Sunday, June 28, 2009

America the Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

America is a really beautiful place. It is through the brotherhood of all Americans that good comes to our fair country and through God's grace.

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

Isaiah 52:7 says, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!" The pilgrim's feet were beautiful because they published peace and because the acknowledged the hand of God in the establishment of this country.

We are so caught up in apologist rhetoric that we can no longer credit the greatness of our past of those pioneers who crossed our continent to establish our great country. America is great because it is good, if it ceases to be good, it will cease to be great.

We need to look to God for divine assistance in mending our flaws, not the government, not welfare not new federal agencies but the God of the Land who is Jesus Christ.

We are confirmed in our position of wealth and prosperity only through self control. Nihilistic self-serving narcissism is not the answer, self control and obedience to law is the answer. Only through observance of our God given system of laws can we have true liberty.

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

The negative attitudes against our great country are a sad commentary on the sacrifices made by our valiant soldiers in war and in peace. Our gold is not just in the rocks of the earth but also in the blood running in the veins of those who have nobly sacrificed their lives to preserve our liberty. Our gains must be in accordance with divine will and there is no true success without a noble character.

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

It was the dreams of our American patriots that gave us the great system of laws and government we have today. The only way to achieve those alabaster cities undimmed by human tears is to follow the mandates of that just God who gave us our liberty in the first place.

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

May we all so live that we can indeed see our souls wax fair as earth and air and music-hearted sea.

O beautiful for pilgrims feet,
Whose stem impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through
wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

Again, we can only negotiate those "wilds of thought" upon the terms and conditions decreed by and through the grace of our just God.

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice,
for man's avail
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

We are now in danger of losing the banner of the free, not just to flag burners and detractors, but through turning from the selfish stains on our banner of the free.

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!

The American patriots will not be forgotten as long as there is one man or one woman who treasures the hope that nobler men will once again keep God's whiter jubilee.

Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written. Ether 2:12.

Friday, June 26, 2009

More Money Does Not Equal Better Education

After a recent post about the quality of education in the U.S., I received a lengthy comment. You may wish to return to that post and read the comment. At the heart of the criticism was the following statement made about student's need to learn history and math, and I quote:
*Should* they know? of course they should. everyone should. but it won't happen until we spend more money on education - until we actually treat education as a priority. right now, schools are basicly "teaching" students how to take tests, because this is the cheapest way to do it. the whole system needs an overhaul.
This started me thinking about school funding and whether or not there was a correlation between increased spending in education and student learning. I was surprised to learn that there is a correlation, but it is a negative correlation. Actually, the more we spend the less we get for our tax dollars and the less the students learn and know.

At the beginning of this post there is a chart showing the increase in spending per-pupil over the past thirty years or so. The Heritage Foundation examines statistics from The National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education, which publishes extensive data on education in its annual Digest of Education Statistics.
The conclusion from an examination of the statistics is summarized as follows:
Many people believe that lack of funding is a problem in public educa­tion, but historical trends show that American spending on public educa­tion is at an all-time high. Between 1994 and 2004, average per-pupil expenditures in American public schools have increased by 23.5 percent (adjusted for inflation). Between 1984 and 2004, real expendi­tures per pupil increased by 49 percent. These increases follow the historical trend of ever-increasing real per-student expenditures in the nation's public schools. In fact, the per-pupil expen­ditures in 1970–1971 ($4,060) were less than half of per-pupil expenditures in 2005–2006 ($9,266) after adjusting for inflation.
From the figures I previously quoted concerning actual declines in academic performance, it is clear that throwing more money at the problem is not the answer, although as expressed by the commentator it is the traditional radical liberal solution to every social problem, either form a new governmental agency or spend more money.

Driven by the need to justify the expansion of spending, the education establishment has focused on extremely narrow indicators of student competence, i.e. standardized testing. It would not look good to the American public to have all that increased spending going to waste, would it? Let's make sure our standardized test scores show that the students are actually learning something, even if what they are learning is drivel.

Who benefits from this increased spending? The teachers? Median annual earnings of kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers ranged from $43,580 to $48,690 in May 2006; the lowest 10 percent earned $28,590 to $33,070; the top 10 percent earned $67,490 to $76,100. Median earnings for preschool teachers were $22,680. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average salary for traditional public school teachers increased 4.5 percent in 2006-07 to $51,009, according to the AFT's latest teacher salary survey, marking the first time average teacher pay exceeded $50,000 and the first time since 2003 that teacher salaries surpassed the annual rate of inflation. American Federation of Teachers.

In short, even the teachers are being paid more, but money does not seem to address the real issues here.

More later.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

No sense of historicity

One of the major developments in education I have seen during my own lifetime is an almost complete collapse of the study of history in schools. By the time I went through grammar school (now a misnomer) and high school, they (the radical liberals) had managed to eliminate geography as a subject, but we did have history, even a course on the history of Arizona that was quite detailed.

