Monday, September 25, 2006

"Separation of Church & State" - Tyranny or Liberty?

In modern debate regarding church/state issues, the “Separation of Church & State” clause has become the prevailing gospel preached by politicians and pundits alike, all of whom seem oblivious to the historical context of its origin.

This misuse of the phrase is unfortunate as the historical record shows that the 1st Ammendment was written to PROTECT religious expression from government, not to separate them. In fact, the House of Representatives called for a national day of prayer and thanksgiving on September 24, 1789 - the same day that it passed the First Amendment.

Rather than ensure government doesnt establish a state-sponsored religion, the 1st Ammendment is being used to marginalize religious thought in the public arena. This is a clear violation of original intent and a history lesson on "separation of church & state" is in order.
Traditionally, the Church of England, as supported by the Royal Crown, held legal priority over all other demoninations. King James I had established the Anglican Church as the Church of England, and openly persecuted seperatists. Many of these seperatists fled to Holland, including those who settled in Leiden, to later become the Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock in 1620. When other seperatists groups followed, the Pilgrims drafted the Baptist Confession of 1612 to distinguish themselves. In this document, we find the first public claim for religious liberty.
Article 84: "That the magistrate is not by virtue of his office to meddle with religion, or matters of conscience, to force or compel men to this or that form of religion, or doctrine: but to leave the Christian religion free, to every man’s conscience, and to handle only civil transgressions (Rom. xiii), injuries and wrongs of man against man, in murder, adultery, theft, etc., for Christ only is the king, and lawgiver of the church and conscience."

Notice that this declaration doesnt call for any 'separation' of religion from the public realm, but specifies that public officers shall not meddle in religious affairs.

The Puritans, on the other hand, didnt share such a libertarian view of religious freedom. The Puritans, believing the English Crown to be drifting towards Catholic tradition,feared the Crown would someday embrace Catholocism as the state religion. Therefore, in the New World, the Puritans defined religious freedom as their mandate to preserve Puritan ideals, and saw an alliance between religion and government as a way to maintain this purity. This inevitably led to a persecution of seperatists by Puritans, often using the alliance of religion and government to impose such persecution.

Roger Williams, a fierce advocate of religious liberty from Rhode Island, spoke out against the growing culture of church/state alliances and originated the "wall of separation" metaphor when he spoke of “a gap in the hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world.”

This figurative language clearly implies that the church should be protected from the world, not vice-versa. Williams later reaffirmed this theme when he proclaimed, "God requireth not a uniformity of religion to be enacted and enforced in any civil state; which enforced uniformity (sooner or later) is the greatest occasion of civil war, ravishing of conscience, persecution of Christ Jesus in his servants, and of the hypocrisy and destruction of millions of souls."

Again, notice that the focus is on protecting religious expression from government...a secular government is never implied.

In the 18th century, separatists who held a special disdain for the Puritan system, Baptists in particular, began to rebel against the cooperation between political and religious groups. As the culture of dissent grew, various new separatist groups appeared and, while naturally disliked by other groups, they were given great freedom and tolerance within their communities. However, the Anglicans were still receiving a disproportionate amount of tax exemptions and government benefits. As the public protest grew, citizens took issue not with the provision of public funds to religious groups, but to the EXCLUSIVE provision to any single group. While debate on this matter flourished, the argument was never for a secular state, but for a non-denominational state and this philosophy took root in America's early civilization.

This leads us to the Bill of Rights.

Religious liberty was a core philosophy in drafting the Bill of Rights, but many separatists were still unconvinced 11 years after it was ratified. This sentiment is best expressed in the famous Danbury Baptist Association letter sent to President Thomas Jefferson, on October 7, 1801, which stated their concern that whatever "religious privileges they enjoy, they enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights”.

It is Jefferson's response on January 1, 1802, in which we first find the specific phrase, "separation of church and state".
“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State.”

Given the national discourse and specific context of FAVORITISM of one sect over another, and the absense of any discussion regarding PROHIBITION of religion, it is clear that Jefferson doesnt refer to a 'wall of separation' to imply that religion be removed from the public realm, but only to protect religion from the potential of state DISCRIMINATION. The 1st Ammendment, when read for what it IS, and in keeping with the focus of ALL the Ammendments, is written to restrict government, not religion.

Unfortunately, in 1947, the Supreme Court used the “wall” metaphor in the Everson v. Board of Education decision:
"The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach." The Court perverts the context and meaning of the phrase, and laid the foundation for a principle totally OPPOSITE of what the 1st Ammendment and the "wall" metaphor actually stood for.
Furthermore, the Court also established the radical claim that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment applied to individual states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, thereby preventing states from making religious laws according to the wishes of their constituents. This claim is utterly ridiculous and shows a complete disregard for historical context and judicial restraint.

