Recent violence, consequences, and our Constitution

There have been many public acts of violence recently. The Aurora, Colorado theater shootings and the Sandy Hook Elementary School are the two that come to mind for me – Aurora because it happened in my back yard (figuratively speaking) and Sandy Hook Elementary because it happened mere days ago. This also reminds me of another shooting that happened many years ago, ironically on December 14, like the Sandy Hook shooting. This past shooting took the life of the a sweet young lady who we had used as a baby sitter on several occasions, she was the sister of my wife’s close friend and the daughter of good friends of mine.

I find these acts of violence abhorrent, and take comfort in knowing that the perpetrators will be held accountable, if not in this life, then surely in the next. What I also find disgusting is the focus the media places on those responsible for such horrific acts. Ask people familiar with the Chuck E Cheese shooting, and many will be able to recall the name of Nathan Dunlap, the shooter. How many people remember any of the victims, like our babysitter Sylvia? How many people can tell you the last names of the Columbine High School shooters from 10+ years ago? How many names of the victims are remembered?

Why is this? I believe it is because of the attention the media places on these perpetrators. They become sensationalized and household names. Those sick and deranged people who pull off these acts of violence typically have other villains whom they have idolized. Klebold and Harris were fascinated with Hitler, and shot up Columbine High School on the anniversary of Hitler’s death. Who knows how many of these people decided to pull off their acts of violence after seeing reports of other violent events? Are they trying to be more sensational than their predecessors?

How much is said about the mental health of these violent individuals? Surely one must have something going wrong in their brain if they decide to take several lives of innocent people without provocation nor warning. As almost a side thought, our local newspaper mentioned that the Sandy Hook shooter may have had a form of autism. If you have heard of the shooting, have you heard of this kid’s mental deficit? The blame and focus of these events typically turns to the devices used to kill their victims. Guns and lawful gun owners then become the target of new and tougher legislation, because obviously guns are the cause of this violence.

Using this same line of thinking, I propose we put the same scrutiny on other methods used in mass murders in the recent past. Oklahoma City in the 1990’s saw the slaying of many, including children in a day care facility. We should therefore place restrictions or perhaps outright bans on fertilizers, household chemicals, and UHaul trucks. September 11, 2001 – I don’t need to recount details of this infamous day – but using this same line of thinking, I think we need to restrict access to or ban the use of commercial aircraft. With this same date in mind, I think we should also outlaw box cutters, as they were allegedly used by those who flew the aircraft into buildings. Last year in a suburb north of Denver, a woman was driving in a way that no one should be, and in the process, landed her car on top of another car carrying a family of 5. Perhaps cars need stricter legislation. Obviously, what I am saying is ridiculous. We didn’t focus on the weapons of destruction in those events, but when a firearm is used to kill, instantly we hear that guns are evil and need to be removed from this country.

In a recent Facebook post, I mentioned that firearms played a huge role in the formation of our nation and the liberation from the monarchy of England. If the early colonists had not possessed or had not used firearms, we wouldn’t call this land The United States of America, we would still be paying taxes to the monarchy of England, and we would all be speaking with British accents.

That brings me to the 2nd amendment. Our founding fathers must have felt that having the right to keep and bear arms was important enough to make it the 2nd amendment to our great constitution. I have heard so many people saying the 2nd amendment has outlived its usefulness. To this I ask, what would be our option if our government stopped being of government of and for the people? (Yes, I know we are quickly getting to that point!) We would simply become the subjects to whatever tyrant that was able to destroy the constitution and take our rights away from us. Obviously there are many people who seem to be ok with that. If they want to live like that, perhaps they should find a country with such ideals and move there.

Personally, I believe the constitution was written by inspired men and is timeless, in that we have not outlived its usefulness. It has been said by leaders in my church that the constitution would “hang as if by a thread.” We are rapidly approaching this point! All it takes is subtle attacks on each element of the constitution until we, as Americans, accept these attacks as part of our progression or we throw our hands in the air and say “What can I do?” Those who have flown commercially in recently have experienced the destruction of the 4th amendment. How many people realize that? Wikipedia’s summarizes the 4th Amendment by saying “Protection from unreasonable search and seizure.” How many of us have posed such a risk to our fellow passengers that warranted a virtual strip search? The actual text of the 4th Amendment states:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

How many people feel “secure in their persons” knowing that someone in a little room in the airport is looking at essentially our bodies as seen with x-ray vision? How many people feel secure knowing that they have been subjected to radiation over our entire bodies to satisfy “air travel security?” But what are our alternatives? If we decline the virtual strip search, we will have the pleasure of being groped over almost every inch of our bodies in order to “prove” that we are not going to harm our fellow passengers. This is not to mention TSA rummaging through our luggage randomly, whenever they desire. This, in my opinion, violates my right “against unreasonable searches” in my “effects,” this being my luggage. It almost makes you want to launder all your clothing upon arriving at your destination, doesn’t it?