With the introduction of standardized testing and standardized lesson plans, there is no longer any room in the curriculum for anything having to do with history. Now, they have "social studies" and include a very limited view of certain historical events. Children now get all the way through high school without ever hearing about the Babylonians, the Romans, the Greeks or anything else, although they might have a unit on some aspect of minority history or the U.S. Civil War but the teachers now manage to teach the Civil War without mentioning U.S. Grant.

Likely, anyone born since 1950 has only a very sketchy understanding of the history of the Americas, including the early colonies and up to the Revolutionary War. Quizzing some of my grandchildren, I find that few have heard of most of the major figures of American history and have only the vaguest idea of even major events in U.S. history, like World War I and many of my grandchildren are in "advanced placement" whatever that means.

In looking at the "social studies" books it is evident that the selection of topics is highly skewed towards those dealing with minority issues at the expense of mentioning even the most famous of our non-minority prominent people. However, this decline in an understanding of real history is only part of a greater decline in Western Culture and Civilization. Cutting ourselves off from the past only guarantees that we will lose whatever measure of civilization and civility we have left.

This decline was noted in a recent news article by the Publisher of the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, Utah. Quoting from Joseph A. Cannon,"For some years now, notable historians, philosophers and other scholars such as Jacques Barzun, John Lukacs, Alasdair MacIntyre, Pierre Manent and a host of others have diagnosed and chronicled the rise of the modern West and its gradual descent to the present. Barzun's magnum opus, "From Dawn to Decadence, 500 Years of Western Cultural Life" is one such chronicle. Lukacs, in "At the End of an Age," "describes how we in the Western world have now been living through the ending of an entire historical age that began in Western Europe almost 500 years ago."

In another quote Cannon says, "This intense focus on the emancipation of the individual led to a humanism which "is accordingly charged with inverting the relation between man and God, with atheism and the secularizing of society." The result of this individualism, humanism and emancipation from authority results in a culture that "is old and unraveling."

My observations are not unique about the decline of history education, from an article entitled "American Students and the Decline in History, by Michael Streich, he says, "In a November 25, 2007 Washington Post story, Naomi Wolf presented the bleak facts: “…only 47 percent of high school seniors have mastered a minimum level of U.S. history and civics, while only 14 percent performed at or above the ‘proficient’ level…” (“Hey, Young Americans, Here’s a Text for You”). She further writes that middle school students in most states are not even required to take classes in civics and government."

This lack of historical understanding would not be such an issue, if those who are beginning to run the country were not in the same category. The latest crop of government bureaucrats grew up during this dearth and they do not exceed the norm. In a Intercollegiate Studies Institute report on "Our Fading Heritage" the major finding include that Americans fail the test of civic literacy. The Instituter's study noted that the vast majority of Americans can no longer even recognize the language of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and less than half of the Americans tested could name all three branches of the government.

I suggest that it would be hard to find a college student today who had read even one of the The Federalist Papers or who even recognized the name of Thomas Paine.

We are not only on our way to moral bankruptcy, we are already bankrupt of knowledge of our past and like the proverbial ship without a rudder, we are cast on the sea of the future without a guide.

Let's start today by reading some of our basic historical documents, like the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and maybe a good history book about Western Civilization, but nothing written in the past thirty or forty years, please.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Unforeseen legal effects of same-sex marriage

In the single minded focus of the liberal media and same-sex marriage advocates on granting equality in the area of same-sex marriage there is an entire disregard for the overwhelming impact legalizing same-sex marriage will have on our entire legal system. These issues must be arising in those states that recognize same-sex marriage, but they are obviously not getting any media exposure at all.

The changes in the laws will unevenly affect women and children in a negative way. Although both sexes seem to support same-sex marriage, the effect will be to dramatically reduce the advances made for the protection of women and children in our society. Many of the laws that have been passed protecting these members of our society will be modified out of existence in the name of uniformity and equality.

Here are a very few of the areas of the law that will undergo substantial adjustment assuming substantial passage throughout the country of same-sex marriage laws. entirely negative, I might add that this effect will be entirely negative.

1. The impact on divorce laws.

In every instance of same-sex marriage, if there are children involved, the children will not be the natural children of at least one member of the marital community. Although this is the case in situations involving prior divorces and remarriage, it will always be the rule for same-sex couples. Some states are adopting a new standard with respect to the traditional emphasis on the rights of a natural parent. That standard is articulated as and holding that a natural parent who voluntarily relinquishes custody of a minor child, through a court of competent jurisdiction, has forfeited the right to rely on the existing natural parent presumption. This presumption will undergo even further changes, likely eroding the rights of natural parents to custody of their own children. In many jurisdictions the mother has been given the priority of custody. That rule will undoubtedly change.

