegates who supported his arguments, believed that it would be folly to declare what could only result in war without some indication that the colonies would be successful. Even our forefathers understood the crippling effects of fear.

A unanimous agreement seemed all but impossible, even after the lengthy and eloquent impromptu pleas by John Adams. The final vote on the matter was to be slated for the following day: July 2nd.

Just before the delegates adjourned from the July 1st session, they received an urgent report from General Washington who was strategically positioned in New York. His letter announced that several British warships and transport vessels (carrying some 32,000 skilled professional soldiers) had moved into position and appeared to be preparing to launch an attack on the American forces stationed nearby.

The time for deliberation and delay had come to an end. Washington’s words drove genuine dread into the hearts of the congressional representatives, and they knew the time for action had come. The alarming report was all Lee, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, and other supporters of independence needed to sway the dissenting delegates in favor of Lee’s resolution.

On the 2nd of July the Continental Congress in Philadelphia agreed with a unanimous vote that the thirteen British colonies were thereafter to be considered free and independent states: the United States of America.

Thomas Jefferson’s preliminary draft of the Declaration of Independence had already undergone several revisions by the congressional delegates, and each alteration made to the deliberately-worded document distressed the Virginia Representative immensely. Few argued the inherent beauty and eloquence of the document. Their editorial efforts centered mostly around Jefferson’s statements against slavery, as well as some of his more wistful sentiments describing the loss Americans would feel as they severed all ties with their motherland and former brethren.

As Jefferson agonized over every change to the statement's verbiage, Benjamin Franklin attempted to assuage him by offering a humorous (and, many argue, invented) anecdote about how such editorial recommendations affected something as seemingly trivial as a hat maker’s sign. Though Franklin’s words offered little comfort, Jefferson forever recalled his appreciation for Dr. Franklin’s admirable kindness in trying.

On the 4th of July of 1776 the final draft of the Americans’ declaration to King George III was agreed upon, and independence was officially declared by Congress.

One can only imagine the gravity of their decision. To them, the future was uncertain. It is likely that many of them feared they would come to regret the decision they made that day, even as King George's soldiers made preparations to suppress yet another rebellious uprising among the disloyal colonists. John Hancock was described as warning the other delegates, “We must be unanimous. There must be no pulling different ways. We must all hang together.”

Ben Franklin’s witty and well-known reply was simply, “Yes, we must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

And so it was, even as British forces were moving into position to launch an attack on the unruly colonies, the free and independent United States of America was conceived.

On July 3, 1776 over 9,000 British soldiers landed on New York’s Staten Island. General Howe and George Washington were witnessing only the beginning of a standoff that would become part of a long and arduous battle for liberty from oppression and tyranny.

As copies of Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence were read throughout the colonies, the mood of people was electrifying. George Washington had the document read to his soldiers to uplift and inspire them. Many citizens of the thirteen colonies rallied and cheered with patriotism. And the Sons of Liberty attacked an enormous equestrian statue of King George III, which stood on Bowling Green in New York, shattering the monument. The statue’s head was shipped—intact--to London by British loyalists, and the remainder of the two ton effigy was melted down and used to mold over 42,000 lead musket balls for use by the American soldiers.

So, as we all gather together this weekend--whether you gather for backyard barbecues or at local Tea Parties with fellow Patriots--please take a solemn moment to remember and appreciate the men who took a stand to ensure our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And, if you should so be moved, offer a prayer of thanks to them, as well as a prayer for that same Divine Providence that guided them to lead and protect all of us in our attempts to protect and preserve the efforts of our Founding Fathers.

Happy Independence Day, my fellow Americans. God bless you and keep you.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Rallying Call to the Patriots of America

June 26, 2009

For many of us, this evening marked a very dark moment for patriots of the American Republic.

For too long we have fought an uphill battle to save our great and free nation from the treacherous hands of Socialism which endlessly seek to secure themselves around her throat with the sole intention of asphyxiating and killing her.

Many of us knew going into this struggle that there would be numerous battles, some of which we would win and some we would lose. Yet, for a strong majority of true patriots, we maintained a certain level of blind optimism that there were some things that could just never really happen. It was thought that America still maintained some level of common sense which would forbid her legislators from passing acts that would completely and utterly tear apart the fiduciary stability of her economy and her citizens. They believed that there was still some degree of accountability among law makers that would remind them that no office is truly secure unless the voters were content with their policies. The thought that Congress would ever pass legislation such as Cap and Trade (properly referred to as H.R. 2454) was as outrageous and unlikely as an enormous meteor crashing into and destroying the earth.

Tonight it appears as though those great American patriots were wrong.

Today's loss was a great one. And it is likely that many Americans like myself who believe that liberty is worth standing up and fighting for…well, we will forever remember exactly the moment we learned that the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2454, striking against our righteous fight a blow so powerful that it could very nearly have knocked the wind right out of us.

President Obama has indicated to us that the passage of H.R. 2454 is only the beginning.

Well, my fellow American Patriots, I have only this to say: bring it on.

What will be will be.

For just as our forefathers were not awakened to the evils of their government until they were taxed beyond reason, I believe our fellow Americans will not awaken to the swift winds of change blowing across this nation until they feel the opression of injustice in their own lives and pocket books. Our legislators believe that they can tax us into submission to the point that we are too weak, bankrupt, and disheartened to oppose their wicked transgressions against Natural Law. But I say to you: NAY, they are wrong!

The majority of the people of America have yet to awaken, but when they do, they shall be such a rallying and undefeatable force that no unruly and corrupt government can stop them. We are descended from a people who fought against the greatest and seemingly impossible odds, and yet proved victorious in the endless fight against evil and tyranny! We are a people who will not be denied our birthright of liberty and freedom from oppression. We are strong. And we shall take a stand.

Let not your hearts be sorrowed, fellow patriots! Indeed this may only be the beginning. And indeed this may appear as a heavy blow against us. But, as General George Washington discovered when battling the forces of King George III during the war for our Independence, we must be willing to lose a few battles in order to win the war!

Taxation will come. And so, too, will the usurping of personal liberty and blind justice for the citizens of our country. It is an evil we shall endure until the eyes of more fellow Americans are rudely opened until it appears that we as a nation of free people have nothing left to lose. And in that moment, that dark and grim and treacherous moment in which America seems all but lost, there shall cry out through the silence the voices of a people devoted and united in their fight against injustice! A people who have been pushed too far! A people who will no longer tolerate a government rank with greed for greater wealth and unequalled power, and citizens who are willing to throw down their livelihoods to abolish it, and to institute a “new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

And so, my fellow Patriots, it is with the greatest love and respect that I now ask you to buckle down and prepare yourselves. Prepare for the battles, which shall be waged in the legislatures, in the forums, and in the communities of America. Prepare for the hardships to come. And, oh how they shall come. But be not dismayed, for the war for liberty and the very existence of our long-fought and hard-won Republic is only beginning.

Today was without question a dark day in the history of common sense and liberty. However, I believe we have yet to see the worst. But, my friends, always keep in mind the ancient and wise addage: "it's always darkest just before the dawn". Dawn shall come--in time. It shall come.

“'Tis not in numbers but in unity that our great strength lies,” wrote Thomas Paine only four and a half months prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. That message is true yet. Let us remember our own history and be inspired by the great words and even greater deeds of our forefathers, for we are of the same strength and nature as they and equally capable of defending the free nation they established for us. Let us call upon Divine Providence to guide us as did our Founders.

