Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Redefinition of marriage and SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States)

Today, the US Supreme Court invalidated portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and an amendment to the California Constitution (Proposition 8) defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. I have mixed feelings on these two rulings. The attitudes of some who celebrate these rulings is having disastrous consequences for family and marriage -- the crumbling foundation of a health society that already is in very serious trouble. Today, those people are dancing on the sincere, Constitutionally-protected religious beliefs of fellow Americans. I predict that next will come the legitimization of incestuous marriage between immediate family members (eg father to daughter or son, etc.), polygamous marriage, and other practices not generally accepted by today's society. On the other hand, today's SCOTUS opinions hopefully will play a role in pushing government back into its proper role -- that of protecting all of our God-given human rights rather than redefining or dictating arbitrary rights. But, homosexual-rights activists tend to vote exclusively for big government.

According my reading of the US Constitution, there is no legitimate role for the central government in defining marriage or identifying benefits related to marriage (US Constitution, Article 1, Section 8 and the First and Tenth Amendments). From that standpoint, today's Supreme Court opinions are correct. If we, the People, really want the central government to have any role in marriage, an amendment to the Constitution would be appropriate. Otherwise, government must stay out of marriage and the family.

Today's DOMA opinion affects perhaps thousands of pages federal, state, and local law and regulation. The resulting bureaucratic and political nightmare has not yet begun. Experience tells me that laws and regulations will only grow even more oppressive, entangled, and incomprehensible. I believe the best course of action would to simply remove all legislation and regulation (including tax law) that benefits one class of persons (eg married) over another (unmarried) in any way. Today's SCOTUS opinions aren't really about homosexual marriage. They are about government treating one class of people differently from another.

Unlike the central government, the states might have some authority to define and regulate marriage where allowed by their respective constitutions. Although legitimized by the respective state constitutions, I generally hold laws defining marriage and family as unwise, unnecessary, and counterproductive. States are generally obligated to give "[f]ull Faith and the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State." (US Constitution, Article 4, Section 1). Therefore, the majority of states which define marriage only as between a man and a woman, will likely soon be forced to acknowledge marriages performed in other states which do not conform to that definition.

For virtually all of human history, marriage was purely a family and religious contract or covenant. As a religious contract, marriage is protected by the First Amendment -- however the religious institutions (including atheism and secularism) chose to define it. As with other religious concepts, adherents of one religion (including atheism and secularism) have no right to impose their religious beliefs upon others by power of government or otherwise. I therefore reject the insistence of heterosexual marriage upon homosexuals just as much as I reject the insistence of homosexual marriage upon homosexuals.

I defend the constitutionally-protected right of all religions to define the standards of worthiness for their followers provided the rights of innocent persons are not violated. Therefore a religion that views premarital or homosexual marriage as sinful must be respected and protected. Likewise, a religion that views homosexual marriage as acceptable must also be respected and protected. However, neither must be forced or expected to endorse or practice a variation of marriage they find immoral or objectionable. Religious bodies have a constitutionally-guaranteed right to admit into full fellowship, or employ in a religious role only those persons who live the standards of conduct defined by that religion.

I believe that control over marriage should be entirely removed from government and returned to religious control except in cases where the marriage partners prefer a government-controlled marriage or a religion defines marriage in a way that is harmful to individual rights such as child marriage, forced marriage, or marital practices that are clearly harmful to society. Only in recent decades has government inserted itself into marriage (initially to preserve the purity of the white race) -- generally with very serious adverse effects, especially broken families, unwed parenthood, and multi-generational poverty. Government historically does a very poor job of defining and enforcing morality, yet we seem to keep demanding it. In my opinion, the only role in marriage and family for government is to provide a process recording of marriages where the partners so desire and for enforcing the marital contract where necessary such as divorce.

