“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.” (The First Amendment of the United States Constitution)
It seems as though my beloved United States of America has lost its ever-loving collective mind. Never in my lifetime, have I seen such asininity on full display from entertainers, athletes, so-called community leaders, and the men and women we elect to represent us. Our President types out more Tweets than an emo teenager, NFL players, take a knee during the National Anthem, disrupters of all kinds try to impede the Democratic process, and rioters destroy their own neighborhoods. Politicians and community organizers pander to any group they can label as a victim, and the white supremacists pander to the only group left, white Christian males. Feelings trump facts; everyone wants to be heard, but nobody wants to listen; right and wrong are whatever you want them to be, and the truth no longer matters. It makes me want to stand up and shout as loud as I can “Can’t we all just grow up and get along?!”
The participants in all this insanity believe that their words and deeds are sanctioned by the Constitution; that the First Amendment is a protective shield that gives them the right to say and do whatever they want without consequence. Well, no, it doesn’t. Since apparently, the Constitution and the mindset of the men who wrote it are no longer taught in public school, it looks like it’s up to me, the Middle Aged Housewife, to give you all a common sense, middle class, refresher course.
Let’s start with “freedom of religion”. This part of the amendment was created to prevent the Federal Government from establishing an official national religion. Many people came to this land to escape from religious persecution in their homelands, and being able to worship G-d how they saw fit was important to them. Interestingly, this amendment makes no mention of the “separation of church and state”. That statement was made by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, confirming that there is a wall between the government and religious practice. This was meant to assure religious leaders that the government could not dictate religious practices.It was not meant to infer that politicians, public officials and educators, could not rely on their personal principles, religious or otherwise, to guide them in their decision-making. When public schools ban prayers, and public buildings remove copies of “The Ten Commandments”, they in reality are violating the First Amendment. However, we Christians must realize that while this amendment was meant to protect our religious rights, it also protects the rights of non-Christian belief systems. This means that a ridiculous statue of a Satanic goat ministering to children has just as much a right to be in front of the courthouse as a stone with The Ten Commandments, a Cross, a Nativity Scene or a Menorah. As individuals, we have the right and the responsibility to practice our beliefs, and to bring our children up with the knowledge that under our secular form of government, all religions have an equal right to exist, but that doesn’t mean that all forms of religion are equally benevolent or beneficial.
In my next post, I’ll explain my take on Freedom of Speech.
Earlier this week the Boy Scouts of America made the decision to allow gay boys into the organization. Gay leaders however will not be allowed. I stated in an earlier post that I had mixed feelings about the decision. I still do. But mostly I am disappointed and this is why.
The BSA was bullied into this decision by groups who are less interested in becoming Boy Scouts than in changing American culture. I am disappointed that the BSA did not fight for its Supreme Court confirmed right to make its own rules.
The half-hearted compromise to allow gay boys but not gay leaders will please no one. Radical gay rights groups will continue to push until both gay adults and boys are allowed to exhibit openly gay behavior at Scout functions. Rather than solving the issue, the BSA will now be faced with many more court challenges. Most likely from Atheist groups seeking to force the organization to abandon its Declaration of Religious Principle.
The BSA needs to draw its line in the sand, and draw it now before the organization’s values are whittled away to irrelevance.
The past few weeks you have been getting a lot of criticism for a weak campaign. In fact I have been one of the critics. It seems strangely contradictory, because I like and admire your focus on the real issues instead of personal attacks. Your generosity, and your humility, your personal practice of leading by example rather than florid speeches, prove you to be a man of sound moral character. You are just the kind of man this country needs at this critical moment in our history. Even so, though I admire your integrity, at the same time I really, really wish you’d pop Obama right in the chops (verbally of course).
Week after week I have watched the Obama campaign build half-truths and statements taken out of context into outright character assassinations. I’ve listened to Obama resort to blatant falsehoods about your record and his. Fabricating an agenda for you, while covering up his own. Week after week I have watched you take a pacifist stance, absorbing the blows and soldiering on. Never once calling him out or exposing his bald-faced lies.
