Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Salvation Army Kettle

I'm a Salvationist.

The church I attend is the Salvation Army. It's not a perfect church--as it's populated by imperfect people--but overall I joined it because I agree with the message which it embraced at its founding.

One of the most visible icons of the Salvation Army is the Red Kettle which appears throughout the world during this time of year. The Red Kettle has a long history, as it began in 1891, with the Captain Joseph McFee wanting to help the poor in San Francisco. Unfortunately, he had no funding for his desire to help the poor, then he remembered seeing a large kettle called "Simpson's Pot" during his days as a sailor while in Liverpool, England. The Simpson's Pot was basically the same thing as the Red Kettle today in that passengers of those boats docked at the port in Liverpool would toss coins into it to help the poor.

So the Captain took a pot to Oakland Ferry Landing, tossed a sign up, and was thus able to collect enough donations to have a Christmas dinner for the poor, and the Kettle has spread like wildfire both through the collective unconscious related to the Christmas season and through the Salvation Army itself as a viable means of collecting donations.

Now, you may be wondering why on earth I'm talking about these things. After all, nearly everyone has seen one, and while some may not know all that history junk up above about them, they all know that the Kettles are related to helping the poor during Christmas.

The reason I'm writing on them, is because of an article I read today about what is being called a "plastic kettle." Apparently, these were tested in Dallas and Colorado Springs last year, and this year they are enlarging the test market to 30 cities.

What this thing is, is basically your standard Red Kettle, but attached to it is a wireless credit card reader similar to the ones found on gas station pumps.

I read the linked article over on Fox News, and frankly, was dismayed.

I don't like credit cards. I'm not even that fond of my debit card and do carry cash for my lunch during the week and things like that. I firmly believe that it is too easy to over-extend ones self with either of these things, in addition to other problems associated with them.

But even above and beyond that, the Salvation Army in its primary role as a Christian Church should not be encouraging the use of debt-creation tools.

After all, Romans 13:8 states (NIV):
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.
That's Paul, telling the Romans quite clearly that they should pay off their debt as fast as possible.

I find it hard to reconcile that scripture with the preponderance of tools which are designed to make it easier to put us in debt.

Additionally, what they seem to fail to grasp (or worse, never considered) is that debt is bondage, and Galations 5:1 says (NSV):
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
There, that is Paul telling us to eschew any form of slavery--whether to debtors or drugs or alcohol or even to the legalism which the Galations were preaching in regards to the Law.

No, this is a bad move on the Salvation Army's part, as it leads directly to further bondage and debt, a state which we as Christians are supposed to be moving away from. The Bible teaches that we are supposed to live free lives, secure in the knowledge of the Grace and love of Christ.

As far as I am concerned, and as a Christian, I won't be using a plastic kettle. Ever.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Would you call 911 if the police steal your car?

There's a growing problem in this country. In fact, in the Metro Detroit area, this problem has blossomed at a rate of more than 50%, and generated a price tag of at least $30.63 MILLION dollars as of 2007 (that 50% growth rate is from 2003, by the way).

What could this problem be?


For those who are not aware, a forfeiture is when the police take private property away from citizens, and either charge them money to have the property returned, or sell said property at auction. Of course, this property doesn't have to be "property" as it could just be sums of cash that they have seized.

Also notice that I never said that the property in question was utilized in a crime, nor that the people who have had their property take was ever charged with a crime. Convictions are out of the question in this process.

Why you ask? Why would the police--those individuals supposedly there to stop the forced taking of private property, be actively performing this activity?

Money of course.

Here's a quote from one Sgt. Dave Schriener, who runs Canton Township, Michigan's "forfeiture unit:"
Police departments right now are looking for ways to generate revenue, and forfeiture is a way to offset the costs of doing business.You'll find that departments are doing more forfeitures than they used to because they've got to -- they're running out of money and they've got to find it somewhere.
For the record, the Canton Township has a population of around 90,000 and their "forfeiture unit" raised $343,699 in 2008.

It's not surprising that more and more police forces are actively using forfeiture as a way to generate income. After all, the more money they bring in, the less that the legislature will hand them. Therefore, they need to seize just that much more the next year. It's an endless, destructive cycle which has lead to such things as forfeitures for gambling, minor drug possession, and even loitering near illegal activity.

Yes, you read that right, just being close by illegal activity is enough to get your private property taken away, and you not being able to get it back until you pay a fine--and again, there was no crime being committed by the person who owns the property.

This is just another of the many, many abuses by the occupying military police forces that is found in every corner of our nation.

And the blantant theft of private property in order to further fund the insanity involved in police military operations on our soil is just a further insanity that needs to be cleared up.