Marriage is a formal relationship established by God -- not government. Until very recent years, marriage has always been defined as the union of a man and a woman. I accept my church's stand that marriage is still the union of a man and a woman. I accept my church's stand that homosexual behavior is contrary to Scripture. I expect my constitutionally-protected right to hold such beliefs to be respected by all. However, it is none of my business, nor of government, how others choose to define marriage as a religious covenant. In some historical and current cases, the definition of marriage has been extended to include multiple spouses, but always of the opposite sex. Today's opinions regarding homosexual marriage deviate from the wisdom accumulated throughout human history from experience and from divine guidance.

The most troubling news today was that the Supreme Court seems to think that churches have no say in what defines morality. Churches, apparently, have no First Amendment rights (SCOTUS needs to read the First Amendment.) The central government is already imposing its will on moral issues in the churches (eg forcing churches to fund medical procedures and drugs they find immoral). Whence then, does the definition of morality come? From leftist judges, leftist politicians, leftist journalists, and leftist activists? Again, government (especially leftist government agents) does a very poor job of defining and enforcing morality. Those who denounced the churches for voicing a constitutionally-protected opinion on California's Proposition 8 and who rejoice today over the SCOTUS repudiation of the rights and role of the churches have no idea what they're doing to freedom of speech and of religion. It's gonna get a lot worse. I suspect that is what some activists want even more than homosexual marriage itself.
"America is like a healthy body and its resistance is threefold: its patriotism, its morality, and its spiritual life. If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within." — Josef Stalin
Whatever benefits some people think they are gaining from today's rulings will be only temporary, superficial, artificial, and, in the end, destructive to themselves and to those they love. One cannot defy God and gain happiness.

We need smarter, and moral, voters.

BTW: One lesson that the Left must learn from today's opinions is that a republican (representative) form of government protects the rights of minorities (eg homosexuals). Democracy -- the voice of the majority (eg Proposition 8) does not. That is why a republican form of government is mandated in the US Constitution (Article 4, Section 4).

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Reject Byron Todd Jones to run ATF

Byron Todd Jones is a lawyer and the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). He is also currently serving as the United States Attorney for the District of Minnesota.

Jones became acting director of the ATF on August 31, 2011, following the resignation of Kenneth E. Melson in the aftermath of the ATF gunwalking scandal. As part of his push to further radicalize gun control, Presumptive President Barack Obama nominated Jones to serve as permanent director of the ATF.

Jones is unfit to lead the perpetually scandal-plagued Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) because:
1 - His actions as Acting Director of the ATF in relation to the ongoing cover-up of Operation Fast and Furious are reprehensible and because
2 - His reported efforts to persecute Justice-Department whistle-blowers while serving as US Attorney for Minnesota are reprehensible.

With the submissive help of the US Senate, President Obama is steadily populating the federal bureaucracy with elitists who share his disdain for the Constitution, the Second Amendment, and the rest of the Bill of Rights.

In 2009, against the advice of Utah voters and in spite of Eric Holder's history of corruption and his avowed hatred of the Second Amendment and the Constitution, Utah's Senator Bob Bennett voted to confirm Eric Holder as Attorney General. That act was one of the reasons I voted to remove Bennett from the Senate. I will work for the defeat of any senator who makes the same mistake with B. Todd Jones.

Because there is no Constitutional authority for their existence, my first choice would be for the complete and immediate elimination of ATF and every law it enforces.

Failing that, I expect every member of the US Senate to honor his/her oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic" by overwhelmingly rejecting the confirmation of Byron Todd Jones.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The dog park that won't go away

The scent of a dog park is in the wind again. Once again, other Cedar City dog lovers think I should entertain their dogs at my expense.

But, dog owners mustn't assume they can take thier dog to the dog park should Cedar City ever establish one. The group that has been lobbying the city council for a dog park has a long list of park rules including a total ban on all intact adult male dogs and all females in heat. If it is so important for dogs to have their own park for exercise and socialization, how do park advocates expect fertile dogs to socialize and exercise? Surely, they don’t expect fertile dogs to exercise by playing with their owners in the back yard and by taking leashed walks with their owners in their own neighborhoods! Also in the rules: Owners must clean up after their dogs. (Yeah, that'll happen.) They even would ban children under age 8 from interacting with their own dogs in the dog park.