I’ve watched your interviews, and listened to stories about how you have helped people. And after listening to the main stream media tell me how out of touch you were with the American people, I was surprised. No, amazed. I saw a man who is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and get dirty. A man who prizes his family more than his wealth, who taught his kids personal responsibility leading by example. A man who looks like he would be as much at home pushing a lawn mower as he would be at a board meeting. Your wife even buys your shirts at Costco. You and your family seem so down to earth. Like the kind of people who would enjoy a backyard barbecue in my humble home, even though you could afford expensive steaks at an upscale restaurant. In your world view and lifestyle I feel like I have far more in common with you than I do with the people down at the welfare office, though I’m much closer to them financially. And yet you let the media paint you as cold, aloof and elitist.
I can’t even begin to understand how hard it must be to have your most embarrassing moments and most intimate details laid bare for the world to see, by an unscrupulous opponent who knows how to manipulate the truth and the media to concoct his own version of reality. Your campaign may lack the taxpayer provided transportation of Air Force One, and the free endorsements provided nightly by the evening news anchors as they gush and fawn over the sitting President, but you do have truth on your side. A truth that you should be welding like a hammer to victory.
Every day as I hear the poll numbers and the reports showing an ever-increasing lead for Obama, I become even more frustrated. I know you have the personal integrity, and the business sense to turn this country around, but I’m not the one you have to convince. I am astounded that so many Americans cannot see that sitting in the Oval Office is a man who is anathema to everything that our Founding Fathers intended for this country. A man whose not so hidden agenda is to bring this country to its knees and diminish its standing in the world. Obama’s plan of bailouts, handouts, and wealth redistribution will kill our economy and place us firmly on the path to austerity. Meanwhile, I lie awake at night fearful of the nation we will become if he gets a chance at four more years. The nation my children will inherit.
You see Mr. Romney, for me and those like me, this is not just another Presidential election. It is a battle for our way of life. It is a historical turning point where this country returns to the “land of opportunity” that our Founding Fathers intended. Or, it is when our country turns down the path of a Soviet style republic. A place where an ever decreasing congregation of people with integrity struggle and toil for an ever-increasing horde of people dependent on the government for their survival. Our anxiety is real. The consequences are real. It is a battle Mr. Romney, that we cannot afford for you to lose.
Instead of asking ourselves if we are better off today than we were four years ago, maybe we should be asking if we will be better off four years from now? Without the need to woo skittish voters, and appease wealthy donors, President Obama would no longer have to carry on the ruse of upholding The Constitution. He would have the power, through executive order if need be, to continue his war on capitalist prosperity. Even without the blessing of Congress, he would assume the authority to appease our enemies while snubbing our allies. What would four years look like if President Obama is elected to another term? In the first of a four-part series, I’ll describe the America, Obama’s America, that is yet to come.
Though we don’t see the exuberance of four years ago, there is much celebration in the nation today. Seniors who feared cuts to Social Security and Medicare are now looking forward to the hope of a decent retirement. People who were previously uninsurable, or had children with catastrophic illnesses, who were already enjoying the benefits of the Affordable Healthcare Act are resting comfortably. Students who only a year ago, were protesting in the streets, now feel they have a future.
There is caution in the celebrating though, an almost palpable feeling that maybe, just maybe everything isn’t as it seems. Tentative hope has now been replaced by fear and uncertainty. For many in this country this is not a day to celebrate, it is a day filled with a sense of dread. The campaign slogans of “Hope and Change”, of “Forward”, of “Believe in America”, have been replaced by a new slogan, “Oh my God what have we done”.
The fifth year:
Obama wastes no time in pushing though his campaign promise of making rich people pay “their fare share”. At first, the extension of the Bush era tax cuts for the middle class, along with the Fed’s new policy of printing and circulating large sums of money has a small positive effect on the economy. Middle class wage earners, while not gaining any true increase in wealth, are feeling better about the future so they are starting slowly and cautiously to spend more.
