Friday, May 27, 2011

Splitting Hairs on Religion

The Department of Veterans Affairs in Houston asked Rev. Scott Rainey to offer the invocation at the Houston National Cemetery this Memorial Day weekend along with the stipulation his prayer be subjected to approval and editing. According to a story by Terri Langford in the Houston Chronicle Rev. Rainey was originally told he couldn't use the words "Jesus Christ" at the close of his prayer; they have since relented.

"Rainey's prayer, less than a page long, includes the recitation of the Lord's Prayer and closes with one reference to Jesus: "While respecting people of every faith today, it is in the name of Jesus Christ, the risen Lord, that I pray. Amen."

"Rainey was instructed by the cemetery to submit his prayer for review a month ago. Cemetery director Arleen Ocasio then emailed Rainey on May 19, informing the pastor that the prayer was still in need of editing."

The issue of whether or not individuals have the right to express religious views in public has been under fire and likely the powers of darkness will never cease their attempts to eradicate references to God or His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ; however the Supreme Court has on previous occasion upheld an individual's constitutional protection of free speech in the public square, even on religious matters.

"The government cannot gag citizens when it says it is in the interest of national security, and it cannot do it in some bureaucrat's notion of cultural homogeneity," (U.S. District Judge Lynn) Hughes wrote in his order, granting the Rev. Scott Rainey's motion for the court to intercede. "The right to free expression ranges from the dignity of Abraham Lincoln's speeches to Charlie Sheen's rants."

However, even with the dispute seemingly defused others were not especially pleased; expressing less enthusiastic reservations. An old Ricky Nelson tune comes to mind, "You see you can't please everyone, so, you have to please your self..."

"Rabbi Mark J. Miller, of Congregation Beth Israel, called Rainey's prayer "beautiful" but said that "it is a prayer to which I and many others cannot say 'Amen.' "

I once heard a wonderfully related story about a good Christian who'd been invited to a Jewish family meal. Being a close friend and honored guest the fellow was asked to bless the meal, "...but please respect my insistence that you not close your prayer "in the name of Jesus Christ", the host quietly implored. Had there not been considerable mutual respect such an opportunity could not have come about and so the blessing was carried out; carefully and thoughtfully ending, " the name of the God of Abraham, the God of Jacob and the God of Isaac, Amen".

At the close of the prayer the host added his "Amen". He then smiled toward his friend, adding, "You did it anyway, didn't you?" Would it have mattered had that prayer ended, "in the name of Nature's God", "Our Creator" or "the Prince of Peace"; don't they all refer to  the same Individual ?

Memorial Day serves as an opportunity to consider the miraculous journey our nation has had from its inception. We recognize God's hand in all things; Providence acknowledged in securing victory and preserving us a nation. He is the source of comfort as we honor those who gave their all in defending liberty. 

When we close our prayer, "in the name of Jesus Christ", withhold your "Amen" if you must; but isn't that narrow minded, a form of ingratitude seeing as your Creator and mine happen to be one and the same?

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Let them eat cake

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said something the other day which identified one of the many problems in government, pay raises for the elite during recessionary times. Reid got his nose out of joint; it seems Interior Secretary Ken Salazar had his $20,000 raise held up by Senator David Vitter, a pro-drilling Republican from Louisiana.

“It is wrong for Sen. Vitter to try to get something in return for moving forward on a matter that the Senate has considered routine for more than a century,” Reid said. You see, folks in government see nothing wrong in getting raises regardless of the fact that most of the country is suffering moderate to severe income issues; it’s considered routine.

The country’s bank account is on life support and, like Harry Reid pointed out, it’s only $20,000; what’s the big deal. I’ll tell you what the big deal is; thousands of folks in the oil industry have been laid off because Salazar’s bureaucracy has effectively shut down drilling in the Gulf. The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement has signed off on only one new oil well permit, all the rest were reissued for existing wells.

The Obama administration’s moratorium on drilling was imposed to penalize the oil industry (and our free market capitalist system), putting thousands of workers on unemployment. I’ve a better idea; put Salazar and the rest of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement on the unemployment line; so much for routine raises!

“The history behind your pay raise proposal and the insider support it may have here in Washington is irrelevant. Mr. Secretary, the fact is your polices and your department’s mismanagement of permits is causing more Gulf energy workers literally to lose their jobs every day,” he (Vitter) wrote.”

