Friday, November 30, 2012

Unions: No Longer Serving Anyone

What do our public schools, Hostess Brand Inc, Wal-Mart, LAX, and the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have in common?

They have all been hindered and crippled in their services because of the immoral power of unions. I do not relate this point of view in order that workers may no longer have the right to organize. Their right to peaceable assembly is protected in the First Amendment of the Constitution, but with the growing frequency of strikes and worker actions in this country, it's time that the voters acknowledge that unions are now way past their usage date.

I have read about the terrible working conditions which teachers and stevedores(nowadays "longshoremen") had to tolerate in previous generations. However, the rising standard of living, civil rights laws, and the growing negative consequences resulting from union action have hobbled public and private institutions at the expense of the company, the consumers, and the community.
Yet if one cabal of workers uses their right to organize and impedes on the public interest for free commerce, or forbids an employer to provide goods and services to consumers willing to purchase, or when a employee association demands stringent conditions which protect poor performance or perverted employees at the expense of the clients whom they are expected to serve, then an association has gone too far and their powers need to be curbed.

Our public schools poorly serve our students because of sclerotic resistance to reforms, like permitting youth in urban communities to enroll in any school that they choose. Teachers unions play a large role in stifling these reforms, compelling legislators to kill any legislation which would free up attendance.

Not only do they prevent school choice, teachers unions protect their worst members, putting their union dues ahead of the community and the primary consumers, the students. One glaring case highlighted this incongruous conflict of interest instigated by teachers unions. Miramonte Elementary teacher Mark Berndt allegedly got away with twenty years of sex abuse in the class, only to resign under duress because the district could not finance a lengthy case to remove him, a line of appeals propped up by the teacher union. The same special interests that protected Mark Berndt also influenced state legislators to kill SB 1530, which would have hastened the removal of pervert teachers.

Hostess Brand Inc, the manufacturer of Twinkies, Ding-Dongs, and Zingers, declared bankruptcy for the second time following the nation-wide collective action of the bakers' union. Lavish pension packages and worker rules made running the nationwide bakery unmanageable, and rather than face the costs of lengthy strike actions, the company closed its doors for good, taking down in its forced demise 18,000 jobs and a cheaper choice for consumers to purchase their daily bread.

SEIU (Service Employees International Union) lost the Safeguards Aviation Association from their ranks, a community of workers which then earned higher wages after separating. The SEIU picketed outside of LAX during the 2012 Thanksgiving weekend, throwing a number of travelers off schedule and hampering airline traffic. Some protests blocked traffic along Sepulveda Blvd. This kind of conduct is unacceptable, no matter what conditions anyone may be facing.

Black Friday at Wal-Mart put the company in the black, but disgruntled employees throughout the country picketed the low wages and the cut hours. However, the majority of "workers" on strike were not even Wal-Mart employees, and Wal-Mart incidentally posted one of the most successful Black Fridays in the company's history. A handful of protesters were arrested for blocking traffic. The public square belongs to everyone, not just to employees on strike. Share your grievances, but not to the grief of consumers and the community.

Public sector union demands have brought a number of states to their knees. States like Wisconsin fought back, pushing past the loud crowds which infiltrated the capital. The budget reforms instituted by Governor Walker gave municipal governments and school districts more flexibility to negotiate medical and pension contracts without raising taxes or laying off workers.
In stark contrast, California has enacted weak and beggarly budget reform at best, with the Democratic supermajority and the Governor still refusing to stand up to the public sector unions which intimidate legislators and influence legislation. Instead of spending cuts and budget reforms, the state legislature offers tax increases.

Now the ILWU is on strike at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The Holiday shipping season is in full-swing. Why should one group of employees block the legal and moral commerce of anyone? I will never forget the near-indoctrination of one youth whose parents worked for the ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union). One disgruntled interest is not entitled to block the interests of shipping firms or the commerce of one of the largest ports in the country.

Unions are causing more problems than the pretend to solve. Workers have every right to organize. The First Amendment protects this freedom of association. The key word "peaceably" though, seems to have dropped out of the consciousness of collective bargaining units. Unions have disrupted operations, even destroying the equipment of the firms which they are protesting. Strikes harm workers, consumers, and the communities who depend on their service. Perhaps the recent spate of strikes and work actions will spur voters and local leaders to demand limitations on collective bargaining rights, the same reforms enacted to great effect in Wisconsin.

Peter King: Keep Your Promise

Congressman Peter King deserves more respect and attention than he currently receives. He chairs the Homeland Security Committee. He has taken on the talking heads on the Sunday talk shows. Congressman King has led the investigation about the Benghazi terrorist attack, a terrible setback for this nation's relations with Arab states.

While he has a commendable and demonstrable record with foreign policy, King's recent pledge to step back from the Grover Norquist “Taxpayer Protection” pledge should raise a red flag with voters in his 3rd Congressional District. In an interview on "Meet the Press" with David Gregory, King first commented:

"A pledge you signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago, is for that Congress. . . The world has changed and the economic situation is different. Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill realized that in the 1980s. I think everything should be on the table."

Granted, Congressman King emphasized that he his "personally" opposed to tax increases, but no matter what the current circumstances, tax increases on wealth creators will only prolong anemic recovery while depriving those down-and-out or out of work with more opportunities to get back into the economy.

Grover Norquist rightly called out King for attempting to get out of the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge.” While Norquist should have kept King’s wife out of the interview with Piers Morgan, his final riposte was noteworthy and newsworthy:

"If you make a commitment, you keep it.”

Congressman King has served New York constituents for twenty years. The pledge he signed then signaled to the voters that he would protect their pocketbook and maintain a standard or reducing spending before raising revenues.

Besides, the last thing that our government should do is raise taxes
on anyone.

Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Majority Whip of the House of Representatives, just released a short video of Jerry Gorski, a small businessman in Pennsylvania. In reaction to the sluggish economy which shows no sign of growing, he had to lay off workers and prepare for 40% less work. He has restructured his company so that he can make a profit, but he is not ready for another tax increase, which will set him back further. Gorski is not one of the "millionaires and billionaires" which the Democratic Party describes when raising taxes on the "top 2%", but the higher taxes would hurt his bottom line, perhaps even putting him out of business. An Illinois small businessman also explained the pain that will hurt small business gains if Congress increases taxes on the $250,000 per annum crowd. Instead of listening to politicians. Other advocates for the business class have already attacked Obama's projected tax increases. on high income earners.