And let us not lose heart. The road ahead is long and dark, but let us be guided by the light of liberty’s flame. We shall overcome. We shall overcome. We shall endure the many perilous struggles that lay ahead, and we shall overcome until tyranny and injustice are no more.

"Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" -- Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Everything's Not Lost...?



“When I counted up my demons

Saw there was one for every day

With the good ones on my shoulders

I drove the other ones away…”

Coldplay (“Everything’s Not Lost”)





I’ve spent the last few weeks battling demons, and I wish I could report to you a long and detailed list of my victories. Unfortunately, the best I can say is that I’ve reached a stalemate in which progress is stagnate at best. I’m struggling.

I know we are all busy people. Dear God, how I know! I am all too familiar with how our personal lives can get in the way of things which are – on a bigger scale – far more critical to the personal safety and happiness of everyone living in America right now. However, the world does not stop turning (or changing, for that matter) just because we need to stop and tend to our personal lives for a while. In fact, the rate at which progressives are progressing seems to hasten to a break-neck pace the very moment we turn our attention away from current affairs and politics. Coming back to the world after a recent and extended respite, I despair even more.

And I begin to wonder about things.

I wonder if the people of America are at all concerned about the way things are changing and the dangerous speed at which these transformations are happening. Is it that we are too laissez-faire to take an active role in preserving what we have, or are we as a nation just too blahse-faire to care whether or not remain a people united under the banner of liberty? Is the “American way of life” getting too much in the way for us to be concerned about preserving that very same way of life? Must we absolutely lose everything we cherish to the extent that we no longer have luxuries by which to be distracted before we are willing as American citizens to fight for what our Founding Fathers sacrificed so much and for so long to give us?

I have always struggled with the delicate balance between being overly serious with matters I feel passionate about, and just kicking my heels up and having a good, simple, carefree time. Recent history has taught me that my best means of achieving any sort of balance is via a bit of vice-laden therapy: tossing back cheap white wine and chain-smoking my way through whatever is left of a pack of Menthol lights. The likelihood that I, and those around me, may all have a great time increases greatly, yet I end up no closer to answering the questions that plague me.

Is it possible that I simply care too much?

When I say that I care about our Founders, I don’t mean it in the same sense as a gooey sentiment printed across a crunchy Valentine’s Day candy heart. I mean that I really, truly, sincerely care about the people they were, the lives through which each of them struggled, and the consequences of every choice they made and how they affected my own life today. The more I read about each of our Founding Fathers individually, the more moved and awestruck I am by the real and genuine people they were. These weren’t superheroes in leotards and capes charging out of the clouds to rescue hapless damsels in distress. They were real people. They suffered real challenges. They were imperfect in their personal lives, in many ways just like you and me. They had flaws, some of which created tension between them, though they were able to see past those flaws when necessary for the sake of independence. They were not gods among men in any way, shape, or form. But where the pursuit of liberty and freedom from tyranny was concerned, they were thankfully guided by the wisdom of many of the great thinkers who had preceded them and, quite likely, by Divine Providence, herself.

Therefore, all things considered, I feel quite obligated to these very individuals to uphold and protect the very thing they fought so hard to provide for us. And I wonder just why so many people appear not to feel the same way…

Perhaps people show a lack of interest because they never really had to fight for what they have. Things of great value always come at great cost, do they not? Yet, the luxuries and liberties we have enjoyed in this country for so long were hard fought and provided to us by our predecessors. A vast majority of us played no significant part in obtaining the freedoms and liberties we so enjoy, and it seems to me that the most logical explanation of our current situation is our own lack of any kind of laborious effort. We’ve never known the suffocation brought on by the cruel hand of tyranny wrapping tightly around our throats as if it was the horrendous yoke of slavery (that we know only from history books). We’re spoiled. We take everything we have—everything that our forefathers suffered and fought to provide for us—for granted.

And it’s time we put this destructive cycle to rest.

Not everyone believes in an afterlife. I do. And my concern is in coming (at some point) face to face with our Founding Fathers—and even my very own forefathers who may have fought in the same Revolution that provided me the life I now enjoy—and having to answer one question: what did I do with the Republic they established for me? Will I be able to even look them in the eye knowing that for so long I remained ignorant and silent as others sought to tear it apart? Will I be wrought with shame and unable to answer for my actions or lack thereof? Will I perhaps shrug and inform them of just how busy I was with personal matters and how little time and knowledge I could spare for the sake of my fellow countrymen? Or will I be blessed with the opportunity to stand among them and claim that I did all that I possibly could to uphold the principles, values, and integrity of what they so graciously founded over two hundred years ago?

Some may call me crazy for even wondering such things.

I consider them crazy for not doing so.

Perhaps it’s time we all start using a little foresight, because there will come a time when we all must answer to our own deeds and misdeeds.

I’m not a fan of Dr. Phil, but he once made a statement that has resonated with me ever since: When you choose the action, you choose the consequence. He was right. And now it’s time for us to choose. While the actions may not seem desirable, we must consider the consequence, and use that to tip the balance scales in favor of doing what’s right. It may be painful. It may require hours and hours of heavy and burdensome labor.

But it will be right.

And—or at least I believe — it will be worth it.

“So if you ever feel neglected

And if you think that all is lost

I'll be counting up my demons, yeah

Hoping everything's not lost…”

Coldplay (“Everything’s Not Lost”)

Monday, June 01, 2009

Hallelujah, Pass the Dramamine

"The truth is often a terrible weapon of aggression. It is possible to lie, and even to murder, with the truth. It is easier to fight for principles than to live up to them." -- Alfred Adler

As more and more time passes, it becomes increasingly obvious to the observing eye that irony is overtaking common sense. It used to be that people who adhered to certain values were consistent in their struggle to uphold and promote those values. Now, it seems that every nutjob with an ounce of determination and lacking in sincere virtue is acting independently of his or her cause under a banner of "moral decency" in ways that are completely contrary to their stated purpose.

If the world continues this trend of spinning more and more out of control, I'm going to have to invest in some Dramamine in order to survive it all.

The fact that today a notorious late-term abortion doctor, Dr. George Tiller, was gunned down by someone who is most likely a self-proclaimed proponent of the Pro-Life movement is enormously ironic. How exactly do you reconcile slaying a doctor under the banner of promoting life? Innocent, unborn babies have a right to live and should not be murdered at the hands of doctors, yet it is okay to murder doctors who perform these types of abortions? Really? What that indicates to me is that the gunman is not so much concerned with protecting the safety and sanctity of innocent lives but actually wrought with hatred for someone who allegedly terminates life. What we all need to understand is that murdering a murderer gets us nowhere. That, my friends is common sense. Whether or not you agree with late-term abortions, and whether or not you consider such practices a form of murder, I can see NO justification whatsoever in shooting down a doctor who performs them.

How is that noble? The action pretty much puts the gunman in the exact same category as the baby-killing doctor that he so despises for reasons that are likely based on his own religious and moral beliefs. Yet, I would be potentially accurate in assuming that whatever faith or belief system the shooter embraces would incontestably condemn outright murder regardless of whatever irrational reasoning is behind it. No matter how you try to reconcile the facts, you can't.

Yet, that's not where the irony ends.

