Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Those Who Go to War Should be taught the Morals of War

   There is a power that comes with going to war, the power to kill. And, it has long been said, with power, comes responsibility. 
   And, so, knowing that power should not be given without responsibility being taught, every parent that gives a match to a youngster, teaches the dangers of fire. Every teenager wanting to drive is first taught how to drive. We don't just let them hop in the car and tell them, "Go have an accident." Things of danger require training in how to handle them.
   And, so should war.
   It's a little like all the warning labels we place on everything from insecticides to cigarettes: where there is danger something can be used wrongly, we post a warning.
  Hey, shouldn't being issued a weapon and being told to go kill people come with similar warning? 
   Permission to kill someone, doesn't mean permission to kill anyone. I will tell you, there is a danger the soldier might take his right to kill so far as to kill the innocent. Scandal lies in this. Does anyone remember the My Lai Massacre? Does anyone remember the embarrassment of how we treated some prisoners during the Iraq War? That is not too far removed, is it? That may not have been murder, but, in addition to teaching not to kill, soldiers should also be taught how to treat prisoners.
   Nothing taught, nothing learned. You cannot expect something not to go wrong if you do not take precautions against it happening.
   I watched a video last night of American soldiers in helicopters (one or more helicopters, I do not know) hovering over New Baghdad. They spotted some people on the streets, and thought they were carrying weapons. So, they shot 'em. They shot 'em dead. When they saw a van pull up minutes later to haul off the dead, they shot at the van, too. They shot what amounted to hearse drivers. Shot 'em dead, I believe.
   Yes, it should be part of the training of a soldier to learn that even though he has great power to harm, he or she should not use that power but within the limits given. Perhaps our soldiers are already briefed on the morals of war. I would imagine so. I do wonder, though, if the training should not be a little greater.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

We are too Quick to Kill, on Our Streets, and in War

   Ouch. This watching the link below almost brings tears to my eye, tears of shame. I wonder what war can do to a mind, that the soldiers were so quick to kill, so quick to see innocent people as armed enemies. With the Trayvon Martin killing fresh in our minds, I think of how in that case, the killer supposed his life was endangered when he was punched in the nose, and he responded with deadly force. Even so, the soldiers in this video supposed they were upon an enemy that could attack, and they responded with deadly force. A gun is a trust, and those who bear them should learn where to draw the line. They should be taught the dangers of falsely killing, whether it be on the streets of America, or in a war in a foreign land.
   "Collateral Murder," the video is called, and it is part of the secret information revealed by Pfc. Bradley Manning.

Fear is a Friend

   Why do we fear fear? Harnessing fear can do more to bring about change and improvement in our lives than almost anything. When fear brings flight, it may be bad. When it leads us to freeze up, or become desperate, it is not being properly harnessed. But fear, when it is used as an agent of change, is one of the most wonderful tools available to man. Fear, if we will use it, will bring us to do things we would not do without it.
   Fear is a friend. It comes knocking at our door with hope. But, if we reject it as the enemy, if we leave it knocking at the door without answering, it can do us no good. If we hear its knock, and flee deep into the confines of our home, and cover our ears, it can not reach us,, to help us. I guess this is what is meant by facing our fears. We must go to the doors and answer. If someone came knocking at the door, to tell us the house was afire, would they be a friend or foe? Would we not be better off to answer the door.
   Not all bad news is bad to know. Most of it, we need to know. If someone come knocking at my door, bringing bad news, should I turn them away? Fear, as a messenger, always brings bad news. Yet it often the messenger of hope, as well. There are times when nothing can be done, the fire is already raging too much, and the house is lost, or we burned up with it. But, there are times when the fire can be doused, or when we can escape.
    If fear comes knocking at my door, should I turn it away, or should I welcome it?
   As a friend.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Let's Refine the Hiring Process for Law Enforcement Officers

   If we just don't like how many times our law enforcement officers mess up, let's perk up and refine our hiring process, and our training process.
   A Facebooker laments how often officers make mistakes, noting it is not the same for them as it is when a cashier makes a mistake.
   So, what is the solution. To err is human, and we cannot leave them out of that gig.
   But, perhaps we can reduce the tendency to error, in how we hire and how we train. We could screen out those who reflect biases, and those who reflect that their decisions might be clouded by pride, and those who have a tendency to make too many mistakes, and those who fly to anger too quickly, and those who are mistake prone, and those who believe in shooting to kill regardless of whether it is necessary.
   Tis late, as per usual, but perhaps I will give it some thought, for surely you are saying this is easier said than done.