Because of no-fault divorce laws, spousal maintenance (formerly alimony) has all but disappeared in the U.S. What is left of spousal maintenance will disappear completely leaving many women in an even worse situation than they presently are.

In many divorce cases the division of property has been strongly influenced by a desire to provide for the "wife." If there is no "wife" then the laws will all change, probably to the detriment of wives everywhere.

2. Inheritance laws

Many states still recognize the dower rights of the wife. Who will be the "wife" in a same-sex marriage? Dower rights will disappear, it is impossible to predict what will replace it.

3. Real estate and personal property laws

Some states recognize community property laws instead of the common law. Community property laws developed to protect the "wife's" interest in the real property. What will happen to community property laws and the protection they provide if there is no "wife?"

Do we really want to re-design our entire legal system around the so-called rights of a small and very militant minority? Do we want to abandon our whole cultural and social system just so a vocal minority can feel good about themselves?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Gay Rights -- a cascading tyranny of nihilistic hedonism

Gay Rights is a movement masking its true objectives behind a facade of equality. Support from outside the Gay community for so-called Gay Rights comes primarily from those who have no understanding of the history of modern radical liberalism. Couched and trained by those who grew up in the activist movements of the 1960s and 70s, those supporting the so-called Gay Rights have an agenda that is directly in opposition to all of the fundamental cultural and societal norms across the entire culture of the United States and beyond that the entire world. To quote the Gay Liberation Front Manifesto:
We will show you how we can use our righteous anger to uproot the present oppressive system with its decaying and constricting ideology, and how we, together with other oppressed groups, can start to form a new order, and a liberated lifestyle, from the alternatives which we offer.
Far from being the oppressed group they wish to portray to the media, they are as a group nothing more or less than an extension of radical liberalism. The societal institutions attacked by the Gay Rights agenda include the family, quoting again from the Manifesto:
The oppression of gay people starts in the most basic unit of society, the family. consisting of the man in charge, a slave as his wife, and their children on whom they force themselves as the ideal models. The very form of the family works against homosexuality.
The schools;
In the content of education, homosexuality is generally ignored, even where we know it exists, as in history and literature. Even sex education, which has been considered a new liberal dynamic of secondary schooling, proves to be little more than an extension of Christian morality. Homosexuality is again either ignored, or attacked with moralistic warnings and condemnations. The adolescent recognising his or her homosexuality might feel totally alone in the world, or a pathologically sick wreck.
The church;
Formal religious education is still part of everyone's schooling, and our whole legal structure is supposedly based on Christianity whose archaic and irrational teachings support the family and marriage as the only permitted condition for sex. Gay people have been attacked as abominable and sinful since the beginning of both Judaism and Christianity, and even if today the Church is playing down these strictures on homosexuality, its new ideology is that gay people are pathetic objects for sympathy.
They continue with attacks on the media, employment, the law, psychiatry, to continue the quote;
But gay liberation does not just mean reforms. It means a revolutionary change in our whole society.
Not even monogamy is immune from attack by the Gay Rights advocates;
Monogamy is usually based on ownership-the woman sells her services to the man in return for security for herself and her children-and is entirely bound up in the man's idea of property furthermore in our society the monogamous couple, with or without children, is an isolated, shut-in, up-tight unit, suspicious of and hostile to outsiders.
Their goal is to indoctrinate the young to abandon any semblance of our current society;
The long-term goal of Gay Liberation, which inevitably brings us into conflict with the institutionalised sexism of this society, is to rid society of the gender-role system which is at the root of our oppression. This can only be achieved by eliminating the social pressures on men and women to conform to narrowly defined gender roles. It is particularly important that children and young people be encouraged to develop their own talents and interests and to express their own individuality rather than act out stereotyped parts alien to their nature.
Here are a few of the goals of the movement;
  • that all discrimination against gay people, male and female, by the law, by employers, and by society at large, should end.
  • that all people who feel attracted to a member of their own sex be taught that such feeling are perfectly valid.
  • that sex education in schools stop being exclusively heterosexual.
  • that psychiatrists stop treating homosexuality as though it were a sickness, thereby giving gay people senseless guilt complexes.
  • that gay people be as legally free to contact other gay people, though newspaper ads, on the streets and by any other means they may want as are heterosexuals, and that police harassment should cease right now.
  • that employers should no longer be allowed to discriminate against anyone on account of their sexual preferences.
  • that the age of consent for gay males be reduced to the same as for straight.
  • that gay people be free to hold hands and kiss in public, as are heterosexuals.
In short, the goals of the Gay Rights movement include the utter destruction of our entire society. Remaking that society into a system where deference to "sexual preference" overrules every other consideration. Even if I were sympathetic to some of the goals of the Gay Rights movement, which I am not, I would still reject a stated goal that would undermine and destroy my own beliefs and cultural background in the name of someone's claim of a right to have a personal sexual orientation. I will not do that and I will not accept any such attack on my religious, cultural, legal and societal beliefs.