Dr. Tiller was gunned down inside the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas, where he served as an usher during a typical Sunday worship service. So (if I have this right), this doctor goes to work Monday through Friday and terminates pregnancies in which the unborn infant is considered mature and viable enough to actually survive outside the womb if it were to be born at that time. He kills babies. Then he spends Sunday mornings in church, worshiping the Lord Almighty in sincere piety? Really? Wow. Though it is unarguably NOT my place to pass judgements on another person (because I truly cannot say whether or not Dr. Tiller believed what he was doing was good and right and noble--only God can say what truths lie within the hearts of men), I honestly have to admit...that's ironic. I suppose Christian piety just isn't what it used to be.

So, what is the point of it all? Well, I'll tell you. If you strip away the political motivations, the inflammatory details, and the reprehensible matter of both sides of this story, what it all boils down to is a lack of virtue. An inability to follow through with one's own belief system. If you believe that all life is valuable and should be protected because of what your faith dictates, then you should also believe that it is wrong to walk into a house of worship during a Sunday morning service and gun down a man who reportedly terminates innocent lives.

Most belief systems in this world profess that after death we shall all face a final and supreme judgement at the hands of a God, creator, or supreme spirit of some sort. That's very nearly a universal truth. Dr. Tiller was absolved of any wrongdoing by a jury in March of this year. Likely this murder was the result of one individual's outrage that "Tiller the Killer" would be let off the hook for what many deemed as criminal acts. So he escaped punishment in this life...if what he was doing truly were acts of murder, he would eventually be judged accordingly. Or at least that would be the accepted teaching of Dr. Tiller's (and quite possibly the gunman's) Christian faith. The shooter, however, was too shortsighted to understand that. He apparently determined that judgement had to be passed in this life and he elected himself the executioner of that sentence. The gunman had no faith.

Whether or not Dr. Tiller himself be a murderer is not for me to decide. A jury ruled his actions non-criminal two months ago and absolved him of the charges. Perhaps what the doctor did for a living really did save the lives of some women who would have been dangerously at risk should they deliver the infant they were carrying. I can't say. I don't have all the facts. But God does. And I'll leave it up to Him to make the final determinations.

What I do know is that the man who walked into the Wichita Reformation Lutheran Church this Sunday morning to execute a doctor in cold blood during a worship service...well, he IS a murderer. The justice system will determine his fate in this world. And should he walk free after his trial is over, then God will determine it in the next.

And, people, can we all just start actually LIVING by our personal value or belief systems instead of just striking out at others under the holy banner of righteousness? Perhaps a little personal consistency would make this world a much better place and people would not feel so driven by outrage that they have to break their own moral codes to get what they inaccurately deem to be justice.

Instead of fighting for our principles, how about we just start living up to them for a change?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A CALL TO VIRTUE

"Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks, no form of government, can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea. If there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men..." -- James Madison (June 20, 1788)

The statements you are about to read will be considered highly unpopular by many who dare to read it. The truth of the matter is that I am not currently concerned with winning popularity contests. When one sees the truth, and sees that others are either unaware of it or refuse to acknowledge it, then that person feels compelled to shout it from every podium, porch, and personal computer made available until all ears can hear and all eyes can see. You may agree wholeheartedly or disagree and shrug it off as nonsense, but I have no choice other than to say it.

Part I: The Problem

We are speeding down a dangerous path in this country which, though many still refuse to acknowledge this fact, will end in tyranny. Over a century ago, our government began usurping our liberties and instituting upon us legislation that chipped away at everything that made this country the destination for every oppressed and overburdened individual in the world. Now we are in a downward spiral in which with every passing day our freedoms are greatly diminished. Further gun restrictions, reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine, full body imaging scans in airports, the Patriot Act, government takeovers of private businesses and corporations, and increased taxes passed against the will of the people are all current examples. The United States of America is a republic and a capitalist society. But Cap and Trade and National Health Care legislation would transform this country into a socialist state in which the citizens are no longer free peoples, but beggars standing in line for inferior and penurious rations. Our country is quickly returning to exactly what our Founding Fathers fought against.

Part II: The Cause

America, we are corrupt. We, through the course of the last 200 years, have degraded and demoralized ourselves to the point that we have become selfish, unprincipled, spoiled, depraved, and dishonest as a society. We have renounced our concern for the good of the community as a whole. Our interest lies only in the self: we are self-centered and self-obsessed. And as a society, we tend to display disinterest in anything that does not personally affect our own lives, regardless of what effect it will have on our country and our fellow citizens. What we lack is public and private virtue.

We have allowed ourselves to become distracted by wants: want of fame, want of wealth, want of entertainment, and want of personal security. And we have done so at the cost of our liberties and our very souls. We have spent far too much time distracted by all the splendiferous benefits granted to us by our free society to the point that we are now wholly at risk of letting these benefits slip right through our fingers. We have neglected to preserve the perfect union established by our Founding Fathers, who through the painful sacrifice of their own wealth and blood made available to us and all future generations. And this, my fellow Americans, is a sin not only against our forefathers but against our descendants as well.

Benjamin Franklin once stated that only a people of morals and virtue are capable of freedom, and that as societies become more corrupt, they will have greater need of masters. And so we have. Over the course of only two centuries we have permitted our taxes to increase and our liberties to decrease, and all while enjoying enchanting music, delightful food and drink, the romantic affections of partners, the accumulation of prized objects, and other certain animal comforts.

How did we get where we are (e.g. on the very brink of the socialist progressive overtaking of America)? Because no one kept their eyes on the road for all the signs along the way that pointed to exactly where we were heading. We didn't want to be bothered with the time-consuming challenges of politics, liberty, and reason, as they so interfered with the enjoyment of our beloved vices. And even now, as we stand at the edge of a revolution, still there are far too many who will not depart from their social engagements, accumulation, and love of gossip long enough to contact legislators about pending bills or to organize grassroots movements to restore our liberties.

Part III: The Solution

So here we stand at a critical juncture where we must determine how best to take back our nation and restore it to the state of grandeur that our Founders established. As I see it, we are confronted with three roads:

The first road is the road of public interest and action. Along this road we are required to become politically active and educated. We must speak out against that which is contrary to our Constitution and collectively vote in ways that preserve justice and liberty. We must organize at both local and national levels to raise awareness. We must move people to action and send a clear, united message to Washington DC indicating that if they do not reform their ways, their days in office are numbered. This road involves gathering in large numbers and speaking out. This road was embarked upon by hundreds of thousands of Americans on April 15, 2009. This is the road of the voters.

A second road that lay before us, and a road that nearly all of us hope we never need tread upon, is the road of social uprising. This road mandates that we must stand up and fight with force against an oppressive and tyrannical government that has refused to hear the voice of the people. This road is violent. And it has long been washed in the blood of the victor and the defeated. This road is (historically) a last resort to be used when all other roads have been barricaded or destroyed. Americans in the thirteen colonies had hoped to avoid this path until the abuses of government determined they had no alternative. Our Founding Fathers foresaw that a day may come in which their descendants would be required to again take up arms and fight for their rights to justice, liberty, and freedom from tyranny. That train of thought gave birth to our second amendment: the right to bear arms. This, therefore, would be the road of revolution and reclamation of the birthright of every American citizen. This is the road of rebels.

And the third road that stands before us is perhaps the most painstaking and effort-filled road of all. This particular path requires sacrifice, duty, courage, and conviction--perhaps even more so than the other two roads mentioned above. This road dictates that we must reinstate both public and personal virtue, establish morality both within the home and surrounding society, and that we must ourselves be just. This is not the course of the Puritan, where all physical and social comforts must be sacrificed under the banner of holy doctrine. This is the road of balance: comforts balanced with duty, entertainment balanced with knowledge and education, wealth balanced with responsibility. This is the road of virtue.