Economists like classical liberal Milton Friedman have also attacked "soak the rich" schemes, including President Obama's argument that the "rich" should pay "their fair share". Instead of permitting Congress to punish people for having wealth, the voters deserve to recognize that wealthy people invest their earnings, which create industries, provide jobs, and contribute to more wealth creation.

Friedman also attacked the "Robin Hood Myth", a false premise which bolsters the rich pay fair share" mantra. The "Robin Hood Myth" posits that taxing the rich helps the poor. In truth, these programs benefit middle incomes earners at the expense of the poor. Middle-class individuals -- journalists, political activists, instructors -- are the most politically active, and they shape or press for laws which expand the welfare state. Friedman targeted federal student loans and social security, which come out of taxes paid by everyone. Lower-class individuals work sooner, pay more taxes, and die sooner than middle and upper-income earners, who in the end will take advantage of the taxes paid by everyone. While proponents claim to give everyone access to diverse financial aid, these programs primarily benefit the middle class.

Norquist rightly criticized the New York Congressman's waffling, King shared some sharp words about Grover Norquist's challenge about King's back-pedaling."I really don't care about Grover Norquist. It was a cheap thing to do. . . He's being a lowlife."

Like Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss and South Carolina's Lindsey Graham, King is shifting on revenue increases in order to deal with Democrats, who now hold the high ground on the "fiscal cliff". Still, this country needs jobs, wealth, and a freer economy. By sending the message to Democrats that Republicans are willing to cave on their core principles would only set back the already saddled economy, one which is suffering from regulations, a prolix tax code, and a political class still looking out for their jobs rather than the best interests of the people whom they represent.
To the voters of New York, please contact Congressman King and tell him to stay true to his pledge not to raise taxes or to close corporate loopholes without necessary spending cuts. No matter what the outcomes of election 2012, tax increases in the midst of a struggling economy will only cause more harm than good.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Republicans Can Rejoice -- State Supermajorities

Republicans are in a funk. Contrary to expectations, they lost the Presidency, nor did they expand their caucus in the House of Representatives. Republicans had only ten Senate seats to defend against twenty-three for the Democrats, but three Republican Senators stepped down or lost their election battles, and the Democrats expanded their majority.

As far as the federal government is concerned, the Republicans fumbled “big time.”

To dispute moaning of party operatives and the groaning of registered Republican voters, the Republican Party is anything but dead. George Orwell may have written about “Shooting an Elephant”, but more likely the Democratic Party will shoot itself in the foot should they continue in their drift leftward.  While National Republicans have to retool their outreach, not compromise their principles.

Notwithstanding these failures, the Republican Party will not be joining the graveyard of American political history strewn with deceased political parties. Their demise crumbled under far worse circumstances than the GOP currently faces. While the Republicans failed to take the federal government, their strong and stunning show in states and statehouses across the country will foster a persuasive salience of their essential values and win back support in elections to come.

In the early years of the Republic, the Federalists held on for twenty years before collapsing, yet the opposing Democratic-Republicans adopted the central and centralizing tenets of their party platform.

The Whig Party coalesced around one tenet: “We hate Andrew Jackson.” Incidentally, their caucus supported the “American System” of federally subsidized internal improvements. In many respects, they were the “Big Government” party of the day, and they fumbled into oblivion.

Populists, Greenbacks, and even the Progressive Party (under former Republican Teddy Roosevelt),all met their demise in attempting to steer the country in a more radical direction. The majority of these coalitions rested on expanding the role of government in  labor relations, the economy, or in every other walk of life. Like the demise of the Whigs, today’s Republicans can look over the legacy of previous parties and breathe a sigh of relief: “Big Government” advocates usually do not last long.


The Republicans are not beset with the inherent and internal conflicts which paralyzed then put down the Populists or the Progressives. The Republican Party was born in 1854, with John C. Fremont, the leader of the “Bear Flag” Revolt” which wrested California from Mexican hands before President James K. Polk declared war over the Rio Grande. GOP views transformed from federalized Lincolnism to Taft-Eisenhower concern about the military-industrial complex. Limited government as a core value emerged and remained.

When the federal government falls into the hands of one party, the other party can look for prominence and dominance in the several states. We are “The United States of America”, not “The United Country of America.” While vibrant GOP dynamics are limited on the national front, the Republicans can boast of sweeping victories throughout the states.

Following the 2012 election, The Republican Party now controls thirty governorships, including the recent  arrival of Patrick McCrory in North Carolina. Republicans now hold a supermajority in fifteen states, including swing states Ohio and Pennsylvania. Alabama and Arkansas, once dominated by the Democrats, now have Republicans with a strong two-thirds advantage, a massive repudiation for the liberal party. After a recall that cost them the state senate, Republican now control Wisconsin once again. For the first time since the 1920’s, the Republican can shape effective domestic policy across the country.

These GOP states will establish and bolster the party’s future. Within a few years’ time, the country will evaluate the soundness of Republican/conservative policies of less spending, limited government, and lower taxes compared to the Blue State capitals, which are hooked on deficit spending, tax increases, and benefits expansion. Liberal states like California, Massachusetts, and Illinois have Democratic supermajorities. For the first time, California received no House Seats. Massachusetts lost another house seat. Illinois is turning into a debt-ridden miniature of Greece. Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel failed to field the pension problems because of the powerful public sector unions. Voters are packing up and moving from blue to red states.

Under Governor Mitch Daniels, Indiana boasted of budget surpluses while Washington was wallowing in the Great Recession.  Privatization of the roadways saved Hoosier tax dollars. The new GOP supermajority (under fiscal hawk Governor-elect Mike Pence) is proposing “right to work” legislation and expanding the state school voucher program. Wisconsin is championing lower taxes and expanded mining rights, which means more business, more jobs, and more tax revenue. Pennsylvania’s GOP supermajority will opt out of the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion, along with red-state Texas and Florida, defying the dubious ruling of the Supreme Court.