In my next post I will address the issue of the impact of these goals on the American legal system.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Boy Scouts place weight restrictions on some outings

A recent news article noted the the Boy Scouts of America has had to place weight restrictions on leaders' participation in some activities. To quote from the article:

But the expanding waistlines of troop leaders, a widespread phenomenon fondly called the "leader belly" by Scouts, have pressed the nearly 100-year-old organization to place weight restrictions on some outings.

The restrictions, which will take effect in January, ban overweight leaders from venturing more than 30 minutes from ground transportation that can reach a hospital.

"For high-adventure activities for which medical care may be delayed, restrictions based on standardized height/weight ratios are now mandatory," says a statement on the Boy Scouts of America Web site.

From the BSA site:

It is important to note that if the event will take your unit beyond a radius wherein emergency care is more than 30 minutes by ground transportation, the height/weight chart found at the bottom of Part B should be strictly followed. Please note that individual units, districts, or councils may have policies in place to exceed this standard based on their unique risks.
Further explanation was as follows:

Q. Our camp is at least 30 minutes from the local hospital by ambulance or EMS. Does this mean that we automatically have to meet the height/weight requirements for all activities at the camp?

A. While response time for basic or advanced life support should be a consideration for a camp’s emergency action plan, it is not the record’s intent. If your travels by foot, bicycle, horseback, afloat, or whatever the mode of transportation take you more than 30 minutes off of an accessible roadway where in an emergency vehicle can reach you, you will need to meet the height/weight requirements.

Q. When does the height/weight chart apply? We have differing opinions in our unit/district.

A. When the Annual Health and Medical Record goes into effect, the height/weight chart will apply in the following known adventure activities: When your travels take you more than 30 minutes off of an accessible roadway, fire lane, camp road, etc., where you float, walk, hike, bike, or otherwise go into the backcountry. Depending on the terrain and local conditions, this might be a couple hundred yards or a couple of miles into the backcountry. Most BSA high-adventure camps that include a backcountry component (ask them about their requirements before you go). Philmont Scout Ranch has this standard in place as an example. When your lodge, unit, district, or council requires it as part of a program.
More interesting than the announcement were the many comments, including accusations against the BSA for "fat bashing." I guess we now have to worry about the civil rights of fat people. Maybe the BSA has been watching the leaders who can hardly walk from their cars to the camp fire circle. I do like this comment however, made in response to a criticism that the policy "will exclude many good leaders." "Wouldn't they be even better leaders if they led by example? Obesity is rapidly becoming the number one health issue in the United States due to all the risks involved with it. When are we as a people and individuals going to start taking personal responsibility for our actions instead of blaming someone else for our problems?"

I agree. I have personally known a number of otherwise good Scout leaders who couldn't walk a mile without pain and suffering. Is that the example we want to teach to our young men? Not from my perspective it isn't.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Gay Rights movement destroys liberty

We hear a lot about "personal freedom" and the "right to chose" in today's self-centered society, but we hear almost nothing about liberty, as in "liberty and justice for all." We especially do not hear that both liberty and justice are part of one nation under God. Our Constitution speaks of securing the blessings of liberty to succeeding generations. Why then don't liberalism's radicals who support same-sex marriage and a break down of traditional family values speak of liberty? Could it be that in the eyes of a selfish self-centered society there is no longer any room for either liberty or justice?

Liberty and freedom are two completely separate and only partially compatible ideals. On the one hand freedom implies an ability to choose and to act. On the other hand, liberty, in the context of our governmental system, includes the concepts of immunity from the arbitrary exercise of authority and political independence. However, there is no liberty or freedom without law and there is no law without a basis in a consistent morality based on fundamental principles of right and wrong. To quote our second President, John Adams, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

Liberty is a fundamental principle. In a quote attributed to Thomas S. Monson, he said, "A principle in not like a rule. The rule asks nothing more of you than that you obey; a principle requires you to do your own thinking. A rule gives you credit only for being a creature; a principle gives you stature." Implicit in the concept of liberty is that it is inspired and of divine origin and that liberty is entirely dependent on obedience to just laws and upon the virtue of the adherents. To quote the Declaration of Independence, "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..."

In the words of Clinton Rossitor in his compilation of the The Federalist, he states that the message of The Federalist is that there can be "
no happiness without liberty, no liberty without self-government, no self-government without constitutionalism, no constitutionalism without morality — and none of these great goods without stability and order."

In destroying morality the Gay Rights movement is destroying our liberty.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How can you top this?

This post says it all. It is the most concise statement of conservative policy and philosophy I have ever seen at one time. Please take the time to read "It doesn't make a lick of sense."