Samuel Adams once wrote: "The sum of it all is, if we would most truly enjoy the gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people; then shall we both deserve and enjoy it. While, on the other hand, if we are universally vicious and debauched in our manners, though the form of our Constitution carries the face of the most exalted freedom, we shall in reality be the most abject slaves."

Now, if virtue is critical to ensure that our republican government is maintained, then pursuing either of the other two roads without it would be vain. Under that line of thought, we would only be running in circles without ever truly achieving our goals. We can organize and unify as a body of voters, but without a moral foundation to guide us, we will only succeed in electing more corrupt leaders who will continue the work of breaking promises and usurping freedoms. Or we can take up arms and physically fight to regain our independence from our oppressors, but it is most likely that we will only achieve a bloody and violent end in which we are crushed and dismissed. Neither option appeals much to me.

However, were we all as a nation of free citizens to take up the banner of moral reform, beginning first and foremost with ourselves, then likely we would be as equally guided by Divine Providence as our Founding Fathers believed they were. Virtue, though seeming small and insignificant, can change everything for the betterment of our society.

Therefore, ere we put out a call to arms or a call to the polls, I would issue a call to virtue.

"It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles." -- Patrick Henry

Let Liberty be our Goal and Virtue be our Guide. And Divine Providence shall defend us even in the face of great opposition.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Progressive Agenda

(Part II of the Beyond Thunderdome series)

I spent quite a bit of time in a local Barnes & Nobles today, searching for more fodder to fuel my political savvy as well as to greater enhance my understanding of our history, our government, and where we may all be headed. (Down the toilet came to mind, though I have hope that there are enough people out there like myself who will fight to keep America free from socialist tyranny and downfall.) I'm not a big fan of Barnes & Nobles, mainly because they are one of the few retailers I know that actually charges customers for their illustrious "discount" club cards. (Psst...at Borders Books the discount cards are free.) Nevertheless, I set aside my personal dislikes for B&N mainly because a particular audio book I wanted was advertised by the author as "...available at Barnes & Nobles and Amazon.com..." and sometimes I'm just a bit too impatient to wait for ground shipping. Fortunately for B&N they had ONE remaining copy of the much-desired audio book (God help them if they hadn't had it).

After snatching the last copy from the shelf, I decided to take a look around and see if there was anything else of interest while I was there. I had a mental list of things, much of which I found. I was shocked, honestly, because I figured a chain as large as B&N wouldn't bother carrying books on...oh...the US Constitution or Thomas Jefferson, or rhetoric supporting radical views like upholding the vision of our founding fathers and the like. But their selection was decent enough and now I have plenty of reading materials to ensure that I have absolutely NO free time for the next three months.

However, I came across a few things that peaked my interest -- not because I felt they would make entertaining reading, but because they openly promoted the Progressive agenda in this country. Now, I consider myself to be one of those "radical" people who believe that this country is unquestionably the greatest country in the world. Sure it has its social and economic challenges, but they are minor in comparison to the rest of the world. Here we have the freedom (for now, at least) to speak openly about our political, religious, and personal beliefs without having to worry about our government attacking our freedoms. We have the freedom to better ourselves and move up the economic ladder so that though we may have spent our childhoods picking cotton and dreaming of indoor plumbing, that doesn't mean we can't some day be senior managers of a major telecommunications company and playing golf with the big-whigs. And we have the right to vote our government out of office when we determine they are no longer useful in maintaining our free society. There's a reason people immigrate here from all over the world: even they believe in the "American Dream".

But progressives don't think America is so great. In fact, they want to completely change it from the free society we currently know into something in which the government has complete authority over every single aspect of our lives. From how much money we are allowed to earn (no matter how hard we may have worked for it) to whether or not we will be considered viable enough to keep alive in our old age or should we be diagnosed with a deadly illness.

One of the books I came across today was titled The Constitution in 2020, and it describes itself as a progressive agenda intended to implement an entirely new interpretation of the U.S. Constitution over the next couple of decades. I didn't buy it today, though I do intend to read it. I just refuse to pay full cover price for a book that at some point in the very near future may be useful for nothing more than to balance the wobbly table I have on my front porch. But I took note of the book, and when I got home, began to research it.

The folks who threw this book together have a website which I found (thank you, google) and started reading through. It's more like a blog site on which many of the writers and contributors to the book posted some of their thoughts about creating a clear and useful agenda to bring about this "progressive" change. Here are a few things I found of interest among the blog posts:

By Robert W. Gordon: "...an egalitarian distribution of initial property and skill endowments (e.g. through homesteads, estate taxes breaking up inherited concentrated wealth, universal public education etc.), which would both help to equalize opportunity and give free citizens a base of security and self-sufficiency to resist domination..."

Oh, so you're saying that inherited wealth is a bad thing. Ooh, those nasty rich people working all their lives so that they can leave behind a better life for their offspring. The horror! The nerve of some people! It's probably their fault that the poor and uneducated were never motivated enough to raise themselves up out of poverty through education and hard work. Certainly welfare couldn't have had anything to do with it. Oh no, that just couldn't be.

By Bruce Ackerman: "The second aim is to create a new institution of civic inheritance to complement the existing institution of family inheritance. Each American citizen should receive a substantial stake (Alstott and I argue for $80,000) when starting out in life as a young adult. Each citizen should be free to use his stake for any project he thinks best. Stakeholding will give renewed meaning to the Declaration's promise of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" by giving young adults the wherewithall to shape their lives at a moment when most of them are living from paycheck to paycheck."

You know, call me crazy, but I seem to recall a financial fiasco about three and a half years ago with moneys given to people to use however they wanted. Something having to do with FEMA and the little debit card disaster in which Katrina victims were observed using their $2000 emergency assistance cards to buy diamond jewelry and expensive handbags? (This was confirmed on snopes.com, by the way.) So, instead of $2,000, we're going to just hand over $80,000 to every "young adult" to use in any manner he or she wishes? Yeah, that sounds like a GREAT idea, because I'm certain that young people will have the foresight to apply that money directly to a college education, savings accounts, and reasonable expenses that would last until they get that first big paycheck from work. Oh yeah, the progressives won't let these young adults make too much money...whoops. And for the record, our constitution provides for each person the right to the "pursuit of happiness", not a guarantee that you will obtain it.

By Willy Forbath: "Rather than redistribution of income after the fact, market-based social citizenship ideas emphasize redistributing opportunities and life chances, incentives and rewards to effort, and redistributing the security necessary to take risks. This blurs the categories and jumbles the values that conventionally distinguish liberal and conservative social policy. It puts progressives on the side of economic growth, and it puts the moral basis of a progressive program on the bedrock promises of liberal capitalism: work for the willing, a decent income for those who work, opportunity to rise above a bare minimum by making full use of one’s talents and abilities."

