Arthur M. Hippler and the Iranian Mullahs Want Religion to Check Government
Chesterton and Belloc Argued Against Wide Gaps in Income and Wealth between Rich and Poor
Elected Anglo American Leaders Dishonored Christian Value in War
Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) is a National Hero
Good Job Gov. Blanco and Col. Jeff Smith - Louisiana is Blessed to Have’ya
The Social Duty of Religion and the Right to Religious Freedom
Newt Gingrich Suggests a 75 year Effort to Change Attitudes in the Middle East - In mid August 2005, Newt Gingrich addressed the National Press Club on certain health care reforms he was promoting. His health proposals sounded “well considered” and certainly worthy of national debate. It seems Newt is considering a run for President, and such a campaign would be most enlightening because he is inclined to engage difficult issues in a fulsome way. The press would be forced to cover issues, not just the “horse race”, with Newt running.
The only troubling remark by Newt came in the Q and A when in response to a question about Iraq, he allowed as how America should plan for a seventy five year engagement with Islam changing the culture of the Arab Middle East. Newt feels that it is America’s duty to move Arab women into modernity, reduce the role of Islam in government, and promote western style democracy. Newt is intelligent, politically astute, and a trained historian; for such a person to propose such a program, that would necessarily consume much blood and treasure, is alarming.
One has to ask, what is inducing such a man to make such a proposal. The last time a Christian army decided to take on an Islamic people in such a thoroughgoing way, each Muslim, at the point of a sword, had to convert to Christianity or leave the territory. This of course happened in the Iberian peninsula over the first half of the last millennium. The dislocations and family anguish that occurred over these 500 years provided source material for some of Western civilization greatest stories. The infamous Inquisition was instituted by the Church to flush out those who had falsely claimed to be sincere Christian converts .
Given the importance of the Koran to all aspects of life in Muslim society, it is unlikely that Newt’s program could be implemented by invading Christians any more easily today. There must be some other factor that in inducing the former Speaker of the House to make such an imprudent suggestion. What could that other factor be?
Newt Gingrich seems to interested in running for President so he will need favorable free media and money. That means he will to need to be on the right side of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). This group is , after the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), the most powerful political force in America. AIPAC is interested in helping Israel and has demonstrated an ability to arrange money and other good things for those that support Israel and Israel’s position on issues. AIPAC is also prepared to spy on and viciously attack those that question Israel or America’s involvement with Israel. Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D - GA) encountered AIPAC’s wrath when she ran for re-election after publicly criticizing America’s favoritism toward Israel. Ms. McKinney found herself facing a opponent in the Democratic primary that was well funded by Jewish interests. Today Israel wants Islam to mutate into a moderate, bland religion which accommodates pluralistic democracy, modern media, consumerism and a Jewish state in its midst. In addition, Israel is promoting the use of American soldiers to accomplish such a transformation in Iraq. Gingrich seems determined to adopt this Israeli dream as part of his campaign platform.
If the next President, be it Gingrich or someone else, attempts to start a 75 year program to remake the culture of the Arab Mideast, the American people will react to the loss of American blood and treasure. They will likely move toward isolationism; that will probably leave Israel high and dry surrounded by more intense Arab hostility than anything encountered heretofore and with no American aid, no American military equipment or military advisors.
In closing, it should be noted that America’s political class is populated by pols who speak about how much their religious faith influences their policy positions. Obviously these American leaders do not appreciate the deep faith that moves certain Iraqis to commit suicide while killing Americans. These leaders probably have never really thought about the deep faith that caused Christian martyrs to die in Roman coliseums. Remember the founder of Islam was a warrior leader who succeeded against great odds in several battles for territory, while the founder of the Christian religion accepted a cruel death without resistence. True believers model themselves on their hero prophets. Faithful Muslims believe it is part of their religious duty to preserve Muslim dominance in the areas conquered by Islamic armies, particularly the areas around the cities that were important to Mohammad and the early Caliphs - Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem, Bagdad, Damascus, and Cairo . Israel is situated on such land and will likely be a target for religious Muslims until it ceases to exist. It is apparent that America’s political class has little or no understanding of the deep emotions being stirred up in the hearts of believing Muslims by American actions since 1948.