Let’s talk about the 5th Amendment. Everyone has heard someone say, whether under oath or in jest, “I plead the 5th.” They cannot be forced to testify against themselves. But do you know that the 5th Amendment also protects abuse through Eminent Domain? What is Eminent Domain? It is when a government decides they need your property more than you do, and they take it. The 5th Amendment states “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” I guess the “just compensation” value depends on who you ask. If a home is taken under Eminent Domain, I can guarantee an appraiser is not brought in and the homeowner is not given fair market value for their property.

I could state more examples of constitutional rights and federal laws being mocked, and perhaps I will post a some later time on my feelings on this. So what can we do to preserve the constitution? I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that if we sit idly by and wait for others to “fix it,” it will never get fixed. There are simple things that can be done – pay attention to what is happening in Washington. Write your senator or representative. It’s easy to do – they all have forms on their websites. I always get replies whenever I write. Granted, they are often form letters, but it lets me know my email was seen by someone. Call them on urgent matters. You most likely won’t talk directly to your senator or congressman or woman, but your voice will get back to them, especially if their phones are ringing off the hook from constituents calling to have their voices heard. Sign up for email lists for causes that you believe in.

I don’t care if you have the same beliefs that I do or we are polar opposites, but I do care that we Americans need to wake up and stop being “sheeple” – going through life like lambs to the slaughter. To quote a country song I once heard, “You’ve gotta stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.” We’ve been falling long enough, it’s time to be heard in Washington and to remind them they work for us, not the other way around.

Dishonest Politicians?

Is it just me? This time of year, we are inundated with political ads. In Denver, we just finished the primary race. What I don’t understand is this. How can two candidates of the same party, who have been mudslinging for the past several months, turn around after the primary is over and stand side-by-side with the loser supporting the winner? Shouldn’t we be believing candidate B’s ads that ran just last week saying that candidate A is a dishonest low-life? Or should we be believing what candidate B is saying now, which is that candidate A is the best choice for the elections in November? Which lie are we supposed to believe?

“How can you tell when a politician is lying? His lips are moving.”

Our Pledge of Allegiance

I saw this video on YouTube. It’s a great use of four minutes of your day.

Red Skelton's Pledge of Allegiance, from his television show in 1969.

Here is a transcription of the video:

I remember a teacher that I had. Now, I went through the seventh grade. I left home when I was 10 years old because I was hungry. This is true. I’d work in the summer and go to school in the winter. But I had this one teacher, it was the principal of the Harrison School in Vinsennes, Indiana. To me, this was the greatest teacher, a real sage of my time, any how. He had such wisdom. And we were all reciting The Pledge of Allegiance one day, and he walked over, this little old teacher. Mr. Lasswell was his name.

He says, “I’ve been listening to you boys and girls recite The Pledge of Allegiance all semester. And it seems as though it’s becoming monotonous to you. If I may, may I recite it and try to explain to you the meaning of each word.

“I – me. An individual. A committee of one.

“Pledge – dedicate all of my worldly goods to give without self-pity.

“Allegiance – my love and my devotion.

“To the flag – our standard. Old Glory. A symbol of freedom. Wherever she waves, there’s respect, because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts ‘Freedom is everybody’s job!’

“United – that means that we have all come together.

“States – individual communities that have united into 48 great states. Forty-eight individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose. All divided with imaginary boundaries, yet united to a common purpose, and that’s love for country.

“And to the republic – republic. A state in which sovereign power is invested in representatives chosen by the people to govern. And government is the people. And it’s from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.

“For which it stands…one nation. One nation, meaning, so blessed by God.

“Indivisible – incapable of being divided.

“With liberty – which is freedom. The right of power to live one’s own life, without threats, fear, or some sort of retaliation.

“And justice – the principal or quality of dealing fairly with others.

“For all. For all. Which means, boys and girls, it’s as much your country as it is mine.

“And now, boys and girls, let me hear you recite The Pledge of Allegiance.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of The United States of America. And to the republic, for which it stands. One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our country, and two words have been added to The Pledge of Allegiance. “Under God.” Wouldn’t it be a pity if someone said ‘That is a prayer’ and that would be eliminated from schools, too?”

To Congress: The 5 Pledges

Ask your congressmen if they are willing to take these 5 pledges.  If they’re not, we need to vote them out and vote in someone who will take the pledges!

To Congress, The 5 Pledges

1. I believe in a balanced budget and therefore will vote for a freeze in government spending until that goal is realized.

2. I believe government should not increase the financial burden on its citizenry during a difficult economic times, therefore I will oppose all tax increases until our economy has rebounded.