Deep water drilling rigs have left our Gulf waters where they’ve been refused permits in favor of more friendly areas like Brazil where the Obama administration has pumped billions of American taxpayer dollars to help Petrobras , Brazil’s state owned oil company. Specialized rigs will not return for years leaving our oil industry, related jobs and U.S. economy far behind. When asked what unemployed oil workers should do since they have no money for bread, I may have heard wrong; but Reid is rumored to have said, “Let them eat cake”.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Capon Clothing

The month of May in the State of Texas lends itself to an interesting, not particularly appreciated; but interesting form of law enforcement. My guess is this is a national event  leading  up to Memorial Day weekend we are bombarded with Department of Public Safety reminders, “Click it or Ticket”; a not so subtle reminder that everyone, front seat or back, must wear a seat belt or get pulled over and ticketed. That’s about the same as “Buckle up or else” and don’t think for a moment they don’t mean it; revenue is revenue.

I won’t get into the Nanny State argument, that it’s none of their business, valid as such a discussion might be; the law clearly states everyone has to wear a seat belt so we have no choice in the matter. Most drivers wear seat belts voluntarily and have air bag protection; all the same there’s something repugnant about being pulled over simply for not wearing a seat belt. In the near future we might get ticketed for not putting the toilet seat down; the public’s safety has no reasonable limits.

This morning I got pulled over by a State Trooper on my way to a locksmith call. I was aware of his presence on the road for a mile or so and knew I hadn’t been speeding or done anything which might endanger the public. That having been said I pulled over to the side of the road and unfastened my seat belt so I could reach my wallet.

The Trooper exited his vehicle while I got out my driver’s license, proof of insurance and retired HPD identification card which also serves as my concealed handgun permit. Instead of approaching the driver side door he came up on the passenger side; presumably to be away from traffic; glad I have power windows or it would have been awkward.

“Good morning, Sir”, handing him the aforementioned identification and noticing his senior partner was also out of the vehicle. The young officer explained the reason for the traffic stop was because the “center brake light” was not working and the license plate holder had obscured the license plate. It took a moment for the explanation to sink in, thinking to myself, “Did he say center brake light?”.

“I wasn’t aware of that, thank you for pointing that out.” In actuality the defective center brake light, which was the primary reason for being pulled over wasn’t a brake light at all. The camper shell which is attached to the truck comes with a center “running light” and is not required to function as a brake light. As far as the license plate frame obscuring a clear view of the plate; a loud sneeze which sounds remarkably like “Full Sheet” would explain this lame accusation.

“You’ll be issued a warning ticket only for these violations.” The Trooper made sure to look at the front license plate, inspection sticker and plate renewal sticker. You’ll be pleased to hear I conducted myself properly and never once let on how irritating this type of traffic stop comes across to the average driver, much less a retired police officer.

While this was going on I watched his senior partner casually leaning against his patrol car jotting notes in a small pocket sized book; never bothering to be a second set of eyes for his junior partner during the traffic stop. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, that this was a training effort intended to give the junior Trooper a chance to interact with the public, the idea of the senior partner being distracted didn’t set well either. The whole purpose for having a partner is to lend added safety during traffic stops and other times when dealing with the public, not take notes which could be done later when time permits.

Upon relating this morning’s traffic stop to my dear grey haired mother, this sweet law abiding mother of a retired police officer let slip a common slang, one which most of us would agree fits this type of law enforcement approach. Forgive my spelling; but there’s no need for the letter “R” in Chicken Shirt. Law enforcement efforts like these ruffle the public’s feathers and stir our minds into wondering when we became a police state.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Life of a Spider

I’m not a big fan of spiders; they make my skin crawl and my back muscles tighten. That having been said, I admire their handy work. We have a beautiful green spider who’s made a home at the edge of our house where the wrought iron fence butts up at the back door.

The wind was whipping through the breezeway this afternoon and the spider’s web moving caught my eye, his being centered and holding his own. There are some bright orange markings which stand out against his green body. If you know what kind of spider this one is please leave a comment.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Who can doubt now?

Our grand daughter was over the other day to get help putting her "build a bear" together. She's five years old and had a chance to sew with her "Memaw". When the project was completed she went around showing off her new "Teddy" bear.

While cleaning up I was about to toss the empty container in the trash when a piece of paper fell on the table. Apparently each "build a bear" comes with it's own birth certificate. I glanced at the remarkable find, hardly believing my eyes. I'd found the document everyone had been searching for since the 2008 elections. It must have accidentally fallen into the wrong box, a "build a bear" owned by someone else.
Some might be skeptical as to its origins; cut and pasted information taped onto the surface and different types of paper, fonts and such. As with every document, regardless of facts which would automatically prove it fictitious, there remains a certain amount of truth. In this particular instance there is one undeniable fact:

Belongs to: George Soros.

