Beyond the Cusp

December 18, 2016

Imagine the Return to a Revolutionary Ideal

 

Once upon a time there was the Black Robe Regiment which was the name given by the British to the Colonial Preachers who supported American independence. Not only did they preach independence, they very often were officers in the militias against the Red Coats. The British did all they could to murder these preachers and many gave their lives for the Revolution but the danger did not curtail the Black Robe Regiment preachers who refused to be cowed and were one of the main inspirations of the American revolution. Their sermons inspired and often their brash and brave actions kept the Revolution alive and brought a number of victories against the odds with their bravery and words motivating their fellow congregants often at the most crucial of moments. The United States owes much of the founding in the fighting and the religious basis of the Founding Fathers and the state legislators whose input and approvals were required in the formation of both the federation of America and then the Constitution which was the foundation for the United States of America. There is a possibility that the Revolution could have failed without the local inspiration and organization which was often centered around the churches and their Black Robe Regiment preachers.

 

Black Robe Regiment

Black Robe Regiment

 

All that changed in 1954 at the behest of Texas Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson’s proposed legislation to amend the tax codes affecting houses of worship such as churches, synagogues, mosques, or temples and other nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) tax exemptions. The amended tax code limited the freedom of speech by members of organizations and entities who had tax exempt status under 501(c)(3) regulations making any political speech such as supporting a candidate, party or other specified political speech. The amendment to the tax codes was named for its presenter and is called the Johnson Amendment. Particularly prohibited was conducting political campaign activities to intervene in elections to public office or other sermonizing which may be perceived as backing a candidate or party. The language was vague and unspecific enough that many clergy were silenced from mentioning even certain Bible passages near election times as they might be construed as taking sides on a campaign issue and by doing so backing a particular candidate or party. Such brought to an end political preaching from the pulpit, at least in theory as some such still exists but as long as the parishioners are singing the same tune, nobody complains and such activity continues. This was specifically used to target and silence clergy from endorsing candidates. Over time this embargo on political speech became partisan in nature in too many locations as a ban against conservative politicking while backing leftist causes or progressive Democrat candidates. Still, care was taken to never mention any names and instead to often mimic campaign slogans working them into sermons or choosing verses carefully for recitation which would appear to back one candidate’s positions or damn the opposing candidate. Still, clergy still need be far more reserved and careful and a far cry from the history of clergy, especially when one remembers the Black Robe Regiment.

 

Texas Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson

Texas Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson

 

Should Donald Trump as president keep his word and successfully repeal the Johnson Amendment thus freeing certain tax exempt institutions and their personnel from conducting any political activities, especially campaigning or endorsing candidates, imagine the consequences. We would witness the liberation of the clergy and the resultant rebirth potentially of a new Black Robe regiment preaching and supporting political positions more aligned with their religious beliefs. There need be no great fears from secularists as they won’t be in houses of worship forced to hear any sermonizing, especially political sermonizing. Rescinding this regulation, expunging it from the tax code, would be a strike for freedom of speech. Placing a political muzzle on the clergy and threatening their tax exempt status was a bad idea from the start, one might even say criminal. But then Lyndon Baines Johnson was not exactly known for tact or freedom of expression for anybody disagreeing with his views. He was better known for strong-arming political rivals by any and all means at his disposal. This was most evident during his time as President which also served to allow his passing every piece of legislation which became the backbone of his “Great Society” and a remaking of the social safety net and the start of an increased welfare system. Some have blamed this for many societal problems being faced by American society currently. Just maybe a little moralizing before Election Day voting would serve as a positive influence. Just Maybe.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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November 1, 2016

A Plea to Conservative Christians in America, an Election Reminder

 