Employment however, has not increased as much as expected. Small business owners who were waiting on the outcome of the election, before deciding whether to expand or hire, have decided to put it off. Even with the small increase in consumer spending, they are waiting to see just how much the Affordable Healthcare Act and the new wealth taxes will cost them. A few small business owners are eager to utilize the Obama administration’s new programs to reward “insourcing” and “green” business. The program has little success however, as the program’s stipulations, along with all the government’s restrictions, make it impossible for these businesses to be profitable.
The upper tier rich begin to look for ways to divest their income to avoid paying the new wealth taxes. Many are placing most of their funds in overseas bank accounts. Wealthy businessmen, concerned about maintaining the profitability of their companies, many of whom would never have considered it before, are moving overseas. Many wealthy individuals are starting to consider the wisdom of leaving the United States entirely and taking up residence in a foreign country. A policy that was supposed to generate more revenue for the government has the unexpected result of prolonging the employment crisis.
In spite of another drop in interest rates, the housing market has also remained flat. As the year progresses, the Fed’s influx of cash has led to inflation. The increase in the cost of living, coupled with the lack of well-paying jobs has people reluctant to buy a home. What was a slow and cautious economic recovery has now become stagnant.
Obama Care has given many people who worried about the cost of healthcare, a reason to be hopeful. Adult children can now be carried on their parent’s insurance, and a person can’t be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition. The trade-off is that now individuals are forced to carry health insurance or pay a penalty tax. In spite of subsidies, many small business owners cannot afford to cover their employees. This forced those employees to turn to the state insurance pools. While low-income people are given a tax incentive to cover the cost of this insurance, many mid level earners do not qualify. This leaves them with an added expense that they did not count on. Just one more item to juggle into an already tight budget.
In spite of continued attacks against American interests in the Middle East, President Obama expands his policy of acceptance and understanding of the Muslim culture. He meets regularly with the heads of radical Islamic groups such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. He maintains his stance that Prime Minister Netanyahu needs to stop the development of settlements on the West Bank. Meanwhile, Iran continues its so-called “peaceful” nuclear program. Even though this presents a clear danger to one of our most important allies, Obama is reluctant to call for stronger measures against them. He prefers to rely on the economic sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations, despite their lack of success………
As we see, during Obama’s fifth year in office, the world continues to be a dangerous and unstable place, both economically and culturally. While most Americans may not be worse off, very,very, few can say things are better. In my next post, we will see what it might look like during his sixth year.
(Parts of this are reposted from an earlier post entitled “No Guts No Glory”.)
This Monday we will see billboards, bumper stickers, and car magnets all proclaiming “Support our Troops“, and “Freedom Isn’t Free”. Are these truly heart-felt words, displayed by proud patriots or are they meaningless platitudes, mindlessly quoted by pandering politicians? On this day there will be countless memorial services and tributes. But will we stop a moment and reflect on what this day really means or is it simply the beginning of summer? Just a day to have a picnic or barbecue.
I remember as a child hearing the stories of my mother, who, as a toddler underwent surgery on her foot. For years afterward she required special orthotic shoes that had to be replaced every time her foot grew. This was during WWII and rationing was in full force. Everyone was allowed only one pair of shoes a year. Including my mother. The government didn’t make a special exception because she was a child with a medical condition. Her parents didn’t demand that she was entitled to more ration coupons because of a unique hardship. Instead they gave up their ration coupons to get her the shoes she needed and when those ran out other family members, friends and neighbors donated theirs. Why was this necessary? Because the materials that were used to make shoes over here were needed to make shoes for the troops over there. Could you imagine giving up coffee, sugar, shoes and tires and sending them to the troops in Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Iraq? Could we ever again unite as a whole country behind an effort to rid our world of an unspeakable evil? Do we even know what evil is anymore?