A plain reading of the precise 1st Ammendment text, "CONGRESS shall make no law...", should make it sufficiently clear that it applies to FEDERAL government. Jefferson demonstrates an understanding of this in his Danbury response:
"...the WHOLE American people which declared that their legislature..."
and in his letter to Rev. Samuel Miller on January 23, 1808, "Certainly no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the general government. It must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority. . ."

Predictably, many will justify the Court's interpretation of the establishment clause by questioning the MEANING of words and the changes in meaning since the original writings. However, the framers predicted these squabbles over language and to avoid any possible debate in interpreting the Constitution, they specified that intent should always be found in the meaning OF THE DAY.

Thomas Jefferson demonstrated this in his inaugural address when he acknowledged his responsibility to uphold the Constitution “according to the safe and honest meaning contemplated by the plain understanding of the people at the time of its adoption—a meaning to be found in the explanations of those who advocated [it]”
James Madison also warned, “[if] the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the Nation… be not the guide in expounding it, there can be no security for a consistent and stable [government], more than for a faithful exercise of its powers.”

This sentiment has been supported by the courts:
Justice Sutherland stated in Euclid v. Ambler Co., 272 U.S. 365 at 387 (1926), “the meaning of the constitutional guaranties never varies, [although] the scope of their application must expand or contract to meet the new and different conditions which are constantly coming within the field of their operations.”

For the record, when referring to historical definitions of "establishment", such as in the OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY, colonial usage of the word shows that in the context of religion, the word “establish” or “establishment” refers only to a legislative actions amounting to exclusive priveledges for religious organizations.

At this point in our history, correcting the record and preserving the free exercise of religion may be an exercise in futility as secularists seem to have the upper hand in the modern struggle over religious expression. However, the tyranny of government can never overcome man's claim to liberty...nor can it erase the verifiable truth of history.
Further Reading
James Madison and Religious Liberty
Religion and the Founding of the American Republic (Library of Congress Exhibition)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The New Psychology: Liberal Syndrome & Repressive/Displacement Disorder

Although American universities are generally considered to be of liberal persuasion, my college experience, while taking some time to bear fruit, had the opposite effect on my political leanings. You see, my study of psychology in college led me to understand Liberalism not as a philosophy, but as a syndrome marked by developmentally challenged faculties, leading to incongruencies in perception and reality.

(In keeping with the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV, Liberalism should be classified as an Axis I Clinical Syndrome comprised of various Axis II Developmental Disorders.)
This is not the place for extended thesis, however, recent political events provide a good illustration of one disorder within the Liberalism Syndrome paradigm; Repressive/Displacement Disorder.

Liberal Repressive/Displacement Disorder
While normal cognitive functioning allows for information to be transferred and stored in long-term memory,
RDD generally affects non-semantic declarative memory (life events,information about our environment) and/or episodic memory (events and situations), due to overactive displacement factor, inoperative retention factor and occasional repressive episodes.

Professionals note that while the incidence of LS/RDD has been increasing, treatment and recovery is possible with early detection. Aware that RDD manifests itself in current political issues, therapists have historically initiated treatment through conscious exploration of issues such as Welfare Reform, Tax Cuts, Humanitarian Promises to Kosovo, Cold War & Nuclear Winter predictions. Modern therapists must adapt and scrutinize the patients disassociative reality through current political issues such as the following:
Joseph Wilson has been a major political figure since his claiming that Bush lied to promote the war, specifically regarding Iraqi attempts to get uranium in Niger. When Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame's identifiy as a CIA agent was leaked to the public, Wilson and numerous Democrats spent years accusing the Bush administration, Karl Rove, Cheney and even press reporters of coordinated character assasination. The witch hunt went so far as to result in Scooter Libby's indictement for an unrelated lie about WHEN he first heard of Plame's status as an agent. (a much lesser offense than the particular lie forgiven of a certain liberal President, ahem)

Nevermind that Bush accurately claimed that British intelligence was the source, the British intelligence was
affirmed by the Butler Commission and that Britian stands by that intelligence today.
Nevermind the fact that U.S. Senate Committee on Intelligence reported that Mr. Wilson DID in fact provide oral confirmation to the CIA that Iraq WAS seeking uranium in Niger.
Best of all, nevermind that Richard Armitage was admittedly the source of the leak.
So after years of mudslinging, great expense and a public misnformation campaign, it seems Joseph Wilson himself is a liar....and yet the forgetful liberals have yet to correct the record or apologize to those they persecuted.

Gas prices peaked earlier this year due to numerous factors straining the normal supply/demand relationship such as middle east turmoil, rapid growth in China & India, Katrina's effect on Gulf oil rigs and distribution, peak consumption season (driving, flying, air-conditioning), the popularity of SUVs & trucks, crude oil trading price, OPEC monopoly, excessive taxation, and more.

Democrats were unable to resist opportunistic fear mongering with predictions of $4-5/gallon gasoline, while some accused the Bush administration of collusion with 'price gouging' oil companies who were then dragged through yet another round of "investigations". Meanwhile, those attempting to impart some rational economic insights were ignored or mocked for predictions of a return to a normal supply/demand relationship and lower prices.

