Thank you veterans!

Some people get really upset with those who do not believe military service should be compulsory. Or they believe people like me who oppose military service on religious grounds are weak, cowardly, or sissies. That is not true. I would say to you if you are a veteran, Thank you for defending my right to religious freedom in our country, but respectfully believe a Christian should not participate in military service. I do not condone violence and believe the Bible teaches Christians to be non-resistant. It actually takes a lot of courage to stand your ground on faith and NOT fight sometimes.
I’d urge you to study John 18:35 “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” As well as Jesus words in Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Then later in Matthew 5:43-44 He says “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”
How are these teachings from Jesus Himself compatible with going to war or defending any country? They aren’t. Many Christians over the years all around the world have been imprisoned, tortured, and even killed for this belief, but Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 5:10-11, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”

Liberty to Lie?

One of my big things is being honest and teaching my kids to be honest. I do not expect everyone to be honest back all the time, but generally most people are. I DO expect organizations that publish “facts” to be honest in their reporting.

One such organization is the Susan B. Anthony List. This is a pro-life and women’s rights organization which broadcasts short daily alerts and information on Christian radio stations. I used to enjoy listening to their broadcasts and esteemed them fairly highly. However, a few days ago that changed dramatically.

I heard a report of the radio news that the Susan B. Anthony List is suing under freedom of speech for the right to give untrue information about political candidates they oppose. That’s right. They are suing for the right to lie!

After hearing this, I now question everything previously broadcast by them. I wonder exactly how much was really true and how much was just made up to forward their cause. While I agree that everyone has the right to lie, I don’t think it right for an organization to be able to lie without some sort of disclaimer. Otherwise, it is defamation of character. Plus, it’s not just a private conversation. It’s to be broadcast and published to persuade others regarding national and local politics.

I also wonder why they feel the need to lie to others. If their cause is so good, why not just stick to the facts? Are they really that desperate this election that they need to lie to win?

Education & gov’t shutdown

Well, they did it. Or rather didn’t do it depending how you look at things. Our lawmakers have neglected to come to a reasonable compromise on the budget, so they have shut down the US government. Not only are things that are federal workers laid off, minor inconveniences (except to the workers) like national parks shut, but I discovered tonight while trying to research some things online that several government run education websites are also down.

That’s just silly. I mean how expensive is an existing website anyway? It’s not like you are paying a person to sit there updating it all the time. You just pay to have the server running and the domain registered. Probably virus and firewall software is installed and monitored periodically. I can think of better ways to save money. It probably cost more to have all federal websites taken offline than they will save.

So our lawmakers are holding the federal government hostage. Yes, they are no better than petty terrorists or spoiled brats. I also notice that even though millions of federal workers are laid off, lawmakers will still be receiving their pay. If they are serious about shutting things down, they should include themselves. Otherwise, they are hypocrites!

Stop the games and get to work Washington! We are having some good discussions about the true purpose of government  as well as healthy budgeting at our house from this though.

Common Core brainwashing

I saw this article today on Yahoo! about a poem a North Carolina teacher had taught eighty students in fifth grade to recite at their end of year program. It may be an isolated event. The teacher may have even though this was cute to teach. However, it is subtle brainwashing of our public school students. Using them as pawns in the Common Core debate.

The theme and title of the poem is “We Learned More with Common Core”. I agree with critics that it’s reminiscent of some of the Soviet era brainwashing propaganda that I’ve seen and heard about. Here’s the poem:

Text genre, features & theme to explore

We learned more with common core.

Fractions, decimals, journal prompts galore

We learned more with common core.

RUNNER & CUBES are strategies for

Learning more with common core.

Vocab words like (clouds, organs, force), & omnivore

We learned more with common core

Economy, government, Revolutionary war

We learned more with common core.

So many new concepts to explore

We learned more with common core

Planned Parenthood lies

Planned Parenthood are desperate liars. I can now state that with proof.

Recently my father-in-law received a notice on the outside marked that it was sent as per his request. Inside was a letter to him thanking him for taking their call and letting them know he didn’t want to receive any more phone calls. It also said he would be excluded from any more phone solicitations. It went on to ask if he wanted any other limitations on contact to let them know and included a phone number and e-mail. It concluded by thanking him for his support.  That sounds reasonable, right?