The invention of photography as allowed us to see the horrors of war up close and personal. The flag draped coffins of our loved ones, the bloody, mangled bodies of our enemies, the atrocities. Faced with the horrifying reality that the price of freedom is blood, many of us have decided that the price is too high. We believe that the act of war, rather than the megalomaniacal ideals of ruthless men is the true evil and that nothing save our own personal survival is worth fighting and dying for.
The men who marched at Lexington and Concord, whose bodies covered the ground at Gettysburg, who raised the flag at Mount Suribachi, all understood the power of the words of our Declaration of Independence, and our Constitution. That such a radical ideal as individual freedom, that men should control their own destinies, requires a collective sacrifice.
By looking to the government for our prosperity rather that demanding that our elected officials recognize the freedom to build that prosperity ourselves, by allowing the government the rights to our personal property, and by allowing the government to usurp and mismanaged our wages though an unnecessarily complicated tax code, we dishonor those who have fought and died to maintain those freedoms.
By allowing our schools to indoctrinate our children with the mantra that it is the government’s job to take care of us, to protect us from our own ignorance and folly, and that “from each according to his ability and to each according to his need” is the highest morality, we dishonor those who fought and died for our right to think for ourselves.
Our Forefathers wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, not to give us certain rights, but to preserve them. The government does not grant us our freedoms, rather we “the people” grant the government its right to exist. It’s time for us to “take back” our government and hold our elected officials accountable, for what they do with the money, property, time and power we “the people” give them.
In every election we have the opportunity to show that we truly understand the cost of our freedom and that it is precious. By taking the time and making the effort to research and vote for people truly worthy to serve us, and by reminding them regularly that they do, is how we prove that those who made the “ultimate sacrifice” did not do so in vain.
On Thursday, March 1st, the Florida State legislature passed SB, 98 www.flsenate.gov /Session/Bill/2012/0098/BillText/Filed/PDFwhich gives individual school districts the freedom to allow student led “inspirational messages” during mandatory assemblies and other school sponsored events. The bill was sponsored by a Democrat,
State Senator Gary Siplin, and was overwhelmingly passed with bi-partisan support. A fact that might surprise many conservatives and Evangelicals. The bill now awaits the probable signing from Governor Rick Scott. Other states are taking notice and waiting to see how this law will play out in the practical application of public school policy.
As a Christian and a mother, I should be elated about this. Over the past few decades we have seen the First Amendment being twisted and perverted into an instrument to deny Christians the right to freely practice our beliefs in public. Activities that are actually a positive influence on campus such as the annual See You At The Pole or groups such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes are routinely banned from school property even though these activities are completely voluntary and take place outside of regular class hours. Teachers are forbidden to acknowledge their Christian beliefs on their school website bios and are reprimanded for publicly expressing their beliefs even when they are outside of the school setting. This is wrong and is in opposition to the true intent of the First Amendment.
This bill, however, is a bad idea. The bill’s only strongpoint is that it puts the authority for implementation in the hands of the individual school boards. This is right because the boards are better able to determine the needs and beliefs of their communities better than the state government can. The bill seeks to protect the schools from First Amendment litigation by giving the responsibility for choosing, who delivers the message and its content, to the discretion of the students. School officials and employees are forbidden to interfere in any way with the students’ decisions. There is absolutely no way a school board can define what constitutes an “inspirational message” without violating the rights of one group or another. These messages could be anything from a prayer or devotional to an anarchist rant, or hate group rhetoric. Any student who has an ax to grind or just simply enjoys stirring up trouble will now have a platform. Time and precious school resources would be wasted on the litigation that is sure to ensue if any school board tries to implement rules to curb the chaos.
The school system in Florida has many challenges. Fixing a broken system of accountability is one. Though it is a well-intentioned attempt at restoring morality in the school system, this law will not work. The only way to improve the quality of education in Florida or anywhere else in this country is to remind the schools that their purpose is to serve their students, parents and taxpayer supporters, not the other way around. The only way to accomplish what this bill is trying to do, is to implement school choice.