United States of America?

These past two weeks we have heard much on the topic of “unity” as the two major political parties strove to convince their delegates on the need for them to be “united.”  In the Republican convention they went further and stressed the need to “make America one again” as the theme of one of their evenings.

It is unfortunate that such an emphasis should be deemed necessary, but today we are indeed in dire need of being “one” again.  We as a country are more divided than any time in my lifetime since the 1960s’.  I could never have imagined Americans reverting back to the horrendous divisiveness of that decade, and yet we have.  However, as one studies our history unity has always been rather tenuous, from the debates over how to form a “United States” to a war between the states through the turbulent decades of social unrest and change of the last century.

Unity is achieved when individuals or groups join together based upon a commonality.  In the case of our political parties, that common ground appears to be the defeat of the opposing party.  Yet for true unity to be realized, that common bond must be of a positive nature.  So we are led to ask, “What common force brought together those original thirteen diverse colonies who often had more things at odds with each other than not?”  The answer can be found in the speeches and writings of our founders, culminating in the words of our Declaration of Independence – Liberty!  It is (or was) the same common ground that drew so many to our shores over the past two centuries, as echoed in the poem on the base of the Statue of Liberty:  “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Yet today, is this the common thread among us?  It strikes me that there is more of a desire to fracture ourselves into different groups and to obtain benefits for our group at the expense of the others and that we are being flooded with people from other countries who desire the freebies available to them and not to become united as part of the American fabric.  Unity and freedom will never be achieved from such seeds.  Only when we acknowledge that to achieve true individual freedom we must come together based upon common grounds will freedom and unity be realized.

In this conclusion to Part I of his exposition of his insights into the United States of the 1830s’, Alexis de Tocqueville opined:

“If this process of assimilation draws foreign peoples closer together, it is all the more true that the branches of the same people cannot stay strangers to each other.

 Therefore, a time will come when we shall be able to see in North America one hundred and fifty million people all equal to one another, all belonging to the same family, sharing the same beginnings, the same civilization, the same language, the same religion, the same ways, the same customs and among whom thought will circulate in similar forms, depicted in the same colors.  All else is uncertain but this is certain.”

 Or, as he could have said, E Pluribus Unum:  “Out of many, one.”  Hopefully, when this election season is over we can once again be united as one.

-July 29, 2016

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Aretha Franklin had a hit in the 60s’ in which she called for her significant other to give her a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.  A community and a country that is bound together in peace and harmony is what we term a “civil society.”  However, in order to be civil a society must be driven by R-E-S-P-E-C-T,  for when this trait is absent from its citizens, civility breaks down and anarchy reigns.  Such is precisely what we are witnessing in our society today, especially within just the last two weeks with the war being waged against police departments across our land.

A civil society is one that is based upon the rule of law.  In our society this is not just any law, but laws that comport to the inalienable rights granted us by our Creator and are in made in pursuance to the Constitution (Article VI, Clause 2).  However, when there is no respect for laws that meet these two criteria, we reap the lawlessness running rampart in our streets.  Such is why we have “loaned” the government the power to police those who, by their lack of respect for law, threaten the inalienable rights of the rest of society.  A lack of respect for law reveals itself in a lack of respect for the inalienable rights of others to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness.  This is precisely what unfolded in Dallas, Texas last week.

The question, then, is what causes this loss of respect for law and the rights of others?  Those who are acting so wantonly will point to alleged injustices they feel they have experienced, and in some cases there may be grounds for such allegations.  However, in the first amendment to our Constitution it guarantees us the proper avenue to address such injustices.  Citizens have the guaranteed right to peacefully assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.  It is our representatives in Congress whom we elect that are to serve as the conduit for these grievances, and if they fail to respond, to replace them with others who will.  Such was the approach of Martin Luther King, Jr in his peaceful approach to securing civil rights for all Americans in the 1960s’.

Going one step further, though, if an individual does not respect himself, then he is incapable of respecting any laws, be they man’s or God’s, nor other fellow members of the society.  Over the past fifty years, thanks to LBJ’s so-called “Great Society” initiatives, government put in motion programs that have robbed citizens of their self-respect and today we are reaping their bitter fruit.

Perhaps those who are part of the BLM movement should, instead of filling their minds with the vile garbage of so many of the modern-day rap singers, go back to another hit of the 60s’ by the Staple Singers – “Respect Yourself”:

You disrespect anybody

That you run in to

How in the world do you think

Anybody’s s’posed to respect you


If you don’t give a heck ’bout the man

With the Bible in his hand

Just get out the way

And let the gentle man do his thing


You the kind of gentleman

That want everything your way

Take the sheet off your face, boy

It’s a brand new day


Respect yourself, respect yourself

If you don’t respect yourself

Ain’t nobody gonna give a good cahoot, na na na na

Respect yourself, respect yourself


If you’re walking ’round

Think’n that the world

Owes you something

‘Cause you’re here


You goin’ out

The world backwards

Like you did

When you first come here


Keep talkin’ ’bout the president

Won’t stop evolution

Put your hand on your mouth

When you cough, that’ll help the solution


Oh, you cuss around women

And you don’t even know their names

And you dumb enough to think

That’ll make you a big ol man


Respect yourself, respect yourself

If you don’t respect yourself

Ain’t nobody gonna give a good cahoot, na na na na

Yep, these lyrics from almost 50 years ago pretty much sums up what’s wrong in society today.