Um, don't we already have a system in 21st century America where those who are willing to work will earn a decent income and those who apply themselves can earn a degree or useful skills to rise above that bare minimum? This isn't a liberal ideal...it's an American ideal. Just ask Chris Gardner. And not all countries have it. In some European countries (Germany, for example) higher education is provided to those who demonstrate through skills tests that they are worthy of the extra expense. For those who score poorly on assessment tests, there's a fine future for them in basic, low-paying manual labor jobs...and it's likely they'll be there for the rest of their lives. In America, there are many of what we call "returning students" on nearly every college campus. They're people who reached a point in their lives and decided either to switch career paths and earn a second or third degree, or people who were tired of working low paying jobs for ten to twenty years and decided to go earn their FIRST degree. I knew several during my many years spent obtaining my undergrad degree. And I respected and admired them greatly. We already have opportunity here -- some people just don't want to make use of it. And throwing them an $80,000 freebie as soon as they reach 18 really isn't going to motivate them to do what it takes to get the jobs that would provide them that much and more on an annual basis.

The next question would be: Just where the heck is all the money for these "ideals" going to come from? Uh, I think they told us somewhere up there in a previous paragraph that they would strip the inherited rich of their family fortunes...and something or other about estates. But will raping the rich pay for such policies? According to a writer for the Wall Street Journal, if you tax all income over $500,000 at a rate of 100% (which means no soup for you, richy rich guy) then you would only have brought in $1.3 trillion dollars. Whoo-hoo, that sounds like a lot, doesn't it? It's not. That's less than half of the 2006 federal budget. And that's without the $80,000 per young adult moneys that our progressive friends want to dish out. (And, by the way, our current proposed FY2010 federal budget is at $3.6 trillion.)

Yep, boys and girls, we could soon be heading toward an era in which we sit our grandchildren on our knees and tell them, "You know, kids, I remember a time when $3.6 trillion dollars was a lot of money." Then those same grandchildren laughing gleefully at you and saying, "Oh, [insert favorite nickname for grandparent here], you're just so silly!"

So here it is, folks...a little brief insight into the progressive agenda and just a few fiscal ideas they have to "make this country better", although better for whom, I have yet to determine.

Many progressives model their ideals after the works of FDR (Franklin D Roosevelt) who is responsible for many of the expensive programs we are still paying for in America today. Social Security (which my generation will NEVER EVER see), the SEC, and FNMA (currently known as Fannie Mae) to name a few. Progressives adore FDR, especially for his New Deal and "Second Bill of Rights" both of which were in large part responsible for the entitlement generations that have since grown in population. These are the people who get something for nothing and believe it is how things should be. Let's recall that FDR was the same president that, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, implemented a 100% tax rate on all income over $25,000 (which in current times would equal an income of $300,000). Imagine if our president today tried such a thing...well, that would just be crazy. But, you know, a progressive administration would be just crazy enough to try it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

BEYOND THUNDERDOME (Part I)

(Because Waking Up is Hard to Do)


I can be a realist at times (no, really it's true), so I'm highly aware that the chances of this message actually reaching its target audience are pretty bleak. And I'm also vastly aware of the reason why: people in this audience just don't want to hear it. Most of them are snugly settled in the deepest throes of their euphoric sleep, and are either not ready to wake up and hear the unsettling messages I have to share with them, or they simply don't want to believe that something could be wrong (and therefore needs to be fixed...which means work).

I know all of this because I, too, was once a proud, card-carrying member of this non-exclusive club (we can call it the "See How Far You Can Bury Your Head in the Sand Club" or SHFYCBYHITSC for short), and to be quite honest, I never had any intention whatsoever of rescinding my lifetime membership. I was comfortable, and (at least I thought) happy. You see, it's far more comfortable to live in a fantasy world where everything is just downright peachy. Where everyone does the right thing, not out of obligation or legislation, but out of love for our country, liberty, and God. But this fantasy world is just that: a fantasy. It doesn't exist. And whether you want to or not, it's time to wake up.

Now, I will warn you that the process of waking up WILL NOT be an easy one. It can be pretty painful, or at least it was for me. I would liken it to the five stages of death:

  1. Denial: No way, man! This stuff only happens in futuristic, apocalyptic Mel Gibson movies. It could never happen in America in the 21st century! That's crazy!
  2. Anger: Quit weighing me down with your negativity, dude! You're killing my buzz!
  3. Bargaining: Okay, so if I agree with what you're telling me, will you just give it a rest and let me get back to staycation (see post titled "Silent No More" for definition of staycation)?
  4. Depression: Tina Turner looked so hot when she went beyond Thunderdome, I don't think that look would work for me in post-apocalyptic America.
  5. Acceptance: Admitting there's a problem is the first step to getting help. And the next step is working vehemently to prevent us from reaching the end of the road that we're already on.

And part of the reason why I'm reaching out to all of the lullaby innocents of the nation, is because I feel it really is that important to help you see what's happening and where we're going. The things I will be writing about now and over the course of the next couple of weeks will be highly unpopular. But it's not my goal right now to make you feel good. Let's fix the problem first, then we can all go back to holding hands around the campfire while singing Kumbayah.

Okay?

We are currently living in a time of swift, volatile change. And this change is sweeping through our country like the strong wind that precedes a great storm. With every gust (legislation passed in Washington), destruction follows. It rips apart and dismantles our homes (the U.S. Constitution), it knocks over strong, sturdy trees (our individual liberties), and throws debris across our roadways (justice and due process) until we cannot pass. Yet, that is not the worst of it. The storm is still looming on the horizon, nearing slowly and ominously...and filling those who can clearly see it with absolute dread.

The storm that is coming...well, many believe it to be nothing less than a socialist revolution. And I don't mean revolution in the Paul McCartney "we all wanna change the world" sense. I mean the ugly, bloody, the end is near (!!!) kind of revolution that we've seen before in our history books. The ones that made us shudder and wonder just why no one did anything to stop them.
That kind of revolution.

Call me crazy if you want. I'm sure many people will. In fact, I believe I implied to my husband (God love him) that he had gone off the deep end when he initially tried to tell me some of this same stuff (you know...the stuff I didn't want to hear). At one point I even told him that he would have to stop -- just stop -- mid-conversation because I just couldn't handle what he was saying. And he stopped. And in the brief silence that followed, everything began to seep in and make sense. I was finally awake, too.

So, by this point you're likely wishing that I was less verbose and more skilled at jumping right to the point. Sorry. That's not how I was made. If our imperfect education system taught me anything, it was a knack for flair and long, complex sentences filled with zappy adjectives, casual chit-chat, and the occasional impressive, frilly word. I may also have a tendency to love the sound of my own voice and the eloquence of each of my carefully typed words as they grace the screen of my computer monitor. Ah, aren't they just magnificent? But I digress.

America today faces a lot of challenges, both internal and external.

Our government refuses to pass immigration reform laws that would better secure our borders both to the north and south at a time when it is becoming critical to do so. Terrorists are easily able to cross our lax borders into our country where they can sit and wait for instructions from their higher ups. You think Islamist terrorists don't still want to kill us? Well, why don't you pour yourself a nice, steaming cup of get real tea and sit down with a copy of Al-Zarqawi--Al Qaeda's Second Generation (which describes a seven step, twenty year plan to establish Islamic rule right here in America). And if that isn't enough to keep you laying awake, restless in your bed at night, consider this: the Mexican economy is on the verge of collapse, which means that our loosely controlled borders could soon be flooded with the influx of hundreds of thousands (if not more)desperate illegal immigrants.

