Category Archives: Letters to Editor

Free Men Can’t Impose Their Will

According to a Dec. 20 Times Record report, Rep. Denny Altes is once again pitching a “Bible class curriculum” in public schools. Presumably, this will be paid for with tax dollars, and presumably, such will comport with Rep. Altes’ peculiar stripe of Christianity. This was tried 200-plus years ago with a bill establishing a provision for teachers of the Christian religion. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, among others, opposed such in the famous “Memorial and Remonstrance,” which stated, “the free men of America saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle. … Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects? That the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute three pence only of his property for the support of any one establishment, may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever?” Madison and Jefferson prevailed, and the ill-conceived bill was soundly defeated.

Jefferson noted in his autobiography: “(In) the bill for establishing religious freedom … a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word ‘Jesus Christ,’ so that it should read ‘a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;’ the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindu, and Infidel of every denomination.”

Jefferson and Madison were correct.

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Time For All To Give Up Some

Sequestration, which some with moans of inevitable gloom call the “fiscal cliff,” is rapidly approaching. Now, while I am an opponent of most taxation, I see this as the opportunity of a generation.

We have just celebrated Veterans Day, commemorating all who gave some and some who gave all. I suggest it is time for the rest of us, those who have for decades enjoyed liberty, to give something more. We have an opportunity to address exponential defense spending and ever-increasing discretionary spending.

If we reach sequestration, then we must cut defense by 20 percent and discretionary spending by the same 20 percent. This will be done with less influence by the lobbyists clamoring for tax dollars. There will be great elbowing at the treasury trough for a greater share for each supplicant of the lesser gruel, but the actual amount available will be dramatically reduced for the first time in decades.

Some will cry that the sky is falling and predict the recovery will be slowed, that unemployment will increase and that families actually will pay more taxes, but this will only be in the short-term. This is but a small price to pay for the long-term benefit that may be gained.

To allow sequestration to occur could usher in a sea change and be the catalyst that breaks the tax-and-spend paradigm and redirects government to find other ways to cut discretionary spending. No person, company, state or nation can continue to run up deficits that are funded by borrowing 40 cents of every dollar spent. Will we have to give up “some?” Sure. Will it hurt? Some.

If our brave veterans and military personnel can “all give some and some give all,” can’t we give up some to save posterity and our nation?

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Voters Forget Speeches

Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention was quintessential Clinton: well-organized, detailed, too long, self-indulgent, delivered with gravitas and chock full of “aw shucks and aw heck” moments. It was an attempt to bask again in the warm glow of political adulation replete with professorial and avuncular crooked-index-finger-wagging, a sharp rejoinder to those vague policy promises of the Republicans, an attempt to gloss over the failed policies and promises of Obama, and a “come to Jesus” plea for Democrats and Independents, all without invoking Jesus. It was a masterful set-up for the hope for second coming of the closer, or, as some derisively call him, the anointed one, Barack Hussein Obama.

Will it prove to overshadow, or serve as a smooth, slick oratorical rhetoric for Obama? Will it give Obama the intended bump? Is it enough to seal the deal? It will probably not seal the deal in as much as generally a few weeks after the conventions few people remember or are motivated by convention speeches.

The Democratic base of about 38 percent will vote Democratic, the 38 percent Republican base will vote Republican. The remaining 24 percent of independents, or unaffiliated, will pull the lever for various personal and policy reasons. But when was the last time they, or you, so swayed by convention prattle, carried those lofty platitudes into the voting booth and said to yourself, “aw shucks, we need ‘shared responsibilities’ as Clinton would say,” or “’we will reapply our founding principles’ as Paul Ryan would say”?

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‘Enlightened’ Transcends Left, Right

In Mr. James Button’s letter on July 24, he suggests some parts of my commentary on July 1 were “leftist.” I suppose “leftist,” like “beauty,” is in the “eye of the beholder.” I also suppose that anyone who disagrees with Mr. Button’s selectively myopic view of equality must, in his eyes, be a “leftist.”

Nevertheless, when I read the U.S. Constitution, I do not see it in the left versus right paradigm that engulfs and envelops so many in today’s political discourse. Rather, I see it as a work of late-18th century and mid-19th century enlightenment.

When the Fifth Amendment proclaims, “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law,” I take that as an American value, not leftist or rightist, and that it actually ought to protect all persons. When the 14th Amendment declares, no state “shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor to deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,” I take that as an enlightened statement of fundamental American, and human, rights and that it ought to actually apply to all persons.

Mr. Button, if, in your eyes, actual fidelity to the primacy of the rights enshrined in the Constitution makes one a “leftist,” I am proud to be added to and stand on the shoulders of such “leftists” as James Madison, Ben Franklin, the father of the Constitution and signatory of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, Rep. John Bingham of Ohio, the author in the House of the 14th Amendment, and Sen. Jacob Howard of Michigan, the Senate sponsor of the 14th Amendment.

To be clear, I am not equating myself with these luminaries, but I do have enough smarts to align myself with their enlightened principles.

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