Tuesday, November 23, 2010

God is There, in Obama's Proclamation

And, God is mentioned.

Some have been watching for President Barack Obama's 2010 Thanksgiving proclamation, wondering if it will refer to God, and direct thanks to God.

Today, Obama released the proclamation, and it says,  "We lift up our hearts in gratitude to God for our many blessings."

And, it also says, "Let us rejoice . . . in the gifts of a gracious God."

And, so the string continues. I'm told, every president who has issued a proclamation has cited God as a giver of blessings. I looked through many of the proclamations, and believe that statement correct.

Some wondered why Obama's 2009 proclamation was not more direct in mentioning God. In that presidential decree, he said,  "I encourage all the people of the United States to come together, whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place where family, friends and neighbors may gather, with gratitude for all we have received in the past year; to express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own; and to share our bounty with others."

Where is the mention of God? some asked, and why is not God to be thanked for all our blessings?

The 2009 proclamation did offer a reference to God, but Obama was quoting from the first presidential proclamation, not giving his own, personal recognition. Said that sentence in the 2009 statement: "Today, we recall President George Washington, who proclaimed our first national day of public thanksgiving to be observed 'by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.' "

And, now, the full of the Thanksgiving Day 2010 proclamation, issued November 23, 2010.

"A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

"A beloved American tradition, Thanksgiving Day offers us the opportunity to focus our thoughts on the grace that has been extended to our people and our country. This spirit brought together the newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe -- who had been living and thriving around Plymouth, Massachusetts for thousands of years -- in an autumn harvest feast centuries ago. This Thanksgiving Day, we reflect on the compassion and contributions of Native Americans, whose skill in agriculture helped the early colonists survive, and whose rich culture continues to add to our Nation's heritage. We also pause our normal pursuits on this day and join in a spirit of fellowship and gratitude for the year's bounties and blessings.

"Thanksgiving Day is a time each year, dating back to our founding, when we lay aside the troubles and disagreements of the day and bow our heads in humble recognition of the providence bestowed upon our Nation. Amidst the uncertainty of a fledgling experiment in democracy, President George Washington declared the first Thanksgiving in America, recounting the blessings of tranquility, union, and plenty that shined upon our young country. In the dark days of the Civil War when the fate of our Union was in doubt, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a Thanksgiving Day, calling for 'the Almighty hand' to heal and restore our Nation.

"In confronting the challenges of our day, we must draw strength from the resolve of previous generations who faced their own struggles and take comfort in knowing a brighter day has always dawned on our great land. As we stand at the close of one year and look to the promise of the next, we lift up our hearts in gratitude to God for our many blessings, for one another, and for our Nation. This Thanksgiving Day, we remember that the freedoms and security we enjoy as Americans are protected by the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces. These patriots are willing to lay down their lives in our defense, and they and their families deserve our profound gratitude for their service and sacrifice.

"This harvest season, we are also reminded of those experiencing the pangs of hunger or the hardship of economic insecurity. Let us return the kindness and generosity we have seen throughout the year by helping our fellow citizens weather the storms of our day.

"As Americans gather for the time-honored Thanksgiving Day meal, let us rejoice in the abundance that graces our tables, in the simple gifts that mark our days, in the loved ones who enrich our lives, and in the gifts of a gracious God. Let us recall that our forebears met their challenges with hope and an unfailing spirit, and let us resolve to do the same.

"NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 25, 2010, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all the people of the United States to come together -- whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors -- to give thanks for all we have received in the past year, to express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and to share our bounty with others.

"IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-third day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Imagine, a Holiday Just for God

Imagine, a holiday created just to honor God. I've always thought that would be neat, but imagined Christmas was the closest thing.

Turns out, Thanksgiving is such a day. Thanksgiving isn't a day to just be thankful in general, without thanking anyone in particular, but rather it is a day to give thanks, specifically, to God. Even more, it is a day to serve God.

At least that's what Thanksgiving is per George Washington's Thanksgiving proclamation given way back in 1789. See it you don't read that it is to be a day "devoted . . . to the service of that great and glorious Being."

Here's the full thought from the proclamation, so you can ensure I am not reading out of context:

"Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me 'to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:'

"Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us."

Read through the proclamations before and since (although this was the first one by a president, there were two previous issued by the Continental Congress) and you will find time after time, God is mentioned, and we are encouraged to direct our thanks to Him, specifically.

