Saturday, November 29, 2014

Change My Definition and You Change My Values

Words are beautiful things, as Proverbs 25:11 says: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Psalms says words are also powerful: products of the tongue that “devise mischief" as a “sharp sword.”

Words and their meanings can change, affecting our values and politics. Those who are unethical or unwitting sometimes purposefully change definitions to sway our beliefs. Some think, for instance, that our Constitution should “evolve,” and they use our language to assist in the evolution. Words such as “equality,” “discrimination” and “democracy” are quietly and purposefully redefined over time. Few realize that these redefinitions sometimes change our basic beliefs.
For example, America is often called a democracy, which we are not. A democracy is like a locomotive running full steam toward disaster. America is a constitutional republic — a republic because we elect representatives to create laws, and constitutional because we have a written, ratified constitution. Some, like Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America”, misapply the term democracy. The Founders did not. Benjamin Franklin said the government he helped create was a republic, “... if you can keep it.” A democracy — all citizens voting on every law — is unwieldy, unwise and tiresome to maintain. It is prone to impulse and mob rule, and susceptible to being “bought” by politicians.
When leaders and the people believe they are a democracy, they act like one. They sidestep elected representatives, neglect the republic’s duties in order to focus on rights, and sell their freedoms for “goodies.” The locomotive of democracy always runs over the historical cliff.
Another distortion in our language deals with the word “discrimination.” The word once meant to divide, discern or distinguish. (Webster’s 1942 Collegiate Dictionary, 5th edition). Today it means that some beliefs and business practices that are based on religious or personal ethics are hateful. The age-old admonition of philosophers, preachers and prophets to apply our personal standards to everyday living has been razed. Some of those actions now qualify as discrimination and are, increasingly, violations of the law.
The word “equality” has also been redefined. Nowhere is this more obvious than the transformation of equality in the marriage arena. Equality is referenced in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." This is one of America’s core values.
The equality referenced in 1776 applied to all citizens of the existing 13 colonies that participated in the declaration. Today the term is applied selectively; changed by narrowing its scope dramatically. Equality does not apply to the children who will be denied either a father or a mother under redefined marriage, or to those in the culture whose definitions of gender will be erased and whose standards will be criminalized. “Equality” is available only to a favored few. Government, whose responsibility it has previously been to prevent injustice, now enforces redefined equality to become the agent of injustice.
The French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whose political ideas encouraged the bloodbath of the French Revolution, declared that the concept of rights required that all men be equal in every way. John Adams wrote from France about Rousseau’s philosophy: “That all men are born to equal (inalienable) rights is true. ... But to teach that all men are born with equal powers and faculties, to equal influence in society, to equal property and advantages through life, is as gross a fraud ... as ever was practiced.” The equality of the Constitution refers to the equality of all generations as they stand before God, before the law and in the courts, and in the justice received.
Another misuse of vocabulary is explained by author Anthony Daniel in his address “The Worldview that Makes the Underclass” at Hillsdale College in May 2014. He explains the growing welfare class as well as vocabulary changes that have altered our values. He says, “A small change in locution (manner of speech) illustrates a change in the character and conceptions of a people. ... those who received state (welfare) benefits (in the past) would say, ‘I receive my check on Friday.’ Now people who receive such benefits say, ‘I get paid on Friday,’ ... implying that they are being paid to continue to exist; existence itself being their work.” As a result of this changed perception, people increasingly feel entitled to receive welfare and the welfare state grows.
There are hundreds of examples of changed vocabulary that affect our values and perceptions. We refer to worthless pieces of paper as “money” — that which used to have merit because it could be exchanged for something of worth. Our paper money is no longer backed by anything of intrinsic value nor can it be exchanged; it is sustained only by our perception of its worth. We refer to many medical procedures, such as screenings for diseases, as “disease prevention”, when, in fact, the procedures do nothing to prevent disease. That would require lifestyle choices that encourage health. The tests are, instead, early detection procedures, not preventive procedures. The difference is substantial. While both have value, defining them accurately would help recipients make better choices.
Words and the concepts they represent form the foundation of our lives. How can anyone be sure of what he believes when the words that describe his beliefs shift like sand beneath his feet? We need clarity, not confusion, for our values and our words.