Consider this, I don't normally like the thing that comes out of the more liberal justices mouths. In fact, I cringed at some of the historical opinion/rulings from Justice Sotomayor during her confirmation hearings. But, I'm about to quote her.

Last month, the Supreme Court heard a case on six people from Chicago who sought PROMPT hearings on the seizure of their cars and money (notice that we're not even talking about getting this stuff back, but just getting the chance to say "hey, there was no crime, and that's mine" to a judge). During this, a federal attorney told the court that the government needs time to determine who owns a car and to investigate that person's connection to the criminal activity.

To this statement, Justice Sotomayor said: "I'm sorry. You take the car and then you investigate?"

If even a Leftist can see the logical fallacy in a process or statement then you've got to realize the utter lunacy which it entails.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thought Crime Act of 2009

Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime is death.
-- Nineteen Eighty-Four

It's amazing to see how far we've come since George Orwell published his sadly prescient, dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Sadly, we have yet another example of the United States' government enacting legislation which is designed to control not just the speech and actions of the citizenry, but their very thoughts. Of course, in today's politically correct version of Newspeak, such legislation is called "Hate Crimes."

Sadly, as socialist (both the economic and social varieties) gain more and more power in this country, such concepts gain greater and greater traction and acceptance.

But back on point, The Chosen One has recently signed a new law (the law was signed on 10/28/2009) which does two things: the first is add additional money to the fiasco in Afghanistan and the second is attack the very central concepts of free speech in this country.

It's amazing how Congress can design a law which is able to do two incredibly different things, both of which inherently destroy as many lives as possible.

Anyways, the Matthew Shephard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, henceforth known as the CrimeThink Act of 2009, expands the 1969 Federal Hate-Crime Law to:

  • include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability
  • removes the prerequisite that the victim be engaging in a federally-protected activity (such as voting)
  • gives federal authorities greater ability to engage in thought crimes investigations that local authorities choose not to pursue
  • provides $10,000,000 in funding for 2008 & 2009 to help state/local agencies pay for investigating thought crimes
  • requires the FBI to track statistics on thought crimes against transgender people (other "protected" groups are already tracked)

Probably what amuses me the most about this rather un-Constitutional law is who it is named after. Sure, James Byrd, Jr. and Matthew Shephard were killed due to the thought crimes as described in the CrimeThink Act of 2009, additionally, those individuals responsible for killing the two in question were never charged under a thought-crime legislation.

Of course the simple fact that there was no thought crime legislation under which they could be flogged didn't stop their killers from being caught, tried and convicted.

But hey, what does that matter to those evil folks who push thought crime legislation through our governments? They care less about the fact that those responsible for killing someone were arrested, tried and convicted than they do that they weren't arrested, tried and convicted for saying things that they don't agree with.

Above all of this, heck, even above and beyond the concept of free speech, this is something which the United States Federal Government should have never brought to life. It is inherently un-Constitutional for reasons even above and beyond the free speech one.

First, there are serious repercussions regarding double jeopardy. The way this law is worded, Federal Prosecutors could charge, and convict, someone for a thought-crime, for which said person was acquitted of the actual crime.

Think about that: you could be charged and convicted because of THOUGHTS which lead to the beating/death of someone, for which you are legally (and possibly even actually) innocent of. Worse, you would receive a lengthier sentence than if you had been convicted of the actual crime of beating/killing someone.

Now think about this, our Constitution provides clear and concise limits on the power that Congress has. There are things Congress is allowed to do and things that it is not allowed to do. This concept was reaffirmed back in 1994 in United States v. Lopez. Of course, Congress has ignored the concept once again as it scrambles to draw more power to itself.

The thing is that back when the Constitution was actually relevant to our way of life, one knew that police powers were almost exclusively within the domain for the States. Additionally,it has long been understood (at least until Thought Crime legislation started making the rounds) that (and here I'm quoting the dissenting opinion of Justice Frankfurter for the case: W.Va. State Board of Educ. v. Barnette) "Law is concerned with external behavior and not with the inner life of man."

Why have we forgotten that?

Oh wait, we haven't--provided that the law in question is related to sexual deviancy, or what two consenting adults choose to do within the confines of their own home. Of course, simple things such as your thoughts and beliefs, well, you'd have better luck asking for a fire to not burn you than expect the government to not try and control what you think and believe.

And that has become a fundamental aspect of our rulers: they want to control every aspect of our lives. They expect us to bow and kowtow to their whims on everything to how we can improve our personal property to whether or not we have health care insurance.

Such tryanny used to be called such. It used to be understood in this country that totalitarian regimes were not a good thing.