Friday, July 26, 2013

This Would Make Small Scandals on Each Side of the Big One

   Zimmerman, you remember, in posting bail told the judge he was broke, only to have a seething judge find out he had received $200,000 in online donations from supporters nationwide. That's a little scandal, isn't it.
   And now comes word that the story of him rescuing a family from a crashed vehicle might be tainted. Rumor has it he showed up at the scene only after the responding officer -- a friend of his -- called him and gave him the opportunity to come look the part of a rescuer. Is this true? Or is is just someone anxious to make Zimmerman look bad? If it is true, there now sits a little scandal on each side of the big scandal.
 (This post edited the day after it was posted.)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Let Law Enforcement Side with Trayvon

   Would that the law enforcement community were on the side of those sickened that Trayvon Martin was killed. Of all people, it does seem they should oppose murder, for of all crimes, murder is about the worst.
   Yes, what I say supposes that it was murder. I will say this, then, it is not a matter of who had better character, Trayvon or Zimmerman. It is not a matter of whether Trayvon was looking in windows on his way from the store, or of what he bought while he was there. It is a matter of whether the fight should have ended in his death. It is a matter of whether someone can break your nose without your pulling out a gun and killing them.
   You may argue that it is also about the law, especially since I am appealing to law enforcement officers, and, if the law says that if Zimmerman says his life was threatened, then Zimmerman was justified in the killing.
   Pause there, if you will. Murder is a act we make laws against because it is wrong, inherently. You can not create a law that makes it right. It remains one of the gravest crimes a person can commit, whether government authorizes it or not
    I would for a law enforcement community that seeks justice, one that appeals to legislators to change the laws if they are wrong, for law enforcement officers can influence what laws we have.
    Let the law enforcement officers stand on the side of justice in this matter.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Walk Through Someone's Backyard, and it Proves You're a Criminal; Defend Yourself by Throwing a Punch, and He has the Right to Kill You

   Here are the facts of the case. Do they justify murder? We have a kid who went to the store, and took a shortcut home, cutting through backyards, who is followed by a neighborhood watch person, who police told to back off, who decided not to back off, who confronted a probably scared boy, and a fight ensued, and the scared boy probably ended up on top and punched the pursuer, and the man pulled a gun and killed the boy. How far off is it that those are the facts?
   Just look at these facts, and say whether they justify murder?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Teach the People that Murder is Okay, and They Will Commit it

   "Teach, the children well," Crosby, Stills and Nash once sang. Oh, the truth in those words. The values we, as a society teach each other, are the values that will play out. If we teach that murder can be justified, murder will be practiced. First, one murder, then another of the same kind will follow, as people learn from what they have been taught. Sunday, as shown in the link below, a woman was clear enough of her attacker that she could have escaped. But, the law allowed that she could kill the other person dead, so she did.
 What have we taught? What have we wrought?
 "Teach the children well," for the values we teach, will be the values that come to be practiced. "You who are on the road, must have a code that you can live by," sang Crosby, Nash and Young. The Zimmerman case, and the case of this woman in Texas make we wonder what code we have chosen to live by. I would that we would teach a higher code than Stand Your Ground.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Government-Authorized Murder is Murder Just the Same