Of course, the investigations found no evidence of wrongdoing, the price of oil has dropped 20% from its high and gas prices are back under $2.00 in parts of the midwest.
Liberals seem to have forgotten their ridiculous statements and predictions, while offering no apologies for their personal baseless attacks. (In fact, I predict a new round of allegations based on a Bush/Big Oil conspiracy to lower prices to win elections.)

What's new? Democrats prey on the general economic ignorance of Americans by repeating this mantra no matter WHAT the state of the economy, but it was certainly hammered home during the Bush administration.
But consider the following:
The Nasdaq Index is at a 5 year high.
The Dow Jones recently hit an all-time high.
The housing market has experienced a remarkable boom leading to high home-ownership rates and equity appreciation for average Americans.
Unemployment remains well under 5%.
Average wages continue to grow.
Sure, at some point, when the normal and healthy cyclical recession comes, Democrats will be screaming "I told you so", but in the meantime, they are suddenly quiet...seemingly forgetful.

Please...If you suspect a loved one is suffering from RDD, do something.
Speak up...
Educate yourself...
Remind the victim of their folly...
Cure yourself and cure your liberal loved ones.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Sen. Frist Crashed My Tx. Hold 'Em Tournament

When I played my first game of Texas Hold ‘Em years ago, I enjoyed it so much that I went to a reputable internet site and signed up for free online play. Unfortunately, after my first few tournaments, I was completely frustrated by the rampant “calling station” mentality of free poker which, rather than encouraging strategic gameplay, encourages the mindless pursuit of some miracle river card until players run out of chips, at which point they simply reload…turning poker into a match of random chance and mindless redundancy rather than a game of skill.

I soon found it worthwhile to make a small $20 deposit and PAY for my games. Even on low stakes tables, the simple effect of risking real money provided the incentive for players to play STRATEGICALLY, developing the skills of money management, hand-selection and statistical analysis, so that even when I lost, I left the tables satisfied playing REAL poker. However, the simple transfer of $20 from my bank account to this site makes me a criminal in the eyes of some Senators.

A quick search of current legislative action on gambling demonstrates a concerted effort by Congress to criminalize gambling:
Student Athlete Protection Act [H.R.1422.IH]
Comprehensive Awareness of Problem Gambling Act of 2006 [H.R.6009.IH]
Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act [H.R.4411]
Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (Reported in House)[H.R.4411.RH]
Common Sense Indian Gambling Reform Act of 2005 [S.1260.IS]
To create a commission to study the proper response of the United States to the growth of Internet gambling.[H.R.5474.IH]

Recently, the House of Representatives passed a bill (H.R. 4411-The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006) to prevent the use of certain payment instruments, credit cards, and fund transfers for unlawful Internet gambling. This bill ammends the 1961 Wire Act that bans telephone sports wagering except for state-sanctioned horse racing and lotteries.
( Don't get me wrong...I LOVE the lottery. The Idiot Tax, as I call it, is the one tax on those who are generally a drain on society...and they pay it WILLINGLY! However, one must question the selective morality and blatant hypocrisy which seeks to criminalize online poker while exempting state-sanctioned gambling.)

Hypocrisy aside for the moment, the most recent legislation has stalled in the Senate and if no action is taken before the end of the session in October, the whole process would have to restart in the House in 2007. Unwilling to allow lack of conviction in the Senate to speak for itself, on Sep 13 2006, AP Writer NANCY ZUCKERBROD reported that Frist recently negotiated with House and Senate members to impose the agenda by attaching legislation to a Defense Department bill authorizing U.S. military operations. (Bills in question are S.2507 and H.R.5122)

In addition to infringing upon our right to freely exchange money/property with others and to engage in activities that do not violate the liberties of others, one must also wonder what cost, in dollars and time, has been ammassed in his pursuit of this nanny agenda. I dare say, in reviewing the extensive legislation on gambling, that Frist and his peers neglect numerous national issues in pursuing their unconstitutional crusade on gambling.

Mr. Frist, it is none of your damn business how Americans spend their money in recreation. Our intrusive government plunders our hard-earned income in order to fund the various vote-purchasing entitlements of Congress, so understandably, many of us take great offense to your despotic rule over what little we retain.

And to promote such tyranny under the guise of national defense is simply shameful.
If you share my resentment, please notify Senator Frist through the following contacts:

Email: Email Form

509 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
202-224-3344, 202-228-1264 (fax)

28 White Bridge Road Suite 211
Nashville, TN 37205
615-352-9411, 615-352-9985 (fax)

ZHA CAI ROUSI MIAN (Pork & Noodle Soup)

4-6 ounces pork shoulder or pork loin (cut into thin strips) 1 teaspoon cornstarch 1 teaspoon vegetable oil 1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine 1 teasp...