I rest my case.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

PG Rating Flash

We watched what was supposed to be a PG rated movie last night, Supernova, with James Spader, Angela Bassett and Lou Diamond Phillips. A few minutes into the movie there was a steamy version of the Horizontal Mambo as space crew members got to know each other. Come to think of it, hard to say for sure if it was horizontal, zero gravity makes it a moot point. The scene lasted only a few moments and I had time to check the movie guide once more to make sure; yep, PG rating.

The deep space rescue ship was alerted to dash across the universe at some phenomenal rate of speed, well beyond that of light. We were treated to crew members removing articles of clothing as they hopped into life support modules capable of withstanding the extreme forces.

A line from Ray Stevens song, The Streak , came to mind, “Don’t look Ethel…too late; she’d already been mooned”. The human body is a work of art and nothing to be ashamed of; but at least let the public know when it’s going to be on parade.

While Ray Stevens’ song seemed almost a perfect fit for today’s article, the Statler Brothers won out with their version of, Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott . Movie makers have to flash audiences with skin to make up for shoddy scripts, plots and acting; I understand that, just let us know in advance when to leave the room.

I’d have given a link for the movie; but even the actors might have been ashamed to make that waste of celluloid. Which YouTube video did you like best? Use the comment section to vote.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Patriotism or Sedition?

An interesting discussion took place during the last hour at church this past Sunday; a bunch of old geezers talking about the undeniable responsibility to support our government. You’ll be happy to know I remained silent most of the time; groaning only occasionally as the Spirit dictated. Whenever government and religion are put up for discussion at the same time interesting, a wonderful word; interesting assessments are made. Life long friendships are put on hold as battle lines are drawn; respect could easily be turned to contempt depending on social issues held dear.

We read scriptures in Isaiah, 2nd Nephi and Alma setting up the grand finale, Doctrine and Covenants 134 . For my non LDS readers, this particular section is listed as, “A declaration of belief regarding governments and laws in general, adopted by unanimous vote at a general assembly of the Church held at Kirtland, Ohio, 17 August 1835”, rather than “revelation”. The casual observer would recognize slavery was still practiced in parts of the United States at the time and this “declaration” was issued with a certain amount of “political correctness”. (Opinions expressed are mine and may not be the same as official positions taken by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.)

“1. We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.”

The statement holds true for the United States of America; for other governments I cannot say. So much for those who claim all governments are inherently evil; does this offend anyone? God surely will hold men accountable for their acts; both in making laws and administering them as well as individuals who sustain or fail to sustain governments instituted of God; but what of governments which fall short of providing for the good and safety of society?

Ah, therein the seeds of both patriotism and sedition are sewn. What’s the old saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”? Who determines, on a government level, the mind and will of God as it’s transformed into law; kings, despots, tribal leaders, tyrants, appointed dictators or elected representatives? Would America accept and sustain, for example, Sharia Law; it’s used in other countries? When is it appropriate, when dealing with government, to disagree and, when there is disagreement, what constitutes sedition?

“The crime of seditious conspiracy is committed when two or more persons in any state or U.S. territory conspire to levy war against the U.S. government. A person commits the crime of advocating the violent overthrow of the federal government when she willfully advocates or teaches the overthrow of the government by force, publishes material that advocates the overthrow of the government by force, or organizes persons to overthrow the government by force. A person found guilty of seditious conspiracy or advocating the overthrow of the government may be fined and sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. States also maintain laws that punish similar advocacy and conspiracy against the state government.”

The Sedition Act, which expired in 1801, was used by then president John Adams to silence supporters of Thomas Jefferson, who was running against him. It would appear Adams used the Sedition Act inappropriately, perhaps criminally; but you won’t hear that taught in public schools.

“Matthew Lyon, a congressman from Vermont, was found guilty of seditious libel for stating, in part, that he would not be the “humble advocate” of the Adams administration when he saw “every consideration of the public welfare swallowed up in a continual grasp for power, in an unbounded thirst for ridiculous pomp, foolish adulation, and selfish avarice”’. (emphasis added) Interestingly, “Vermont voters reelected Lyon while he was in jail. Jefferson, after winning the election and assuming office, pardoned all persons convicted under the act”.