Normally we would not make such a direct argument on the election, but this is anything but a normative election. First and foremost, please get out and vote for good, solid conservatives for the House of Representatives and the Senate. Start a committee if there is not yet one and take back your schools and local school boards. Install a curriculum which represents traditional Judeo-Christian values even if that requires eschewing Federal Education Aid Dollars as they come with more than strings, they come with ropes, cables and dictates on who you may hire as teachers, what your courses must contain, and even what courses based in liberal and immoral lessons must be taught. Their money leads to free condoms for students in all grades; sexual education which teaches if you desire, act; the school will teach you untruths as truth your parents are too ignorant to know and other means which breaks down the traditional family. Lastly on education, partner with private small and medium local companies and some carefully vetted national or international companies who employ in your area and see if apprenticeships can be arranged and even some classes taught by company personnel whose salary might be subsidized by the company or even some school funding directly from the companies. Choose your teachers carefully and monitor their classes and be wary of teachers’ unions and make your school system free of their poisonous influence. Taking back our schools in the United States is the first, most necessary and vital step to winning back our nation, governments and families.

 

Next is to select judges with care. Vote solely for vetted judges whose rulings and beliefs are known and tested. Newly appointed judges need to be monitored and vetted. Similar systems need be in place for every level of judgeship, police officials, sheriff’s department and any other elected official. Take the required steps to free your local jurisdiction from virtually, if not all, Federal oversight even if it costs reasonable and affordable loss of controlling funds from Washington D.C. If the healthcare system is not returned to a free market system then health maintenance groups may be required setting up with local physicians and hospital privileges with church, synagogue and other houses of worship as the central planners. Take back every single part of your local community. Start with your block, your neighbors; then the local community using churches, synagogues and worship centers; enjoin civic and business groups and clubs including Elks, VFW, Masonic Temples, Lions, shooting clubs and any others who are willing; and eventually with increasing success you will regain control of your community, then the county, and perhaps the state and a nation reborn working as was the original vision, from the bottom up with less power the higher in governance one rises. The community must become the highest nexus of power in the land in affecting individuals’ lives.

 

Finally to voting for either Trump or Clinton which we assume will be difficult no matter whom one has chosen, as this election places two very different choices with each having their own litany of sins against Hashem and against our laws. First thing we must remember as was taught by the sages and ever since and as the title of a short piece about mitzvah (deeds sanctified by Hashem and Torah) by Rabbi Eliyahu Safran titled, “Love the Sinner, Not the Sin.” This does not mean forget the sin but would recommend we investigate the person over the transgressions. The first question is are the allegations true as hearsay, rumor, innuendo, false accusations, lies and motivated accusations serving a desired end have ruined many people even beyond politics, and countless politicians through the ages. Plays and novels are written of such ruinous lies. Too bad many classics such as The Count of Monte Cristo are no longer on required reading lists as they teach valuable lessons in writing, morals and life. Then one need seek to see if the accused has taken ownership and made an honest repentance. Finally, if time has passed, do their current actions depict one who has altered their wrongful ways. Finally, if all else is not favorable, are there indicators the person wishes change. Vote your conscience, your heart, even your gut because there is one last little quibble which is about the uniqueness of the United States in today’s world. The United States is the sole backing of the modern free world by her own design. Here is a lesson for Donald Trump from that day in American History class that he apparently missed. At the end of World War II and as a part of setting up the newly liberated Europe the United States made a little demand largely of London but also Paris and Berlin. No longer was the United States going to come to the rescue Europe from another debacle and to make this a certainty the British were to scuttle much of their naval vessels making them scrap to be smelted and all three powers were to keep military strength below levels acceptable to the United States. In return, the United States would assist greatly in protecting them from outside threats, namely the U.S.S.R. There was no real demand for payment as not returning to end another conflict was payment enough.

