Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Serious Problem

I realize this topic is politically controversial, but it shouldn't be political.  This is a moral issue and a spiritual issue.  The topic today is, capital punishment.  Sadly, I don't have a solution for this problem.  Complaining without offering a solution or at least an alternative is not usually my style, but we have a very strange view of our use of capital punishment compared to other countries who use it.  It may simply be our method seems less barbaric to us.  China, I believe uses a firing squad, and Saudi, decapitates or stones.  I believe several countries flog, but that's a topic for another day.  Back to America's use of the death penalty.

Torah does address capital punishment, and instructs it to be done for a number of crimes.  Torah actually refers to several sins as punishable by death, usually stoning, but there were other methods specified as well.  To get to the actual point here, America has carried out the death penalty, mistakenly.  American courts have  pronounced the death sentence based upon circumstantial evidence.  The system of justice does not always carry out justice and the fact of the matter is, capital punishment carried out by a non-Torah observant people is murder, whether we admit it or not.  America is simply an extension of the Roman Empire, while we claim spiritual superiority over other countries.  We are looking at serious blood on our hands, if we claim Biblical approval.

I followed a case in Texas, some time back.  The father of three little girls was on trial for their death by arson.  That was back in my Funeral Director days, so I was no stranger to investigating death.  There was just something that seemed to be missing in this case.  In a murder case, three aspects are supposed to be established to obtain a guilty conviction.  Those are means,  motive, and opportunity.  I don't remember all the details, now, but I was just sick when he was found guilty and sentenced to death.  Something was simply missing in this case.  I then remember when he was executed.  Our country doesn't seem to have a consistent time table for capital punishment, either.  He was on death row for 12 years before his execution.  Now, all these years later, it's been proven that the prosecutor withheld crucial evidence that would have cleared him, and the key witness confessed to lying.

In the article, Governor Perry, is mentioned as having no regrets that he didn't grant a stay in the execution.  When the Forensic Science Commissioner determined the investigation was faulty, he was replaced.  The prosecutor went on to become judge, and retired three years ago.  He is now possibly facing disbarment for what he did in the case, but a retired judge has no need of a law license, Governor Perry has no struggle with this injustice, yet an innocent man is still dead.

Although the man mentioned in the link below was not executed, 30 years of his life was literally taken from him.

Since we are not a Torah observant nation, even Israel is not, it seems we'd be better off to simply have life sentences imposed.  I've even given some thought to perhaps an island, where those convicted for life would live out their days, working to survive in their own societal standard.  A life sentence, not only leaves room to be overturned in the case of error, but also saves the exorbitant cost of appeals in the process of capital punishment.  We cannot claim Torah authority to judge, if we are not living by Torah.
Thou shalt not kill.  Torah of Holy Scripture

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Societal Rules in the News

As Americans worry and fear Sharia law, a few things come to mind.  I'm certainly not for the implementation of Sharia law, but I think we may have a slightly skewed perspective on what we call American freedom and democracy.  While we fear and dread the possibility of Sharia law coming to this country, how much invasive control is already here?

Wearing a big cloth sack over my head, that hangs to my toes with eye holes to go in public is not my preference, but having my private property destroyed because the spy in the sky can't tell okra from pot is not my preference either.  The first, they call Sharia law, while the second is still called American freedom and democracy (with the war on drugs.)

Reading about a young woman who dies at the hands of her father or brothers sickens me.  The entire idea of honor killings is beyond what I can understand, but the concept of women being stoned for impurity dates back to Scripture.  Since there are no Torah based governments, there really should be no capital punishment, but that's a topic for another day.  The fact that family members can kill a family member for the sake of "honor" sickens me, but reading about moms killing their young children is becoming much more common here in the states.  Sharia law calls it honor killing, American law calls it mentally deranged, and yet many times, there are religious overtones to the American circumstances, as well.  While we are all shocked and abhorred that any parent would kill their child, I have to wonder if the honor killings are as rare in another culture as these bizarre cases in America are.  What if the honor killings in Islamic countries are as bizarre to them as American mothers killing their children are to us?

