Philanthropy Is An American Tradition

Benjamin Franklin | A Founding Philanthropist

Benjamin Franklin | A Founding Philanthropist

Philanthropy in the United States is as American as apple pie. As a people, we give more of our money to charitable causes than any other citizens in the world.

I was prompted to write about this topic by a note I saw on Facebook. I am Chairman of I Am Waters, a wholly non-political 501© 3 Foundation committed to providing physical and spiritual hydration to America’s homeless population. We recently held a successful fundraiser in Houston, Texas. In discussing the success of the event, I made the comment that we have a growing homeless population in the United States, and I Am Waters is committed to working with and helping this “underclass” of our society. One comment (in reference to our growing homeless population) posted after my observations was “Thanks to the Republicans”.

After shaking my head, and deciding to ignore the comment, I started thinking, “how can people be so misinformed?” This comment was offensive on at least two levels. It:

  • politicized a wholly non-political charitable foundation, and
  • explicitly (and groundlessly) blamed Republicans for our homeless population.

Do these people ever stop and wonder why the 10 cities in the United States with the highest level of poverty and unemployment are cities with a legacy of democrat mayors and entitlement spending that have done nothing but encourage indigence and cultures of unfulfilled expectations? George W. Bush called it the “soft bigotry of low expectations”, and he was spot on.

I write about the historical connectivity between private sector success and philanthropy because it is clear many people today have not the slightest inkling of how the United States of America became such an incredibly exceptional nation. The lack of understanding and appreciation for the work ethic and philanthropic mentality that helped us grow yesterday is part of the reason we are so challenged by such destructive social and economic redistributionist policies today.

The art of giving is not a new phenomenon. Benjamin Franklin epitomized the charitable nature of our founding fathers. Alexis de Tocqueville, when writing his book on the uniqueness of the American experiment, noted that ours was a nation that believed in creating opportunity for the private citizen to succeed; partially so that citizen (not the government) could initiate “private initiatives for public good, focusing on quality of life”.

Indeed, until the last few decades, it was implicitly understood that if one were to achieve success in life, it was incumbent upon that person to find a way to give some of that success back to the greater good. This was an intrinsic American way of life, born of our pioneering colonial “can-do” attitude, and infused with and by a strong Judeo-Christian ethic. While many choose to remember George H.W. Bush’s “no new taxes” pledge in the 1988 Republican Convention in New Orleans, many also remember his call to all Americans to give of themselves to others, and for each to become one of a “1000 points of light”.

Somewhere along the way in the madness of our inexorable post WWII rush to political correctness, we lost the thread of connectivity between success and philanthropy. The progressive left began to disconnect the historical association between living the American dream and voluntarily giving back. Worse, these liberals (those who denounce our history [the way we grew into ourselves] in the 17th-19th centuries, and view virtually all past events in apologetic terms) began to build and perpetuate a new reality; namely, that success is evil, and private sector philanthropy should be largely replaced by something mandated by the federal government.

In essence, while the democrats still talk about philanthropy, (and many democrat citizens still give large amounts of money to worthy causes) the reality is that the democrat party believes in forced philanthropy though taxation, with the end game being one in which our successful producers are diminished by way of their accumulated capital being involuntarily redistributed to those less successful.

History matters! And to that person who thought to politicize the good work of I Am Waters, I implore you to look at the homeless populations and poverty levels of every government in the recorded annals of man that tried to socialize its industry, commerce, and engines of societal production.

Whenever it has been the goal of government to create equality of outcome for its people, there has been failure. Our unprecedented success and growth as a fledgling nation was, in large part, due to:

  • access to property, and
  • a governing philosophy that was driven by a desire to create equality of opportunity. By so doing, our founding fathers and those who followed in their footsteps ensured that a man’s work ethic and a burgeoning private sector economy lifted the spirits and livelihoods of far more people than ever possible in a redistributionist state.

The left refuses to acknowledge that employment and hope cannot be created by the whims of social progressive politicians. Long-term jobs are only sustained by the private sector. And only with jobs and a viable economic outlook will philanthropy thrive.

Ronald Reagan understood the importance of our history. You may see him say it for himself here:

The Alamo, John Wayne, and Texas

John WayneThe Alamo is that which is quintessentially Texan. As we ponder our fate in these incredibly confusing states of political upheaval and directional impasse, it behooves us to think back to 1836, when fewer than 200 brave souls stood up to thousands of Mexican army soldiers. This was a rag-tag group of citizen soldiers, led by Colonel William Travis, and supported by household names such as Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett.

There wasn’t a man among them who thought he would live. And no doubt many wished they could have left. But this was a time when honor, integrity and doing the right thing meant something.

John Wayne directed the 1960 movie, The Alamo, and he played the role of Davy Crockett. There are Texans among us today who remember when the cast descended on San Antonio, and stayed for several months. The stories are legend and for good reason; that generation did not eat tofu and drink smoothies!

By most accounts, Wayne insisted on telling the story as it was, and the script stayed as close to the truth as possible. The fact is that there were no survivors from the Alamo, so the actual day the old mission was overrun is left to conjecture.