 

The Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments

 

This deal passed down an unspoken but sacred in nature promise to the world which stretches back to the receiving of The Law at Mount Sinai. Let us trace from the giving of The Law, the Ten Commandments and Torah. Also reestablished was the basic code for civil society, the Noahic Code which was to be required to be accepted by those residing within Israelite Lands as the minimum of acceptable comportment. The code of Noah was spread along with the Ten Commandments throughout the greater campsite, both the Israelites and the others who sojourned with them from Egypt. These two camps went their separate ways after the initial fighting started claiming not to have any argument with the locals and some claim they fashioned boats and set off into the Great Sea (Mediterranean Sea). There has been some archeological evidence from gold and silver jewelry and many of the basic laws expounded by the early Greek philosophers with references to limited power of a king or ruler, rights of the individual, and even the republic which was reminiscent of the power structure of the tribes under Moses once his father-in-law, Jethro, suggested that he delegate and allow more local authority to tend to the minor and daily demands. From the Greeks, this freedom, liberty and individual rights covenant was passed to the Romans where it was written in the many languages of the empire. The covenant fell all but lost but reemerged in Britain with the Magna Carta. These ideas spread and with the birth of the United States exploded in France and were heard across the political and philosophical world. This covenant of freedom, liberty and individual rights was kept by Britain, France and attempted to spread to Germany by the Weimar Republic and Russia after the Czars with the Временное правительство России (Vremennoye pravitel’stvo Rossii or the government of the Russian Republic) though failing and falling to dictatorships much as France had after her revolution for Revolution de Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité which dissolved, bringing Napoleon while the Germans wrought Hitler and the Russians Lenin and Stalin.

 

Noahic Code the 7 laws

 

Please let us never know what monster the dissolution of the United States governance based on freedom, liberty, individual rights and societal respect might produce. Just a little reminder of what values the United States fought for in the American Revolution and a hope that these elegant and humanely noble thoughts never be allowed removed from the human conscience. Next to the Bible they are probably the most noble of declarations of the holy spirit which resides in every person.

 

The Declaration of Independence

    July 4 1776

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.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

 

Declaration of Independence of the United States of America

Declaration of Independence
of the United States of America

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

September 8, 2016

Why I Accept Most Inequality

 

Inequality is part of existence and no matter how hard those who believe all inequality must be eradicated, inequality is a part of the human existence. Accepting inequality does not mean that you accept all inequality as there are certain areas where inequality must not be tolerated. The foremost of these is justice and treatment under the law and in access to services and other areas where inequality is an anathema. We must have equal application of the law, equal access to legal defense when charged with a crime and equality in all applications of the powers of government. But even in this there are limits which we must address and decide whether these areas of unequal treatment are acceptable. We can easily give an example where even the most adamant proselyte of equality likely will confess to their acceptance of an inequality. The tax code and such support programs such as food stamps, unemployment insurance payments and welfare payments are all areas where society has agreed to not only allow inequality but to strictly enforce and apply these inequalities in perpetuity. There will be candidates running for office in the United States this fall who will base much of their campaign on the application of inequalities in how the government treats members of the American public. They will favor supportive programs which apply largely to their electorate and against any supportive programs which are not applicable to their electorate. An obvious example would be any candidate running for office in the areas around Washington D.C. will support increased wages for Federal Government employees while somebody running for office in central Nebraska or central Montana would call for limiting or even freezing government workers’ salaries. Somebody running in an area where there are a majority of union employees would favor pro-union legislation and programs and probably also the raising of the minimum wage to $15.00/hr. as many union salary scales are figured using the minimum wage as a scaling point.

 

Inequality is a fact of life and the sooner people understand that, equality in all things can never be accomplished. What one should not accept is inequality which is unnatural or selective in manners other than those inequalities which are a result of natural abilities or differing efforts or difficulties of task. Obviously the greeters at the neighborhood box store and a brain surgeon will not receive equal income. Though the greeter interacts with and potentially can make a positive influence on more people; if you or a friend or relative needed brain surgery, the greeter would not likely have the necessary expertise. The brain surgeon invested a large part of their life and developed a specific and vital skill which may only have an effect on a smaller number of lives. The inequality of skill levels and number of people mastering the skills of the brain surgeon is a much smaller and more elite group of people. Of course there will always be the equality in all things who will make the claim that had the greeter had similar opportunities and training they too could have become the brain surgeon. Where that could be accurate, there would be no means of discerning the reality because, believe it or not, life itself is not equal; but if we are lucky, it is fair.