If Sharia law comes to the US, I won't be thrilled with the new regulation that I will be required to be accompanied by a male relative or husband when I leave the house.  On the other hand, strip searched on the road or taken to a health care facility for invasive procedures looking for what is not there . . . is not my preference either.  From what I've seen and read, some traffic stop procedures would not be allowed under Sharia Law.

Domestic abuse and wives as property is reported to be acceptable within the societal limits of Sharia Law.  As western culture is abhorred by the lack of rights for women in Islamic culture, we tend to overlook the fact that men and women have equally lost rights to government officials in their own homes, here in the US of A.
Home schooling parents pepper sprayed and tazed while children watch in horror, then were removed from the home.  A family in Arkansas was torn apart over a legal mineral supplement.  I'm not sure Sharia Law is as invasive in the home as Child Protective Services in American freedom and democracy.

While we westerners gasp in horror that news is filtered and internet service controlled in Muslim countries, we should keep in mind, we may have access to information overload, but our internet use is being monitored and tracked for the "safety of democracy."

. . . when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.  a Proverb of Holy Scripture

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The New Progressive Tolerance

Is it just me, or does it seem tolerance has been redefined to be very judgmental of those who are not considered "progressive?"  I've known many church ladies that cannot hold a candle to the judgmental comments coming forth from those who claim to be "tolerant."  "Open-mindedness" seems to be very selective in what is considered open minded, and any disagreement with said "open-mindedness" is labeled some sort of phobia or hate speech.  I saw some meme this week in social media addressing the old adage "you can't judge a book by it's cover" in new terms slamming the religious while applauding the tattooed.  Suffice it to say, we all make decisions that do not always meet with approval, and often many of us actually have regrets about our own decisions, therefore; try to warn others . . .

I can honestly say, the most judgmental person I have ever met has tattoos, smokes, drinks, and even touts a career in the adult entertainment industry.  There's just something mind boggling about listening to a woman with a raspy smoker's voice, beer in one hand and cigarette in the other, sporting visible tattoos; while she analyzes and labels everyone who isn't aligned with her own self-assured standard.  Once, as I listened to her drone on, I formed the mental image of Dana Carvey's "church lady" and this woman discussing world events, sexuality, and religion, head to head or toe to toe, as the case may be.  It's as if she is the antithesis of the church lady, just as devout in her own perspective.  This individual is also filter-free with an abundant vocabulary, so she truly inspired my mental image of a parody.  Although I give this example, there are several individuals who judge by a standard other than Scripture or religious, but the religious seem to frequently be the target of their judgment.

There are of course, others in society who receive judgment, as well.  We've all heard someone who judges a single welfare mom while taking advantage of their employer, or scamming disability . . .  I'm not applauding welfare, since it has become an albatross on this society, as there is now no shame in collecting the benefits for which others have worked.  There used to be a term called situational ethics, that was not perceived to be a good thing.  It's been years since I've heard that term, but it seems to now be the status quo in our society.

When right and wrong is determined simply by which end of the stick one seems to be holding, social mores have already slipped away.   When those who hold themselves up to no accountability, stand in judgment of others, society has given way to what is Scripturally referred to as a seared conscience.  In a world of digital definitions, and Googling experts, the times they are truly changing and there will be no real record of the change . . . as the standard continues to decline in the name of progressive tolerance.  Interestingly it is in the book of Judges we can find the precise definition of what our society calls "progressive."

. . . every man did that which was right in his own eyes.  History of Holy Scripture

Sunday, March 08, 2015

The Hype of Economic Recovery

As we're told the stats of unemployment and we've watched the gasoline prices plummet are we in a genuine economic recovery or have we simply accepted what we're told and learned to live with the new standard of life?  In reading headlines and comments across social media, the opinions vary widely.  Professional reporters and journalists, for the most part seem to write that which promotes the political leaning of their particular publication.  It appears to this writer, the political leanings of the various publications continue to further divide the country not only on solutions, but now, as to even question the reality of the issues.  As to those who comment, there of course, is always the perspective based upon politics, but also the social status of the one making the comment.  We seem to have divided the political parties with a sort of social caste system.  There are poor republicans and some democrats who are quite wealthy.