I don't necessarily challenge the wisdom of the above restrictions. The taxpayer would be at substantial financial risk should someone -- or Fifi -- get a nasty bite. Nevertheless, dog-park advocates would cheerfully endorse the taxing of owners of above-mentioned exiled dogs, dog owners who choose not to use the park, as well as all non-dog-owners to pay for the park.

However, the real question is, do you think it's fair to tax your neighbor to pay for a place for your dog to play? If yes, how much do you think your neighbor should be taxed for a place for your dog to play?

What advocates of dog parks, skateboard parks, aquatics centers, trails, playgrounds, and other government-owned recreation facilities obviously fail to understand is that none of these things are free. For example, our aquatics center costs nearly a million dollars a year to operate! The taxpayer pitches in an additional $9+ per swimmer's ticket sold to keep that place running!

A couple of years ago, I was told that this little town of 30,000 has 14 parks and recreation properties costing the taxpayer over $4 million per year -- and that doesn't include the payments on the debt that bought and built all that stuff! The city is spending money on recreation as fast as Ben Bernanke can print it. Dog park advocates seem to share the notion that government money is free and endless.

The taxpayer pitches in millions to keep the Utah Shakespeare Festival and Utah Summer Games running. Worse, taxpayers pay for the signage and maintenance of privately-owned buildings on Main Street! Now, some people want a $6 million art museum too! The demands on the taxpayer never end!

Meanwhile, the city has an aging, leaking, and undersized water and sewer system and no money for replacement.

In spite of all that ballooning burden on the taxpayer, some dog owners say they want a dog park.

Please take a few minutes to imagine how much money you'd have left in your pocket if the local, state, and federal governments weren't constantly caving in to every demand for a taxpayer-funded park, monument, trail, playground, zumba/dance/exercise class, shooting range, after-school programs, theater, skating rink, rec center, library, bookmobile (anyone want to guess how much the taxpayer pays for each book-lent out of our library and bookmobile?), museums, etc. that goes far beyond the proper role of government -- the protection of your rights (see Declaration of Independence, second paragraph).

We need smarter voters.
The primary reason for government growth (and the "incumbent advantage") is that we've yet to convince people to refuse to be bribed with their own money. — Boyd K.
Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state wants to live at the expense of everyone. — Frederic Bastiat
Would you be willing to give up your favorite federal program if it meant never having to pay the income tax again? — Harry Browne

Friday, June 21, 2013

Government and infrastructure

People often say that we need the government to do things that the people can't do for themselves, such as infrastructure. That concept goes back to the days when kings owned everything and peasants were essentially squatters who paid the king tribute to stay on the land, build a home, and do a little farming. Why do we persist in that government-dependent thinking? Where is that concept written in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence -- the documents that define the proper roles of government in a free land?

Actually, it is private companies -- not government -- that build the roads and bridges -- with money the government borrows from those who buy government bonds. One almost never sees government employees and government equipment out building roads. (Government employees and government equipment are sometimes used for road maintenance, but almost never for construction or reconstruction.)

Our nation's infrastructure (roads and bridges mentioned above, phone and cable lines, cell-phone systems, power lines, rail lines, water and sewer lines, etc) are almost entirely built by private companies -- not government. Much of that infrastructure is even owned, operated, and maintained by private companies -- not government!

