Hopes and Dreams for 2019

As 2018 sputters to a halt and the dawn of 2019 appears on the horizon, I am minded of many hopes and dreams that I have invested in the coming year. This year has been one of awakening and as a result, it’s been a year of wild discontent. What do my hopes and dreams for 2019 include? #1: Financial Security- I need a job ( a career, really) that will allow me to pay my bills and make my own way in this world. My current job as a retail associate is not only unsatisfying, but after four years of hard work and zero opportunities for advancement, it’s been emotionally heartbreaking and psychologically deadening. I need to go out and live on my own again. #2: Social Life- I love my church and my coworkers are generally pleasant to work with, but every time the day ends, I go home to my green room full of books and walls that have icons on the wall. That is all very well, but it increases the loneliness factor. Few coworkers advance in grade to that of friends and that may be expected, but disappointing. I need to get into a situation where I’m with people who want to socialize with me and who are not forced to just so they can get a paycheck. #3: Romantic Involvement- See social life. I’ve been single for far too long and my eyes might alight on inappropriate situations for a man of my age and experience. Loneliness can greatly cloud and obscure one’s better judgment. I’m sick of being alone, but I won’t settle for another toxic relationship that will end in a period between three months and seven years. #4: Travel- I would like to travel to New York or Boston sometime this year. Most of my travels heretofore have been confined to the South and I am a little curious about what the food and culture of the North is like. #5: Weight Loss- I intend to embark on an exercise regimen that will allow me to lose weight and perhaps develop needed confidence to work for all those things I’ve mentioned earlier. #6: Inner Peace- The turmoil that has built up in me since 2014 has got to go. I’m going to continue in therapy and perhaps increase my meditation. I’ll start expecting more from myself and less from others. These are all realistic goals. I will have to work to achieve them, but I’m willing to do the work. When 2020 comes around, I hope to be a bit more evolved in my thinking and assertive in my attitude.

 Uncategorized

Principle # 17: Checks and Balances- Nobody likes a Busybody

KindleKindle E-Reader This essay will cover Mr. W. Cleon Skousen’s seventeenth principle as outlined in his book, The 5, 000 Year Leap: A Miracle that Changed the World ( pp. 205- 215). While James Madison and the other framers of the Constitution agreed that the powers of the government should be divided three ways ( Executive, Legislative and Judicial), they also intended that each division should have a system of checks and balances put in place to curb the powers of the other two divisions ( pp. 205- 07). These limitations that each branch of government would impose on the other two branches would function as a guarantee that no one branch would be able to interfere with the proper functions of the other two branches. When the system of checks and balances are actively enforced, this will mean that each branch will be able to perform its specified function while leaving the other two branches free to do toe same. When checks and balances are not actively enforced, then the chain of command is disrupted and the effectiveness of all three branches are weakened ( pp. 207- 08).   The failure of our government in recent years to respect the checks and balances provided by the Constitution has seen the steady erosion of not only the functions of government, but also the confidence of the people in that government ( which is actually meant to answer to them). We see the President pass ” Executive Orders” and the Judiciary bypassing Congress altogether in their eagerness to legislate their own laws, thus rendering Congress ( our supposed ” Legislative” Branch) to be little more than puppets of the Executive and Judicial branches, with little say of their own ( 210). Ultimately, all power is derived from the consent of the people, which is why we send elected officials to Washington, D. C. in the first place. The House of Representatives and the United States Senate serve as the representatives of the people who elected them to their offices and they check each other in the introduction and ratification of laws. The Executive and the Legislature supposedly check each other with built in checks that prevent undue interference of one branch into the other ( pp. 211- 12). The Supreme Court, our Judiciary Branch, has its own system of checks and balances put in place. I would call it the not inconsiderable ” power of review,” to method through which they determine whether or not the laws they are being asked to confirm are actually in accord with the Constitution or not. The Judiciary itself is checked by the Congressional right to remove from office those Justices suspected of abusing their powers and the right to limit the extent of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. The President, on his part, may appoint certain qualified Justices to the Supreme Court ( 212- 13).   When the government realizes that its checks and balances have been neglected, there is a provision in the United States Constitution for a peaceful transfer of power to those who would be more diligent in protecting our constitutional government from violations that grow ever more flagrant the longer that damaging issues remain unaddressed. President Nixon was impeached and his cronies charged and in many instances imprisoned because they violated their mandates and sought power that was beyond their Constitutional scope ( 214- 15). To conclude, it’s rather obvious that the government we have now is in serious need of reexamination and overhaul. The decline began during the Clinton administration and has continued at an accelerating pace since. The Constitution of the United States of America is still the Supreme Law of the Land and in that rests our hope for federal reformation and renewal.