  If a nation were to give it's citizens the right to kill, what could reflect more negatively on the fabric, on the character of that nation?
   So it is, the George Zimmerman trial has unshrouded an American practice that shuld be seen as an embarrasment to us. We once thought of laws allowing you to shoot to defend yourself as common sense.
   Then came Zimmerman. And Trayvon Martin. Then came the  night Martin was sitting on top of Zimmerman, pounding on Zimmerman (if we know the facts correctly), and Zimmerman pulled out a gun and ended the matter.
   We always understood that if someone pulls a gun on you, you pull a gun on them and defend yourself. But, this was different. This was a man either in fear of his life when he probably shouldn't have been, or else, he was a man simply using a pretense to justify killing anothr person.
   And, across he land, outrage erupted. People could see it was murder. Let the court call it what it might, to pull a gun and kill another person when there appeared to be no real danger that that other person was going to kill you?
   Well, that is murder -- government-approved murder, perhaps, and perhaps legalized murder, but murder, just the same. Just because a law is passed making something legal, doesn't make it right. Many across the land viewed what had happened, and deemed it murder regardless whether the government saw fit to give it such a term..
   Wrong is wrong. Injustice inside the law is as wrong as injustice outside the law. Morality is not granted by governments, but is innate. If we have a law that allows murder, that is one of the biggest flaws we have in the fabric of our nation.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Murder in the Name of Justice?

   You don't just pass out the right to kill, and say it is in the name of justice, or the name of law enforcement, or the name of gun rights. Or, any other name. Killing is wrong, whatever excuse you use.
   The nation is enraged, or many of us are, that George Zimmerman took another person's life and went scot free in the eyes of the law. Self defense, it was argued, gave him the right to protect himself.
   Self defense does give you the right to protect yourself, but does it give you the right to kill? People are upset because they look at what happened down there in Florida, and they cannot see justification for a killing, they cannot see how a jury would look at the facts and justify the life of Trayvon Martin being taken.
   Conjure up the name of self defense, if you will, to justify a murder. Many times, when you do, the act will remain murder.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Paperless Americans Suffer, Same as Blacks Have

   Comes a comment on Facebook that it is a little much to compare the blight of the "illegal aliens" with that of the slaves or women. Let us consider, then. Let us consider. Is it fair to compare the struggles of the paperless Americans with those of blacks, and the early American women, with those of the Jews through the ages, and with any other group that has been unfairly treated?
   Like slaves and women, the paperless Americans are not allowed to vote. In what other ways are they the same? True, the paperless Americans are not slaves, although a few of them labor mightily at very little pay, and we do sometimes refer to it as "slave labor." Both were spoken of in derogatory terms, many calling the paperless Americans "illegal aliens," and if we correct those who use that term, they simply say that is what they are, and they object forcefully to our using any other term.
  Here's a commonality I find very interesting: We were quick to find the criminal element among the blacks, same as we snap to find criminals among the paperless Americans.
  I suppose I could go on, but perhaps my point is made. Many of the same elements of discrimination and oppression the blacks suffered, the paperless Americans also suffer. And women? The paperless Americans suffer worse than they did.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Keeping and Bearing Arms Need not Extend to the Right to Kill

   If we carry the right to keep and bear arms to the right to kill, we carry the Second Amendment too far. Gun activists should not feel obligated to support Stand Your Ground laws just to be part of the Second Amendment crowd.

Do We Open the Door for Most any Fight to be Ended with a Murder?

   If murder were legal, more people would do it. Having laws against it, does influence how often it happens. So, how wise are we to have laws saying, "If you must, kill the other person. You will not be held liable. You will not be prosecuted. Have at it."
   Florida law -- Florida's Stand Your Ground law -- gave George Zimmerman permission to kill.
   You will argue that Zimmerman's life was in jeopardy, that there were bruises on back of his head and a broken nose to prove it. I will reply that if we kill the other person every time a nose is broken, we are going to have a lot more killings.
   If you give someone license to kill, they are going to be much more likely to do it. If you say, "If you feel your life is in jeopardy, kill the other person," it is not going to take too much for them to proclaim their life in hazard. All they have to do is assert there was a danger, and suddenly they have license to kill.
   I wonder if most times a fight breaks out, if the person being beaten up could, if they want, suppose their life in jeopardy. I'm talking most fights -- at least most in which fists are being thrown, for a fist has the power to kill -- and, so I wonder, do we we give license to kill? Do we open the door for most any fight to be ended with murder?
   With the intention to hurt, enters the possibility of death. If the other person is clearly trying to hurt you, how can you be certain he won't accidentally kill you? Anything can happen, as the saying goes, and so it becomes easy to argue that you feared for your life. So, you simply took your gun out and ended the matter.
   Death on the wild frontier.
   As a society, we discuss the legalization of a lot of things -- from marijuana to prostitution to gambling -- but I am a little surprised that we should find ourselves discussing whether to legalize murder.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Are Our Laws Giving License to Kill? Are They Escalating Violence?