There are two great John Wayne monologues in the Alamo, and we are pleased to not only provide the texts for your reading pleasure, but also the links, in case you wish to take a trip down memory lane.

First, Davy Crockett tries to explain to a beautiful young lady why he came to Texas, and what his coming had done to his outlook on life. He said:

I’m gonna tell ya something Flaca, and I want you to listen tight. It may sound like I’m talkin about me, but I’m not, I’m talkin about you. As a matter of fact, I’m talkin about all people everywhere. When I come down here to Texas I was lookin for somethin. I didn’t know what. It seems like ya added up my life, I spent it all either stomping on other men, or in some cases, getting stomped.

I had me some money, and I’ve had me some medals. But none of it seemed a lifetime worth of pain of the mother that bore me. It’s like I was empty. Well I’m not empty anymore. That’s what’s important. Ta feel useful in this ole world. Ta hit a lick against what’s wrong, or ta say a word for what’s right, even though ya get walloped for sayin that word.

Now I may sound like a bible beater yellin up a revival at a river crossing camp meeting. But that don’t change the truth none. There’s right and there’s wrong. Ya gotta do one or the other. Ya do the one and yer living. Ya do the other and ya may be walkin around, but yer dead as a beaver hat!

I don’t know about you, but that’s just about as good as it gets. And as a yank who wasn’t born in Texas but got here as fast as I could, those words resonate with this author! To listen to John Wayne say it as only he could, click on this link.

Then there was the great scene between a slightly pretentious Colonel Travis and Davy Crockett, who, along with his men, had just pulled in from Tennessee. Colonel Travis was having none of their evening tomfoolery, and sought to delay a serious conversation with Crockett until the following day. Crockett gave Travis something to think about. He said,

Republic; I like the sound of the word. Means people can live free, talk free. Go or come, buy or sell, be drunk or sober, however they choose. Some words give you a feeling. Republic is one of those words that makes me tight in the throat. Same tightness a man gets when his baby takes his first step, or his first baby shaves, or makes his first sound like a man. Some words can give you a feeling that make your heart warm. Republic is one of those words.

Again, nobody spoke like John Wayne, so if you would like to here him talk about the meaning of the word Republic, click here:

Travis’s character develops from an erudite senior officer into a brave patriot commanding officer. Who can forget the words he wrote days before he and all his fellow soldiers fell to the swords and bullets of the attacking Mexican army?

Fellow citizens and compatriots;

I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna. I have sustained a continual Bombardment and cannonade for 24 hours and have not lost a man. The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken. I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, and our flag still waves proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch. The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily and will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country. Victory or Death.

 

Texas is a state that stands tall. It is a beacon; a ray of hope in an otherwise dark alley of progressive, leftist thoughts radiating from the east to west coasts. We didn’t come by our way of life accidentally. Texans are proud of their heritage and rightly so. “So listen up (America), and listen tight. When I come down here to Texas I was lookin for somethin. I didn’t know what….it’s like I was empty. Well I’m not empty anymore. That’s what’s important. Ta feel useful in this ole world. Ta hit a lick against what’s wrong, or ta say a word for what’s right, even though ya get walloped for sayin that word.”

We Don’t Know Why We Lost Because We Don’t Know Who We Are

We Don't Know Why We Lost Because We Don't Know Who We Are by Jim Pierce| American Thinker by Featured AuthorTheories abound regarding the Republican implosion on November 6th. If you are an avid reader, you no doubt have read the gamut of postulation. We’ve seen the far right conclude we need to move further right. The Rockefeller wing (yes, it is much smaller, but it’s still there) says we need to slide to the left! The mainstream media and the left (if you can separate the two) have pretty much just written us off as irrelevant. To date, I don’t think anyone has it quite right, so I now attempt to crack the code. Some of you may not like it.

We must send loud, clear, and relevant messages to all Americans (and I mean everyone — when we say “big tent”, we need to mean it) that ours is the logical party for them to support. In particular, we need to proactively reach out to young voters, Jewish-Americans, Americans of Hispanic heritage, women, and our gay and lesbian communities. The message is very simple; our policies will help you prosper, and our politics are the best way to give you the foundation you need to succeed.

We also need to completely rebuild our ground-game. Over 1,000,000 people who voted for McCain didn’t even bother to show up for Governor Romney in what was arguably the most important election in a lifetime. The grassroots are dormant. They need to be awakened and the message revamped. This means we must embrace technology as never before.

So let’s look at these aforementioned topics…

Read More At The American Thinker

Women in America – The Third Rail in the 2012 Election

Women’s issues have been in the news a lot recently. Pierce Wire has reached out to some female friends and written this blog based on their input. The gist of it is that women’s issues are our issues. The divide between women and men is contrived and irksome. What women think about their choices in November, 2012 will be a major factor in the outcome of the Presidential election. This blog will elicit emotive responses. It has been written from the heart. Frank Luntz, the political pollster, once said, “It’s not what you say. It’s what people hear.” In this message, we ask you to hear what we are saying.