May Ours Be A Christian Nation

What of mixing religion and politics?

On the coin, it says, "In God We Trust." In the Pledge of Allegiance, we say, "one nation, under God." When taking an oath of office, the office holder often places a hand on the Bible and says, "So help me God."

George Washington, in his inaugural address, said, "It would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe."

Perhaps, then, when we wrestle with what separation of church and state should be, we shouldn't separate God from state. It is wise to ensure that no one religious faction controls the government, and that no single church is pronounced the official church and that the rights of all denominations -- Christian and non-Christian -- are protected, as well as those of atheists and agnostics.

I would even say it is right that no elected official should have to place his or her hand on the Bible and say, "So help me God."

But, may he or she forever have that option, and my personal hope is that he or she chooses to include God in the oath.

May everyone have the right to worship as they see fit. May Muslims and Buddhists and Jews have the same civil rights as Christians. When Muslims, or Buddhists, or Jews, or Wiccians, or atheists are elected or appointed, let's not require them to observe any Christian oath or observance. If it is a city council's practice to hold a prayer at the beginning of a meeting and if a person is elected who does not believe in God, let that person be excused from the prayer, or join the group after the prayer, or stand by with eyes open and arms unfolded -- whatever  -- and let us not think it wrong or hold ill will toward that person.

But, let us not mandate God out of our government. When public officials want to turn to God, they should be allowed to do so. When they want to acknowledge Him, pray to Him, or honor Him, they should be allowed to do so.

Even more, it is my personal hope that they do. I hope ours remains a Christian nation. I hope our leaders are Christians, God fearing and God abiding, and I believe they should have the right to seek God as they carry out their official duties.

That, too, is freedom of religion.

Freedom of religion, to me, includes being able to practice religion in all settings and in all places, including in the public arena. Freedom of religion, to me, means not being forced to check it at the door. It doesn't mean religion is taboo. It means it is allowed. Simply said, freedom of religion is being able to include religion in all you do, rather than having to exclude it in certain situations.

What, then, of the Constitution, the First Amendment, which says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"? Well, to me, this only backs what I have already said. My dictionary shows the meaning of "respecting" as "concerning; about." The Constitution doesn't mandate that religion leave government. It mandates that government leave religion alone.

Friday, November 12, 2010

This, My President, Will Help Our Economy

Okay, I just emailed our president. About a week ago, I heard him appeal to anyone who had any ideas for saving the economy, to tell him. Today, going to work, I heard on KSL an ad saying we can offer suggestions to our government at USA.gov.

So, I'll try this, 'cause I most certainly do have an idea for eradicating unemployment.

M'letter to m'president:

My President:

Giving jobs to everyone, obviously, would solve our economic woes, or most of them.
Is such a suggestion quick to be tossed out because it would mean socialism?

It need not be so, Mr. President. Government need not take the lead in giving everyone a job. America's traditional way of answering a recession is to dig money out of Uncle Sam's pocket, which means taking money from somebody who already is so far in debt we fear he may never get out.

It makes much more sense to ask the money of those who have it.

That would be our rich, it would, even our millionaires and billionaires. Only, let's not approach them as enemies. Let's not tax them further. They are friendly toward us, toward their country. Let's approach them as friends and appeal to their giving side. Some of our strongest patriots, and most caring people, are among our rich.

President, this is largely an untapped market in the battle to correct our economy. It is not that charitable giving does not exist. It is huge, with more than $300 billion given in 2008.

But, when these people think of giving, they almost never consider giving for the creation of a company just to provide jobs.

It just hasn't been placed in their mindset. But it should be.

Among our rich are patriots, and caring, neighbor-loving souls. Many are very concerned about our economy and would be quick to step in and step up. Surely they will help if someone just gives them this idea.
But more than this, they are our experts in job creation, anyway. I just saw a news story saying entrepreneurs are more likely to give to charitable causes than most people.

Why ever would we not use our experts in job creation to create jobs if it is jobs we need? Why ever would we not use those with money to stimulate our economy if money is needed to stimulate our economy?

If a large appeal is made, I see no reason that if $300 billion in charitable giving came in 2008, then a like amount might be gathered for the great cause of employment and saving our economy in 2011. Maybe more. Stack that up against the money from the stimulus bills and tell me this won't make a difference.