   While I did not catch all the details, what I did hear of the George Zimmerman case leads me to wonder if it were not a miscarriage of justice.
   A man walks down the street. Someone follows him and either attacks or provokes him. It does seem to that point it is clear which was the aggressor. A fight ensues. At some point, perhaps, the man who was followed, winds up on top. The man who was the pursuer pulls out his gun and kills the other.
   That's fair enough.
   At least, it was fair to the jury. I join the thousands of others who wonder if it was a betrayal of justice. Asked for his reaction, the brother of Trayvon Martin responded, "Et tu, America?" Is it fair for us to allow someone to be attacked, and, if they wind up on top in the ensuing scuffle, be shot -- to death?
   Maybe the Stand Your Ground laws have a fatal flaw in them. If we are to have them, would it not be better that they require the weapon to be used in a way meant not to take another's life? Life is too precious to give someone the license to kill, yet that is what some of these laws do.
   We need laws that help defuse violence, not ones that escalate it.
   The defense could have argued that Trayvon Martin did no more than defend himself. Was he beating Zimmerman's head against the cement. I have doubt. But, if he was, did he have the right to use deadly force if he felt his life or health was in jeopardy?
   We have created a system where, if you want to kill someone, all you have to do is provoke a fight, and,if the other person is getting the upper hand, kill him. We have created a system where both parties can claim self defense, and be justified, in the eyes of the law for killing the other. We have created a system where some murders cannot be punished.

Argument Two for the Life of the Child

   To say the unborn has no right to life is to say the living has no right to develop their talents, or to pursue dreams, or become something they are not.
   It is not entirely equivalent, but there is a great measure of truth in this. Both have promise. The unborn has promise of living, of laughing, of breathing and being. And, like the unborn, the living has promise of developing and becoming something it is not.
   If we would not cut short a living person from reaching his or her promise, why should we cut short the unborn?

Friday, July 12, 2013

A $159 Million Saved is a $159 Million Earned

   Consider all the wasteful military spending in Afghanistan, the $34 million for a headquarters that will never be used, the $45 million for a repair shop no longer needed for repairs, and the $80 million for a consulate placed in a location too dangerous for consulate use.
   Consider this: They all came at a time our government was moving towards the Sequestor. They came at a time when Congress was scratching its head -- supposedly -- for ways to save money. Now, in a sea of trillions of dollars of debt, $159 million might not seem like much. Still, if you are looking for places to cut, cut the waste, first of all.

Argument One for the Life of the Child

   All humanity is precious, even before it is born, and to cut it short before it can spring to life is not humane. All humanity has shared the experience of living in a womb. That we were born, and others were not, does not mean they were less precious than us. If our lives have value, so do theirs.

Argument Three for the Life of the Child

   To say the unborn is not human borrows from one of the greatest discriminations in mankind's history. It was once argued that the blacks were a lesser race than whites, that they were not human in the same sense as the white person. To say the unborn is not human follows the same logic. It is discrimination based on which side of the womb a person is on. It is prejudice based on birth status.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Why the Mismanagement in Afghanistan?