Conservatives may feel blue in Blue States. Still. California Democrats already retracted a measure to triple the car tax. Colorado Democrats may shelve another same-sex marriage bill. Liberal majorities are pursuing the agendas with caution. Conservatives’ short-term pain may become long-term gain as Republican states provide a record of success, and discredit the Democrats’ tax-and-spend extravagance for the next decade. The Republican will survive and thrive with ideas that work, attracting more voters and restoring GOP dominance.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Open Letter to South Carolina Residents and Senator Lindsey Graham

The fiscal cliff is looming in Washington, and Republicans in the House are holding out against more spending, more taxes, and more waste. No matter what the results of the 2012 Election, the Republicans retained the House and are rightly poised to reassert their majority along with possibly retaking the Senate in 2014. Their standing majority remains the key indicator that the voters in this country do not want more taxes.

The stunning set-back for the GOP should not incline them toward compromising on their principles. Assessing the aftermath of the 2012 election, the Republicans failed to make the message for constitutional rule without signaling to voters that they would support country, not "Big Business" or "Big Government". Overcoming concerns about his moderate record in Massachusetts compared to his more conservative stances during the general election, Romney did very well in the South, despite his Mormon background. Still, millions of evangelical voters chose to sit out the election, which cost Romney the White House and a number of nationwide races in state and local races.

Now that the election is over, Republicans are facing serious questions about what to do next. Should they go easy on the social issues? A risky venture, backing off on core social conservatism would devalue value voters, who may choose not to vote at all in upcoming elections if neither party presents a platform of family integrity and social cohesion. Rebuking this call to soften the stance, Columnist Charles Krauthammer hammered the point home to like-minded readers that Republicans should not take on liberal ideas, since the country does not need two liberal parties. "Do conservatism better," he advised.

For example, Republicans should hold the line on spending, taxes, and raising the debt ceiling. Primary fights in the last election centered on the integrity of their representatives to fiscal conservatism. US Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana served in Congress for 36 years. He supported raising the debt ceiling without proper spending cuts; he voted for the STAR Treaty weakening our country's offensive against Russa. He lost a charged primary fight with Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who criticized the incumbent's lack of diligence on limiting government.

Sadly, instead of doing conservatism better, a number of Republicans in Congress are breaking ranks on holding down taxes, offering up spending increases or crossing party lines to support liberal appointments. Lindsey Graham, the senior US Senator of the Palmetto State, is one of them.

His prior record would indicate otherwise. While serving in the House of Representatives, Lindsey Graham established himself as a party man who would not sit by while the President of the United States lied under oath about an illicit affair with an intern. One of the lawyers who prosecuted Bill Clinton in the White House, Graham stood out for his courage to take on the White House and the Media Establishment.

Unfortunately, it now appears that Graham has immersed himself in the Beltway culture after two terms in the US Senate, replacing the stalwart Strom Thurmond in 2002, but refusing to defend the better interests of South Carolina and the country. He has supported liberal judicial nominees with a fleeting respect for the United States Constitution. A Huffington Post columnist even praised him as a "Purple Senator." "Lukewarm" may be more appropriate, as South Carolina voters may consider spitting him out.

Now Graham has informed voters that he is willing to renege on the Grover Norquist “Taxpayer Protection Pledge”. Claiming that he wants to protect this country from going over the fiscal cliff, the junior Senator has offered to forgo the pledge in order to ease negotiations. He made a promise to voters not to raise taxes without proper spending cuts. Just because negotiations look tense does not excuse his pretense for comity.

Senator Graham's dubious voting record exposes his growing "purple train" straying from of fiscal discipline and constitutional restraint. Graham’s “Nay Votes” include:

Middle Class Tax Cut Act

Limits Farm Subsidies to Farmers with Incomes Under $250,000

Repeals Sugar Subsidies

Proposing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (Udall Bill)

Cut, Cap and Balance Act of 2011

Granted, the Democratic majority offered some of these bills, and the "Christmas Tree" impulse in Senators inclines them toward layering pork and pet projects legislation, eviscerating the very good that the original sponsors intended. Nevertheless, attacking corporate subsidies to Big Business, ending handouts to Big Agriculture, and cutting spending from Big Government need to be Senator Graham's priority, not offering to raise tax rates that will hurt jobs and diminish private sector investment.

Senator Graham has crossed the aisle a number of times to make Congress work; but above all, his job is to get Congress working in the best interests of his state and the country.

To the voters of South Carolina, please contact Senator Graham and demand that he respect his pledge to honor his word, the taxpayer, and the Constitutional principles of limited government and state sovereignty. Tell him to attack "Big Handouts" before he allows Congress to gid its "Big Hand" into the taxpayer's wallet.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Receive God's Love in Christ -- Grow and Share His Love in Church

"And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence." (Colossians 1: 18)

I am convinced that many believers in the Body of Christ are not happy in their church communities. They go to church week after week, but they do not change one bit. They still struggle in this life. They find themselves overwhelmed with their circumstances and themselves.

I was not happy with the back-biting, the rivalries, the pettiness that I saw in many churches. Even worse, many churches did not esteem Christ and Him Crucified.

Friends would tell me that no church is perfect, and that no one is perfect. In other words: "Suck it up!" Yet that seemed more like a cop-out to me. I still found that my peace was disrupted more often than not in churches.

For a long time, I decided not to go to church at all. Why go to church every Sunday to be frustrated and upset?

I praise God for the new revelation which I have received about Christ's love. For me, as for many, we go to church trying to get something for ourselves. Paul's first prayer to the Ephesians was for them to know Him more:

"17That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints" (Ephesians 1: 17-18)

Church is about knowing Christ -- that was Peter's prayer to his reader: "Grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord" (2 Peter 3: 18)

When we know Him, we find ourselves. Paul outlines in the second chapter of Ephesians everything that He has done for us because of the death and resurrection of His Son. We are no longer dead in our trespasses, we are seated in heaven places. We have received the adoption of children, and He has prepared the works which He wants us to beforehand to do.