Nationalized health care is on the horizon, spearheaded by our current administration. This is just another fancy word for socialized medicine, which is what our neighbors to the north and across the Atlantic endure. Health care for everyone is great, right? Wrong. It leads to health care for no one...well except for members of a privileged elite class for whom none of the rules apply. Why is socialized medicine bad? Try this on for size: the people of Great Britain have become so hopeless in waiting for dental services under socialized dentistry that they've begun pulling out their own teeth. Don't believe me? Try googling "Britains pulling out their own teeth" and see what all pops up. And that's only the beginning...the list of problems in endless, and to do real justice to it, I will have to dedicate an upcoming blog to the topic of socialized medicine alone. (Oh, and you can rest assured that I will.)

Government takeovers of banks and national private companies have already begun, and our own Timothy Geitner seems to have no problem with doing so. What he does have trouble with is answering the questions offered by Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, who asked him several times in Congressional hearings just where in the U.S. Constitution the power to take ownership of private banks is given. His blank expression seemed to imply, "Constitution? What's that?" He provided no insight whatsoever. Oh, but our current legislators have no plans of stopping after the complete and utter takeover of our banking system. GM has already been acquired. And don't worry, drivers...your warranty is good with Uncle Sam.

Environmental policies, which are the lovechild of electrical and media giant GE, are being set in place now that could completely alter the way of life as we know it. Imagine a future where your government determines whether or not you use your air conditioner just too much when the mercury rises outside...and, if so, turns off your A/C from thousands of miles away. Think it would never happen? Think again. GE already has a "smart chip" which could be installed in every new product they manufacture which would allow two-way communication between your appliances and your government. Some electric customers in other states are already receiving letters offering "free" thermostats along with details about how they could save money by allowing their electricity providers to set the temperatures in their homes. Ah, the future is near.

Corruption. See: Acorn and Glenn Beck's current research on just what the heck is going on with that organization. He explains it all far better than I would. It's worth it...I promise. And he has facts, whistle blowers, and all the scandal you could ever dream of.

And then there's Progressivism. Which is just a nice, frilly, happy way of saying absolute government control. Here's the real meat of the story...read on. We are heading toward Socialism, plainly and simply put. We can call it something else, like "nationalized this" and "nationalized that" or we can follow the trend a couple of decades ago and refer to it in a more inflammatory way as a "New World Order", but no matter what we call it, it's still socialism. I recall the old saying: Don't sprinkle sugar on crap and tell me it's candy. A lot of what is going on right now is a result of the Progressive movement, which isn't really a new thing at all. It's been around (as a defined movement, at least) since the late 1800's and has had a tendency to ebb and flow according to political, social, and international sentiment.

Now, I asked a good friend today at work just what she thought of the word "progressive". She told me it didn't sound like a bad thing...didn't it just mean progress? Moving forward? I told her that was exactly what I would have thought the word meant, too. But it doesn't.

I read a paper this afternoon written by Thomas G. West, a respected Political Science Professor, and he quoted John Burgess (a well known Progressive political scientist) who described the ideal of the Progressive movement in the following way:

"The most fundamental and indispensable mark of statehood [is] the original, absolute, unlimited, universal power over the individual subject, and all associations of subjects."

Feel free to read that quote a few more times and allow it to fully sink in, because it's a very important statement.

Progressives are about absolute control over each and every aspect of each and every citizen's life. Sound familiar? It should. It was why we spent so much of our time and resources fighting against the Soviet Union and the spread of communism.

(Are you awake now?)

So, over the course of the next couple of weeks, I intend to educate you further on the origins, history, and effects of the Progressive Movement in our country. For those of you who are already well versed on this topic, you are more than welcome to CLEP out of this current coursework and proceed to the next level. The rest of you: pay attention, because this matters.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

If You Want it, Come and Take it...

(But I Promise it Won't Be Easy)

"The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" [Amendment II, Bill of Rights]

This past January, a bill was introduced in Congress that would greatly affect a large number of Americans. This was not the first time such a bill was proposed in Washington, because many passionate activists have spent their entire careers working toward such legislation. However, most Americans didn't hear a word about it. This particular piece of legislation flew way under the radar, shielded from sight by the frenzy of big government spending, earmarks, and partisan bickering.

I'm writing, of course, of HR 45, which is titled Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009. This proposed act was introduced in the House on January 6th by Congressman Bobby Rush, who (ironically) served a six month prison sentence in 1969 for illegal possession of firearms. Two of the four described purposes of this bill -- and I'm quoting directly from the text of the Act itself -- is to accomplish the following:

1) to protect the public against the unreasonable risk of injury and death associated with the unrecorded sale or transfer of qualifying firearms to criminals and youth;
and
3) to restrict the availability of qualifying firearms to criminals, youth, and other persons prohibited by Federal law from receiving firearms


Okay, America...did you get that last part? Go back and read it again if you need to. It's okay. I'll wait right here while you do it. Yeah. That whole part about how we need new regulations to restrict guns getting into the hands of those who are already "prohibited by Federal law" from having them.

Oh God. This could get ugly. I might have to break out the M&M's (in our home, we call them "medicine") to get through it.

Now, before I get into some of the details of these proposed regulations, I would like to provide you with a brief and serious bit of history about the person for whom this Act is named. Blair Holt was a [Chicago] Julian High School student who in May of 2007 died after using his body to shield a girl from a shooting attack on a CTA bus. Blair and several other students were on their way home from school when a former JHS student boarded the bus and opened fire, injuring Blair Holt and four other students. Holt, the son of a police officer and a city firefighter who both taught him the values of courage and leadership, put himself between the shooter and a girl named Tiarra Reed to shield her from the attack. He died that same night.

The attack was perpetrated by a juvenile who had been assigned to alternative school. Though there is little information about the shooter online, what little is said reveals that the shooter was 16 year-old Michael Pace, a young gang member who had (according to sources) been tangled in a two year long dispute with another gang member. His 15-year-old friend, Kevin Jones, gave him a gun with the knowledge that he intended to use it to attempt to kill this other gang member. Both Pace and Jones were charged with the shooting, Pace for having fired the weapon, and Jones for knowingly providing the gun for the crime.

Now, Blair Holt was not only the son of a respected policeman and a firefighter mother, but also was described as an honor student and an all-around great person. While he was not the intended target of the shooting, his heroism put him directly in the line of fire and that noble trait cost him his life. That brave and noble act should never be forgotten, because people like Holt are exactly the kind of people we need more of in America. God bless him for what he did.

However, many folks like myself feel that gun control legislation is not the answer. The gun used in that particular shooting was not a legally purchased gun, nor was it lawfully owned by the person who provided it for the crime. It was an illegal handgun. And gun control legislation doesn't really affect illegal gun possession, now does it?

The state of Illinois has some of the tightest restrictions on firearms in the country. In order to purchase either firearms or ammunition, one must have a state police issued identification card (a Firearm Owner's Identification, FOID) which will only be granted if the applicant has no criminal history (including felonies and domestic violence), is not the subject of a protection order, and has not been institutionalized in a mental facility. Furthermore, Chicago requires that all firearms be registered with the local PD, and handguns cannot currently be registered unless they were registered prior to April of 1982. This, in effect, outlaws handgun ownership. Also, Cook county has banned firearm magazines that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition. Illinois does not grant permits to carry, nor does it provide peaceable journey laws.

So, with all that legislation on the books, you might wonder just how two teenagers were able to get their hands on a gun. Well, clearly the gun was not purchased from a licensed retailer, who would have required background checks and proper identification to determine whether or not they were even old enough to purchase a firearm. It's highly unlikely that they purchased the weapon at a gun show, as gun show retailers have to follow the same laws regarding age and background checks as retail stores. And that leaves us with a few alternative answers. And none of those answers involve obeying the law.

