28 August 2012

The Muslim Brotherhood's Egypt

Caroline Glick has written some excellent articles about the Muslim Brotherhood's takeover of Egypt. I seriously recommend taking the time to read them. What's been happening in Egypt has been mostly ignored by the media at large - considering that Hosni Mubarak was a stabilizing figure in the Middle East and was thrown under the bus by President Obama after 30 years of being a US ally - I'm not surprised.

The Muslim Brotherhood's Useful Idiots (June 22, 2012)

Obama's Spectacular Failure (July 12, 2012)

The Muslim Brotherhood's American Defenders (July 27, 2012)

The IDF's Egyptian Fiasco (Aug. 12, 2012)

Who Lost Egypt? (Aug. 17, 2012)

27 August 2012

Canadian Corner

Even though Canada is the United States' largest trading partner and just happens to be our neighbor to the north - Americans don't seem to know anything about the country, myself included until about three years ago when I married a wonderful Canadian and moved to the red and white maple leafed country. We take Canada for granted, a peaceful and democratic neighbor that we make a lot of fun of - eh!

Since I'm a relative newbie here - I've decided to try to add a posting every so often of news relating to Canada as part of learning about where I live and to try to expose Americans to our good friends with similar values. Canada is truly an important partner to the US - especially when they are trying to help us with our energy needs (ie. the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta) when they could very easily ship to any other part of the world. We need to nurture this relationship rather than throw their good-will gestures back in their faces.

Stephen Harper renews hunt for Franklin ships long lost to the Arctic depths

Mitt Romney's energy plan could heal U.S.-Canada rift

24 August 2012

The 1st Amendment and Political Speech


While we're in the thick of the political season, it's very easy to dislike the rhetoric being thrown around - but we should understand how lucky we are to have the right to speak our minds. Protection of political speech was the main reason for the inclusion of "freedom of speech" and the press in the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for the redress of grievances.
Keep in mind other places around the world where political speech is not protected. For example, we can point to Russia and the arrest and imprisonment of the "girl band" Pussy Riot. They received a sentence of two years in prison for essentially doing not much more than the crime of trespassing - oh and by the way, "singing" against Russian President Vladimir Putin, while they were there.

The right to speak our minds (within the limits set by the US Supreme Court - for example: don't yell "fire" in a crowded theatre) is truly one that we need to be thankful for. The freedom of political speech is one that the Founders took seriously - and we should too.

Bill of Rights "Text Study"
Happy Bill of Rights Day! Time to Celebrate! (Dec. 15, 2011)
Bill of Rights Day (Dec. 9, 2002)

13 August 2012

Bill of Rights "Text Study"


Next in our study of founding documents we will take a look at the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution. The Constitution would not have been ratified without these individual protections to go with it.

Like the Declaration of Independence, we take these ideas and G-d given rights for granted, never really thinking about or appreciating these rights. It's time to take a few minutes to read them through - asking yourself how things would be so different without them, and which one you find most important or meaningful.

The Preamble to The Bill of Rights
Congress of the United States
begun and held at the City of New-York, on 
Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.
ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.
Note: The following text is a transcription of the first ten amendments to the Constitution in their original form. These amendments were ratified December 15, 1791, and form what is known as the "Bill of Rights."
Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Amendment II
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Amendment III
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Amendment V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
Amendment VII
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Amendment X 
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident... but not Everyone Does  (Aug. 8, 2012)
Declaration of Independence "Text Study" (Aug. 2, 2012)

10 August 2012

08 August 2012

We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident... but not Everyone Does


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.
These truths which Americans hold to be "self-evident" and codified in the Declaration of Independence are truly not "self-evident" to much of the world at large.

We just need to take a quick look around -

In honor of the Olympics we can use China as a good example. The government takes the children from their homes if they show an aptitude for certain sports. In other words, the children belong to the government, and not to their parents - and the government has the right to take these children. The power of the government does not come from the people, but instead, any rights people there have come from the largesse of the government.

Of course, we must mention the lack of political speech, basic human rights, the limitations on private practice of religion and the government's role in forced abortions. All of which are at odds with our "self-evident" truths that are G-d given rights.

We can also take a look at the Muslim/Arab world. Slavery still exists there. We assume that it's clear that one person shouldn't own another - but this is another "self-evident" truth that isn't quite that evident to everyone.

The fact that women are created equal to men is also another "self-evident" truth that is unacceptable in the Muslim/Arab world. The right to vote, the ability to even drive a car, the ability to walk in public without a male chaperone, and even the extreme but regular occurrences of honor killings in the Middle East and in western societies such as the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom also point to the lack of basic understanding of "equality", "life" and "liberty".