The people have become so divided by political propaganda, the truth has been rendered nearly irrelevant.  There are a number of impoverished republicans who truly believe the impoverished democrats are the reason they are poor.  There are a great many impoverished democrats who are blind to the fact their elected representatives live just like the rich republicans they hate.  I read and listened to the predictions that food prices would drop when gasoline prices did.  That simply is not the case.  Food prices are based upon so much more than transportation costs and the expense of producing the food was factored in long before gasoline prices fluctuated.  The cost of feed for meat and the cost of herbicides and harvest for grain and produce is what affects the price of food.  Gasoline is just what is obvious to all, on the signs!  Gasoline prices keep the keystone pipeline and fracking debates fueled . . .

I also read that cash saved at the pumps would flow back into the economy.  When people are already over extended living paycheck to paycheck, the extra cash from the pumps may curb business at the Cash Advance places, but that's about it.  When a society lives on debt and borrowed income, reduced costs don't change the perpetual motion or increase the buying power.  We've gone too far beyond that.  Doing more of what caused the problem is not a solution.  Cash Advance places and Appliance Rental businesses are a large part of our economy now.  More expendable cash is only a product of excess printing by the Federal Reserve.

The number of shuttered businesses is increasing.  Unemployment statists are changing, not based upon full time employment, but rather on the fact that unemployment benefits are no longer being collected by a given percentage.  The reasons for that are primarily NOT due to gainful employment, but the time of collecting benefits has run it's course, or the individual has settled for less pay and fewer hours.  The stats are even manipulated by the fact many underemployed individuals actually make up two figures in the employment statistics with two part time jobs.  Then, there is also the fact, many formerly unemployed have now become recipients of early social security benefits or now collect disability.

The number of empty storefronts is expanding.  Recently I've seen something that bears reporting.  Pawn Shops are now closing.  Thrift Stores are going out of business.  New businesses are not replacing these.  The buildings simply stand with a for rent or for sale sign in the window.  Economic recovery?  When independent businesses continue to shutter, and the workforce continues to decline, that's not recovery.  Buying more junk with cash saved at the gas pumps will not bring economic recovery or stability.

. . . that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living G-d . . . Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come . . . Paul's advice to Timothy

Monday, March 02, 2015

Where Do Our Constitutional Rights End?

As the conversation continues that the current administration is anti-Constitutional, we should take a look at a number of "items" that have been in place long before anyone outside of Chicago heard of Barack Obama.  I do not agree with his politics and I do find him to be very arrogantly disrespectful of our American freedoms, but there are so many other "Bills of Rights" that we have "gone along with" already in place.  Wikipedia, in my opinion, is not the final authority on these topics, I simply used the site as a common source to verify the existence of a number of declarations.  Technically, the Constitution doesn't protect the rights of citizens.  The Constitution protects the sovereignty of the United States of America.  The Bill of Rights protects the citizens, and we've allowed many other bills of rights to potentially usurp the authority of the Official Bill of Rights.

Thankfully, most of these declarations are not federal law and are presented to benefit those mentioned in the title, but there is a back door of control in some of these that actually rob an individual of their Constitutional Bill of Rights in lieu of these institutional documents.  For example, the "Patients Bill of Rights" has in reality overridden a patient's own decision regarding their health care and more than once has actually taken the rights of a patient "for their own good," or that of a child's regarding their parents rights.  Many facilities present their incoming patients with a "Bill of Rights" only to later usurp that individual's Constitutional Bill of Rights.  One of the best examples I can offer are the recent headlines involving parents of newborns who do not wish to vaccinate or at least not immediately.  More than one young mother has been sent off of a health care campus without her new baby, after child protection services have received reports from various health professionals.  I have for years, unashamedly referred to hospitals and healthcare facilities as "Sanctuaries of Sorcery."