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Thanksgiving Shows American Exceptionalism

When William Bradford, Pilgrim leader, first set foot on American soil, he could not have known the results of his efforts. One-hundred and one Pilgrims came with him to America in 1620 in a freedom revolution that changed the Western world. Tyranny and despotism had been the standard for centuries before this experiment took root. Thanksgiving brings gratitude for the liberty these early patriots began. They battled the odds, the elements, England’s king and the New World’s natives to bring us a government of rights, including the right of religious freedom.
Nina Moore, in her 1888 book, “Pilgrims and Puritans”, tells their story. Our earliest Founding Fathers came to a bold, virgin New England because life in Britain became intolerable. The tyrant, King James I, refused “the common will”. He said, “a king is above law…a king can do no wrong.” He wanted religious control: “I will have one doctrine, one discipline, one religion…I will make [the people] conform.” The Pilgrims, who began as the Scrooby Separatists, refused his demands. They fled England.

Stumbling blocks lined their path. One ship captain betrayed them; they lost everything and were jailed. Another, fearing the authorities trying to stop the departure of these Separatists, cast off from shore before wives and children could board. Eventually the entire group reached Holland, but 12 years there convinced them the particular brand of religious freedom they sought would come only with further distance. The New World became their goal.

Under Bradford’s leadership, they booked two ships. One leaked and turned back. Most of the group continued to America aboard the ship Mayflower. “After [a] long beating at sea they fell in with that land which is called Cape Cod” and settled in Plymouth Bay, in current Massachusetts. They sought a true Christian society. Their highly valued religious dogma was tightly drawn and left little room for variance; today it might seem restrictive. Their Christ-like objective was severely tested by the dishonest sponsoring company that required twenty thousand pounds to retire a debt of eighteen hundred pounds.

Their lives were hard on the primitive shores of Massachusetts Bay, but unexpected help arrived. Native inhabitants came to visit. Unannounced, chief Samoset strode into the common house wearing only a leather loincloth and stunned the colonists when he boomed, “Welcome! Have you got any beer?” He had learned English from fishing vessel crews in his native Maine. He brought the local chief, Massasoit; also English-speaking Squanto, who had learned Christianity and English ways during nine years in Britain. When he returned to America after his kidnapping, he found that his entire tribe had perished in a mysterious plague during his absence.

Squanto became the Pilgrims’ passport to survival. He introduced local vegetable crops and healing herbs, taught the colonists to extract maple syrup, stalk deer, and collect beaver pelts to sell in the British markets. He mediated for the colonists with hostile tribes, blessing the Pilgrims as he reduced their trials. When he died twenty months later, he asked the Pilgrim governor to pray that he could go to the Englishmen’s God in heaven.

Co-existence with the natives proved interesting. Edward Winslow and Steven Hopkins spent two nights with Chief Massasoit. They slept next to the chief and his wife on a bed of rough planks topped by a thin mat. Two other chiefs joined them for the night. They wrote that they “were worse weary of our lodgings than of our journey”. Their only meal in two days was two fish shared with 40 braves. Massasoit’s embarrassment over his scanty offerings was obvious, but the natives feasted in times of plenty and fasted when food was scarce. The chief was greatly pleased with the copper chain and a bright red cotton robe the two men brought him.

Mischievous John Billington, who had once nearly set fire to the Mayflower, wandered away from the colony. For 5 days the child ate seeds and berries before becoming the unintended guest of the warlike Nauset tribe. With the intervention of friendly chiefs, he was returned to the ten man search party amid great ceremony: decorated with beads, a hundred braves carried John across the river on their shoulders.

The seeds of American exceptionalism were planted by the Pilgrims. They began the tradition that America was a blessed land and God’s hand would rest here if the people kept His principles. Their sojourn in America brought others: ten years later, the Puritans settled 40 miles north, in current Boston, the first of a 16 year Great Migration that brought 65,000 Englishmen to America’s shores.

In the spring of the Pilgrims’ first year, “when the leaves of the white oak were as big as the ear of a mouse”, planting began. That autumn, the 53 surviving Pilgrims celebrated their successful harvest with the chieftain-king Massasoit and 90 of his braves. The governor intended that “after a special manner [we might] rejoice together”.

We call this The First Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims, in their immense colonization effort, were our first founding fathers and mothers. We are surrounded by the trappings of civilization—rapid travel, comfortable homes and well-stocked stores. It helps to remember at Thanksgiving that this vast continent once stood silent and watchful, waiting for those who would create prosperity and liberty on its shores. We are blessed to enjoy their fruits. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Common Core Takes Over

The proponents of Common Core—at least those in my state of Utah—have been emphatic about the program not being a federal program. It is a state-led and state-directed initiative, they say. The federal government isn’t involved!