In a typical new housing development, the developer lays out a plan for streets and lots. He/she, at his/her own expense, puts in the infrastructure (streets and utilities), then sells the lots (or lots with homes on them). Part of the completed infrastructure (streets, water, and sewer lines) is donated to the city or county. The remaining infrastructure (phone, cable, and power lines) remain the property of the utility company that installed them. No government entity does anything to finance or build any of that infrastructure other than to approve the subdivision plan, easements, and rights of way.
To the House of Representatives of the United States (March 3, 1817):
Having considered the bill this day presented to me entitled 'An act to set apart and pledge certain funds for internal improvements,' and which sets apart and pledges funds 'for constructing roads and canals, and improving the navigation of water courses, in order to facilitate, promote, and give security to internal commerce among the several States, and to render more easy and less expensive the means and provisions for the common defense,' I am constrained by the insuperable difficulty I feel in reconciling the bill with the Constitution of the United States to return it with that objection to the House of Representatives, in which it originated. -- James Madison, US President and "Father" of the Constitution
Other than allowing government to grab power over the People, there is no excuse for government to build or own infrastructure. The only proper role for government in infrastructure is to establish easements and rights-of-way so that private enterprise can do what private enterprise does best: Provide the infrastructure needed in an efficient manner and in a way that protects the rights of the People.

Yes, it can be done. To say that it can't be done is an insult to the private companies and their employees who are actually are doing it! The only difference would be that private enterprise borrows the money for construction -- not government. You'd see the same construction equipment and workers as now.

Monday, June 17, 2013

We could do worse

Yet another irresponsible gun owner and, apparently, proud of it

An avowed anti-gun activist, Heidi Yewman, has decided that she will arm herself, using all deliberate ignorance and irresponsibility, in hopes of showing that knowledgeable and responsible gun-wearers must surely be as ignorant and irresponsible as she. She has chosen to document her experience as an irresponsible gun owner.

Ms. Yewman, please don't blame your ignorance of firearms on the fact that the laws in your jurisdiction don't force you to get training. (Just how much do you want your government to force you to do anyway?)

All responsible gun owners get training (as suggested by the wise police officer you met) regardless of whether it's required by the law. (The guy behind the gun counter often is the last person you should ask for information about gun safety or gun selection.) Instruction from a knowledgeable friend or relative is a good start, but formal training from a certified instructor is best and should be your immediate goal. A typical responsible gun owner who carries a gun for self-protection goes to the shooting range every month for practice and gets two to four days of additional training every year or two from a certified instructor.

A bit of competent training coupled with the proper attitude will make you and the people around you perfectly safe. You will feel comfortable knowing that the gun, having no will of its own, cannot mercilessly kill innocent children or blow up gas tanks (that only happens in movies — not real life) unless you make it do so. You will know that your Glock is a harmless yet reliable assembly of plastic and steel unless handled improperly or if the proper application of deadly force is necessary.

You seem proud of having acquired a gun without having a clue what you are doing. Carrying a gun with no training makes you, Ms. Yewman, an irresponsible gun owner. Even before you joined the ranks of irresponsible gun owners, we already had too many of those. But, the vast majority of gun owners aren't like you -- we have some training. We know what we're doing.

I's easy to see that your real goal was to prove to the world how easy it is to be an irresponsible gun owner. In that, you succeeded. You must surely be proud of your accomplishment.

This irresponsible venture into carrying a gun seems to be an extension of Yewman's anti-gun activism which includes authoring a typical book advocating gun control. In that book, Beyond the Bullet: Personal Stories of Gun violence Aftermath, she argues for gun control using the gun-control activist's best and only tool: emotion.

She carefully selected emotional stories that stimulate emotion. Ironically, each of the stories actually illustrates the need for responsible adults to own and carry firearms for self-protection and to train with them. Each of her stories illustrates the simple fact that police (people with guns) cannot protect us -- there simply aren't enough of them to provide every American a personal bodyguard. When criminal attacks occur, the police (people with guns) usually arrive just in time to photograph the victim's violated and/or lifeless body and to start looking for the perpetrator.

For example, one story in the book is about a woman who had to wait hours for police (yup, people with guns) to show up to rescue her -- after she'd already been shot multiple times! If that woman (and every other victim in Yewman's book) had owned and used a gun, she could have stopped the attack instantly. According to criminologist Gary Kleck (see links below for books documenting his and other worthy research), that is exactly what happens thousands of times each day across the US -- good people stopping criminal attacks with guns -- usually without firing a shot!