 Uncategorized

E Unum, Pluribus

The United States of America is a fragmented society and I think this is by design. As a nation, we have been threatened before and we have persevered and survived those threats. Usually, we have been strengthened in the process. Since our involvement and defeat in Vietnam in the sixties and early seventies, it seems like our collective national pride has taken a beating both at home and abroad. Why is this? The fact that our leaders keep telling us we’re losers and that we’re incapable of thinking for ourselves may be one reason for our noted lack of national self- esteem. Our media keeps talking about the sins of the past and we’re overloaded with a sense of collective guilt might be another. Division is another distraction. Once, it was emphasized that we were all Americans together and that we were to work toward a common destiny. What changed? Our celebration of diversity in the United States has become a cult of divisiveness. Large groups of people have been compartmentalized into separate groups who care largely about the welfare of the group and not so much for the well being of other groups who also have a part in our American tapestry. This results in open hostility and violence. Group is pitted against group and the only group that seems to benefit from this is the group that has encouraged the divisiveness in the first place. Remember those fearless leaders who have no respect for anyone outside of their immediate circle and who profit from the fear and anger of others? Look to the rot in the upper class and see the matrix from which infighting among the lower class was formed. We can vote and vote again for our own interests as a people, but that does little good when the ballots are tampered with. Our Colonial ancestors took on the most powerful army in the world at the time and they won independence. It required sacrifice. It required discipline and it required help. We seek as a society the gratification of our own immediate appetites and when those appetites aren’t fed, we are given issue after issue to chew on. We then turn on people who don’t look like us and we brawl with them, as our fearless leaders ( why fear when you’re surrounded by armed guards?) encourage us to do. Rome fell to the Goths because the Empire was rotten all the way through. The final Caesar was a boy who was simply shipped into a quiet retirement while the Germanic overlords began arrangements that would later coalesce into the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. The British Empire fell the first time because the higher class colonists declared themselves exploited and persuaded the lower class to fight for them. The Second British Empire fell because its subject peoples were ready to govern themselves rather than to lie prostrate to acts of a Parliament that existed halfway around the world. Infighting is almost an iron- clad guarantee that a nation will lose its cohesion and fall apart, leaving it open to invasion and conquest. Our society has never been so split among groups as it is tonight. If we fall, it will be because we as a people have lost the will to govern ourselves. If we survive, it will be because we chose to stand together as a people and cut the rot out of our society. We still have allies, just as our ancestors did in the French during the Revolution. The question is, can we muster up the discipline we need as a people to suspend hostilities and focus on dealing with the real problem our country is facing?