(prepared by Hugh Murray 8/24/2005)
Perhaps Melanie Randolph Miller should be Considered for the Supreme Court? - On Sunday, July 10, 2005 C-SPAN ran a Book TV show about Gouverneur Morris who served as the US ambassador to France during the terror 1789 to 1794. The speaker was Melanie Randolph Miller who is a Professor at Ithaca College in New York. She has written a book about Morris’s actions, observations, and thoughts during his years in Paris. This man was well educated and well informed about the problems encountered in America forming a democratic system, and yet he helplessly watched as the French got the process very wrong, killed un-tolled numbers of their fellow countrymen, and ended up with the dictator, Napoleon.
The speaker possess a engineering degree from MIT, a law degree from Berkeley, and a PhD in History. She has also worked as a lawyer at the FAA During her talk she demonstrated a detail understanding of the tensions and balances that exist between the people and the government in a democracy. She is mature perhaps in her fifties. She handled her material in a very organized way and she handled the questions and answers in a sensitive, thoughtful way.
Perhaps, if someone on President Bush’s committee to screen Supreme Court nominations sees this essay, they might put Melanie Randolph Miller on the list for consideration because:
1) She has worked at the FAA as a lawyer so she understands how administrative law in America works (or doesn’t work), as government initiated administrative burdens increase.
2) She has worked at the FAA so she is no doubt familiar with airplane manufactures here and abroad, with local governments (through their airport authorities), with airline companies that have been struggling to survive, and with government employee problems such as experienced by the air traffic controllers.
3) She has an engineering degree and the Supreme Court needs members with above average technical capability; mastery of numbers and numerical relationships is essential to understanding American life today .
4) She has demonstrated a desire to go beyond simple study of the law; deep knowledge of the history of democracy (what works and what doesn’t work) would be very helpful as the Court daily “refines” Constitutional relationships in America,
5) Her appointment would keep at least two women on the court which should be a minimum given the fact that 50% of law school graduates are women.
6) She must be good working with others because she has survived at a Federal agency which requires people skills,
7) She probably does not possess vast knowledge of legal precedence, which is probably a good thing in this era when Supreme Court makes up new rights at every session, re-writes the Constitution on the fly, and blesses (or condemns) the work of other governmental entities daily.
When the judicial branch is running out of control as it has been for awhile, it is important that the members have wide ranging knowledge (beyond the law), maturity, energy, a well-oiled intelligence, and an ability to work with others.
(There are some canards about. Conservatives argue that we need a Court that will return to “strict construction”. That talk is sheer nonsense, some people want certain Supreme Court decisions overturned, others want a different set of Supreme Court decision overturned, and both groups want a large number of Supreme Court encroachments retained. No group is pure on this issue and to be honest since the Civil War the Supreme Court has used its self-assumed Marbury v Madison powers to do (or allowed others to do) irreversible damage to America’s original Constitutional arrangements between (and among) the people, the states, the Congress, the executive, and the Supreme Court itself. No one is going to put that genie back in the bottle without a Revolution, so Americans might as well accept the fact that there is a nine person autocracy running this country and go to work getting knowledgeable, intelligent, broad-gaged people on the Court, accept their dictates, and “grin and bear” the results. ) .... (prepared by Hugh Murray 7/10/2005)
Arthur M. Hippler and the Iranian Mullahs Want Religion to Check Government - In the July 21, 2005 issue of The Wanderer, Arthur M. Hippler points out that the old, effective techniques that Christian religious leaders once used to influence governmental policy have been frustrated by democratic electorates increasingly infused with faddish liberal ideas. He goes on to point out that Jacques Maritian in his 1938 book Integral Humanism had seen this coming and had suggested that an educated faithful would insist that political leaders follow moral principles or risk electoral defeat. Hippler, who is director of the Office of Peace and Justice in the Catholic Diocese of LaCrosse , Wis., points out that Maritian’s approach has not worked and suggests several reasons why this is so. Nevertheless regardless of cause(s), this leaves society without a moral keel to sail against the latest fade.