There are several books similar to Beyond the Bullet but with one key difference: The victims in these other books had a gun and were able to successfully defend themselves and their families. Every issue of NRA's monthly magazines has a column entitled Armed Citizen with several stories of successful armed defense. But, Ms Yeoman chose instead to pick victims who, by circumstance, choice, or negligence, had no effective means of fending off a violent attack.
If every woman in every big, high-crime community in America had a gun in her purse or strapped to her thigh, we would have a safer, more courteous society. — Mike Royko, syndicated columnist
The argument for responsible gun ownership and defensive use thereof is based on facts -- not emotion. If you want an emotional argument, read Beyond the Bullet.

On the other hand, to learn the facts about gun safety and the defensive use of guns ignored by people like Heidi Yewman, read Gun Facts, Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control, Armed, The Bias Against Guns: Why Almost Everything You've Heard About Gun Control Is Wrong, and More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws.

Political ideology and its effect on purportedly non-partisan public office

The Left, while comprising only 20% of the general population, dominates the government (40% are Conservative, 40% Moderate).

Government employees with Left-leaning ideologies control virtually every federal, state, and local government and quasi-government office including educational systems. Journalism shares this Leftist tendency. Because of this dominance in bureaucracy and journalism and a self-selected isolation from the general public, government employees and journalists presume that their ideology is shared by the general population. It is not.

That Leftist bias in government employees is not a problem and might even be a good thing except for at least two important factors:
1 - Government employees (eg Lois Lerner) use their office to crush persons with a non-Leftist political bent. Such evil is pervasive in government -- especially in government educational systems.
2 - Elections are the People's tool to change government. Unfortunately, only the politicians change. The government employees do not. Therefore, elections cannot truly change government unless the change in politicians is dramatic enough to result in the elimination of government agencies and termination of government employees.

Leftists such as Lois Lerner need to understand that while they dominate government now, the precedents of abuse of power they set today may haunt them in the future if they exploit their stewardship for political purposes.

The lesson here is for government employees, including those in education, must not use their position to affect politics. But, we cannot ever trust people like Lois Lerner to do the right thing. That is why we need smarter voters.
To pull off a dictatorship the government in power needs three key ingredients. Ingredient number one is an army of devout followers who are willing to go to any length to advance the party's agenda....Ingredient number two is a weak or unwilling opposition....The third and final ingredient to a totalitarian state is a large portion of the population that is either apathetic or blissfully ignorant of how their government tramples on their rights. As long as the check arrives, the food stamp card gets updated, the television has over 100 channels and the people invest in media that tell more of popular celebrity activities than the doings of their government, the 'ruling' party will continue to do whatever they wish with impunity. So long as the doings of government leaders don't cut off their access to these shallow entertainments, these people will not take a stand to those 'leaders' who erode their freedoms....Unfortunately we have coddled millions to the point that they will play a key role in the loss of the greatest government conceived by man. But these people will never be awakened as long as their exists a weakened opposition unwilling to awaken them. -- Duane V. Grassell

Friday, June 7, 2013

Blaming the President -- again

Putative President Barrack Obama is up to his eyebrows in scandals and abuses of power: 

Senator Rand Paul decries the fact that Obama "rides roughshod over the Bill of Rights." 

But, everyone must remember that it was and is the Congress (both Democrats and Republicans) that gave current and past presidents the power to "[ride] roughshod over the Bill of Rights." For decades, Congress has utterly and deliberately failed to do its job to follow and defend the Constitution.

"You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered." — Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) 37th US President (1963-1969)
Ultimately, it's the unwise, selfish, and ill-informed American voter who is to blame. Voters persist in electing and perpetually reelecting misguided, corrupt, irresponsible, clueless, bigoted, selfish, and incompetent politicians at every level. Ya can't blame any president for everything that Congress and the voters do!
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." — George Santayana
We need smarter voters.