As I read about the "Student Bill of Rights," it becomes painfully obvious that the decision to make this document powerful lies in the hands of those who draft it, but ultimately, government can enforce the document as the "will of the people" involved.  The legal enforceability of the Student Bill of Rights is quite murky, but in statements regarding parental questions and rights, institutions of education have more than once declared that a child does not have Constitutional rights in that facility.

I stumbled across the "Homeless Bill of Rights" which is genuine legislation in some states, with several more giving it consideration.  It seems in many of these cases, if our own government had not passed legislation to deregulate banking, many American citizens would not be homeless.  Being homeless should not require special regulation in America.  Being homeless should not be a reason to be abused by local authority.  There is no reason losing one's home should cause that same individual to lose the right to be treated as an American citizen with the Bill of Rights intact.

The "Consumer Bill of Rights" is law and has been for over 50 years.  The article in Wikipedia states the Consumer Bill of Rights has since been adopted by the UN in 1985 and expanded, with some rather ominous overtones of a controlling takeover of rights.  I included the following from the article.
In 1985, the concept of consumer rights was endorsed by the United Nations through the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection, which expands them to include eight basic rights.

The right to satisfaction of basic needs[edit]
The right to redress[edit]
The right to consumer education[edit]
The right to a healthy environment[edit]

This right demands that people have access to basic, essential goods and services: adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, public utilities, water, and sanitation
The right to redress provides for consumers to receive a fair settlement of just claims, including compensation for misrepresentation, shoddy goods, or unsatisfactory services. For example, a consumer should be able to go to consumer court against mobile phone companies that put hidden charges on the bill that were not previously explained, or activate ringtones without the consumer's permission.
The right to consumer education states that consumers should be able to acquire knowledge and skills needed to make informed, confident choices about goods and services, while being aware of basic consumer rights and responsibilities and how to act on them.
This is the right to live and work in an environment that is non-threatening to the well-being of present and future generations.
We know that members of the military, while serving, do not have the same rights they are protecting.  Since there is presently no draft, a person has a choice as to whether or not they participate, and since I haven't, I can't really offer a perspective.   
We know when law enforcement reads the Miranda Warning, one's "rights" have become absolutely minimal, as to remaining silent and calling an attorney.   This brings to mind the rights of travelers now with the TSA.  We all have the right to be offended at "virtual strip searches," groping, and the assumption that we guilty until proven innocent.
Prisoners, of course, lose rights when found guilty of a crime, but the fact that America has the largest prison population in the world does have the attention of the UN, which has it's own "Prisoner Bill of Rights."  There is a degree of overlap between the prison system and the mental health system, in that often the prisoner/patient does have issues that must be addressed by both systems.  Those forced into mental health care, frequently have fewer rights than those in the prison system and forced mental health care does not have a date of completion as does the legal sentencing structure of the prison system. 
Throughout this millennium, we have observed a number of ways both administrations of the 21st Century have found around the 2nd Amendment.  There is no need to confiscate guns, when bullets and ammo can simply be made unavailable.  I remember back in 2005, looking at a gun for home meat processing.  The inventory of guns was vast, the availability of bullets was interestingly in short supply for the more popular models of guns . . . Now, the current administration simply chooses to enforce limits on certain ammunition and some ammunition may just become unavailable for purchase.   

Net Neutrality, the latest form of faux protection we've been handed will certainly not ensure this internet journalist to have the same opportunities as Rupert Murdoch.  Historically speaking, there is little evidence that government legislation levels the playing field, except to lower the level of the "playing field" for the majority.  I'm already discerning the loss of free speech over net neutrality, and probably much more than that before it's all said and done.

I'm seeing a distinct correlation to what is happening with all these so called "Bills of Rights" and the following Torah passage.

But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of YHWH thy G-d, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:  Torah of Holy Scripture

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