What is needed is a way to give religious leaders a role in the governmental processes of this country. In Iran legislative enactments are reviewed by a committee of Islamic mullahs who have the power to block legislation that is contrary to the Koran. Now America will never allow such a religious committee to block enactments, but it might be possible to have a religious committee that would have the power to delay the enactment of questionable legislation or the promulgation of questionable court decision for 360 days so the legislature, the court, and the people would have a chance to reconsider.
Of course, the immediate question is “who gets to serve on this religious advisory committee?”, it seems that any religion with 1% of the population would have representation. The voting would be weighted so Catholics and Southern Baptist would have their fair share of influence vis a vie say the Hindus. If representatives representing 51% wanted to oppose a decision or legislative act, the 360 day hold would trigger.
(prepared by Hugh Murray on 7/22/2005)
Chesterton and Belloc Argued Against Wide Gaps in Income and Wealth between Rich and Poor - Thoughtful people have noted that the centralization and enlargement of governmental power, the refinement of specialization and computerization, and the globalization of trade (pitting low wage workers against workers earning a living wage) have caused (or facilitated) a very wide income and wealth gap to develop between the average person and the super rich person. Democratic societies have responded by enacting progressive income taxes, estate taxes, anti-monopoly legislation, etc. but the super rich have responded with massive campaign contributions designed to get tariff eliminations, judicial appointments for those who would allow monopolies, and elect politicians who vote against estate taxes and progressive income taxes. Today the wealthy after getting a large income tax are on the verge of getting the estate tax eliminated. Daniel Webster put the problem succinctly when in 1820 he said “Power naturally and necessarily follows property”.
The result is an intensifying concentration of wealth. G K Chesterton and Hillarie Belloc saw this coming and proposed a decentralized societal model wherein small communities and small businesses would be encouraged and large concentration of powers and wealth discouraged. Their idea was to create large numbers of owners of small businesses all with moderate wealth who could afford to pay their employees living wages. In addition, they would be shielded from the worst aspects of large scale, low priced competition by government policies designed to protect small and mid sized business. Chesterton and Belloc argued that the social benefits of such a structure more than outweighed the economic costs. John Medaille has written an essay entitled Practical Distributivism: the Just Wage vs. The Just Inome in which he discusses ways that Chesterton’s and Belloc’s ideas might be implemented in today’s economy. (This essay can be found at http://www.medaille.com/pracdist.htm).
Today the situation is bad. The bottom half of workers are faced with stagnant wages, they are being asked to change jobs/occupations six or seven times during their working career. Their inflation adjusted wages are barely rising. They are having to relocate their families two or three times in a working career. This stress escalates the divorce rate, anti-social behaviors, and health problems. The rich get richer. The Wall Street Journal reports that there are now 40,000 Americans who have a net-worth of $30,000,000 or more while one American in 125 is worth a million or more. The numbers of millionaires in increasing far more rapidly than the wages of the bottom half of society. The question is what should be done to bolster the middle class.
In the past, legislators have dealt with this problem (and simultaneously helped their re-election efforts) by taxing the rich and using the money to provide government support to the poor or middle class (eg Medicaid, welfare, job re-training, etc.). But the poor and middle class would not need these government programs so much if they just had part of the wealth possessed by the rich and super-rich. If the estate tax were redirected from the federal government into transfer payments to poor and middle class wage earners the accumulation over time could push most poor and middle class people into relative financial security. There would be enough to provide each poor and middle class worker with about $800 per year. Now if this money could not be spent but had to be sequestered into a Self Directed Individual Wealth Builder Account (like an IRA) the account would grow to perhaps $100,000 or $150,000 over a forty year working career. These accounts could be used to help these people in retirement or they might be transferred upon death to their childrens' (or heirs') Wealth Builder Accounts. There might be a provision which allows a biannual withdrawal of up to 5% of the account balance to give people a sense that there was some liquidity or some help for current emergencies.