   The news speaks of $34 million for a headquarters in Afghanistan that will never be used. And, $45 million for a repair shop completed just ahead of our plans to leave the country. And, a year ago, we invested $80 million for a consulate home, and signed a 10-year contract, only to decide the location was too vulnerable to attack.
   I can wonder if lobbying was behind some of the mismanagement. A contractor make some money, so we go ahead with the project. But maybe not. I do wish news stories would address the possibility.
   At any rate, the mismanagement in Afghanistan is obvious. Why? we ask. Why must this be?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Go Back and Read Yesterday's Blog

  And, all through the house, not a stir, not a word, not a listener.
   I blogged well, yesterday, but when I came home late tonight to check the stats on who had read it, not a sole soul had, not a one.
   I offered model for saving the economy. Now, I'm not well-versed in economics, but I have not heard of any model for saving the economy. I've not heard anyone come up with a step-by-step, workable, doable outline for saving the economy.
   I will tell you, if the model comes from a common man, but works, it is as good as if it came from a renown economist. My model touched on some of the ills of our current economy: the debt, unemployment, and the disparity between the rich and the poor.
   If someone were to tell us how to fix those problems, and if you could tell by reading the proposed solution that it would, indeed, be the solution, would it not be something you were interested in?
   Go back and read yesterday's blog.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

'I Could have been a Contender': Advice from a Would-be Economist

   Hey, hey, world, listen up. I can see last night's blog went nowhere. Alas, I do believe I have something big to say. After all, isn't the economy the trick question the last few years? Didn't Mitt Romney make it the theme of his campaign?
   Hasn't the collapse of nations sometimes come with the collapse of their economies? And, isn't the U.S. doing quite a lot to act like the most misbehaving nation in all history?
   At, least, I don't think any nation has ever accumulated such a debt as what we have.
   Then, along comes me, the guy who mused in his chair an hour ago about how he could have been a great economist. Alas, alas, I never will be. But, I honestly think I could go a long ways toward saving our economy. I think I've got some pretty fair ideas.
   To me, you break it down this way:
   1. As long as people are working and working in jobs that contribute to the economy, the economy is not a complete failure. Indeed, it is possible that this, alone, could make it a healthy economy.
   2. If jobs are the answer, give them jobs. Simply go out and create jobs. Create companies. Create new markets, if you can find them. Doesn't matter if it is government creating the jobs, or the private sector. A person in a job is a person in a job.
   3. The U.S. government has not been shy of giving tax incentives and loans and sometimes even flat-out start-up inducements -- asking no money back. Why, is this not just as much a form of "socialism" as would be starting the companies, then turning the ownership over to the same citizens who are running them?
   4. Now, the way the private sector goes about all this, is through market analysis. They look at how many grocery stores are in a city -- or in an area of the city -- and, they place their stores where there's a market. What would be so wrong with building our economy this way, looking for the markets that are being missed, and placing new, government-created stores in those locations? If we must have a "stimulus," do it this way.
   5. Hold our punches when we're in industries that do not make too much money for their owners. Don't try to out price the competition. In fact, make sure they offer better prices. If it looks like we are running another store out of business, cut the hours we are open so the competition has more convenient hours. Or, raise prices, so his or her prices are even better.
   6. But, in the industries where millions are being made, be more aggressive. I'm wondering if the aerospace and medical industries fit that mold. (I don't know, but I wonder.) Study out the richest Americans, and identify which industries they are making their millions at, and be more competitive in those markets. Actually, this might help fight inflation. Some industries have prices that I can't help but think could be reduced with some real competition. I do feel our aerospace and medical industries charge too much for their products. With defense spending being a large share of the national budget, cutting aerospace costs would go a long ways towards cutting the national debt.
   7. Fill as many of the new jobs as you can with the unemployed. The goal is to put everyone in a job, so don't be too quick to hire the polished-looking applicants. If someone can do the job quite adequately even though they are now unemployed, rush them into the spot. I know some folks on disability who, yes, I think could fit into the job market. Let them. Encourage them. Nay, required them to take the job. With social welfare being a large part of our national budget, this will make a difference in the national debt.
   8. But, raid the competition when it comes to finding one person to run the company. We do not want businesses that are to fail, and putting a proven person at the helm is the wise thing to do. In industries where the current top managers are not being paid oversly well, be competitive. Offer competive salaries. But, in industries where exectuives are making it rich, lure the best talent you can, but decline to pay them equal to what the market wage is. Pitch the opportunity to succeed, to start up a business, to be a good citizen by helping the economy.
   9. Just a reminder of what I said in Point 3: As soon as possible, turn the new company over to those who you have running it. But, don't let these companies be given away without them making their money back, first. We have a national debt, and it will do us no good to add upon it. Let them turn a little profit, perhaps, before the government relinquishes ownership. In industries where executives are overpaid, allow the new owners personal profits to float up to a degree, but put something in the sales contract that will have some limiting effect. I guess I believe some of our filthy rich might could afford to be a little less rich, thus more of the profits going to the workers. Here's an opportunity to help equalize the disparity i the rich and the poor.