Women have been politicized for decades. It is very distressing to see how many smart, caring, emotional women have been lured into one political trap after another. How does one even write that without sounding like a jerk!? Please read on. This blog is about ongoing double standards that hurt this country. It’s time to put them to a stop. Over the years, politicians have run away from certain “untouchable” topics. These became known as third rails. Everyone knows if you touch a third rail, you get torched. For years social security was a third rail. George W. Bush tried to knock some sense into our Social Security system; all he got for his efforts was grief and frustration. Medicaid and Medicare have been third rails for decades. Usually Republicans have tried to reform elements of the plans, and democrats have told Americans over 65 years of age that the Republicans are trying to kill them. By and large, the Republicans have retreated. The irony in this is that we now find ourselves saddled with a socialist health care plan that will most likely end up killing plenty of us before our time! But we digress. Race has become a third rail. We live in a country of double standards. If a white guy uses the N word, he is a racist; full stop. (A black man may use that word, but a white man may not.) And if a black man calls that white guy every ugly word ever invented, it is perfectly OK. How is that right? (Incidentally, when Rush Limbaugh called a young lady a “slut”, he was immediately condemned, but when uber-liberal comedian Bill Maher said something similar (actually much more vulgar) about Sarah Palin and her children, it was just good ole humor.) Well, it’s not right. Full stop. But no one in the public eye will touch the subject with a barge pole. The democrats have politicized the inconsistency to their distinct voting advantage. They smile cynically as mouthpieces like Al Sharpton (he who rose to fame from the flames of deceit he lit under Tawana Brawley’s bogus charges) run from coast to coast castigating the Tea Party and other conservative and/or libertarian causes as racist. What a sham. But in politics, voting numbers speak the loudest, and it is entirely clear that democrat pandering with the minority community has been very successful. (Does anyone really think the democrats believe that requiring a valid ID before being able to vote is actually racist?) But we digress again. Today’s tome is an ode to the female. Pierce Wire believes the 2012 election will be decided (to a very large degree) by women. Women are the lightning rods. Women are the deciders. Women, folks, are the 2012 third rail. So let’s break with tradition, and let’s talk about it!

Pierce Wire believes the 2012 election will be decided (to a very large degree) by women.

There is a story in Washington about a Republican insider who often tells candidates, “Listen to your wife”. We agree. That is very sound advice. The male politician who prances and preaches his way to the ballot box without listening very closely to the female(s) in his life does so at his own peril. Women don’t like popinjays. Women don’t like bloviators. Women just don’t like men who talk about women’s issues as though they know what to do better than women. However, women’s issues are men’s issues. Men and women form families and communities together. This is something progressive liberals don’t like. They seem to like separating women from men, and love from sex. Women’s issues are men’s issues — contraception, abortion and caring for children, to name a few. And on topics such as these, the democrats have successfully managed to separate love from sex and men from women. That just isn’t right! Alas, here is where it all gets tricky. The democrats have been much smarter (manipulative) about playing the female card. They have worked for decades to convince American women that they understand them. The most recent contraceptive debate is a perfect example of how democrat leadership can take a strictly Constitutional issue and turn it into an emotional wildcard. The entire discussion should be about whether the federal government can force religious organizations to offer contraception costs as part of their employee health care plans. Those who believe in the sanctity of the First Amendment (and the fact that our Founding Fathers absolutely envisaged a role for religion in this country unimpeded by the hand of government) now truly believe the government has crossed the line. Over the past three years,Pierce Wire has cited countless examples of the Obama administration having run roughshod over the Constitution (and Founding Father visions) in order to pursue its leftist social agenda. This issue is just the latest example. But the real problem here is the effectiveness with which the democrats play upon the emotions of women in America. Time and again they turn serious discussions into “us and them” moments. In every case, “us” are the compassionate democrats who seek to ensure that women’s’ rights and emotions are protected, and “them” are the heartless, arrogant, insensitive, vulgar, plodding, middle-aged white guy Republicans who wouldn’t understand a woman’s feelings if they jumped out of her brain (and heart!) and knocked him upside the head! Upon occasion, we revert to the first person. This is such an occasion. I have been married for twenty years, and have three daughters and a son. I write today’s blog as a husband and a father. You see, I want my daughters to be free to THINK! I do not want them to be considered as part of a constituency taken wholly for granted by a political party. I want them to be free to REASON. I do not want them to get sucked into one emotional vortex after another by calculating politicians who think they are smarter. You see, my daughters–women–UNDERSTAND the issues, and they know that NOTHING of consequence can be determined by raw emotion. Social expediency and harnessing the popular vote are not legitimate excuses for the cynical politics and manipulations of minority groups and women that are routinely employed by the left. I hate to mention him again, but to not inject Rush Limbaugh into the conversation is to avoid the elephant (so to speak) in the room. So let’s just put the cards on the table. Once in a while I listen to Rush. He has his good days and his bad days. I agree and I disagree. On the issues regarding the testimony of the young (ish) law student Georgetown who claimed she could not afford her contraceptives without a bona fide healthcare plan, Rush was RIGHT. On how Rush chose to mock the woman, he was WRONG; no more wrong than Bill Maher using the C word in reference to Sarah Palin, but wrong none the less,) But it’s the aftershock that we need to examine, as it was classic example of democrat manipulation. For the President to have called this lady to express his support is nothing short of a joke, and a bad one at that. Her testimony was factually and legally flawed. Georgetown has every right in the world to decide what it offers its students in the way of health care. The idea that society is responsible for providing her with a pregnancy-free sex life should be an affront to every American. The White House’s arrogance in tryIng to push such an idea on a religious group is even more of an affront because it is so clearly prohibited by the First Amendment. The democrats took a Constitutional debate and turned the spotlight on Rush. Abracadabra, all of sudden Rush is “them” and that means all Republicans hate young female graduate students who like sex. WHAT?! The implicit point here is that the truly liberated woman views men and women as equals, each with their different strengths. The democrats have positioned women as separate but equal. In effect, the democrats have introduced and institutionalized a gender-specific Jim Crow era, and millions of well-educated women have fallen into the trap. So as we look ahead to 2012, the election may very well come down to American women saying “NO” to democrat attempts to manipulate them and “YES” to choosing the candidate (and party) that can best pull our country out of its current quagmire. Young female voters are going to have to separate the wheat from the chaff and take the necessary time to understand what’s at stake. Mothers from ages 20 to 60 will have to look beyond the pandering from the left and tackle the moment at hand. And grandmothers will have to say “Where’s the beef!?!” to the old “the Republicans are out to kill you” shtick. The rancor from the Republican primaries will pass. The Republican who emerges must prove two things to the American female:

  • He will LISTEN, and his actions will reflect true respect for women in contradistinction to democrat pandering, and
  • He will honor our Constitution and our country.

Men and women must work together not as separates, but as equals, and recognize their respective strengths.

Old Things Are Best

Dad - Opine Needles
And so it came to pass in end of the fifth year of the reign of the man known as Obama. There remained much to debate as to what exactly had come to pass. Forsooth, the people were much disillusioned. So many had heralded his arrival as “that” arrival millions believed was imminent. Alas, the citizens were in disarray, for it had ensued that the savior had yet to pick the time for his return, and the man known as Obama was no longer confused with HIS only begotten son.

On matters more earthly, the elderly amongst the people used the time of year to give thanks for the things that matter; their families, their faith, and their good fortune. The frivolity of their youths were held in check by the reality of their latter day experiences; their senses of responsibility, morality, and decency had been honed through the fog of the twists and turns on their respective roads of life.

There was one who was mystified by all that made his present world turn. Lost seemed to be the things that really matter. He reflected on those things he could not control, and settled on seeking contentment on matters that had been or still were in his realm.

So as Christmas drew nigh, he thought of his departed father, who once wrote words for a magazine; words that are timeless, and special, and powerful. Those words were:

Old things are better than new things. They may not perform better, but they are nicer to own; they are friends. My Randall knife, while not my oldest, is a prized possession, not for any monetary value that it might have-but because we’ve done a lot of fun things together in the past 30 years.

My oldest knife was “requisitioned” from the arms chest of the Tacloban Shore Patrol during WWII. Six months ago, I gave it a new handle of leather rings. It, too, provides memories.

I have two pairs of old leather bird boots, which date back to when they cost $18.00 to $20.00; big money then. Believe it or not, I still have fond memories of my first pair which were bought before the war, and carried me into the fifties. They were prime examples of what a cobbler could do if he really cared about old and good boots. They were from L.L. Bean, as is one of my current pairs.

Old wool deer pants are better than new ones only because you can look at the various repairs and bring back memories.

Old deer hunting friends are better than new ones. They took the test of time and passed. Old deer hunters are better than young ones. They know more and their hearts and legs make them move more slowly.

Old rifles are better than new ones, and, in the area, I must personalize the statement, for I have only had my current “old” rifle for one season. It’s a custom-stocked .308 built on a Sako action. The bluing has worn off due to it having been in and out of countless scabbards.

It previously belonged to Warren Page marksman, hunter, and Field & Stream writer. I’d like to think that it was one of his favorites because of its worn condition. It weights under seven pounds, with sling and scope. I can’t tell you all the places it has been, or the stalks or excitement it has witnessed.

However, I can tell you that on my back it has gone to four different states and accounted for three whitetail bucks. In time it will earn a place alongside my Randall as a source of retrospective good memories.

Old hats are better than new hats and everybody knows that. I brought mine home from the Pacific. Its previous owner, an Australian, gave it to me after punching me in the nose. I had, in company with an MP, walked into a bar and immediately found myself on the floor-for no particular reason other than being an American with a Shore Patrol band on my arm.

My old Aussie hat bears the inscription “Denham & Horgrove Ltd. Atherstone, 1943″ on the band. The felt is about 1/4” thick, and the brim keeps the rain off my glasses and the snow from going down my neck. Other than being practical and irreplaceable, it’s a best hat because it is old.