 Yeah, right!

The following is a quote from Oak Norton’s November 24, 2014 daily email on all things Common Core. (Oak is the daily public voice against Common Core in Utah.)

“White House regulations released last Friday declare that Secretary Arne Duncan will amend ESEA [Elementary and Secondary Education Act] to “phase out the authority of States to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards in order to satisfy ESEA accountability requirements. These amendments will permit, as a transitional measure, States that meet certain criteria to continue to administer alternate assessments… for a limited period of time.”  (underlining is mine)

Oh, but there’s no federal takeover of education conspiracy... That’s just silly talk...

In plain English, this means that the federal government lied about not controlling education. It means all the protections the states have (thought they were) putting in place to hold back federal control are as puffs of smoke to a federal megalomaniac that intends to control everything, including your children’s education.

When are people going to learn that when you play with liars, you get lied to? How many times has the federal government, under the current administration, lied to the public? Yet there are some so gullible they thought federal promises would be honored, and federal money would not taint the process?

It’s hard to know which is more infuriating—the government illegalities and dishonesty, or the seemingly deliberate ignorance of those who will not see. At least one of those two is predictable—the federal government always lies. 

For more info, Oak recommends

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Modern Slavery through the IRS

If you thought slavery died 150 years ago, think again. You and I are slaves to the federal government and the IRS is our slave master. If screaming at the federal government would do any good, I’d be willing to try.

Our paper, the Daily Herald, carried an Associated Press article recently reporting that the IRS failed to do background checks on its contractors.

The unverified contractors got confidential information on 1,400,000 Americans without government checks to assure the information would be kept private. For instance, a printing contractor received a disk with 1.4 million social security numbers on it. No background checks were done on the employees who used the disk. Don’t you know there were a dishonest few who are having a heyday with that information? One of the couriers used for confidential information had recently spent 21 years in prison. Other contractors were given private information but never required to sign on the dotted line to keep the information secure.

In what may be the understatement of the year, the federal inspector who conducted the investigation said, “Allowing contractor employees access to taxpayer data without appropriate background investigations exposes taxpayers to increased risk of fraud and identity theft.” Do you think???

Great. They hire 16,000 new agents to spy on our health care, record our data and conversations, punish our political alliances and bite our income in the patootie with the taxes they collect but they can’t mind their own store? How incompetent/unfair can you get?

This is colossal disrespect for citizens. But, why should they care? We are not individuals whose welfare matters, we are serfs. If you disagree, ask yourself how much money and time you spend to calculate and pay your taxes. Who pays you to do that? If you do your own taxes, no one. If you are hired to do a company’s taxes for a living, who compensates your boss for your salary? No one. The federal government demands that you do the work to tell them how much of your money they are going to take from you. No one pays you to do that work—tens, even hundreds of hours and you get no pay other than to have them take your earnings. If you fail to perform or make mistakes you are fined, or even sent to jail. The IRS then adds the stress of a potential audit to make you squirm with worry. If that’s not slavery, clue me in.

Our Founders cringed at the thought of what income tax has done to us. They tried to protect us. But in our great “wisdom”, driven by the slogan “Stick it to the Rich!”, a hundred and one years ago we passed the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, giving the federal government the right to put its paws in our pockets—the very thing the Founders tried so hard to prevent. Far from sticking it to the rich, the middle class got the shaft. The rich hire fancy lawyers,  make sly investments and set up tax-exempt foundations to shelter their earnings. The middle class pays, and pays, and pays some more, and the Internal Revenue Service is the chain gang boss.

And now we find out they don’t even care enough about us to secure our private information. How calloused can you get?

Identity theft—coming to an IRS near you!

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Saratoga Springs: Another Attempt to Create a Race Riot

Darrien Hunt was shot and killed by police on 10 September, 2014 in Saratoga Springs, Utah. As evidence of the circumstances has emerged, the officers who shot 22 year old Hunt are being vindicated. The Hunt family, however, is trying hard to turn this into a race riot.
When Cpl. Schauerhamer and Officer Judson approached Hunt outside a Saratoga Springs convenience store, both noticed Hunt was carrying a sword in a sheath. Schauerhamer asked him to put it down.