Monday, July 8, 2013

My View on the Economy: The Only Way Out

   One side tells us the national debt is so high, it is a matter of high urgency that we do something, that we slash and cut and start paying off the debt.
   The other side tells us that infusing money into the economy is a must, and if we cut spending, the economy will collapse.
    I'm guessing both are right: I'm frightened by our refusal to reverse trend in spending, but I see the wisdom of not cutting how much money is pouring into the economy.
   I see only one way out. We must put people to work, simply must. At this point, I do not know that I mind it being the government that provides the jobs. We are in desperate straits. We have pursued an economy that doesn't foster work, but fosters what we have come to call "entitlement." If our economy is to survive, we must find a way to put people back to work. Must.
   And, in meaningful, productive jobs. If the economy is to prosper, the companies in it must be in the black.
   I would that free enterprise provide the jobs. I believe it we were to call on our rich, asking them to create more jobs, they would.
   But, I fear we might be reaching a point where we cannot wait. It is more important that someone provide the employment, than that there be no employment provided at all, simply because we fear "socialism." Remember the CCC and other such government entities after the Great Depression? Do it all over again, if we must. But do something.
   Infusing money via "stimulus" spending only heightened our precipice. I understand the interest on the national debt has doubled since the year before Obama took office. Doubled. And, it has doubled our jeopardy. Such "rescues" will surely eventually sink us, and the time might come quicker than we'd like to think.
   No, such stimulus spending is like putting a band-aid on a bursting vein, in the long run, or so I fear.
   But, this is reason, to me: There is safety in everyone having a job, a productive job. If everyone is making a dollar, they have money towards buying food and having shelter. Yes, there still might be tough times. But, such an economy cannot totally be a loss. Money being earned by the common man to pay his bills is as much an indicator of a good economy as is S&P's 500.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

That the Works of God Should be Made Manifest

   More than once this week, as I have reflected on my brother, who suffers from mental illness, I have considered that I am having the opportunity to grow and become a better person. I am learning to be more meek and forgiving (I hope). And, it is I that have the opportunity of trying to interest him in things such as astronomy, in the hopes of easing his tendency to dwell in the paranoia. Each time these thoughts have come, I have said to myself, "No, this is not about me; it is about Michael. Anything I have the opportunity to learn or be or do or help with, is not worth having him go through what he is going through."

   Well, this morning, sitting in Sacrament Meeting, I thought of a scripture. It is found in John 9:1-3. I serve in a branch serving a rehabilitation center. So, the members are afflicted and ill. Well, I don't remember if I was thinking of someone in the branch, and how they are afflicted. I do not remember if I was thinking of how, sometimes, the stress of sin can debilitate a person's mind, and even their physical health. I do not remember if I was thinking of how, once ill, family members and others step in to serve and help. Maybe I was just thinking of Michael and the efforts of my siblings to help him, not thinking of a branch situation. Anyway, some of the words from John 9:1-3 came to my mind.
   "And, as Jesus passed by, He saw a man which was blind from his birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him."
   What do you think that scripture means? Do you think it means that the man was born blind so that God might heal him, and that all the world might see the great work of the Savior in healing him? Perhaps. Yes, perhaps, but I think there might possibly be another meaning. That the man was blind, meant that family and friends had the opportunity to step in and help and serve him. Is not service to others, "the works of God"?
   So it is with my brother Michael and I and my brothers and sisters. Michael is ill, and we have the opportunity to step in and help him. That is the works of God. 
   Yes, I think that since Michael is ill, this is a time that the works of God might be manifest. And, those works are simply that I and my brothers and sisters have opportunity to be Christians toward him.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