 Uncategorized

Rights and Duties on a Divine Scale- Principle 9

Introduction W. Cleon Skousen’s ” The 5000 Year Leap” is a wonderful book that provides 28 principles related to the rights,freedoms and responsibilities of the individual and that individual’s government as expounded by our ( American) Founding Fathers. This treatise will explore Principle 9 ( Skousen, W. Cleon. ” The 5000 Year Leap,” pp. 131- 139). The Principle under discussion The Ninth Principle explores the safeguarding of our rights.  God has revealed to us certain principles of Law through the agency of the Ten Commandments ( pp.131-2). In a nutshell, these commandments include serving and worshipping God alone, honoring our neighbor, respecting our neighbors’ situation, honoring our parents and setting aside a day of rest, worship and recommitment to the observance of the Divine Law ( pp. 132-33). Our rights and responsibilities The rights we enjoy are safeguarded by the duties that God has enjoined on each one of us to follow, both public duties and private ones. Public duties are enforceable by the State and the States’ law enforcement. When these duties are ignored, these entities are empowered to impose penalties on the transgressor to both deter future transgressions and to discourage the general public from ignoring their own responsibilities ( 133-4). Private duties are ” principles of private morality” that exist between an individual and his or her Creator. They would bolster and encourage their performance of their public duties and yet only the individual may meet those duties through self- discipline ( 133). Anglo- Saxon and Israelite precedents The Israelites and the Anglo- Saxons both personalized public transgressions through the possibility of repayment ( the Anglo- Saxons would have called this ” wergild,” or financial compensation for the harm done by one person to another). For the Anglo- Saxons, a fixed financial penalty would be incurred for an injury or death. The Israelites would impose repayment in kind for  financial loss ( deliberate murder would be punished in Israel by execution of the offender). The Israelites and Anglo- Saxons both held God’s Law to be immutable.  Any kinds of laws that they would pass would be in accordance either with the ancient body of ancestral laws ( also held as unchangeable) or the Law as revealed in the Ten Commandments. Reparations, of course, were a legal and private matter between the offended, the offender and law- enforcement. Reparations by the state ( tax- payers paying compensation for the crimes of others) would be an encouragement rather than a deterrence to crime, as a thief could blithely tell his or her target that the government would restore the stolen property in terms of cash value anyway ( 136-37). These are basic, simple Laws of Nature and Nature’s God that are rewarded in their simple observance. All laws that are valid are laws that are built upon the basic cornerstones of revealed Law and reason. When people look to their own duties, they find their rights being reinforced as well as protected through the observance of those duties. Safeguards for individual freedoms On the final page of this particular chapter, we see how the State can abuse the freedom of the individual by passing oppressive laws to enrich the few and to keep the many in want. Our Founding Fathers had the wisdom to see that sovereign authority needed to be taken out of the hands of the oligarchs and into the hands of the people. Only then are we assured that our ancient rights would be protected by those who could easily be in be a position to abuse their power ( 138). We surely do have rights that are  tempered by responsibilities to ourselves, our neighbors and our God. We must not have an unbalanced view that will put rights over responsibilities ( that leads to a breakdown in social institutions and restraints on unlawful behavior), or responsibilities over rights ( that will lead to State tyranny and public persecution). Our view ought to be a balanced one that sees our rights and responsibilities supporting each other. In this way, perhaps we can return to working on realizing our Founders’ vision of this land as a ” city on a hill” and a ” light to the nations.”