Over a decade ago (1997 to be exact), the US Department of Justice surveyed prison inmates who had committed violent crimes with a firearm to determine how they obtained the weapon for the crime for which they were currently serving time. Only 15.3% of the survey respondents admitted that they had purchased their guns at either gun stores, pawnshops, flea markets, or gun shows. Nine percent did not know how they got their guns (yeah, right) or obtained their guns via resources not listed on the survey, and 4.4% refused to answer. That leaves us with the other 71.3% of prison inmates who admitted they got their firearms via illegal methods. Nearly 21% got their guns "off the street" or from drug dealers, 9.6% from black market or a fence, and 36.8% obtained their weapon from either a friend or family member.

So, remind me again just how restricting the legal purchase of a firearm will prevent violent crimes. According to an Americans for Gun Safety report in 2003, some 20 of the 22 national firearm and gun control laws aren't even enforced. Yet, by some remarkable act of divine providence, passing more legislation will fix this problem?

Now, the Blair Holt Act would require that anyone owning a qualifying firearm apply for and be issued a firearm license which would be provided by the US Attorney General. The application for this ID(according to what is written in the proposed legislation, Section 102) would require a passport-sized photograph, the name/address/date AND place of birth of the applicant, any aliases, a thumbprint, a statement that the individual is not prohibited from owning a firearm, a certification by the applicant the firearm will be "safely stored and out of the possession of persons who have not attained 18 years of age", completion of a written firearms examination, an authorization to release to the Attorney General any and all mental health records, and a signature.

Jeez. No DNA samples? Or will the hair follicle samples be collected some time after the application is submitted?

Oh, and there's the $25 application fee, lest I forget. You gotta love those fees. And since the license has to be renewed every five years, you better believe this is yet another way Washington would try to pay for its precious pork.

This proposed legislation goes on and on for pages and pretty much puts nothing new on the table, aside from the photo ID and applicable fees. The truth is, this will only make it more challenging for honest, law-abiding citizens to purchase and maintain their firearms. And when people who obey the law no longer have access to weapons to use for self defense, the only people left who still have guns are the criminals. Do you really think the thugs on the corner are going to get all warm and fuzzy about filling out their applications with the US Attorney General? Do you think they're going to take a written test to ensure they know how to properly store and maintain their guns? Are they really going to endure background checks and waiting periods, not to mention all the mountains of paperwork?

No. They won't.

They're going to keep on doing business the way they've always done business. Under the radar and against the law. Let's not kid ourselves any longer, okay? Gun control doesn't stop gun crimes. It may prevent a small percentage -- a very, very small percentage. And you can't legislate personal responsibility or common sense. (I know... Washington's tried and tried...and you see where it's gotten us?)

The truth is, people who legally purchase a gun are typically already educated on the safety, maintenance, and storage of that gun. They have no criminal or mental histories. They do not intend to use the gun to commit a crime -- they intend to use it to prevent a crime or to prevent becoming a crime victim. And doing what is necessary within the law to ensure your and your family's personal safety...well, that (to me) is an unalienable right.

Now, having read a considerable number of the sections in this bill (as much as I could manage without having blood shoot out of my eyes), I would be remiss not to mention a couple of points that express all of the good intentions of those up in Washington. I only briefly touched on it above, but this act really, honestly wants to ensure that the average, everyday person like you or me who runs off and buys a gun actually knows how to take care of it. For example, Section 305 clearly defines how a gun owner is expected to ensure that firearms are not made accessible to any "child", child being defined as any individual who hasn't reached the age of 18. Basically, a person cannot keep a gun if it is readily available to any child who may use it, and by using it cause death or injury to himself or anyone else. But there are some exceptions. If the gun is locked up and the child still manages to gain access to it, the gun owner cannot be blamed. If the child uses the firearm in a "lawful act of self-defense" or in defending other people, that is also considered okay (despite the fact that the child was never supposed to have access to the gun to save his own life or that of others...just seems odd to me).

Here's the thing: pretty much all of the gun owners I know -- and granted, I do know a lot of pretty intelligent people, which may somewhat skew my perceptions -- already take these precautions. Even in cases where there are no children in the home, and there would be no occasions in which children would be there (visiting, holidays, etcetera), they still keep their handguns locked up in a safe manner. I asked them once why they go through so much trouble to make sure only they can access their firearms. You wanna know what they said? Because they are just being responsible people. Because it's the right thing to do.

When will the Federal government learn that you cannot legislate responsibility or common sense? People either have it or they don't. The passing of hundreds of new acts and laws every single year (most of which are never even enforced to begin with) doesn't really seem to have done much to solve the problems that society has faced over the past century. People who do the right thing continue to suffer on behalf of those who fail to do so either out of ignorance, negligence, or outright refusal. Heck, if legislation were the answer, I would be the first one to bang on Congress' door with a five-hundred page "anti-stupidity" law proposal to put in the books. But new laws just aren't the answer. Education and responsibility are.

But there's no point in telling Washington that.

They're not listening anyhow.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

"Everybody Loves a ... Pandemic?"

Ah, there's nothing like a nationwide health panic to distract the common Dick and Jane from their everyday frustrations and dissatisfaction. Only two weeks ago we were all up in arms over Washington spending and over-paid, under-performing executives getting million dollar bonuses for driving their companies into the toilet.

Today... today we are mostly up in arms about the local Wal-Mart selling out of paper masks and face shields, or the fact that the guy sitting five feet from us won't cover his mouth during his endless coughing fits.

Sometimes I feel that the human race has the attention span of a nervous kitten -- one second we're all chasing the jingling fuzzy ball across the floor and the next we're craning our necks (ears rotating about like satellite dishes) to determine the cause of a horn honking five miles away.

Of course, our bi-polar mainstream media outlets do much to perpetuate the chaos and unrest. On one hand, they tell us that over 200 people have DIED in Mexico from the H1R1 virus, affectionately known as swine flu, and that thousands are currently afflicted. On the other hand, they tell us that all we have to do is wash our hands and cover our mouths when we cough. Entire school districts are closing left and right as infected students are detected (sometimes two or three students at a time) yet we have no cause for regulating our borders more closely because health officials still have yet to determine how dangerous this particular flu strain is or how it is spreading from person to person.

And don't think our current administration isn't also demonstrating schizophrenic behavior in this state of confusion. They are.


"This is obviously a cause for concern and requires a heightened state of alert. But it is not a cause for alarm.” (No. 44, April 27th)

vs.

"I would tell members of my family, and I have, I wouldn’t go anywhere in confined places right now. It’s not that its going to Mexico, it’s that you are in a confined aircraft when one person sneezes, it goes everywhere through the aircraft.” (Biden, April 30th)


Hey, America, here's a clue: it's the FLU. It may be a different strain than what many of us get inoculated against every November, but that doesn't make it any more threatening to public health. We don't panic and close down school districts every time a few students present with traditional flu-like symptoms. Or chickenpox. Or Tuberculosis, for that matter. What do we do? We send the infected children home to share their ever-loving germs exclusively with their own family members. And that's generally (and historically) all we do.