I have lot’s of good old things; old compasses, shirts, and two mended pairs of my father’s long red underwear. All these things give me warmth and comfort.

Someday you will get older and you, too, will be a best thing.

And he felt better just for reading the words again, and even better by taking the time to type them into his next blog. For he knew at that moment that no matter how absurd were the events in and of his world, no one could take away the words he had revisited, and more importantly, the hat he now wore.

Jim Pierce - Dad's Hat - Old Things Are Best - Opine Needles

 

 

Guns!

Guns - Modern MusketAnd so we jump with both feet into the breech!

The gun control debate now rages, and once Vice President Biden pitches his pre-conceived soft (musket) ball to the President, there will no doubt be some form or another of an executive challenge emanating from the White House for Congress to act. The only real guessing game left is whether the President will attempt to usurp the balance of powers and issue an Executive Order. If his first four years are to provide us with a roadmap, I would not bet against such usurpation.

This is a thorny issue, so I am going to attempt to grab the stem of the issue by viewing it through a historical lens. In dialogues held with gun control friends and foes, this rancorous debate too quickly disintegrates into petty partisan political bickering. To my mind, this should not be yet another reason for Democrats and Republicans to sling mud. Yet that is what happens, day after day. So let’s take a step back in time and get into the heads of many of our Founding Fathers. Ours is a nation of laws. Our Federal laws are founded (and reviewed regularly) in the principles written in our Constitution. (You may peruse same on this website.)

The Second Amendment to the Constitution addresses the right to bear arms. It too may be found along with all other Constitutional Amendments on the Opine Needles website.

For more than two hundred years, scholars have debated the intent of the words behind the 2nd Amendment. Based on my reading of history, I think those who use the 2nd Amendment to argue for gun control are being disingenuous. The biggest debate revolves around whether or not the reference to “a well regulated militia” is separated wholly by the existing comma from the reference to “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” Those in favor of gun control see the inextricable connectivity. They go further to then suggest that the arms of our forefathers bore little resemblance and a fraction of the killing power to those we see today. Ergo, the irrelevance of the peoples’ right to bear arms in the militia in today’s world coupled with the impracticality of referring to an 18th century document, (the authors of which could not possibly fathom the extent to which weapons would develop) makes reference to the 2nd Amendment in today’s gun control discussions all but moot. Those in favor of gun control say we must deal with the here and now, and stop hiding behind a 2nd Amendment which they say doesn’t provide anything to hide behind anyway!

I certainly wish the 2nd Amendment had inserted a semi colon instead of a comma. In point of fact, colons, semi-colons, and commas were used interchangeably during this time period. It would not have been at all unusual for a comma to divide two separate points. If the opinions of those who fought for our Independence were not so readily available, we could labor forever to determine whether “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” is an “independent” right within the overall meaning of the 2nd Amendment. As history makes very clear, however, there is little to no room for doubt as to exactly how they felt.

“And that the said Constitution be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms…” – Samuel Adams, Debates of the Massachusetts Convention of 1788, printed in “Debates and Proceedings in the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts”, at 86-87 (Peirce & Hale, eds., Boston, 1850)

The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, … or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of the press. – Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Major John Cartwright (5 June 1824)

“Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate Governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple Government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the Governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 46 (1788).

“The great object is that every man be armed” and “everyone who is able may have a gun.” – Patrick Henry, in the Virginia Convention on the ratification of the Constitution. Debates and other Proceedings of the Convention of Virginia,taken in shorthand by David Robertson of Petersburg, at 271, 275 2d ed. Richmond, 1805. Also 3 Elliot, Debates at 386

“To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.” – Richard Henry Lee, Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republic, Letter XVIII (25 January 1778).

“Such are a well regulated militia, composed of the freeholders, citizen and husbandman, who take up arms to preserve their property, as individuals, and their rights as freemen.” – “M.T. Cicero“, in a newspaper letter of 1788 touching the “militia” referred to in the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution.

This sentence comes from Thomas Jefferson’s three drafts of the Virginia Constitution. The text does vary slightly in each draft:

First Draft: “No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms.”

Second Draft: “No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms [within his own lands or tenements].”

Third Draft: “No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms [within his own lands or tenements]”

This sentence does not actually appear in the Virginia Constitution as adopted.

The point is that before we even start any discussion about what to do on the gun issue today, let’s at least be intellectually honest and commence the dialogue from the baseline that any alleged ambiguity regarding our founding fathers’ views is nonsense. They wanted the people to be armed.

The bothersome thing to this author is the extent to which those in favor of gun control work to discredit those who point to the 2nd Amendment in defense of their right to bear arms. They do so with a resoluteness and condescending contempt. They do so as though they have the moral high ground. Well, views are views and one man’s moral high ground is another’s cesspool of sin, so all the vitriol in the world amounts to just that. Vitriol does not win arguments or further any viewpoint down a path to progress. Only facts will do that.