“I can’t do that,” Hunt said, according to testimony. “It’s my sword.” He did not mention, and officers did not know, that the sword was plastic.

Hunt lunged at both of them. Abruptly and without any apparent provocation, he reportedly withdrew the sword from its sheath and stabbed it toward at least one of the officers. Schauerhamer started shooting and Hunt ran. Both officers chased him and three more shots were fired.

The family says it’s a whitewash. A family spokesperson says “I think it’s an exaggeration…I think they ignored good hard evidence to be contrary.” The family is conducting its own investigation and plans a lawsuit.

The problem? Hunt was part black, son of a black father and a white mother. With his afro haircut, he appeared black and his mother, Susan, says that’s why he was shot. “They killed my son because he’s black. No white boy with a little sword would they shoot while he’s running away”. The officers are white, as is 93 percent of Saratoga Springs.

The family has tried to attract media attention and drum this into racial conflict. Noone points out that any person who charges cops with a sword takes his life in his hands. The blame is being placed on his skin color. While we feel deep sympathy for the family and sorrow at Darrien’s death, the racial issue doesn’t play.

The entire event lasted 37 seconds. Police Chief Andrew Burton says his men followed Utah law. “They followed their training,” Burton said. “At some point, they have to make a very difficult decision in just a matter of seconds, and then the rest of us get to Monday-morning quarterback the thing for years.”

Chief Burton stands behind his men. As the facts unfold, it appears that it is proper for him to do so. Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman ruled this week that the shooting was justified. Filmed footage and several eyewitness accounts have aided the county in its investigation. There is no reason to disbelieve Buhman.

Racial prejudice is not a common issue in Utah. Perhaps that’s easy to say for one who isn’t black, but decades in Utah have left me with no incidents of racial prejudice. We just elected two blacks to government: Mia Love to the US Congress and Al Jackson to the State Senate. If prejudice was an issue, it’s hard to believe either would have won against their white opponents. Nor were there any observable racial overtones in the campaign. All I ever heard was that we are proud to have blacks in our community that succeed in office—hardly prejudicial statements!

The liberal media outlets, of course, claim injustice and discrimination. We aren’t surprised. The left-leaning press always tries to whip up negative public opinion. This is an attempt to engineer racial tensions from those who want to tear America apart. If the attention of the race-riot pushers wasn’t focused on Ferguson, Mo, we might see national attention in Saratoga Springs. How fortunate that we don’t.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Religious Liberty is Under Attack

Why are Americans in general, and Utahns in particular, not outraged at the recent threats against religious rights in Houston, Texas? Of all the states intent on retaining their religious rights, Utah should be first in line. Religious worship is a fundamental freedom, yet our slumbering citizens seem unaware that this right is on the chopping block.

The first of Houston’s two major violations began with a city ordinance banning gay “discrimination” in commerce. Despite their prevalence, such ordinances wrongly insert government into citizen affairs because they dictate beliefs. Local churches began a petition drive to repeal the ordinance at the ballot box and collected more than 30,000 signatures. The city secretary, authorized to validate the signatures, approved the minimum 17,000 signatures to initiate the repeal effort. Acting without legal authority, city attorney David Feldman threw out thousands of the validated signatures. A coalition of 400 Christian congregations filed a lawsuit against the city for civil rights violation of the First Amendment’s freedom of petition.

The second mistake came from Houston’s lesbian mayor, Annise Parker. In retaliation toward pastors who had been preaching against the anti-discrimination measure from their pulpits, the mayor issued subpoenas against five local ministers. She subpoenaed “all speeches, presentations, or sermons” related to the issue, the petition, the mayor, homosexuality or gender identity. The subpoenaed materials also included confidential emails between pastors and their congregants. This kind of action is historically the opening salvo against rights and
freedoms. The First Amendment’s freedoms were under attack.

As tensions mounted, pastors and patriots came from across the country to demand First Amendment rights of petition, speech and religion for Houston’s churches. By invitation, Utah joined the cause to stand with the five pastors and 400 congregations that backed them. Utah’s Cheralyn Bacon Eagar spoke at the Oct. 29 press conference to declare that what happens to one of us happens to all; our rights must be defended or we forfeit them; if those who tear down freedom succeed in one city, the precedent is set for the fall of other cities; we cannot let this happen.