In the third chapter, Paul expounds on an even more important revelation:

"16That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." (Ephesians 3: 16-19)

He wanted every believer to receive by faith that Christ Jesus lives in us. He is our new life. Paul wanted every believer to be established in His love, no matter what was happening, for better or for worse.

Then I realized my "mistake" -- I was looking for unconditional love and acceptance from people in church, when that kind of love can only come from God.

This love is more than some sentiment, either:

"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4: 10)

Jesus did not just die for our sins -- but His death completely removed all our sins once and for all and forever. Many people do not have this revelation. I was one of them.

The perfection that I was looking for in people really reflected the perfection that I was trying to accomplish in me. Jesus completed a perfect work:

"For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." (Hebrews 10: 14)

We are perfected in our conscience, in that no longer should we have a sense of sin about us, and therefore we have no reason to judge others. When we focus on how imperfect we are, we badger everyone else for not measuring up (to this perversion Jesus spoke when he preached: "Judge not, lest ye be judged" (Matthew 7: 1)) When we rest in our righteousness in Christ, then we in turn are transformed from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3: 18) and we then receive the grace to love other people (1 John 4: 19)

We do not go to church to get closer to God, because Christ lives in every believer by the power of the Holy Spirit (Colossians 1: 27). We do not come to church in order to be righteous, for that was accomplished once and for all through the Cross (2 Corinthians 5: 17, 21). We go to church to know Him more and to receive more of His love.

We thus go to church in order to receive exhortation to continue in the good works which He has placed within us to do:

"24And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." (Hebrews 10: 24-25)

The preceding verses in the same chapter establish the basis for the rest:

19Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21And having an high priest over the house of God; 22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

Grow in grace and knowledge of God's complete work in your life, rest in the truth that everything is covered for you. You can then approach Him with full assurance of faith, and then you come to church to celebrate and get excited about doing great things for Him.

The problem for me, among many people in the Body of Christ, is that we are looking for love from people -- only the Love of God can satisfy us, and this love is forever demonstrated to us by the blood of Jesus, which speaks better things than the blood of Abel (Hebrews 12: 24

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Unforgiveness: Hankering After Self, Distracted from Righteousness and Grace

Unforgiveness -- what is it, really?

Something in our flesh, in our minds, will just not let something go. We fear that we will be hurt again, or we think that the people who hurt us are getting away with it, or we fear that whatever we have lost will never come back to us.

In truth, our biggest problem is that we just love ourselves too much. We think so highly of ourselves, castigating ourselves with statements like "How could I let that happen?" or "I should never have let that happen."

The bitterness that we store up within ourselves really indicates that we look to ourselves all too much instead of setting our eyes on what is above, Christ seated at the right hand of God, who is our righteousness, who announces to the Universe that we are forever forgiven, pardoned, and accepted.

This need for retribution is part of being fallen man in a fallen world.

Jesus Christ took the punishment for all sin, and He remains forever the Mercy Seat for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2: 2)

He died not just to forgive all our sins, but to grant us release from the body of death which elicits railings, rivalries, all sorts of other perversions (Galatians 5: 19-21)

Our flesh, both our earthly bodies and fallen minds, will never rest. Even if every enemy is punishment, even if every person who harmed has been harmed in turn, the sense within ourselves remains unsatisfied.

Instead of focusing on what we must do, Paul invites us to rest in all that Christ has done:

"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." (Colossians 3: 1-4)

We are alive in Christ, not dead in our sins and trespasses. "Set your affections" on things above, Paul advises us, instead of getting bogged down in what happens here on earth. Our life is in Christ, we  identify with Him, not with our thoughts and feelings.

What does it mean to "seek those things which are above"? Paul elaborates in Ephesians:

"31Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." (Ephesians 4: 31-32)

and then

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;" (2 Corinthians 10: 3-5)

"The Obedience of Christ" is His Finished Work at the Cross -- that God for Christ's sake has forgiven all our sins (Colossians 2: 13).

Instead of hankering, longing for "self" to be improved, instead of permitting Satan to distract us with thoughts of yesterday, today, and the future, let us focus on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of faith (Hebrews 12: 1-2), in who we find all time and all things filled, fulfilled, and cared for. (Hebrews 13: 8)

Open Letter to Georgia Residents and Senator Saxby Chambliss

For the past week, I have had “Georgia on My Mind.” Not just because of the state’s theme song, but the growing role played by the state’s Senior US Senator Saxby Chambliss  in the ongoing talks on the fiscal cliff crisis.

Before taking some spotlight on that issue, Chambliss played a minor role in maintaining the checks and balances during the 2008 election, when he won his seat and thwarted a supermajority for the Democrats  in the US Senate.

Following the 2012 election, Chambliss spoke on the Veterans’ Day edition of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” , along with Democrat chairwoman of the Budget Committee Patty Murray. Chambliss is a newcomer to the Sunday Morning talk show circuit, but he carried himself very well with Patty Murray, also a relative unknown to the media. During the early part of the conference, the Vice-Chair of the Homeland Security committee commented on CIA Director David Petraus’ fall from repute. Chambliss commended the former general’s service.

Following the Petraus scandal, the fiscal cliff controversy dominated the rest of the discussion. During his campaign and following his reelection, President Obama pledged to refuse to sign off on tax cut extensions on the wealthiest Americans.

As a member of last year’s Super Committee, Murray commanded a greater knowledge of the dealings and the resistance from both sides to comprehensive reform.  A number of times Murray emphasized that  revenues must be included, reciting “The wealthy have to pay their fair share.” Murray expressed measured confidence that Congress would resolve the fiscal cliff.

Chambliss acknowledged that revenues have to be part of the next deal, but above all the government has to  cut spending. He then pointed out that the next deal must broach serious entitlement reform, the primary expenditure  choking the country. By eliminating a host of tax deductions, Congress can lower overall tax rates while generating over $1.3 trillion in revenue. True to his conservative roots, Chambliss stressed that the economy needs to get working again. Tax increases on private firms will kill 700,000 jobs. “Now is not the time to raise taxes – not on job creators”, Chambliss added, quoting President Obama from earlier this year.