I do not write to embarrass those who are too emotional to think through this issue. As I said at the outset, it’s a tough one, and will no doubt end up somehow, someway back with the Supreme Court. All I implore you to do is to start the discussion based on historical fact. And folks, the fact is that our Founding Fathers wanted us to have the inalienable right to bear arms. Full stop.

“Let me put it this way; there are really only two ways to interpret the Constitution — try to discern as best we can what the framers intended or make it up. No matter how ingenious, imaginative or artfully put, unless interpretive methodologies are tied to the original intent of the framers, they have no more basis in the Constitution than the latest football scores. To be sure, even the most conscientious effort to adhere to the original intent of the framers of our Constitution is flawed, as all methodologies and human institutions are; but at least originalism has the advantage of being legitimate and, I might add, impartial.” – Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court Justice

More to Follow-

Wake Up Call!

Obamacare, Wake Up Call! | Opine NeedlesHello America, is anyone home? If you happened to somehow miss this week, you missed a doozy.

On Monday, the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) rendered a mixed decision regarding Arizona’s immigration law. Whilst validating federal sovereignty on the fundamental question of whether Federal law usurps state law on this vexing issue, SCOTUS did uphold Arizona’s right to question the citizenship of those who their law enforcement officials have reason to believe may not be in the United States legally. Federal law stipulates that the US government is supposed to work with state law enforcement officers to enforce this portion of our immigration law. In a sign of total contempt for due process and the law, the Obama administration immediately pulled all support (program 278G) that it had previously given to Arizona. Let’s make sure we are all on the same page. The Federal Government has an OBLIGATION to enforce our laws! This is wanton lawlessness. It is the stuff of emperors and dictators. There should be more OUTRAGE!

On Thursday, we had the double-barreled Obamacare verdict followed by the Contempt of Congress vote against Attorney General Eric Holder. Those blasts are much stronger than grandfather’s 12 gauge. The validation of Obamacare is an abomination. There are more reasons than I care to recite; anyway if you are reading this blog, you know most of them. Here is the bottom line. Chief Justice Roberts committed the cardinal sin. He made law! SCOTUS’s job is to interpret Constitutional applicability (or lack thereof) in relation to the particular legal question at hand. Justice Roberts decided that no matter how many times the President told the American people the personal mandate was NOT a tax (it is a penalty—yea right) the only way the mandate could be deemed constitutional was to declare the penalty a tax! So Justice Roberts exposed the President’s lie by turning the penalty into a tax; thus making the law constitutional, as taxation (most, but not all would argue) is Congress’s domain. Suffice to say, if the progressive left continues to attack Justice Roberts as a puppet of the far right (which of course he has never been-nor should be!) the irony will be rich.

Then the House of Representatives did the only thing it could do. It held the Attorney General in Contempt of Congress. The AG did nothing but stonewall and prevaricate under oath. He would not turn over the subpoenaed documents. He behaved contemptuously, and now he is officially in contempt!

So what does this all mean? One must hope and pray it means this; anyone, and I mean anyone, who:

  • Cares about our dire fiscal straights,
  • Believes that we are an exceptional country full of people who do exceptional things,
  • Aspires for his or her children and grandchildren to have careers and lives full of hope, and
  • Knows that our best days can still lie ahead of us,

needs to do whatever he or she can to get as many people as possible to vote Republican in November. Mitt Romney is the candidate to support, as is every Republican candidate for Congress.

Folks, the only way we’ll be looking at Obamacare in a rear view mirror is to repeal it. The Supreme Court has ensured that repeal is our only option.

  • The only way we stand a chance of stemming the tide of profligate spending is to vote Republican.
  • The only way we stand a chance of maintaining (and growing) a viable manufacturing base is to give our entrepreneurs and capital providers the incentive and confidence they so desperately need to invest.

We’ve said it before and we’re saying it again. This president and his administration are the most arrogant, dictatorial clan to ever inhabit the White House and cabinet level offices. They simply ignore whatever does not fit into their redistributionist agendas. They will not enforce laws that do not suit them. They think and act as though they are above the law. They are clearly on a mission. The question is, will enough Americans figure it out before November?

We are at the tipping point. There is no turning back.

Abuse of Power

Abuse of PowerIn the space of three working days in DC, we have witnessed no fewer than 3 scandals brewing:

    • Benghazi still boils because people are beginning to become genuinely
      angry about the distortions of truth. The President is doing himself no favors by playing at King: he who thinks thou doth protest too much, and is most sure that much is being made and done about nothing.
    • The IRS investigation of allegedly right wing 501 (3)’s was not an isolated case of a couple wayward IRS branches in Ohio; rather, this strategy was well known and directed in DC.
    • The Obama administration ‘s multi-month eavesdropping of the AP should shivers down their spine. In this case, wasn’t it a bit like inflicting outrage and hurt on one of your own?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Obfuscation leads to Prevarication, which inexorably concludes its vile path at the doorstep of deceit. Open the door and greet the red guy with the horns. It’s been true since God was a small child. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Have we not reached a T-junction in our journey down Obama Avenue? We’re on a pretty straight path: it’s paved with redistribution. Up ahead it bears left on to Obamacare Lane, and a sign says “must bring redistribution with you.” But to the right there is a road less traveled in recent years. It’s simply called “Truth”.