These accounts would be wide spread in one generation, and they would give everyone a sense of being “a part owner of America” or “a player in the system”, etc Everyone would have “Skin in America’s capitalist game” as Ross Perot might say. These accounts would eliminate the need for Pres. Bush’s revisions to Social Security System. The money would be an ear mark of funds from one specific tax directed to one specific wealth accumulation program. There would be no reason for Congress to get its mites on the money once it was enacted.
This system would be compatible with Catholic social teaching which was summarized by John Paul II in Laborem Exercans 69 when he said “We can speak of socializing (property) only when .... on the basis of his work each person is fully entitled to consider himself a part owner of the great workbench at which he is working with everyone else. A way toward that goal would be found by associating labor with the ownership of capital, as far as possible”.
(Note: There is the immediate problem of what to do with the current Federal budget which is badly out of balance and which is using the estate tax to pay part of current expenditures. The following revenue and expenditure changes will be needed to accommodate the change suggested above. (1) To counter the hubris and arrogance which taken hold in Washington, the defense budget needs to be cut and the Iraq War ended. The Patriot Act needs to be pared back or eliminated. Federal involvement in local and state activities such as education needs to end; the Dept. of Education should be limited to collecting statistics. Foreign aid, particularly to Israel, needs to be cut (or perhaps redirected to health problems in southern Africa - particularly malaria and AIDS)). Homeland security expenditures have to be reigned in. America is a continental sized country that has many vehicles, trains, and planes in motion at any given time. Checking each of these for contraband each time it moves is impossible. Driver/pilot security could be employed for those that could be driven into or parked next to high value or populated targets, but checking all packages and people on board is too costly. (2) Revenues need to be increased. Imports from: (a) low wage countries with chronic trade deficits with the US, or (b) countries that do not honor intellectual property rights, or (c) countries that lack protections for workers rights need to face some tariffs, perhaps 3%. The recent tax cuts on high incomes will have to be rescinded. (A combination of average state plus federal marginal income tax rates on a single person making $200,000 should be about 50%.) All in all at least $150 billion in revenue increases or expenditure cuts will be needed to implement Wealth Builder Accounts. These proposals would serve other important ends. America's standing with Mid East arabs would improve. Israel might behave less arrogantly. The states would regain control over their education systems which is what the founders intended when they wrote the tenth amendment. The relationship with countries, such as China, would be placed on a more sustainable, long-term footing. Homeland security could redeploy energy away from creating useless bottlenecks in subways, airports and ports and into boarder control.) (prepared by Hugh Murray on 7/31/2005)
Elected Anglo American Leaders Dishonored Christian Value in War - In ancient times military and political leaders were capable of horrific acts against civilians in war. At the end of the Punic Wars, Carthage was raised and salt spread to destroy the surrounding crop lands; in 70 AD Roman legions raised Jerusalem leaving the Jewish Temple completely destroyed with no stone unturned.
As the Christian Era dawned church leaders began to question the morality of attacks against civilians and the destruction of their homes, crops, and livestock. Probably the most famous of these early Christian thinkers was St.. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, who spelled out these restrictions with supporting rational in his work The City of God. This early work triggered a multi century effort on the part of Church leaders to gain consensus among military and political leaders to limit military attacks to true military target and/or combatants. St Augustine work was followed six hundred years later by the work of St. Thomas Aquinas who repeated, reinforced, and refined St Augustine’s earlier work. The Church’s position on this was reinforced by the fact that political leaders depended for their legitimacy on the approval of the local bishop. A royal leader needed the bishop to preside at his coronation (or installation) and to refrain from any negative pronouncements concerning his official acts.
With the advent of democratically elected leaders, the restraint that church teaching had had on political leaders was greatly lessened. Political and military leaders with little sensitivity on moral issues were elevated to high office. These leaders began to move away from the earlier strict prohibition of warfare against civilians. The first leader to depart in a wholesale way from these strictures was Abraham Lincoln of the United States during the Civil War. He allowed General Sherman to conduct a major destructive sweep trough several southern states destroying farm houses, out buildings, livestock, and crops; leaving the civilians to starve. The destruction was so horrific the public reaction was so negative that Lincoln’s supporters had to put out the word that the President didn’t know what Sherman was up to. This, of course, had to be false because Lincoln was fantastically interested in all news from the front. For instance, he use to personally sit in the telegraph office in Washington D.C. to get war news as soon as possible.