Murray countered that the Senate had passed a bill extending the Bush tax cuts for 98% of Americans, yet Chambliss properly responded that the bill passed on a party line vote, and furthermore the House should not agree. A common-ground solution must attract widespread support from both parties.

I was impressed by the comity and candor of the two Senators. Neither rising stars nor firebrands in their caucus, they presented an attitude of compromise instead of attack. Following that collegial conference, I expected that both sides would find common ground to cut spending, reform entitlements, and provide a pathway for economic recovery.

Unfortunately, two weeks later Senator Chambliss has decided to break  Grover Norquist’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge”  that he had signed. In a recent telephone conference call, Chambliss submitted that the times have changed since then, and this country needs flexibility to discuss meaningful reforms.

Chambliss predicted that Norquist will endorse a challenger against him in his 2014 reelection campaign.. “I care more about my country than Grover Norquist”, Chambliss submitted at the end of the conference.

Following Chambliss’ open decision to break the “No New Tax” pledge, Norquist  argued that Chambliss must explain himself to his constituents in Georgia for choosing to break his pledge not to raise taxes.

 I do not doubt Mr. Chambliss’ patriotism. I respect his interest to be independent. He wants to do the right thing, and let the political consequences fall where they may. Every state should welcome that sort of leadership and integrity from their representatives. Before mounting a challenge against his candidacy, the people of Georgia must impress on their senator not to raise taxes during the struggling economy which has not improved adequately under President Obama’s leadership.

The Republicans may have failed to take the Senate or the White House, but their stable majority in the House of Representatives testified that the majority of Americans do not support tax increases. Senator Chambliss had argued that tax increases will hurt businesses and kill jobs. He needs to heed this concern. Because he loves his country and his state,.

Georgia voters have been on my mind since Chambliss’ pledge to break his pledge not to raise taxes. In no way should limited government conservatives suggest that they will budge unless Democrats are will to budget for entitlement reforms that protect the programs while providing for their future. By all means, Chambliss should consider ending all corporate and agribusiness subsidies and revoke “wealthy welfare”, which includes federally subsidized homeowner’s insurance for residents who insist along living by hurricane-battered coastlines. Tax deductions can be on the table, too, but by no means should Chambliss revoke his pledge without hearing from his constituents.

Please contact Senator Chambliss and tell him to maintain his pledge to protect jobs, encourage wealth, and stand by the best interests of his state and the country.

Serial Killers Before You Eat Cereal in the Morning

Do you live in anger much of the time? Are you still bitter about what your parents, your boss, your spouse, your kids have done to you?

Are you someone who tries to control your anger, or do you find that the moment you sit down to eat breakfast, you want to tear up everyone from the past, the present, and possibly the future?

I can laugh about this now. I was like that. I had entrusted to myself the responsibility of taking down everyone who had ever taken me down.

I ended up a frustrated and bitter man. I had not yet learned that resentment, wrath, all of these things were from my "old man" Adam, and I am now alive in Christ.

"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (1 Corinthians 15: 22)

Paul tells us to reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive in Christ (Romans 6: 11)

Man has a bigger problem than sinning. We are sinners because of Adam, from whom death has reigned in man.

Rather than trying to fix our feelings or fix the felons who hurt us, we need to identity with Christ in us, our hope of glory (Colossians 1: 27)

Anger is a work of the flesh when it becomes wrath:

"19Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." (Galatians 5: 19-21)

Wrath is murder on the inside:

"But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." (Matthew 5: 22)

We are not called to live in wrath, but thrive in God's love. Paul explains what and how:

"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice" (Ephesians 4: 31)

So bitterness, anger, or evil speaking is allowed. Unfortunately, too many believers stop there and then try in their own effort to put away these terrible states of mind. Paul outlines how to do it:

"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." (Ephesians 4: 32)

Verse 32 is tied up in verse 31. The greater your understanding that all your sins are forgiven in Christ, then you will easily forsake all wrath and bitterness to receive the gifts of righteousness and grace (Romans 5: 17)

Do not live like a serial killer in your mind when you eat cereal in the morning. Rest in the Finished Work of Jesus Christ, and watch as all bitterness and wrath flee from you.

Stop Trying to Feel Right -- Believe!

Thank God for Pastor Prince.

One of the most important lessons that I have learned

If we are disappointed in ourselves, if we are angry with ourselves, it is because we still trust ourselves, we still think that there is some good in us.

Paul tells us how we are supposed to respond to our feelings:

"Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6: 11)

Too many believers want to fix their feelings, trying to shape their moods so that they will proper in their lives.

John prayed for his beloved Gaius as well as every other believer:

"Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth." (3 John 2)

"Soul prosperity" depends on walking the Truth:

"3For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. 4I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." (3 John 3-4)

We find the Truth in Christ (John 14: 6) and His Word:

"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." (John 17: 17)

The more that we see Him in the Word, that more that we walk by faith, believing what God has said instead of the circumstances of the world or the feelings in our flesh, then our soul prospers, and so do we.

"Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)" (2 Corinthians 5: 6-7)

Faith is not some notion of hyperspirituality which speaks to some realm not yet present to us, but rather recognizing based on God's Word what is right now before us:

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2For by it the elders obtained a good report." (Hebrews 11: 1-2)

Jesus Christ holds this entire Universe together (Colossians 1: 17-20) and He is closer than a brother (Proverbs 18: 24). He promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13: 5).

The problem for too many of us is that we live in the realm of our senses instead of receiving Himself and His Kingdom by faith. Some skeptics may counter our need to walk by faith by charging that God should manifest Himself to our senses. Paul explains why this cannot be:

"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." (Hebrews 11: 3)

God cannot recreate the world for us so that we may believe, for in the Beginning He called all that He made "good" and therefore cannot go back on His Word.

We have to accept by faith that Jesus Christ died for our sins because Jesus died "once for all" (Hebrews 1:1-3). He cannot die a second time, lest he minister an injustice.