Principal Six: Equality of Station vs. Equality of Opportunity

” All men are created equal” is a nice sentiment, but unrealistic. Some men and women are simply more successful in a society that provides an even playing field for all its members. Others are born under more disadvantaged circumstances and so have less opportunities available for them to succeed. In the Sixth Principle discussed in Skousen’s book, ” The 5000 Year Leap” ( pp. 103-12), the idea that ” all men are created equal” is discussed. The conclusion is that all men are not created equal, but they can be treated equally in three ways: in the sight of God, under the law and in the protection of their rights ( 103). In God’s eyes, we are all His children, but we all have our distinctions, both individually and in the groups to which we happen to belong. As human beings, however, we stand before the Lord on an equal basis ( 104). In the eyes of society, we stand on an equal basis in two ways: 1: We are all equal and entitled to the same treatment under the law. If somebody commits a crime, the millionaire will suffer the same penalty as the vagrant. 2: We are all equal and entitled to life and God given liberties on an equal basis with one another ( 104). What are these rights we hold so dear? The right to compete for a job, to begin with. We also have the right to demand justice in a court of law, the right to an education, the right to vote for our favored candidate for a political office, the right to freedom of religious faith and practice, the right to buy or rent a house, the right to enjoy freedom of speech, the right to free assembly, the right to purchase goods in the market place, the right to express your views on a public forum, the right to accumulate wealth, the right to pay your fair share of taxes, the right to freedom of the press and the right to bequeath your legacy to your heirs ( 105). Ideally, these rights would be freely available to everybody, but in the United States of America ( where the majority of people descend from immigrants), there are minority populations who have been socially disadvantaged, with tragic results. Historically, our Colonial families had generally tended to be at a disadvantage! Whether one descended from an English indentured servant, a Scottish rebel, a German religious dissenter, a French refugee, or an Irish dissident, one was  generally treated very harshly by the privileged in society. Very few families came over as wealthy landowners who used servants.. far more were the servants being used ( 107). By the mid- nineteenth century, these differences had faded to the point that the descendants of these disadvantaged colonists had generally tended to mingle together as assimilated Americans. They would then greet new migrants who would eventually become assimilated Americans as well ( 107). Migrants from Asia, particularly the Chinese and Japanese ( but also the Koreans and Vietnamese), faced vicious brutality in the early to mid twentieth century. Even so, these newcomers were intent on joining American society. Despite the fact that these Japanese- Americans were put into concentration camps during World War II, they sent legions of volunteers to fight on the American side in that same war. Japanese- American regiments were among the most decorated during the Second World War ( 107-8). The assimilation of Asians into the American tapestry has become an established fact. Blacks, or African- Americans, on the other hand, have faced the greatest number of challenges in their efforts to assimilate into American life. This has bred some exceptionally severe consequences, especially for the blacks.. One thing that this group does have going for it is that through education and freedom, hope dawned in these people inside three generations. They hurdled the ” culture gap” and soon enjoyed a higher standard of living in the United States than blacks had in other parts of the world ( 108). What is this culture gap that cultural minorities need to hurdle? Well, in short it means assimilating into mainstream American society. Learning English and using a local American accent when speaking it is one example. Moving out of ethnic neighborhoods into general suburbia is another, as is attaining a viable level of education, becoming economically independent and being seen as a social asset ( 106-7). Government social programs that were meant to benefit blacks and other social minorities such as Native Americans, proved ” debilitating and corrupting” ( 109). As a result, the black community was infiltrated by Marxist agitators in the mid 1960s who advocated violence to initiate social change. The riots and chaos that resulted, however, proved more damaging to the black community itself than it did to the majority they meant to target ( 109-10). A former Marxist named Eldridge Cleaver rose high in the Black panther movement until he was wounded during a race riot and then fled the United States for Cuba around 1968 and wandered around with his wife for eight years, seeing the blight Communism brought on the world and later returning to the United States with a grateful appreciation of the opportunities afforded to black folk there that they wouldn’t be able to find in other parts of the world. He paid his debt to society and used his experience to educate others ( 110-11). After the American Constitution was ratified in 1789, four amendments were made to protect the rights of everybody, including minorities. The Thirteenth Amendment guaranteed universal freedom. The Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed universal rights to all citizens. The Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments guaranteed universal voting rights to all citizens, regardless of sex, race or color. Equal rights, however, does not mean that people are born with equal ability and in fact, inequality of station is a by- product of liberty. Some will always have more know how than others and some will be less intelligent ( individually) than others, for example. The rights we enjoy as Americans, however, are to be enjoyed with guaranteed equality, so maybe we can appreciate a little bit more the things we do have ( 112).