As the decades passed the horrors continued, the English blockaded the German coast in the First World War and succeeded in blocking all shipping. There were in Germany about 750,000 old and/or chronically ill people who needed food additives and medicines that could only be prepared from plants located on other continents. The German requested that the blockade be partly lifted so life saving items for these old/ill people might be imported. The British Admiralty, under its leader Winston Churchill, refused and caused these 750,000 people to perish for lack of life saving herbs.
The Second World War saw Britain and America return to this pattern of attacking civilians. The common belief is that Germany started the reciprocal bombing of civilian centers; this is wrong. Britain actually started bombing German civilian centers within two weeks of the onset of hostilities between Germany and Britain. Germany took several months of civilian air attacks before the German Air Force began bombing London. Throughout the war Britain and America had a much stronger bomber force and in time the German bomber force completely disappeared from the sky. However, the bombing of civilian centers in Germany continued against the urging of both St. Augustine and St. Thomas. This immoral behavior was culminated in 1944 when Churchill ordered the destruction of Dresden with incendiary bombs. The public reaction in Britain to this was so drastic that Churchill had to deny advanced knowledge of these atrocities. He let out the word that Air Marshall Arthur Harris was responsible for the wholesale destruction of this German city.
Teachers of political science and history, as well as columnists and commentators, are presented with a dilemma when dealing with historical figures like Lincoln and Churchill. By rights they should be presented as deeply flawed leaders who authorized immoral acts of the worst kind. However, such a presentation runs counter to the generally accepted, commonly held position, in other words, the politically correct position. “Shapers of public opinion” are thus placed in a very difficult position. They really have a duty to tell the truth and set the record straight, but they also have a prudential duty to avoid inflammatory statements which might led to their dismissal or marginalization . One former teacher of college history suggested that the necessary education might best be accomplished by assigning (or suggesting) readings from various scholarly sources which would convey the unpleasant truth.....
.(prepared by Hugh Murray on 8/8/2005).
Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) is a National Hero - On 7/22/05 Rep. Cynthia McKinney chaired a day long set of presentations by experts on all aspects of the 9/11 Report. The presentations ranged over wide areas: what was left out of the report, the good and bad of intelligence reform, the erosion of freedoms brought about by the Patriot Act, the problems with the neo-conservatives, the decline of American prestige worldwide because of American anti-terrorist activities, etc. The material presented was explosive in many places.
The most alarming item presented was the fact that on 9/11/2005, NORAD (North America Air Defense Command) was conducting several special exercises simultaneously which tied up all the fighter aircraft that are normally used to intercept commercial or private aircraft which are deviating from their pre-filed flight plans. These fighters over the last dozen years have been needed about 100 to 150 times a year to investigate wayward flights. What a horrible coincidence - that just when they were most needed they were unavailable. However, what was even more alarming was the fact that shortly before 9/11, NORAD (North America Air Defense Command) civilian control was inexplicably transferred to Vice President Cheney. Why this transfer to Cheney occurred and/or why these special exercises where scheduled at the same time was not discussed in the 9/11 Report .
Two media outlets, Pacifica Radio and C-SPAN, recorded this material and presented to their viewers. These outlets need to be congratulated as well. C-SPAN has this material up on their website. Internet users with broadband can download it and hear/view it on their home computers - C-SPAN’s home page is “www.cspan.org”...............(prepared by Hugh Murray 9/2/05)
Good Job Gov. Blanco and Col. Jeff Smith - Louisiana is Blessed to Have’ya - To successfully organize and implement a hurricane survival effort for a city of 1.3 million souls, sited mostly below sea level, surrounded by poorly maintained levies, and deprived of 3700 local disaster-trained National Guardsmen is a truly a laudatory feat. To do it with the loss of fewer than 200 lives is super human.