Sadly, such wisdom has been lost in our leaders rush to provide us with such a thing.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

What Obama Has Done....

The Lefties are so up-in-arms over the (by-now) comments about Obama's lack of actions, that it's almost funny. Of course, Obama has done some things, it would be nearly impossible to be in the Presidency for 9 months and win a Nobel Peace Prize otherwise. Oh wait....

Anyways, what brings this about is an Esquire article which, in a fit of writer pique went about detailing all the wonderful things that the Chosen One has done to us. Well, such an article makes me want to respond, and point out the problems in Obama's "successes." That said, I'm not even going to address the obvious Liberal tilt in said article, but rather just look at the said list.

So, without further ado...
  • Bank Bailout -- A $350 BILLION dollar drain on our economy, when the system is designed to punish failing institutions with bankruptcies.
  • Closing of Guantanamo -- which still has not happened...
  • Reversing overseas funding to family planning organizations -- Obama is giving away money to other countries when our budget is already out of control with his $350,000,000,000 handout to banks
  • Green Light to California car-emissions standards -- which are insanely prohibitive, and have not been proven effective about the "green house" gases. And why exactly does a state need federal approval to set emissions standards? They can pass it and kill their economy if they wish, and the Feds have no say in the matter.
  • The Stimulus Bill -- In which another nearly $800,000,000,000 dollars was taken out of productive use and handed out via fiat/whims
  • America's Withdrawal from Iraq -- in which we've replaced our armed forces with scores of private contractors (and our Armed Forces are actually still there). That's not a withdrawal, plus we're still in Afghanistan and maintain a military presence in scores of other countries.
  • Allow federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research -- again, handing out money for something that has no proven use or need. There has never been a successful embryonic stem cell research--now adult stem cell has proven useful, but they'd rather kill human fetuses to harvest stem cells
  • Forced GM & Chrysler into bankruptcy -- and then forced their stakeholders to accept marginal returns on their investments, while giving the union (which is part and parcel of the reason the companies in question went under in the first place) a commanding interest far above and beyond its claimed stake. What that means is that people who invested in GM & Chrysler were told to bend over and take it, while the Union which gave money to Obama's campaign was given a pretty big carrot
  • Reset the "tone" of our relations with the entire Arab world -- and of course, this "reset" of the tone has stopped Arabs from tossing suicide bombers at people...oh, wait, no it hasn't. But hey, we did promise to curtail free speech in our country to appease their insane rantings
  • Cash for Clunkers leading to Ford's announced $1,000,000,000 profit -- and as soon as the socialist buyout of cars ended, the "gains" in car sales dried up, and we're back where we started. Except now a lot of folks have huge car loans which they probably won't be able to afford.
  • Sonia Sotomayor -- the Justice who is on the record as being biased against white males.
  • The "Obama" tax cut -- is not really a tax cut. Most of the folks getting the "tax credit" are those individuals who currently do not pay taxes already. In actuality, it is a wealth redistribution scheme as money is taken from tax payers and given (yet again) to those who do not pay. The list of reasons against this success actually existing continue here.
And that was the "Liberal" successes... the article also goes on and brings up what they call "Conservative" successes...
  • Appointments to Sec. of Defense and the CIA and others -- well whoop-de-doo! He has knowledgeable people from outside his "party" running aspects of his administration.
  • Drone attacks against Al Qaeda -- the same attacks that are randomly killing or maiming innocent Afghans?
  • "Tweaking" Military tribunals for Guantanamo prisoners -- and? They are still prisoners, they're still there. They still aren't U.S. citizens, and as such still aren't subject to the rights of United States citizens...
  • "Warrantless-Wiretaping" -- Big surprise that a Big-Government/Chicago-style-politics President would want the ability to secretly, and without Judicial oversight, listen in on people's conversations.
  • Sending 17,000 soldiers to Afghanistan in February, 2009 -- but sitting on the request for additional troops in August for over a month, despite the person he placed in charge stating that the troops are needed for continued support of ongoing operations. And what happened to getting out of unilateral wars?

Of course this leads me to ask the question: THESE are "Conservative" successes?

Where's the fiscal responsibility?

Where's the lessening of government strictures and structures?

Where's the return of Constitutional rule?

Where's the concept of Rule by States?

Where's the concept of a personal freedom and responsibility?

All I see are big-government/big-brother expanses of government (the "Liberal" successes) and the continuance of a "war" which was not declared according to Constitutional guidelines.

Sure, Obama has done some things. Unfortunately, none of them are good for us as a people or a country. Worse, he plans to further drag our country into debt with another unnecessary and un-Constitutional program.

There has been no successes here, and there has especially not been what I would call a Conservative success.