There’s just one problem. My father-in-law has been dead for over 7 years! There is no way he could have taken their call.

Call it a simple mistake, or clerical error, but I don’t think so. My mother-in-law requested to be removed from their mailing list over a year ago and they confirmed her removal, but still continue to send her several things each week.

Who has your kids?

There was a disturbing article in today’s newspaper about two young children who were taken from an Anchorage public school by OCS (office of children’s services) workers. It was supposed to be for a parental visit. Just one problem: they picked up the wrong kids!

That’s right. The state agency removed the wrong kids from the school. The agency’s excuse was that the regular worker was out sick and this was someone else who apparently got the name wrong because these kids and the correct ones had similar names.

In the meantime, the mother calls the school and was told OCS had the kids. She called OCS and was told they didn’t have any kids with those names. The mix-up was eventually discovered and the kids returned in about 45 minutes.

So a big problem here. First, why did the school not require verification of who was to be picked up? When I worked at an elementary school, they required documentation stating the CORRECT names of the child to be picked up by anyone other than the parent or legal guardian. So why was this basic policy not followed by the school? If it had been they would have known these were the wrong kids right away and not have allowed them to go with OCS.

So what if the names were similar! If they aren’t the same, they aren’t the right kids. Just because it is a state agency taking them shouldn’t mean they don’t verify who they are taking is correct. The social worker and school should have both verified they were the correct kids before removing them from the school.  The kids are age 6 and 8. As it was, neither the school or social worker checked to be sure they had to right kids.

It’s all fine and good to say the kids should not have gone with them. Stranger danger and all that, but this is a public school, where kids are taught to go unquestioningly with adults they don’t know. The kids just assume it will be all right since the school said it was ok to go. At least they didn’t try to stop the social worker in front of the kids, so that implied consent to a child’s mind.

I’m glad nothing really bad happened to the kids. The school probably verified the social worker’s identity, so why not also the names kids to be taken? Can any social worker show up and take kids like this without verification of the child’s identity? How naive! How scary!

The school and OCS need to seriously review how they handle these kinds of transactions so incidents like this never happen again. The social worker should be fired, and probably the school worker who allowed the kids’ release too.

Did she do it?

Well, it certainly was anything but ordinary around Alaska the last national political season. This year is no different.

It started off pretty dull. We had the usual primary where the democrats and republicans chose a candidate from all those who were seeking office. The winners were Scott McAdams for the democrats and Joe Miller for the republicans. Miller was anti-establishment and had some good ideas. He defeated current US Senator Lisa Murkowski.

However, Murkowski wouldn’t take no for an answer. This is where it gets interesting. She conceded the election to Miller a few days later. After nosing around unsuccessfully for an endorsement from other places, Murkowski decided to start a write-in campaign. Pay no matter that a write-in campaign has not been successful for national office anywhere in decades. I just looked it up, and the last successful write-in US Senate campaign was Strom Thurman in 1954!

Well, Miller was backed by not only Republican national committee, but also the Tea Party. Murkowski was now independent against both McAdams and Miller. At first no one really took her seriously. Then Miller started talking, or rather not talking, depending upon the question.

First, Miller said he wanted to repeal the 17th Amendment which allows direct election of the House of Representatives and return it to nomination by the Senate. He was against public assistance, yet he himself received public assistance when he was first came to Alaska out of law school. He’s never held a political office.

There were issues about his termination as a public attorney here in Fairbanks. He refused to release his employment file to the public. A lawsuit was filed by the media. The judge ruled that since he was asking to become a national politician, the public right to know his past was more important than his right to privacy so the records were made public, except pages about health information and stuff like that. After it was release, Miller said he should have made them public sooner and blamed a young campaign team. He also said his statement that his prior comment about repealing the 17th Amendment was “philosophical” and he wouldn’t actually try to do that. I’m sorry if you don’t follow your philosophy, why have one? He was starting to sound like a flip-flop. Would he do that on really important issues after he was elected?