Besides, our feelings merely respond to whatever we are thinking, and so instead of getting balled up in fixing our feelings, we are called to renew our minds through the Truth of God's Word:

"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 12: 2)

We walk by faith, seeing what is invisible:

"By faith he [Moses] forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible." (Hebrews 11: 27)

Moses can serve as an example for all of us who live the world of men dead in their trespasses(Egypt) to enter the Promised Land. As long as we look on Jesus, we are transformed from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3: 18)

What we see with the eyes of our understanding (Ephesians 1: 17-18) cannot be effect by how we feel. Rest in your righteousness, stand still and see the Salvation of the Lord (Exodus 14: 13), and let Him bless you.

Libertarian Temptation -- "I Do What I Want" -- I Live Out of Want

A number of younger voters told me that they were libertarians:

"People should be allowed to live their lives anyway that they want to."

Sounds like a great ideas. That's what freedom is all about, right? Doing what you want, and no one getting in your face about it, as long as you do not hurt anyone, or in Thomas Jefferson's libertarian mantra: "What does not pick my pocket or break my bone."

The problem for many people is that they do not really know what they want. Whatever they are searching for they will never find, not in their efforts, not in their achievements.

Mankind on his own can do nothing. We speak a language that we did not create. We wear clothes that we did not make. We were brought into this world through parents whom we did not chose.

The notion of "free will" in vacuum simply does not exist. We enter into circumstances and certainties, verities and verisimilitudes which we do not define ourselves. We can shape our responses to what we see and influence in turn what influences us, granted, but the notion that we emerge in this world devoid of influence is simply not true, let alone logical.

Man has an embedded logical structure within himself. The "Law of the Excluded Middle" per Aristotle posits that either something exists, or it does not exist. This rule of identity cannot be corrupted without undue harm and disillusionment to follow.

Of course, man in his fallen state rebels against this inevitable limitation. Something exists or it does not. Truth is not malleable. The substance of the three-dimensional world cannot be swept away with idealized notions of "what should be".

If I want to do what I want to, I cannot renege on the consequences. By placing my hand in the fire, I am choosing to get burned.

Freedom as an absence of restraint, therefore, falls apart for die-hard libertarians. In addition to neglecting the fallen nature of man which craves security or control over freedom, he neglects that mankind emerges into political and cultural traditions, sources of identity which carve the pathway he is called to take. There is no freedom, there is no "doing what you want" if one has no awareness of a path to take, if a man is not choosing to do something.

Choice inevitably means surrendering our freedom at a later date. Choosing to raise a family will compromise a man's inner integrity and outer reality should he then decided to live out a bohemian life notwithstanding his conjugal investment. Using illicit substances will compromise a man's freedom of choice and will in the future should the person become addicted. Granted, the state cannot play Super Nanny to every citizen; but people who believe that they should "do what they want" must also recognize the consequences of their choices.

In this sense, too, freedom means nothing when misdirected or unfocused. Free to do "what", exactly? No purpose, no community, no identity, and the internal ravages of fallen man in a fallen world lend him to despair instead of prosperity. A young man who insists on learning everything himself will find himself in bondage to his desperate ignorance, and all of his freedom squandered trying to break free from the prison of self-will.

The libertarian temptation: "I Do What I Want" dilapidates for want of definition. Who is "I", and what does "I" want? The rugged individualism of striking out on one's own leads a man to strike out in every endeavor, sacrificing his radical freedom for a grand conformity in which our deep-set need for recognition and acceptance turns us into resembling, not just reflecting, everyone around us.

Contrary to the melodious assertion of "The Animals", this life is not just mine, or in one's desperate attempt to make it so, we turn into animals indeed, who follow inescapable instincts instead of living a life of distinction.

Being Smart is Not Enough

"I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all." (Ecclesiastes 9: 11)

"The wise" in this world are fools, because they trust in their own intellect, in their own senses and common sense to discern matters which are spiritual:

"22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things." (Romans 1: 22-23)

Can anything be more unseemly and foolish than worshipping an animal and calling it "Lord"?

Yet to this day, modern intellects have done just that, yet instead of worship gods, they worship the state, or they revere the esteem of men at the expense of the eternal truth.

Being smart is not enough. To be well-versed and advised in the ways of the world invites failure and folly:

"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

"But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night." (Psalm 1: 1-2)

"The counsel of the ungodly" is the wit and "wisdom" of the world. The traditions of the elders, the suggestions from co-workers which are not based in Scripture.

"Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" (1 Corinthians 1: 20)


"For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." (1 Corinthians 3: 19)

In fact, anything from the world is a sure bet to fail:

"And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away." (1 Corinthians 7:31)


"And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." (2 John 2: 17)

The will of God is that we grow in grace and knowledge of Him (2 Peter 3: 18)

The more that we know Jesus, the more wisdom we receive, among other wonderful gifts:

"But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Corinthians 1: 30)

Being smart is not enough. Being in Christ grants us wisdom, along with the gifts of righteousness and grace for all that we need.

Why We Read Newspapers, Why We Watch TV

"There but for the grace of God go I. . ."

This should be the state of grace for every believer.

Most of us read the papers or watch TV so we can sit back and shame those who have fallen from repute.

"At least I am not as bad as that guy," we tell ourselves.

In the Kingdom of Heaven, believers do not fall from grace, but they fall into grace:

People fall from grace when they try in their own efforts to accomplish something, when they try to fulfill God's law in their own strength:
"Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace." (Galatians 5: 4)

Paul did nothing of himself, but relied on God living in Him through the Holy Spirit:

"But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." (1 Corinthians 15: 10)

The same grace defends and promotes us when we face opposition or endure attacks:

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Corinthians 12: 9-10)

The press and media rely on shame, blame, and "defame" to make money, relying on the fallen interests of Old Adam, who from the moment he fell from grace, having partaken of the Forbidden Fruit in order to know the Law (Good and Evil), he attempted to cover his shame by his own efforts, then proceeded to blame his wife, who in turn blamed the serpent.

Man has this nasty propensity to turn away from our own inner depravity, in part because we cannot do anything about it, but more importantly because the deceit of sin discloses to man that his problems lie outside of himself, and the answers originate from within.

Jesus Christ came to be made sin, that we may lay on Him all our sin, all our failure, and even the sins and failures of others, so that God could be faithful and just restoring fallen man in risen Christ, where we receive life and that more abundantly.

