Saturday, July 30, 2016

An Important Distinction

The U.S. Constitution's ban on a "religious test" is being tossed about loosely with regard to immigration policies. But as Andrew C. McCarthy explains so clearly, the religious test applies only to positions of elected government officials and other positions of public trust.

The religious test ban in no way references immigration, which in the Founders' minds would have been a states rights issue. The federal government would only have had jurisdiction over the qualifications for citizenship. Would that it were so today.

How likely is it that the Founders would have agreed with allowing potentially murderous Islamic jihadists into the country, unchecked and unvetted? This is yet another destructive example of how far we today have drifted from the moorings of our nation's foundation.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Hard Times for Simple Dreams

Cambria County, Pennsylvania
Photo by Scott Goldsmith, Politico Magazine
These days I get most of my news from the Internet. The alphabet TV networks are usually carefully packaged "info-tainment" for left-leaning agendas. Sadly, the old-fashioned newspapers that I used to love reading are now always a day behind the headlines.

Real Clear Politics is my most frequently visited news website. You'd need all day to consume all of its news, from both left and right wing perspectives. While scanning through some RCP sidebars one day this week, I chanced upon Politico's "Uprising in the Rust Belt" by Keith O'Brien. It describes the reasons behind the sea change in voters' philosophy in Cambria County, Pennsylvania. The article captured my attention immediately, because this beautiful, unassuming corner of the world is where I went to college.

The residents of Cambria County are not complex. I didn't know the local people well, but I watched them up close and learned their salt-of-the-earth values. They love God, family, country, honesty, hard work, neighborly kindness--all of the components necessary for a successful America. When I was a student in the 1970s, US flags flew from front porches or window frames on most houses. On my trips back to college reunions in recent years, I observed the flags are still flying.

During his senior year at our college, my husband Pete was a student teacher at the county high school. He once gave an essay assignment to his sophomore class to write about what they wanted to do when they graduated high school. Pete allowed me to read their papers. Not one of over two dozen essays mentioned moving to the big city or going away to college. These rural Pennsylvania teenagers wrote about working with their fathers in the coal mines, running the family grocery store, or becoming a steel worker. Unanimously, they wanted to build their adult life close to their childhood home. Their dreams were simple, but equally as valid and important as those of the Trump children.

Change comes slowly to Cambria County, but it seems to be coming now. These good people were, had always been, rock-solid Democrats. Yet today, forgotten by the powerful, mired in economic distress, and frustrated with unfulfilled dreams, they are justifiably angry and ready to re-evaluate their vote.

Bill Polacek, a steel company CEO from Johnstown, makes a powerful comment:
“People are fighting back. They’re saying: This is not complicated. You’ve got to do something. They’re tired of talk. And that’s the thing with these candidates: Hillary is talk; Trump is going to do something.”
This quote is, as Donald Trump might say, "huge." I don't know how many quietly hidden Cambria Counties there are across the USA, but I do know this: if heartland people who have been so loyal to one political party for generations are ready to turn away, this presidential election will be full of surprises. I hope the coming of more prosperous times for Cambria County will be among them.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

In Sorrow and Gratitude

“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

George Orwell

Thank you to every police officer who stands watch each day so that we don't have to. May you be safe in the streets, on the roads, and in the constant face of danger.

Officer Down Memorial Page

Monday, July 04, 2016

Freedom, Word for Word

Transcript of Declaration of Independence (1776)

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:
Column 1
   Button Gwinnett
   Lyman Hall
   George Walton
Column 2
North Carolina:
   William Hooper
   Joseph Hewes
   John Penn
South Carolina:
   Edward Rutledge
   Thomas Heyward, Jr.
   Thomas Lynch, Jr.
   Arthur Middleton
Column 3
John Hancock
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton
Column 4
   Robert Morris
   Benjamin Rush
   Benjamin Franklin
   John Morton
   George Clymer
   James Smith
   George Taylor
   James Wilson
   George Ross
   Caesar Rodney
   George Read
   Thomas McKean
Column 5
New York:
   William Floyd
   Philip Livingston
   Francis Lewis
   Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
   Richard Stockton
   John Witherspoon
   Francis Hopkinson
   John Hart
   Abraham Clark
Column 6
New Hampshire:
   Josiah Bartlett
   William Whipple
   Samuel Adams
   John Adams
   Robert Treat Paine
   Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
   Stephen Hopkins
   William Ellery
   Roger Sherman
   Samuel Huntington
   William Williams
   Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
   Matthew Thornton

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Friday, July 01, 2016

100 Years Ago

I've been aware of the time going by
They say in the end it's the wink of an eye

 ~ Jackson Brown

One hundred years ago today, July 1, 2016, the horror that was the First World War opened a new hell on earth as the seige known as the Battle of the Somme, or the Somme Offensive, began in France. Over a five month period, from July 1 to November 18, more than one million soldiers were killed or wounded. (For riveting history of World War I, try the podcasts "Blueprint for Armageddon," by Dan Carlin.)

On that same summer day a century ago that one of the bloodiest battles in human history began, a baby boy was born thousands of miles away in a poor working class neighborhood in Manhattan, New York, to Irish immigrant parents. That newborn child was my father.

There is a charming adage that claims "every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of men." When I think of the brutal mass destruction that began on my father's birthday, and then consider the man, husband, and father he became, I'm inclined to agree that God is not yet done with humanity.

Further evidence of benevolence in the universe is the fact that movie legend Olivia de Havilland, also born July 1, 2016, turns 100 years old today. My father lived 70 years; de Havilland is celebrating her centennial. It's a reminder to me that regardless of how much we are allotted, time passes quickly for all of us. Far more important than our span of years is their content and what we ourselves make of them.