The United States government has attempted to define “sedition” on numerous occasions, and in general, has thrown away restraints found in our constitution when such laws were implemented. Benjamin Franklin was credited with saying, “Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one”.

The latest “sedition” act came on the heels of the 9/11 attacks:

“Congress enacted the Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act (USA PATRIOT) Act of 2001, Pub. L. No. 107-56, 115 Stat. 272. Among other things, the act increases the president’s authority to seize the property of individuals and organizations that the president determines have planned, authorized, aided, or engaged in hostilities or attacks against the United States.”

Are we to sustain our government, through actions of the president, acting outside of the “rule of law” to seize property from any individual without having gone through the courts? “But it’s for the safety of our nation”, doesn’t fit within our pledge to apply the law equally. Are we not guilty of ignoring the freedoms of a few to gain security?

“2. We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.”

Those simple and concise statements, if applied without regard for race, creed, color or religion; would be precisely as God would have us do. Unfortunately our laws are not framed, at least not in our day, in such a way as to conform to God’s design for equality among all.

Our laws, in fact, are intentionally slanted to give some individuals “more equality” than others to make up for “sins of the past”. The idea of equal opportunity in the pursuit of happiness has been carefully transformed into, “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” (Karl Marx)

There is no room in our constitutional republic for socialism; it being in direct conflict with our form of government. Those who fail to see this have been blinded by half truths and out right lies. There are many with limited self discipline; they become violent to the point of injuring others or taking lives in the public square; claiming their actions were the result of political discourse fostered by opposing views. Is it sedition to actively seek removal of those in government who defiantly act against the constitution?

Many laws are written in such a way as to create “wealth envy”, to distort the accumulation of property as if those accomplishing greater success did so on the backs of others who were “less fortunate”; forgive the commonly used phrase. Our income tax schedules were issued to make government an “authorized” agent of the “less fortunate”, to redistribute ill gotten gains. Many have supplanted and attempted to justify government taxation and seizure of property for paying tithes and offerings, supposedly as God would have; or am I mistaken.

“The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation.” (Vladimir Lenin)

It’s one thing to voluntarily give of your substance to take care of the poor, as we have been commanded by our God; yet another to enlist the powers of government to forcibly exact wealth from those who rightfully deserve the fruits of their labors. Individuals have a right to protect what is theirs, “to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”; sound familiar? (emphasis added)

“3. We believe that all governments necessarily require civil officers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same; and that such as will administer the law in equity and justice should be sought for and upheld by the voice of the people if a republic, or the will of the sovereign.”

I read an article by Burt Prelutsky he wrote after he’d addressed a local Rotary Club in which he emphasized what has evolved in the mindset of lawmakers, government agents entrusted to administer the law in equity and justice. Here’s what he said:

“…justice is justice, whereas ‘social justice’ is code for one set of rules for the rich, another for the poor; one set for whites, another set for minorities; one set for straight men, another for women and gays. In short, I pointed out, it’s the opposite of actual justice.” (Burt Prelutsky)

I could go on and on; but to what purpose. The “declaration of belief regarding governments and law” as found in the Doctrine and Covenants is a great read and a wonderful “prayer” for humanity should we actually achieve anything close to the mind and will of our Creator while here in mortality. Let’s not kid ourselves into believing the manure we’re spreading; the current course of America is anything other than what our Creator had in mind when He established this nation at the hands of wise men whom were raised up unto this very purpose.

I count myself a patriot with conservative values, values which are labeled “extreme” for demanding my government only spend money we actually have, to defend our citizens from those who would do us harm and facilitate the promises of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as found in the Declaration of Independence. The government I sustain would refrain from destroying the constitution which protects individual God given rights at every turn.

The government I sustain would honor the God which provided this great land for a people as would obey His laws. Righteous people would do their level best to adhere to and sustain our divinely inspired Constitution which protects individual God given rights through equal and impartial laws.

The way things are going you might find me jailed; defending against charges of sedition as I shout to anyone listening about our current government, their “every consideration of the public welfare swallowed up in a continual grasp for power, in an unbounded thirst for ridiculous pomp, foolish adulation, and selfish avarice.”

I’ll close with inspiring thought from the Doctrine and Covenants 109 :

“Have mercy, O Lord, upon all the nations of the earth; have mercy upon the rulers of our land; may those principles, which were so honorably and nobly defended, namely, the Constitution of our land, by our fathers, be established forever.”

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.