-July 15, 2016

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The Flip Side to Church/State

Today, at every turn we hear the wail that any expression of Christian/Jewish religious belief in connection with any public event or on public property is a violation of the constitutional principle of “the separation of church and state.”  However, this is not a constitutional principle; it is based upon a misapplication of the phrase lifted from Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists who had written him of their concerns about the state establishing one particular Christian denomination over all others.

Second, the first amendment is applicable only to the federal government, not to the state governments, and it states that “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”  For over 150 years, every time a challenge was made on any religious issue based upon Jefferson’s phrase, the courts struck it down as not being what the founders intended.  As far back as 1853, a group petitioned Congress to forbid the presence of chaplains in the military and elsewhere, using this argument.  After a year of deliberation by both the House and Senate judiciary committees, the House issued the following statement:

“Had the people [the Founding Fathers], during the Revolution, had a suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle. At the time of the adoption of the Constitution and the amendments, the universal sentiment was that Christianity should be encouraged, but not any one sect [denomination]…. 

It wasn’t until the case of Everson v. Board of Education in 1947 that Justice Hugo Black, writing for the majority on the Supreme Court applied this phrase as it is currently misused.

There is a lawsuit being brought in Iowa by a church against the Iowa Civil Rights Commission which, in a brochure it published, states that any church which opens its doors to the public for any reason – worship or otherwise – must comply with sexual orientation and gender laws.  This includes the recent issue regarding transgenders and restrooms.  Hiram Sasser, the director of litigation of the firm representing the church in this suit stated  “It [the commission’s regulations] further compels our client to use specific pronouns when referring to certain ‘gender identities’ and prohibits our client from even teaching its religious beliefs.”

So here’s the flip side of the “separation of church and state” coin for you liberals.  If the church cannot inject itself into the public arena because there is a so-called “wall” between them, then that wall works both ways – the government has no right to inject itself into the beliefs of the church.  Liberals are quick to seize on idea of an establishment of religion (erroneously, I might add), but they are blind to the second part of the phrase, namely that “Congress shall make no law…prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  If the government regulates matters relating to the practicing of the beliefs of a church or of individuals, then it is “prohibiting the free exercise thereof”  and is in violation of this principle.  Of course, this is applicable only at the federal level, not the state, but what is happening in Iowa will most likely soon become the rule at the federal level as well, and then we will have a constitutional issue at stake.

-July 8, 2016

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Proclaiming Liberty versus Attaining Liberty

This Monday, July 4, we will celebrate the signing of our country’s Declaration of Independence in 1776, which proclaimed America’s right to liberty from Great Britain.  However, our forefathers learned that it is one thing to proclaim liberty, but quite another to attain it.  It would be a long, hard six years before that proclamation would become a reality.

As we gather in backyards, parks and other places to enjoy barbeque, cool drinks and sweet deserts, I want to remind us all of what it took to give us cause to celebrate.  In December of 1777, General George Washington moved his 12,000 man army to winter encampment at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.  That winter was to prove to be one of the harshest on record and one which caused the deaths of 2,500 men of the beleaguered army.  On February 16, 1778, Washington wrote the following to Governor George Clinton from the harsh encampment of Valley Forge:

“Dear Sir: It is with great reluctance, I trouble you on a subject, which does not fall within your province; but it is a subject that occasions me more distress, than I have felt, since the commencement of the war; and which loudly demands the most zealous exertions of every person of weight and authority, who is interested in the success of our affairs. I mean the present dreadful situation of the army for want of provisions, and the miserable prospects before us, with respect to futurity. It is more alarming than you will probably conceive, for, to form a just idea, it were necessary to be on the spot. For some days past, there has been little less, than a famine in camp. A part of the army has been a week, without any kind of flesh, and the rest for three or four days. Naked and starving as they are, we cannot enough admire the incomparable patience and fidelity of the soldiery, that they have not been ere this excited by their sufferings, to a general mutiny or dispersion. Strong symptoms, however, discontent have appeared in particular instances; and nothing but the most active efforts every where can long avert so shocking a catastrophe.

Our present sufferings are not all. There is no foundation laid for any adequate relief hereafter.”

A few weeks later, still suffering from lack of food and clothing, he penned the following words in his General Orders issued on March 1:

“Contingencies of weather and other temporary impediments have subjected and may again subject us to a deficiency for a few days,1 but soldiers! American soldiers! will despise the meaness of repining at such trifling strokes of Adversity, trifling indeed when compared to the transcendent Prize which will undoubtedly crown their Patience and Perseverence, Glory and Freedom, Peace and Plenty to themselves and the Community; The Admiration of the World, the Love of their Country and the Gratitude of Posterity!”[emphasis added]

So, as you enjoy the plentiful bounty afforded us in America and revel in watching the firework displays along with stirring, patriotic music, pause and reflect upon the sacrifices of those brave men in the freezing cold for whom we, their posterity, owe an immeasurable amount of gratitude.  On this July 4th, may we all resolve to not let their suffering be in vain but determine to reclaim the liberty being wrested from us by our own government.

-July 1, 2016

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