"But swine flu has already killed hundreds in Mexico and one child in Texas!" you may protest. Yup. You're right. But the more common strains of influenza (and pneumonia) kill, what, 36,000 people in America every year, doesn't it? (Or at least according to information from the CDC, it does.) And isn't it always funny how quick the press is to throw these frightening statistics out there, while failing to explain to the honest public just how the flu virus kills all those people? They don't reveal that these fatalities are most often due to complications brought on or exacerbated by the flu. A previously healthy woman contracted swine flu in 1988 and died 8 days after being admitted to a hospital. But, before you gasp in horror, know this: she died of pneumonia. Not from the swine flu, itself (though her body tested positive for H1N1 virus), but from a secondary infection. (And you know what? Hospitals are notorious for being breeding grounds of secondary infections. They're like singles bars for cooties.)

Most of the people who die after influenza infections also suffer (prior to exposure to the flu) from chronic diseases or illnesses. Asthma, pulmonary disease, congestive heart problems, diabetes, or weakened immune systems, tend to increase the mortality rate in more common strains of flu...because the health of the victim is already compromised. It is for that very reason that flu vaccines are, in years of shortages, reserved first and foremost for people who fall into those categories. If you are more at risk for complications, then it is more highly recommended that you get a flu vaccine to prevent said complications and the potential for death.

Typically healthy individuals may catch the flu, miss a few days of work, and eventually recover as though nothing ever happened to them. It's uncomfortable -- or, more honestly, miserable -- but not deadly. And, chances are, the same is true of the swine flu.

This is not the Ebola virus, America. This is not the end of life on earth as we know it. It's the flu. Most people who contract it will be fine. I repeat: YOU WILL BE FINE. Life will go on. The human race will continue to prosper. (For now.)

Now, if you do suffer a chronic illness that compromises your immune health, by all means be extra cautious. Carry hand sanitizer with you at all times and use it obsessively, avoid being around people who are sick or coughing (especially if they have a fever), and be sanitary. Wash your hands. Clean counter tops, doorknobs, pulls, handles, and anything else you and other people tend to touch with disinfectants such as Clorox or Lysol. Avoid large social gatherings if they aren't necessary, and just use common sense.

As for the rest of you healthy individuals out there who are buying up all the face/dust masks at Wal-Mart or Home Depot while begging your doctors to write unnecessary prescriptions for Tamiflu and Relenza so that you will have your own personal stockpile just in case your throat gets scratchy... CHILL OUT! Put the masks down! Or, better yet, hand them out to the people who may actually need them: asthmatics, diabetics, heart patients, or other chronic disease sufferers. You can count it as your non-deductible charitable act for the year. Your one good deed.

Oh, and another thing. For all of you who use public restrooms and walk straight from the toilet stall to the exit door: wash your damned hands, you filthy freaks. Ugh.

However, with the nationwide hysteria over what could soon be deemed by the WHO as a level 6 pandemic, I will admit there are some advantages. With all this unwarranted panic, a lot of people are opting to board themselves up in their homes to avoid exposure or infection. And do you know how that helps me out? Traffic. This morning I actually drove the 40 plus miles from home to my monthly staff meeting for work...and I never once had to slam on my brakes or idle in bumper to bumper gridlock. I made it to the meeting on time. Nice.

America, it's looking to me like pandemics may be our environmentally friendly answer to traffic-related pollution. How do you like them apples?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

History Repeats Itself...Again


Today, the 44th President of the United States of America marked his first 100 days in office while speaking at a town hall meeting in St. Louis. The following statements were quoted by several media outlets:

"Those of you who are watching certain news channels on which I'm not very popular, and you see folks waving tea bags around, let me just remind them that I am happy to have a serious conversation about how we are going to cut our health care costs down over the long term, how we are going to stabilize Social Security.”

If a picture says a thousand words, then how great a vocabulary would be dispensed by watching the actual footage of the above mentioned quote? The video reveals the President's implied mockery in the mention of "folks waving tea bags" (which was accomplished with a bit of pantomime, i.e. mimicking dangling a tea bag) while the attending crowd laughed jovially at No. 44's charming sense of humor.

You know, for someone who claimed during his months of campaigning that he wanted to "bring people together", he sure has an odd way of demonstrating it. Call me crazy, but mocking nearly one million Americans who gathered together peacefully to voice their growing concerns about the direction their country is going...well, that's not really bringing them into the fold, now is it?

No. 44 spoke further regarding the protesters' grievances by stating:

"But let's not play games and pretend that the reason is because of the Recovery Act, because that is just a fraction of the overall problem that we've got."

Well, hallelujah! Ain't that the truth! Yes, while the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is a very large part of the problem...it's not the only thing that Washington has done wrong. And tea party protesters know that.

There's quite a bit that's wrong in Washington... Such as how long it's been since legislators actually listened to the wishes of their constituents. Or how long it's been since anybody in Washington actually READ the United States Constitution. (I have a sneaking suspicion that it's missing...perhaps we should consider putting photos of it on the sides of DC milk cartons. Maybe someone will find it and return it so that we may all rest a bit easier at night.)

This evening, as I perused the Senate Roll Call votes (which you can find by clicking here: http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/vote_menu_111_1.htm) I came across a rather fascinating amendment to the ARRA which would strike out an earmark granting $246 million to Hollywood production companies.

Let me say that again, because it bears repeating.

And I will even quote the verbiage in the descriptor line of the amendment, so as to not mince words:

"To strike the $246 million TAX earmark for HOLLYWOOD PRODUCTION COMPANIES"

ARE YOU FREAKIN' KIDDING ME?!?!

Feel free to look it up yourself. It's dubbed "Coburn Amdt No 109" / SA 109 to SA 98 to HR-1 (American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009) and was voted on by the Senate on February 3rd of this year.

Now. Here's the outrageous part. That amendment which was intended to free American taxpayers of the burden of funding Hollywood production companies and their substandard propaganda-filled movies....barely passed. In the 111th Senate, only 52 -- I REPEAT -- only 52 Senators voted to strike the earmark. 45 Senators voted to LEAVE IT THERE!

I think my brain may explode.

When exactly did the American Taxpayer exclaim, boy I sure don't pay enough money already for crappy Hollywood movies...how could I possibly support these biased endeavors further? Hey, I know! Let us tax payers empty our pockets and just throw all our spare cash at Hollywood. That way they can make as many piss-poor movies they want and never have to worry about losing money on them. Yeah, that's a GREAT idea.

So, yes, No. 44, the Recovery Act is only a small fraction of the problem. Ridiculing Americans who love and wish to preserve their country is another fraction of the problem. Not representing the constituents who hired you to do your job is yet another fraction of the problem. And failure to keep our borders and national interests safe from attack, well No. 44, that's a heaping helping of that fractional pie. (We'll discuss border issues in an upcoming blog...assuming swine flu doesn't eradicate the human race from the face of the earth -- according to CNN and MSNBC we humans don't have long...it's heading your way now! Quick! Grab the Lysol and face masks!)

Now, you may be wondering just where the title of tonight's blog fits into all this ranting. Well, let's take a brief trip back in time, some 232 years ago when our nation was little more than a collection of colonies controlled by a foreign tyrant king. A group of men put together a list of grievances against King George III to explain just why he was no longer fit to rule over them. Below I have included a few particularly interesting complaints listed in the document:

"The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world....



  • He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.



  • He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.



  • He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation.



  • For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent.



  • For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments.



  • He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us.



  • In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people."
Uncanny, don't you think?

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." --George Santayana
The Life of Reason (1905) Vol. 1 Ch. 12