Instead of reading the news or watching TV, read the Word of God and learn about the new reputation that you have in Christ, established in righteousness and abundance of grace.

State Institutions Do Not Protect Our Kids

The Catholic Church -- one of the largest institutions in the world, one which acts as a sovereign state, complete with its own standing military. In some countries, citizens pay an automatic "tithe" to the church.

The Boy Scouts -- a large, publicly regarded institution.

The Public Schools --government funded institution in which students are required to enroll, or they and their parents will face legal sanctions.

BBC -- a public broadcasting corporation, funded by a garnishment from every citizen in Great Britain.

Penn State - a public university

These institutions have a long history of covering up the exploitation of children by its members.

I read in the LA Times in which one respondent commented that "The Boy Scouts" used to be the most trusted institution in America.

"Institutions" are not trustworthy, no more than "government" has a responsibility.

The media and the public's misplaced trust in institutions must come to an end. Instead of entrusting our youth to organizations, which by their very nature will protect themselves instead of the young charged to their care, parents and students deserve choice where they send their kids and how their tax dollars are spent.

If Penn State had been a private institution, I imagine that a culture of secrecy and cover-up would not have been tolerated. The greed of a private investor will more likely motivate him or her to dismiss an abusive employee. The show of good faith and rapid retribution would ingratiate patrons.

As long as the state or large institutions coerce dollars and support from the citizens in a country, the likelihood that the same institutions will root out perversion in their ranks will remain remote.

Of every institution, only the Boy Scouts implemented serious safeguards following the revelation of abuse. The Boy Scouts, of all the other agencies listed above, has the least attachment to state power.  Privatizing firms will encourage corporate leaders and individual employees to expose perversion and protect children, or at least empower individuals to take their children elsewhere, taking with them their money.

"Era of Good Feelings": A Study in One-Party Rule over Two Terms

Partisan gridlock, hyperpartisan bickering, Congressmen doing nothing to get anything done:

The complaints are louder and shriller than ever -- the party system is a bust, and we the people must reform the process. Let's end the hegemony of a two-party system, some suggest. Let one party have all the control.

We have already seen the results of one-party rule in this country:

While Bush and the Republicans were in power in Congress and the Presidency, from 2001-2007, the spending spree continued freely. Two wars, Medicare expansions, and No Child Left Behind made Bil Clinton look like the more conservative of Chief Executives. From 2009 to 2011, Congressional majorities and a Democratic President pushed through an unfunded mandate using parliamentary gimmicks. A stimulus that was more payout than pay up, with anemic economic recovery still dragging us to bankruptcy.

One party rule is bad. This country has a telling example of the dangers of one-party rule, dressed up as "The Era of Good Feelings." The title alone, taken from federalist bastion Boston, suggests that all was not well. Governing should never be about feelings

"The Era of Good Feelings, from 1817-1825, featured a Democratic-Republican President and like-minded majorities in both chambers of Congress. Even more total than the Bush years and Obama's first term, the opposition party, the Federalists, had become all but discredited following their failed convention pressing for secession. The War of 1812 had crippled the shipping and merchant industries in the Northeast, the last standing ground for the pro-central government faction, which to its limited credit advanced one member into the Presidency -- John Adams -- whose two officious policies helped end the Party's standing, from marginalizing immigrants (Alien Acts) to stifling free speech dissent against the government (Sedition Acts).

Thomas Jefferson, the first Democratic-Republican, advanced a policy of cutting spending, limited the federal government, impounding excessive appropriations back into the treasury. Madison, his successor, hated being President because he could not do all the things that he wanted to, which was a good thing, and a telling declaration since he fathered the Constitution in the midst of heated debate during the Philadelphia convention of 1787.

1816 was a bad year for the dwindling Federalist opposition. Their final Presidential candidate, Rufus King, received a measly 37 electoral votes, with James Monroe sweeping into office. The electors of 1820 with near unanimous consent, reelected him, except for one electoral, who wanted to preserve the unified consent that first President George Washington had receive din 1789.

What happened during this "Era of Good Feelings?"

There is some irony in the name "Era of Good Feelings," for in 1819 the US experienced its first financial panic, due to overspeculation on frontier lands. This caused problems in the Bank of the United States and caused problems for politicians and the lower social classes. This set the stage for the Jacksonian democracy that would emerge with Andrew Jackson’s election in 1828. At the time, however, though things were tough, level-headed and experienced President Monroe was able to keep the nation reasonably happy and confident in the government, as was proven by his victory in the 1820 election.

First financial panic --- a depression, if you will. An economic bubble based on easy credit and suspicious speculation expanded then popped in the frontier region. The unified government under James Monroe furthered an unparalleled spending spree, much like the later spend and debt programs under Bush II and Obama.

During the Monroe Administration, the D-R's incorporated Federalist policies notwithstanding their stern opposition to the party's platforms:

Symbolic of the general feeling of goodwill in the nation, James Monroe ran unopposed for reelection in 1820 and received every electoral vote but one. Although the Federalist Party had disappeared by 1820, some of their nationalist ideas persisted. For example, although Republicans had opposed the national bank in Jefferson’s time, Madison had found it inconvenient to run a war without a national financial institution at his disposal, so the Bank was rechartered in 1816. Madison also felt that a peacetime standing army and a strong Navy were essential safeguards for the country.

 A National Bank screams "Big Government", yet Madison permitted the rechartering of the institution in order to fund defense and maintain a standing army. Madison must have been twisting knots within himself. He had foreseen that wars inevitably justify a larger role for the state in a Republic. "The Father of the Constitution" found himself trampling some of his own principles in order to keep a standing army in place. The British had lost one war with the American colonies; they would not get away with burning down the capitol of the American nation, either.

With no party conflicts in Washington, spending went on a spree. An economic panic swept the country, setting up the division between National Republicans, later the Whigs, and Democratic-Republicans, or the "Democracy" with the loathed or lavished Andrew Jackson as their standard-bearer. While supporting a strong national union, he opposed the National Bank and demanded the decentralization of the country's fiscal policies.