 Uncategorized

Reversal of Fortunes: The Career of Ulysses Grant

  Ulysses Grant, A Very Underrated and Important President   Ulysses S. Grant was born in 1822 in Point Pleasant, Ohio, the son of Jesse Root Grant and Hannah Simpson. The Grant family descended from Puritans who migrated to New England from Southwestern England and they gradually made their way to Kentucky and thence to Ohio. Young Ulysses Jesse was a demanding and boastful man who had great expectations of his son, not the smallest of which was his expectation that Ulysses would work in his father’s tannery. Normally rather taciturn, Ulysses let Jesse know in no uncertain terms that the thought of working in that tannery was repulsive to him, so his father wrote to his Congressman and had his eldest son admitted to West Point instead. Off to Westpoint. Ulysses ( born Hiram Ulysses Grant) had his name changed through a clerical error, but he kept that name as his own through his West Point career and subsequently for the rest of his life. An avid horseman, he was otherwise a very mediocre student, who was often criticized for the way he dressed. When he left, he figured that he’d serve the four years in the military that he agreed to serve and then he’d leave the army and take a much coveted life of a simple farmer.Desire for honest, hard work abandoned by destiny.” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”> Honest, steadfast, reliable Raised as a devout Methodist, his religious identity was an enormous part of who he was. Silent and withdrawn, Grant simply wanted to live in peace. Raised as an ardent abolitionist, when he married into the slaveholding Dent family of Missouri, he had to take a lot of emotional guff from both sides. His parents disapproved of what they saw as a flighty, spendthrift wife whose family got their wealth off the sweat of others and his wife, Julia’s, parents disapproved of her marrying a military man from the North. Conflicts abound. A good natured and financially naïve man, Grant tended to be easily conned out of a lot of money and when he was separated by circumstance from his wife Julia ( first in the Mexican- American War and in later postings), he would turn to alcoholism. This was a problem he recognized and tried to conquer more than once ( he just couldn’t quite beat it)The toughest battles can be the battles of the soul. When the Civil War finally broke out, Grant was in a fairly desperate situation financially, trying out and failing in several financial ventures. He was finally forced to appeal to his father for help and thus secured a small job in his younger brother’s tannery in Galena, Illinois. The governor of Illinois drafted the former Army captain to lead a volunteer regiment that nobody else was able to train. Grant enforced the required discipline and won the respect of his men, being promoted to brigadier general. Grant was no slouch, neither was he a coward. He quite willingly led his men into battle and he earned a major victory in 1862 when he captured Forts Henry and Donelson ( both in Tennessee). He earned his nickname, ” Unconditional Surrender.” Grant was promoted to major general, becoming nationally renowned and eventually chosen to succeed the inept General McClellan as General of the Federal Army. Of course, the press is fickle and after Grant suffered a defeat in Shiloh, Tennessee, he found himself blamed for the debacle. President Lincoln stoutly supported his general with good effect: Grant shortly put the Confederacy on the defensive as he took Vicksburg, Knoxville and all of eastern Tennessee for the North in 1863. Lincoln’s Choice General Ulysses S. Grant at this time became renowned as a major Union hero and Lincoln transferred him to Washington, D.C. to direct the war effort and to finally defeat Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Grant joined George Meade’s Army of the Potomac and engaged Lee’s army in spring of 1864 in a campaign known as the Overland Campaign. Grant’s object was to defeat the Confederate Army and capture the Confederate Capital of Richmond, Virginia. Despite the bloody warfare and the loss of men in the Battle of the Wilderness, Grant pressed on and refused to retreat. The battle of the Wilderness became the Battle of the Spotsylvania Courthouse. The Confederates were entrenched and after a period of two weeks, Grant ordered his forces to disengage and to head southeast toward Richmond. Overland Campaign Right after the carnage of the Battle of Cold Harbor, Grant directed his army to march south of Richmond and commence a siege of Petersburg. This began the final conflict between Confederate and Union forces that culminated in the final retreat of Lee’s army and the latter’s surrender to General Grant at Appomattox in 1865, ending the bloodiest war that was ever waged on United States soil http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/battle-of-petersburg-begins. Grant emerged from the War as a major hero and swept into the U.S. presidency in 1869, grimly determined to sweep away the last remnants of slavery and implement Reconstruction over the conquered territories in the former Confederacy. Unfortunately, the War was Grant’s success story. His presidency wound up being ineffectual and despite his own scrupulous honesty, he was prey to those who held to looser morals than he did A man against the tide, (corruption).. A cigar chain-smoker for most of his life, by the time he exited the presidency and had another business that failed, he was told by a doctor that he had throat cancer. Trying to settle his debts in a literary way, he wrote his ” Memoirs,” holding on to life until he completed his book and finally died in 1885. Grant was a hero. He was a good and descent man whose soul was devoured by those around him. He took up arms against his fellow Southerners in an effort to do what was right. But, with all corruption, righteousness has nothing to do with it.

 Uncategorized