If There Exists a Spark of Life, We Should Not Seek to Put it Out

   Comes a comment on Facebook calling for women to have the liberty to control their own bodies. And I write back:
   If liberty is to be liberty, it must be liberty for all. We cannot assign it to ourselves while withholding it from the unborn. We cannot deprive them of equality based on which side of the womb they are on. That's discrimination based on womb status. We cannot deprive another person of equality simply because they don't fit our definition of human. Who are we to tell another that he or she is not what we call a human and therefore will not be allowed to live? You speak of science. While I do not agree that science stands for abortions, that it does not recognize the life of the unborn, I wonder about a society that would deprive life to beings that clearly will become people, and do it all in the name of science. We, as mankind, should not be just thinking creatures, bowing to science, but we should have compassion for others. If there exists a spark of life in another, we should not seek to put it out, not in the name of science, not in the name of liberty, and not in the name of controlling our own bodies.

Friday, July 5, 2013

One Thing We Must do to be Great

   So, what would be a great America, if we were to look to the future, and what we must do to be a great nation not of the past, but in times to come?
   Is it in remaining the world's policeman? Is it in winning wars? Surely, that is one way to remain great. But, need that be the greatness we seek?
   Is it in returning to the perch of having the best education system? Is the nation that leads the world in education, the same that leads the world, period? Surely education is important, and a well-educated society does reflect greatness.
   Is it in having the most inventions and developing the most technology?
   Is it being an economic power without peer? Is it in having the highest standard of living of any nation on earth?
   Is it being the most refined in culture, of leading in movies, of dominating in sports?
   Or, is greatness measured by how we treat our own, and the freedoms we offer them? Is greatness to be measured by the extent of our equality?
   Well, I know it is not Sunday today, and, yes, my website is mostly a political one. But . . .
   I know that many of the measurements will only be reached if we draw close to God. I leave you to argue with me, if you will, but I simply believe God will honor us if we honor Him. He will bless us if we seek Him. If we are to be great, it is possible it will come not from seeking greatness, but seeking God. I know many great nations have existed that have not exactly been God-fearing ones. Still, I believe it has been a formula for this nation, and if the principle has done us good in the past, it can do us well in the future. I say, dance with the one who brought you. We were founded on principles of religious liberty. Our forefathers relied on God. Much of our greatness is due to our turning to God.
   If it has been the formula that has made us great, let's turn to God now and forever.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

America: Greatness Must Come from the Present, as Much as the Past

  One of these Fourth of Julys, we should pledge to greatness, instead of just celebrating it.
   It is wonderful to live in a land synonymous with freedom, a land as mighty as earth has ever known. But, it is not legacy, but current practice that determines our standing this day.
   If America is to be great, it must be great today.
   So, it is fair to ask, what must we do to remain great? Alas, 'tis late, and I must go to bed. Do not know that I will think on it, and comment tomorrow. But, we shall see.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Is Telling Americans They are being Spied on a Traitorous Act?