There isn't much reason we cannot have 100 percent employment of those willing and able to work. Let free enterprise rescue us. This is the American way of solving our economic mess.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

TheraMatrix Leads Healthcare Reform Battle

Back in Michigan, a little company might well be doing more to fight the cost of health care than all that the Affordable Care Bill (aka Obamacare) has done.

Wish we could bring the company, TheraMatrix, to Utah.

I read about TheraMatrix in Wednesday's USA Today. TheraMatrix felt physical therapy for Ford Motor employees was way, way too expensive, and figured they could offer it at way, way reduced rates, so they stepped in and did just that, offering it to Ford employees at, according to a TheraMatrix official, about half the price that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan had been charging.

How did Blue Cross respond? They barred TheraMatrix from the Blue Cross network. Was this because the costs were so low, it threatened the profit margins of the other providers? It appears that is the case.

What makes this story a big one, not a small thing, is that the real trick to lowering health-care costs is not to turn health care over to the government, but rather to return it to the free market. We have strangled the free market's ability to operate in the health-care industry and then, ironically, we have wondered if the free market is failing us, and we've thought to move to government care.

TheraMatrix shows us costs are inflated, and that competition can lower them, if we will just allow the competition. I wish enough of us were displeased with Blue Cross of Michigan that we would contact them en masse with our displeasure, perhaps prompting them to accept TheraMatrix. Strike a blow for free enterprise. Strike a blow for affordable health care.

Real health-care reform might require this, eternal vigilance, some call it, voicing our opinion when and where it is needed. Real health-care reform might be as attainable through us, as a people, demanding lower prices rather than government trying to change things.

Don't know if two or three calls from those who might read this might make a difference, but I did just leave a message of protest at 248-448-6876. The number reached a Blue Cross office of federal programs, but it was the best number I am coming up with at the moment. Maybe Blue Cross has been getting other calls of protest since the USA Today article, and a few more will help.

And, I wonder if TheraMatrix would be interested in bringing its offerings and prices to Utah? I don't know whether our prices are so high that TheraMatrix could help, but perhaps it is so.

Post-Election Life of News as News Travels Fast

". . . And here I am, the only living boy in New York."

Or, as I wrote in one of my posts far below, "If I had a chance, I'd ask the world to dance, and I'd be dancing with myself."

Inasmuch as this blogsite had little readership even as my campaign website, perhaps I will continue it anyway -- with the same readership.

It'll be political notes to myself, or news notes, albeit open to the public should a friend or relative plug in from time to time.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Parties are Voting Made Simple

George Washington said it well. "Let me . . . warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally. . . . It is a spirit not to be encouraged." George gave this thought in his farewell address.

We should heed his warning.

But, that is not to say there is not some benefit to having political parties. Many a voter will be stepping into the voting booth without a good idea of who to vote for. Some will not have studied at all. They won't know the candidates, but they will know what their own personal idealogies are. All of their own beliefs might not fall squarely in the Republican box or the Democrat box, but many might.

So, they vote straight party, matching their general idealogy to the general philosophy of the party, and, presto, end up voting for the "right" candidate much of the time.

Political parties are voting made easy, voting simplified.

But there should be a better way. As it is, voters simply often are not educated, do not know the candidates, and paint them with this broad brush of party affiliation. There must be a better way, other than just matching the party with personal idealogy.

We could give voters a day off, just to study. Think they'd take advantage of that? They might if provided a festive event where they could come and learn and meet the candidates. Let the candidates come give speeches, and be introduced amidst the throngs of their supporters, the banners and signs being marched down the aisles. Anyone who has been to a political convention knows they can be fun. So, let's hold them just before the election. The slate of candidates for all offices would each have their own debate, the minor party candidates being included along with the Democratic and Republican Party favorites. Pamphlets, videos, and displays of news articles all would be there. Those who do websites with information would set up computers, so voters could access them. Each candidate would field questions from the audience.

We often don't do something unless we set aside a time for it. And, we often don't do something unless it's fun, so we would make it fun.

I'd like to see such an event, such a day. Maybe put in on Halloween, just before elections, giving Candidates Day the first half, then Halloween the evening and night. Politicians are a scary bunch, so it might be a nice match.