There are several important points here. First, the pastors acted legally to work for repeal of the anti-discrimination ordinance. IRS rules for 501(c)3 entities — the churches — prohibit only direct endorsements of individual candidates such as, “Let’s all vote for John Smith.” They do no prohibit recommendations for or against legislation. Second, the civil rights of citizens who signed the petitions were violated when their valid signatures were thrown out. Americans have a constitutional right to petition the government. The violations mounted when an unauthorized city attorney acted on matters outside his legal jurisdiction. Third, the Constitutions of both state and nation were disregarded by the mayor. Our U.S. Constitution guarantees the inalienable rights of religion, speech and petition, as does the Texas Constitution. Mayor Parker put herself above the laws of both.

The five subpoenaed Houston pastors have no intention of abandoning their religious rights. They’ve spoken to the media, in the press conference, personally to Utah’s contingent and in the Nov. 2nd “I Stand Sunday” event at Grace Community Church in Houston. Steve Riggle, the pastor and president of the Houston Area Pastors Council, said, "When elected officials abuse the power of their office ... we must stand against that action, whatever the cost." Another, Khanh Huynh of Houston’s Vietnamese Baptist Church, risked his life to flee Communist Vietnam after the fall of Saigon. He said, "In North Vietnam, people died fighting for freedom of religion and speech [which] we could not express. ... I never thought I would see the marching boots of tyranny here.” He fled to the U.S. to find these rights and now sees them being taken away. Pastor Magda Hermida, whose ministry bears her name, said, “We never thought we would see this happen in our country. ... This is the police state we experienced in Cuba. We cannot allow this.”

This issue is not about gay rights or the other bullying issues being used against the public. It is about maintaining the privileges of U.S. citizens and upholding the law. The federal Constitution’s First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging freedom of speech…or the right of petition.” That’s crystal clear. Those protesting these violations are fighting for freedom, just as did our Founding Fathers two and half centuries ago.

From the outset, those against the gay marriage agenda have said the issue would be used to destroy religious liberty — that activists and then government would deny churches the right to teach the biblical stand against homosexuality. Houston’s mayor proved they were right. No government official has a right to information involving a congregation’s teachings, doctrines or members, nor can a government tell a church what to believe or teach. This is flagrantly illegal.

This issue has not been resolved and patriots have only begun this defense of freedom. America stands where she stood in the late 1700s. We can be grateful to Houston’s ministers for refusing to set the precedent of caving before government illegality. As it was over two centuries ago, some don’t see the need for freedom and some don’t care. Among the rest, coalitions are forming across the nation, including Utah, to uphold the rule of law. Be alert and get involved. Otherwise, you could become a closet Christian by necessity.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

War Has Been Declared in Washington

The suspense of the mid-term elections is past. No more endless newscaster opinions on who will be elected and what it will mean—yeah!

The Republicans are pulsing with joy, convinced that they did it—they took Congress by storm. Indeed, it looks that way. Republicans increased in the House, took control of the Senate and turned three governors’ races red. It looks good and it feels good—until you smell the rat. To quote a Peanuts cartoon: “Not so fast, Charlie Brown!”

Look at the facts. With major voter illegalities in 2012, you have to know that election was thrown by the Progressives. Then why didn’t they throw this one? Not to dump cold water on the celebration, but is this a setup?

The real prize is the White House in 2016.

What will be the long-term result of these mid-terms? Easy: it will be gridlock in Washington. Nothing will get done and stalemate will be the name of the game. (There’s another possible outcome: if bad stuff gets passed it will spotlight the black hats in the Republican party. That would get interesting.)

When we were kids we played the game of Hot Potato—if you got the potato you had to get rid of it right away. The Democrats have had the potato—blamed for everything that did or didn’t happen. Now the Republicans get the hot potato. The blame will transfer to them and set the Dems up to star at the big party in 2016.  Blind to the political machinations, the nation’s undereducated voters will flock to the Democrats. Could that be the plan? I’ll bet it is.

Elections used to be about Americans. Now they are about political parties, with citizens and good government as casualties in the process. It’s no longer about Republicans and Democrats. Who can tell which is which? In a disillusioned world, who cares?  Are the Republican Progressives that different from the Democrat Progressives? Not much. The Dems run downhill faster, that’s all. Is it a stage play with the ending already scripted?

The key to the next two years will be new definitions. Progress will be measured by what is NOT done, not by what is. Forget about passing good laws; stopping bad ones is the name of the game. Standing still will take on the luster of success. Let’s get the word out: going nowhere is the new Great News!

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