 

Scales of Life in the Balance

Scales of Life in the Balance

 

Equality is one of the important qualities we should use as the basis in how we treat one another. We should not accept biased treatment in our societies, from our judicial system, by law enforcement, in service in public areas such as restaurants, in residential opportunities and numerous places all of which have some relation to interpersonal interactions or opportunities. Even when a society achieves equality in all of these areas, there will still be inequalities for which any solution would require the force of government and would in and of themselves be a form of unequal treatment. Where equal pay for equal work can be a sticky area, equal pay for all people is not actually equality, it’s communism. The problem with full equality for all incomes is that many people will choose the easiest work rather than work harder at a more difficult profession and not receive greater remuneration. What would be the reason to work at some taxing job requiring great exertion of physical energy or years of training and constant continuing education to learn the most recent developments or techniques rather than seek easier employment such as the greeter’s job we spoke of earlier? Granted there are those driven few who seek the challenge but there would be far too many capable people who would not work to their fullest if there were to be no opportunity for additional remuneration. Enforcing universal equal pay would result in losing one of the main incentives which drives many to achieve greater achievement. Without inequality in pay scales there would be little incentive to attempt to advance or perform at a higher level than your fellow employees. Across the board equal pay no matter the level, difficulty or dedication of an employee in their choice and enthusiasm and commitment is the quickest path to across the board disinterested and lazy employees who have little drive or will to exceed or even succeed.

 

Most of the inequality we find in our day to day world has a direct relation to effort, level of education, difficulty of vocation or physical requirements. The one inequality we most often hear people complain over are the huge salaries paid to professional athletes. Every time the same point needs to be driven home. The discussion usually starts off asking if the top salespeople working on commission making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year selling top products such as real estate, high end jewelry or other high end items deserve what they earn. The answer is always a definitive affirmative. Then we ask about the top medical physicians who perform the most difficult procedures such as heart surgery deserve their high paychecks? Again we hear the answer stating of course. We then mention CEOs and the other heads of industry. Then we point out that all these people have one thing in common, they are in the top five to ten percent in what they do and so are professional athletes. People at the top of their professions, and especially in the top of high money making professions such as sports, make the large salaries in proportion to the money flowing in their line of work. Are ticket prices ridiculous, yes but on the other side the average person can have a better than front row seat with slow motion replay and professional commentary watching the same game or event on television. Pay for view being one of the most expensive television viewing protocols still is often no greater than one hundred dollars and if you have a party with nine friends then it costs only ten dollars each and you get a front seat and reasonably priced refreshments with a wider range of foods from which to choose, and you’re watching it with your closest friends, what could be better.

 

Equality is something which is a target which we aim to satisfy as best as we are able. Will we ever attain complete equality in those areas where it serves society? Very likely not but that allows for improvement which gives us a reason to try that much harder. We need to fall short from time to time such that we have reason to improve and find new and better means to achieve equality. The one caution we need to remember is that equality in all things should never be the goal. Equality in measure to difficulty, level of performance, importance to society and other considerations will always provide inequality in payments to individuals who satisfy the most demanding needs of the society. Sometimes the inequalities may not be apparent to all people but as long as there is a segment of society willing to put out the money, there will be those who will find the means to satisfy those demands. The good side is that as long as there are these opportunities which offer unequal pay scales, there are opportunities for anybody to find such a niche and make some of those higher paychecks for yourself. Most of us will not take the high risk route and settle for a more equal salary which is guaranteed steady and less risky, which is our choice to make. Sometimes we can make inequality work for us but the one thing we need watch is that we deal with greater equality with the people whose paths we cross. As long as we deal with care and equality we can expect similar treatment ourselves and if we have quality friends and business associates, then we can consider ourselves fortunate and thank Hashem for such goodness in our lives. As a last note, we are all equal before Hashem and Hashem alone judges our goodness.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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