Are Americans so desensitized and polarized that they simply don’t care anymore? Can they really not see what is happening to them?

You may recall the furor over WMD in the buildup to the Iraq war. The best intelligence agencies in the world were convinced Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of WMD. Leading democrats and republicans supported aggressive action to remove these weapons from the hands of the murderous Hussein. Then slowly but inexorably, once it ensued that the stockpiles of WMD did not exist as had been believed, the entire left came down with amnesia and accused President Bush of lying.

The situations in which we find ourselves now are wholly different. These are cases of premeditated abuses of power. To this day there are talking heads proclaiming the Benghazi situation is nothing more than a partisan rant. How depressing. Can the Obama believers actually continue blithely along their course of complacency and not summon an iota of outrage over the dishonest manipulation of the truth during and after the Benghazi tragedy, IRS abuse, and illegal AP eavesdropping?

Americans have wallowed in self-doubt before. Perhaps this is one of those times. Throughout the annals of history, we have seen the impact of charismatic leaders on the mass of an affected populace. Suffice to say, the outcome hasn’t always been a win for humanity. In the United States and with the current administration, not only has the mainframe of our economic engine taken a massive hit, but we are now a toothless tiger in the eyes of the world. World leaders see what the majority of our own people cannot: a government that misleads its people cannot be taken seriously.

God, Politics, and You

Founding Fathers and God

I am a lifelong Republican. There, I said it. Before you render judgment, please (I mean please as in “I implore you”) read this article.

The November, 2012 elections are the most important in your lifetime. It doesn’t matter whether you are 18 or 90. The country rests delicately on a tipping point. There are those pushing with all their might to make sure we tip over into a new national social order, and those fighting just as hard to make sure we do not fall into that abyss. Then, there are those who really aren’t sure why we stand at the precipice of either a new social order or an abyss here in the U.S.. More importantly, they don’t really think whatever happens will actually change their lives all that much. To them, republicans and democrats are twiddledee and twiddledum.

I write to all three groups. I hope the following thoughts resonate with every reader, regardless of your personal political persuasion. Please bear with me as I set the stage for discussion.

The left has its passionate advocates, as does the right. I am an unapologetic republican and for every one of me, there are more democrats! I fight a losing numerical battle. So it is not just with a passing academic interest that I reach out to readers who may not be as committed as I to the philosophies guiding a republican government.

The country is tired. Left, middle, and right, our citizens are pleading for sanity. They want the rancor to end. They yearn for leadership. Neither party is providing the salve they seek.

After the 2008 election, the progressive left interpreted the results as a mandate to pursue an unbending, non-negotiable leftist social agenda. After the 2010 elections, the hard core right interpreted the results as a mandate to pursue an unbending, non-negotiable conservative economic agenda. The art of compromise was abandoned by activists and leaders in both parties.

Ironically, the partisan politics that have dominated the political scene in D.C. have not only highlighted the dysfunction in that city, but actually proven that there really are major differences between the two parties’ governing philosophies. In other words, your considered vote really does matter.

So as this narrative turns the corner and heads into the land of specificity, please bear this in mind. Both the left and right have their radical fringes. Neither party can claim the high road.

There are certain lightning rod issues that immediately prompt heated, spirited debate. A woman’s right to choose the destiny of her unborn child is perhaps the poster child for such (impassioned, occasionally mean-spirited) dialogue. To make my case for what ails us at this moment in time in the United States, I am stepping into the breach (sorry, that was irresistible) and using this highly emotional issue to make my point.

The rhetoric (and political fallout) stemming from President Obama’s recent decision to force all businesses (including religious based concerns) to include contraception related expenses in their health care coverage is a case in point for how divided our country has become. It is also a perfect example of how an issue can become distorted by those who seek to use events that play on the electorate’s emotions and cloud the more far-reaching constitutional consequences of politics driven by a passionate social agenda. A constitutional discussion (prompted by a decision regarding contraception) has been completely co-opted by those who wish to use the abortion debate as a campaign wedge.

The separation of church and state was not an accidental addition to our Constitution. Leading up to the emigration from Europe that led to the formation of our colonies, there was no line drawn between politics and religion. For centuries after the death of Christ, it was hard to separate a king from God! Our founding fathers not only sought to ensure that we would never be subjected to the whims and autocratic tendencies of an absolute monarch, but they made it crystal clear that all Americans would have the right to pursue their religious beliefs without interference from their government. This is one of our fundamental constitutional rights.

Now, it is well known that the Catholic church promotes abstinence as God’s only sanctioned form of birth control. Further, the church also condemns abortion as tantamount to the taking of a life. On the subject of abortion, the nation is very much divided. There are those who believe passionately that abortion equals murder. And there are an equal amount of those just as passionately committed to the right of women to control their own bodies, and to keep the government out of their reproductive organs (in a manner of speaking).