3. I believe more than four decades of US dependence on foreign oil is a travesty, therefore I will support an energy plan that calls for immediately increasing usage of all domestic resources including nuclear energy, natural gas and coal as necessary.

4. I believe in the sovereignty and security of our country and therefore will support measures to close our borders except for designated immigration points so we will know who is entering and why. I will vehemently oppose any measure giving another country, the United Nations, or any other entity power over US citizens.

5. I believe the United States of America is the greatest country on earth and therefore will not apologize for policies or actions which have served to free more and feed more people around the world than any other nation on the planet.

Questions to ask

I’ll preface these questions by stating that I am just learning about many of the situations that these questions ask.  So, if you ask me for details on a particular question, I may not be able to explain without further research.  These questions were asked by Glenn Beck during his program on Fox News the week of August 24.  Here they are:

Day 1

  • Our unfunded liability for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is close to $100 trillion. Is there any way to pay for these programs without bankrupting America?
  • We are in so much debt, why spend more borrowed money on cap-and-trade and healthcare programs before we stop the flow of red-ink?
  • The stimulus package funneled billions of dollars to ACORN. How does giving billions of dollars to ACORN stimulate the economy?
  • If it was so important for congress to pass the stimulus bill before they even had time to read it why has only a fraction of the stimulus money been spent 6 months later?
  • Bush said he had to abandon free market principles in order to save them, how exactly does that work?
  • Why won’t members of Congress read the bills before they vote on them?
  • Why are citizens mocked and laughed at when they ask their congressman to read the bills before they vote on them?
  • Was the cash-for-clunkers program meant to save the earth or the economy? Did it accomplish either?
  • How did Van Jones, a self-proclaimed communist, become a special advisor to the president?
  • Did President Obama know of Van Jones’ radical political beliefs when he named him special advisor?
  • The Apollo Alliance claimed credit for writing the stimulus bill—why was this group allowed to write any portion of this bill?
  • If politicians aren’t writing the bills and aren’t reading the bills, do they have any idea what these 1000 page plus bills actually impose on the American people?
  • If the ‘public option’ health care plan is so good why won’t politicians agree to have that as their plan?
  • If town hall meetings are intended for the politicians to learn what’s on our mind—why do they spend so much time talking instead of listening?
  • Politicians are refusing to attend town hall meetings complaining, without evidence, that they are scripted. Does that mean we shouldn’t come out and vote for you since every campaign stop, baby kiss, and speech you give is scripted?
  • Why would you want to overwhelm the system?
  • Is using the economic crises to rush legislation through congress what Rahm Emanuel meant when he talked about “not letting a crisis go to waste”?
  • What are the czars paid? What is the budget for their staffs/offices?

Day 2

  • Who is “surrounding” the President in the White House?
  • Do any of the President’s advisers have criminal records?
  • Are the President’s advisers working to better the country or their own ideals?
  • Who are the anti-capitalists in Washington?
  • What roles do they have in crafting bills?
  • What was “STORM”? What happened to the founders, where are they now?
  • What qualifications must one have to be a Presidential adviser?
  • What is the difference between a community organizer and a community activist?
  • Do the czars have power?
  • Should a communist have the ear of the President of the United States?
  • What role did the Apollo Alliance play in crafting bills?
  • Does the President know the co-founder of the Weather Underground is a board member of the Apollo Alliance?
  • How many people in the administration are connected to the movement for a democratic society?
  • What role does George Soros play… CONSTITUTIONALLY?

Day 3

  • Why does the FCC have a diversity “czar”?
  • Who is Mark Lloyd and how does he plan to “balance” the airwaves?
  • Will he bring back the Fairness Doctrine or worse?
  • Cass Sunstein once said he wants to balance the Internet; is that next?
  • Will broadcasters who leave the airwaves be allowed to go to satellite or Internet without government regulation?
  • Is there any place (that has a mass audience) where the government wont regulate free speech?
  • Why does it seem every member of the Obama advisory team hates capitalism, unless those companies (like G.E.) are in bed with the administration?
  • If Lloyd has his way, stations who don’t comply to the governments definition of the “public interest” will have to pay a massive fine — that helps support public broadcasting:
    • What will be the definition of “public interest”?
    • Who defines “public interest”?
    • Why should it be balanced? Because it’s public airwaves? (Well, there are public roads that go by my house and I don’t count how many Republicans and Democrats are driving on them)

Day 4

  • Why do we need a civilian force?
  • Who is posing a threat to us?
  • Who will this “force” be made up of?
  • Who is the real enemy?
  • Does the president know of a coming event? If not, who builds an army against an unrecognized enemy?
  • Why won’t the media get off their butts and look into these radicals in the White House? And into this civilian army?