"The Era of Good Feelings" also witnessed the first aggressive foreign policy from the White House. President George Washington discouraged future administrations from entering "foreign entanglements", yet Secretary of State  John Quincy Adams, later one of the leading National Republicans, drafted the Monroe Doctrine, warning European powers to stay out of political matters in the Americas.

The Monroe Doctrine, promulgated by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, directed "hands off" to the rest of the Western World. European powers with current colonial holdings had nothing to fear, yet no further exploitation would be permitted. Latin American nations chafed under such paternalism, but the British Empire's widespread naval forces willingly enforced this directive.

The United States took its first step outside of the small "republic" aspirations of limited government advocates like Thomas Jefferson, and the original intentions of the Framers. One-party rule apparently afforded the Monroe Administration an eased sense of preeminence to step into foreign matters, even though barely a decade prior the British had stormed Washington D.C. and burned the White House.

What was "Good Feelings" for the Boston Press and Academic Historians (many of whom by ideological bent favor more government), turned out to set bad precedents and bad faith in the ruling charter of the country. The ante-bellum Monroe Administration should serve as a warning to future generations of the economic and foreign policy dangers which await a nation should they long for "expedient" one party rule in Washington.

"Concord Hymn" by Ralph Waldo Emerson

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.
American Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, in true Transcendental form, takes the first bullet fired from the battle of Lexington and Concord, the one event into the eternal world changer. Invoking a religious sentiment, Emerson titles his ballad "Concord Hymn". Dispensing with the Eastern mystical fantasies of "Brahma", Emerson calls on another "Spirit", this one the Spirit of America, the individual, restless rustic beat which beat out the British and beat out a path for freedom into the future. The legacy of individual liberty under the rule of law, which the British Empire neglected then violated, this spirit animated the colonists to demand redress for grievances, then split from the Mother Country altogether.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The American Revolution sparked a spirit of individual liberty resisting imperial tyranny, a movement which inspired rebellion in Europe, Latin America, and even Vietnam (though not with the same results).

The symbol waving over the poem and wafting the sense of freedom centers on the "flag to April's breeze unfurled." The banner of rebellion and revelation, the signal to the world that one order was dying and another was breaking forth. April is the first month of Spirit, the month of renewal and rebirth, a spirited time in which rapid yet imperceptible changes transform the cold, barren earth into a revived paradise of farming and plenty. The "embattled farmers" are not sowing seed, but shedding blood, with their first shot "heard round the world." The  mythic history of the Americas starts with the Columbian proposition that the world is round, and now "round the world" the New World fires off and dismisses the Old World which first discovered them. Another symbol connect tradition to truth, a timely action to a timeless legacy, the bridge which the Concord farmers crossed bore witness to their refusal to let the natural order of power and heirarchy diminish their eternal yearnings for liberty.

The bridge "arched the flood." The arch represents the technological advances of centuries past, the wisdom of ancient men which bolsters man's desire to be free from the forces of fallen nature and decay. "Flood" suggests the great flood recorded in the Old Testament, an event which every religion describes in their separate cosmologies. The flood in Noah's day wiped away the sons of God who slept with the women of this earth. The might progency who menaced the earth so dipleased God that he reached out to the last man, one who found grace in his sight, and God bore him and his family above the floods. The waters washed away the wickedness of an old, corrupt order, much like the British Empire of the late 1700's.

From the all-noticed "shot" that awoke the world to a new order of imperial giants cowering in fear before individual man, the second stanza identifies "The foe long since in silence slept." The poet maintains the Enemy of the "embattled farmers" in vague terms, embracing not just the British Empire, but every power which uses its force to subdue and subverty the proper substance of man, his free will manifested in his spirit.

Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;

Weak and dispirited early in the fighting, the American forces rebuffed the efforts of empire to empty the American colonists of their liberty,  from Yorktown the the Treaty of Paris . "The conqueror silent sleeps", no longer having to guard their hard-fought freedom. Instead, the poet longs for a harder gurd for the memory of what they did.

And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

Not the Spirit of Liberty, but the force of time has ravaged the same "arched" bridge. The means of victory has disappeared, and for that reason the poet sings of the glory of the farmers who fired back at an evil power. "The dark stream" reminds one of the inevitable oblivion of man's memory, one which drags the greatest of achievements into a greater sea of lost accomplishments. Yet this loss, because it "creeps" away, permits the next generation to withstand the force of Time, just as the American colonists resisted the Mother Country.

The Battle of Lexington and Concord

Time has  had its effect, then Nature does its work.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

"Green banks" and "soft streams" conjure up transitions and transitoriness, two novel foes who may sweep away the long-standing victories of the American forces. Not a flag, not a bridge, but a stone of remembrance will rest in place against these eroding forces, a marker which the ancient Hebrews called Eben-Ezer. The Twelve Tribes of Israel established twelve such markers to remind the Israelites that their forefathers left Egypt to enter the Promised Land, yet no before they had crossed the Red Sea and then the Jordan, where the Lord had divided the waters for them. No bridges were needed then, and for the writer of the Concord Hymn, instead of bridge, a votive stone of accomplishment and request, reminding people what the Concord farmers did, and pleading with future members not to forget.

"Deed" and "Redeem" carry on the same vowel, and every historical marker seeks to do the same with every event, taking the work and enhancing its value, buying it back from oblivion to remind future generations of their debt.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

There is a "Spirit" which animated the farmers who fired "the shot heard round the world." They "dared to die" because they cared to "leave ther children free." "Leave" suggests calm without disruption from other people. "Free" will carry the sense of "no restraint from the state" and "no cost from the state." The cost for this freedom was precious, though.

This Spirit, the memory as well as the mission of these men, has the power to put aside not just Empires, not just the former orders of man oppressing man, but Time and Nature, too; the ravages of decay and the common regeneration may rival the witness of triumphs true and hard-won, but the poet still commands the same Spirit for spectators "Now" to reflect on "Then".

So, on Independence Day -- and any day -- let us reflect on what took place over two centuries ago, when individual farmers withstood the tyranny of the British Empire, and after seven years of defeats, near-misses, and consummate victories, the American colonists created the United States of America.

Though the world may fear that the City on the Hill's light has dimmed, they should also remember that all it took to reignite the fight for liberty was "one shot heard round the world".