The fact that I have to provide this background is symptomatic of the emotional quagmire in which we find ourselves on this topic. The issue at hand is whether the President has overstepped his legal authority by imposing his social belief system on businesses, and in particular, businesses with religious connections. Opine Needles believes he has. I am Opine Needles. I believe he has.

The problem is that the main stream media, the progressive left, and opportunists looking for a divisive wedge have all turned the issue into a women’s “right to choose” debate. The all-important constitutional issue has been lost in the highly charged voltage of abortion politics.

Folks, we have a law. We can argue all day long whether Roe V Wade was social engineering at its Supreme Court worst, but the argument is a waste of time. In fact, the entire dialogue is a misdirected conversational arrow.

We need to focus on the role of the federal government in our lives. Full stop. Do we want to live in George Orwell’s world? You see, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. You can’t support government overreach when it suits your personal beliefs, and then protest when the government oversteps its bounds when you don’t like what it has done!

Yes, the republicans have their share of what may appear to be neanderthals. But seriously, if one is being completely honest, there is an abundance of offensive thought in both parties, and neither one can realistically claim the high ground.

So, let’s bear in mind the Constitutional context for this next comment. The Obama administration has conducted itself with an undisguised contempt for our Constitution. Adding insults to injury, there are now leading democrat spokespersons who are suggesting that the Constitution has lived well past its sell-by date, and to continue to rely on the wishes of our founding fathers is to cling on to anachronistic irrelevancies.

Fellow Americans, I hope you can see the folly (and danger) of such progressive liberal thought. We live under a system of government that is the most exceptional, noble, and ongoing experiment in the history of man. Ours is an exceptional nation; one founded on the principles of free will (with free choices made by free people), the right to own property, defend oneself, and to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. The pages in the book of history are full of failed experiments, and invariably the failures begin when the people complacently watch their liberties be consumed by the voracious appetite of government. Much like a slow drip emanating from a faucet, the people are appeased until they wake up one day and find it’s too late; Big Brother has arrived.

The bottom line is that the democrats want to use the Federal Government to pursue a very aggressive social agenda. So, in addition to the highly volatile abortion issue, the democrat agenda involves, but is not limited to, a commitment to:

–a redistribution of America’s created wealth. Very simply, democrats fundamentally believe that the federal government should do what it can to create an equality of outcome for American citizens. Republicans believe the federal government should work to create equality of opportunity.

–implicit abolishment of right to work states, and support for strengthening of private and public sector unions. Republicans believe the business of America is business, and the unions are unequivocally the greatest cause of our unfunded pension liabilities (state budget shortages, and private sector bankruptcies).

–using the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to enact social policy in circumvention of Congress. The republicans want to de-politicize the NLRB.

–creating an unprecedented amount of appointed czars to promote social re-engineering, all in violation of explicit balance of power stipulations. Republican presidents have used the czar appointments, but never to the extent of the current administration.

–governing by “Executive Order” when pursuit of an agenda is unlikely to be supported by Congress. Again, the extent to which the President is pursuing a personal social agenda is unprecedented.

–creating a new (another new) world order in which the United States denounces any sense of exceptionalism, and apologizes for perceived offenses of the past. In the history of all great societies, there are heartless and brutal moments. The history of the United States is no different. But the fact is that we have been and remain the most generous nation in the annals of history. We are an exceptional country, and we should not cower in fear of all that thought represents.

–stymying the US oil and gas industry at every turn. While giving lip service to our need to be self sufficient, the democrats continue to make it very hard for our indigenous oil and gas industry to find more reserves. Republicans support a vigorous agenda for the development of our own hydrocarbons. And one note on the issue of hydraulic fracking; folks, all the science is on the side of the frickin frackers! This is a political red herring being thrust into the environmental limelight by those whose vision is clouded by their agenda. The federal government can preserve our wonderful national parks, our air, AND support the effort to develop our natural resources. This will not happen under an Obama administration. The fact that the Keystone pipeline has not been approved demonstrates the folly of the Obama administration’s oil and gas policy.

–profligate spending for perpetuity. The only way the democrats can hope to achieve their mission to achieve equality of outcome (by the way, it has never worked…ever, ever, ever….see the Soviet Union for your last large scale attempt) is to spend your money and mine, and since that is still not enough, to borrow even more money. The end result will be a worthless dollar, and a production class that has left the country. You don’t have time for me to list why this social re-engineering is so harmful to our economy and our values. I’d like to think most of you can park your emotions long enough to see the slippery slope on which the President has the US economy sliding.

So I draw to a close. As your choices begin to take form in the months to come,
of you I ask only this; place your passions to the side. Do NOT vote for President based on how you feel about abortion. We have a law. Shame on BOTH parties who play on the emotions of their supporters to use this divisive issue as an electoral lightning rod. There are so many important economic and constitutional issues at stake.

Focus on the tipping point. Decide what matters to you. Do you care that the Constitution is being attacked? What does the Constitution mean to you? President George Washington once said, “The Constitution is a guide which I will never abandon.”

So where do you come down on the issues discussed hereon?

Above all else, please make sure your views are counted. Make sure you vote!