   So, just what did Edward Snowden do to get us so all riled up? I mean, just what did he reveal that was so top secret? Just what was it that endangered national security?
    I know he told us our phone records and computers were under surveillance and I know he said we were spying on China and other countries. Help me, though, what secrets did he release? It might come as a big surprise to us that our phone and Internet communications are being monitored, but how does it compromise our security?
   Consider what he was charged with: espionage and stealing government property. I do not know what crimes fit under which laws to know if it is significant that he was not charged with releasing classified information, much less with endangering national security. Can releasing classified information be its own charge, or does that fall under the charges of espionage? I do not know.
   You can "classify" whatever you want, including, I imagine, the simple fact that the U.S. is spying on its citizens. But, perhaps it would be problematic to prosecute such a case, as it would only hammer out the fact that the U.S.criminalized telling Americans they were being spied on.
   Should that be a crime, just telling people they are being spied on -- not revealing anything that would damage them, or their country, but just telling them, "Hey, Big Brother is watching you"?
   Well, I'm aware House Speaker John Boehner and former Vice President Dick Cheney both called Snowden a traitor. Maybe there is cause for them calling him that. I'm just not seeing it. I'm not seeing how telling Americans that they are being spied on is such a traitorous act. Yes, Boehner and Cheney did allude to what they believe to be the harm. "The disclosure of this information puts Americans at risk," Boehner said. And, Cheney said Snowden did, "enormous damage to the national security" and severely undermined our intelligence-gathering capabilities. How, then -- how? He told us we are being spied on. He said China and some of our allies are being spied on. Did he do more? Did I miss something? When President Obama had to defend what we were doing to our allies, he more or less said, "No secret, there, that we spy on other countries," and he is right. So then, just how does telling these countries that they are being spied on, how does that endanger our security?
   Endangering national security is a serious thing, but let's not run a man out of the country if we cannot even articulate what he did to endanger that national security. Let's come up with something a little more substantial than, "Well, he told Americans they are being spied on and he told China and other countries they were being spied on."
   For this, we call him a traitor? Hmm.[ItiIti]

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Ankle Monitors, Halfway Houses and Video Cameras

   It is said, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We send more of our citizens off to jail than any other nation. Perhaps the idea that follows wouldn't change that -- what I will suggest would still be considered incarceration -- but it would be a lesser form of incarceration. And, it should decrease the cost of incarceration.
   Ankle monitors. No, it is not like we are not already doing this. Some places are probably doing it a fair amount. I would make a tweak or two. One, instead of prisons, sent them to halfway houses, where each prisoner has his own one-room apartment, and a wall through the yard separates them, and they are not allowed to visit each other. Now, the ankle monitor of today is not the ankle brace of yesterday. These days, instead of ankle shackles chaining them to their home, the brace around the ankle is chained to nothing. But, as you know, it does have a GPS system. So, they cannot go out of route, can't go to the liquor store, can't go anywhere they are not allowed without the GPS catching them.

   So, why stick so many of them in jail?

   Oh, removing them from friends and acquaintances is an effective punishment, and should be used at time. It might seem this translates into jail. But, how about halfway houses instead? We could place them in halfway houses -- housing away from their homes, where they are away from their acquaintances. 

   I said one or two tweaks, and here is the other: Place video monitors at the door, to check who visits them.

   All this without the expense of live guards. The video cameras could have sensors, and when the sensors detected visitors at the doorstep, the person monitoring the home-arrest housing units would be notified, and a police officer dispatched when appropriate.
   Judges and case workers would review the person's home setting, determining if the prisoner would be best served by placing them in the halfway houses or letting them serve their time in their homes. If they are to be left in their homes, they would have to agree to have the videos around, watching their comings and goings. If the family is not considered to be a bad influence, in some situations, it might be wise to leave them to care for their families.

Monday, July 1, 2013

More Often Should We have Our Prisoners Work

   I believe our legal system a little misguided. We should not be ripping the person from doing productive things in society and placing them in a room where they do little more than watch TV.

   If a job is a good thing, and if you want to encourage the good things, don't take work away from the prisoner.

   It is said, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We send more of our citizens off to jail than any other nation. Perhaps instead of sending so many to jail, we should send them off to work. And, sometimes that work will come as part of incarceration, and sometimes without, thus nudging down how many we hold in prison.

   There is a share of our prisoners who arrive without having jobs. Their unemployment perhaps even contributes to their turning to crime. Work is part of the solution, and we should be using it more often as a tool to help the criminal.