Some may point to the fact that these high minded truths were not originally adhered to in the United States when this document was written in 1776. That is true. But what it also true is that this document was bringing the novel idea of G-d given rights to the world at a time when they didn't exist. It is a founding document - it is one that all throughout our history people have pointed to in order to show us the way. We are living up to those ideals. Many are not and have no interest in doing so.

There is much to be learned from our founding documents - and much that we take for granted.

Declaration of Independence "Text Study"

02 August 2012

Declaration of Independence "Text Study"

There are so many things that we take for granted as Americans - our freedoms, our way of life, our exceptionalism. I think that it's time to delve into... or at least take a look at some of our basic founding documents.

I've looked over the Declaration of Independence this week and these are some of the interesting points that I've found -- please share which ones you find most interesting.

First, a side note - The Declaration of Independence was written in one sitting by Thomas Jefferson, I think a most brilliant thinker. It was adopted by the United States Congress on July 4, 1776 - Independence Day.

The first two introductory paragraphs seem to be a general reasoning why the American Colonies were declaring their independence from Great Britain, followed by a listing of grievances that the Americans felt.

A lot of the reasoning come from John Locke, another thinker of the time that we should take a look at, but not today.

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.
Like Jefferson says here, government is granted its power from the people. Not the other way around. Another very important point here (but generally overlooked) is that our rights come to us from our Creator - not given to us by government.

People do not generally on a whim change their form of government, like Jefferson writes, "mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed." Very true - but then there becomes a breaking point.

He then lists many of these abuses that the colonists are no longer willing to suffer with. The two that jump out at me are these:
He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat them out of their Substance.  
Creating new offices and expanding government through new bureaucracies and thousands of laws that we are required to follow - without really knowing what they are, while still paying for them through our taxes - seems wrong. Taking a look at New York and Mayor Bloomberg trying to micro-manage people's lives through limiting soft-drink sizes and even "forcing" women to breast-feed seems like a huge over-reach of government power.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
When reading that statement I think about the lack of Executive interest in enforcing the border and immigration policies. I know very well that immigration laws need to be rewritten - but until then - policies have to be enforced. American citizens are in danger, especially American ranchers along the border who are scared to death of the drug cartels and illegals.

"I'm a citizen of the United States. This is supposedly sovereign soil, but right now it's anybody's who happens to be crossing here," he said. "I'm a little nervous being here right now. Definitely don’t come down here after dark." 
The farmer said a federal law enforcement agent told him to buy a bulletproof vest to use while working in his fields. Whenever he goes out to survey his agricultural operations, he always tells his office where he is headed, and he has purchased a high-powered rifle. 
"One of the basic points of the federal government is to protect the people of this nation to secure the border, and they're not doing that," he complained.

In some ways, the federal government doesn't seem to care - in other words "declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us."

It's a fascinating document - I'm glad I was able to take a few minutes to re-read such an interesting piece. Of course, so much to say... so little time.

Jewish versus "Palestinian Culture"


Stop the presses... the "Palestinians" are whining again. They've been insulted. Mitt Romney, while in Israel, said that the "Jewish culture" has made Israel successful. The "Palestinians" find this to be a racist comment.

Of course they also thought that taking a moment of silence during the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games to remember the eleven murdered Israelis during the 1972 Munich Olympics was "racist" as well - I assume that's because they were the murderers... and murdering Jews simply because of their religion might identify the "Palestinians" as the real racists and they didn't really want that made public on the world stage.

Then again, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) obliged them - rather than pointing out to the world the hypocrisy of the "Palestinians" as well as the Muslim world who had threatened to boycott the Games.

Romney did the right thing and did not appease the "Palestinians" by pretending that their "culture" is equal to the "Jewish culture". To begin with, Jews believe in the sanctity of life. The "Palestinians" clearly do not. Hey, hey, how many buses have you bombed today? - comes to mind. Jews have a strong focus on education and taking care of the next generation. The "Palestinians" clearly do not. Summer camps named after so-called martyrs that teach kids how to to shoot machine guns and blow themselves up do not constitute being "educational". Surprisingly enough, neither are school textbooks that portray Christians and Jews as pigs, dogs and monkeys. Children's television programming with children singing about "jihad" and "martyrdom" wouldn't fall under "educational" either.

One has to wonder about the "Palestinian culture" of which they are so proud.

To show support for the Jewish culture which has contributed to Western Civilization as a whole and to the world community through amazing medicaltechnological and other breakthroughs (Nobel Prize winners) doesn't require a person to be a rocket scientist, but it does require honesty and, it seems, a little bit of backbone. It's nice to finally see these traits in a presidential candidate. It's about time.