In all human endeavor luck is a factor, and it certainly appears as though luck was a contributing factor in the Blanco/Smith success, but as Daryl Royal of the University of Texas was prone to say “Luck don’t go looking for no stumble bums”. Kathleen Blanco and Jeff Smith (of the Louisiana National Guard and the State's Disaster Preparedness Office) are certainly not “stumble bums”, after Ivan in 2004 they realized that a strong, detailed plan was needed for southern Louisiana and that is precisely what they put together. Their plan put a priority on the preservation of life. They knew they could get a goodly percent out of the city, but they also knew that many would stay behind so both contingencies were included in the plan. They knew that Federal help was likely to be slow in coming if disaster hit; they also figured that preventive things like improved Federal funding for levies and forbearance mobilizing Louisiana’s National Guard for Iraq were unlikely. So their plan for the critical early days was basically an “all Louisiana” response.
It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t nice, but it kept nearly everyone alive and that's what counts. Thanks for a job well done........... (prepared by Hugh Murray 9/10/2005)
The Social Duty of Religion and the Right to Religious Freedom
- The Catholic Catechism makes it clear that all people have a duty to seek God, and all who seek the Truth have a degree of unity with God. All those that acknowledge Christ as the Son of God share partially in the full truth found only in the Catholic Church.
Going further, the Catechism teaches that man has an individual duty to practice his religion but he also has a duty to bring religion into the public square, that is to show his religion to the broader society. Civil society has a reciprocal duty to allow believers of all faiths to practice their faiths while restricting activities that are not in conformity with the objective moral order. The founding fathers by their many statement about religion showed that they were deeply aware of both these requirements.
When government was small with little involvement in people’s daily lives, it was enough for government to let religion alone and outlaw certain immoral acts (eg abortion, divorce, etc.). But as government’s involvement in the everyday life of people increased and as the unchecked arrogance of people in government grew, the ability of believers to practice their religions outwardly was severely restrained.
Consider those things that have changed so as to make the practice of religion more difficult:
On the money front and on the time front - high taxes, globalization, and outsourcing have increased to the point where the members of the typical family have become more atomistic and less cohesive. Today the typical family has two or three people working in order to generate enough income to maintain a standard of living roughly equal to that which was enjoyed by their parents with one person working. In addition, modern management techniques are used to tie a person’s work to tight arbitrary schedules, repetitive machines, and computers, this tying has deadened much work and left people so mentally drained after work that they seek easy diversions, such as television, and heavy drinking. Modern society expects people to change occupations 7 or 8 times in a working career which in turn means most people have to live in large cities where large numbers of job opportunities exist but where driving consume lots of time. Time taken for work and travel necessarily means less time or inclination for discussions with friends, interactions with children, bible studies, civic groups, etc., all the mechanism that allow the faithful to bring religion to others.
On the law and regulation front - government has done two things. 1) Various immoralities have been made legal (eg abortion, pornography, no fault divorce, etc.) and some of these immoralities have been protected from the free speech protests of religiously motivated people who object, (such as Operation Rescue’s protests at abortion clinics which have been prosecuted as both racketeering and an illegal conspiratorial activity.) . 2) Various outward expressions of religious belief that had formerly brought religion to the public square have been erased or drastically changed. Consider the removal of the Ten Commandments from the courtyard at the Supreme Court of Alabama, consider the banning of public prayer before high school football games, consider the forced inclusion of gay groups in the St Patrick’s Day parade.
On many fronts, religious people find themselves in a losing battle against the awesome force of government. Can this trend be reversed? Can power be redeployed from Washington to the states and to the people, from the unelected courts to elected representatives? Will lobbyists and other Washington insiders accept the loss of power gracefully or will they use technicalities (like prior Supreme Court precedents or the 14th Amendment or the commerce clause) to block their downfall? Will violence be needed? Will a depression be a necessary precondition? Religious people and their God will not be forever mocked. They want God’s natural order restored; the God centered family must be strengthened to again become both the strongest building block of society and the brightest light projecting religion into the dark recesses of the culture. ......... (prepared by Hugh Murray 9/20/2005)
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