All this time, Murkowski was gaining momentum. She had a proven record in public service, even if you didn’t always agree with it. She was a republican, so if you didn’t like Miller, you had a republican alternative. She did a big advertising campaign on tv, radio, and in newspapers telling people how to vote a write-in ballot: Fill it in, write it in. (we still have paper ballots so you have to fill in an oval next to the candidate’s name.) Her street signs showed a ballot line correctly filled out with her name written in.

Interesting yet? Add in a state Supreme court ruling about a write in candidate list and an attempt at confusion. The division of elections wanted to make it easier for people to vote write-in by having a list at the poll of write-in candidates to be given out.  As a response to this list, an outside group tried to create confusion by having about 100 people file last minute as write-in candidates with no intention to be elected. Personally, I think this should be a form of election fraud. It was on an Anchorage radio station. The station fired the commentator. Originally the list was allowed then not. I don’t know what will happen to the votes of early voting ballots that used the list.

Well, the election was yesterday. No list of write-in candidates was given. However, by now Murkowski has had her name all over the place in ads and signs. Plus, since her dad was governor not too long ago, the name is somewhat familiar still to Alaskan politics.

Early election results showed Miller and write-ins about even. Then write-ins pulled ahead. Since the write-ins have to be manually read and counted other than just them being a write-in, it isn’t certain Murkowski is the write-in, but presumably so. Today McAdams conceded the election.

This means a republican has won the US senate seat from Alaska. The only question that remains is which one?  As of now, McAdams received 24%, Miller 34%, and write-ins 41%. It’s pretty bad when you lose to not only one, but (presumably) two republicans at once. Including one whose name wasn’t even listed on the ballot.

No. Alaskan politics is anything but dull. Nor are we quitters who always go away after defeat. First, we had an vice-presidential nominee who remains popular in national politics. And now possibly a successful write-in campaign for US Senate who lost the primary.

Oh, and if you are wondering, voters who wrote-in Miller’s name won’t be counted, since he wasn’t a write-in candidate. You had to fill in next to his printed name to count for him.

Political fine print

There is a proposition in Alaska to require notification of parents for pregnancy care including abortions of underage girls in Alaska. I think this is a good idea and will be voting for it, but that’s not my issue here. The issue is disclosure in advertising.

There is an ad encouraging a no vote on this proposition. It was sponsored by a group calling themselves Alaskans Against Government Mandates. Sounds like a grass roots group of Alaskans fighting big government right? However, if you read the fine print you will see that the top 2 contributors for this group are the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. This is an underhanded way to trick Alaskans into thinking other Alaskans are concerned about this proposition from the perspective of government interference when in reality it is outside groups trying to influence state politics.

I like seeing the list of top contributors on the ad. My concern is that individuals may be intimidated if they see their name on the ads. Politics has traditionally been anonymous. But with so many large, out of state organizations like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and unions having a sway in the outcomes, groups should be compelled to publicly list them in advertising. It is also unlikely that many individuals will have funds to be a top contributor to major elections.

I have no problems with groups like that in elections.  They are among the largest opposers to this proposition and have been willing to put their name out against it in other places. But banding together under a misleading name like this is dishonest to say the least. It is coercion. Why don’t they just put their name on the ads? Are they afraid of the truth? Because of this, I am in favor of requirements for large contributors to be disclosed on all ads.

While your actual vote should be confidential, I don’t think it is an invasion of privacy to require this disclosure. It does not limit government involvement by individuals. Instead, it helps cut down on the misleading names if you read the fine print and find out they really are a cover for national organizations with a stake in the outcomes.

Recalls

Is it just me or have there been a lot more recalls in the past few years than ever? Companies are taking short cuts to help raise profits again as the worldwide recession ends, potentially putting their consumers at risk. Plus there are fewer government oversights and inspections that would catch problems before they get to market, especially imported products. Everything to toys, furniture, food, and now medicine have been recalled.

The most recent recalls of food and medicine are very concerning because they are products that are marketed to children. Campbell’s recall of Spaghetti-O’s with meatballs in 3 varieties was due to a malfunctioning cooker. However, they don’t know when the cooker malfunctioned so they are recalling everything made since 2008. That’s right, 2008. How did they not catch this in 2 years of production?

Johnson and Johnson has recalled Tylenol, Benadryl, Motrin, and Zyrtec.  Ingredients in these products were found to be contaminated with bacteria, however no tained finished products have been found. A recent inspection found several violations. Equipment was found held together with duct tape and others had thick layers of dust on it. Not only that but that but  some of the recalled medicines may have a higher concentration of the active ingredient than listed on the bottle. Others may contain particles or inactive ingredients that do not meet testing requirements. Yikes!

Both of these recalls could have been prevented. Campbells should have checked their equipment periodically. Johnson & Johnson had received complaints about specks in their medicines which weren’t investigated. These are major public health and safety concerns. Rather than spend a little time and money in prevention, these companies now have the larger cost of recalls, fines, and loss of revenue. Not to mention loss of consumer confidence in their products.

It’s not that laws aren’t already in place to deal with problems like this. There are. The problem is in inspection and enforcement. Unless there is a problem, I believe inspections are planned. I think companies need to have surprise inspections at every facility to catch problems before they can be cleaned up and give inspectors a better idea of real time working conditions. Also, just because a company has a prior clean inspections, shouldn’t give it an automatic pass the next time.

These recalls don’t undermine my confidence in the companies as much as in the federal government inspection program of the FDA. While I’m glad they found the problems and the companies are now working on correcting them,  why weren’t these problems found sooner? 2 years of potentially contaminated meat is unacceptable.

Read more on the recent rash of recalls. Surprisingly, I found more information about them from the Christian Science Monitor website instead of mainstream news sites, but all are Associated Press reports.

Tylenol recall investigated May 6, 2010

Drug recall expanded June 17, 2010

Spaghetti-O’s recall June 18, 2010

Kellog cereal recall June 25, 2010

Kroger ice cream recall June 15, 2010

McDonald’s “Shrek” glasses June 10, 2010

Thomas Jefferson and religious freedom

There is a lot of talk these days about Thomas Jefferson and religion. He is cited as the source of “separation between church and state” in discussions of the first amendment. However, this is taken out of context. Not only is separation of church and state not anywhere in the fist amendment, Jefferson only used the phrase once. It was in a personal letter.

As for the Constitution, Jefferson was in Europe at the time the Constitution was written. Many mistakenly assume since he wrote the Declaration of Independence, he also wrote the Constitution. He had nothing to do with it’s writing or ratification. Later when asked about parts of it, he said he was unqualified to answer because he wasn’t there. So if Jefferson wasn’t there, and wouldn’t talk about religion and the Constitution himself, why is he used today to wrongly defend a position he himself refused to take?

Jefferson was in favor of total freedom of religion. Jefferson lived in a time when countries forced their citizens to belong to a “state” church. Persecution by the state for those who believed differently was real. Jefferson didn’t like that. He wanted people to be free to believe any way they chose without interference by the state either for or against. This is the non-establishment part. The state should not force religion upon its citizens. Nor should it limit expression of religion.

Today we are quick to embrace the first part. However, we have greatly failed in the second. It isn’t an either or. But instead is a balance of both. This is true freedom of religion. Freedom is religion includes the freedom of atheists and others not to believe. To force the atheistic view above all religions is for the state to enforce atheism, which is actually a form of religion in that it’s a belief in no religion or God.

An atheistic state is the lead up to socialism and even communism. The state determines what is right and wrong. It begins by placing the desires of the few above the freedoms of the many. Thomas Jefferson understood the danger in this.

Now Texas is rewriting it’s history program to get rid of teaching about Thomas Jefferson. That way no one will know when he is incorrectly cited or taken out of context. The danger is that since Texas is such a large state, textbook revisions to accommodate their new program will likely be sold to other states.  Thus, eliminating Jefferson there as well.

I would urge you to learn more about our founding fathers so you will better know how precious and precarious our freedoms are. Start by reading the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and Bill of Rights so you know exactly what’s in them yourself. Despite their importance, they aren’t very long. Perhaps our current lawmakers should read them as well to learn about how to be brief and to the point in writing law.

There’s also some great audio recordings about Jefferson. One is by Jim Weiss. Another is a 2 part episode of Focus on the Family. They also have a DVD. Even if you support the separation of church and state, you should do your homework on the true history of this idea. If you think it’s in the Constitution, you’re in for a surprise because that phrase isn’t mentioned anywhere in it.